Friday, August 28, 2015

{month one}

What a whirlwind of a month it has been! It's hard to believe the 28th has already rolled around and we have been getting to know our little human for a whole month. Thanks to my busybody nature (can you say cabin fever after one week?) we have squeezed in a lot of adventure and "firsts" for Avery in this first month. 

This month we have gone on walks & coffee dates, to the grocery store & a greenhouse, to the hospital to visit another baby friend, going to a "mom's group" I joined, a weekend at the cabin, dressing up and sleeping through Sunday morning church, cheering on Daddy at his baseball games, and of course we paid a visit to Goodwill. (more coming on my finds soon) 

We have learned so much about your personality and how to best take care of you. It feels like we have so much more to learn to "figure you out" but we seem to be on the right track.

- You are a great sleeper and get HANGRY just like your parents. 
- You love your car seat and fall asleep almost every time we drive 
- Some newborn pants still fit but you're mostly wearing 0-3 months
- You don't like diaper changes or baths
- You're happiest when you're held and snuggled
-Everyone's says you look like Mommy (it looks like you're going to have blonde hair and blue eyes)
-You eat every 2-2.5 hours during the day and nap in between. You go to bed between 8 and 10pm and usually wake up at 1-2am and 4-6am to eat. 
-You are taking a bottle well (practice for when Mom goes back to work) and only like pacifiers if you're hungry 
- You are strong & you're trying to hold you head up and roll on your side already! 

We love you Avery Grace! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Story of Avery Grace

On July 28th 2015 at 1:34am we met our Avery Grace. One week early, 8lb 3oz, 21in long, and that 14.25in head that made Mama work hard. I've put off writing her birth story just because I barely know where to start or how to put into words the events and emotions leading up to her birth. So here goes nothing!

I'll start the story the Saturday before she was born. I was working short shifts to get my hours in so my maternity leave didn't start until after she was born. (and what better place to work than the Labor & Delivery unit I'd be delivering in) Weston felt much better when I was at work too knowing I was where I needed to be if anything happened. We live 30 minutes from the hospital so he was getting anxious we would need to make a middle of the night or stressful, speedy drive in. At the end of my 4 hour shift I pulled the midwife aside to ask if she would check me to see if I had progressed from my 1-2cm dilation on my Thursday office visit. I was surprised to hear I was 3cm and my cervix was soft and thinning. So I went home for the weekend, hoping I would deliver before having to come in for my 8 hour shift on Monday morning. 

Fast forward to Sunday night and I got a sense something was happening. I lost my mucous plug that morning (sorry if that's TMI) and was having contractions that felt like strong cramps about 10 minutes apart. They never got closer together or stronger and I was not going to be the nurse that went to the hospital thinking I was in labor only to get sent home. (This mindset made Weston worry I was going to wait too long at home) That night was a lot of tossing and turning, bathroom trips, and contractions strong enough to wake me up but not strong enough or close enough together to make me think I was in true labor. 

Sure enough to 5:48am rolled around, my alarm went off, and to work I went. 7-3pm felt like a painfully long shift for the state I was in, but I got my assignment and tried to take my focus off my 39week pregnant self. My patient had a beautiful delivery around noon, of course it was a baby girl to help my patience! As I was standing at the computer charting I felt a subtle "gush" of fluid. I went to the bathroom and didn't see obvious fluid so I denied the fact that my water may have just broken. After sharing my confusion with a few coworkers and my husband  via text the general consensus was : go to triage and get checked before you go home just in case! I was still having occasional contractions but in my head I always expected a huge gush and contractions that I couldn't stand or talk through. I wasn't feeling any of that and at that point was scared I would get stuck at the hospital before I was in active labor. My hopes of staying home as long as I could were being threatened and the nerves were setting in. 

After my shift I went to triage and one of my favorite midwives checked me told me I was now 4cm, but there was mixed results over if my water broke. One test said yes, one test said no. I called Weston and told him to come in to the hospital because in the back of my mind, as much as I wanted to go home and wait it out, I knew if there was any chance my water was broken I didn't want to risk infection and let it go too long before I delivered. Looking back this was all an answered prayer that Weston could finish his day of work and take his time coming into the hospital with no stress!!

Another midwife saw me when Weston got there to do more testing and it was decided that I was slowly leaking fluid which still counted as my water being broken which meant: definite admission! I was staying to have a baby! (Ahhhhhhh) She said I was dilated 5cm which surprised me that I was still progressing despite not being too uncomfortable with contractions. I just told myself yes I have to stay, but by dilation Im halfway there!! (It's funny how after all the waiting and impatience the reality that "it" is actually happening is somewhat terrifying!)

I got settled in my room, my family arrived, I chose my nurse who also happened to be my coworker and friend. For the first few hours we laughed talked and watched the bachelorette finale (which also happened to be on TV the day we got engaged...coincidence or fate?) while I bounced on the exercise ball and waited for something to pick up. As fun as it was, nothing was happening and I knew time was ticking. The midwife came in the room at 10pm to recheck me and I was still at 5cm. I wasn't surprised but I knew what I was about to ask for would quickly change how comfortable I was, which was..well...scary. "I want you to break my water the rest of the way" Did I really just say that? I knew all too well what I was asking for, but it was my hope to stay on track for a natural labor. 

I'll spare you the details of how lovely that felt other than that my contractions immediately changed. "Now THIS is what a contraction feels like" I thought. What happened next is somewhat of a blur but I got in my own zone, left my family and husband in the room and went into the bathroom with my worship music playlist to work through my contractions alone in the shower and on the toilet. I came back out to the room and sat on the birthing ball for a few contractions, breathing through and staying focused but they were getting worse and I couldn't find a "comfortable" position. (cause let's be honest nothing is anything close to the true meaning of comfortable at that point)  It was jacuzzi time. In all of my experience as a nurse I knew the jacuzzi was the secret weapon to surviving a natural labor. I always encourage patients to save it until nothing else helps to get them through the dreaded transition phase of labor. I was praying that's where  I was. The jacuzzi helped more than anything else had but the contractions continued to strengthen and as strong as I tried to stay mentally, I was getting close to my breaking point. In my mind I knew if I felt like giving up it probably meant I was close to being able to push, but what if I wasn't? Either way I felt helpless and pleaded with my nurse "I want to get checked and if I'm not close I think might an epidural" If this wasn't what everyone described as the out of body, crawl out of your skin pain that transition is, I didn't know what was. The slow controlled breathing through contractions morphed to moaning/humming or probably something that resembled a dying animal. All I know is I was no longer quiet through contractions and I know now that was the point my husband started praying and my mom had to leave the room. The midwife crouched down at the side of the tub, told me I was 8-9cm and gave me a pep talk. I could do this. I was doing it. I nodded wanting to believe her and realizing I wouldn't even be able to sit still through an epidural at this point. I just wanted to meet my baby. 

Then the pressure came. It felt like right after the midwife left I was experiencing that pressure I had heard about so many times. Just as I managed to tell my nurse what I was feeling my body decided to join in and start pushing on its own. I knew what this meant. Baby was coming. I tried to breathe through contractions in fear that I wasn't fully dilated but my body continued to involuntarily push. "Well you just bought yourself a ticket out of the jacuzzi" someone said. I somehow made it to the bed and got the go ahead to work with my body and start pushing. It was 12:00am, just two hours after my water was broken. The pushing process was so much harder than I expected and I found myself eating my words of advice I gave so many patients. Easier said than done!! Weston was by my side encouraging me and helping me try different positions (let me tell you, you gain a whole new level of comfort with your spouse after you've squatted half naked bearing down like you're consitpated right beside them. It's glamorous folks.) There was a point her heartrate dropped and when I heard the monitor slow the nurse in me thought "oh no, I'm going to need an emergency c-section and because I don't have an epidural I'll need general anesthesia ao I won't even be awake and Weston won't be able to be in the room" (Yes my mind somehow went on that kind of a tangent in the middle of pushing out a baby without pain medicine) Luckily her heartrate came back up and behaved for the rest of the total 1.5 hours I was pushing. I used a mirror which I thought I wouldn't want, Weston watched the whole process which he thought he wouldn't do, and her 80th percentile head was taking its good old time coming out. Each set of pushes I heard "you're so close she's coming!"yet I pushed on. Finally, the infamous ring of fire told me it had to be soon, and just like that her body was on its way out. I reached down, grabbed under her arms and pulled her the rest of the way out and onto my chest. (Crazy, but true and THE BEST moment of my life) "I can't believe she's all mine" we're my first words afte her birth according to my nurse. I was part in shock part in pain and totally in love with this little screaming human that was on my chest. Annnd "Oceans", which is my favorite worship song ever, happened to be the song that was playing as she entered the world! 

9 months of waiting, dreaming, anticipating & worrying, were finally over. Thank you Jesus! To see and hold our baby for the first time was so surreal I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real. Just kidding the horrible burning down below was more than enough of a reminder that this most definitely was not a dream. After all of the wondering and praying about how my labor would unfold, it had played out even better than I ever could have imagined. And what mattered most is that we were healthy. 

Being the patient after being an L&D nurse for 2.5 years definitely gave me a new appreciation for what I do and I know will make me better at my job when I return. But for now I am going to enjoy my 12 weeks off staring at my baby girl. 

Photos by Kelly Lapp Photography 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Homemade Cold Brew Coffee

Guys: I actually made something I pinned on pinterest and it turned out so good I had to share. 

Maybe it's just in PA, but cold brew is all the rage right now, at Starbucks and local coffee shops alike. Who knew it was so easy to make at home?! 

All you need:
1 12oz bag of coffee grounds (I used Starbucks but will probably experiment with others)
10.5 cups room temperature water
Cheese cloth
*Optional* Your choice of sweetener or cream

Combine coffee grounds and water in plastic container with lid. Stir until all grounds are wet and let "brew" overnight in fridge.

Remove from fridge and pour over mesh colander covered in cheese cloth to separate grounds from concentrate. Throw away grounds. 

Store concentrate in fridge and to make one cup full cup with ice, fill 1/3 with concentrate, add water until cup is almost full. Add any cream or sweetener and enjoy! The original recipie suggested sweetened condensed milk, I had it with half & half and simple syrup, but my favorite combo so far is just plain on sweet cream coffee creamer!! Let me tell you...Yummo. 

Really after you make the concentrate the rest is a "make it how you like it" experiment! Besides it being easy and delicious, it's also total money saver! 

Enjoy! (and if you make it yourself please share your favorite coffee and sweetener combos) 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Last days before baby...

I consider myself a patient person. As a labor & delivery nurse, I always got annoyed when people delivered unnecessarily before their due date. The "I'm sick of being pregnant, uncomfortable and tired of waiting for my baby" syndrome. I thought I'd never be that person. But sure enough, by 37 weeks I was googling "ways to naturally induce labor" and spending hours walking and bouncing on an exercise ball. I ended up delivering 1 week early, who knows if it was the things I did or not, but looking back I wouldn't have done anything differently. I spent those last days read parent books, went on date nights with my hubby and stayed busy to keep myself as distracted from the waiting game as possible.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Kent Island, MD Vacation

Mid-July my family had a long weekend vacation to Kent Island MD. My Dad is a pro at finding vacation houses using VRBO and like always, he did not disappoint. We stayed at a gorgeous house on the bay and enjoyed lots of sun, seafood, and time together before our baby girl arrived! (Props to my sister for vacationing with a newborn and 18 month old!) 

Work baby shower

The beautiful friends I work with threw me a little baby shower at 36 weeks. We gathered for a delicious brunch in the city in the adorable backyard of one of my coworkers. What a perfect morning it was with friends who would be the ones surrounding me as I delivered! 

Friday, August 14, 2015

4th of July Weekend

We spent the whole weekend at the cabin, almost exactly one month from my due date! The whole gang was there (including the brother in laws' significant others) We spent lots of time in the sun, enjoying nature, and eating lots of good food. Next time we go to the cabin we'll have a baby! 

Hello newest niece!

It's time to play catch up. Babies have been born, trips have been taken, and I haven't documented! First of all, my newest niece Harper June was born on Friday June 26th! I worked all day and after getting a text at 9am from my sister that her water broke, I was sure I was going to miss her arrival. When 7pm rolled around I gave report and hurried to the hospital in the next town where my sister was. Soon after we got there she was feeling lots of pressure through her epidural, sure enough, it was time to push!! 10 minutes later, she arrived!! A perfectly chubby 9lb 4oz, I fell in love and lost any ounce of patience I had left to meet my little girl. It's hard to believe I was 5 weeks away from my due date at that point. 

Mrs. Auntie Alyssa