Friday, December 28, 2012

Life with two littles

They're both asleep. Phew. Conventional wisdom says "hurry, run, sleep while they sleep!" and that's very good advice at times, but right now I am relishing having both of my arms free, and being able to sit and not bounce/jiggle/sway/rock. The house is dark and quiet...Ella is a few feet away sleeping in her Rock 'n Play sleeper--making little squeaks and grunts here and there, but mostly it's quiet. I managed to Swiffer my floors while holding her and that put her to sleep, and then I got the dishes unloaded, pumped a few ounces of milk, and now I sit...ah.

We're three weeks in to life with two littles, and it's been tough. Everything about it has been harder than I expected--from the recovery, the sleeplessness, the fussy-I don't know what to do with this baby-ness, to the loneliness of not having my favorite person to share it all with. Nothing can prepare you for how tired you become when you're not just AWAKE all night and day, but you're also caring for a little person (or two), worrying over their every sound and movement, and just so tense! Experience helps a tad, but it's definitely not simpler this time around.

It's beautiful though. Do I have to remind myself of that, constantly? Yes. But, it truly is a wonderful thing to watch not just one, but two beautiful little people grow and learn and experience the world. Watching them together is so sweet, and I have so many exciting plans for when they are bigger and can play together, share things, and really be companions. For now, there's a lot of "Don't touch her, she's sleeping!" being said, but the sweet moments are definitely there.

People have asked how Ella is sleeping--well, the answer is: "like a baby". Like a newborn baby who has no idea how to sleep. She has had a few four-ish hour stretches in the three weeks she's been in the world, but mostly it's a lot less at a time. She is very restless, still needs to eat often, and poops constantly, which is a bit of a sleep disrupter. How often is she eating is another thing I get asked a lot, and honestly, I have no idea. I committed to not watching the clock for the first four weeks. I feed her when she fusses, when she grunts, when she looks at me, when she flaps her arms...all the time. She eats a lot. It's exhausting, but I am establishing a great milk supply, and more importantly, a great bond. She is growing and thriving and that's all that matters for now. Schedules and patterns and some sort of sanity will come soon enough, I suppose.

Adelyn is doing better with the transition, but still struggling some. She has more separation anxiety than before, is more wary of other people coming around, and is asking for more attention to compensate for the time that I'm busy with Ella. It doesn't help that those pesky two-year molars are still bothering her, so it's obvious at times that she hurts and needs extra comfort for that as well.
She has been really interested in "helping" with Ella, and while it requires constant alertness and a lot of redirecting on my part, ultimately it's really sweet and shows a great sign that she is a nurturer. Gentleness and quietness aren't always her forte, but she means well.

We're getting by, day by day. We have had some great friends bring meals, come to lend an extra hand or two, and encourage me that I'm really doing okay, even when I feel completely in over my head. Family was exhausting and overwhelming on the days of celebrating Christmas, but I just had to remind myself that we are so blessed to be exhausted and overwhelmed by all of their love and care and nearness. If they would just not kiss my newborn on the face, life would be peachy. Did I mention there's a major flu outbreak? And stomach bug? And RSV? And Whooping Cough? Oh my. It's everywhere, and SO many people in our lives have had these things. We are so glad to be avoiding it so far, but it makes me cringe every time a visitor coughs, or tells me they have just gotten over being sick, or feel like they might be coming down with it...ah! It's hard to say no to people who want to hold and kiss and love on my girls, but any of the three of us getting sick would totally turn our world upside down, and it's precarious enough as it is.

So, we stay home a lot. If we do go out, it's a juggling act and I'm pretty proud of myself if I get everyone out the door with all the necessary clothes on. I'm usually the one missing a jacket or socks, but I still count it a victory. Baby-wearing is a great help, and will definitely be the only way I ever get both girls out to the mall, or Target. Plus, Ella looks so darn cute peeking out of my K'Tan:

Sometimes, we just go old home. In the midst of loneliness and chaos and doubt about myself as a mother, sometimes I just need my own to help me get through the day. 

And now that I HAVE gotten through this day, I am going to go enjoy a few more minutes of quiet, with a glass of wine and a grateful heart. I'm sure someone will be awake soon.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The birth of Ella

     Thursday night, it was time to get ready for baby day. I took Adelyn to my parents' house and had dinner with them, and even though I tried to get emotional and hug my baby girl a little tighter than usual, she was ready to go and have fun and quickly wiggled out of my arms and off to play. I cried a little on my way to Small Group, where I had a few wonderful hours of encouragement, prayer over my upcoming day, and fellowship with my wonderful friends. I got home later than planned, but set in to the final nesting--finishing my batch of chili for the freezer, cleaning everything, and getting the bags unpacked and repacked just right.

     I took my sleepy medicine, and got in bed for one last sleep. I managed to sleep until 2am, then dozed off and on until 4 when I finally had to get up and moving. I decided to give myself the pedicure I'd be wanting, and it was not a simple task at 40 weeks pregnant, but I think I did okay.
I then took a long hot shower, shaved very carefully since I knew it would be the last time for a while, and prayed over the day ahead. I took some final 40 week pictures for Nathan and the rest of the world, and tried to wait patiently for it to be 7:30 and time to go.
     Mom picked me up and we headed to the hospital, arrived a little early, but got checked in and headed upstairs by 8:30. The nurse who was waiting for me was one of my classmates from nursing school, so that was fun to reunite after three years, and to know I was in good hands. She started the monitoring, asked me tons of questions, and told me what to expect from the upcoming hours. She and two other nurses battled my tricky veins before finally getting a good one, and then we waited. We were told that we were getting bumped back from our 10:30 slot because of an emergency, and that there was a good chance of being bumped again because of another. I was really hungry since I hadn't eaten after midnight, and I was contracting and uncomfortable, but Mom and I did our best to pass the time.
     Finally, we were told the it looked like we should be rolling by 1pm, and my doctor came in to let us know she was ready and waiting for the word. A cRNA came in soon after 1, and began getting my history and checking me to be ready for anesthesia, and then we were ready to go! I walked over to the OR with the cRNA and my nurse, and they got me seated on the table for my spinal to be placed. The anesthesiologist was very nice, and I was told he was the best one, so I was happy to be in good hands. He took two attempts to get in the space between my vertebrae, and it was a bit uncomfortable for a few minutes, but nothing awful. He said my scoliosis is definitely still noticeable and made his job a little tricky. But, soon enough, the cold numbness was spreading down my left leg and up through my back. Finally it hit my right side too, and I was laid back on the table to finish getting prepped. 
     I was surprised by just how long I was left completely naked from the ribcage down while people went about their business getting things ready. It helped a little that I was numb, but it was slightly awkward to just be exposed like that, even though to everyone else in the room it was probably not even noticed. Finally, they got my catheter in and my belly scrubbed, and then draped me and got warm blankets for my upper body. While this was happening, a different cRNA came in and started talking to me, and when he heard about Nathan being deployed, he asked if we had Skype. I told him yes, that we were hoping as soon as I got to recovery or my room that we could connect and let him see our baby, and then he surprised me by saying it would be totally fine if I wanted  to Skype DURING surgery and let Nathan watch everything.
My mom was still outside the OR, and she had my phone, so I was dying for her to get brought in so we could get Nathan connected. 
     My doctor had come in and gotten set up on the other side of the drape, and when I looked up, I saw that I had a great view of the surgical field in the reflection of the light above me. I was surprised to see blood already, because nobody had told me they were making the incision. My mom came in just after that (also surprised to see blood when she hadn't even gotten to her seat yet), and I quickly told her to start telling Nathan to get on Skype! She couldn't figure out how, so I ended up getting on Facebook chat and Skype and telling him to hurry and call us. Yes, while I was being operated on. Weird world we live in, isn't it?
Just then, I heard someone say "here comes her butt" and I looked up and saw my baby girl being lifted, butt and back first, out of my belly. They pulled her upright and I was amazed to see a head covered in dark hair--totally not what I had expected!

     They held her up briefly for us to see her face, and I definitely teared up with the crazy emotional flood that comes with seeing your baby for the first time. She was so different than I had pictured, and so beautiful and perfect. It was amazing. Just after that, Nathan finally connected with us, and Mom was able to take the phone over to where Ella was getting cleaned up. He got to see her as they weighed her (7lbs, 4oz) and got her swaddled and ready to be held. Mom brought the phone back to me and I spent a minute talking to Nathan and marveling over our beautiful girl, then told him I'd call him once we were out and recovered.
Mom got to bring Ella over to sit beside me, and I started to feel really uncomfortable. Right after she was pulled out, a rush of gas pain hit my shoulders, and I felt nauseous and had a lot of pressure in my head and chest. The cRNA offered me some IV medication to help me relax, but I declined so that I'd be alert and able to hold Ella as soon as I could.
     A few minutes later, they finished closing me up, and we were taken down the hall to recovery. As soon as we got there, Mom put Ella on my chest and I let her start breastfeeding--she had been rooting around and gnawing on her fists since the moment she came out! She latched right away and I was amazed by her being in my arms, mine at was breathtaking.
     I relinquished her after half an hour or so to the "stork nurse" who came to assess her and measure her length (21 inches!), but got her back as soon as I could. She looked perfect and my assessment looked good as well, so we got to head to our room pretty soon.
     My recovery was tough the first couple of days--doing it alone at the hospital is not something I'd recommend after trying it myself, but thankfully my nurses were great  and encouraged me and kept me company as much as possible. Ella was starving and very angry until my milk came in on day two, but since  then has been so content and wonderful. She lost 9% of her birth-weight those first few days, down to 6lbs 10oz, but I knew once my milk was in that she was feeding great and would gain again in no time.We were released Monday, and since then she has been a beautiful addition to our little world. She is so sweet and content as long as she's fed, and while I am exhausted and sore, I am recovering very well.

     I can't wait for the lifetime ahead of this sweet little one--Ella Kathryn Timberlake is already stealing my heart every time I look at her. I am so thankful for 40 weeks of pregnancy, and a healthy girl who is thriving and well. God has been so good to us!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Catching up and getting started

So much has happened and changed since the last already feels like a lifetime ago! I haven't had time to sit and put the birth story together, so that will come soon and in the meantime, here's just a quick catch-up of where we are and how it's going so far.

Got home from the hospital yesterday afternoon, and spent the afternoon letting Adelyn play and be around Ella (who mostly slept) while my mom kept me company and let me sit back and relax. She convinced me to let Adelyn go home for one more night with her and my dad so that I could settle in with just Ella, and they left late afternoon.

My aunt brought dinner for me and stayed a little while, and then I got ready for bed and sat with Ella and turned on an episode of Lost. I found myself dozing just a few minutes later, and so we headed to bed fairly early. Spent a long night dozing, nursing, changing, repositioning...and while I didn't get a ton of sleep, it was so much more relaxing to do in my own bed/house. Ella is nursing very often, but goes straight back to sleep after each time--so she barely fussed other than during diaper changes.

I have been bad about staying on schedule with my pain meds, either because I am asleep when I need to take them, or try to hold off on the heavy-duty stuff, but then the pain gets out of control and I find myself regretting not sticking with it. My incision is a big part of the pain, but also a lot of soreness in my pelvic bones as they are still separated and out of alignment.

Today, Mom brought Adelyn over late-morning, and took Ella and I to her doctor's appointment. The hospital pediatrician's wanted me to get her re-weighed today since she had lost 9% of her birth-weight by discharge, but today she had gained 4oz (currently 6lbs 14oz) and looked perfect. My milk came in day two post-partum, so I wasn't worried since Ella has been eating like a champ.

We spent the rest of the day around the house--Adelyn playing and being hyper and dramatic, and Ella mostly sleeping all day. Had dinner brought by my sweet step-grandma and then Mom stayed until Adelyn went to bed--so now I am alone, and both girls are asleep, and I am about ready to join them.

Overall, I feel pretty good. I am sore and pretty wiped out from lack of sleep, but I am loving getting to know Ella and enjoying these newborn moments that are so sweet and peaceful. I'm able to lift Adelyn--carefully--and doing little things around the house is enough for me to feel a little tired, but not like I'm "doing too much". I definitely am glad for the help/meals/etc...but I'm not at all overwhelmed or overdoing things at this point...just settling in and gradually taking steps towards doing this independently.

I had lots of visitors during my hospital stay, and a few since...and it has been nice, but also can be tiring. Right now there are a lot of illnesses going around this area--flu and stomach bugs in particular scare me. I am not excited about passing baby around to many pairs of hands, but I'd love short visits and will happily show off my pretty girls to my visitors.

For now, it is all going really well and I am so thankful for the normalcy of this and how much easier it is than our start to Adelyn's life. It's going to be so fun to watch Ella grow, and to watch my girls become friends, and to grow even more as I learn to mother two sweet little girls. I am so in love with these two :)

Adelyn showing off her new pearl earrings

Ella being awake and alert after her first check-up

Friday, December 7, 2012


How far along?  40 weeks!!!
Total weight gain: 37 lbs--6 in the last week! It's all in my feet right now though, guess that's the fun of the 9th month that I missed out on before.
Maternity clothes? are about to be put away for a while...I am so excited to get back to my favorite jeans, in a few weeks/months.
Stretch marks? no! I made it to the very end. 
Sleep:  I may have seen the last of that for a while...and I'm excited to spend long nights with my sweet girl!
Best moment this week: the anticipation building--the encouragement and prayers over these past few days, and finally waking up today knowing it has finally come!

Miss Anything? being comfortable. It'll take a few days to start healing and feel really great, but I'm so excited to get rid of heartburn, and for my pelvis to start to get back in place, and all of those little things.
Movement: she's still wiggling a little--probably as ready to get out of this position she's stuck in as I am ready to have her out of it.
Food cravings: everything right now--haven't been allowed to eat after midnight, and I'm hungry!
Anything making you queasy or sick: nerves!
Gender: we'll see for sure in a few hours :)

Labor Signs: my body is trying hard to go into labor, but it just can't quite do it with this girl in her position. Either way, she's getting out in four hours.
Symptoms: All of them.

Belly Button in or out?  it has continued to amaze me that it STILL had farther out to go this's ridiculous, and I like it.

Wedding rings on or off? 
I can't wait to put them back on when the swelling goes away!
Happy or Moody most of the time: this morning I am excited, and antsy, and a ball of emotions and anticipation. All good things.

Looking forward to:  Getting this girl in my arms!

I've been up for hours already--so excited and ready to get the day started. I can't believe it's finally here! I never thought I could be pregnant for 40 entire weeks, and I am amazed by every bit of it. It hasn't been easy, but it has been worth every pain along the way to get to this part. What a miracle that God uses our lowly, broken vessels to bring beautiful new life into the world. 

I gave myself the pedicure I've been wanting this morning, and while it was a bit of a struggle to reach my toes, and my eyes were a little blurry (it was 4:30am...), I managed to get them painted pink and it gave me a lot of satisfaction, somehow. Took a long, hot shower and got a few more little things done around the house. Strange to think I'll be away from here for the next 3-4 days, and come back with two babies. A baby and a big girl. Both of my girls.

Now, I'm done. I'm ready. I'm just waiting for another half hour to go by and my mom to come pick me up, and we will head to the hospital to get the ball rolling! I think she'll be here by lunchtime if all goes on schedule, and then once she's been introduced to her daddy via Skype, I'll be ready to introduce her to the world. It's going to be an exhausting weekend, probably with more visitors than I can handle and more pain than I am remembering, but it's going to be beautiful.

Stay tuned...