Monday, 11 August 2014

Confessions of a Nap Holder

My name is Ashley and I'm a nap holder. There I said it.

Isla typically takes two naps a day. A morning nap around 9am and an afternoon nap around 3pm or 3:30pm. Sometimes she will take an extra lunch time nap around 12:30pm. I lay down with her for all of those naps. I know I should be showering, doing laundry, cleaning my house or a host of other things, but I don't. I nurse her to sleep and I lay there with her while she naps. Does this make me weird? Probably. I'm sometimes envious of what I hear moms saying they accomplish during their baby's nap time. I wish I had an immaculate house and a home cooked dinner on the table every night, but this is the season of life that I am in right now and to be honest, I'm okay with it. There will still be piles of laundry, dirty dishes and dust bunnies tomorrow but I will blink and my baby will no longer be a baby. So for now, I let the other stuff slide and I snuggle my beautiful daughter. I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mom and since I have that privilege I want to take full advantage of it for as long as I can. I know these days of napping together won't last forever and so while I should teach her to nap on her own and be more "productive" while she sleeps, I'm not going to. So there, I've made my confession, now please excuse me while I go cuddle with my daughter and take a nap.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Six Month Update!

I can't believe our little lady is already half a year old! 

Looking back on some of her newborn photos, it's amazing how fast she's changed and grown!

She weighed in at a whopping ;) 13 pounds, 5 ounces and was 26.5 inches long. She's currently in size 2 diapers and 6 month clothes, although she might have to start wearing 6-9 month pants soon for length. Wish they made baby belts! She doesn't have any teeth yet and is still breastfeeding.

She started solids and has had peas, carrots, pears, rice cereal and oatmeal cereal so far. She seems to like all of it so far, but she loves the pears!

She still hates tummy time but we're really trying to push it. She's not sitting unassisted yet, but we're hoping to get there soon. She loves screeching and experimenting with her voice, musical toys and putting anything she can get her hands on into her mouth.
Yes, she's wearing mismatched socks. That was a lazy mommy moment!

Her dexterity and fine motor skills are great, just working on the gross motor skills.

Last night was night four of sleep training and I hope I'm not jinxing it by saying it's going great!! The first two nights were hard, about 30 minutes of crying with us going in every five minutes to pat and reassure her. Night three she cried for less than five minutes though and we never had to go in and last night one big cry for about 30 seconds as we set her down and then nothing but peaceful sleep!! 
Nap time...still a work in progress

I was so hesitant to do any form of crying it out but it was the right thing to do. Isla was so tired from not getting the rest she needed and I was a glorified zombie. So far, it's been one of the best parenting decisions we've made. I know some people are against CIO but it was the right choice for our family and it's working! I was very skeptical and didn't think it would work or work as quickly as it did but so far, so good and everyone is happier.

So excited to see where the next six months take us!!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Preparing for House Guests

We recently had the pleasure of having one of my besties come visit from Sweden! Since I love her and I have no idea how long it will be until I get to see her again (in real life, not over skype at least) I wanted to go all out and make her stay as comfortable and luxurious as possible. Since many people host house guests over the summer, I thought I would share how I prepared our guestroom.

First, I put together two baskets of goodies. One was a little minibar of sorts.

I picked up the basket at Ross, then filled it with yummy treats! I tried to include a mix of salty and sweet, healthy and indulgent.

Included are:

  • Chips (Doritos, Cheetos and Pringles)
  • Granola bars (Crunch bars, Nature Valley, and NuGo)
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Dried fruit (pineapple, dehydrated strawberry and banana)
  • Chocolate (dark chocolate pomegranate, Pocky, KitKat, Peanut M&M's, Twix, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, Rolo and Hershey's)
  • Crackers (Goldfish and Ritz)
  • Nut butters (Chocolate hazelnut butter and peanut butter with honey)
  • Gum (spearmint and peppermint)
  • Mexican Coke
While my friend was obviously more than welcome to anything in my kitchen/pantry, I wanted her to have some treats should she want a midnight or early morning snack, without having to leave her room. When hosting guests who will be suffering from jet lag, I never want them to be in their room hungry because they don't want to disturb anyone else by looking for a snack at an odd time.

Next I set up a toiletries basket.

I picked the basket up at the dollar store, lined it with tissue and used many samples I had collected from Sephora, Ulta, etc. and padded it out with travel size minis from Target and Walmart.
Included are:

  • Face wipes
  • Mini first aid kit
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Tooth brush, toothpaste, floss and mouth wash
  • Ear plugs (I have an infant, might not be necessary for every house but also good for guests who are just light sleepers)
  • Lip balm
  • Body wash and shower puff
  • Face wash and exfoliating face scrub
  • Moisturizer
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hair product
  • Assorted makeup and perfume samples
  • Cozy socks

I also set out a hair dryer (I picked up an extra one to keep as a spare for $10) and a stack of fresh, fluffy towels (body, hand and face) tied with a white ribbon. Behind the toiletries basket, I filled a small bag with feminine products (tampons, maxi pads, panty liners and feminine wipes).

For the bedside table:

 I set up a pretty mirrored tray I picked up at Ross. On it I put out bottles of sparkling and still water. I set out a tall water glass with a matching short glass over the top to keep any dust out. I added a vanilla candle and a frame with the wi-fi password. I found the template on Pinterest and thought it was too cute to skip! Lastly, I included a pop of color in the form of a bunch of bright yellow flowers trimmed short and set in a square vase.

While it isn't pictured, I prepared the closet by clearing out plenty of space (and throwing all my stuff in a pile in the master bedroom...) making sure there were plenty of hangers and hanging up a fluffy, freshly laundered robe.

The last few details of preparing the room included airing out the duvet, washing the linens, making the bed, checking that the lamps were plugged in and their light bulbs worked. I vacuumed and sprayed Febreeze on the carpets a few days before she arrived, then vacuumed again right before she arrived. I put an extra quilt on the end of the bed and a fan in the room so she could make herself comfortable at night if she wanted to be warmer or cooler. I also made sure to put a mini (bathroom size) trash can in the room.

So that's it! I was thrilled with how the room turned out and felt that it had all the comforts of home and then some. While it can be a little bit of an investment putting together the various baskets, the majority of guests will only use a few things from each. You can then just replace what you need to before the next guest.

Friday, 9 May 2014

My first Mother's Day

I thought my first Mother's Day would be the perfect opportunity to reflect upon the past four months, as well as the nine months that preceeded them.

I found out I was going to become a mother on May 25, 2013. It was a day that changed my life forever. Before that day, I would never have thought that a little piece of plastic would reduce me to a sobbing mess of emotion! From the moment I knew I was going to be a mother, I have loved and worried about my child. 

A month later when we visited the midwife and I saw our little one for the first time the wave of all encompassing love overwhelmed me and I surprised myself as the tears streamed down my face instantly and uncontrollably.

My love continued to grow each day and there are no words that adequately describe the feeling when your child is placed on your chest the first time. My heart would live outside of my body forevermore. Looking into her eyes, touching her soft skin, listening to her breathe - I became complete.

The past four months since that day I have felt a love I didn't know was possible. I loved her from the day I knew she existed, but once I could hold her in my arms that love became something I didn't even know was possible.

There have been challenging moments, those early sleepless days with a fussy baby aren't easy. My patience has been tested, I have been exhausted and cranky but I wouldn't change a thing. Anything worth having is worth working for.

I have also fully realized the love my mother has for me and what she has gone through. I have always loved my mom, but until I became a mother myself I could not understand the true depth of a mother's love. I want to thank my mom for carrying me, giving birth to me and loving me and now my daughter, unconditionally.

As my first Mother's Day is quickly approaching I know I have not been a mother long. There is so much more to learn and experience, for which I can't wait. Flowers, breakfast, jewelry, I see endless ads for Mother's Day gifts but no gift could compare to just siting on the couch, my daughter asleep on my chest. I can smell her sweet breath, feel her tiny body rise up and down with each inhale and exhale. This Mother's Day I want to thank my daughter Isla for giving me the greatest gift - motherhood.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Postpartum Hair Loss

Ugh. I wish more people talked about postpartum hair loss, I had no idea what I was in for! In the interest of keeping it real for mothers-to-be...
I brushed my hair before my shower. Washed a ton of hair down the drain and I still got this after I ran my hand through my hair before styling it this morning. I feel like I'm going bald and honestly lose a handful of hair every. single. day.

While you're pregnant the normal cycle of hair growth and fallout changes. You continue to grow hair but less falls out so you get lovely thick, glossy, preggo hair. As your hormones regulate postpartum, the hair you would normally lose goes back to falling out. 

So there you go moms-to-be and ladies who are planning to have kids, cut your hair short or start buying draino in bulk ;)

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Meeting Great-Granddaddy

A few weeks ago I took Isla to meet her great-granddaddy, Sam. My grandfather has Alzheimer's and lives in a small care home with a few other seniors with memory problems.  My grandma does not need memory care so she lives on her own in an apartment in town.
Although my grandfather will not remember their meeting and neither will my daughter, it was important to me that they meet.
My granddaddy has always been one of the most important people to me. Growing up, we always had a special bond and I loved spending time with him. A brilliant man, he worked as a geology professor at the University of Oregon for the majority of his career. It is hard to see such an intelligent person struggle to remember everything from where he is to who people are. Luckily he still remembers his family members and I'm so glad he got to meet Isla, it meant a lot to me. Hopefully we will get to visit again soon.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

101 Days

Today marks my daughter's 101st day!
Ever wondered what a stay at home parent does? Want to know what an average day is like with a 3.5 month old?

6:30am - Neil is up and getting ready for work, this causes Isla to stir so I lift her from the bassinet next to our bed and pull her close. She nurses and we both drift back off to sleep. Neil comes in and gives us each a kiss before he leaves for work.

9am-ish - We wake up for the day. Isla nurses again and I change her. Then we have a dance party! I play music and sing to her. I usually add some goofy dance moves too. Isla kicks her legs and flashes me some goofy grins that melt my heart.

10ish - We move to the living room. I gather up the baby, my nursing pillow and my phone. I lay her down on her playmat and quickly make a cup of coffee and grab a bowl of cereal. I sit down next to her on the floor and cross my fingers that I'll get to finish breakfast before Isla loses patience. I get about 10 minutes before I have to scoop her up and move to the couch.

11am - Once we sit down she'll nurse again, I'll change her and get her dressed for the day. Then we start playtime. The order varies from day to day but the activities include:
- Reading stories
- Making silly faces at her
- Making silly faces together in a mirror
- Tummy time
- Dangling a toy in front of her and letting her stare at it
- Resting her on my propped up legs and talking or singing to her
- Wandering around the house
- Playing songs on her stuffed dog violet, baby Einstein machine or her toy zoo
- Shaking a rattle
And more! She only tolerates any one activity for about 5-10 minutes and then we have to move onto something keeps me busy!

12:30ish - I put Isla in her swing outside my bathroom door and take a lightening speed shower. If she falls asleep in it I put makeup on and blow dry my hair. If she starts to fuss, it's one coat of mascara and a little concealer.

1pm - I watch What Not to Wear while feeding Isla. I try to eat something myself at the same time. Some days I manage, other days I don't. Then I burp and change her.

2pm - Isla has a full happy tummy and a clean diaper so I get her strapped into the stroller to go out for a walk. As I click the last buckle I hear a massive diaper explosion. I unload her and change her diaper...and her clothes.

2:30pm - We're finally out the door.

3:30pm - After a nice walk and some fresh air we're home. I feed, burp and change her. She snoozes a bit in my arms. I'm starving and I eat whatever I can grab - one handed.

4pm - Depending on the state of the house I might strap Isla into the carrier and do some chores. Otherwise it's more playtime or a nap if she's tired.

5:30ish - I cook dinner with Isla in the ergo baby carrier or in her mamaroo swing. If it's the latter I have to run back from the kitchen to replace her binkie every five minutes or so, otherwise she'll get too cranky.

6:00-6:30ish - Neil gets home. I pass him the baby while I finish up dinner. I hand him his plate and swap him for the baby, then I nurse her while he eats. Then we switch, minus the nursing ;)

7:30 - More nursing

8pm - Bedtime routine! We make the bedroom dark and quiet. Isla gets a massage, her face, hands and bum washed, a fresh diaper, clean jammies and a swaddle. Neil give her the vitamin D drops while I put on her lullabies, tidy the bedroom and turn on the monitor camera. She nurses once more and then we rock in the glider to get her nice and sleepy.

9pm - She's very drowsy, might even be asleep. I creep over to the bassinet and lay her down as gently as possible before tiptoeing out of the room. I sit down on the couch and turn on the monitor.

9:05pm - She's crying. Per the pediatrician's instructions I wait five minutes before going in, calming her down and putting the pacifier back in. I sneak out and make it as far as the kitchen before she starts to cry again. We repeat this for a while. In between checking on her I clean up the kitchen, do some dishes, throw in some laundry and tidy up the mess of toys, clothes, burp cloths and other various baby items in the living room.

9:30pm - Her cries are losing steam.

9:45pm - She's asleep.

10-10:30pm - We head to bed, as quietly as humanly possible. I peek at her and watch her chest softly move up and down. I am amazed by her and how all consuming my love is for this beautiful little person. I close my eyes and I'm asleep in minutes.

Sometime between 3:30am and 5am - She wakes up and I change her as quickly and quietly as I can. Then I put on the nursing pillow, sit up in bed, feed and burp her. When she's done, I lay her back down in her bassinet and we both go back to sleep for a few more hours until the next day officially begins.

So there you have it! That's a pretty average day for us at the moment. It's definitely easier than those early days (the first six or so weeks) but it's never easy. I'm okay with that though. I know it won't last forever so I try to enjoy it all. The good, the bad and the messy.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

10 weeks already?!

I can't believe my little one is 10 weeks old already! She is at a wonderful stage though where she's beginning to discover more of the world around her. She's smiling more, she's more aware of her arms and legs and she's desperately trying to roll over. She is a great sleeper (knock on wood) and usually goes to bed around 9pm, wakes up for a feeding around 3am and then goes back to sleep until about 6 or 7am. After that I usually pull her in to bed with me and we doze and cuddle for another couple of hours. Monday is my first birthday with her and she's the best present ever.

Monday, 3 March 2014

SAHM in the house!

I've thought about writing this post for a long time. I debated for a long time before I made my decision but it's now official, I'm a stay at home mom!

This was an incredibly bittersweet decision and not one that I took lightly or made easily. I love my daughter with all my heart and want to be there to experience her "firsts", but I also loved my job. For the first time since I started working, I was in a job that I loved and was always excited to get up in the morning to go to, even with an hour commute each way. My position didn't lend itself to going part time or working from home and financially, even if I had gone back to work full time, I would essentially have been working to put Isla in daycare. Without a family member or friend to care for Isla, we would also be leaving her in the care of strangers at only three months old. Financially and emotionally, staying home was really the only choice.

It is an incredibly difficult decision for a mother to make whether she ultimately decides to work inside or outside the home. For me, becoming a stay at home mom meant saying goodbye to a job I loved and colleagues who meant the world to me. It meant becoming financially dependent on my husband. It meant committing to a whole new set of duties and responsibilities.

It also means I get to be there when my daughter giggles for the first time, when she rolls over, when she starts crawling. I get to take her to park on sunny days and stop for coffee and pastries at the local bakery on mommy-daughter dates. I will know that my daughter is safe and well looked after. I can actually get a work out in (when she's a little older, naturally haha) and cook a healthy dinner instead of picking up takeout on the way home. I'll be able to do chores around the house during the week so we can spend the whole weekend having fun as a family instead of spending my weekend playing catch up.

It's a big change and while I'm still getting over the sadness of leaving my job, I'm so excited to fully embrace my new job! I know there are a lot of women who would give everything to stay home with their babies and I feel very grateful that it is a decision I got the choice to make.

Are you a mom or mom-to-be? What did you decide to do?

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Six Week Essentials

Six weeks has flown by! Isla will be seven weeks on Friday and is getting closer and closer to that dreaded two month well baby appointment. Fellow moms will know the's first immunizations. Fingers crossed it goes okay!

Today I wanted to share some of the things that have been essential to me these past weeks...
Six Week Essentials
Brest Friend Nursing Pillow - The number 1 essential on my list? This nursing pillow!! I don't know what I would do without it. Buy it, buy it, buy it!!!
Nuk Pacifiers - Isla will take most pacifiers, but these are my favorite and I think they're her favorite too.
Ergo Baby Carrier and Infant Insert - We couldn't use this the first couple of weeks because even with the infant insert baby needs to weigh seven pounds and our little peanut was too small. We anxiously, anxiously awaited when we could use it and I love it. I took Isla to the doctor in it (her carseat is pretty heavy and hard for me to manage on my own with putting it in the stroller) and she always calms down in it. Nine times out of ten she falls asleep in it too.
SwaddleMe Wraps - Swaddling made easy. I wrap Isla in one of these every night and it takes less than 15 seconds to get her in a nice tight swaddle. So much easier than trying to swaddle with a receiving blanket.
Rock N Play Sleeper - My little lady spits up when laid flat in her bassinet. This keeps her at an angle and cuts that out. It's cozy, vibrates AND rocks - she sleeps great in it.
Gilligan and O'Malley Nursing Tanks - Super comfy, I wear these every night and many times during the day too :-O
Lansinoh Ultra Soft Nursing Pads - I tried the Nuk ones and sorry to say, they were terrible. These are really soft, very absorbent and they stay in place.
Skip Hop Diaper Bag - This bag helps me look put together out in public. Sure it's full of diapers and wipes, but you wouldn't guess that from the outside. It has tons of pockets for easy organization, I love it.
iPad - Entertainment and lifeline to the outside world.
Sprout - Baby App - This app is great! You can track feeds so you know which side you started nursing with last, how much you pumped, how many wet/dirty diapers baby has done, track patterns and so, so much more.
Coffee!! - No explanation needed.
Make Up For Ever Concealer - This concealer is waterproof and offers great coverage. I am super pale and they actually make a shade light enough for me.
Chocolate - See 'coffee'
Hand Sanitizer - You will become a germ-a-phobe when you have a baby and with good reason. Flu and norovirus are no fun.
Netflix/TV - Marathon nursing sessions require entertainment
Yoga Pants - Slightly more presentable than pajamas or sweats. They make you feel "dressed" even if you're not and they are fairly forgiving while you work off the baby weight.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Packing for the Hospital

A lot of what I thought I might need based on lists I'd read of what other people packed I ended up not needing. While my hospital may be unique, they provided a ton of stuff. Ice packs, Tucks pads, maxi pads, numbing spray, those fab mesh panties, lanolin cream, lip blam. They encouraged me to take everything home so I was pretty well set up. I wore the clean hospital gowns as well. There was always a stack of fresh clean ones so I could change whenever I wanted (which was frequently...after you have a baby you sweat, there are various other things I won't detail but you'll stain stuff, it's inevitable), you can un-do the top quickly and easily for nursing and best of all? You get to leave the dirty ones behind for someone else to wash instead of hauling them home (like your own pj's) to wash when you are deliriously tired and have a three day old baby with jaundice!

What I packed and what I actually used:

Hospital Packing

- Two pairs of pajamas
- Black robe
- Black granny panties
- Nursing shirt
- Nursing tank top
- Nursing bra
- Cardigan
- Leggings
- Flip-flops
- Two pairs of fuzzy socks
- Makeup bag (only used tinted moisturizer, concealer and mascara)
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Deodorant
- Dry shampoo
- Body wash (That first shower after giving birth? It is as amazing as everyone says it is!)
- Face wipes
- Moisturizer
- Face wipes
- Body lotion
- Tooth brush
- Tooth paste
- Floss
- Maxi pads
- Hair ties and bobby pins
- Headband
- Hairbrush (I threw my hair into a bun and called it good haha)
- Lip balm (essential during labor!)
- Lanolin cream (I used what they gave me and saved mine)
- Nursing pads
- Nursing pillow (My Brest Friend)
- iPad
- iPhone
- Notebook
- Camera
- Pens

For baby the hospital provided diapers, wipes, socks, hats, pacifier, receiving blankets (not to take home)...really everything you could need except for the going home outfit and carseat! Take full advantage of it! Take everything you haven't used up with you when you leave and use the stacks of fresh, clean receiving blankets to wrap your baby up while you're there, don't bother using yours. As with the hospital gowns, use them! Let someone else do the laundry while you still can!

What I packed for baby:
- Diaper bag
- Two outfits
- Two hats
- Socks
- Receiving blankets
- Regular blanket
- Pacifiers

Since my water broke two and a half weeks early we were caught a little off guard and my husband hadn't packed.  For your hubby/boyfriend I would recommend the following:
- Two changes of clothes
- Sweatpants, t-shirt or pajamas
- Overnight toiletries (toothbrush, deodorant, shampoo, etc.)
- Phone

We didn't pack any snacks or drinks like some people recommend bringing and we didn't need to. Our hospital/nurses were amazing at bringing drinks and snacks/food. I had popsicles, water and ice chips during labor and they brought Neil a snack pack with a sandwich, fruit and carrot sticks. After Isla was born we were able to order meals through a touchscreen in our recovery room and at night the nurses were great and brought snacks whenever I wanted (bagels, sandwiches, pudding, etc.) as well as drinks. The signature "mocktail" in labor and delivery was cranberry juice and sprite with lots of ice. They brought me one as soon as Isla was out and after being on ice chips for hours, it was the best tasting thing I'd ever had!

Postpartum Posts

I started two separate drafts of my first post, post-baby but eventually abandoned them due to lack of time or because I was unsure how to continue them. Writing is difficult enough at the best of times but when you are sleep deprived and typing with one hand while juggling a fussy baby with the other hand, it becomes that much harder. My gorgeous little girl is currently napping happily and peacefully though so I'm hoping the third time is the charm!

Tomorrow will mark four weeks since Isla's birth. They have gone by in a blur and been both the shortest and longest weeks of my life. I hope over the next few weeks to find more time to write and get down some of the thoughts I keep meaning to document. I'm great at drafting blog posts in my head while nursing the baby at 2am, just not so great at finding the time to get those posts written down.

I will kick things off with what I packed in our hospital bags and what we actually used.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Isla's Birth Story

Well, the weekly updates stopped because Isla made her debut on January 10th, 18 days early!! She was 5lbs and 11oz, 20in long and sunny side up! If you care to know more, her birth story is below.

At midnight on Friday morning, I woke up to go to the bathroom and noticed that my underwear were wet. At the same time I looked down and saw clear drops of fluid running down my leg. Bewildered I wandered into the bathroom and evaluated the situation. My water had broken. In the middle of the night. Like in the movies. Our birth class instructor said sometimes urinary incontinence occurs towards the end of pregnancy so if you aren't sure if you've peed your pants or your water has broken, just see if it smells like pee. Well, it didn't.

I paced around for a couple of minutes, then woke Neil up. I got my, "Honey, it's time!" moment. After he woke up enough to realize what was going on, we called the labor and delivery number at the hospital. Since my water had broken, we were told to take showers, pack up and come in, even though I wasn't feeling contractions. In a daze, I took a warm shower and then started throwing together my makeup bag. Neil hadn't packed his bag since we weren't expecting our little girl for another few weeks, so both of us were throwing things in and trying desperately to remember what else we needed. I started feeling sick around this time and promptly threw up everything I'd had for dinner. After I'd finished and started feeling a little better, we packed up and headed for the hospital.

It was a dark and quiet drive at one in the morning and we were still trying to wrap our heads around the fact that we were about to become parents! Neil thought they might send us home, but I knew that once my water was broken, there was no turning back.

We arrived at the hospital around 1:30am and checked in at emergency. It was completely empty and the staff at the desk were expecting us. It was all very calm and peaceful. We were moved to a triage room in labor and delivery where we met our first nurse, were assessed and learned what would be happening. My blood pressure was fairly high and I had gotten a headache so they were a little concerned I might have some preeclampsia developing, even though I'd had no signs of it at my checkup only two days earlier. They took some blood to check and monitored my blood pressure. They also placed an iv because I was group b strep positive. My blood pressure eventually went down enough that they stopped worrying. I think I was just so nervous and anxious! We then met with an ob/gyn resident who did an ultrasound and found out baby was face up! This meant my labor and delivery could be significantly more difficult if she didn't turn by pushing time. They were hopeful she would though. They also felt my stomach and thought Isla was about 7-7.5 lbs.

I was taken to my delivery room at that point and given my options to get contractions started since they were still not really going. I was offered pitocin or a breast pump. I was also told that due to the group b strep and my water being broken that if I hadn't progressed by around 4am, they would start pitocin. I opted for the breast pump and wanted to do things as naturally as possible, for as long as possible. After just a little time using the breast pump, the contractions came thick and fast. I started out not being dilated at all and was at seven centimeters by about six or seven am, I lost track of time as the pain was incredibly intense. The pump caused some very intense contractions, I had at least one that was four minutes long. I also had terrible back labor because of her position. I labored naturally, albeit in agony, until I hit those seven centimeters. At which point between throwing up and making sounds I didn't know I could make, I chose to get an epidural. I had really hoped not to need one, but I was at the point where I didn't know how I could continue without one. Shaking and incoherent, I had Neil tell the nurse we were ready for the epidural and she said she thought that it was a very good idea. I had a little pain relief in my iv to take edge off enough that I could sit still for them to put it in.

After the epidural was in place, I was still in a lot pain but it was reduced enough that I was able to settle down. Around 10 or 11am the pain was amping back up and I was ready to start pushing. We were told it could take up to three hours for a first time mom. Well, it took me four. I was exhausted after three hours and kept thinking that I didn't know how I could do this any longer. The midwife was very reassuring and kept having me feel her head which would give me enough of a boost to keep going. When we hit four hours though they started suggesting we use the vacuum to help things along. When the doctor came in to explain it though, we made just enough progress that the midwife told me just a few more pushes and sure enough, she came out, face up, to greet the world at 3:14pm!

Isla was placed on my chest immediately and had a big bruised cone head from her position but was healthy and here!! I had no tearing and needed just a few internal stitches so we were surprisingly well despite the difficultly of the labor. Neil cut the cord and we enjoyed a few hours of family time before we were wheeled to our recovery room. After nine months of pregnancy and about 15 hours of labor, we were a family.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Weekly Pregnancy Update
How far along: 37 weeks (technically, full term!!)
How big is baby: The Bump says winter melon, Babycenter says as long as a bunch of swiss chard and What to Expect says watermelon (18.9-22in inches long and 6.2-6.5 pounds)
Total weight gain: Close to 26 pounds I think...
Maternity clothes: Wouldn't be able to get by without them!
Sleep: Since my back has been feeling a bit better the past few days, my sleep has improved slightly. Would love to have less hip pain too, but I'll take what I can get!
Best moment of the week: Today! Hitting 37 weeks is huge milestone and I can't believe our little girl could in theory be born any time now. Although we would love for her to stay nice and cozy until at least 39 weeks when she would truly be full term, if she was born anytime from now on she would not be considered premature.
Food cravings: Fresh fruit.
Food aversions: Nothing, which is probably not a good thing.
Symptoms:*Knock on wood* my back pain has been completely or almost gone for the past few days. I have been keeping my fingers crossed and hoping so dearly that it doesn't return!! I have been able to walk and function which has been amazing. My fingers and ankles have been swelling though. I had to leave my wedding ring at home today and that was hard but hoping I might still be able to get it on again and that I'm just having a bloated few days.
Movement: Oh yes, our baby girl had a dance party in my belly all evening yesterday. She settled down a bit when we went to bed but before that it felt like she was trying to escape 'Alien' style haha.
Gender: Beautiful baby girl
What I’m looking forward to: I always look forward to my appointments since I get to hear Isla's heartbeat and get a little status update, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
What I miss: Energy and not feeling quite so big.
Next appt: January 8, 2014

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Weekly Pregnancy Update
How far along: 36 weeks + 2 days
How big is baby: The Bump says honeydew, Babycenter says as long as a head of romaine lettuce and What to Expect says watermelon (17.2-22in inches long and 4.2-6.5 pounds)
Total weight gain: Almost 24lbs (Yikes!)
Maternity clothes: Oh yes, and even a few of those things are getting a little snug :-O
Sleep: I've had a cold since this last weekend so between some serious nasal congestion and all my other pregnancy related symptoms, sleep hasn't been so good.
Best moment of the week: Ringing in the new year! 2014 is a year of big and wonderful changes!
Food cravings: Still bagels and fruit, not much specifically though.
Food aversions: Nothing really.
Symptoms: The usual ones and still dealing with crappy, crappy back pain that makes walking really uncomfortable. It's also getting harder and harder to bend down to put socks on or tie my shoes.
Movement: Fewer big kicks, but lots of little wiggles still.
Gender: Little lady!
What I’m looking forward to: The birth! At this point in the game, there isn't much more to do other than wait for our little lady's arrival. I go to the midwife once a week now. The nursery is finished. We've purchased pretty much everything we need. Now we wait :)
What I miss: My old wardrobe and mobility.
Next appt: January 8, 2014

As we creep closer and closer to Isla's due date (26 days away!) I alternate between feeling ready to have her out to snuggle and hold (and be able to put my socks on a bit more easily) and feeling mildly overwhelmed by all the massive changes about to occur. I read a lot of blogs by new and expecting moms and I don't seem to see many people writing about the anxiety of welcoming you first child (or any subsequent) to the world. I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling this way so if you are reading this and have any doubts about what's to come, remember to breathe and that you aren't alone in your feelings. We planned for this baby and we are overjoyed to be growing our family, but I feel it's only natural to have worries and wonders about what will inevitably be the biggest life change my husband and I will ever experience. I feel that now that we have everything purchased and we are "ready" at least materially, my mind (I'm a born worrier) has moved on to worrying about how I will handle all the other changes to come. Will I figure out how to care for a newborn? Will I be a good mom? Will it come naturally to me? How will the transition from couple to family affect my marriage? How will my relationship with my husband change? How will I handle being away from work? These are all things I'm sure every expectant mother thinks about, but few people want to talk about. So I'm going to take my own advice and breathe. I'm going to try and relax these last few weeks of pregnancy and not let doubt and worry overwhelm me. What will be, will be and my life is undoubtedly changing for the better. I will find my way with caring for my daughter, even if I stumble at first. I will define for myself what it means to be a good mom, whether it comes naturally or not. I will remember that my marriage will continue to need work to thrive, as it always has, but that I married the most amazing partner and we are on this journey together. I will remember to breathe.