Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Out of Town Family

A week and a half ago on Eleanor's two week birthday she received some very special visitors. Her grandparents from Texas! They had been chomping at the bit for two weeks in anticipation to visit their first grandchild.

They stayed with us for the weekend and loved every special minute spent with their granddaughter.

They arrived Thursday night and we caught up and they swooned over the girl. Friday morning, we were up and again, obsessing over the babe. We hung around the house and that night my parents had us all over for dinner. Here are the grandmas and I admiring our angel. Eleanor is very lucky to have so many grandparents that love her.
Saturday, they grandparents stepped out for a bit, all 4 together, to do some Christmas shopping while Hub and I got a nap in. They came home to fix us dinner and spend time reading the books they got for Baby E.

Included in the books were many classics from Hub's childhood including a book that Grandpa R reads in a special voice. Very cute.

We enjoyed their visit very much and are always sad to part ways. Hopefully it won't be too long before we see them again.

We love our Texas family!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holidays Don't Always go as Planned...

We don't really do the same thing every year for the Christmas holidays.

By Christmas of 2008, we had been together for 4 years, were engaged, had bought our house 3 months earlier, brought home a puppy at the beginning of December and it was the first Christmas we were spending together. Before that Ben had always gone home to Texas for the holiday. That year, his family came here. It was a great Christmas with a house full of family, snow and our families got to spend Christmas together.
Christmas of 2009 we had just gotten married a few months earlier and spent the holiday in Washington with my family. It was a little strange to wake up Christmas morning with just the two of us, but nice at the same time. We chatted with his family on the computer for a while and opened gifts with them and then headed over to my parents to open gifts and have dinner with them.
Christmas 2010 was spent in San Antonio with Ben's family. It was my first time away from my family for Christmas but our Texas family made it very special indeed. After getting back to Washington we celebrated with my family on New Year's day.

This year, after welcoming our baby just a mere 24 days earlier, our plan was to have a low-key, quiet day/dinner at my parents' house on Christmas day. However, a yucky cold for my mom had other plans so we didn't make it over there. We had french toast for breakfast, exchanged our gifts, spoke with Ben's family on the computer and opened gifts from them and relaxed all day long. It was a little strange not seeing any other family but it was kind of nice and special having out first Christmas with our new family of three.

Not the best photo but glad we got one with the 3 of us. Thank goodness
for a Gorillapod and camera timer!

Pretty sure she understood that this gift was for her!
We did go to my parents' yesterday because it seemed as though the cold had passed so we exchanged gifts and had a yummy dinner of a pork crown roast from the pigs that my parents raised last year. We relaxed and visited and of course Eleanor's grandparents gushed over her for a few hours. We called it an early night after a big dinner and on the account that we get tired pretty early these days.
Dad opening a gift with her at my parents'.

Hub gettin' artsy...until my brother noticed the creeper outside!

Even though it wasn't necessarily the "planned" Christmas we had a wonderful weekend and are just cherishing the quiet time we have together before Hub gets geared up for getting back to work.

How did you spend your holidays? Do you have the same plans every year or do they change? 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"I've got nipples, Greg. Can you milk me?"

Sorry, I couldn't help myself with that line from a movie. Speaking of milking, let's talk about breastfeeding. If you have no interest in milk, nipples, feeding a baby, etc. I would just go ahead and stop reading here. For those of you that can relate, offer advice, commiserate or are interested--read on.

Breastfeeding is not easy. I didn't really realize this. I had always known that I would want to breastfeed my babies if possible. My mom did, I think it's this right decision for me and I love the intimacy of it with my baby. I thought, okay, I'll have a baby, she has a mouth, I have a nipple, milk will come out and we will all go on our merry way. However, it is not all a barrel of laughs and I think many women forget to share this information so I am going to share.

The very first couple of times that Eleanor latched after being born, she was getting a little high on my nipple so she caused some blistering. I did not notice this at the time because I was in a state of euphoria having just birthed my daughter. I just thought, "Oh, great, she's on there are sucking--this will be a breeze." Oh, silly me. From then on, I have never had a problem getting her to latch or suck. Oh boy, does she suck. Similar to a vacuum cleaner I would say. My milk came in on about day 4 which was great. It was not horribly uncomfortable. I think I had a clogged duct for a couple of days but with pumping, nursing and massaging it worked itself out. The problem that I seem to have encountered is this horrendous, toe-curling nipple pain. I seriously thought something was wrong because why in the world would it hurt this bad? This is a natural thing, what I am supposed to be doing right? Ben tried to explain that it makes sense it would hurt--after all this is a new thing, never have my poor nipples been subjected to this type of man handling baby mouthing before. Okay, on I go.

I start mentioning this pain to my other friends who have breast fed. Oh, why yes, they say, the first few weeks there was definitely pain when the baby first got on but it went away. I mention it to my midwife at our two week postpardum appointment. Oh, why yes, she says, it will go away. Some women have that little pain forever though, it may never go away but hopefully will get better. Okay, I am normal, this is normal. I have come to realize that with babies, women tend to block out the bad parts after a certain amount of time. Maybe I shouldn't use the term bad but how about the hard parts. We all talk about the magic of a baby, how sweet, how cute, how wonderful it all is--and don't get me wrong I agree with all of this--but it is also helpful to hear some of the hard parts too, so we are prepared for them. And so we don't think we are freaks for having a few struggles.

I still have the nipple pain on day 21. It is hard to want to put my nipple in her mouth sometimes but I do it because once it's in there and she starts sucking it's fine. It is a little comical to me that I had a great, natural birth and here I am whining about some nipple pain. Oh, the irony. It is better when I pump it a few times in the morning and then start feeding her in the afternoon. However, when that happens I am only feeding her on one side and she doesn't get enough to keep her full very long so on those days it means feeding her every hour. Which is also hard.

On a positive note, I do love breastfeeding. I love holding her sweet, little body in my lap and knowing that I am giving her everything she needs. I know it will get easier or my nipple may just fall off and in a few months I will be one of the women who look back and struggle to remember the hard parts. She is also a really easy baby to nurse. She wakes, is hungry, eats from both breasts and then has a diaper change. All pretty easy in that respect. I also know that breastfeeding isn't for every woman and that's fine too. I have nothing against moms who don't breastfeed because if I have learned anything over the past year of all my friends having babies or the past 21 days of having my own, it is that every baby and every mom is different.

I did not write this post to scare anyone off from breastfeeding, I wrote it to have an honest recount of my experience over the past few weeks and to be honest with any expecting moms out there. Seriously, I swear there is a mom somewhere who has experienced what you are experiencing and can relate with you, no matter what.

Happy milking! ;)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Christmas I Only Wanted One Gift...

Gee, what gift could that have been? Yes, you guessed it--my daughter. Well I got it so now people, my mom in particular, are really wondering what I want for Christmas. In 4 days. I can't believe Christmas is 4 days away and a week after that we will enter 2012. So weird.

Anyhow, I think after becoming a mother 20 days ago, I realize that my wants right now are for my girl. To be happy, healthy, warm, loved and all the other goodness we can provide for her. It's not to say I think I am never going to want for anything ever again in my life but for now, I am content with our wonderful Christmas gift.
Luckily, I finished all of our Christmas shopping before Eleanor made her debut so the past few weeks have not been stressful in that department. We didn't go overboard with gifts this year but I think each person will genuinely enjoy what we are giving. 

It's funny how we can all go on and on about how the season is not about the gifts and the true gifts aren't presents but we are always caught giving gifts to each other every year. I do think my family is pretty good about not making gifts the main event though. We love to be together, relax, cook and enjoy a good meal as well. This year my mom decided to do things a little differently since she hosts Christmas every year with her extended side of the family. This year on Christmas day it will just be our immediate family. My mom and dad, brother and his girlfriend, Ben, Eleanor and I. It will be nice, quiet and relaxing. I am happy for the baby and I to not have the over stimulation and this way my family can all maximize their time with the baby as well instead of her being passed around constantly.

My true gift this year comes wrapped in a swaddle blanket--What will be your favorite gift of the season? Have you asked for anything special? Do you have one big Christmas gathering, a couple, or just a small, intimate one?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Season

Obviously I have been doing a whole lot of this lately:

so there has been little time to "get into the Christmas spirit." Of course I decorated our house before the baby came so we are surrounded by Christmas decorations at home but I haven't been out in the hustle bustle of shopping, looking at lights or attending any holiday gatherings. We went over to my parents' on Friday night for dinner because Ben's parents were in town and when we pulled out onto our street I was reminded that it was Christmas time because I saw lights on our neighbors' houses. I hadn't been out at dark since November 30th.

I thought I would peruse and see what I may have been engaging in had I had more time on my hands over the past 18 days of December.

Every year I mean to make a Christmas card display before they start pouring in:

I may have tried out some new cookie recipes or cookie decorating ideas:

Source: via Paige on Pinterest

I could have played around with some new decoration ideas for our annual sweater party that we did not have this year:

Source: via Lynn on Pinterest

We would have toured the lights:

I do love the Christmas season but I have been perfectly happy at home doing what I have been doing. There will be many more Christmas seasons to come but only one season of my first child's first few weeks of life. 

What festivities have you participated in this season? Any cookie recipes that jumped out as favorites this year? What was your favorite party you attended? What is your family's favorite holiday tradition?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Birth of Our Daughter

Well, let me just say, obviously by the lack of my posting lately, I have been busy. Who knew that a tiny lil' 6+ pound person could take up all of your time?! However, with that said, I love that she takes up all of my time and I am just smitten with her. She warms my heart from the inside out.

I want to start the chronicle of Eleanor's birth a few days before her actual birthday. The previous Sunday, I had been kind of buzzing around the house, making some cookies, putting some turkey soup up in the freezer, and putting finishing touches on our Christmas decorations. The next day, Monday, I enlisted my mom to head to the mall with me to get some Christmas shopping done. And, let's face it, to walk around a bit to get this baby moving. However, in the back of my mind I still thought my baby girl was going to be late. Her due date was December 4.

Tuesday, I milled around the house and wrapped the Christmas gifts I had bought. I felt really strange wrapping and putting gifts under the tree in November but I figured, "What the heck, I have the time, might as well get it done."

Wednesday, my girlfriend came over with her baby and she wanted some help decorating some onesies for him for a party they were going to. We sat around, visited, crafted and then she left. That night I had an appointment with my midwife at our birth center. I knew I was going to have my cervix checked for the first time since I was going to be 40 weeks in two days. Ben met me at the birth center and we walked in and I looked at the girls at the desk, we exchanged pleasantries and then I said, "Okay, I am ready. She can come anytime." I had never really felt like I was done like some women say, I was feeling fine about still being pregnant but for some reason, that day, that's what I said when I walked in.

We headed into the room and chatted with the midwife about different things and then she checked me. "Well, you're about 1 cm. dialated and still pretty long. It's hard to interpret anything but it's good you're progressing and you could definitely have her within the week."

We left, happy with the fact that there was progress and went home to eat dinner. We were eating dinner and I guess I kept making faces because Ben was looking at me funny. He asked if I was okay and I said I was just feeling kind of crampy but I figured that was to be expected after a cervix check. We went into bed around 8:30 or 9 and I was still having the "cramps" and I definitely felt like they were coming in intervals but was trying to ignore it.

I woke up at 11:30 that night and could definitely tell they were coming frequently. I tossed and turned and tried to get comfortable and couldn't. I told Ben I was going to take a bath. That was one of our steps to take to see if the contractions were real or if they went away after a bath. I was in the tub for awhile but obviously, in a standard bathtub, an almost 40 week preggo can't really get too comfortable. I got out and tried to lay back down and still couldn't get comfortable. By 1:30 a.m. I was up and walking around the house and just trying different positions to get comfortable. Ben made me a pancake and I was trying to drink water but then I began to throw up. It seemed that my body was just trying to get rid of everything. By this time, we were thinking that things were starting to get pretty real. Ben was getting the rest of our things together in case we thought we were leaving. He was timing my contractions and they were definitely getting closer together. I got back in the tub to try to relax some more. Again, not super comfortable and then we ran out of hot water!

I kept telling Ben that we needed to wait to page, we need to make sure, are we really sure this is it, just wait a little longer, etc. Ben called our parents at 4:30 a.m. to let them know what we were up to and that we were most likely going to page the midwife soon and we would let them know what happened when we got to the birth center. We paged the midwife at about 5:15. She called back, talked to Ben, talked to me and found I couldn't very well talk through a contraction and she told us to meet at the birth center in about an hour. My mom arrived at the house at about 6:00 a.m. and then offered to drive us to the birth center so Ben could sit in the back with me through my contractions. I was thankful for that because it was nice to have his hand to squeeze or him to lean on.

Once we arrived at the birth center, I had my vitals checked, we put our music on, the room was cozy. They checked me and confirmed that I was dialated to 5 cm and that it appeared this baby was on her way so I labored on. I labored in the tub, walking around, leaning on Ben and eventually back in the tub. There were two times when I thought I was going to cry but I and the birth assistant talked me out of it. I didn't have the energy to waste on crying. At this point I began to get the urge to push. I found out later that this was around 9:30 a.m. The midwife checked me and confirmed that it was indeed time to push. I pushed in the tub for awhile but I got a little too relaxed in there so they had be get into a squatting position. Ben was holding me up while he was sitting on the bed. We made some progress in this position but then it was time to get on the bed because the baby wasn't loving the squatting position. I was on my back for a little bit but didn't really like that so I flipped over and was on my hands and knees. Apparently I didn't really like pushing. I have heard some women say they love it and it feels like they are really making progress at that point. I literally felt like  my body was going to rip in two so I think it kind of scared me a little.
 However, I wasn't too scared that I couldn't continue because Eleanor Grace arrived at 10:23 a.m. after almost an hour of pushing. They placed her up under me and then once I flipped over, she was on my chest and staring up at me with bright, beautiful eyes. Ben was crying, I was crying, Eleanor cried which we were thankful for. Ben cut the cord, they checked Eleanor's vitals, we all cuddled on the bed and were overcome with the emotion of the most amazing experience of our lives. 

I could not have asked for a better birth experience and am so thankful that everything went well, went quickly and our baby arrived safely and healthy into our arms. My husband was beyond amazing the whole way through. He remained calm and supportive even though I found out later that he had to use the bathroom almost the whole 4 hours we labored at the birth center and then had leg cramps while I was pushing. He said he forgot about both of those things. Love him. I feel so thankful as a first time mom to have had such a wonderful experience and can only hope for that in the future! Right now, we are just basking in the happiness of caring for our beautiful baby girl.
The day after I gave birth, our birth center posted this on their Facebook page:
"We have a secret in our society. It's not that birth is painful, it's that women are strong..."
Love it. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Big, Happy *Sigh*

I have been MIA for awhile. The beginning of last week was mostly because of lack of any idea for content. Then, beginning Wednesday evening, November 30th, it was because all of a sudden my body started gettin' down to business.

Then at 10:23am on Thursday, December 1, 2011 the most beautiful angel came into my arms.

We are busy loving on our girl, Eleanor Grace, but I will be back with details soon!