Ella’s Photoshoots

We decided to splurge on some newborn photos, and are so happy we did! These beautiful shots were taken by Andrea Ryerson.

She has her own studio and a million props (headbands, wraps, bonnets, cradles, baskets, backdrops, etc.). She is extremely patient and knows just how to setup the shot to be stunning. We highly recommend her!
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Meeting Eleanor

IMG_8877We are so happy to announce that Eleanor (Ella) Agatha was born on March 17 at 4:30 p.m.! She weighed 7 lbs 11 oz and was 20.5″ tall. She is such a doll and we are so thrilled to have her join our little family ❤

I’ve been meaning to post this for awhile but have been enjoying my family time so much I didn’t have time to finish it until now. And so, without further ado, here is Eleanor’s birth story along with a quick update on how things have been going (bear with me, this is a long one!). Continue reading

Let’s get this potty started!

OhCrapPottyTrainingDisclaimer: I am not an expert on potty training in any way, shape or form. This is simply the way I went about training my firstborn using the “two-day” method.

Well, we did it. We started potty training Henry. I have been debating when to make the jump for a few months now, and have been reading Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki (self-proclaimed “Pied Piper of Poop”). It basically condenses a year’s worth of traditional potty training WAY down. Here’s the general idea behind the book/theory:

Your child is probably ready to be potty trained EARLIER than you think (ideally, between 20–30 months), and it can be done FASTER than you expect (most kids get the basics in a few days—but Jamie’s got you covered even if it takes a little longer).

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An Update on Henry

Looking a little jaundiced...

Thank you for all the love you’ve been sending since Henry was born – we appreciate it so much!! For those who have been asking how Henry is doing, I haven’t been ignoring you – I promise. I just didn’t know how to respond and I didn’t want anyone to worry. Here’s what’s been going on…

Henry had his first doctor appointment when he was four days old. We knew he was a bit jaundiced, but when we left the hospital we were told it was normal and was probably nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case. The doctor told us that he had lost a little more weight than normal since birth, and that his bilirubin levels were pretty high, causing him to be jaundiced so we needed to use a special light to help get his levels down right away. We were told that normally we would be able to go pick up the light and use it at home, but as it was a holiday weekend there were none available except back at the hospital in the NICU. That meant that we were going to have to take Henry and go spend the night there, so we quickly packed a bag and headed over.

When we got checked into the NICU, Henry was immediately placed on top of a bili-blanket and under a bili-light on the warmer (the lights help break down the bilirubin that was causing his jaundice). He had to wear this little mask over his eyes to block out the bright light, and he absolutely hated it. Since he stayed on the blanket while breastfeeding he was supposed to keep the mask on, but he screamed so much that the nurses let us take it off for nursing. At this point his bilirubin level was even higher than it had been earlier that afternoon though, so we were starting to get really worried.

We also knew that Henry was having some slight issues with breastfeeding (he kept falling asleep and stopping) and my milk hadn’t come in yet, so he probably wasn’t getting all the nutrition he needed. We had been told that this was normal and that he would just have to catch up when my milk came in. What I didn’t know is that the body gets rid of bilirubin by peeing and pooping it out. Since Henry wasn’t eating that much, he wasn’t having many dirty diapers, and therefore he wasn’t able to flush the bilirubin out of his system. He also dropped from 7 lbs, 13 oz at birth to 6 lbs, 10 oz, which was pretty scary for us (losing 10% of his birth weight is considered normal, but this was closer to 16%).

So, in addition to the light, we worked with a lactation consultant to figure out how to get the little dude to eat better. Long story short, he gets frustrated very quickly if he doesn’t get milk right away and needs constant “reminders” to keep working for the milk, like stroking his jawline to remind him to suck. This was especially frustrating for me, since there was nothing I could do about it except keep practicing with him until he gets it. Even the lactation consultant said she was stumped and her recommendation was to just keep trying.

On a positive note, what was really nice about our hospital is that they have rooms for parents to stay in while their babies are in the NICU. We basically had a huge hotel room to stay in just down the hall from our little glow worm. I still had to feed Henry every 2 hours,but luckily Geoff was able to get a full 8 hours of sleep, which was great.

The next day around 1:00 they checked his levels again, and we saw a significant improvement! His bilirubin levels went from 20.8 to 14.7, and my milk had come in so he was picking up in the breastfeeding area (he gained an ounce in about 10 hours). The nurses told us that this was great progress, so they took away the light that was shining over Henry and left only the bili-blanket that he was laying on. They said that they wanted to make sure his levels didn’t go up when they took the light away, and if they went down we would be able to take Henry home either with a light of our own or maybe even without one completely.

The nurses had convinced us we would be going home, it was extra devastating when we found out that not only did Henry’s levels go up slightly from 14.7 to 14.9 (meaning we would need to stay another night), but we also found out he was dehydrated and we would need to start supplementing when he nursed. That meant that I either had to start pumping or we would have to use formula, neither of which were ideal because it meant we would have to use bottles. I was already feeling the pressure to get him to breastfeed better, but now I would have to compete with a bottle that allows the milk to come out a lot sooner and faster.

We decided to go the pumping route, but then our nurse clarified that in addition to pumping we would actually have to give him a bottle of formula right away. She explained that the milk I pumped right then wouldn’t be used until the next nursing session and they wanted to get something in him right away. So while Geoff fed Henry his first formula bottle, I sat down to figure out how the heck to use a breast pump.

For those who have not seen one, breast pumps are scary. I mean, they are there to literally suck milk out of you, and it is not fun one bit. I’ll leave it at that, but that night I basically had a breakdown from the stress and being so tired, and the thought of having to pump one more time made me burst into tears. We really didn’t have a choice since I needed to keep up my milk supply, so we started supplementing with pumped breast milk at every feeding.

By 6:00 a.m. the next morning Henry’s levels came back low enough (12.4) to take the blanket off and go home, though we were told we would need to continue to supplement at each feeding until he was able to pee and poop more of the bilirubin out of his system.

Looking a little better...Since then our at-home nursing routine is this:

  1. Nurse Henry (15-45 minutes). If he is eating well without falling asleep I can nurse him until he doesn’t want anymore. If he is having issues we have to stop after about 10-15 minutes of trying so he doesn’t burn more calories than he is taking in.
  2. Give Henry a bottle (5-10 minutes). This can be either breast milk I pumped at a previous session or a bottle of formula. We let him drink until he is full, which is usually when the milk is gone.
  3. Pump milk for the next nursing session (up to 30 minutes).
  4. Wait an hour (or less if he is hungry again) and do it all over again.

With all of that and prep/cleaning up time, I am spending about two hours on each nursing session. Then I get an hour off, and then I have to start up again. And that’s if Henry isn’t hungry again before that. That means I get to sleep for an hour at a time if I’m lucky. It is exhausting. At least he is having lots of dirty diapers so we know he’s not as dehydrated anymore and is flushing at least some of the bilirubin from his system.

Getting some sunshinePart of the deal for leaving the NICU was that Henry had to go to the doctor again the following day to make sure his levels were continuing to drop. The nurse called us fairly quickly after his appointment and we were not happy to find out that his bilirubin level was back up to 14.2. She said there still weren’t any bili-lights available, but that some were expected to come in later that day and she would try to track one down for us. In the meantime she told us to put Henry in the sun as much as possible, since the sun acts almost like the bili-light.

This wasn’t the news we wanted, but at least they didn’t tell us to go back to the NICU. Unfortunately, they were unable to find us a bili-light after all, so we had to unwrap poor little Henry from his blankets and hold him basically naked in the sun to get that light exposure.

We took him back to the doctor yesterday for another blood test, and this time his weight was up to 7 lbs, 1 oz, and his bilirubin levels had dropped by 1 point to 13.2. Still not ideal, but enough of a drop that the nurses told us to just keep doing what we are doing for today and come in for a (hopefully final) blood test tomorrow. That means little Henry gets a day off of going to the doctor for the second time in his life! Yay!

I’ll post updates as we receive more information, but we probably won’t know anything more until late Thursday. Please cross your fingers for him that his levels are normal by then!

Meeting Henry

It took me awhile to write this post since I didn’t want to leave anything out. It is pretty lengthy, so thanks for bearing with me!

It all started on the way home from the annual “Friendsgiving” party we have with our friends. I was 39 weeks, 5 days pregnant and ready to pop, and I started having contractions on the drive back to our house.

I was pretty sure this was the real deal, so I called the nurse hotline to confirm when they would want us to go to the hospital. We were told to wait until the contractions were less than six minutes apart for at least two straight hours, then to call back for further instructions.

Geoff started helping me time my contractions using a worksheet we had gotten at one of our classes, but what I really found useful was an iPhone app called “Full Term” that times your contractions for you and gives you averages on how far apart they are an how long they last. All I had to do was push start and stop.

My contractions were sort of all over the place, ranging from 5  to 20 minutes apart and lasting around 20-30 seconds each, so around 10 p.m. we decided to go to bed and try and get some sleep in preparation for what was coming. Geoff fell right to sleep, while I squirmed through my contractions for an hour before exhaustion overcame me. Even then I was only able to sleep for a little over an hour and I was waking up every four to six minutes from the contractions getting stronger and stronger.

When I couldn’t take laying in bed waiting anymore, I got up and decided to take a shower in case I wasn’t able to take one later on. After that I rounded up the last few hospital bag items we needed and got ready to head into the hospital. I called the nurse hotline again around 3:00 a.m. (after two hours of timing my contractions to be less than six minutes apart) and was told to come to the hospital as soon as we were able.

So I woke up Geoff who had been sleeping for about four hours, he took a shower and I dried my hair (it was only about 18 degrees outside), we fed the cat and headed into the hospital. I was so uncomfortable and tired that I barely remember the drive.

We got checked into the hospital, then just waited around for about an hour until the doctor came to make her rounds and to confirm that we were going to be staying for the delivery and not sent home to wait it out. In the meantime, Geoff decided to open the blinds in our room and we were surprised to see that there was a mini blizzard going on outside!

Henry's first snow

Once the doctor confirmed we were going to stay (I was at dilated to 4 cm by this point), we were walked through all the paperwork, including the epidural risks/consent. This was all supposed to be “before labor gets too bad.”

Contractions were pretty manageable at this pointI also got my IV all hooked up, which I had been dreading. I asked for some numbing cream so at least I wouldn’t feel most of it, and the nurse was happy to oblige. That’s when she told me that she normally worked the day shift and was just filling in for someone that night. She said since it was nearing the end of her shift she was starting to get really tired. Just what you want to hear from someone who is about to shove a giant needle into you! Luckily she grabbed another nurse to actually put in my IV since she realized she might not have been the best person for the job. So this new nurse comes in and tries to put the IV into one of the two spots where I had the numbing cream. Even with the cream it still hurt pretty bad, so I was NOT HAPPY when she told me she didn’t get it in because I had “tough skin.” She then decided she didn’t want to try the other numb spot on my hand and tried for a spot further up my wrist. This one hurt like a you-know-what. And guess what? IT STILL DIDN’T WORK. At this point I was clearly unhappy, so someone grabbed a THIRD nurse to try to put in the IV. This lady was my angel, since she used a numb spot and got it in on the first try.

At this point my water hadn’t broken on its own, so my doctor planned on breaking it for me when she came for rounds over the lunch hour. I was okay with this, since my contractions were strong but manageable. Geoff helped me breathe through each one. What really helped was having him watch them on the monitor and actually tell me when he could see that each one was going away. That way I knew the pain was about to go away. The weird part was that in between each contraction I felt completely fine. Tired, but not uncomfortable.

When the doctor arrived she came in and checked me. I was making progress and was dilated to 6 cm! She had me lay back in between contractions and broke my water, which didn’t feel like anything at all other than wet. They started putting my bed back in the upright position, and on the way up I felt instantly nauseous. I told the nurse I thought I was going to throw up, and she grabbed me a barf bag just in time. Luckily I hadn’t eaten since Friendsgiving, so there wasn’t anything in my stomach but water. The weird part was that I wasn’t having a contraction at the time, so I wasn’t in any pain. I mentioned it to the nurse and she said it is because I probably had a major cervical change right after they broke my water. Turns out the baby dropped from -2 to almost +2 instantly, which is what caused the vomiting. This whole water-breaking process only took about 30 seconds, and they told me that now that my water was broken I could start to push as soon as I was dilated to 10 cm.

The contractions were fairly strong at this point, but I was still able to get through them. I asked the nurse if they would get much worse, because if this was the strongest they would be and they were only going to get more frequent then I could probably stick it out and do a natural childbirth. About 10 seconds later I started having a horrible contraction that was way worse than anything I had felt yet. I only lasted through one more of those before I asked for an epidural.

The anesthesiologist came in pretty quickly (I later found out we were the only ones in the labor and delivery ward at that point) and asked me to sit up and dangle my legs off the edge of the bed, round my shoulders and push my lower back out toward him. He called this “the position.” In order to accomplish this, my bed had to be raised up off the floor so my feet wouldn’t touch the ground. I was pretty nervous about the giant needle, but it turns out that the feet dangling part was the hardest. I must have been using my feet to take some of the pressure out of the contractions, because as soon as my feet left the ground the pain was intensified again. This time the contraction was so strong that I started vomiting again and I wasn’t able to get into “the position.” They warned me earlier that the whole epidural process would take around 10-15 minutes, which for me was a blur of contractions and quite possibly the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. Apparently the anesthesiologist did mine really fast, so I guess it is good that it didn’t last longer than it did.

It took awhile for the epidural to kick in, but when it did my legs were completely numb. The weird part was that I could still wiggle my toes even though I couldn’t feel them. Since the baby was so low already I also had an incredible amount of pressure going on “down below,” which wasn’t painful but was so strong that it was really hard for me to breathe through the contractions.

I don’t remember how many contractions I had before they told me I could start pushing, but it can’t have been many. The nurse grabbed one of my legs and Geoff grabbed the other, I grabbed behind my thighs and, in the words of my doctor, I tried to “push the pressure away.” Geoff told me later that watching me push through those contractions was the worst part for him. I couldn’t catch my breath after each one, so I probably sounded terrible. I was pushing for around thirty minutes before little Henry was born.

Once Henry’s head was out, the doctor told me to look down, but I still couldn’t see anything. Geoff didn’t look at that point either. It wasn’t until Henry was about 3/4 of the way out that we both saw our son for the first time. They plonked him on my chest and started cleaning him up right away, though I was surprised at how clean he was. In my head he was going to be all gory and gross, but that wasn’t the case at all.

IMG_0184

Little man didn’t pink up right away so they took him from my chest pretty quickly and put him on the warmer. He got an APGAR score of 8 (both times) because he was still a little blue. Luckily that didn’t last long and Henry was able to come back and hang out with his mommy and daddy for the rest of the day. His grandmas and grandpas, uncles and aunts came to visit him right away, and it was clear by how full our room was that Henry is already a much-loved little boy. We couldn’t be happier to bring him home with us on his due date, Wednesday, November 27, 2013.