Sunday, August 24, 2014

One Month Old

To my sweet daughter,

Harper Rose, I don't believe you are one month old already!! No longer a newborn. I feel like it was seriously just yesterday you were the size of a poppy seed.....and now you are closing in on 9 pounds! You are the light of my life and I only love you more with each passing day! I love getting to know you and your little (yet feisty and sometimes dramatic) personality. I love taking care of you and watching you learn your environment. Everything you see is new and exciting. It's amazing to watch you grow a little bit every day.

Currently these are the things you're into:
- Eating - you are such a good nurser!
- Being rocked and held - I still can't help myself and will do this at every opportunity
- Going for walks and runs in the stroller
- Being swung around in the car seat - you have Dad to thank for figuring this one out
- You pacifier, or as we call it, the "Hushie" - you're learning more and more how to actually use it and keep it in your mouth
- Laying on your belly across my lap - Thank your grandma/Bulba for doing this

And as for what you don't like:
- You still really hate when I put baby lotion on you after your baths every night
- You are impatient when you are hungry - but seriously, who isn't?
- Sleeping at night - I haven't quite figured out if it's because you're actually a night owl like you were in my tummy, or if it's due to being more gassy at night. The gas is horrible, you become absolutely miserable. It's not after every feed and it's not even everyday. But when you do have it, no one is happy and we feel absolutely helpless.

Overall, you are still such a happy, friendly baby. We still haven't figured out what color your hair is, some days it looks blonde, others it looks light brown. In pictures it looks red. You still have blue eyes. You have very long legs and you are so strong. You have started to make real tears (and have the pouty lip down pat), which breaks my heart and Dads heart when we see those. I had to leave you for the very first time this past week for graduate school orientation in Gainesville and I was the one making real tears. That was the hardest thing I've had to do since you've arrived. You were only 29 days old and I was having to leave you. So thankful to my Mom for taking the day off to come watch you. I was sent videos, pictures and updates all day long. You take breast milk from a bottle without any issues which was a big relief and I've been able to pump and build quite a supply for you. You had a great day with Bulba. As hard as it was to leave you, it was equally as sweet to come home to you waiting for me.

With classes officially starting tomorrow, I am both excited and terrified to start. The program is a Doctor of Nursing practice (DNP) with a speciality in Nurse Midwifery. The masters portion is two years, or five semesters long (if choosing to opt out there). For the DNP it is a total of three years. It's a distance learning program, meaning all online aside from clinicals and lab time. Unfortunately, this semester I am required to drive roughly 111 miles (about an hour and 45 minutes) to the University of Florida for lab six times. So this Wednesday, I am forced to leave you again. Luckily, you have so many grandparents who love you so very much and jump at every opportunity to watch you! Nan and granddad will be watching you this time. I know you'll do fine and have's me that has a hard time with it.

In addition to having to travel, I haven't quite figured out how I'll be attacking 14 credit hours and taking care of you all day by myself while Dad's at work. We're just gonna have to work together as a team and get through it. And before you know it, school will be done! I promise to give you all the love and attention you need everyday no matter what.

To all my friends and family, THANK YOU for all your love and support thus far! I'm gonna need a lot of it for the next three years! And anyone who wants to come over and play with Harper while I study and work, gimme a call!!

To Harper - I really would appreciate it if you could stop growing so fast! I love you so much and can't wait to see what you do and learn during this next month!

Love always,

2 days old

One month old

5 days old

One month old

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Nursery: PART TWO - and Three weeks old!

Happy three weeks old birthday Harper - and Happy 27th Birthday, Daddy!

(More newborn photo shoot pictures to come soon....)

I will say this every week, month, year, etc for the rest of my life - but WHOA, the last three weeks have flown by! Little Harper has changed so much. She is more and more alert each day. Her eyes open wide now. She seems to be looking around and investigating her environment more. She makes such funny noises, especially when she's really hungry and nursing. She makes funny faces. She's already got such personality and spunk.

Currently, some of her favorite things include:
- Nursing
- Being held
- Farting, pooping
- Learning to enjoy pacifiers
- Going for a run with Mommy in the stroller
- Tub baths

And some of her least favorite things:
- Sleeping at night
- Not being held
- Getting her diaper changed
- Having to wait any amount of time to be fed
- Having baby lotion put on her

As for me, I'm pretty tired, yet I'm functioning better than I thought I'd be (most days). I feel as though I don't sleep anymore, but rather take naps throughout the night. Some nights are good, others are pretty rough. I now enjoy coffee, which is funny because I never drank coffee before. I've slowly started to workout again. Taking it very easy and not pushing myself too hard. My runs are short, 2-3 miles outside. My pace is slow. However, it is my belief that pushing a newborn in the Bob stroller with the car seat in the Florida heat doubles the milage and pace you really ran. The Bob is lightweight and steers beautifully, but no doubt about it, pushing that thing adds to the workout. 

I am pretty proud that I can say I ran from day one of my pregnancy (literally went for a run right after I took my first pregnancy test) until the day before I delivered. That last run and workout at the gym was pretty uncomfortable and I was having pain but had no idea I was in early labor. I added up my milage from the second half of my pregnancy and I ran 261 miles! Add that to the miles I ran for the first 20 weeks (230 miles) and I ran a total of 491 miles during my pregnancy.  Damn - 9 miles shy of 500! I guess I can say I probably ran 9 miles from the time of conception to when I found out I was pregnant, right?!

Change of subject - Harper's nursery!

I have not been able to post Part Two of Harper's nursery because we didn't get all the furniture until this past Tuesday. I will say this, if you want to order something from Pottery Barn Kids, you should start shopping the day you find out you're pregnant. I do like their stuff but their ordering process and wait time is horrible. Nonetheless, I absolutely LOVE how her nursery came out!

Not quite sure when Harper will actually be in her nursery throughout the night, but it's ready for her whenever that may be!

Lastly, I wanted to share a song that has meant so much to me throughout my pregnancy and even more now that Harper is here. Up until we struggled with infertility, I always thought the Celine Dion song "A new day has come" was about finally meeting the man of your dreams (and for some, it may represent that). After listening to it a little more closely (and Googling it to confirm what I thought), I realized the song is actually about her own struggle with infertility and represents the birth of her first son. The lyrics in this song speak directly to me and puts into words all the emotions I've been through. 


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Two weeks old...and two weeks postpartum

Wow. Has it seriously been two weeks since I gave birth to Harper!? It's been a whirlwind to say the least. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I'm actually a Mom. That Harper is my daughter. Most days, it still feels like a dream. I wanted to give my take on the last two week of being a new Mom....some observations, some tips as well as a few tears and even more laughs.

As far as postpartum care goes...from the start of my recovery immediately after delivery until I was discharged two days later I used an icepack with my pad. Not to get too gruesome or "tmi", but I only had a very small tear and only pushed 30 minutes, so I didn't think I really needed an icepack. However, a wonderful nurse insisted I use one, and I am so grateful! It made such a huge difference. In addition to the icepacks, the Dermoplast spray and Tucks pads were very soothing as well (hemorrhoids or not). 800mg of Ibuprofien is also your best friend. OH and the little plastic "peri-bottles" you get in the hospital are wonderful! Grab two or three if you can. I'm still using that bad boy! 

The lochia (aka period or bleeding) is more annoying than anything. Just when I think I might be done...BOOM, not quite yet. It's mother natures evil payback for going nine months without a period.

Breastfeeding is going well. I am so grateful that Harper is a great nurser, and that I have a good supply to give her. However, on postpartum day two, I was NOT prepared for what I woke up to. My breasts had more than doubled in size. And were rock hard. I now know, this is engorgement. Whoa buddy. I found relief with heat packs before I nursed her and icepacks afterwords. I nurse Harper at least every three hours throughout the day. I've also started pumping once a day, more so to start storing a supply. It took about a week for things to normalize, but I think Harper and my breasts have found a good balance of supply and demand now. Just be careful with the heat packs and pumping as this can INCREASE your supply, making engorgement worse. 

I must say, I was very surprised how quickly those annoying things I had during my pregnancy disappeared. For example, the nausea and vomiting have completely subsided. I threw up right after I delivered (because I chugged an apple juice that didn't sit well and came right back up). I have not thrown up since then nor have I really felt nauseated. No gaging either! I'm also starting to like the things I could not stand while I was pregnant. I truly thought I would never be able to eat cottage cheese again or love apples the way I used to. However, I have eaten these things this week and so far so good. I haven't chewed gum yet though....really hoping I enjoy that again too!

Probably the most annoying symptom I still have is this damn carpel tunnel syndrome. Apparently for most women, after delivery, this usually subsides almost instantly. But not for me. The pain isn't so bad, but the numbness in my fingers has gotten worse. It's worse in my right hand, and I have a hard time writing, pinching things or picking things up. Basically anything fine motor I struggle with. I really hope it starts to get better as I think I'll be needing to write some notes once school starts in two weeks. 

I'm not surprised how much I truly miss being pregnant. I miss that bond of no matter where I was or what I was doing, I was never ever alone. I miss feeling her inside me. I miss my baby bump. I just miss being pregnant. Don't tell Phil, but I'm already looking forward to being pregnant again!

Postpartum hormones are no joke. More than anything I find myself crying over silly Johnson & Johnson commercials, listening to music or when I read cards that people have sent us. I also find the amount I cry is directly related to the amount of sleep I have. I left the hospital having slept a total of probably 5-6 hours, and that first evening at home I was a mess. After resting though, I tend to feel much better. I'm lucky to have such a good support system and help around me which makes such a huge difference.

As for Harper, she is just so precious. Everyday there are little things I want to ingrain into my memory. The sweet little noises she makes when she nurses. Those big yawns. The funny faces she makes. Her little hands and feet. The way she falls asleep on my chest. How she constantly holds her hands by her face. Her milk-drunk faces she makes after she eats. The way she stretches so big after I unswaddler her and when I nurse her. In two weeks she has changed so much. She is much more awake and alert. Her cord fell off today and she now has a belly button.  Her farts are so loud they can rival those of any grown man. 

Harper had her two week old doctor appointment this morning. The goal was to have her back at her birth weight, 7 pounds 4 ounces. After peeing all over the table, we put her on the scale....7 pounds 6 ounces! She was such a good baby and didn't cry once while the doctor and nurse messed with her. The doctor said she was perfect!

Over the past two weeks, there have been a few things that have proven to be life savers as new parents and a new Mom. Here are six of my favorite things:

- The Mamaroo - Harper absolutely LOVES this and will sleep up to six hours straight at night in it! This thing is worth every single penny! 

Summer Swaddle Me blankets -  These things are amazing! Harper is so strong, so keeping her swaddled in regular blankets can be tough. But these blankets have velcro, which keeps her snug and swaddled all night (or nap) long.

Boppy pillow - this thing really helps with nursing. It's also a nice pillow just for Harper to relax in. Plus the pottery barn cover is super soft and adorable.

- Medela Breast Pump - I'm lucky to have insurance that covered my breast pump 100%. I've only been pumping once a day at this point, but I love it already. Easy to use and gets the job done.

- Bob stroller  - I LOVE my Bob stroller! I bought the car seat adapter so our Chicco Key Fit 30 car seat clicks right in the stroller. I've been walking Harper everyday for about a week now and she really seems to enjoy it - and by enjoy I mean she sleeps the entire time. I haven't gone for a run yet but did jog home from a walk for about 10 minutes and the stroller is so smooth and pretty lightweight. I'm looking forward to getting out there for a nice run here in the next week or so. Also looking forward to cooler weather - this Florida heat is ridiculous!

- Baby k'Tan - This baby wrap was recommended by a coworker of mine who is also a new Mom. I love it! When Harper is really fussy and wanting to be held, but I have things I need to do around that house, I can put her in this and she falls right to sleep. Its comfortable and easy to use. It's also nice because at this age, she curls up into the fetal position and I feel like I can replicate being a pregnant for a little while.

Overall, I'm really enjoying new motherhood and embracing all the ups and downs. More than anything, I'm really trying to make every effort to savor every single moment of every single day. I'm well aware of how fast time goes by and how she'll be walking and talking before I know it. So for the time being, I'm enjoying all the simple pleasures having a newborn brings.

Friday, August 1, 2014

August 1st - DUE DATE!

40 short weeks ago, August 1, 2014 seemed so far away...but here we are! And here she is. 
Little Ms. Harper Rose decided to make her debut 8 days early. 

Introducing Harper Rose
Born Thursday, July 24th 2014 at 4:39pm
7 pound 4.4 ounces, 20.5 inches long

It's been over a week and I still can't believe she is here. I am so in love with this little baby. 
I've been asked how my labor went - here is run down of how Harper came into this world......

July 23, 2014 - I was pretty uncomfortable throughout the night and morning.  I had worked the last two days in a row. I got up and went to the gym as I usually do on my days off.  I ran a little over a mile and completed an hour of cardio. Later that afternoon, I had my weekly OB appointment. I was told my cervix had changed quite a bit from last week - I was now 3cm dilated, 70% effaced and my bag of water was bulging. I was told I could go into labor any time now - tonight or a week from now. 

So what did I do? I left the office and went straight to get a manicure and pedicure, of course! After all, I couldn't go into labor without pretty nails! I ran a few errands after that and didn't get home until after 6pm. I was getting more and more uncomfortable as the night went on. I tried to play it off. I was only having tons of pressure and pelvic pain - no real pain in my stomach so this couldn't be labor. Throughout the night, I was up every hour peeing - and having intense pain every time I emptied my bladder. 

July 24, 2014 - I got up when Phil got up for work around 6:30am. I told him I wasn't sure what I was feeling but to just go into work and I'd be in touch. Even though I was exhausted, I couldn't fall back asleep. Instead I got up, did laundry, baked brownies, showered, did my hair and makeup. I tried so hard to keep myself occupied. However, the pain and pressure was only increasing and becoming more frequent. I would grab the counter and cry as the pain increased and then went away. "Holy shit - am I in labor??" After speaking to a few friends and fellow labor and delivery nurses (and my doctor), I decided I needed to head to the hospital to get checked out. I got to triage around 10:30am, my Mom and Phil met me there (today also happened to be my Mom's birthday). The nurse checked me - I was now 4cm and my bag of water was still bulging. I was admitted to labor and delivery.

I got to the labor and delivery unit at 12:00pm. It was so nice to have friends and colleagues take care of me. I can't say enough about how well I was taken care of the entire time. Phil and my Mom were by my side, along with my friend Jennifer (who took on the roll of labor and delivery photographer). I decided to start with a walking epidural, meaning I could still get up and out of bed, but it wouldn't take away all of the pain. All of my discomfort was always in my pelvis (and by pelvis I mean vagina) and more pressure than anything else. Following the placement of the epidural the doctor came in to check me and break my water. I wanted to start with that before anything else. I was still 4cm but at about 1:20pm my water was broken. There was light meconium in the fluid, which meant Harper already had her first bowel movement. It was light so I wasn't too concerned. Plus her fetal tracing always looked great so I knew she was tolerating labor well so far. 

I got back up after that and sat on the birthing ball for awhile. The pain didn't kick in right away. However, within an hour, the pressure and pain in my pelvis was unbearable. I decided to convert my walking epidural to a full epidural. Right after doing that, at around 3:00pm, I was checked again and I was now 6cm! My wonderful nurse had me lay side to side with a peanut ball between my legs. Let me tell you, this peanut ball is amazing! I use it daily with my patients at work and it truly does some magical stuff during labor. 

Despite having my full epidural and changing positions frequently, the pain wasn't getting any better - and the pressure was only getting worse....much worse. At 3:35pm I was rechecked and now I was 9-10cm! I couldn't believe how fast things were going. I was given extra medicine in my epidural to help with the pain. I guess it helped somewhat, but I tell ya, the pressure is unlike anything I could have imagined. 

I did my first practice push shortly after being checked. After two pushes, I felt very lightheaded. I believe it was a combination of the epidural bolus of medicine, me not breathing appropriately during pushing and then I vagaled down - and wouldn't ya know it, I passed out. As described by Phil, my eyes rolled back and I was out cold for about a minute. I woke up to ammonia in my face. Luckily Harper did well during my blackout. After resting for a bit I went back to pushing around 4:10pm.

The pushing phase is a bit of a blur to me. I remember the pain and pressure disappearing when I got to push. I remember feeling like I was doing it all wrong. At one point, I got a mirror to see her head as I pushed. It was so amazing. It didn't feel like I pushed very long before I heard my nurse call everyone for delivery because I was close to delivering. Once set up, and a few pushes later I was told "One more push and she'll be here". I didn't believe them when I heard that. Then all of the sudden I pushed and her head was out. I was coached how to push after that and before you knew it, Harper was here! Ten finger, ten toes, and two strong lungs screaming to make her presence known. 

Because of the meconium stained fluid she was brought over to the warmer to get checked out by the NICU team. I was more than okay with this, as I'd rather be safe than sorry. It wasn't long before they brought her over to me and put her on my chest, skin to skin. It was the most amazing moment I've ever experienced in my entire life. I was able to nurse her for the first time shortly after birth. She did so well. The rest of our hospital stay was pretty uneventful.

I couldn't (and still can't) believe how fast things went. I'm a first time Mom. I know how long first time moms labor for and ultimately push for. As a nurse I've pushed with first time moms for more than four hours. I've seen women labor for hours if not days with their first child. I couldn't be more grateful or feel more blessed to have had such a fast and safe delivery. I truly attribute it to the fact that I was so active and still running up until the day before I delivered.  I was also using evening primrose oil to help soften and efface the cervix. When I got to the hospital I was already 80% effaced, or thinned out. Such an accomplishment for any laboring women, especially a fist timer. 

My labor and delivery experience has definitely given me a new appreciation for the women I take care of in labor, and for all women in general. What an amazing thing the female body can do - nourish and grown a tiny baby over 9 months and then have the strength to deliver that child. Nothing short of a miracle. I truly couldn't have gotten through it without the support of the nurses who took care of me and all the staff involved in helping bring Harper into the world safely. I am forever grateful for each and every one of you. 

The last 8 days have flown by. Harper is such a sweet baby. She is still nursing like a champ and I am making milk like it's going out of business (hellooooo engorgement). Nursing her is one of my favorite things to do, the bonding time is indescribable. One of her favorite things to do is curl up on my chest and sleep - and there isn't a single thing in the entire world I'd rather do than this. She loves to be held, and I'm able to get chores done around the house with her curled up in the Baby K'Tan. Harper is a very happy baby and pretty mellow. She really only cries when she's hungry. As for me, I feel pretty good. I sure do miss my baby bump and being pregnant so much. (Already looking forward to being pregnant again.)  I've been able to shower everyday since she was born - even flat iron my hair and put on makeup! I'm itching to get a workout in but I know it's best to fully recover before doing any of that. We've taken walks in the neighborhood, which Harper loves. I'm also already down 30 pounds as of today and I can see my ankles again! Goodbye swelling! Phil is very helpful throughout the day and night. He is a wonderful father and I couldn't ask for a better husband or daughter. God is so good. The struggle to get here was hard, but THIS is the baby that is supposed to in my arms today. Every set back and disappointment had it's purpose.

 Harper was more than worth the wait.