Thursday, July 31, 2014

Adri's BabyMust-Haves

I have some friends pregnant with their first baby, so I thought I'd offer some un-solicited advice to them and anyone else who has a baby in the future. A while ago, one of my friends made a list like this, and I even referred to it before having Grace. The newborn stage can be hard, and it's nice to know what other people used to get through it. Someone else may have a completely different list and hate everything on mine, but this is my personal top 10 (in no particular order).

Some of the things on my "must-have" list are things we had with Sophia, and others are things I WISHED we had the first time around. I've probably used every one of these things in the past 24 hours.

1. Fisher Price Rock n' Play Sleeper
I did not have this with Sophia, but Grace had a hard time sleeping in the pack-n-play bassinet and wanted to be held all the time.  After one sleep-deprived night when she was about a week old, I dragged my zombie self to Walmart and hunted this baby down. It's awesome. It's small enough to sit right by my bed (nice to give her the binky when I'm half asleep or grab her and nurse her at night without having to leave my bed - except for diaper changes), easy enough to drag around the house, it keeps her at a little bit of an incline and is small enough that she feels a more enclosed, and it rocks. No, it literally rocks. :) When she fusses at night, there's been more than once that I've just reached over and rocked it and then woken up a while later with my hand still on it. It also vibrates, which she likes. I don't have a swing because they're bulky and expensive and Sophia didn't even like a swing, so this is my life-saving alternative. It's probably the best $50 I've spent so far with Grace. The only (sort of) downside is that it's low enough to the ground Sophia can reach it and bug/violently rock/poke love Grace while she's sleeping.

2. Summer Infant Video Monitor
Love this thing. Looking back, the model I got is a little flimsy and I've had to order replacement parts for the camera and power cable, but the video monitor itself is a lot of fun. It gives me more peace-of-mind to actually see my little babies, and then it's hilarious to watch the older babies/toddlers. Also, it can connect up to 4 cameras, so when I'm in the shower, I hook up both of mine and it'll scan through them every 8 seconds, and I can keep an eye on both of them. They're $100+ and should NOT have been as flimsy as mine was, but worth it, I think. The only other con about it is the relatively short range (compared to sound-only monitors, which are also MUCH cheaper). 

3. Aden and Anais Blankets
They're soft, have lots of pretty patterns, light-weight, and HUGE. I don't know why I used the receiving blankets from Walmart or Target. They were so small Sophia broke out of them all the time, but the aden+anais blankets are awesome. The Swaddle Me blankets with the velcro are also great. We got one from the hospital, and when Grace is particularly fussy/flailing around a lot, they give a great, tight swaddle that's even tighter than the blankets. I just don't prefer to have her in them at night because the zipper and velcro is kinda tough to get into (in my opinion) at night. Plus, they're not great if you want to use them as a regular blanket...because they've got the velcro and I wouldn't throw it in my diaper bag or car seat for an outing, but they definitely have a place and purpose.

4. Pampers Swaddlers
No matter which brand you buy, I love the newborn diapers with the wetness indicator stripe that turns blue when the baby has peed. Genius! Swaddlers happen to be my favorite because I think they're softer and because I especially prefer Pampers to other brands in the larger sizes, and since they do a rewards point program - might as well start getting them now and rack up the points for later. I know everyone has their own preference, but when I've bought other brands recently, Sophia has had more leaking and complains about them being scratchy. So I won't buy anything else. 

5. Play Mat
It's just nice to have a place to put your baby down, and play mats are good for different stages. Now, I use it for tummy time. As Sophia got a little older, she really liked looking at, reaching for, and eating the toys. Then when she started sitting up and rolling, I took the bars off and put her toys on it. I just think they're great. And now that I've gotten it out for Grace, Sophia sometimes puts blankets on it and calls it her ya go. Fun for all ages!

6. Electric breast pump
With Sophia, this was necessary because I worked. Now, it's just nice to have a bottle or two pumped in case we're out running errands when Grace needs to eat, or if I want to go somewhere and leave Grace with Russ. It also gives me peace of mind to have a little supply and know just how much I'm producing/ she's getting.

7. Camera/Baby Book
More than anything, these represent RECORDING MEMORIES! My advice is to write down as much as you can and take lots of pictures. You'll only regret pictures you don't take and you'll be amazed at how much you DON'T remember. Moms get together a lot and talk about when your child started doing this or that, and you can pull out and the baby book/blog/journal and remind yourself. Now that I have Grace, my advice is also to write everything. Not just the good. I say that because I've been trying to go back and see what we did with Sophia when she was up all night with gas or when she had growth spurts, but since I only wrote the mushy, good stuff, I don't have a record of how we handled her. Plus, I just like comparing how things were the first time and now. 

8. Itzbeen or iBaby Feed app
The itzbeen is a little timer for eating, diaper, and sleeping. It also has a flashlight and tells which side you fed on last. It was my brain for several months of Sophia's life. Then when I used it for Grace, Sophia kept playing with it, sooooo it wasn't as useful. Then I learned about the app from my friend's must-have list. It's my new brain for keeping track of diapers and eating.

 9. Easy-to-get-into Jammies
Some of the cutest jammies are the ones with snaps. My advice is to first look for the zipper ones while you're shopping, or if you get snap ones, make sure they're cute enough to justify all that snapping when you have a squirmy baby and you're half awake. :) The nightgowns are Russ's favorite. They make diaper changes really easy!

10. Pacifier with clip
The binky, of course, is a life-saver in and of itself for me, but I've spent what has probably added up to HOURS of my life in the past 2.5 years hunting down pacifiers (or "uh oh"'s as Sophia calls them - because we'd say "uh oh!" when she dropped it so when she learned to talk, she called it an uh oh). I don't really use the clip that much to actually clip to Grace since she's in and out of blankets so much right now, but I like that with the clip, it can't go too far, and I can hang it on her bed/car seat/stroller and find it more easily.

Here is Grace, my beautiful model, showing the blanket, rocker, and pacifier clip in action. :) haha This wasn't planned. It just proves that I really do use this stuff every day.

Friday, July 25, 2014

One Month Old

One month old already!? How did this happen? We've been so busy doing fun family things, the time flew by. In some ways, I don't feel like Grace is any different than she was a month ago, but we are starting to get the hang of each other now. I love her.

A true newborn look: chicken arms and legs, but no neck. But man do I love those dark newborn eyes. 
Here are some things to remember about Gracie (beginning with what I think are the most unique):
- Right before she falls asleep, she almost always lets out a big, high-pitched scream. Not a cry. A scream. She also gets very squeaky hiccups at least once a day.

- almost exclusively turns her head to the left. The pediatrician told me gently to stretch it back, but the girl always turns it right back. I'm worried she might have to wear one of those baby helmets to keep her head from being flat on the left side, and it would just be a shame to cover that cute hair.

- got a patch of gray hair on her right side and was also born with her ear folded down on that side (the ear has pretty much straightened out now).

- good eater and a better burper. Seriously. It was so hard to get Sophia to burp, but sometimes Grace even pauses during eating and burps. It's a good thing she is, though, because if she doesn't burp, you can bet they'll be a fussy gas problem later.

- about 3 weeks of both eyes having clogged tear ducts ever since birth. They are doing better now, but still have days where she gets a little goopy. So sad when her little eyes couldn't even open because they were crusted over.

- loves sleeping in her car seat, which is really good because we're out and about almost every day. I think at 1 month, Sophia had only been to the church, pediatrician, and the grocery story. Grace has been to those places plus the zoo, swimming pool, Children's Museum, library, etc.

- wants to be held a lot. We're getting better at having her fall asleep on her own and be happy just to watch what's going on around her, but with my family in town and my mom here for 3 weeks, she got spoiled with lots of cuddles. Sometimes she'll cry really hard and stop immediately after she is picked up.

- not only does she have a lot of hair, but I think it's going to be curly.

- endures a lot of love from big sister. Sophia holds her hand, sings to her, retrieves her binky (whether Grace wants it or not...), shares her special blanket, wants Grace to lay in her bed, helps give her a bottle, hugs and kisses her, and Sophia loves wearing her different shirts saying some form of "Big Sister" on them.
A few of my favorites are middle left (reading to Grace), middle middle (holding hands/using Grace as a pillow), bottom middle (she often asks Grace questions, wants her to look at things, or hands her things. This time Grace's reflexes actually got her to hold the toy she was handed. hahaha)
- does sleepy baby smiles!! I really don't think Sophia ever did this, and she didn't smile until she was 10 weeks old. She was a serious newborn, but Grace favors us with little smiles all the time.
hahah look at that face!
Here's a couple other cute pictures from Gracie's first month:
Not a fan of her 1st bath. Cried and turned all red - just like Sophia did.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Grace's Birth Story

This birth story is super long and detailed, so I put cliff notes at the end. I mostly wrote this for my own memory and journal, but I (for some reason) love hearing and reading other people's birth stories, so here is Grace's. :)     

      Since Sophia came 3 weeks early, we quite anticipated Grace would do the same. She certainly showed signs of it at my prenatal appointments, so every day past 37 weeks was bittersweet. She were born right at 38 weeks, so still plenty early, and truth be told the extra week was good for getting more things done, but I wanted to know when she'd be coming! So on Sunday night, June 22nd, Russ and I had a normal evening of calling our families and looking at the calendar. At the same time, however, I had a feeling I can only call a prompting that I should get a couple things I’d been putting off done that night. I didn’t put too much stock into the feeling in case it was just wishful thinking.

            We went to bed a little earlier than usual, which turned out to be a blessing, because at 4:30am I woke up because I needed to use the bathroom (my nightly ritual), but also noticed I was in pain. I started to time my contractions and noticed they were coming steadily every 1.5-2.5 minutes. They were definitely noticeable, but not particularly painful. After about 45 minutes of contractions I decided it was at least time to get up and finish packing the hospital bags. At 5:30, I woke up Russ, reeeaaallllyyy hoping this wasn’t a false alarm because then we’d both be tired that day. He said he also had an inkling maybe that night was the night because he felt wide awake as soon as I woke him up. After about 10 more minutes, I called the doctor, still having very regular but not very intense contractions and wondering if it was time to go to the hospital. She advised me to at least get it checked out, so I called/woke up my friend Brittany and she drove over to watch Sophia. Russ and I left to the hospital a little after 6am.

          We parked and checked in at the hospital at 6:20. If anything my contractions had slowed down! I felt like I should be a little more sure or in a little more pain to actually be having a baby. We were put in a room and my contractions and Grace's heartbeat were monitored. At 7am, the nurses came to check and found that I was already dilated to 6cm, even though I was having mild contractions every 5 minutes or so and no pain in-between. They started getting me hooked up with IVs and at one point, one of the nurses congratulated me, so I asked, “Wait. Does that mean this is actually happening?”

            At 7:45, we were moved from triage to labor and delivery. I was still feeling very comfortable, but able to notice and track my contractions because of the monitors around the room. My contractions started getting a little more intense and changed. From 4:30 until about 7am, they began in my back, like a pinched nerve, for about 10 seconds. After that I felt the pain/ache primarily in my abdomen, more like cramps. Throughout almost the entire labor process, I felt zero pain between contractions. However, at home they were 1-2 minutes, but the pain was about a 3. Starting at about 7:30 or 8:00, the contractions were only about every 5-10 minutes, but the pain was at about a 7. This time around we were better about packing hospital bags for me, Russ, and Sophia, but we realized we still had Sophia's car seat. So Russ ran back home to drop off the car seat to Brittany, who graciously watched Sophia that morning until my sister came to pick her up. While Russ was at home, he woke up Sophia and told her Mommy was at the hospital and asked if she knew what that meant. She got excited and said, "Baby Dace is here?"

          At 9:30 or so, my doctor came to check and found that I was still dilated to 6cm. I told her I felt like my labor was slowing down and that I was only having contractions about every 10 minutes, but she and the nurse looked at the monitors and said, “No, you’re having them every 4 minutes!” Also, she came in and thought I already had my epidural because I was so comfortable. It was determined that I have a high pain tolerance. :) The nurse gave me tiny doses of Pitocin to get my labor to start going faster, and it sure did. Around10am I told the nurse I was ready for my epidural. By the time the epidural was actually placed, it was about 11:15. It was not as painful this time as I remember it being with Sophia (although it definitely still hurt a lot).  My back apparently oozed blood during the placement (gross and kinda scary to see nurses and doctors looking at your back and talking to each other cryptically when you don’t know what’s going on). It worked, though, and that's what's important! 

         Mostly, this labor was so slow and chill compared to Sophia's, I didn't know what to do with my time. The nurses kept asking how I was doing, and I'd say, "I'm just...hangin' out...waiting for this baby to do something..."At 12:30, the doctor came back again, and I was still at 6cm so she decided to break my water. They upped the Pitocin just a bit, but decided I would probably go pretty fast on my own after that. I did. Almost immediately after, I started to feel pressure come and go. The nurse told me that was the baby’s head sliding into position and to let her know when I felt that pressure all the time because the longer we let her slide into position, the less work I'd have to do when I was pushing. At about 1:15, I was really noticing my contractions and lots of pressure, but I wasn’t sure whether or not it was time to call. I was having contractions about every 2 minutes, and they were intense, and I was able to feel a lot of the pain. Finally at 1:30, I called the nurse in to ask if I could get more of my epidural. She also checked me and said, “Yep. It’s time to have a baby.” She said I wouldn't have to push much, but I thought she was just lying to be nice. The next 10-15 minutes were really hard to wait for the doctor to arrive because I was in a lot of pain – probably the worst pain I had with either this labor or Sophia’s. 

            I don’t remember what time the doctor arrived, but she asked if I was ready to have a baby. The whole thing was still so, so surreal to me. I told her I actually preferred to take a nap, partially because while we were waiting, my epidural kicked in again and partially because I was so tired and out-of-it.  :) Then came the pushing.  No one really said anything to me (other than to tell me when to push) until after 2 pushes they said, “Do it again, and you’re done.” I thought they were lying. Pushing was hard and tiring with Sophia. This time I only pushed 3 times. The doctor said, “Look at her! Look down!” They pulled out a tiny little baby, and I said, “Oh my goodness! She looks exactly like Sophia!”

           No tearing. No pooping. No conehead. Healthy baby. Epidural. Dream labor and delivery experience again. Grace was taken over to get cleaned up and weighed, and I just laid there in a daze. A happy, tired, surreal daze. A giant thunderstorm had rolled in. We were on the 9th floor, so we had a good view. Russ and I both really like summer thunderstorms, and it’s pretty cool that my little girl was born during a giant Texas thunderstorm. Lissa, who was on the road picking up Sophia from Brittany's house and getting totally soaked in the process, did not think the thunderstorm was that awesome.

            Russ was over snapping pictures of Grace, and when they brought her to me, she was a mad little baby! With her hat on and her big round face, I said, “Oh! She looks like a grumpy old man!” She turned pretty red, just like Sophia, and has the most adorable mad face. Then when she gets really worked up, her bottom jaw quivers. She has a lot of dark hair, but seems to have blonde eyebrows like Sophia. I wonder if she’ll stay a brunette or turn into a little blondie like her big sister. I realized Russ hadn’t held her yet, so he held her for a bit, and then I took her back to do skin-to-skin and try nursing her. Later, while I was holding my sleeping girl, I was struck with how much she reminded me of Sophia, and also by her squishy, squishy face. I am in love all over again. Now I have three loves of my life!

            About three hours after Grace was born, we were moved again – this time to the Mother Baby floor (12th floor). My legs were still really tingly from the epidural, so two nurses helped me into the wheelchair. The strangest part was that when I moved my legs, they didn’t really react. I felt like one of those puppets on strings whose legs are all wonky when they move. After dinner, the nurses had me try to use the bathroom. I say “try” because…I couldn’t. My puppet legs walked into the bathroom and sat down, but nothing came out. Then they had me drink tons and try again in an hour – at that point I was able to pee. Hooray for pee. 

            The first night, Grace did pretty good for a brand new baby. She was basically happy as long as she was swaddled and warm. If we even moved her blanket off of her a little bit, she'd do a high-pitched scream/cry. I think I got about 4.5 hours of sleep that first night (not all at once, of course). She wanted to eat a lot, and rooted around a lot. Russ kept saying, “I think she’s still hungry” even though I’d just fed her. Now, after two weeks, we’ve learned that she pretty much roots any time she's unhappy. On Tuesday morning, my sister brought Sophia to the hospital. Russ filmed her reaction. It was priceless, even cuter than I’d hoped. For most of my pregnancy, I worried (a lot) about Sophia being jealous and resentful, but it was love at first sight. She kept asking to hold her, moving around the bed to be close to her, and kissing her. 

          My recovery has been really good again. Besides not being able to feel my legs the first day and major cramps every time Grace began to nurse for the first few days, I've been feeling pretty normal. My tummy is already pretty flat again, but I can't button any of my pre-pregnancy pants yet. A couple days after I got home I started feeling swollen and got my motrin prescription. Grace usually wakes up 2 times a night, so I am tired, but that's normal Luckily, my mom flew in the night before we came home from the hospital, so she's been here the entire time to help. She is a great help with playing with Sophia, holding Grace (since she basically wants to be held all the time - awake or asleep), cooking dinner, telling me to take naps...everything. 

          Russ took Monday - Wednesday off but was back to work on Thursday. He is busy and tired, but is helpful in the evenings when he is home. When Grace cries, he sings her love songs and gives her tummy time on his chest. :) Sometimes they take short after-work naps together. He is especially helpful in playing with Sophia and taking her swimming in the evenings, but I don't wake him up at night like I did when Sophia was a baby because his workday starts so much earlier and is so much longer than it was at his previous job. 

         Once again, the hardest part has been nursing. It's going a lot better overall than with Sophia, but it has had different challenges. With Sophia, it was emotionally hard. I worried and stressed all the time whether or not she was getting enough to eat and she had trouble latching. Grace is basically the opposite. She latches so well that I was bleeding and in excruciating pain before we even left the hospital. We got home Wednesday and by Saturday we were at the lactation consultant for help because I was bleeding so much that she was spitting up blood and the whole time she ate, I was in so much pain I would say it is comparable to the worst labor pain I ever had. I'd cringe and want to cry the entire time she ate. Things are going a lot better now, but that girl is an effective eater (which is actually kinda nice because she eats twice as fast as Sophia as a newborn, meaning I don't have to have my attention away from Sophia for as long and we can be out and about more often). 

           We love our little Gracie Lee. Her arrival to our family has been a subtle and natural feeling. It really is true that your capacity to love doesn't split, but multiplies as new children are born. She is snuggly and beautiful and squeaks while she sleeps. I love her beautiful dark eyes observing this new world. I love it when she seems to perk up when she hears my voice. She has perfect, tiny hands, toes, nose, and I think it's adorable when she furrows her little eyebrows before she lets out a big cry. She loves being swaddled and held really close to your body. She has thick, long, soft brown hair, and I love touching her soft face. When she's upset, she likes to hold really tight to our thumbs with both hands, and it calms her down. I love newborn yawns. She's so tiny, I'm not even sure where to kiss her! I love, LOVE my girls. I love it when Sophia tries to have conversations with Grace, checks on her while she's sleeping, wants to give her kisses, and lay in the crib together. I am thankful for my family of four. They are the best parts of my life.

Cliff Notes:
4:30am on Monday, June 23 contractions wake me up and I start timing them
5:30 wake up Russ, call the doctor, call our friend to come stay with Sophia
6:20 check in at hospital, contractions slow down and I'm worried I woke people up for nothing
7:00 contractions still slow, but dilated to 6cm, so we're admitted
9:40 still 6cm, contractions coming faster, given low dose of pitocin
10:00 contractions start picking up and become much more painful
11:15 epidural
12:30 doctor breaks my water
1:30 in a LOT of pain, so call the nurse and find out it's already time to push, but we have to wait for the doctor to come back (I maybe waited too long to call the nurse...)
1:55 Grace born after only 3 pushes. 
- When they first showed her to me, I said, "She looks JUST like Sophia!". I still think they look really similar as newborns, but Grace has TONS of hair. It's thick and long and dark brown. She's beautiful, has a cute little nose, squishy round face, and doesn't cry so much as do a high-pitched scream. She's basically happy as long as she's swaddled, really warm, and being snuggled. 
- My recovery has been easy again. No stitches, but do feel a little swollen. The doctor and nurse said I must have a high pain tolerance (I was also told while recovering with Sophia). The lack of sleep is finally catching up to me, and the hardest part, physically, has been nursing. The girl has a strong suck and feeding her caused maybe the most pain I've ever experienced (it's getting better every day, though).
- Sophia loves Grace and her adjustment to being a big sister seems to be going really well. Thank goodness I have my mom here to help as I learn to juggle my time with two children. 

Grace's Newborn Pictures

My friend, Brittany, came over last week and took newborn pictures of Grace. She did SUCH a good job. I love that we captured Grace as a squishy newborn, and in the pictures where she only has one eye open - that is very typical of her as a newborn. She often cracks only one eye open to check out what was going on, and then decides to go back to sleep. Now that she's 2 weeks old, she is alert and awake more often, but still spends about 75% of the time with her eyes closed - sleeping or crying. :)

It was really hard to pick which pictures to put on here, but here are some of my very favorites.

She has a small patch of gray hair above her ear. I love it. I like the think the Grace she is named for gave her a kiss on the head on her way down from heaven. 

Then I used the beautiful pictures to design her birth announcement.