Friday, October 24, 2014

Helaina Lynn: A Birth Story

Oh hi there.  So, I've got news.  Miss Helaina Lynn is here!

Here are her birth stats:

October 18, 2014 (13 days early)
7lb 7oz
20 in.

And here is her cuteness:

And here are her siblings loving on her (they are SO in love):

 If you like reading birth stories, please continue.  If the idea of a baby being pushed out of a vagina is icky to you, you may want to tune out now :)

So... last Friday evening 10/17, two of my best book club gals came over to watch The Fault In Our Stars (great movie, have tissues handy!).  We had an awesome evening and I joked about the crying from the movie making me go into labor, etc.  I DID have a few strong contractions during the movie, but I wasn't really being serious.

The gals left around 12:15am (so, now 10/18) and I just bummed around, not feeling that tired yet.  Towards the end of my pregnancy, sleeping was near impossible, so I was in no hurry to start that battle.  About 30 min later, I decided to give sleeping a go... however, after a few minutes in bed, I was hit with a strong contraction.  This lasted for the next 1-2 hours...every 20 minutes or so.  Around this time, the contractions got to the point where I couldn't continue lying in bed when one hit.  I had to get up and rock/moan/breathe through it.

Around this time, I thought, well, this is different.  I had been having contractions for weeks, but not the kind that required me to stand up and move and breathe through.  These were painful.

I still wasn't convinced I was in labor though.  I had several false alarms in the previous weeks, so it was going to take quite a bit to convince me it was the real deal.  I TRIED to sleep, but without success.  The contractions continued all night long.  I was also starting to shiver uncontrollably which I vaguely recalled to be a labor sign (and it is!).

Around 5:30am, I gave up on sleeping and got out of bed.  The contractions were about 10 min. apart at this point.  I told Shaun to go ahead and give his dad a call.  His dad was on call to be our big kid wrangler while we were at the hospital.  My niece Imogene's 3rd birthday paty was planned for later in the day Saturday, so I figured hey, let's get him out here since he'll be here anyway.  At that point, I was thinking we may go to the hospital at some point, but I wasn't 100% yet.  I called my mom too, basically to tell her the same thing- I *might* be in labor, I don't know, we'll see... waiting and watching kind of thing.

After I got off the phone with my mom around 5:45am, I climbed into the tub to help ease the pain of the contractions.  That was a big fat fail by the way.  The warm water DID NOT help... I mean, it felt nice, but when a contraction hit, I wanted to move, so that was a no go.  I got out of the tub a little after 6 and things started picking up.  Just 30 minutes earlier, my contractions were 10 minutes apart, but all of this sudden, I checked my timer and they were about 3 min. apart. WHOA.

At that point, I knew we were definitely going to the hospital once my father in law arrived.  He got to the house around 7am, expecting to walk into a calmer situation since we told him "meh... we don't know, but come on out"  Once he saw the pained look on my face and my slow steps, he knew we were going.

We headed out the door to the hospital which is thankfully only 15 minutes away.  We were in labor & delivery triage by about 7:25am.  I told everyone I saw that I wanted on the epidural list ASAP.  The pain was pretty bad at this point... I mean, tolerable, but BAD.  I had an epidural with Audrey, I didn't have one with Jameson (he came too fast), and it was my personal decision that I would very much like this birth to be medicated.  I had the comparison of with vs. without and I knew what I wanted.  

The nurse and midwife were all "yeah, okay, let's get you checked to see if you are in labor"  I was 5-6cm dilated and contracting about every 2-3 min.  Once they talked to my doc who was on her way to the hospital, everyone hopped to.  It turns out my doc informed them that my last labor was about 3 hours start to finish and that she expected this one to come fast also.

They got me back to the l&d room and the anesthesiologist came in around 8:10am.  Oh, happy day!!!!  The epidural took a long while to place... oh man, that is not a good feeling.  It doesn't hurt, but it feels WEIRD and it takes a long time and you have to sit still, etc. which isn't easy to do while working through a very painful contraction.

Around 8:30am or so, the epidural was placed and they had me lie flat on my back just to make sure everything was working as it should.  Within 5 minutes or so, I could tell the epi was kicking in and when I had a contraction, I felt pressure, but not the intense pain I had felt before.  Woo hoo.

However, not but a few minutes later, I told my doc who had just came in that I felt PRESSURE, like a LOT of pressure and it seemed like more than just contractions.  She suspected that it was my water ballooning and she was going to break my water (doc had to break my water with my previous babes as well).

So, she goes to break my water, but guess what?  It had already broken... I thought I felt a trickle over time, but there was never a big gush.  She confirmed the waters were already broken and the fluid was clear.\

Then, she said, well if you're feeling all that pressure and it's not the water, I bet it's the baby.  I was thinking... huh WHAT?!  I JUST got here, I JUST got the epidural, I've got hours to go... I'm going to call people and tell them it's real deal, etc.

So, she goes to check my cervix and... she feels a baby head.

Yeah, that's how far down she already was - baby girl was ready to go.  I got the epidural JUST in time.

So, my doc suited up and around 8:48am, she told me I could push.  2 pushes later, Helaina was born at 8:52am.  What a whirlwind!!

So, my labor was definitely longer than with Jameson's, but the hospital event was all pretty fast.  When Helaina was born, it was just incredible.  I didn't feel any of that new mom hesitation, I just grabbed that beautiful baby and held her against me.  I had her with me a good 15-20 min. before they even weighed her which was incredible.

Within 2 hours of birth, Helaina nursed for the first time and did awesome.  

All of those months of waiting and wondering and worrying and our baby girl is finally here and healthy.  And, we are so so so blessed.

Until next time...

- Amber

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fall Family Photos

It has been a tradition for awhile now for us to get professional family photos about once a year.  None of us really enjoys the process of taking the photos... Shaun and Jameson least of all, but we all enjoy HAVING them.

We had our photos done about 3 weeks ago by Stephanie Zahn of Caught Fire Photography.  If you're a Baltimore local, she's your gal.  Definitely check out her work!  She's great to work with (and affordable as well), oh, and you will see, her work is incredible.

Jameson was oh so NOT into getting his photo taken this day, so with that in mind, they turned out much better than I was expecting!

Take a peek at some of my favs... before long, we'll have to do another photo shoot with new baby gal (and no, I didn't have that baby yet!) ;)

As you may have noticed, it's also a tradition for Jameson to bring along to said photo shoot.  Last year, it was Thomas and this year it was his helicopter. I expect the tradition to continue for quite some time...

I have already ordered prints because I'm SO excited to get these pics up and displayed.

So, what about you?  Does your family get professional photos done with any regularity or do you just do your own?

- Amber

Friday, October 10, 2014

Baby Countdown, Wedding Weekend, and Book Club

So, guys... today is the end of my third week at my new job.  I'm so happy I've gotten in some time/hours before baby gal arrives.  The new gig is going very well - it's a bit strange to be back at my Ph.D. alma matter as staff rather than as a student, but I must say I like it better on this side of things!

Speaking of baby gal arriving, I've got just 3 weeks to go (or at least I hope... you hear me, little gal?  Let's make an appearance in October!)

Here's a pic from this morning (also appeared on my blog fb page) - my belly is large and in charge!

Aside from some new pubic pain (is that too much information?), I'm feeling pretty well... seriously getting excited to welcome our newest addition and we are feeling ready.  The car seat is installed, her bassinet is set up next to the bed with the sheet on, I've got newborn diapers, and lots of teeny clothes are washed and ready.

I'd like to get the nursery in a little bit better working order, but honestly, that's no biggie.  We also need to convert the crib from a toddler bed back into a crib, but again, she'll initially sleep in the bassinet, so... no biggie!

Tomorrow, we are off to see one of my childhood friends get married!  The super fun part is that Audrey is her flower girl.  I'll be sure to post pics of that because she is ridiculously adorable in her dress... or glamorous/elegant - she would prefer those adjectives.  She really does look too grown up.  Audrey was a flower girl 3 1/2 years ago, but she doesn't remember it...

flashback to my baby brother's wedding in May, 2011:

how gorgeous was my brother's bride by the way?!?! ;)
My other exciting event coming up this weekend, though it's no wedding, is my book club's monthly meeting.  Man, I LOVE our book club.  It's been going strong for 6 years now.  6 whole years!

This past month, we read Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susan Cahalan.  I HIGHLY recommend this memoir which is terrifying and illuminating.  It's a pretty quick read and definitely pulled me in from the start.

Okay, that's all for today's updates... 

Happy Friday, my friends!

- Amber

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's Off to Work I Go (Really!)

Good news, guys!  With only 5 weeks until my due date, I managed to land a job... actually, I managed to end up with a couple of offers, so I got to CHOOSE the position rather than just take what was available.  That's a position I was not expecting to be in when I found out last month that the position I had been counting on fell through.
In the end, I decided to head back to my Ph.D. alma mater - a twist I was not expecting!  My position is as a 'Research Scientist,' which basically means I will be involved in a number of different research projects with an old grad school mentor of mine who is a very well known psychologist in the field of addictions/behavior change.  It is a privilege to work with him again!  Additionally, I get to teach once a semester or so and will likely have the opportunity to supervise clinical Ph.D. students in their clinical work as well.  So, I'll be wearing many hats, but that's precisely what I like about the position.  After 7 years of graduate school and juggling many different responsibilities, I was really struggling to choose a position where I'd be pigeon holed into one area.  Well, problem solved! 
One of the best parts???  I will only be working 3 days per week... one day will be a long day with teaching in the evening, however, this frees me up to 1) stay home twice a week with Jameson and his soon to be baby sis and 2) fit in some more clinical work on the side (I landed a side gig doing emergency room psych evals that is very flexible).
So, after all that stressing, it seems like I found a position that is the perfect fit for me and for our family right now.  To all of you who said "it will be okay" and "it will work out," you were right!  It was hard for me to see this a few weeks back, but here we are!
Well, it's Tuesday, one of my days off, and I've got a bathroom to clean (yes, the nesting has begun).
- Amber

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Baby Gal's Nursery in Progress

With just 6 1/2 weeks (or less!!) to go, we are getting baby gal's nursery together.  Realistically, we don't NEED to have it done by the time she gets here since really she just needs a bassinet next to our bed, some diapers, some clothes, and my breasts for eating... oh yeah, and a car seat! BUT, I LIKE to have as much ready as possible and am generally a very organized/prepared person, so obviously we're working on it now.  It's not done, but it is off to a nice start!
If you'll recall, Jameson's nursery (now baby gal's room) was nautical themed and a dark blue hue.
Color before...
 Husband working on the paint color...
 Color after and the gorgeous floral valence that my awesome friend Melissa made for Audrey's nursery a good 6 1/2 years ago!!

 Teeny weeny washed and ready baby girly clothes
 The closet

Okay, so we've still got quite a ways to go and a few cute items to hang.. a rug being shipped from Amazon etc, but this little lady's room is getting there! 
I'll continue to update as we work on it :)
- Amber

Friday, September 12, 2014

33 Week Bump Update!

Well, so much for posting more once my postdoctoral position ended... that was last Tuesday and here I finally am!  Phew!  I'm actually surprised at how busy I've been keeping, but I guess my house was a lot messier than I realized... ha.  I've also been job interviewing like crazy and I **think** things are just about figured out on the job front, but I'll save that for another post when I know for sure what my plan is!  For now, I'm popping on for a pregnancy update.  As I've told you before, this blog is the only way I've been documenting this pregnancy.  The first 2 kids got cute pregnancy journals filled with notes and photos, but this gal?  Not so much!  So, I better do a few more updates before she arrives, because guess what... we've got 7 weeks or less to go.  Oh my!

Pregnancy Review:
How far along: 33 weeks on the dot

exercising here and there...

Total weight gain/loss: a healthy amount... about 30lbs already... yowza!

Maternity Clothes? indeed. I wear those!  I can still get away with some non-maternity tops and I wear all non-maternity cardigans, etc.  I haven't been into jeans lately - I'm digging comfy leggings/yoga pants.

Stretch Marks? lots of old ones and they are starting to turn a bit purple... I can see them coming

Sleep: getting increasingly uncomfortable..  I've started popping 1/2 a unisom here and there to help me sleep through the night and that does help.  Oh how I miss tummy sleeping!

Best Moment this week: lots of amazing baby movement... easily my favorite part of pregnancy!

Movement: this gal moves what seems like almost non-stop and I have no complaints... it's sometimes distracting when I'm trying to fall asleep, but I wouldn't change a thing

Food Cravings: MILK - like just a huge glass of milk... and that means I've been craving foods that go with milk, namely oreos and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Why can't I crave veggies?  I definitely DON'T.

Gender: little lady babe in the belly :)

What I miss: tummy sleeping, pumpkin beer, bending over easily

Labor signs: none

Belly Button in or out: not an outie, but pretty much flat at this point

What I am looking forward to: finishing up baby gal's room - I already started on it.  We decided to go with a light grey wall color with soft pinks, greens, blues --- I changed my color palette so I could reuse a lot of what I had with Audrey.  Also going with a subtle bird theme because birds are cute (just not real ones)

Milestones: being well into the 3rd tri, passing my glucose tolerance test!

My friend took this photo at dinner last night to show how my belly is smaller this time around with baby girl than it was with Jameson (on the phone pic - I was 32 weeks with him) and this photo is me now at 33 weeks!!  Crazy!  Jameson was a big boy :)
That's all for now, friends!  I'll be back (hopefully soon) to share updates on our nursery progress.

- Amber

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Easy Slow Cooker White Bean Soup with Garlic Bread Croutons... It's What's For Dinner!

On Monday, I posted a pic of the yummy white garlic bean soup I made in the crock pot that day and it seemed like a hit, so here I am posting the recipe.  Because I love you guys.  And, you need this soup in your life.  

This soup is fabulous because....

- it requires simple, inexpensive ingredients
- you can make it in the slow cooker
- you can make it in the slow cooker
- you can make it in the slow cooker...

Anyway, yeah, I freaking love slow cooker/crock pot recipes. Which is it anyway? I use those terms interchangeably...

Slow Cooker White Bean Garlic Soup with Garlic Bread Croutons


** 2 cups dried white beans
** 8-10 cloves of minced garlic
** 1 bay leaf
** 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
** 2 1/2 cups water
** 1 tsp ground sage
** 1 1/2 tsp thyme
** salt and pepper to taste
** 1 5oz can evaporated milk, warmed
** 1 14.5oz can petite diced tomatoes (drained)
** garlic bread croutons

What Ya Do...

1. Soak the beans in plenty of water overnight.
2. In the morning, drain beans and add to slow cooker --- add in the garlic, bay leaf, sage, thyme, and broth/water.
3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours (I let mine go longer actually and it was just great)
4. Puree with an immersion blender --- stir in the evaporated milk, tomatoes, and additional seasonings.  At this point, you can play with adding cornstarch if you need thickener or more broth if you want it brothier, etc.  Cook on HIGH for at least 15 minutes.
5. Test it again at this point and adjust seasonings if needed.  Serve in a bowl with garlic bread croutons.

Oh, garlic bread croutons?

Easy!  Make some garlic bread (I used generic texas toast) and over do it just a touch, then tear up the bread and bake a little more if you like, so it's harder/more crouton like and toss those in the soup. YUM YUM YUM

This would also be tasty with a dollop of sour cream on top, but I didn't have any. sad face.

Yum is what I say to this soup!  This is definitely going on our meal plan rotation - it's a keeper.

Enjoy :)

- Amber