Saturday, August 23, 2014

Claire's Birth Story- Part One

"I'm definitely having this baby tonight!" were my words on a Tuesday evening to my friend, Heather, whom I was spending an afternoon with. These same words were repeated to my home birth team a few hours later, while I continued through early labor and into active. My contractions were steady, 4-6 minutes apart, about a minute long each. The pressure intense. One of my closest friends, whose job on the labor team was to help with Caydon's needs as well as apply counter pressure to my back when he wasn't being needy, came over with dinner and helped me relax. The contractions continued for a great while... and then, suddenly, started reversing. How one could be in the very beginning of active labor, having contractions that increased in frequency for over 7 hours, and then regress backwards past early to a dead stop the next day was beyond any of us. I felt like I had imagined all of the pain I just went through... but then, I KNEW I had and so did my labor team who was inquiring when they should come. Sometimes I like the dramatics, but this truly wasn't that in any form. Where in the world did my contractions go, and why did it is seem like she was going back up out of my pelvic area? Why was she lifting up, again? Why was this continuing to happen; it wasn't the first time?? This was honestly the story of my pregnancy since bed rest at 25 weeks. I would progress really hard, and then she'd just lift her cute self back up high and... nothing.
last bump pic... didn't realize it was my official last or I would have covered up more and shown my face!

My appointment on Thursday confirmed the worst. I was further along at 25 weeks than I was 3 days post my due date. I had reclosed and rethickened. It took everything I could to not be in tears, though I might have let one or two creep out. "Don't forget your kick counts! Just be patient and loving towards yourself!" my midwife reminded me.  Ohhh... those kick counts. I slacked the last two days because I thought it was go time. I'll be loving towards myself with a peanut butter oreo plus cookie dough Sonic milkshake, thankyouverymuch, stupid labor. And I'll love myself even more by not weighing myself after. Then, Clairelin will be all hyper for my kick count, and I won't have to sit still for too long counting and can get onward with my day.

Once back home, I laid on my left side waiting for the sugar high to kick in and for my little ballerina to do her work. I waited. Then waited... I only felt 5 slight movements in 2 hours.  How in the world is she so sleepy when she has 3 different kinds of goodness served to her in a milkshake? It just doesn't make sense.

I contacted my midwife since I already had the "glass of juice", who urged me to go get a Biophysical Profile. Biophysical = stage 2 ultrasound that monitors the baby's breathing movements, muscle tone, amniotic fluid, etc. and also often includes a NonStressTest. I originally was going to utilize our go-to ultrasound guy, Denzil, who isn't attached to any hospital, but a spark inside of me was full of panic. Don't wait. Just go. If it's nothing, the hospital will let me go home. If it's something, I won't regret it. The combination of this, plus bed rest, plus labor that keeps on regressing is too much...

I called my mom to confirm her as a babysitter for Cayd, then called Claire's dad and my doula while I grabbed my emergency hospital bags (one for Clairelin, one for me), packed a bag of clothes for Caydon, and stuffed my edited, but not yet retyped, birthing plan into my purse. Just in case.

"Hmmm... that doesn't look right" she said two minutes into monitoring Clairelin's heartbeat during our NonStressTest. The nurse monitored a little longer, then explained to me that if her heart rate keeps dropping whenever I have contractions, she'll have to consult a doctor. My doula, Ashley, who also happens to be one of my closest confidants, and I looked at each other, reading each other's minds without words. I know she could just feel the tears welling up behind my trying to be strong eyes. Dang it. WHY do I have to be right?! We started listening to the heartbeat versus just waiting for the ultrasound (aka pictures of my baby!) to start. You could actually hear the drop in her beats when I contracted. Buump bump. Buump bump. buump... bump... buump... bump... buump... bump. buump bump buump bump.  Her heart rate would seem fine ranging from 120-160, then slow down to anywhere from 60-90, and then blast off to 160+ to recover. That little spark that told me to get to the hospital burned deeper. Bigger. The nurse went for her consult, which is when Ashley braided and bunned my hair. I think we both knew we needed a distraction. She had been practicing this hairstyle for my labor for some time... it was surreal that we were in a hospital figuring it out versus at home in front of a mirror on a birthing ball, as planned. Might as well practice though, right?!

The nurse then came back with new news. "Well, we can't let you leave. You're going to have to be admitted and have the baby here...."   That spark started a blaze. It was completely right. Something was wrong and it wasn't just effecting my contractions, it was effecting her oxygen levels.

"Get some sleep now. Tomorrow you will need your strength for laboring. I will be there to help you and guide you as you need it. Stay calm and open minded, okay? Call me if your contractions increase to 5-1-1 or if you need anything. I'm going to get some sleep now, too," my midwife said, comforting me with her words and 20 years of birthing knowledge. Due to previous experiences with mainstream medicine, I already wasn't very trusting of hospital policies and doctors, let alone in the labor and delivery side of things where I viewed most of what happened as corrupt. My doula and I both agreed my midwife coming would be a huge blessing. We even got a little excited knowing we were about to witness her work her art of birthing. At this point, the obvious plan was to bring my home birth into the hospital. Everything was to be as close to Plan A as possible, just in a hospital setting where baby girl can be monitored close to emergency help.

My mom came to get filled in and check on "her girls" while a nurse consulted with me. We both agreed to using Cervadil as a method of induction. My birth plan had no intention of induction as everything was to happen naturally and without meds; however, I also recognized that we could potentially be there for days since my cervix had rethickened the day before. Ashley has two other babes to tend to, I have Caydon, and my mom has a classroom full of students... we couldn't sit around in a hospital for days waiting for natural labor to restart. It wasn't realistic and would only have been selfish of me to do otherwise.  Cervadil was the go-to because it was on a string even when inserted into my cervix, which meant that if baby didn't tolerate it then we could pull it out and tend to her needs.  It was the safest form of induction per the situation.

Before bedtime, we all enjoyed yummy salads, anticipating it as my last time eating even though my birth plan requested otherwise.  Then it was off to dreamland until morning, or so I thought.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Feeling in-between
I needed this tonight... As I lie in bed hoping for sleep and a moment without pressure, thankful for my one and only little man wanting to snuggle up to me to bring me comfort and peace. It's times like these that I am celebrating what I do have, but long for what should be. Where I can't stop hoping the current contraction is closer and longer than the last, but where I also dream of being able to just keep carrying her, pain or not, where she is safe from the drama and heartache that is lurking around the corner. Where I can't wait to see her face, count her fingers and toes, breathe her in... but secretly hope she, too, looks just like me so my heart doesn't break a little bit each time her face reminds me of what could have been.  Where I am thankful for my son for wanting... trying... to be the man of the house, but also can't help but feel resentful and guilty, as it's not his job to grow up so quickly to fill. It's hard to find a balance of thankfulness when your heart is so heavy for your children that it could explode. Where you beg for more time with one dad and cry for protection from another, fully aware of the inconsistency. Where your emotions are so raw, so pure, so real... but you still hope pregnancy can explain them and they will soon be a distant thought. Where you are so thankful for your blessings and so disappointed with who you have to share them with. I can't express how ready I am to meet my little girl, knowing she will bring as much joy to life as my son, but how much my heart breaks at the thought of the pain she will sooner than later experience. Single parenthood isn't a small feat. My birthing pool is ready to be pumped, all of our candles, playlist, sterilized tools, birthing kit.. waiting to be used. Our fridge, once again, stocked full of healthy food, Cayd's big brother gifts wrapped and his sister's cake asking to be baked and frosted... 

I'm glad someone thought of the name for this time period. I'm glad I'm not just an unexplained bottle of emotion waiting to burst. I need to reserve this energy for pushing, but it's so hard when you don't know when the reserve will be opened. Where all of my worries and fears will be thin, and the thickness of this world will efface away. Where my life, along with my body, will reopen to a whole new life as a mommy of two. I'm so ready for more physical pain to justify the current,  and am so ready to meet my anticipated surprise. 

I'm so ready to be past this state of in-between.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Building a Crib onto the Bed

I decided that I would rather have Clairelin's crib built onto my bed rather than standing alone in our room. First of all, it saves space by a LOT. It feels half as cramped by putting the crib into the corner of my room. Second, it makes more sense for our family since we are co-sleepers anyway. Giving Claire her own space to sleep that has a barrier (me) between her brother and her is ideal. This allows that, while also giving me direct access to her for night time feedings.
For those of you interested in co-sleeping, I HIGHLY suggest you read through the Safe Sleep Seven, which is a guideline on how to ensure that co-sleeping is not only right for your family, but also as safe as possible. Since I'm a breastfeeding mom who might have a glass of wine once a month, never smokes or consumes pills, etc. this works for us. This format of sleeping is just as safe as an other since I follow the guidelines to a tee.

That being said, my inspiration for building her crib onto my bed is simple and common.
The supplies I needed were simple:

  • crib. I stuck with an Ikea crib that I bought for cheap and used from a friend.
  • nylon straps with a ratchet so that I can tighten it easily

I first removed both beds' mattresses and pushed the beds close together, but still apart with enough space for me to get in. I attached her crib to my bed and my headboard (again, no spaces between the three) with the nylon straps. I would dive deeper into instructions on this, but there really wasn't a method to the madness, and I think everyone's bed setup differs.

Once all was attached, I pushed my bed close to her crib since she is in the corner of my room. I then tightened the nylon straps so that my bed was snug close to hers.  

Since I opted out of drilling new holes like some other people do (I'm not that wood savvy), I needed an alternative to lift the bed up another inch. It is important that both the bed's mattress and the crib's mattress are even heights. There should be no gaps of fabric or differences in leveling. This is when I decided to use a piece of wood that fits the width and length of the crib. I put in between the wood slabs and the crib mattress. 
excuse the wrinkles... I was trying out bedding ;)

I am paranoid about her bed's stability, so I filled in the space underneath with boxes stacked underneath. I also chose to do this for extra security in case she is a jumper one day and for extra storage. I hide all of her "too big" boxes of clothes under it.
I then replaced the mattresses and sheets. Ready for baby!!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Our Gender Reveal Party

I'm not sure I have mentioned this on here, but I have some seriously amazing girlfriends. Ok, and their hubbies aren't so bad, either. When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I really wanted to have a gender reveal party. Not because I want the world to focus on my working lady parts and whatever else people past the age of "30 again" (+20... and then some, you're welcome, mom) want to say about these types of parties. I just really wanted something positive to bring to the situation, and I wanted to make this surprise pregnancy out to be a big deal for Caydon's sake. I figure that how I treat this surprise will reflect in Caydon's mind on how I treated the surprise I had with him. I also feel that unplanned, out of wedlock  surprise babies sort of carry a stigma from society and that is not what I want Caydon to know.  So, I planned a gender reveal that I was thinking would be cake and a reveal for everyone I am closest to, but it ended up being SO much more because of my amazing friends and mom getting their hands on it.

The decor I made myself... I craft whenever I have stuff on my mind, so it was a GREAT distraction. I probably spent about $40 on all of the decor since I am very big on making things from scratch and using what I already have such as reframing pictures and repurposing little items. I also kept my eye on sales for tons of itty bitty baby girl items to pair with items I had left from Caydon's newborn days.

First up, the "Sweet Baby" candy bar. I originally was going to just do a cake and a few pieces (the gum balls, etc.) for the kids to sweeten up with, but then a friend of mine volunteered to make all sorts of sweets. The bar ended up consisting of a yummy white cake with surprise gender colored filling (that my labor partner brought), HErSHEy bars, cotton candy, gum balls, cake pops, chocolate covered sprinkles, mints, goldfish in a pink bottle (for the little ones in attendance), pink and blue sour punch straws, mints, and pink or blue frosting cookies. I can't get over how well it turned out. Oh, and the friend who made the sweets also had the apothecary jars... score for budget friendly!

Every table had some sort of decor, but it wasn't matchy matchy. Leftover blue (from a peacock costume I made) and pink (from my parents' wedding!) petals were scattered with a bouquet on some tables. I found a bunch of mustache stuff on clearance at Target, such as the items on the table below. The mustache on the sign was actually a magnet that I made sticky, and the book I bought for under a dollar. The headband and shoes were open box so I got them for around 50% off even though they were brand new and could be full price in the store. 

I also LOVE ranunculus and peonies, but I stayed with a few bunches of ranunculus and a few hydrangea (for the blue!) that I could separate to dazzle up tons of spaces (most spots having mason jars holding them... I already had all of the vases and what not) . It was very cost effective this way vs buying bouquets for each spot, and I love how it gives it a touch of pretty vs appearing overdone or anything.

I had a table by the entry for designated for voting. As a teacher myself with two teacher parents, I already had white boards and these blue and pink markers. I simply crafted the divided spaces and left the markers in a gold and white jar (a mini of the pic above).  printed and cut out ultrasound pictures, made a little bunting, framed a Wives' Tale chart, and made little flower pins for our guests to wear. The tall flowers are what my mother had there already (score), and the feather pen is from my parents'  wedding 28 years ago :)

Originally, I had planned on just serving punch, water, and cake in effort to keep it short and sweet; however, my dad wanted to do dinner so then the location was at a restaurant.  As a single mom with another on the way, I couldn't hack buying every guest dinner so it was kind of an optional dinner ordeal. My mom, aka Mrs. Manners, thought it was tacky to have an "optional" dinner so she prepared a full on Italian meal served.  I helped with the caesar salad and home made dressing ;)  The water had lemon and lime in it, while the "Sweet Pink Lemonade" had strawberries and the "Bouncing Blue Punch" (aka blue Powerade) had blueberries in it. Little did I know that fruit floats, so making them into ice cubes would have been better alternatives.  A mason jar held pink polka dots and blue chevron straws. The banner (sorry for the horrible lighting, my DSLR didn't charge correctly and I realized it too late!) says "girl or boy".

 Here is a closer up of the mini water bottles I wrapped. Caydon is a dinosaur fan, and my "Father Daughter Song" with my dad is "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John. Oh, and there are the baby's potential names if you are curious as to what I was thinking for either gender. I also threw in the "Girls are... and boys are..." poem just to make it extra sweet/ a little traditional :)

I also put pictures of myself and Caydon as a baby (he is totally my mini-me) throughout the party. I didn't have any of my ex but wish I did. I was tempted to ask his mom for it but thought that might be weird to him... wish I had now. Oh, well.

I wish I had gotten a picture with all of my friends, but here is a picture of the ladies in my family and me.
I wore blue because I thought it was for-sure a boy, even though I originally thought girl, after seeing the ultrasound. I wore the pink flowers because I still had the hope that I might have a daughter, but I wasn't betting on it. All of the guests were encouraged to wear the gender they thought it would be, but they also wore the little flower pins I made for extra fun or to show what they thought if they forgot about the clothes. :)

Here is another of my friend, Ashley, who was the ONLY person to know the gender and who wouldn't tell me in order to keep it a surprise and I. I am glad I waited, but I am also impressed with her skills because I have to admit that I was quite anxious to find out! This friend is also my Labor Partner and is now in doula school. She was originally a friend of a friend who I would talk to online as she was supporting me in my teenage pregnancy, and we ran into each other at Caydon's one week appointment way back when. I've known her for eight years ad can't even tell you how much of a rock she has been for me... so, having her at the birth and having her be the friend privied to gender information before anyone else is logical and then some to me. 

After dinner and socializing, we walked down to one of the lakes in our neighborhood. It was about a five minute walk; nice and brief in great weather. 

Since my girlfriend, Ashley (the one in the pic above), knew the gender, she also wrapped little spray cans of the surprise gender color. She did an amazing job and you can tell the TLC she put into it:

 Baby's dad also surprised me by showing up last minute after work. He was able to eat dinner with us and then find out when I did. It was a little bit awkward, but totally civil, so that was promising. He also made it into the reveal pics and spray, which was great because I know baby wouldn't want it any other way.

 All of my friends and family gathered around us, and on the count of three, they SPRAYED!

 As you can see, baby is a GIRL!
 Then it was back to the "Sweet Baby GIRL!" bar where we had more than our share of sweets. The cake was pink inside (Ashley had told me that she wasn't sure if Costco could do the color, so she is SMOOTH! hah)

The little one above is the little sister of one of my former preschool students. She was just a newborn when I first met her; I still watch them (and their new sister) on occasion. I love this family...
Oh, and her brother wrote "maybe your wrong" on the sign. Haha! SO funny. I think he wanted a boy ;)

And, finally, here is our announcement that I sent my friends who couldn't make it, and then what I used for Facebook/social media:

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stranger Danger

I haven't blogged in... quite a long while. A few of my friends remind me here and there to blog some more, but my life just has seemed so out of hectic that I have been trying to get my own thoughts straight first. Sorry about that.

So here are some updates, most of which will be elaborated on through the use of individual posts:

  • Baby's gender was revealed...  I need to post my gender reveal party (it was INSANELY cute thanks to the help of two of my closest friends and my mom). I'll announce the gender and name in that post. Let's just say I'm a happy girl :)
  • I am now in my THIRD Trimester and am working on week 27/almost 28. Time seriously flies! I would say it's when you're having fun, but it's not always the case apparently because I have been on bed rest for the past 2 weeks, in addition to 2 hospital visits, seeing an OBGYN as well as my amazing midwife, and generally don't feel well on the daily. Boo. 
  • drama. drama. drama. I can say that I honestly gave "the other woman" a shot by meeting her for dinner, but let's just leave it at the fact that a NICE girl/lady/woman (however you want to characterize "her") wouldn't be with a man who either lies to her face or who left a girl newly pregnant for her. All in all, though, it has brought me to some very real conclusions about my relationship with my ex/baby's father. I'll post my conclusions and healing process in another post, but that's all I will say about her. I hope I have more class than she does so I'm leaving it here. :)
  • Mother's Day was simple, yet great. I have had to get really creative with how I can entertain myself, as well as simply survive, as a single mom on bed rest, but I think I am finally getting the hang of things. 
  • Caydon continues to make progress with his autism spectrum disorder needs, and baby continues to bake. I really can't ask for more!

Stay tuned for more details. I swear I'm done being a stranger!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Boy Nursery Inspiration

For a boy nursery, I really like the neutrals and grays. If I would be adding any pops of color, I am thinking either a navy or a bold, true green. I would incorporate a lot of naturals, but not have a major "theme"... I'm not much of a "theme" person. My nautical living room in the summer (I rotate by season) is as "theme" as I get. Here are some inspiration pictures for what I have in mind. Note that they all are practical for cosleeping/room sharing with me, and they also have made the white walls seem purposeful. 
(image source)
I love the birch crib and the tree, along with the nature prints. Not sure about a big moon print in my room (it needs to work for BOTH of us...) but the rest of it fits well!

I can't figure out what they did with the changing pad in this picture, but it seems great for a cosleeping/share room. I would have to incorporate storage, but I do like the abundance of white.
Another birch crib. Not sure about the rug or the light fixture, but the rest I am into!
(image source)
Definitely my favorite room so far!! I like the neutral banner and hints of baby but not enough to overpower the need to stay mature in an adult's room. Also, great storage, not to mention that I am obsessed with that light fixture.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Preparing to Share (with a GIRL) & Girl Name Drop

Because of Caydon's autism and pure cost efficiency, I have decided that it is in all three of our best interest to stay in our 2 bedroom + a small office home... unless we move to CA. This means that one of us has to split our room to share with a nursery, and while I think setting Cay's room up with a crib would be adorable, I don't think it would be the greatest idea in terms of his sleep or his need for personal space. With that being said, I am going to be sharing MY room with baby. I'm actually pretty fine with it, as I know that baby will want me a couple of times a night anyway. And really, what's privacy when you're a single mom to two kids?? I have been playing around with some different design layouts, palettes, and themes (though I'm not really a "theme" person). Here is what I have come up with... so far... granted that it is a girl.
My original "girl" inspiration was this:
 I quickly realized I was more so in love with the different shades of pink and gold contrast idea, as well as the texture of that photo. I am also thinking that to add some midnight blue thrown in as an accent color, along with the gold and grey.

The bird's eye view shows how my bed, dresser, and nightstand would be set up, as well as how the crib and dresser would flow.
Bare with me as I try to explain it further. You can see that the top left corner is my closet, the top right is my bath, and the top middle is my 2 person sink. The right side is where my bed, dresser, and nightstands will be.

The bottom right will actually look more so like this:

OH, hey! There's a baby name throw hinting itself in there! Not sure if I'm going to go Clairelin or Clairlin yet (2 syllables for both spellings). Hmmm..

So the left is a sliding door to our backyard. The crib and a skinny yet tall bookshelf will be over a grey rug. I'm still not100% sure about the decorations, but I am thinking this is the most "bang for my buck" with the nursery layout design.

 And this is the far back corner... the area that you would walk into upon opening the door. The blue "L" shaped contraption is actually and "L" shaped dresser set, which fits perfectly for the area and space need (99% sure anyway). I bought it a few years ago from Goodwill because of it's good bones, and all it would need is a paint job and new nobs. The rug would be a faux white lambskin, the gold circle will be a poof, and the great chair on the right is my mother's rocking chair. She rocked my brothers and I in it, and I plan on rocking my babies in it, too.   The gold above the chair is a mirror.

So, for this layout, all I would need to purchase is:
  • the crib
  • the skinny/tall bookshelf
  • poof
  • tall circle table
  • lamp
  • changing pad
  • baskets for organization
  • curtains and golden rod
  • pillows for rocking chair
  • bedding
  • decor :)

And my DIY crafts that I would need to get on are:
  • paint the rocking chair
  • paint the crib
  • paint the dresser set
  • sew a crib skirt
  • make the name banner
  • make the ombre dot decor
Not too bad for a VERY budgeted room! Fingers crossed I can stick with the colors and that it is a girl! :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sedona Girls' Trip

Over Spring Break, I also went on a girls' trip to Sedona, where we enjoyed

a beautiful lunch:

the ability to shop and look at art galleries without little ones:

2 psychics- 1 being considerably legit and the other a total phony,

2 dousings (both of which said girl by swinging in circles)... we actually met this retired psychic and his wife at dinner. Such a great people:

and then a bunch of sweetness for baby and me: