Wednesday, November 26, 2014

15 Things I Didn't Expect: Labor, Delivery, and Postpartum

You will never, ever be 100% prepared for labor & delivery.  

I believe that.  Even if this is your 4th pregnancy, odds are labor & delivery will be different than the last or even the one before that.  Even if you've read book after book and hundreds of blog posts (as I had) there will still be unexpected moments during labor & delivery and in the days/weeks to follow.

So because of that I've compiled a list of things that I didn't expect and things that surprised me a bit.  And, yes, there may be some TMI moments here...but I am all about full disclosure.  ;)  

1. Modesty is out the door.  We opted to not have a Doula because I didn't want another person around while I was in my most immodest moments.  We were striving for a very comfortable experience and that would have made me a bit more uncomfortable.  Or so I thought.  Once things started progressing I didn't care who was around.  I wanted that baby out of me and if the stranger walking down the hall saw my hoo-ha I didn't care.  When baby girl finally arrived I wanted skin-to-skin so badly that my gown was open in an instant and I sat there, boobs hanging out, for about 15 minutes.  Didn't even think about it until later.  And then there was the nurse showing me how to keep my stitches and lady parts clean after delivery....  Or the group of nursing students who had to inspect my stitches before we left.... the list goes on.

2. Poop happens.  I had read that before and was prepared for poo.  When I was pushing...  But sometimes it happens before the pushing starts. Eek!  BUT, no one speaks of it.  It will be like it never happened.  Just be sure to let it happen...because I discovered that trying to stop it made my pain worse.

3. You might not act like yourself.  I am a pretty reserved person (some of the stuff I'm writing today would never come out of my mouth...haha).  But in the heat of the moment, when you are in pain and your life is about to change....all bets are off.  For one, I screamed while I was pushing.  A few times.  Not so much out of pain but out of frustration and exhaustion.  I was a little overwhelmed with everything and was trying to do my best.  That energy erupted in a couple of unexpected screams.  I also got a little feisty with the nurse at one point.  I had a horrid, horrid leg cramp (also while pushing).  I kept trying to stretch out my leg and she wouldn't let me until I snapped at her.  After that...I just kind of tuned her out.  She had no bedside manner.  :P

4. The part you think will hurt the worst doesn't.  I think any girl that wants to one day have a baby dreads the pain.  And I'm talking about the pain of pushing a pumpkin out of an orange sized hole.  Yeah.  That.  Well, it didn't hurt that bad...and I had a 3rd degree tear!  The contractions were much worse.  In fact, the pain that I felt as my baby girl entered this world was a relief.  It was over.  My baby girl was here!  And I had no clue that I had even torn at all. 

5. It might not be love at first sight.  I have never told a soul this...but it took me a little while to fall in love with my baby girl.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved her from the moment we found out she existed.  But I didn't get that gut feeling when they gave her to me.  I think I was in shock for a bit.  I watched my husband fall in love with her first and I thought something was wrong with me.  But at some point in the next 24 hours when I had some time alone with her, I fell head over heels.  And the world was right again.  Apparently, however, this isn't all that abnormal.

6. You forget the pain the moment that baby is in your arms.  I know I noted my lack of emotion immediately after birth.  But I was still overwhelmed with joy.  I would have done it all over again in the next minute if I had to...just to have that precious little girl in my arms.  It was so worth it!

7. Ice diapers are the greatest invention known to man.  Remember that bit about pushing a pumpkin out of an orange sized hole?  You just did that!  And it may not have hurt horribly in the moment.  But it does eventually hurt.  And you will be hitting that call button for a new ice diaper the minute you can tell it is melting...    

8. You will bleed for a loooooong time.  I knew that postpartum bleeding lasted longer than a menstrual cycle but I didn't expect it to last more than a month!  There were days I thought it was over and the next day the flow would pick back up.  It felt like it was never going to end.....

9. The emotional roller coaster isn't over.  It might actually be worse.  It was for me.  Your hormones are everywhere after delivery.  In the first few weeks we were home, I thought I was crazy.  I cried for no apparent reason, got angry super easily, and could go through more emotions that I knew existed in a matter of minutes.  Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde have nothing on me!  I was never that bad throughout my pregnancy.  Never.  But it does even out eventually so hold onto that hope!

10. The fist time you shave your legs will be amazing!  Remember that huge bump that was always in the way?  The one that prevented you from seeing your toes or bending easily?  It is gone!  It is heavenly to be able to reach your entire leg without any issues!

11. You will be amazed.  Speaking of shaving....  Once I could see my lady parts again I was appalled at how unkempt I looked even though I had tried to keep shaven and trimmed... talk about a jungle!!!  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a perfectionist and I have never had a bikini wax.  But when I know I'm going to the lady doctor, I at least try to look a little cleaned up and a little less "au naturale."  ;)

12. You will heal faster than you think is possible.  3rd degree tear.  There are some parts of your body that should never have to see a thread and needle.  And when it takes the doctor almost a half an hour to stitch you up....yikes!  I wasn't sure how I would ever walk again let alone think of doing anything else....if you catch my drift.  ;)  But after just 2 weeks, I felt pretty good.  And by 4 weeks, I felt almost normal.  Still waiting for the doc's okay for a few things....but I feel like nothing ever changed down there so I think we'll be okay.  ;)  Still amazed that I'm not limping around the house any more.

13. You can function on 2 hours of sleep for days.  I might be exaggerating a bit.  But you will be amazed at how little sleep you get and how well you feel.  

14. You will forget what life before was like.  A few weeks in and you will feel like this has been the normal forever.  You can't imagine what life was like without the precious miracle that keeps you up late and brings endless smiles to your life.

15. It goes fast.  Okay, I know people tell you this all the time.  So maybe it shouldn't be on the "unexpected" list...but, Good Night!  It flies.  I can't believe how big my baby girl is already.  I can't believe she was any smaller.  But she was.  And it was just a month ago but it feels like a lifetime.  So expect it to zoom past and make every single second count.  

What would you add to the list?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Aelah Grace: 1 Month

An entire month (plus a few days) has gone by since the birth of our precious miracle!  I can't even believe it!  When everyone tells you how time flies, they really, really mean it.  I want to rewind and go back to the hospital so that I can treasure each moment again, relive every single second, write it all down so I can soak it all up at a later date.  She will never be that tiny again.  Her skin will never be quite that soft.  And her eyes...they change 




Ah...but enough of that for now.  For now, I must take joy in every little thing she does.  Live in the moment.  

I am a few days behind with this post but I wanted to wait until after our first well-child visit to see just how much our Aelah Grace has grown!

This basket may not work for as long as I had hoped...  ;)

How am I growing?

Aelah weighed in at 9 lbs and 12 oz yesterday!  She has almost gained 2 lbs since birth...just one ounce away!  :)  Her weight is pretty average, 50th percentile.  But her length, that is an entirely different story!!  At 23 inches (and I'm fairly sure they measured a little short with all of her squirming) she is in the 95th percentile!  We have one tall little lady on our hands!  But that isn't a surprise since Hubby and I are both fairly tall.

What's new?

The first month outside the womb has been an interesting one.  We went from smiling in our sleep the first week or so to smiling when she is awake!  And laughing in her sleep.  Which is one of Mommy's favorite things!  :)  If she is being held, she will lift her head and look around for as long as she can.  Lights can be VERY distracting - even when she is eating.  haha.  

How are we sleeping?

Sleep the first few weeks wasn't too bad - up every 2-4 hours to eat.  Then somewhere between that 3 and 4 week period she decided she was going to be a night owl.  She LOVES to be awake anytime from 9pm - 2am for at least 3 hours.  And she usually isn't very happy that Mommy and Daddy want her to sleep.  So, we have started sleep training.  A bit early, yes, but a must if I am going to survive.  

And by sleep training, I just mean having a nap/bed time routine.  When Aelah starts to get sleepy we go read a story, sit quietly for a bit, swaddle her up, and lay her in the bassinet before she falls asleep.  During the day she wakes to eat every 3 hours and we follow the Eat/Wake/Sleep pattern.  Lots of lights and brightness from 7am until about 7:30 and then we dim the lights.  At this point we don't worry much about noise because we want her to be able to sleep through "the static" so to speak.  But if it comes to it, we will try to be more quiet in the evenings.  We've been trying this for 3 days and 2 of those 3 nights have been splendid!  Asleep by 9-9:30 and up around 7, waking every 3-5 hours to eat.  The night it didn't work we had gone grocery shopping and she took an extra long nap which messed things up I think.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Baby Stuff: Dear Husband

I wrote this a few days before my due date and planned to give it to Hubby the night our baby girl was born.  I actually forgot about it in all of the excitement but gave it to him at some point the next day.  ;)

I wrote this letter to show my husband that our marriage was still and will be a priority in my life.  Yes, we have started another chapter, but adding a member to our family will not change the way I feel about him!  

Dear Hubby,

Today will forever change our lives.  Today our Baby Girl was born!  I still can't believe we are parents!  Us....parents....even though this is something I've wanted since the day we said "I do," it still terrifies me.  We are officially responsible for another human being.  Ah!

Anyways, that all isn't the point of this letter.  There are actually two things I desperately want you to know.  And never forget.

First, you are going to be an amazing father.  And I mean that with all of my heart.  I have no doubt our little girl is going to have you wrapped around her finger.  I know you will want to give her the world.  I love that!  I also know that you are going to teach her how she should be treated as a woman as well as how to ride a bike.  You will dread her first crush, her first date, and the day you walk her down the aisle.  And because she knows how much you love and walk with the Lord we will be able to trust her decisions when it comes to guys anyways.  But when they break her heart, because they will, I know your shoulder will be there for her to cry on every time.  I also know I'll have to convince you to not strangle those boys, no matter how truly terrible they might be.  I hope you know how much I believe in you when it comes to this 'dad thing.'  You are going to be amazing!

On another note, I know that a baby, now matter how precious she may be, will change our relationship.  And while I am pretty sad that our 'just the two of us' chapter has come to a close, I know our marriage is strong enough to weather any change - no matter how small or how big.  ;)

I want you to know how much I truly love you - with all of my heart.  

I am going to do my best to always put you first.  You deserve it.  Our family deserves it.  You might need to remind me from time to time.  And while I may get mad at first, I will eventually remember you are right.  Every day I will strive to love you more.  Then someday, far from now, when we're empty nesters, we will be even more in love than today.  I know that watching you be a dad will make that easy.  But I want to be more intentional about 'dating' and keeping that spark alive because you are so worth it!  I never want to lose what we have - our affection, our silliness, and our willingness to follow where the Lord leads.  At this point in our marriage I am so proud of us, so proud of you!

I am so excited for our future.  I can't wait to watch our Baby Girl grow and change every day.  I can't wait to see how we grow as a family.  God is before us so we cannot fail!  Here's to another chapter on our journey - the start of a new adventure!

I love you!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Aelah Grace: What's in a Name?

Naming a child may be one of the most difficult decisions people ever have to make.  Do you want the name to be original?  But not weird.  Or maybe you want a family name?  But can it be turned into a horrible nickname?  Do you want the babies name to be able to be shortened?  Or maybe you aren't a fan of nicknames.  What about meaning?  Do you want a name of significance or does it not matter?  And then you find a name you like but your spouse absolutely hates it.  Or at least isn't sold on it...

As I'm sure many other women have done - I had a list of names I loved long before we got pregnant or even started trying.  However, unlike most, I had an actual list on my computer.  Yep...I may be a little crazy.  Over the past few years, if I heard something I liked, I would add it to the list and find out the definition or basic meaning.  Hubby knew of my list - and, justifiably, thought I was a bit nuts.  

Once we found out we were expecting I pulled out my list and we looked it over.  He quickly eliminated probably 75% of the names I had written.  Throughout the coming months we added a couple of others and then narrowed it down to two boy names and two girl names.  And after discovering that we were expecting a beautiful little girl, it was on!

And the winner is....

Aelah Grace Sherman.

Grace was Hubby's grandma's name.  He fought hard for Grace to be a first name.  But I had my qualms and we finally agreed on using it for a middle name.

So where did we get Aelah?  Elah is the Hebrew word for "oak or terebinth tree."  We added the "a" to help with pronunciation so she wouldn't get "Ella."  It has helped a bit but, as with anything different, pronunciation has been a bit difficult.  To clear things up - it is a long a sound - so it is prounounced "A La"  We debated whether or not to spell it simply "ala" but I desperately wanted to keep the original Hebrew.  Spelling took us longer than picking a name I think.  ;)

But anyways, back to the meaning.  We loved that 'Aelah' brought together the passions of Hubby and I.  Hubby, simply put, is a landscaper and has a sincere passion for all plant life - especially trees.  I love to study the word of God, especially the original Hebrew and Greek.  Neat, right?

Bur the significance doesn't end there.  When we were still debating names, we decided to look a little more into meaning.  It was then that I stumbled across this blog post from The Road Less Traveled.  To briefly summarize - the terebinth and oak trees both have a lot of Biblical significance.  First, the Valley of Terebinth is where David defeated Goliath.  Which is pretty awesome.  But the thing I love most is that these trees, because of their strength and long lives, Biblically signify a place of belonging, a place where God is, a place where you meet with God.  

Beautiful isn't it?

Once we read those words, we were both sold.  Our baby girl's name would be Aelah.  I can't wait to one day share the meaning of her name with her.  And I hope she thinks it is as beautiful as we do.

You really should go here and read the full post that we stumbled across.  She really did her research and there is SO much that I left out for the sake of simplicity.  ;)

How did you choose your little ones name(s)?