September 29, 2012

Weekend Photo Dump

I had a hilarious moment as a "momtographer" this I laid Lily down on our fresh washed white sheets, snapped this picture...

...and experienced an extreme diaper explosion all over the sheets not a second later. Oh, motherhood, your welcome was fast and furious.

I've found it difficult to find time to post remotely regularly, so I thought I would just dump some photos here from the past week.

Her eyes just kill me.

Toy pile on Loki!

Sleeping in the family bassinet. 5 generations have slept in it.
Four generations

Talking to her auntie Kerry. Technology for the win.

Daddy snuggles are the best.

"I used to be your #1 photo subject!"

Mimi came to visit!

And a camera phone dump...feel free to follow me on Instagram at shazzitography.

Week One

Week Two

September 26, 2012

10 Days Old

How is it possible that you have been here for 10 days?

You have your daddy and I wrapped around your tiny, but long, little fingers.

We're still trying to figure out breastfeeding. You have found that bottles are so much easier than the boob, but we're still trying. I am pumping so at least when you get a bottle it's breastmilk.

Daddy is now a diaper changing expert.

You make the sweetest cooing sounds while you're asleep. They make me cry.

A lot of things make me cry. Heck, I just look at you and cry.

We're having more skin to skin time. I love feeling your little warm body up against mine. You're so soft and like a little personal heater.

You are so strong already. Your arms and legs are constantly moving, pushing and pulling. You also lift your head as often as possible. Your strength amazes me.

We had our first family outing on Monday. We went to the park for a picnic lunch and a short walk. It was a bit chilly though, so we didn't stay out long. You slept the whole time.

You sleep like a rock star. We are thankful for the Swaddle Me that is the only thing that keeps your arms tucked in, and you asleep at night.

Daddy goes back to work tomorrow and I'm dreading it. I love having us all home together.

You and Loki get along well so far. He sniffs you every now and then. He seems to have adopted a protective but curious attitude about you.

When you're content, you just look all around, wide-eyed with wonder. We love holding you and watching you discover your surroundings, even if what you're seeing is just blurry, blobby shapes. 

You smell so good, especially after a bath.

I think your hair might be strawberry blonde. Your eyes are a rich, dark blue. You're a beauty.

Can I keep you this small forever? Please?

September 24, 2012

Lily's Birth Story

If there's one thing I learned through Lily's birth, it's that no amount of planning can prepare you for what you will actually experience. You can have your bags packed, read and get advice on "what to expect", but until you're in the midst of it, you have no idea. I had no idea. It was absolutely the most emotional and amazing experience of my life.

I was due on September 22, so when my best friend Jonna asked to come visit last weekend, I said sure! Why not? Maybe I'd still be pregnant, maybe I'd go into labor...who knows? Sean was scheduled to work all day on Saturday, so Jonna and I planned on having a girly day. We went out for lunch on the water in Norwalk, and then went over to Westport to do some walking and window shopping. It was a seriously gorgeous day and I told Jonna I felt very at peace. Every day that I left work that week I thought "What if today was my last day before we have our baby?" Would I be happy with it? Would it be memorable? Spending a gorgeous September Saturday with my best friend was awesome and I was so glad she came to visit.

We went home around 4:00 to hang out and relax before going out to dinner. We put our feet up and lounged on the couch watching Project Runway. I decided around 6:00 that I wanted to paint my toenails before dinner. I got up from the couch to go get my polish, and of course, had to go to the bathroom. I had just sat down in the bathroom when I felt a pop! and a gush that was most definitely not pee.

Holy crap. My water broke.

It was so surreal. All of a sudden, my entire mindset shifted. My baby was coming. This was it. What do I do? I need to call Sean. I need my cell phone. "Jonnaaaa! My water just broke! I am sitting on the toilet! Help!" I proceeded to call Sean, who promptly ran out of work and was home in 10 minutes, and then I called my mom and Sean's mom to let them know that things were underway. In the meantime, Sean called Tek, his best friend, and within another 10 minutes, our best man and maid of honor were in our living room and I was in the shower reminding myself to breathe. And b the way, no one tells you is that when your water breaks, it doesn't all gush out at once. I will thank my lucky stars until the end of time that I was in the bathroom when it happened. I instructed Sean through the door on a couple last minute things to throw in the bags, got dressed, and it was time to go. Contractions hadn't started yet, but I needed to get antibiotics through an IV, so laboring at home was not really an option.

We were immediately admitted to the hospital and I got changed and climbed into bed. Contractions hadn't started yet, and when they checked me at 8:00, I was about 3cm and 80% effaced. We settled in and waited for contractions to ramp up, which they did quickly. I was stuck in the bed, and the pain got intense very quickly. I wish I could have been walking around or at least moving, but I just closed my eyes, squeezed Sean's hand, and breathed slowly through each. They felt like terrible period cramps that wrapped from my belly to my back. Some of them were right on top of each other and I didn't get a break from the pain. I'm not going to lie - I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, and I was having a hard time.

By midnight, I had not made any progress and asked for an epidural. I had hoped to hold out longer, but I also knew that sometimes your body needs a chance to relax in order to progress, and I hoped to go without needing pitocin (to jumpstart more frequent and intense contractions). Jonna and Tek left for the evening around midnight and by 1:00am the anesthesiologist came in to do the epi. I was so incredibly nervous, but reminded myself that soon enough the pain from the contractions would subside. Sean held my hand and soon enough the epi was done. I honestly think the IV needle hurt more. I had built up the epi in my head to be this awful pain and it was real not that bad.

I spent a lot of the night watching tv (Con Air, specifically), and watching time fly by. Every time I looked at the clock, it seemed like 20 minutes disappeared at a time. Our parents were getting on the road bright and early, so I texted them around 4am to wish them safe travels and that we'd see them soon. I eventually fell asleep after watching the contractions monitor. The rise and fall of contractions that I wasn't feeling was really amazing. It also dawned on me that it was September 16 and it would likely be my daughters birthday. That brought me to tears.

Around 7:00am the nurse came in to check me again and there was still no progress. They ordered pitocin to see what that would do. At this point the morning became a bit of a blur. Sean's parents arrived and visited with us. I think I dozed off at some point. Around 10:30am they came in to check and I was barely 4cm. Our doctor said they could feel the top of her head molding. Basically, my cervix was not dilating, but the contractions were squishing Lily's head downward, causing a bump the size of a golfball start to form (not like a conehead). At that point, a cesarean was recommended. It looked like progress was not getting where it needed to be and the molding caused concern. For about 3 minutes I had to mentally transition and adjust to this new path. We agreed that it was necessary to do what's best for the baby at this point. No point in trying to be a hero. She needed to come out.

The doctor left and Sean's parents went to get some breakfast at the cafeteria. Sean and I were left alone and at that point, I crumbled. I was sad my body didn't do what I had hoped it would do. I was overwhelmed with how fast things had changed. One minute, I had no idea how long it would be before we met her. The next minute, we were being told that we'd be meeting our daughter within 2 hours. There was a clear end in sight and she would be in our arms soon.

My mom arrived at that point and I had more tears. I never knew how much I needed my mom there until I saw her face and she gave me a big hug and kiss. At that point we were waiting for the anesthesiologist to be available to get things started. Sean got an awesome white paper suit to wear and we had matching stylish blue caps over our hair. Around noon they came in the bring me to the operating room. They said it would take them about 5-10 minutes to get her out, and then it would be about 30 minutes to put me back together and an hour in recovery. Everything seemed to be happening so fast. Sean came into the operating room once I was on the table.

Cesareans are weird. I don't know how to describe it. You're laying on a table, naked and numb, in a room full of people, and you just don't care. The anesthesiologist was incredible, was constantly asking me how I felt, if I was ok, offering a lot of support. Sean stayed next to my head and once it was clear that I was numb from the chest down, they put up the drape, prepped me, and got started. The drape was right in front of my face and I fought back tears, as I felt my body being pushed around, knowing that in a few short minutes, she'd be here. We'd hear her cry, and I'd finally see her face. I felt pressure and pulling and squishing, and felt no pain. It was so strange knowing that my body was cut open - it should hurt, but it didn't. They were working fast, and they were all talking rapidly and I don't remember a thing they were saying because Sean was at my side, next to my head, kissing my forehead and excitedly reminding me it was going to be soon. I was waiting for a feeling of release, one final pull.

And then there it was. Her cry. She was out, and she was crying, and it was the best thing I'd ever heard. I bawled my eyes out, I couldn't believe she was there. 12:33pm, Lily Marie was welcomed into the world.

Sean immediately went over to where they measured and weighed her and cleaned her up. I heard him say that she was beautiful and perfect. I've never heard his voice that emotional, and I just couldn't stop crying. I was going to see her so soon, I needed to not be blinded by tears! In a couple minutes Sean came over and she was placed at my head in between the two of us. My beautiful baby girl. Sean was right. She was absolutely perfect. I kissed her face and put my face to her. I wanted to smell her and take everything about her in. I only had a couple minutes with her before they took her away to the nursery and I was left to be closed up.

I was brought to the recovery room to spend an hour, while Sean stayed with Lily at the nursery. That hour was the longest of my life. For as fast as time had gone the night before, that hour went four times as slow. I dozed off a few times, thinking maybe 10 minutes had gone by. Yeah, no, only one or two minutes. All I wanted was to hold my baby. More mentally difficult than getting an epi or cesarean, the worst and most painful part of her birth was not being able to hold her right away. To know that she was so close by, but I couldn't even see her. I kept crying between naps and praying for the hour to go faster. And finally it was time to go get her.

Sean was brought into recovery and they wheeled me down the hall to the nursery. We paused at the entrance to the labor and delivery ward and pressed a little button on the wall. Brahms' Lullaby played over the loudspeaker of the hospital, letting everyone know that our baby was born. They wheeled my bed up to the nursery window and there she was, ready to finally be held by her mama. They brought her out to me and placed her in my arms, and I was just enchanted. How could this little person be ours? How is it possible to love someone instantaneously? Let me tell you, every cliche in the book is true.

We were brought to our post-partum room and given time just the three of us to bond. I couldn't stop kissing her cheeks and her nose and her head. She did have a little lump from the molding, but it was gone in a day. She was sleeping and looked so peaceful and content. I sang "You Are My Sunshine", although I could barely get the words out because a lump was rising in my throat. I looked at Sean and felt more in love with him than ever in the 10 years we've been together, more than our wedding day.

By this point, it was time to bring in our parents and Jonna and Tek and introduce them to her by name, which we'd kept a secret. I will share more on her name later, but there were a lot of tears and a lot of joy. And then a lot of pictures. Oh, the pictures...

We spent five days in the hospital due to the cesarean. It was very hard for me the first couple days. I had spent 48 hours straight on my back, so the first time getting out of bed was difficult and I felt awful. I had plenty of pain medications, but I just didn't feel like myself. Thankfully, each day got better, and continues to get better. Walk a little more, take a shower, wear my own clothes. Tomorrow I might even shave my legs! I remind myself to take it slow and again, don't be a hero. I will feel better soon enough. In the meantime, my energy is poured into snuggling and kissing my sweet little girl.

We have been exclusively breastfeeding, which has been quite a learning experience. We had to supplement one day with formula to top off after each feed since she'd lost a bit more weight than our pediatrician would like. Other than that, I feel like each day we're getting better and more patient with the process. It's hard, but absolutely worth it.

While a cesarean was not how I pictured her birth, it turned out to be the only option. We didn't know it until they pulled her out, but the umbilical cord had wrapped around her neck twice, preventing her from descending and helping my cervix to progress. There was no way to know this, so I thank God that the decision was made to deliver by cesarean and that I had my mantra of "healthy baby, healthy mama". I did not bring a birth plan to the hospital, and I believe our experience proves that no matter how much you plan, sometimes you have to just let go and do what is best for you and the baby. For me, it was instantly being ok with having the c-section, because it's what had to be done. We had an amazing team of doctors and nurses to work with, and I trusted them completely to do what was best for our baby.

Lastly, I cannot give enough thanks and credit to Sean. I feel like the past week has brought us closer together than ever. He never left my side, he coached me through every contraction, held my hand, kissed my cheek, told me I was doing great, and has continued to be just as wonderful every day. Every time I feed her, every time I cry, every time I feel overwhelmed by her crying or just taking in how amazing it is to have our little family at home, he kisses me and tells me I am doing great. He is simply the best. He loves her so much. I can't put into words how it feels to watch him with her. It's the most overwhelming feeling in the world. He is such an amazing daddy.

So we're home, we're learning, we're laughing, and we're having the most amazing adventure of our lives. I'm so in love with our family, and I'm so grateful for what we have. Life will never be the same as it was - it will be better.