April 29, 2011

Birth Announcement from Shutterfly!

I finally got around to doing my little guy's birth announcement.  I had a coupon for Shutterfly AND I get $10 off my next order if I post it on my blog!  So here it is... isn't he cute? :-)

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

April 28, 2011

Dear Jude :: 1 month old

Dear Jude,

You are one month old today!!  I can't believe how fast time has flown.  This past month has been the most challenging and joyful months of my life.  This new "mom" role is different, but I love having my world revolve around you.  You are so sweet and precious to your dad and I and we love you so so so much!!

You are currently sleeping 4.5 hours straight at night, with a couple of other 3 or 3.5 hour stretches in there.  I only get up with you twice, so I can't really complain at all.  You sure are a grunter!!  You are a very noisy sleeper and grunt in your sleep.  You are still in our room, but we're thinking about moving you to your crib to see if we all sleep better. :-)

You are growing fast and I recently had to pack up your newborn clothes!  You fit perfectly in your 0-3 sleepers that we wear most of the time. :-)  You weighed 8lbs 10oz at your two week checkup, so I can only imagine that you are closer to 10.5 or 11lbs now!

You really are a great baby.  You have many happy and awake moments and are easily soothed when you are fussy.  I don't know how I got such an easy baby.  You are starting to show signs of smiling and every once in awhile will show us your huge grin.  You have started showing more of an interest in everything around you.  You especially like your hanging animals over your changing pad.  You also love your bath!!  Even if you are a little bit fussy, you are always so interested in the water and so happy for it to be bath time.  Getting out of the bath is another story.  :-)

You are so very precious to your dad and I and we love you and pray for you daily!!

Love you always,


April 26, 2011

Mommy-hood milestone... and my top products!

I have to share a mommy-hood milestone I reached this morning.  4 weeks postpartum and I was able to button some of my pre-pregnancy jeans!! WOOHOO!  Now, they don't look quite like they did before baby and I don't think I'll be wearing them in public anytime soon, but they buttoned!  Okay - just had to brag, because I am excited.  I still have a good 17lbs to lose before I get to my "happy" weight.  I lost about 23lbs from my 30lbs gained during pregnancy - so just 7 more and then those 10lbs I was working on when I got pregnant. :-)  I go for my postpartum check-up in 2 weeks, so I hope I get the "OK" to exercise then.  I am still pretty sore, so it will be light walking and maybe some post-natal yoga (I have a DVD!)... but I think it might be a few months before I feel good enough to run again.  At this point I feel like I'd rip my insides apart, and I don't want that to happen.

Anyway... I haven't posted much, because my life has been fairly repetitive lately.  Eat, burp, spit up, toot, explosive poo, nap, cry, swaddle, shush, scream, coo, grunt, and look freaking adorable.  No, not me, this little crazy guy:

{Side note: this picture was taken when he was 2 weeks old and I can't believe how BIG he looks in comparison already!!}

All in all - I'm loving it.  It is challenging at times (like around 4am mostly) but so very rewarding and amazing.  I still can't really wrap my mind around the miracle that just happened.  Just the whole process of pregnancy and birth is amazing.  I don't know how people could say there is no God after experiencing that.  I'm already excited to do it again... in the future (far future).  

I thought, since I'm a month into this, I'd talk about some of the things that have been MUST HAVE'S for me.  I know a lot of preggo mama's, so maybe this will help... maybe not.  Either way, these have been my life-savers this first month.

I got this a a shower gift.  It is the "itzbeen baby care timer".  This has seriously kept my sanity this first month.  All it does is you push a button when you do something - change the baby, feed the baby, nap the baby, and then it has another for whatever you want (I used this to keep track of my meds, and now use it to monitor his awake time).  I LOVE THIS.  Especially in the middle of the night.  Early on, I was supposed to write down how long he was feeding and I would look at the clock to know when he started and immediately forget.  Now, I look at this instead of the clock to see how long it has been since he's been changed or fed.  It is SO much easier.  I don't need to remember a bazillion times in my brain - I only need this nifty guy.   So - I think this will be my gift to all new moms.  I love it.

This is the Bright Starts Automatic Bouncer.  It is what it says... it bounces automatically.  LOVE it.  I have only heard of other mama's say they constantly just sat by their little one's bouncers bouncing it with their legs, unable to move.  This just does it - and it allows me to do what I need to do - like eat breakfast or blow-dry my hair.  It also has all kinds of noises from nature sounds to white noise.  Jude loves white noise, so this has been a staple on our kitchen table (yes, that is where it sits) for the past month.

This is the Halo Sleepsack Swaddle in fleece.  This is my favorite swaddle blanket.  I have some SwaddleMe's, but I love that this one zips and can act as a blanket as well as a swaddle.  I also feel like I can get this on him tighter.  I love the fleece, because at least for the first few weeks it was pretty cold - especially at night, and the fleece kept him warm.  He slept 5 hours straight in this thing!  It is getting too warm for fleece, so I bought one in cotton, too.

Many of you know we are cloth diapering.  I am starting with just prefolds and covers and so far Thirsties are by far my favorite cover.  This cover will contain any explosive poo.  I also think that prefolds are the way to go by far - especially for these newborn days.  I have a few All-In-Ones and Pockets, which I know will be nice for Jordan and the babysitter and whatnot.  But you can fold these prefolds so that they will contain any mess and I LOVE it!!  Thirsties have the leg gussets that make sure nothing gets on his clothes. :-)  Love 'em!

This is CJ's BUTTer.  When Jude was about 2 weeks old he started getting a little bit of a red bum.  I researched what the best diaper cream is to use with cloth diapers (because you can't use a lot of the store bought stuff, because it can cause your cloth to start repelling and other fun stuff).  I came across raving reviews of CJ's BUTTer so I decided to try it.  It cleared his bum up in no time and I LOVE it!  It is all natural and uses ingredients like shea butter, olive oil, coconut oil, lanolin, beeswax, cocoa butter, Vitamin E and colloidal oatmeal... so I can feel good about putting this on my guys bum!  They also have a yeast-fighting version. :-)

So there are just a few of the items I have come to love in my four weeks of motherhood.  As I find other amazing items, I'll be sure to mention them to share the love. :-)  In the meantime - here's some more cuteness for you.

April 9, 2011

Baby Twilight Zone

That's where I am... in the baby twilight zone.  Becoming a parent will totally turn your world upside down.  Talk about being selfless in a whole new way.  It is 100% about Jude.  100%.  No less.  And I love it, but it sure is a transition and a change of pace.  It takes some getting used to.  But it is utterly and completely amazing.  I love being a mommy. 

So my BABY is 12 days old.  That seems so very short when I think of how much I have learned and how much I have gotten to know him.  I feel like I've known him forever.  And I feel like I gave birth forever.  At the same time... looking back at Jude's pictures from his very first day, I can already see this little man growing up.  His cheeks are chunking up, he's already getting his baby double chin, and he's just looking older.  I just want to say STOP!  Stay little!!  But I know these days will fly by.  I'm going to enjoy each and every one of them!

So here are some things I have learned, loved, found amazing in my 12 days of motherhood.

1) I am amazed at how Jude knew me right from the start.  He immediately responded to my voice and was instantly soothed when he was near me and could hear my heartbeat.  I just LOVE that he knew me from those 9 months I carried him.  Such precious moments.

2) Baby instincts are amazing.  We've been blessed to be able to breastfeed quite well right off the bat.  Jude is a little champion eater.  He was born at 7lbs 11oz... got down to 7lbs 4oz in the hospital, and on Friday April 1st was already back up to 7lbs 7.5oz.  We have our next appointment on Monday, and he has to be back at his birth weight.  I'm thinking we'll be pushing 8lbs or more by that point.  Breastfeeding is also about trust... I never expected to worry that my baby was getting enough to eat, but it is hard for me to not be able to measure how much he is getting.  I just have to trust Jude's cues and my instincts and the fact that his cheeks are chubbier than the day before.

3) I love watching my husband be a daddy.  If I didn't love the man already, I sure do now.  Jordan is amazing with Jude.  He will drop everything to care for him and has a way of entertaining Jude that nobody can top.  He told me the other day he had a conversation with Jude, telling him all the things they were going to do together.  Melts my heart!

4) Postpartum hormones are the real deal.  I feel "normal" most of the time (whatever that means anymore)... but all of the sudden I will feel like I need to burst into tears for no apparent reason.  Just emotional.  I also break out into a sweat for no reason... that is fun.  Especially at night.  I feel like that should be calming down anytime now... really.

5) I have been surprised at how difficult recovery has been for me.  I am totally fine emotionally with the fact that I needed a c-section.  I know I made it clear that avoiding that was my motivation for pursuing a natural birth.  But of course, as I have said, God and Jude had other plans and Jude is here and healthy and that is all I wanted.  But the recovery is something I didn't expect.  It was days before I could get out of bed and pick up my own baby.  I have felt like I cannot care for my baby and that was overwhelmingly frustrating for me.  I don't know if my recovery was harder because of the 80 hours of labor (I'd imagine so), but I had no idea what to expect, because I didn't expect to need surgery.  In any case... I'm feeling significantly better now.  Today was the first day I did not experience any real pain or the need to stop and ice my incision or something.  So we are moving forward. :-)  Just being honest!

6) Lately I am just eager to figure out what our new "normal" is.  Life will never be the same... and I am ready to figure out what my new life is going to be like - because right now I truly feel like I am in the baby twilight zone and I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel where I might finally feel like I know what I'm doing and be able to plan my life... but until then, it is just me and Jude figure this whole thing out.  It is hard to not worry about every little thing.  How often or long are babies supposed to eat?  Is my baby too gassy?  How much is normal for a baby to spit up?  Blah blah blah... all of these are in my google search history. :-)  But I'm figuring it out, and I already know that motherhood is going to change me and challenge me in ways I've never ever been stretched before. :-)

And now for some cuteness.

April 3, 2011

The meaning of Jude.

Jordan and I put a lot of thought into our son's name.  But truth be told, I knew our baby's name was going to be Jude all along. :-)  I fell in love with the name even before we knew we were having a boy.  I just had a strong feeling that our baby was "Jude".

We went through a lot (though not near as much as some) to have this baby.  We tried for awhile, and then had a miscarriage.  When I found out we were pregnant again I was overwhelmed with just joy and praise and thanks.

And that is the meaning of the name Jude in hebrew.

Jude: Praise; Thanks

Obviously it is a biblical name (there is a book in the bible called Jude) and that was very important to us as well.  And then my family has a tradition of passing along middle names.  My dad's middle name is Michael and I wanted to keep with this tradition.  Michael means: who is like God?

So that is where the name came from.  I fell in love with it long ago. :-)  It took awhile to get Jordan on board, mainly because he was afraid everyone would think we got it from the Beatle's song "Hey Jude".  Which, really, it's a great song.  I have no problem with my son's name being in that song. :-)  And I'm sure it will be sung to him a time or two in his life.

April 1, 2011

A word on natural unmedicated birth...

I was just thinking that the person who is considering natural birth might read my birth story and become discouraged.  Please don't.  Even though I ended up with a c-section, I feel so blessed to have been able to experience natural labor.  Yes, that sounds crazy, but it is true.  Part of my motivation for wanting an unmedicated labor was just wanting to be an active participant in my baby's birth, and I most definitely was.  I have zero regrets about my experience.  It is intense, but completely amazing to experience your body prepare to bring new life into the world. 

I think that my experience is very out of the ordinary.  Most people have labors that are around 12-15 hours... not 80... and most babies are in a good birthing position.  I would most definitely go through that labor again to experience my sons birth.  It is hard hard work, but it is not insurmountable.  If I did it, you can do it.  Please be encouraged that natural labor and birth is something you absolutely can do, if you want to.  Of course - leaving room for God and baby to have their change of plans (as was my case).

Okay - there is my disclaimer.  Now you can read my birth story below. :-)

Jude Michael's Birth Story...

I read many many birth stories to prepare for Jude's birth.  I always found such encouragement reading stories of other women who had natural birth's.  When I first decided I wanted a natural, drug-free birth, I had some anxiety over all of the "what if's".  What if it didn't go my way?  What if I spent all this time and effort, only to realize I "couldn't do it"?  Jordan and I spent hours preparing for labor and birth.  We took hypnobirthing classes, practiced relaxation, and praying for our pregnancy, our son, our doctor, our nurses, and our peace of mind.  I came to the understanding that God has a plan for this birth.  He has written out all of the days of our son's life - including his birth day.  And I found peace in knowing that even if the birth didn't go MY way... it was in God's plan and I could find great joy in knowing that our son was going to come into this world exactly as God planned.  So - with that in mind... get ready to read 80 hours worth of labor (just kidding... kind of... I am writing this more for me to remember and keep track of what happened... and I will give everyone a gold star who actually reads this whole thing :-).

I had been having night contractions for a few weeks.  Wednesday night (March 23) they were different.  They were timeable, and more intense.  I was up for a couple of hours and emailed my doula to tell her what I was experiencing.  Unfortunately - during the day on Thursday, they subsided and I didn't have the intense contractions all day.  I felt very different though.  Kind of off all day.  I told Jordan I thought our baby was going to be born before the end of the week.  He agreed - just seeing how weird/odd I was feeling... and the fact that I had stopped smiling - he said. :-)

Thursday night started the marathon labor experience.  I was having intense, timeable contractions starting at 11pm.  They were anywhere from 5-6 to 12 mins apart, but mostly in the 6-8 minute range.  After experiencing this all night, I made the decision to call Karlye (our doula) at 4am and tell her that I thought he was on his way.  We continued to stay home and I tried to sleep between contractions - which was near impossible at this point.  Contractions stayed regular throughout the day, but still hung around the 7-8 minutes apart range, which I knew would not warrant me going to the hospital yet.  I was getting more and more uncomfortable and was just waiting for the contractions to get to be 3-5 mins apart so we could get this show on the road.

Not much changed Friday night.  I was up all night with contractions, still in the same time range.  I was beginning to think this was just ridiculous.  Saturday I was exhausted and frustrated.  I was just in tears over how annoying this "early labor" stage was for me.  Luckily, Jordan was home all day Saturday so we labored on the exercise ball, which felt great at times, but Jude had dropped so low that it was often uncomfortable as well.  Finding a position to stay in that was comfortable was near impossible.  It sounds odd, but I found that laboring on the toilet was one of the most relieving places.  Jordan helped me relax.  We listened to calming music and he rubbed my back while I breathed through the contractions.  I felt that I was handling the actual contractions well.  They were most definitely not overwhelming and totally manageable.  My biggest frustration was my exhaustion - being that I hadn't slept well in two nights at this point.  I called the on-call doctor on Saturday night to tell him what I had been going through the past two days to see if he wanted me to go in to get checked.  My dilation hadn't been checked since I was 36 weeks and I thought he might want the baby to be monitored too.  He told me it sounded like early labor (when contractions are still greater than 5 mins apart) and to wait until they were regularly 3-5 mins for an hour before I go in.  I knew this already... and was partially hoping he'd just tell me to go in, but we tried to get some sleep instead.

At 1am on Sunday morning/Saturday night I decided to finally go in.  Contractions were around 5 mins apart and I had just had enough.  The contractions slowed down once we got to the hospital, which was annoying, but we stayed to get checked anyway.  I was 3-4cm dilated, 90% effaced, and at a 0 station.  I thought for SURE they would keep me.  But after an hour I was still 3-4 dilated, so they sent me home.  I was annoyed then, but now I am so glad it saved me 12 more hours in the hospital.  They gave me an ambien to try to sleep but all it did was make me totally delirious.  It didn't help with sleep at all because the contractions were too strong.  By this point I was super annoyed that it was taking so long. 

12 hours later at 1:30pm on Sunday, my contractions were closer to 3-5 mins apart and getting significantly more intense.  I decided to go and get checked again.  This time I was 5cm dilated, 100% effaced, and still at a 0 station.  YES - we were in!!  Since I still had a good 10 hours left of the day, I was CERTAIN my boy was going to be born on his due date, which I thought was super fun. :-)  Baby had other plans.

{Last belly shot - on my due date at 40 weeks pregnant}

{Breathing through some contractions}

The next 18 hours are just a blur.  I labored in the hot tub, which was amazing until my contractions got even more intense, and in any position I could feel comfortable.  Jordan and Karyle took turns being by my side and making sure I stayed hydrated and comfortable.  They spoke encouraging words and just let me know that I was not alone at all in what I was experiencing.  This labor was definitely a team effort.

I continued to dilate slowly.  3 hours after I was admitted I was dilated to 6 and it took the next 12 hours to get me to 9.5.  Somewhere along the way, my water had a slow leak.  We made the decision to artificially break my water so that labor would hopefully progress.  Contractions got a lot more intense when they did this.  They always say sitting on your back is the worst position to labor in, but it was one of the only ones that was comfortable.  That, and the toilet.  Haha.  If I was standing or in any other position, I needed strong counter-pressure on my back to manage the intensity.  Jordan and Karlye were great at this.  We were all half-sleeping between contractions the best we could.  We were so exhausted, I don't think this was hard to do.  It quickly became clear that I was not going to have my due date baby.  Sunday came and went and I was still laboring and slowly progressing.
The GREAT news in all of this is that the baby was doing great.  They had monitors on me now and then and he always handled the contractions wonderfully.  This was a huge relief, because I was getting concerned how baby Jude was tolerating such a long labor.  He is a trooper for sure.

Early Monday morning they checked me to find I was 9.5cm dilated.  Unfortunately - after staying at 9.5 for a couple of hours, it was clear something needed to change.  The nurse told me that she felt the babies head, but it wasn't straight on.  It was more like he was cock-eyed and his head was stuck to his shoulder.  It was the front left corner of his head instead of the top, that was engaged.  Not good news.  By this time I was completely exhausted.  I had the feeling that I couldn't do it anymore.  I'd been at this for days.  I hadn't had any pain medication whatsoever, and I had visions of epidurals dancing in my head, although I knew I truly didn't want it, and that at this point it would only slow things down more.  

We tried a few positions to potentially try to rotate the baby.  Unfortunately these positions were excruciating at this point.  I do think that they would have been manageable, had I not been in labor for over 3 days and wasn't so completely fatigued.  I was beginning to wonder what the heck we were going to do.

The doctor eventually came in and checked me as well, and confirmed with an ultrasound the unfavorable position of the baby.  He had been concerned with how exhausted my body was at this point and knew that I nor my body couldn't handle much more.  However, this time, when he checked my cervix it was still dilated to 9.5, but he said it was now swelling.  I was only open to 6.  

I don't know if I was more frustrated or relieved.  I knew that something needed to happen, and I didn't know what the answer was.  I was surprised when he said c-section, but I knew right away that it was the way we needed to go.  Especially when he told me my cervix was swelling instead of dilating.  I agreed to it right away.  Contractions were one on top of the other at this point, without much break.  I was most concerned with being able to keep myself still in order to get a spinal to prepare for the c-section.  It ended up being much easier than I thought.

I have to say - that the nurse I had during all of this was PHENOMENAL.  She was SO encouraging and Jordan told me later on that she had told him she was praying for us, that we would be able to have the birth we wanted.  I don't think she had seen a natural labor before and she just kept encouraging me telling me how strong and amazing I was.  I really truly think God picked her out just for us.  She was with us for her entire shift and she stayed a little late even to see our baby be born.

SO - all of that to say... I was wisked off to the OR.  At 7:23 on Monday, March 28, 2011 my life completely changed and the sweetest boy in the world was born.  Jude Michael Griffis.  He is so very precious and has just been pure pure joy.  I am so very blessed.