Sunday, July 29, 2012

Belly Babbles Book Club - Bed Rest Edition

I took advantage of my 2 weeks of bed rest and c-section recovery time to do some reading. I don't usually have a lot of time anymore just to sit and read, so I enjoyed it! And I found some great books so I thought I'd share.


On the Island, by Tracey Garvis Graves: Wow, I loved this book, and read it a second time almost immediately. The general premise is that a young man and the woman hired as his tutor crash on a isolated beach on their way to the family summer destination. They fight to survive together and end up falling in love. Their relationship feels so genuine and organic - a refreshing change from the Nicholas Sparks-esque "instant attractions" that seem to be so popular right now. I loved reading about their adventures on the island, right down to Chicken, and I loved even more reading about how they found a way to reconnect back in the world, despite their unconventional relationship. 



 Alice I Have Been, by Melanie Benjamin: This book might not be everyone's cup of tea (heh), but if you have even a passing interest in historical fiction, Alice in Wonderland, or the British Victorian era, then you will love this book. The fictional novel follows the "real" Alice, and explores her role as the muse of Lewis Carroll, and the development of her life as both Alice Liddell and Alice of Wonderland. I actually discovered this book as an audiobook back in the golden days when Anna would let me go on walks with her, and thought both the book and the narrator were phenomenal. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this again as a book, and have happily added it to my Nook collection. 



The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern: My friend Kara suggested this book, and since she has never steered me wrong when it comes to good reading, I immediately checked it out at the library. In this book, two magical prodigies are bound together in a tournament of talents, where they never truly understand the rules or the stakes. The stage for the tournament is a mysterious circus, open only at night, and showcases a rich cast of enthralling characters. I loved the innovative plot, I loved the characters, and I loved the depth that the author gives to the circus. Unfortunately, I picked up this book right in the middle of the newborn stage (and therefore had a very fragmented attention span!!), so I am eager to re-read it when I can focus in more solid stretches. Seriously, read this one. 



Safe Haven, by Nicholas Sparks: But Sarah, just three paragraphs ago you were running down Nicholas Sparks!! Yes, I know. But this is my blog and I can be as contradictory as I want, haha. Anyway, although I don't generally go out of my way to read N.S. books, I will read them occasionally and this one caught my eye at the library. The story follows a young woman who escapes from an abusive marriage and finds a new life and new love in a sleepy coastal town. Although the story was a little slow to develop, I am happy that I kept reading because I thought the last few chapters were fascinating. If you are looking for an easy read with a fireworks of an ending, check this one out!

I'm looking to fill up my reading queue again now - anybody have any good recommendations? I'd love to hear them!

Monday, July 23, 2012

22 Months!

I am going to be honest and say that I'm not totally sure what day of the week it is, but my computer calendar is telling me that it's the 23rd, so that means it's time for a monthly update!! My calendar also just informed me that today is Monday, so there you go. And here we go!

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Anna's first fish!
Anna Bean grew up SO much this month. I don't know if it's just a normal toddler mental growth spurt, or being away from us for half the month, or what...but she is definitely a little girl now and we are loving every minute of it!! She repeats almost everything that we say, and we are always blown away at what she can comprehend and understand.

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 She is a little obsessed with her hair bows. She pulls them off after about 30 seconds, but then she's right back to her board picking out a new one!

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She is FASCINATED with buckles right now!
Anna has also decided that we don't have enough going on right now, so she's entering the Terrible Two's early. Temper tantrums galore!!! And she even earned herself her very first time-outs...both for biting Mommy. Let's hope that ends soon because seriously - ouch!

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Coloring books are for amateurs. Or maybe she will be a tattoo artist when she grows up, haha.
Apart from the Terrible Twos, she has been such a good big sister and my love for her just grows and grows the more I see her interact with Maddie. We are still working on "gentle", and she loves peeking in at her in her rocker, and sharing her toys. She even shared some of her favorite stickers this morning! She also likes to "help" me push Maddie into her nursery or wherever I need her to be, if she is in her co-sleeper crib. The only naughty things she does with Maddie is that she will steal her hats and also pull her blankets off.

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Baby has been stickered


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Holding hands

We took another step in the direction of Anna's big girl room and bought twin mattresses. Right now they are still in the nursery and the guest room is still a guest room, but we are planning to start the decorating and furniture moving soon! In the meantime, she is LOVING her new big beds. I get a kick out watching her jump on the beds and rearrange all the pillows to make a little nest for herself.

The other funny thing that Anna has become quite interested in is washing, and hey - we aren't complaining! If she sees one of us standing by a sink, she'll run over and hop until we lift her up and wash her hands. And if she gets her little paws on any kind of bottle, she will pretend to wash her hair and face. So cute!

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The other thing I have started considering again is a preschool or Mothers Morning Out program a couple of days a week. Originally, I had thought I would wait until she was three to start any kind of structured program, but now after hearing some other moms talking about it, and wavering on it for the last 6 months, I am reconsidering and I think it might be good for her to get started in one. I think it would be great for Anna's socialization, and as Madeline gets older too, it would be good to give us two time to bond and have "our" time. Any other moms of 2ish-year-olds, especially moms of 2+ kids...any opinions?

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Doing 4 puzzles at the same time, genius baby

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Playing at the pediatrician's office


We have also started contemplating what we want to do for her 2nd birthday coming up in September. We know we won't be having a big party or anything, but we do want to do something special to celebrate her big day. Right now we are thinking about going up to the lake, or staying here and doing something fun in Atlanta. It will be here before we know it, big girl!!

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Her cookware set is her new favorite toy

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Making cookies with Daddy

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That's all for this month, see you later alligators!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Homecoming Princess

Our darling girl Anna finally came home on Saturday after a fun-filled couple of weeks up at the lake. It was SO hard being away from her and it just about broke my heart when she cried because she was so happy to be home.

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Anna immediately claimed the balloon as her own


We had Maddie tucked into the corner in her rocker when Anna got home, and let the focus be on Bean for a while. She curled up right next to me and wrapped my arms around her as tight as they would go, and she wouldn't let go for the world!! Once she seemed to be settling in, we asked her if she wanted to see the baby...Anna walked over with us, peered into the rocker, and walked right back over to the couch, haha.

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Taking Maddie for a spin around the kitchen - don't worry, I was right there and she wasn't going fast!!


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Crazy girl


The good news is that Anna is really a wonderful big sister. She has been so eager to help, and so interested in the baby and what she happens to be doing at the time. Today she reached into my lap and gave Maddie several big hugs and a couple of kisses, completely unprompted! We have to remind her constantly to be gentle and to be careful around the baby, but it's all been from regular toddler rambunctiousness.

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She's trying to open Maddie's little fist for a high five

Her favorite way to help is to hand me supplies when I have Madeline on the changing table. We have all of the wipes and diapers stowed on the bottom two shelves of the changing table, and Anna makes it her mission to make sure that I have everything I could possibly need for Madeline's change. She gets a little overly enthusiastic, and I've had to play goalie for a few face-aimed wipe packs, but I think it's so cute how she wants to help.

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Anna also tries to share her snacks with Madeline - I tell her that it's sweet of her to share, but Madeline isn't ready yet for cantaloupe or Goldfish. Anna is also constantly trying to give Maddie a high five - luckily her smacks aren't too hard because Maddie hasn't quite figured out the concept yet, haha. Bean is very gentle though when she is petting Maddie's head, which is one of her new favorite things to do. And speaking of Maddie's head, her other favorite thing to do is to steal Maddie's hats. Anna also constantly points at Madeline and says "baby!".

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Trying to share her water crayon


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One other fun thing has been Anna's baby. SuSu bought Bean the little baby doll from American Girl, and Anna has really taken to it. She carries it around with her, gives it a milk bottle, and even fell asleep clutching it tonight. We encourage Anna to take care of her baby if we are busy with Maddie and it's really adorable to see her following along with us.

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Putting "her baby" in the car seat

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Showing off Madeline to her friends. Thanks Aunt Margaret for the cute outfit!
Anna has generally been really good and the only thing that is truly hard is not being able to pick her up (she's had quite the growth spurt recently and I start to feel it pretty quickly if I am carrying her). I also have difficulty getting Anna up and down the stairs but I am hoping that by the time Steve goes back to the office next week, I will have healed enough to handle the stairs. I am also perpetually on abdomen patrol - Bean has landed a few unintentional kicks or head butts to my midsection and hoo boy that hurts!!!!! Other than those things, I have been feeling good and recovering very quickly.

We have been spending our week getting the house cleaned up from its bed rest/end of pregnancy neglect and figuring out our new routine, and I am eager to be able to get out and about again with both the girls. I am so happy that Anna seems to be adjusting well and that she has welcomed her little sister with (seemingly) open arms and that she is excited to have a new little person to play with!

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I had a little helper with the laundry while Anna took her nap

I am sure that there will be more to share later but right now, I am so tired I can barely even think straight, haha. Time for this mama to hit the hay and hopefully be rested enough for a little trip out of the house tomorrow!!

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Cute sleepyhead :-) Thank you Sarah M. for the outfit!

Friday, July 13, 2012

A few Preemie Ponderings and some Pictures!

Miss Maddie just went down for a nap and since I am fresh off of a cup of coffee, I figured it was a good time for an update! We've also gotten some questions about the NICU and our preemie experience so far (all one week of it, haha) so I'll share some about that too.

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A monkey face to match her monkey outfit


Well, as you all know, Madeline was born at 35 weeks and she was in the NICU for about 2 days. She was on oxygen for a little while, and they also had her on an IV for fluids. They also had her hooked up to all kinds of monitors, but those were just standard NICU monitors. Since I was out of commission for about 12 hours after the surgery, they were giving her formula until I could get down to the NICU and start breastfeeding. They had her on a feeding tube too since she was such a poky eater, but when she made it abundantly clear that she very much preferred breast milk, the NICU staff removed the tube and actually discharged her a little bit earlier than they were planning. Their logic was that they wanted to make it as easy and accessible as possible for me to breastfeed and it really was a lot easier to do that once she was in the room with us. The NICU visits really took a lot out of me between getting out of bed and having to sit upright for the hour-ish long visit, so it was much easier once I could lay in bed and feed her.

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I love those little hands!


We also got to visit with the NICU Lactation Consultant at the hospital which was SO helpful. We never really needed help with Anna, but the LC helped us figure out the syringe solution to her sleepy, slow eating. She also gave us a very detailed, day-by-day guide to how many wet and dirty diapers to look for, how often we should be shooting to nurse, etc.

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What's up!

The NICU at the hospital seemed really nice. Our hospital had a Level III NICU and all of the nurses were fantastic. The other thing that was interesting about it was that the NICU was a locked unit - there were three or four "buzz in" points where you either had to have a badge to get through the door, or you had to get buzzed in from the NICU staff after they verified your identity. They also had an elaborate hand washing station outside of the final door, and they always asked once you got inside if you had washed your hands. Once Madeline got discharged from the NICU, she wore a security bracelet around her ankle that would alert the staff if anyone tried to take her out of the unit. Anna had that bracelet too but it looked massive tied around Maddie's little ankle!!

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Auntie Ally came to visit and meet her newest niece!


One thing that the NICU emphasized for us was how grateful we were that Madeline made it to 35 weeks. We ran into several of the other NICU mommies that had been coming there for weeks, and it made us feel kind of guilty when we told them that Madeline was only going to be there for a couple of days. Which I know is silly - the other moms were nothing but nice! We met one NICU mommy who was walking in holding a big bag of baby clothes, and she told us that her son had been born at 27 weeks, weighing just about a pound and a half. He was 34 weeks when we met her and I cannot even fathom having to be away from my baby for 7+ weeks like that. NICU mommies, you definitely have a ton of respect from Steve and me!!!!

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Holding each others' babies - little cousins!


Our other big blessing was that Miss Maddie was born very healthy. The nurses and doctors did keep emphasizing that we were lucky she was born healthy, and now it's our job to make sure we KEEP her healthy. Preemies still have developing systems and weakened immune systems, so prevention is the key to success with them! They gave me a pertussis booster vaccine in the hospital and they strongly recommended that anyone else who was going to be around her frequently get one too (it's on Steve's to-do list!). The doctor advised us to avoid taking Maddie out and about for at least a month, especially to crowded places like the grocery store or Target (which is maybe a good thing, haha). Hand washing is incredibly important, especially before picking her up or touching her, and we also have to take her temperature pretty frequently to make sure she isn't too hot or cold. I am also under orders to let her breastfeed as much as we can, although I do think that's pretty typical for a newborn - I don't remember getting too many breaks with Anna!

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Pretty much the only complication we've had since coming home is that Madeline did get pretty jaundiced. She was looking yellow at the hospital, but her bilirubin levels were in the normal range, so the NICU pediatrician just said to make sure to get in with our regular pediatrician as soon as possible once we got home. Sure enough, at the pediatrician appointment, her levels had grown really high (and she was VERY yellow), so we have spent the last two days with Maddie on a light bed contraption called a BiliBed. Basically she just lies on it in her diaper, and it gives her phototherapy to help get the bilirubin levels down. Madeline didn't seem to mind it all that much and we made sure to give her breaks every couple of hours to feed her and change her diaper and play with her a little bit. We've had to go to the pediatrician every day so they can check her levels (which involves a painful little heel prick), and we got the great news today that they've gone down enough to cautiously stop the BiliBed treatment. They want us to hang on to the bed one more day and we have to go back in the morning to check her levels one more time, but we're all hopeful that her body will start bringing down the levels on its own and we can be done with the light bed!

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Other than the jaundice, we are all doing well. Madeline is gaining weight like a champ - 4 lbs 8 ounces today! Anna Bean is coming home tomorrow and I am excited - I miss her so much and I am looking forward to getting settled down as our happy little family of four.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Madeline's Birth Story

As you all know, we had our c-section scheduled for July 11th (today!! haha). Last Friday, I was supposed to have a pre-op appointment with the anesthesiologist so we could talk about the surgery and what my options would be for anesthesia.

Well, I roll out of bed Friday morning and I'm standing up brushing my teeth when I start feeling something very alarming and very unwelcome. I rush into the bathroom and sure enough, there is blood everywhere. I try to stay calm and I call my doctors, who immediately order me to Labor & Delivery at the hospital. I send Steve a text, toss a few more things into my hospital bag, and head on in.

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First time holding Miss Maddie

Luckily, my bleeding had slowed down by the time I get checked into L&D so they were able to downgrade me from an emergency situation. My doctors had some pretty lengthy consultations with the high risk doctors, and they decided that it wasn't worth the risk to try to keep me in the hospital until Wednesday. The stars had aligned pretty much as perfectly as they could for it being the wrong day - I hadn't eaten anything yet, my doctors were all in town and available, and I had gotten a decent night of sleep after about a week of insomnia. And it wasn't the middle of the night! They scheduled me for the next available operating room slot and told me that the surgery would be between 4:00 and 5:00.  Holy cow folks, we're having a baby!

My doctor came in and said that although she reviewed the plan that the high risk doctor had outlined (a high incision, definite hysterectomy), she really wanted to go in through a classic c-section incision and see what was going on. I'm not gonna lie, I was very nervous about the situation. I envisioned her cutting right into the placenta and causing a hemorrhage. I was also especially nervous after talking to the anesthesiologist and he was very reluctant to do a general anesthesia right off the bat. He wanted to do a spinal, which is the step in between an epidural and general anesthesia. Did I really want to be awake for this???

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They didn't come in and get me for anesthesia until after 5:30 and by then, we were getting pretty antsy. Then they get me into the OR and I start getting terrified! There were SO many people in there and everyone looked so serious and kind of nervous. The anesthesiologist gets the spinal in, and my legs start going numb almost immediately. More people come in the room, including a couple who were just there "observing". Awesome. I'm hooked up to what feels like every contraption in the hospital, and they have an IV port ready to go in case they need to move to general anesthesia. They bring Steve in, get the drape up, triple check the anesthesia, and it's show time.

Well, the problems for me started almost immediately. The drape is RIGHT in my face (with Anna's c-section, it was down near my rib cage), I start to get claustrophobic and the spinal made it impossible for me to feel like I could get a good deep breath. I start having a panic attack and I get overwhelmed by nausea. I start gagging but can't move my stomach muscles, so they start pumping tons of anti-nausea medicine into me and upped my oxygen flow. The anesthesiology tech was stroking my forehead and telling me that everything was going to be okay, and she kept cold cloths coming to my neck and face.

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Proud poppa!


At some point, Steve hears a "pop", and blood starts gushing down over the side of the table and all over my doctor's shoes. Steve starts internally freaking out but keeps calm so I don't get upset. All in all, the doctors think I lost about 700 cc's of blood. They had a Cell Saver machine going trying to recycle some of my blood back into me, and luckily they were able to get whatever it was sewn off so I stopped bleeding, and I was able to avoid a transfusion. They monitored my platelet counts pretty closely while I was in the hospital and they seemed like they were getting replenished pretty steadily, so I am happy that we were able to skip the transfusions!!

Apparently Madeline was pretty cozy in there and it took them a while to get her out. She came out squalling and I loved hearing her tiny squawks. They get her cleaned up, we take some pictures even though I'm a bleary pukey teary mess, and the doctors continue with the surgery. The room is silent for a minute, and then I hear my doctor announce that the accreta was minimal and that she was going to save the uterus. The whole room is stunned, ourselves included - we ALL saw that last ultrasound and every single person in that room was convinced that we were doing a hysterectomy that day. I am in the middle of my second panic attack and not really focusing on anything except getting some more of that anti-nausea medicine!!

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I know you guys have already seen this picture but I felt like this post needed a surgery picture!

At this point in the surgery, I am unbelievably exhausted. I don't know if it was all the medicine they had pumped into me, or just straight-out exhaustion, but I can barely keep my eyes open. I doze off for a while and Steve has to step out of the room for some fresh air. Even when I wake up, I'm so tired that I can't even talk to answer any questions...I just manage to shake or nod my head.

All in all the surgery lasted for about an hour and a half. I was in the recovery room for quite some time and then they moved me to my room...where I made the unpleasant discovery that the anesthesiologist had forbidden any narcotics or "real" painkillers until I could bear weight on my legs, which wouldn't be until the next day!! The nurse informed me that I "only" had three more hours until I could get my next dose of anti-inflammatory, but luckily they relented when I started crying and Steve went out to talk to them.

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Loving my sleepy new roommate - she joined us on Sunday!
 
My surgery story was a great conversation starter with pretty much every new nurse shift change. Apparently my name had been written ALL over the L&D notes and we had multiple nurses hear my name, make the connection, and say, "Ohhhh!!!! Are you the girl that ended up not having to have the hysterectomy??" My ability to see the humor in the "celebrity" situation depended heavily on how well the pain medications were working at the time, haha, but really all the nurses were very sweet and they would all say how happy they were for me that the surgery turned out the way that it did.

Overall, the recovery has been easier than my first c-section. I took advantage of Madeline being in the NICU to sleep as much as I could (I wasn't able to see her for over 12 hours!), and I made extra sure to stay on top of the pain meds schedule. I have been in some pain since I have been home, but it's been a good reminder to not push it too hard and to take it easy.

In conclusion, the surgery was pretty much nothing like we expected, but I am so happy that my doctor trusted her gut and went with her surgery plan. We are thrilled to have our healthy little girl with us and we are also thrilled that this is all over!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Picture Post!

After a failed attempt to handle bed rest by ourselves, Steve and Anna packed up and headed to the lake house for a few weeks at Camp SuSu. My mother in law Susan has truly been a godsend these last couple of weeks, and Anna has been having a blast up there with her beloved SuSu and Poppy. They've been sending me pictures and they would make my day - it's been hard being away from my little girl and the pictures really help. I even got my very first voicemails from her!! Anyway, the pictures were all so adorable that I just had to share - enjoy!

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