Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bloggin' the Night Away

Random Thought #1: Is there anything better in this world than sittin' here in my recliner, holding my baby girl, typing out a blog post, and eating donut holes? Yes, it's that time of night again. I've already been on "duty" for an hour. For those of you who don't understand what this means, let me explain: I stay up (ie. do not go to bed) holding our daughter until it's Daniel or my Mom's turn (when she's here ... which is, thankfully alot!). Seriously. Jenaleigh still won't sleep without being held. So, during our "shifts" we hold her! I try to put her in the crib, pack 'n play, or bassinet ... sometimes it sticks and she'll sleep for half an hour. But 85% of the time it doesn't. I keep telling myself that she's only little once and to soak up all of her cuteness and cuddleness. I'm so blessed to have her here safe in my arms that it's hard to get frustrated about the lack of sleep.

Random Thought #2: I'm so in love with the little faces she makes. My favorite one is when she puts her mouth in an "ooooo" shape while looking around with her big ole eyes.

Random Thought #3: I promised that I'd update on her weight and .... drumroll please ... she's up to 6 lbs 14 ozs.! No, it's not birthweight, but it's 7 ounces in 9 days, so things are looking good. Our pediatrician is pleased, but told me to keep up my "schedule" until next week when we can re-evaluate things. Right now I'm slipping with the strictness of the schedule and sometimes doing 2.5 hours or even *gasp* 3 hours in between feedings. I also haven't pumped any today to give her extra. When she's draining both sides at every session there's not much left for the pump to get out!

Randomness #4: I loved giving birth... How strange does that sound? But, it's so true. It was such a euphoric experience! I was so in awe (still am, I guess) of the process and the role in which our doula played that I'm seriously considering taking steps to obtaining certification from DONA (doulas of north america) and taking that path in life. It's something I need to pray more about. It would definitely be part time, I would never want more than 1 or 2 clients in the same month so I wouldn't be away from my family more than a couple of days. Obviously this will work out better when Jenaleigh's a little older. And, I still want to be a stay at home mommy, so being a doula would let me set my own schedule (somewhat -- not when it comes to specific day/time, but the general time commitment). It's something I'm seriously considering. To be a servant (Greek definition of doula) during the most beautiful biological process that God put into place would be such a blessing and perhaps even an opportunity to let His Light shine!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Young People Today...

How many times have I heard someone start off a sentence with "Young people today..." and end with some discouraging complaint about the terrible way young people today act/think/feel?

It's easy to feel that each generation is getting worse and worse (although a study through the Bible should convince us that sin has been abundant through the ages). But, I wanted to share with you something that should make you hopeful for "young people today" -- for the future of the church.

Today as I was sifting through the mail, I saw an envelope addressed to me in careful handwriting. I quickly opened it as I LOVE letters and was immediately touched by what I found inside.

It was a note from a young lady (pre-teen age I think). We'll call her P. I've only met P a few times, but she's inspired me more than she'll ever know.

The letter started with congratulatory wishes but quickly transitioned to her thoughts on my Women's Wednesday articles over at Daniel's blog, "The Christian Practice". She wrote that one particular post -- ("At Least It's a One Piece") was particularly helpful to her. [The article discusses how although the world may see one piece bathing suits as a modest alternative to bikinis, we must search God's Word to realize what modesty truly is and why it is important to be such.]

P writes, "If you wouldn't wear a bathing suit to run in Wal-Mart; what's the difference if it's under water? A lot of times people just don't understand that it is inappropriate..."

Yes, that came from a young person! She gets it! She understands and treasures the value of what we read in 1 Timothy 2:9, 10 Titus 2:3-5. There is hope!

Thank you, P, for reminding me again of me of the importance of my duty to "teach what is good, 4and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." (Titus 2:4-5) And thank you for the hope that you've given me -- the hope that this generation is not lost and that the church can continue to thrive.

P, I hope that as I've been able to help you in a small way with my articles that you will in turn take what you know and teach it to others, especially your peers and those younger than you! I know you have it in you and can imagine my daughter some day looking up to you for Godly advice and example. 

For everyone else out there... give young people a chance. Don't expect failure. Expect greatness.

Subject Matter.

I'm friends with all types of people. Because of the diverse group, I know that some will find the subject matter that will be discussed frequently on this blog to be "offensive". That subject ... breastfeeding. When you think about the beauty of the plan God put into place for feeding our babies, it should amaze you!  Nursing is even discussed in the Bible! But, some consider it a taboo thing to discuss. However,  I say it needs to be discussed. It needs to be chronicled. Breastfeeding moms need support and to read about struggles and victories from other bf'ing moms.

But, I still respect your views if you think it's something that should be done but not talked about. So, consider this your warning. If you're offended by the thought of breastfeeding or would rather not read about it, you may have to stop frequenting this blog. I am a breastfeeding mama, and I'm sure it will be a topic of many a post from here on out.

I'll still post on other topics as well, so don't fret! In fact, I'll leave you with a non breastfeeding related thought:

My daughter is seriously the cutest ever!

We just had to dress up to go see
Daddy at work on Wednesday!


This morning I was faced with a couple of decisions that needed to be made...

First of all... Do I snuggle with Jenaleigh or put up the laundry and tidy up the house?
Secondly ... Do I pump or take a shower?

What do you think I did?

Well, the first decision was uber easy to make. Jenaleigh was already stripped down to her diaper, so we climbed into bed for some skin-on-skin snuggling. By far it was the best part of the morning.

The next decision was more difficult. I really wanted to take a shower. But, one breast had not been emptied in two feedings, so I was in some discomfort. Pumping won that battle (in fact that's what I'm doing right now)!

Maybe a shower will come later on today when D is home and can snuggle with Critter.

Thoughts on Sleep (Or the Lack Thereof...)

Good news! Yesterday's weight check showed a 2 and half ounce gain! Woohoo! We must be doing something right! However, I wonder ... how long is this 2 hour nursing schedule going to be necessary? I'll do it as long as I have to, but it's insanely difficult! In fact, it's that time again right now, but she looks so serene that it kills me to have to go wake her. So, I think I'll continue writing a few minutes instead...

My favorite mommy moment today? Realizing I could take Jenaleigh with me into the bathroom (while she was in her carseat) and dry my hair! The sound of the dryer (as well as the vacuum cleaner, the vent above the stove, and the dryer running) is a "shushing" noise; which, according to Dr. Karp and The Happiest Baby on the Block replicates sounds baby heard in the womb. While I'm diggin' the 5 S's that Karp lays out in the book, I'm a little unsure as to how to apply them to get Jenaleigh to sleep without being held. Which brings me to another thought...

Yes, I used a midwife. Yes, I even had a doula. Yes, I had a natural unmedicated birth. Yes, I'm breastfeeding. No, we do NOT co-sleep. Sometimes I feel like an outsider with all the "natural moms" out there since we aren't sleeping with the little one in our bed. But, for us, we just can't do it. We're not comfortable doing it and therefore aren't candidates for it. Nor are we going to sleep with her in our recliner.

We have a bassinet in our bedroom, which we've abandoned for the crib in the nursery.

She sleeps a little better in the crib. But, one of us is always with her. I take the late night shift, until 4 a.m. and Daniel takes the early morning shift until 9 or 10. After every nursing session, I lay her down in the crib. Sometimes it "sticks" and sometimes it doesn't. If she does sleep, then I sleep in the recliner. (She's already had an hour of slumber in the crib so far tonight.) If she doesn't sleep, then I hold her (which usually induces sleep). I've already been told by a few people that we're spoiling her by holding her while she sleeps. Seriously? Spoiling a two week old baby? Humph. I don't buy that.

So, there are two extremes (for the most part) of sleep advice. Some say "co-sleep" and others say "cry it out". Where's the happy medium? Is there one?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Every Two Hours.

When I say every two hours, I don't mean from the end of one session to the beginning of another.
Nope. It's from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next.

What in the world am I talking about? Breastfeeding of course.

Let me begin in the beginning (a very good place to start, some might say) ... Jenaleigh weighed 7 pounds 1 ounce at birth (May 13). She was discharged from the hospital at 6 pounds 9 ounces (May 15). On May 18 she weighed 6 pounds 8 ounces (yes, the weight was going the wrong way!) We met with a lactation consultant (who has been an ABSOLUTE BLESSING) and decided to start a strict 2 hour regimen with me pumping and supplementing .5-1 oz of breastmilk at 60%-70% of feedings (via finger feeding; we're trying to wait until week 4 to introduce the bottle). I was excited. We had a plan and this little girl was going to gain weight. We decided to wait 3 days to see.

May 21 came, and she weighed ... 6 pounds 7 ounces. SERIOUSLY! She had lost another ounce. Let me add that she was having tons of wet diapers and about 3-4 poopy diapers a day, all of which is completely normal for a breastfed baby. We (and the lactation consultant were puzzled). She urged us to be even more diligent with the schedule (allowing for one longer "sleep stretch") and told us she'd come again the next day for a weight check.

So, two days later Critter was up to 6lbs 8oz again. An ounce gain in 2 days is pretty normal. The LC comes again today, so we're hoping to see an even bigger increase before we walked into the pediatrician's door tomorrow!

Anyway, here's a sampling of my actual schedule yesterday:
8:03-8:28 Breastfeed
8:28-8:35 Supplement with Pumped Milk (via finger feeding)
8:35-8:50 Pump
8:50-10:10 BREAK!
10:18-10:48 Breastfeed
10:50-12:00 BREAK!
12:10-12:30 Breastfeed
12:30-12:40 Supplement with Pumped Milk
12:40-1:00 Pump
1:00-2:15 BREAK!
2:15-2:30 Breastfeed ... Continue the madness in a similar fashion daily...

Notice all of my breaks from breastfeeding/pumping are only about 1 hour and 10 minutes long. So, if you're wondering why I haven't returned your call, answered your e-mail, or taken a shower, it's because I'm having to prioritize what I do in those one hour blocks. Using the bathroom, eating, and enjoying my baby are filling those increments up pretty quickly. I'm hopeful that she'll have gained weight and will continue to gain and that this schedule will not be necessary for much longer!

I'll keep you all updated!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jenaleigh Kate's Birth Story

WARNING: This birth story may contain “too much information” for some of you. Only read if you don’t mind reading every little detail about my labor and deliver.

DISCLAIMER: It was a long labor. I don’t remember everything. Daniel and Stephanie may even have to correct me on a few of the details, but here’s how I recall it now …

Thursday Morning
Daniel and I left our house in Hardin and headed towards Mayfield for my 39 week appointment with Candy (our midwife). About 1 minute down the road I realized I hadn’t brought my Heparin (blood thinner) injection with us, so we had to turn around and go get back home to retrieve it. Little did I know that I wouldn’t need that small vile of medicine that day.

Thursday 9:20AM
During the appointment, Candy stripped my membranes in hopes of getting labor going. Everyone told me this wouldn't hurt, but I must be a little more sensitive than the average bear, because it was pretty painful! I had been having semi-regular contractions for the past few days that seemed to be leading nowhere. I was 2.5 cm dilated and about 45-50% effaced. At the end of the appointment (after discussing the induction that we were scheduled for on Monday) she measured my belly. It was measuring a little small. So, we went in for an ultrasound.

The ultrasound tech said that her estimated weight was 6 pounds 14 ounces – approx. where a 36 week 5 day old baby should be. We were 39 weeks 1 day. Needless to say this was worrisome.Especially since her last growth measurement showed 6 lbs 7 oz at 34 weeks (remember we were 39 weeks). So, Candy said for me to go ahead with my NST at the hospital and she’d chat with Dr. Christianson about what to do. I was so afraid Pitocin was going to be coming my way.

Thursday Noon
Candy came in and looked at my NST strip and we saw that I was having contractions about every 5 minutes! Stripping my membranes really worked! She told me that Dr. Christianson agreed that we had to have our baby THAT DAY due to her small size, lack of significant growth, and my Protein S Deficiency. Since I was contracting on my own, Candy ordered me to do some natural labor augmentation techniques(click here if you really want to know...) to keep the contractions going so we could avoid Pitocin. At this time we called everyone and let them know what was happening… we were going to have a baby! Woohoo!

Thursday 1:30-6:00 PM
I quickly learned that Ina May Gaskin was right about everything. EVERYTHING. In her book, “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” she discussed how our minds and bodies are connected and that labor can slow down or stop when “intruders” come into the room. My first “intruder” was a WELCOME one! Our doula Stephanie came in and I guess I was nervous, but my contractions stopped for about half an hour. Our second set of “intruders” came in to say, "Hi!"– again, WELCOME ones – my parents. My contractions stopped again!

The only thing that could bring those contractions back was the aforementioned natural augmentation (getting curious as to what it was, click here, but be prepared for TMI). My contractions were jump started in a major way.

Candy came back in around 4:30 or 5 to check me. I was about 4 and half centimeters to 5. I had only progressed 2 cms in 5 hours. But Candy was content to let me labor on without medical intervention. I was finally allowed off the stupid monitor and up for a walk! Walking really helped to keep the contractions coming strong. During this time I tried visualization of my cervix opening. I don’t think it worked, but it provided me with a few laughs… I told Daniel about how I was imagining my cervix as a flower opening and he proceeded to create a story about a flower who opened up in the sunshine. He even acted it out! Yep, we were having a little too much fun!

7:00PM -1:00AM
Contractions were coming nice and regular, I was even beginning to have to concentrate to get through them easier. However, it was time to be put on the monitor for 20 minutes, meaning I needed to lie in the bed. The contractions continued while I was on the monitor; but, I noticed the nurse was silent when she came in to look at my strip. She returned a few minutes later and said that I needed to stay on the monitor because she saw delayed decelerations, which was a sign that baby wasn’t getting enough oxygen right after a contraction. Once she told me this, I immediately stopped contracting. Once again – the mind/body connection is an amazing thing. I know I was freaked out that baby could be in danger because of my contractions, so my contractions ceased. After about an hour of nothing, Stephanie encouraged me to try to relax and try more augmentation (click here). The contractions started up again and I concentrated on taking DEEP breaths during them to make sure baby was getting enough oxygen and her heartbeat didn’t decrease when it wasn’t supposed to! During this time the monitor was not picking up my contractions, so the nurse was in and out fighting to move it around to the correct spot. This took forever and was quite distracting.

At about 11:30, the nurse said Candy had told her to check me for progress. Unfortunately, the nurse must not have been too skilled at checking for dilation, because it was P-A-I-N-F-U-L. I yelped and cried! Unfortunately, I had progressed very little – only to about a 5 and a half. However, I really wasn’t surprised, because of all the interruptions. I so wish that I could have labored at home for awhile! I was getting tired and scared that I’d be getting Pitocin. Afterall, it had been almost 12 hours since I arrived in the hospital.
I continued to have intermittent contractions (did I mention I was still hooked up to the monitor? No moving around for me!), but nothing strong and consistent. Stephanie was a huge advocate for trying to get me to stand up or use the birthing ball. But, each time I moved, the monitor would stop picking up contractions and the nurse would spend 10 minutes (no joke) trying to adjust it. This was the most frustrating part of the whole experience as it the constant adjustments continued for hours!

At around 1:00 Candy entered the room ; I told her I wanted her to break my water. I was about 6 cm.
Having my water broken didn’t hurt (I was so afraid it would) and there was no meconium (yay!). There was the initial gush and then when I stood up another gush. It was such a weird feeling to having liquids pouring out of you that you can’t control!

1:15 AM
Daniel providing his support for me during "transition".
I love him so much!
This marked the beginning of transition for me. The contractions were so painful. I moved onto all fours at the beginning of this period and it definitely provided some relief. Stephanie coached me to make low groans through these intense times. They grew longer and longer, with some reaching 2 minutes. I finally said I need to lay down. I was SO exhausted! Daniel joined in during this time to hold my hand and encourage me along with a sweet touch. I remember saying 2 or 3 times that I just couldn’t do it anymore. All I wanted to do was fall asleep and have some relief. But, thankfully, Stephanie was there to tell me that I was so close. I remember asking her “what if I’m not?” But, she told me that I was -- that I was in transition and that it wouldn’t last much longer. Having her tell me this was such a great comfort and motivator. I was able to focus on each contraction as it came hoping that each one would bring me closer to the end.

I was in such pain. However, guess what? The monitors weren’t picking up any contractions, so the nurses were in there the WHOLE time I was in transition moving around the sensors, pressing on my uterus. I must confess, I have never fought back the urge to lash out at someone as much as I had to then – I was so tired of them messing with me! They continued to try to get my contractions to appear on the monitor right up until I was pushing.

There were three contractions that I thought I would never make it through. However, I prayed during them. I prayed not only for relief but a prayer of thanksgiving. God was getting me one step closer to holding my little girl in my arms. I was thankful for the pain.

3:00 AM
Finally I told them that I “felt like I needed to do something”. They asked me, “What do you mean?” And I said, “Maybe I need to push or something … or go to the bathroom.” I didn’t get up; but, had a few more contractions then started to say over and over again, “I need to push. I think I need to push.” Nothing seemed to happen then. I remember Stephanie said to the nurses, “Did you hear her? I think she may be ready?!” Finally, they believed me and the hustle and bustle began. The nurse who had so brutally checked me before gloved up for another check. I started to wimper and said, “I don’t want to be check again.” Stephanie said, “YES YOU DO!” So, the nurse checked me and I was fully dilated with baby ready to come out. The trays were rolled in. The warmer brought out.

But, it felt like forever before Candy got there (probably only 5-6 contractions) and I kept saying, “I need to push.” The nurses said, “Just wait until Candy gets here”; but, Stephanie leaned down and said, “Don’t wait. Go ahead and push.” It felt great to start pushing. I knew I wasn’t moving much with the little pushes before Candy got there, but it was still a relief.

Once she was ready, the real fun began. My contractions had shortened, and were only lasting 30-45 seconds making it difficult to get too many pushes in. I pushed without much coaching (per the instructions on my birth plan) for maybe 15 minutes. I asked Candy if we were getting closer and she responded with something like, “not really”. So, I finally told her to coach me. I was just so tired and ready to have my baby! Daniel was such a huge help during this time. I don’t remember his exact words, but several times he leaned over and whispered a “game plan” to me. He told me that I was going to get three pushes in and they were going to be productive. He also helped me with my breathing, which later on the nurses commented on… apparently, most people don’t stop to inhale, which makes the pushing, grunting, and exhaling a tad difficult, I’d say. After ever push, I’d stop and take a huge lung full of air (Daniel said he told me to pretend like I was about to play my clarinet; however, I don’t remember this comment) which made the pushing a lot easier. Through the coaching and pushing, I finally felt her head crowning. I was expecting extreme burning (the so-called ring of fire), but it was bearable. They asked me if I wanted to touch her head, but all I wanted to do was focus on pushing. So, that’s what I did!

Seconds after delivery
I felt her head come out and then the rest of her body wiggle out. It was such an amazing, euphoric feeling. Did I mention I did this without any pain meds?! I have no idea how anyone could have control over their pushing with an epidural. Obviously, it’s done all the time, but the feeling of pushing and having my daughter come out of me was one I’ll never forget. It was such a rush.

They immediately placed the flailing baby on my chest and she started crying – the most wonderful sound to a mother’s ears ever. She weighed a petite 7 pounds 1 ounce. I got to keep her there for a minute before they took her and noticed she had swallowed an excessive amount of fluids. They asked for my permission to take her to the nursery to suction it all out. Daniel went along with them. While they were gone, I expelled my placenta (what a weird feeling) and Candy started the stitching process. I had two tears. Not fun at all. I kept involuntarily fighting Candy. She’d start to stitch and my bottom would rise up trying to escape! I felt tons of pressure and a little pain as she sewed me up. After a few minutes, one of the nurses came back in and said that she scored a 8 and 9 on her Apgars and that they had her in the warmer. Candy (ever the advocate for my birthplan) retorted, “Why don’t we bring baby to mom. She can keep her just as warm as the warmer.” Jenaleigh came back in (in her daddy’s arms!) and was placed on my bare chest. But, unfortunately the stitching was so uncomfy for me took such a long time that I didn’t get to breastfeed until the end of the first hour.

I was so ecstatic, yet somewhat scared and bewildered by this infant that I had in my arms – not to mention exhausted!

After my stitches were set, we got Jenaleigh to latch on and breastfeed for a few minutes. I have to admit, I found it quite painful at first and wasn’t sure how I could do it much longer … little did I know I’d be here over one week later on a strict schedule of breastfeeding every 2 hours (more on that later)!

Then the bleeding came. No one told me about the immense about of bleeding. I thought it’d be similar to a period, but it was much much more. I was worried due to my blood clotting disorder, afraid that the blood thinner was having an effect, but they assured me it was normal! I continued to worry about the bleeding for the first few hours of my daughter’s life. I wish I hadn’t worried, but I had visions of hemmoraging, leaving this beautiful girl and her daddy without a mommy. Finally the bleeding let up and the real bonding began. I was so in love. (Still am.) What an amazing adventure that led up to having my baby girl in my arms. She's so wonderful and I can't imagine life without her!

Reflecting on my birth story, I realize that a few things didn’t go as planned. For example, I really wanted to labor at home for awhile; but, I was in the hospital the whole time. I also wanted to be free to move about, but had to be hooked up to the monitor the majority of the time. Having two tears were not in the plan either! Next time, I think I will be more reluctant to be coached by the midwife during the pushing, as the forceful pushing was the probable cause of one of the tears. But despite the hiccups, I am SO thankful that I was able to have my unmedicated natural vaginal birth and to have my baby girl – healthy and perfect.

Throughout my whole pregnancy I yearned for an unmedicated labor. I armed myself with knowledge. I cast out fear. If you’re pregnant, I urge you to realize that the pain is fleeting and that it is such an amazing experience to be able to feel every contraction and to control every push and to experience the sensation of your child coming out of you. The pain is not as bad if you don’t want it to be! Our society has created such a hype about the terror of childbirth, but it is really an amazing experience.

Also, if you want a natural unmedicated labor, you really need a midwife and a doula. Daniel and I both are extremely grateful for Stephanie. Daniel cannot stop singing her praises. He, especially, was so glad that she was there to tell us what was normal – to guide us through a time of unknown. She was able to reassure me during transition. If it had not been for her telling me that it would be over soon, I may have asked for pain medications. But, because I trusted her, I persevered without them. Thank you so much, Stephanie! Candy was wonderful as well. A doctor would certainly have administered Pitocin; but, she allowed me to labor on my own, trusting that my body would do the work it was meant to do.

GiGi (my mom) holding Jenaleigh for the first time.
Some of you may be wondering where my mom was during the labor. I had decided early on that I just wanted it to be Daniel and our doula. However, mom did stop in to say hi and even walked with us some outside. I'm so thankful that she went along with our plans and was always supportive of my wishes. Even though she may have stayed apart from us during most of the labor, she is DEFINITELY involved right now. I'll probably post more on this later, but it would have been nearly impossible to get through our first week with Jenaleigh home without Mom. Before Jenaleigh was born, I thought for sure that we could do it by ourselves and would need little help at first. But, wow! Was I wrong! Mom stayed with us for the first few days and nights and was able to let me catch up on a little sleep, cleaned some, cooked, and most importantly provided me with support when the breastfeeding wasn't going smoothly (I promise, more on that later). I am SO thankful to have had her here with us.

Daddy and "Critter"
My husband was the final, most important piece of the support puzzle. Daniel has been with me every step of the way throughout this pregnancy – such a rock. He continued to be so throughout labor. His quiet presence offering a hand to squeeze and a correctly placed encouraging word was the best gift he could have given me.  He supported me during labor exactly how I needed. I’m so blessed to have him as a husband and the father of my beautiful baby girl.

Ready to go home and start our adventure!
I hope you’ll continue to follow my blog as I’ll begin to bring you frequent updates on life with a newborn. We’ve already had some interesting challenges… stay tuned!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Jenaleigh Kate.

She's here! Jenaleigh Kate was born on lucky Friday the 13th! Much more info to come soon (especially my super long birth story ... yep, a vaginal birth without pain meds!)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

39 Week Update.

Am I really at 39 weeks right now? I can't believe it. It feels like yesterday when we saw those two lines on the pregnancy test. But then again, it feels like such a long time ago. I'm starting to forget what it was like to not be pregnant! Here's what's happening ...

Weight Gain: 26 pounds. Seriously?!?!? I've gained 4 pounds in 2 weeks. Woah.
My 'Threads': Nothing new. I finally shaved my legs (really difficult to do when you're 9 months pregnant!) and so I can wear dresses without tights. Great for this sweltering heat we're experiencing.
Food Cravings: Sonic Lemonberry Slushes. And I've been noshing on cupcakes for the past week (okay, so maybe that's where the weight gain is coming from!) Daniel and I have also been eating fresh pineapple almost every evening ("They" say that it can help in cervical ripening ... although to get the maximum benefits I read that you have to eat something like 7! That's not happening!)
Labor Pains: Ugh. Yes. I've been having contractions every day for 3-4 hours, lasting 10 minutes apart since Sunday night. That first night, we got so excited, thinking that baby was on her way soon. They fizzled out, just as they have everyday since then. Today they've been going since 8 am, but aren't getting stronger or closer together. I've tried a ton of things to keep them going, but nothing seems to work. Frustrating! 
"Stuff" Status: Hospital bags packed. Nursery completed.
Thoughts: It's difficult to believe that in less than a week (or maybe a little more than a week, depending on the induction date we settle on or if she comes on her own!) we'll have our baby in our arms. We know two couples who have welcomed their babies into the world in the past two weeks (ironically both of the daddies are preachers, just like Daniel!). So, I've spent countless minutes pouring over every picture they post of the babies on Facebook, even having a few tears roll down my check at the preciousness of new life. I'm so excited that we're next in line to experience new parenthood. Facebook will probably crash with all the pictures we'll post of her! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No Pain.

I've read up *a little* on hypnobirth and while I definitely plan to employ some of the suggested breathing techniques, I'm a little skeptical of the whole "put yourself into a trance and feel no trace of pain" claims that some make. On the other hand, I know there are many factors that go into pain and a lot of them have to do with our brain. 

Our American society equates birth with excruciating-knock-me-out-I-can't-take-this pain. When we've let those messages flood over us, what do we expect? Pain-free labors? No way. We expect to feel pain, which I believe makes our pain heightened. (I am in no way saying that it isn't a painful experience, but rather that our expectations add to the tension and pain we may feel.)

Watching "Pregnant in America" a couple of nights ago, I was lovin' the Dutch couple that was interviewed about their (obviously non-medicated) home birth. The woman said something to the affect of, "Yes, we know it's going to hurt. But it only lasts for a short while, so we handle it and move on!" What a difference in attitudes! By the way, Only EIGHT PERCENT of Dutch women have epidurals during childbirth! (Whereas, a 2008 report by the CDC found that 78% of laboring women in Kentucky receive epidurals.)

{As you all know it is my deep desire to avoid an epidural. I won't consider myself a failure if I have to have one; and do not think anything less of other women who have had them. I just find our society's mindset towards labor and pain to be noteworthy and interesting study if you stop to think about it.}

Diapers MEGA Savings

(Yes, we're using disposable diapers. Please don't stone us.)

I'm sure many of you have watched TLC's "Extreme Couponing" and wonder how you can get all that stuff for FREE! Well, I have to tell you some products probably aren't ever going to come free. Toothpaste, yes. Deodorant, check. Lip balm, sure. But, diapers? Probably not. So, when you need diapers (or are trying to stock up on them when a good deal rolls around) you need to look for a great deal, not necessarily a "free deal".

So, get your math glasses on, and follow my Walgreens trip:

Walgreens has a deal this week if you buy (2) Pampers diaper packs for $9 each, then you get $3 in Register Rewards. But not only that, if you buy $20 total in Pampers products (before coupons are applied), then you get back an additional $5 in Register Rewards! (Which is why I added the wipes into the first transaction). Watch how this works ...

- (2 Packs) Pamper Swaddlers, $9 each
- Pampers Wipes, $2.99
(The above 3 items fulfill the Pampers $5 Reward Criteria and the WAGs $3 Register Rewards)
- Lemon Candy, $.49
- Gummy Bears, $.49
(Those two candy items are considered "filler" items. They must be used here, because I want to use a total of 5 coupons, so I must have at least five items in my transaction.).)

Subtotal (before coupons): $21.97

- (2, one for each pack) $2 off Pampers, Manufacturers Coupon (from a P&G Home Mailer, if you're buying 2 products, you must have 2 of these coupons)
- (2, one for each pack) $2 off Pampers, Walgreens Coupon (found in their "Infant Care Coupon Booklet" -- you can get this at Wag's Beauty counters)
(*Note: Yes, you can use a Manufacturer's coupon AND a store coupon together on the same product. This is where mega savings occur.)
- (1) $.50 off Pampers Wipes, Manufacturers Coupon (P&G Home Mailer)

****Total Due, Transaction 1 (after coupons): $13.47
Pampers Rewards (can be used on more pampers): $5
WAGs Register Rewards (cannot be used on pampers deal): $3

So, in transaction #1, I spent $13.47, but came away with $8 more that I can use on other products! (Which I used part of in transaction #2...)

-(1) Pamper Swaddlers, $9

Subtotal (before rewards and Q's): $9

-$2 off Pampers Wags Coupon
-$5 Rewards that printed from Transaction #1
(If you wanted an even better savings, you could have used another Man. coupon, but keep in mind you would have had to add a filler item.)

****Total, Transaction 2 (after coupons and rewards): $2
Rewards Leftover to Use Next Week (from Tran. 1): $3

If you're doing the math, I spent $15.47 out of pocket (for 3 packs of diapers, 2 bags of candy, and 1 box of wipes) and left with $3 that I can use again whenever I want to! All for products that, before sales and coupons, would have cost me $30.97. Is that as exciting as FREE? Of course not, but when you actually NEED the products you're buying (unlike many of those "extreme couponers"), saving 50% is very useful! Imagine if you saved 50% on all your household items and groceries!
Email me or leave a comment here if you have any questions! Sorry if this was as "clear as mud"; hopefully it will be helpful to someone. If you'd like to delve further into couponing, check out www.southernsavers.com for more coupon matchups!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Birth Story Monday . Baby Tide's Story, Part II

(To read Part I of Baby Tide's Story, click here.)

Baby Tide's Story, Part II
By: Leigh B.

I believe there were 27 family members, friends, and special church family in the waiting room. I remember the operating room. Blah. Just scary memories. I can remember the doctor assisting Dr. Goolsby talking about buying new shoes. Strange how things stick in your mind. He said I would feel tugging and a little discomfort, but I didn't.

CrisDen Tide was born weighing 1 pounds 8 ounces and was 13 inches long. All I got to see of him was his hat. He was in a body bag (I learned that term in the NICU). All it is is a Zip-loc bag. It helps control their temp. I did hear him cry. I didn't know that was significant until Melody J., the NICU nurse and a sister in Christ, later told a friend of ours that normally babies that young don't cry! What a fighter he was.

The NICU staff whisked Tide down to the NICU with Tim following behind. They allowed my "people" to see him. That's uncommon because NICU is closely guarded and abides by a time schedule. I believe they were afraid he may not make it. I'm so thankful everyone was allowed to see him. I didn't get to see him until the next day. And Tim had warned me.
The NICU, at that point, was a scary, depressing place. Sick, sick babies. I later said if someone doesn't believe in God, just visit a NICU. You can see His Presence there. Just amazing stories lying in those isoletes and Ohio beds.

Tide's bed was closest to the nurses. He was the smallest baby at the time. He was so sick. Lines everywhere, beepers beeping. He was skin and bones. We talked about how he looked like Pa lying there. My grandpa had died in December 2007 and he had been in bed for a month and he was just skin and bones. (To this day, I wish my Pa could have seen Tide. He would have spoiled him so much!)

He was on a ventilator, he had central lines in his belly button, he was nearly translucent! We could only lightly press a finger to his foot. Preemies are so sensitive. We also had to be very quiet. He was under the lamp because of his bilirubin. Looking back, he favored either a skinned squirrel or pictures of "aliens". But to us, he was absolutely, perfectly beautiful.

We had already met with Dr. Bruce before he was born. I loved him but we called him "Dr. Doom" because he gave us the worse case scenarios. I am grateful he did because it gave us more of an insight into what we were facing. He and Dr. Beard and the nurses and nurse practitioners were so good about telling us everything going on.

I do remember having to give them our hospital and then our lodge number. This way they could reach us if anything happened. I've never felt such panic and fear as I did every time the phone rang. The first night we were in the lodge, Tim thought I was having a panic attack because I couldn't find Tide's picture and I couldn't breathe. A week later, we found out I had passed a blood clot to my lung...that's another story!

Everyone says a stay in the NICU is like a roller coaster ride. (I got so sick of hearing that term, but it is completely true.) One day...or minute...you're on a high, the next you've dipped down in a valley. Preemies are so quirky and have their own time line and personality. One day, we were in the NICU and Tide was struggling. The nurse asked us to leave so they could put him back on the vent. We already knew this might happen. He would go on and off the vent several times during his stay. We went to the waiting room and a few minutes later, she walked in, laughing and holding a tissue. She said she just had to show us...she opens the tissue and there is a HUGE booger (come on, mommies, it's gross, but it happens!) That's what was causing him to struggle with his breathing! So, fortunately, that was one time he avoided the vent!

After watching weight gain (that wasn't the biggest worry, believe it or not--it's lungs), checking to see if the flap at his heart was ok (can't remember what it's called but if it hadn't corrected itself with medicine, surgery would have been performed), feeding him, keeping his body temperature up, bradies (when his heart rate goes down and his breathing goes down), and many other things, we were finally able to bring him home on May 2, 2009. This was about 2 weeks after his due date.

I know I have left out so much. It's overwhelming the ride we have been on!

If any of you ever face circumstances like these, just pray! Some odd positive things (besides Tide) that came out of this is I learned patience! You just learn to wake up each morning and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Another thing is our marriage was put to the test and we came out winners. I can't imagine how stressful this was for Tim. He still had to go to work and make a living and some days not knowing if I or his baby would make it. That's a pretty big weight on his shoulders. Even though we had been married so long and were older, sometimes during that time, I felt like he and I were teenagers, not knowing what to do in the adult world I'm not sure if that makes sense to anyone else.

Another piece of advice, just trust your nurses and doctors. They are there to take care of you and your baby. They won't do anything to intentionally harm your baby. I always had the feeling they loved Tide nearly as much as I did. I witnessed some parents who were ugly to the nurses or who thought they knew more than the doctors. Just listen and be patient. I know it's hard but that is their job. The nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners, even the housekeeping crew were AMAZING! I do believe scrubs are like super hero costumes. I do not see how these wonderful people do what they do.

Also, this time really allowed us to feel the love of our Christian family. Not just our home congregation, but other congregations around--even out of state. I know we made the prayer list for churches all over the Southeast. We are so thankful for that.

We also met such wonderful new people. Tide had a pod mate named Maddox. His mother and I became close friends. I loved Maddox because he looked like Tide did just 2 months earlier. He died a day before his one month birthday. He had developed NEC. This is a problem preemies face. Tide's feedings had been stopped several times for fear of NEC.

Tide is now a healthy, way active 2 year old. He has a bit of a speech delay. Also, we have been told since before he was born that he may have learning disabilities. I care, but I don't. After what he's been through, I'm just happy to have him here. God was with us through the really sick days of Tide's life, and He will be with us through all the little obstacles.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Green Elephants ALL Around!

When I found the Carter's "Green Elephant" pattern I was in love. We knew we wanted a neutral nursery that could work for either a little boy or a little girl. After months (it seems) of decorating, it's finally finished! Enjoy!

Daniel's talented mother painted the elephants seen here ...
and she also painted the elephants that are marching across the wall! Aren't they too cute?!

That's not even all of her clothes! We've had to pack some away because they won't fit in the closet! WOAH!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Mom? Or Not A Mom?

I posed this question to an online community full of preggo ladies several months ago. I received a variety of responses, ranging from - "Yes! At the moment of conception one becomes a Mom" to "Absolutely not. Until your baby is in your arms, you are not a Mom."

So on this Mother's Day, am I a Mom or not a Mom?

I know I don't have the complete "mom badge". I've never changed my baby's dirty diapers, fed her in the middle of the night, cleaned up her projectile vomits. But, I am taking care of her every need. I have made my body a safe haven for her, watching everything I put into my mouth, giving myself shots to help protect her from clotting, and more.

So, I say I'm a "Mom". Perhaps next year I'll be "more of a Mom" than I am right now.

Oh, and, I think God thinks I'm a Mom right now, too ... "You knit me together in my mother's womb." - Psalm 139:13.

Friday, May 6, 2011

What's in a Name?

Names have always interested me, so I gladly clicked through to the list of 2010's top baby names when I saw a link pop up earlier today. Guess what name did not appear amongst the sea of names? "Jenaleigh"! :-)

Turns out that Isabella was the most popular (click here for a list). But I was a little surprised to see that our baby girl's middle name ("Kate") wasn't even on the roster for the top 50. My crystal ball predicts that next year (thank you Kate Middleton) the name "Kate" will skyrocket into the top ten. Just a hunch.

So, while we're on the topic of names, you may have wondered, where in the world did we get the name "Jenaleigh Kate"?

Here's the deal.

I love names with meaning. Names with history. Names that attach you to someone for the rest of your life. I had already decided that "Kate" would be a middle name, but I couldn't decide on a first name. So, before we even got pregnant, I was looking through names that contained "Jen" in them (you'll see why in a sec) and came across this beautiful name - Jenaleigh. There are many spelling variations. One word. Two words. One "n". Two "n's". L-e-e. L-e-i-g-h. You get the idea.

No matter the spelling, this name was perfect. Here's why...

My paternal grandmother, "Jen"
My paternal grandfather's middle name "Lee"
My maternal grandmother, "Kate" (okay, her name was actually Carrie Lou, but apparently as a young woman, was known as "Kate" to everyone).

So, with a little tweaking we get...) Jenaleigh Kate.

If only we could fit "Henry" or "Eugene" in there, then we would have covered all the grandparents on my side!

(Don't worry... if we have a baby boy, Daniel's side of the family will be represented quite well!).

Me, "Jen" (grandmother), and Daniel (pre-weight loss)

Cecil "Lee" (my grandfather) and baby Martha

"Kate" (nickname for my grandmother) & Henry Eugene (the one name we couldn't squeeze in)
Pictured here on their wedding day.

*As a side note, while I love the name we picked out, I have come to realize that no one will ever spell it correctly without her (or us) telling them the correct spelling. Sorry in advance, sweetheart. :-)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

38 Week Update.

38 weeks. I've had a lot of conflicting thoughts, feelings, and emotions since Sunday (my first official day off of bed rest since March 24.) Somehow I naively thought that the second I popped up out of bed, labor would begin. After all, I had been in bed for 6 weeks to prevent pre-term labor.

So in my mind, bedrest = no labor and no bedrest = labor ... Wrong.

It's not that I'm "in a hurry". I'm not even crazy uncomfortable. I don't feel like a hippo. I like being pregnant. Really, I do! However, I know that each passing day brings with it the possibility of induction and the impending induction date (side note: I will not be releasing the induction date except to family to avoid a barrage of "countdowns" and added pressure). (If you remember, due to my blood clotting disorder, there's an increased risk for placenta deterioration, which means that going past 40 weeks is apparently a "no-no".) But. medical induction doesn't exactly fit into my wishes for a non-medicated labor and birth. So, we're praying that she'll come on her own before then. But, if not, we're going to make it work! Stephanie (doula) has been instrumental in providing me with natural labor induction tips but has also reminded me that many women have successful inductions and we can do it, too!

Okay, enough induction talk ... on to the 38 week update!

Weight Gain: 24 pounds. When she dropped (yay! for this!) it means she has let my stomach become free from its constricted state that it was in ... perhaps explaining the 2 pound weight gain in one week!

My 'Threads': I got a new maxi-dress from Walmart. Love it! So comfy. I also bought some swimwear in case I want to be modest while in the tub/labor jacuzzi at the hospital. Oh, and my 'gownie' is in (pictured below)! I know some of you will roll your eyes and think that it is stupid to have your own hospital gown that will just get ruined during labor, but I don't. So there. ;-) Plus I got a great deal on one!

Food Cravings: STRAWBERRY CAKE. Last night we walked around Kroger for 15 minutes trying to find strawberry cake (or something similar) that was already made -- ready to consume. Not there. I walked out of the store with M&M cookies which weren't satisfying. Today I decided just to make my own, but couldn't find any strawberry cake mix at Dollar General, so the confetti cupcakes with sprinkles that I just baked will have to do!

Jenaleigh is...: sticking to her schedule of being very active at night.

For the First Time Since March 24th...: Since off of bedrest I've done many wonderful things! I've cleaned the kitchen, baked cupcakes, done laundry, organized a little of the baby's room, been to Walmart, seen a movie in the theater, eaten out several times, enjoyed being at my desk to work instead of trying to use the tiny screen on my laptop .... and more. Before I get the tons of "don't push it" or "take it easy" comments -- I AM! I'm listening to my body and stopping when I'm tired; everything I'm doing has been okay'd by my midwife. Thankfully, I didn't lose much stamina or muscle while on bedrest and have felt absolutely wonderful. It's great to know that I can build up even more stamina before labor and a newborn!

"Stuff" Status: The car seat is still not in the car, but sitting by the door. We still need to hang a curtain in the nursery before I can mark that room as "complete". BUT, our hospital bags are packed.

Exciting News: Don't forget that I've been nominated for the top 25 pregnancy journals along with several journals that I subscribe to! What an honor -- this will help get more readers to my blog which could in turn help me make my blog into a source of income for our little family. What a blessing that would be! Click the image below to vote for me (please) -- you can do so once a day!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Give Her Sugar!

My baby has a very established routine already. It seems to involve being active at around 8-10 a.m., then right after lunch, then from about 5 p.m. to midnight! (No Joke!)

Well, this routine doesn't mesh well with my non-stress tests (2x a week). They're looking for 20-30 minutes of baby's movement and heartbeat reactivity to movement. All of my NSTs are between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. ... when she's asleep. And, when she's asleep, she's obviously not moving a lot or having a heartbeat that's going up, so we end up having to stay for a looooooooooooong time waiting for that movement. But, we finally found our solution ...

Kool-Aid and Chocolate.

Wakes the little sweetheart up for long enough to get plenty of movement and reactivity recorded! Am I a bad Mommy?!!? I'm already hyping my kiddo up on sugar and she hasn't even left the womb!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Birth Story Monday. Baby Tide's Story, Part I

(Martha's Notes: Leigh and Tim are members were my father-in-law preaches and each time I get to hang around them I like them more and more! They have 2 beautiful daughters (on the inside and out) and a sweet "baby" boy. Daniel and I would love to be half the parents that they are -- we can tell just by being around them for a short amount of time that they have reaching heaven as the ultimate goal for their family and are willing to do what it takes to achieve that goal. Here is Leigh's adventure-packed story of Tide's birth! Enjoy!)

Baby Tide's Story, Part I
By: Leigh B.
After nearly 15 years of marriage and 2 beautiful daughters, Tim and I thought our family was complete. We wanted another child, but were told about 2 years before I wouldn't be able to have another baby. After a year of having problems, I changed doctors.

My first visit with Dr. Goolsby I said I want a baby or a hysterectomy...what a combination! After performing an internal ultrasound, he said it would be easy for me to have another baby. He gave me a prescription to make me start my period and another for fertility medicine. After 6 weeks, I never started. Back to the doctor I go, this time with Tim in tow because we were afraid something bad was going on.

Instead, the nurse hands me a stick to hold...well, it was a POSITIVE pregnancy test. She has to run get Tim because I am a mess! A tickled, shocked mess. After an ultrasound that I expected to show a dot, instead it showed a baby with arms and legs, it was determined I was 11 weeks and 6 days pregnant. My due date was April 17, 2009.

Even after being married so long, that's just a little unnerving! The girls were happy and shocked and glad I didn't have cancer (that's what Darla thought.) By the way, I found out about my pregnancy 2 weeks before Darla turned 13.

Let me first say being pregnant at 34 is so much different than being pregnant at 21 and 23. I think that's why I didn't notice I was getting sick. On New Year's Day, 2009, I was at my grandmother's for breakfast. I didn't feel too well and was very puffy. My brother-in-law, who is a firefighter, came out and checked my blook pressure. Although, I can't remember the exact numbers, it was high. He told me to get to the doctor soon. I reluctantly went home, thinking how disappointed I was to miss the traditional New Year's meal at my mother's. I had so been looking forward to hog jowl, cabbage, black-eyed peas, and cornbread. (Yum!) Instead, Tim and I find ourselves on our way to St. Vincent's.

We get there and I was in triage with the sweetest nurse Pam. She was just great. I was hooked up to every possible monitor and still thinking I'll be home that evening or the next day to eat my leftovers. Instead, I was told at some point (a lot of this is a blur or Tim told me later because I was so yucky on meds) that I may be staying until the baby is born. I went in at 24 weeks and 6 days. I found out later that there were several times that weekend they had a bed prepared in the NICU. That would have been really bad to have a baby at 25 weeks. Even hours matter at this point.

I was put on magnesium, blood pressure medicine, and sleeping medicine because I couldn't sleep. We couldn't have bright lights on due to the risk of seizures. I was also diagnosed with preeclampsia. The doctor had set several goals for us. Thankfully, we had already reached the 24 week goal. My next goal was 28 weeks, then 32, then delivery at 36. Because of all these meds, I can't really remember everything. I had so many visitors but thinking back, I have no idea what I said or did while they were around! (So, if you're reading this and you were one of them, please forgive me and just laugh!)

Although pre-eclampsia isn't resolved until delivery, I did get better. I was even thinking I was going home! I was so homesick. I missed my girls. I missed my church. I missed my family. I was just miserable. My aunt and sister would stay with me on the nights Tim would go home. That made me even sicker! Tim and I had only stayed away from each other a few times in our 15 years of marriage. (I know I'm a baby). He only worked 15 minutes from the hospital but an hour from home.

On January 16, 2009, I was released from St. Vincent's to go to UAB for a targeted ultrasound. Tim took off work that day to take me. I was actually excited to go because I hadn't been outside for over 2 weeks! I showered, did my hair, wore CLOTHES!, and makeup. I remember the brutally cold day. There was ice everywhere. I was so big I had to be extra careful not to fall.I got there and that place was so cold and distant compared to St. Vincent's. (UAB is an excellent hospital, this was at a clinic and I missed my nurses who spoiled me!) She did the ultrasound and saw where my placenta had been damaged from my high blood pressure. In my mind, I was going home. I just didn't realize the severity at that time.

Later that evening, Dr. Goolsby came in to talk to us. He said he had spoken with several of his doctor friends and his wife, who is also an ob/gyn. Some said the baby is better inside and some said he was better outside. I realize now how hard a doctor's job is. He looked over at a table in my room and saw a book. He asked if that was a Bible and Tim said yes. He then said, "Let's just pray." After a very touching, comforting, lovely prayer, he claps his hands, jumps up, and says, "Let's do this!" I sorta felt like I was about to take the field for a football game. 

He said at 7 we'll have a baby. This was around 6. Tim told him our family lived about an hour away. He said no problem we'll do it at 7:30. Tim makes frantic phone calls to everyone! I'm just lying there, scared to death! ...

Check back next week for Part II in Tide's birth story!