Category Archives: pregnancy

Caroline’s Birth Story

Now that Caroline is nine months old, we’ve reached that moment of “nine month in, nine months out.” By now, a little over a week past her nine month birthday, she has spent more time outside of me than she did inside. I think that’s a significant milestone that deserves something special. How about her birth story? I’ve been wanting to write and share this for months (approximately nine), but just put it off and put it off. I wanted to devote time to it, and get down all most of the details so that I could look back on this and remember the day perfectly. I think I did alright. Don’t worry, I left out enough. 🙂 

Caroline Therese was born on June 19, 2014. Here is the story of her (grand, exciting, perfect) entrance: 

Caroline was due on Wednesday, June 25, but we all know how useless a “due date” actually is. For most of my pregnancy, I fully expected to go beyond the 25th, as Charlotte was nine days past her due date and I never had any contractions or dilation until the day I went into labor with her. So I was very surprised to find out at my 36 week appointment that I was already 3 centimeters dilated, and my doctor did not think I’d make it to all the way to the 25th. Around that time I also started feeling something funny going on. Nothing painful, just something. I was excited about the possibility of giving birth early, but I didn’t want it to be too early – I had to get through the rest of the school year and I had signed up for a professional development workshop scheduled for the second full week of summer break.

Somebody, help! Get me outta here!

Somebody, help! Get me outta here!

Caroline is clearly a very good listener and a cooperative girl because I made it through the last day of the workshop on June 18th and woke up the next morning to contractions at 6:45 am. Thanks for that perfect timing, Caroline!

The contractions got me out of bed before Charlotte was up, but, even after going through labor once before, I still wasn’t sure if this was going to be “it.” Perhaps they were Braxton hicks contractions? Since I’d never had those before and didn’t fully believe I’d give birth before my due date the next week, I thought there was a chance this was just a false alarm. I had my weekly appointment that morning at 9:30, so after an hour of worsening contractions I called the office and let them know what was going on. They told me to wait things out until my appointment, and that we’d go from there.

Luckily, Chris had enough sense not to go into work that morning and called our moms to start heading over to care for Charlotte over night. He also called our day care provider and asked if she would take Charlotte for the morning until one of our moms arrived. She was already a little worried about me, watching me pace around the house wincing in pain, but we tried to hype her up and get her excited about the day while getting her ready to go (Grammy and Nana are coming! Mama’s having your baby brother or sister! You get to play at Therese’s house and see your friends!).

It was all a whirlwind until it was time to say goodbye to her. As soon I as crouched down and kissed her soft cheek, I started to cry with the heavy realization that, after that moment, our sweet little family was never going to be the same. The past three and a half years with Charlotte (and the nine months before that) had been the most precious years of my life, and suddenly I was hit hard with feelings of not wanting anything to change. But too late for that thinking, right? Everything was about to change whether we were ready for it or not. 

Once she left and I was alone with my pain, the contractions pushed all that sentimentality to the back corners of my mind. I still didn’t even have a hospital bag packed. Between packing ever.so.slowly, I passed the next hour or so walking aimlessly around our house and chanting to myself “one step closer, one step closer,” every time I had a contraction. Good thing no one was home with me because I must have looked like the hugest idiot! I was trying to stay as calm as possible since I knew what sort of pain was looming ahead of me, and I’m pretty sure I was just pretending that all my chanting was actually helping.

I don’t remember the car ride to the doctor’s office as well as my middle of the night ride to the hospital three years earlier, but I do remember having to collect myself outside the office door before going inside so I wouldn’t scare everyone in the waiting room. The receptionists took one look at me when I stepped in and sent me right to the back to wait for Dr. Smollen. We skipped getting weighed one final time because who can actually stand on a scale in the middle of your 900th contraction anyway? Dr. Smollen took a quick look at me and said, “You’re having this baby today – you’re dilated at 6! Let’s get you to the hospital.”

I was obviously thrilled to hear this. With Charlotte, I got stuck at 4.5 cm and spent a looooooooong time in labor even after pitocin. Granted, I had been 3 cm dilated for the past 4 weeks so it wasn’t like my body had done all that work in one morning. But still, I was feeling more confident about the VBAC my Dr. and I had been hoping/planning for.

Oh. I guess I did fail to mention that I had been planning to try for a VBAC since the beginning of my pregnancy. My doctor recommended it the first time I met her – she said I was a good candidate because I progressed all the way through labor with Charlotte and because my c-section was due to a very rare cord issue that probably wouldn’t happen again. I brought up the obvious fear of placental abruption (which is why many women in the past who had had one cesarean birth went on to have more), but she assured me that the warning signs during labor are obvious and she’d be able to get me into a prepped O.R. in no time if necessary. I felt both reassured and excited about my delivery with Caroline. At the very least I simply wanted to be awake, and I felt very confident I’d get that!

Since Dr. Smollen’s office is right across the street from Mercy hospital, Chris and I were just going to walk on over to the ER entrance. I only made a few steps out the door before we realized this one minute walk might take us three hours at the rate I was moving, so the nurses lent us a wheelchair, and I got to take a much appreciated cruise, bumping along the sidewalk at record speed.

Mercy hospital is about 1/20th the size of the university, but my labor and delivery room at Mercy was just about as nice and large as it was at the u. I spent .01 seconds deciding that hell yes I wanted an epidural, and the sooner the better thankyouverymuch.

My epidural was bliss this time! Well, except that my veins are difficult to find and work with and that it took three nurses, multiple pokes, and about 45 minutes (AGAIN) to get the dang thing in. My IV ended up in the crook of my elbow, which meant I had to keep my right arm straight for the next 7 hours. This was easily the worse part of my labor, which I think is a pretty dang good thing. It was very small price to pay for getting me through the next seven hours.

Also, unlike my first epidural with Charlotte, this one worked perfectly at managing my pain while still allowing me the ability to both move and feel my legs. The first time I was truly paralyzed, but I thought that was normal since I’d obviously never had an epidural before. I was so pleased and comfortable for the next several hours that I felt like I was being treated to a nice long rest all afternoon.

My mom and Amy brought Charlotte over in the afternoon. She came in tentatively, her finger in her mouth and her eyes darting from me to the IV to the beeping machines. She spoke in a quiet voice and gave me a cautious hug. Seeing me that way made a lasting impression on her because even recently she’s mentioned that she doesn’t want to have a baby when she grows up because she doesn’t want to go to the hospital! She has plenty of time to change her mind about that if she wants to, but my poor dear! Sorry sweetie pie. Here is the only picture of me during labor, hanging out with my favorite (freaked out) visitor:

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After some time Charlotte and the grandmas left to run errands, eat, do who knows what (I was a little too preoccupied to find out all the details), and Chris and I were left to wait it out until it was time for the hard work.

I progressed steadily through my contractions without the need for pitocin, and though there were a few moments during the later hours when we heard the heart rate dropping slightly, it was pretty uneventful. Dr. Smollen checked in on us often (she was running back and forth between the hospital and her clinic), even just to pop in and reassure us when the heart rate dropped. She remembered what I had told her months earlier about Charlotte’s heart rate during labor, and she knew we’d be nervous. That small gesture meant so much to me and really put my mind at ease.

Finally, at around 5:15ish, it was time for me to start working on getting this baby out. This was obviously the hardest part of my day, in case you couldn’t guess. And it suddenly felt like the baby was taking up SO MUCH space in my abdomen, which is where I felt all the pain. But after some serious work on my part, and a little bit of tugging on Dr. Smollen’s part, our baby finally arrived at 5:43 pm.

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There is no greater relief than finally giving birth. I mean, when they placed my baby on my chest nothing else mattered – she was healthy and it was over. I’m pretty sure I started laughing, and Chris was laughing (maybe) and still holding tight to my hand, and we were just happy happy happy.

And then I remembered to ask, “What it is? Did we have a boy or a girl?” We had chosen to wait to find out, and now the moment was here. Just as I was with Charlotte, I was certain from the beginning we were having a boy. Chris went back and forth, and Charlotte had no doubts that she would be getting a sister. I must have just transferred all that supposed “mother’s intuition” over to my daughter.

I was so pleasantly surprised when the doctor announced, “It’s a girl!” Though I would have been thrilled to have a son, I secretly wanted another daughter more. I loved having one daughter so much – two just seemed like a dream. A sister for Charlotte, all the hand-me-down clothes, double the sweetness; what’s not to love about that?!

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She surprised us all with her size – 8 pounds 11 ounces. My doctor was certain she wouldn’t be as large as Charlotte was at 8.5, but I knew better than that. I’m pretty sure when I was pregnant her little feet could have stretched their way all the up my throat. I felt very “full of baby.” It sure was nice having chubby little cheeks to smooch as soon as we met her that day.

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“What’s her name?” Dr. Smollen asked. The nurses looked on eagerly. Yes, good question. What were we going to name this child? We didn’t have a final choice nailed down for either a boy or girl, and we hadn’t been too concerned about that either. I knew we’d figure it out when he/she was born because we’d just have to. Now that it was time to decide, I surprised myself. I looked up at Chris who was now holding our brand new baby girl. “I think you should choose her name,” I said, and I meant it. I’m not usually one to hand over the baton on things like that, but in that moment, I really felt strongly that he should name our second daughter.

“Really?” He looked at me incredulously. I nodded, and he easily chose Caroline, his long-time favorite name.

And then I did end up cutting in by deciding her middle name should be Therese, my (very beautiful) confirmation saint name. I guess I couldn’t give up that much control. 🙂 

The next hour or so was so peaceful and sweet, and I am so grateful to have been awake and conscious for Caroline’s first hours of life. We held off on letting the family in right away because I really wanted to share our first moments with the baby privately with Chris. We wanted to meet her first, and then hold her, nurse her, snuggle her, memorize her without feeling pressure to hand her off and pass her around. There would be plenty of time later for that. Selfish? Maybe, but I feel a mother earns that right.  

Caroline Therese Doran was here! We were thrilled and already so in love. Then, when Charlotte came in, and I watched her hold her baby sister for the first time, with her already loving touches and her “Hi Carolines,” I knew that that very moment was the beginning of the best days of our lives.

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*Read Charlotte’s birth story here. What a different birthing experience, but it all turned out just as well!

*Gah, we were the worst at taking pictures that day! We have zero with Chris, but I swear he was there. 

 

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Introductions

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Introducing our newest bundle of love, our daughter Caroline!

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Caroline Therese was born at 5:43 on Thursday, June 19. She was 20 inches long and weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces. 

She has dark brown hair, inky blue newborn eyes, tiny little ears and long little toes. We are totally smitten with this little one!

Big sister Charlotte has been so sweet and helpful with Caroline. Today she helped give her a bath and took her role of dumping water on her (legs and tummy only!) very seriously. 

Charlotte knew she was getting a sister all along! Her intuitions are much better than mine!

Charlotte knew she was getting a sister all along! Her intuitions are much better than mine!

 

Right now Caroline is sleeping away, as she has been doing all day, in preparation for her middle of the night fuss fest. But we are too blissed out to mind that at all. 🙂 

 

Who wants to play our baby game?

Little Baby D2 is due in eleven days…!!!

I set up a guessing game through Babyhunch.com and invite you all to play along! It’s your chance to “officially” guess our baby’s birthday, weight/height, sex, time of birth, etc., and possibly beat a bunch of other people doing so! 🙂  This is all for my own enjoyment as I sit here gaining more weight by the minute.

Here is the link:

http://www.babyhunch.com/poolpage.php?poolid=2a5f60ca8c5f9b32dbef34a5a760dcb6

Thanks for playing! 

Pregnancy Wive’s Tales

Sometimes it’s fun to jump on bandwagons. 

I’ve seen a number of pregnant-lady blog posts going through some of the old pregnancy wives tales used to predict the sex of your baby. So I thought I’d join in on the fun and play, too! I have just about two weeks left until  my due date (Whaaaaat??? I still have so much to do. And by that I mean everything.), so we’ve obviously been thinking even more about who our little babe is going to be. I’ve thought it’s been a boy since day one (just like I thought with Charlotte until we found out at 20 weeks), Chris has been wishy-washy about what he thinks, and Charlotte is convinced she is getting a little sister named Sally. 

Since my little family can’t come to an agreement, let’s see what all those old wives think.

Old Wife 1: The Chinese gender predictor: Chinese lunar age and month apparently can predict the sex of your baby. Since I know nothing about any of that, I can plug in my info to an online calculator (found here) and find out what I’m having. According to the Chinese, it’s a GIRL.

Old Wife 2: The Mayan gender predictor: I’d never heard of this one, but this is what Baby Center has to say: “This one’s an easy calculation. How old were you when you conceived this baby? What year did you conceive? If both numbers are odd or even, you are carrying a girl. If one is odd and the other even, it’s a boy. “ So the Mayan say I’m having a BOY.

Old Wife 3:  Fetal heart rate: If it has been over 140 bpm, then the baby is supposed to be a girl, and under 140 means it will be a boy. My baby’s heart rate has been right around 140 recently, but about 150 at earlier appointments. GIRL

Old Wife 4: How do you carry your baby?  High? Girl.  Low? Boy. I think I carry high. GIRL 

Old wife 5: Cravings: Baby Center says, “More headaches means a boy, as does a craving for meat, cheese, salty or sour flavors. Fewer headaches and a craving for sweets and fruit means a girl.” I haven’t had any headaches (yay!), but what happens when you crave everything? Results inconclusive.

Old wife 6: Side You Most Rest On: Baby Center says, “If a pregnant woman prefers to lay on her left side, she’s having a boy. If she prefers resting on her right side, she’s having a girl.” I toss and turn a lot at night lately, but typically I prefer my right side. GIRL

 Old wife 7:  Morning sickness: Did you get it or not? I was lucky to avoid that pregnancy side effect, so apparently that means I’m having a BOY. (However, I never had it with Charlotte either…)

Old wife 8: Does your stomach look like you swallowed a basketball or a watermelon? Well this one’s easy for me: basketball. I’ve been told on numerous occassions by plenty of people that I have basketball-stomach going on. This means I’m carrying a BOY

And now for the final results:

Baby boy – 3; Baby girl  – 4

So, in conclusion, I am having either a boy or a girl! I’m glad I got that sorted out. 🙂 

 

 

Baby gear for the second kid

Everyone knows that babies these days seem to require a lot of “stuff.” At least that’s what the baby retailers tell us. Wipe warmers, anyone? Sleep positioners? 35 different baby carriers? Designer duds for your newborn?

Right. Much of it is probably unnecessary, but after going through this mommyhood business once, I know there are some things we just can’t live without (…unless we never plan to leave the house).

I was lucky to be gifted a lot of our baby gear and necessities having had two wonderful baby showers when pregnant with Charlotte. And I took care to choose gender neutral everything so that I could use it all again when the time came. It has been really nice not feeling like I need much of anything in order to be ready to welcome Baby D2 this summer. (In other words, just get this baby out of my abdomen and into my arms already, k?) That said, though, it has been fun putting together my little second baby wish list. Picking out just a handful of items that we’ll need and/or want is a lot less overwhelming that that first baby registry I created four years ago (what? 4 years already? sob.).  This is one thing I’ve loved about being pregnant for the second time.

Here is our little list of items we will be purchasing for the new babe:

The Needs

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1. Diono Radian RXT convertible car seat. This will go to Charlotte and her current Britax will be used for BD2. I like this not only for its top safety rating and steel frame, but also for its versatile positioning options and ability to fold up for travel. ( <– I suppose we’ll need to get around to flying somewhere first for that to really matter, though! 🙂 )  [image via]

2. Philips Avent DECT Baby Monitor with Temperature Sensor. There’s nothing super fancy about this monitor except for the temperature sensor, but I choose it mainly because it had good reviews. Our last monitor conked out on us, so this time I want one that will last more than a year. Our next house could be more than a single story and have thicker walls, so we probably won’t be able to rely solely upon our good ol’ ears after we move. A lot of people choose the video cameras and motion sensored monitors, but I think both of those would probably make me crazy. Plus, when my kid is a asleep, I’d rather be watching some trashy TV show than a video of him or her sleeping for an hour. ha. [image via]

3. Bob Motion stroller in navy. Gosh, I covet this thing. Our last stroller (this one), has served us well as the only stroller we’ve owned since Charlotte’s birth, but it’s not going to last us through another child. The wheels are starting to bow inward and wear down, and there’s just not enough room underneath to carry enough gear for two kids. I’ve researched a lot of strollers, and I want this Bob mainly because of its large inflatable wheels. No more tipping forward over sidewalk bumps (yep, that’s happened.). No more worn down rubber. It’s expensive, yes, but I think it will be a lasting investment. [image via]

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 4. Giggle Better Basics Fitted Striped Crib Sheet. Organic cotton, classic stripes, cute color options. I was hoping our fitted sheets for Charlotte would last through multiple children, but the elastic has worn out so they aren’t quite so “fitted” anymore. Oh well. Minor expense. And it is kind of fun to have a new look for the crib! [image via]

5. The Milk Saver by Milkies. I know, a little strange. But as a working mom who has to pump (ugh, what a chore), I’d like to try saving all the milk I can so hopefully I can do it less! Laziness for the win!  [image via]

6. Diaper Rite Bamboo Flat Sheets. We used cloth diapers for about nine months with Charlotte and plan to use them again for BD2. This time, however, since we have all the diapers already, we can start earlier and hopefully use them longer. I’d like to try some pre-folds while s/he is tiny, and these bamboo diapers can also be inserted into the pocket diapers we already own. 

The Wants (the fun stuff I don’t need but enjoy adding to my pinterest boards)

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1. Olive and Vince Bandana Bibs. Okay, I will buy these. When Charlotte went through her drooly stage from age 2 to about 6 months, I remember feeling a little bummed that I had to cover up her cute outfits with stupid bibs every day. These bandanas backed with absorbent bamboo fleece are so freaking adorable I would wear them. (Well, you know.) I die over all the cute patterns. What did people do before Etsy, by the way? [image via]

2. Bird Egg Gathering watercolor print. This “want” is inspired by Charlotte and her nature/animal loving. It’s just cute and pretty, and I’d hang it on the wall. Again, with the above Etsy question. [image via]

3. Stokke Tripp Trapp chair. In other words, the coolest chair in the universe. I’ve wanted one of these for Charlotte for a long time, but they are way expensive. This chair will probably stay on my wish list forever (because we’ll never actually buy it). Who knows though; Santa Claus could pull through one year. [image via]

4. Blooming Baby Bath. Again, we probably won’t buy this, even though every time I see a picture of a chubby baby bathing in this adorable, soft flower my ovaries explode. Chris thinks it’s stupid and unnecessary. Whatever, Husband. It’s a soft bath shaped like a sunflower! [image via]

Well, that was fun. I’m growing more excited (and massive) by the minute! What extra/additional gear did you purchase for your second child? Any recommendations? 

Growing

I’ve blogged so little this year that I’ve put off sharing something huge….

 

 

Our family is growing! 

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We are thrilled to be adding our second child to the family in….wait for it….JUNE! (Or July. You know how due dates are.) As of yesterday, I’m already into the third trimester! 

We decided to wait until the birth to find out the baby’s sex, unlike last time when pregnant with Charlotte. With her, there was no question that I would find out, but this time, I just didn’t feel that sense of urgency. This pregnancy is flying by, and I figured it would be fun to wait this time around. We don’t plan on this being our last baby, but you never know. If so, we’ll have experienced both ways of finding out. 🙂

This pregnancy hasn’t felt as easy-breezy as my first. Luckily, I never had the morning sickness with either pregnancy, but since you grow so much quicker the second time, I’ve felt the discomforts of pregnancy earlier. However, it’s just simple back and abdominal discomfort, so I know I can’t complain much! Mainly I’ve been bothered by my annoying skin since December, but I can’t blame the baby on that! 

Charlotte is also ecstatic about her new baby brother or sister. Before I got pregnant, she started getting curious about babies so we explained to her how she grew in my stomach and blah blah blah. She took to that information immediately and loved talking to me about it. Pretty much all September, she would hug me and exclaim, “I was a baby, I was in your tummy, I was born!” It was basically the most adorable thing ever. (Like I’ve never said that before.)

So when we shared the happy news with Charlotte, she knew what I was talking about and has loved discussing it with me, talking to the baby, and checking out how much I’ve grown. Right now she thinks she is getting a baby sister, but we’ll see! Here are some more pics from the 20 week ultrasound. I am going to a different hospital this time around, where they gave me tons of 3D images and a video to take home. Any guesses as to whether Baby D2 is a boy or girl??

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Hi Baby Love! We can’t wait to meet you, and I feel so lucky to be your mama already! 

In fewer than three months, I’m going to have two children…Ahhhh! (That’s me feeling both totally excited and absolutely terrified.) 

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Great Expectations

Today marks the two year anniversary of Charlotte’s due date. We all know she was still happily sitting “high as a kite” (my doctor’s words) in my belly for another nine days, but this day still holds enough significance for me to remember and reflect upon it. Perhaps after more years and more children, this will change, but for now, I’m happy to still consider it one of the more significant dates in my life. Even though nothing happened on November 28, 2010, I was thinking about that day round the clock for a solid eight months beforehand. That’s worth something.

Due dates are pretty silly, actually, and so very arbitrary. And yet, even knowing my baby was only going to come when she was ready, I clung to that date like it really meant something. I had great expectations for November 28th.

There are a lot of expectations involved in parenting. Expectations for yourself as a parent, expectations for your baby (then child, then teenager, then adult), expectations for your spouse, expectations for your friendships, social life, sleeping habits, career, appearance, etc., etc, etc. So many dang expectations.

This is what I’ve been thinking about today: What were my expectations for all of “this” before all of “this” happened? Before November 28th, before December 7th? Have my expectations been met? Have they been exceeded? Have they been forgotten?

I suppose my short answer would have to be yes, to all of them….and no, to all of them…and well, kinda, to all of them again.

My expectations of Chris as a father have far been exceeded. All of them. He is her playmate, her teacher, her protector, and even her own horse whenever she asks for a ride on his back. He is even more amazing than I could have imagined. And not just as a father to a daughter, but as a husband of his child’s mother. I didn’t/couldn’t understand this before we had Charlotte, but the relationship between a husband and wife transforms when a child enters the picture. There are differences now that Chris is not only my husband, but Charlotte’s daddy. We now share someone who will keep us bound together forever (whether we like it or not. ha!), and I don’t think I could have expected that to be so powerful.

As for Charlotte, there is no way I could have expected her to be so awesome! I knew I would love her. I knew I would think she’s the cutest/smartest/most talented/perfect child to ever grace this planet. But my picture of what she’d really be like was pretty much blank. I used to find it so strange to think that I was growing and carrying this life inside me for so many months and yet I didn’t even know what she looked like. When she was born, I was totally shocked by her appearance not because I expected her to look differently, but because I didn’t have any expectations for that at all. Dare I say that she did turn out mighty cute?

And all her little Charlotte-isms; her lovelovelove of horses, the little hand motions she makes when she’s excited, her quirky Charlish language, her distaste for wearing shirts, her impeccable pitch and love of all types of music. I never ever ever could have expected any of that. Witnessing Charlotte’s personality and all her idiosyncrasies unfold before our eyes over the past two years has to be the greatest joy of parenting.

As for me and my mothering, well, everyone is their own toughest critic. The expectations I set for myself have always been based off what I like to call the real version of Katy. The healthy, more carefree and positive version of myself who loved to get outside, go out, and laugh really loudly in public places. This version of me would probably be a more fun mom than the one Charlotte gets right now. I’ve spent a lot of this year cooped up in the house and plenty of time feeling sorry for myself a la Debbie Downer. It’s really easy to beat myself up about all the things I could be doing better.

But there are moments when I’m really proud of myself, too. Like how I handle the tantrums. I rock at handling the tantrums, even the very public tantrums. I don’t flinch. I don’t give in. I can let it go like nothing’s even happening. And I’m not even that embarrassed about them, somehow.

Actually, I’m surprised to say that between Chris and I, I’m the (ever-so-slightly) more patient one when it comes to Charlotte. I don’t know how this happened because Chris is more patient than I am in every other possible way (ever), but I’m usually the one who can hold it together longer when it comes to excessive crying, throwing fits, and the typical baby and toddler antics.* It must be my experience as a 7th grade teacher, which has truly prepared me for every weird and/or annoying thing a child can ever do/say/think in the world.

Oh, and I’m good at giving her kisses. I knew I’d be good at that. But then, who isn’t? How can anyone resist this lil’ pucker?

And another thing – all that love. Whoa. I love her so much it can bring me to tears. You can’t know it until you feel it, but when you do, it blows you away. It totally exceeds all expectations, no matter how grand they may have been. Okay, that’s the greatest joy of parenting.

*This is not to say that Chris is impatient with Charlotte – he is certainly not that. I just happen to be one milometer more patient with her than he is, which means I’m going to brag about it here.

Charlotte’s Birth Story (Two Years Later)

Charlotte will turn two in a little less than three weeks, and I figure it’s high time I sit down and write about her birthday. As you all know very well, Chris and I were so lucky to end up with a perfectly healthy and beautiful baby girl, but her birthday dredges up some mixed feelings that I haven’t had the easiest time dealing with. It took me the better half of a year to feel okay about it, which is why I’ve waited so long to put the story to paper. It just wasn’t going to happen within those first six months.

I’ve written before about my easy breezy pregnancy, and I’ve shared the story about our gender-revealing ultrasound. Both those stories make me smile. I was lucky.

While pregnant, my thoughts about childbirth were probably typical of many women: the idea of an unmedicated, natural childbirth was nice, but I wasn’t opposed to an epidural or other pain meds if needed. I knew not to make a firm plan because we all know what happens to those. I figured I would leave the major decisions up to myself in the moment because that is the only time I’d really know what I needed.

Chris and I took a childbirth class at the hospital where we heard (and watched on film) all the gory details about…everything. Basically, after the nurse was through talking about vaginal births (and forceps and stitches, etc.), I decided I wanted a c-section. But after we learned more about c-sections (and staples and scars, etc.), I decided I’d rather just keep Charlotte in my stomach. Less mess.

When it came down to it, though, I knew that worrying about childbirth was a waste of time; it was going to happen and I was going to have to get our baby out in some way or another.

(Actually, do you want to know what really scared me the most? The I.V. Yes, the idea of an I.V. was far more terrifying than a child coming out of me. More on this later.)

That being said, even though I wasn’t vehemently opposed to a c-section, I didn’t actually think I’d have to have one. My tiny mom delivered my two brothers and I, and her tiny mom delivered all six of her children. I was actually born just an hour and a half after my parents arrived at the hospital.  Surely, Karma was going to be good to me.

When labor finally started for me, I knew it right away. It was a Monday night at about 5:45, and I was set to be induced Wednesday evening. I was eight days past my due date at that point, and I’d had an appointment for a non stress test (NST) and ultrasound early that morning to make sure Charlotte was still safe in her little home. When I was hooked up to the NST, the nurse told me I was contracting, but I didn’t feel them at all. I decided labor was going to be a piece of cake.

The first contractions I felt were gentle but consistent. Since I’d never had any Braxton-Hicks  (and since I felt like I could explode with baby at any moment), I didn’t assume that’s what they were. Chris was in class, so I called with an update but told him not to rush home.

It’s funny what a person can remember. I was trying to make myself comfortable by reclining on our old sectional and watching “The Sing Off.” It was the Christmas episode. I remember watching one of the groups sing Firework by Katy Perry, and now when I hear that song I always think of that night.

By the time Chris got home around seven, my contractions were stronger more frequent, but they still weren’t long enough to go to the hospital. We decided to try to go to sleep. HA. A few hours later, the contractions were one to two minutes apart and hurt SO BAD. It didn’t matter that they didn’t last five minutes – if we had waited any longer to get to the hospital, I never would have gotten in the car.

The car ride was hell. Sitting down was so uncomfortable for me, and all those bumps and hills were torturous. I was screaming bloody murder from the back seat. Poor Chris. Good thing we live only three miles from the hospital! I guess I shouldn’t complain. 🙂

When we pulled up, I decided I couldn’t wait to get out of the car for Chris to park in the ramp, so I had him drop me off at the door. Since it was after one a.m., I had to get buzzed in by a security guard. I’m pretty sure I said, “Hi, I’m going to have a baby.” Just in case he couldn’t already tell. He pointed me off in some direction and eventually, Chris caught up to me (I guess I wasn’t moving very fast).

I was dilated to 4 cm, which meant they weren’t going to send me home. This was good news for that reason, but the thought of standing through six or more hours of that pain was about as unbearable as the pain itself. At this point, my contractions were about thirty seconds to a minute apart. Epidural it is!

But first I had to get hooked up to an I.V. (Cue blood curdling scream.)

Seriously, it was like my nightmare came true. The nurse couldn’t find a vein so she called another nurse in. When she couldn’t find a vein, they called in a third nurse. Oh hi! It was our nurse from the child birthing class. Thankfully, she found a very obscure vein in my forearm and I managed to get through all that poking (during contractions!) without passing out. It was a close one though.

Then it was time for the epidural. I bet it was three a.m. by the time it finally happened. People, getting an epidural is a piece of cake. If you are getting an epidural it is because you think the labor pains are unbearable. Trust me, you won’t feel the needle. The hardest part was having to sit totally still when it feels like someone is wringing your uterus out like a washcloth, while wearing thumb-tack covered gloves.

Oh yeah, and then the anesthesiologist ended up doing the whole thing on the wrong spot on my back, so he had to do it all over again. That was probably the hardest part.

After tweaking the dosage for a while, the relief finally started kicking in. If you’ve never had an epidural, this means you go numb from the waist down. Chris got some sleep, and I tried to as well. I ended up watching my contractions on the monitor pretty much all night. At some point, we realized that Charlotte’s heart rate was dropping with every contraction, so I had to wear an oxygen mask through the rest of my labor. There is one picture of me throughout this whole “ordeal,” and it’s a close-up of my oxygen-masked face. I looked so beautiful.

A few hours later, it was time to check to see how much I’d progressed. We were all hoping for a few centimeters, but all I got was a lousy .5. I was now only 4.5 cm dilated. This is when the doctor informed me that we should introduce some pitocin to get things moving. I think the decision had to do with Charlotte’s dropping heart rate, but I can’t be sure of that.

Around 8 am my mom arrived, and my mother in-law arrived a few hours after that. Then my dad and father in-law showed up, so I had a room full of spectators.

Despite the pitocin, my labor progression was slow, and I had multiple scares with Charlotte’s dangerously low heart rate. Each time I contracted, her heart rate would drop. The oxygen mask did the trick for the majority of my labor, but as time went on and contractions become stronger, her heart rate dropped lower.  A couple of times, the medical team (which included nurses, nursing students, an attending doctor, and an intern) had to rush in, tilt my bed back, and…do something down there. I don’t know what they did because I refused to look in the mirror overhead. But it was terrifying. Eventually, they ended up inserting a fetal Doppler in order to get faster and more accurate heart rate readings.

Finally, finally, a little after 4:00 pm on December 7, I was fully dilated and it was time to push.  By this point, my epidural had started wearing off hours ago, and we never could get it just right with the second dose. The machines had been beeping a lot recently, signaling Charlotte’s distress, and the medical team had remained in my room to keep close watch. I was so ready to get this labor over with and meet our daughter. The family hurriedly left the room, so that Chris and I could share this experience alone.

Suddenly, the attending doctor was standing in front of me holding what looked like large metal salad tongs. Uh oh – I knew what those were. “Katy,” he said, “we don’t much time for pushing because your baby’s heart rate is dropping too much too often. I’ve got to use the forceps to get her out right away.”

I’m surprised that this statement didn’t horrify me. I guess I just trusted him not to crush my baby’s head and get this done right. I took a deep breath and pushed. Once.

“Her head it still too far up for me grip on it, and I’m the best doc in the hospital with the forceps. If I can’t get her out, no one here can,” he said, already standing up. I hadn’t even felt the forceps go in – I guess my epidural was working. He continued, “But we need to get your baby out right now. We’ll need to do a c-section.”

Before I even had time to think, I was being wheeled out of the room. That’s when I started to cry.  Just seconds ago I was getting ready to push out my daughter, and now I was being moved into an operating room due to dire circumstances. I couldn’t even let my mind wander to thoughts of how wrong this could go. I couldn’t let myself think about leaving the hospital without my baby.

I saw my dad’s face as we whizzed by in the hallway. “You’ll be okay,” he told me, and I decided to believe him.

Moments later, we were in the operating room. There were already so many people in there that I thought another surgery was going on (I was drugged and exhausted). The anesthesiologist added more drugs to my epidural before the surgeon did a test prick on my stomach.

Darn it. I could feel it.

“Your baby needs to come out NOW. We have to put you under,” one of the masked heads said.

Okay,” I said, and I was. Charlotte needed to come out. I breathed in the gas, coughed, and then it all went black.

Charlotte Mary was born at 4:18 p.m. I didn’t meet her until 6:00. This was hard for me for me to deal with.

[I’ve asked Chris a hundred times to tell me every detail about what happened between my “lights out” and six o’clock. He’s helped fill in some key moments, but his memory of it all is foggy and disjointed. It was a stressful event for him, too. I still don’t know how much time Charlotte spent with Chris before she met me. The thought of her spending even a few minutes without her parents during her first moments in the world still makes me cry. I think this is where mommy-guilt begins.]

I woke up over an hour later as I was being wheeled back into the delivery room. A nurse was telling me that Charlotte was fine and I was fine and who knows what else. When I got to my room, the whole family was in there.

“Where’s the baby?” I asked Chris.

“They took her to check on her,” he said. “I’ll go get her.”

Chris left and we waited. And waited and waited and waited. Finally, forty minutes later, he came through the door, pushing her in a little cart.

“Here comes your baby,” someone said. I felt my eyes well up as I watched them from across the room, but by the time she reached me, I was all smiles.

Actually, I was really drugged. Shaky, numb, totally out of it.

I remember it was a little hard to look at her face because I was lying so flat on the bed. I didn’t even think to say anything about helping me sit up or adjusting my bed because I was happy enough just to stare at her sideways. (Plus, I was drugged, remember. Have I mentioned that?) She had such chubby cheeks already, and a little wrinkle across the bridge of her nose where she had been squished in my stomach.  I couldn’t even believe she was mine.

Then Daddy held her, then the grandparents, and then, after a time, the nurse told us we’d be moving into a recovery room down two floors.”

I contemplated this. “Okay,” I said warily, “but I don’t think I’ll be able to walk there.”

Thankfully, my bed had wheels.

By the next morning, I was up and out of bed, and by the day after, I was moving around my room with ease. I didn’t find the cesarean recovery to be too bad at all, aside from the discomfort of trying to sit up from the lying down position. Actually, I wore Charlotte in the Ergo carrier and walked around the mall five days after she was born. Surgery smurgery. I was just glad to get out of the house!

It took about a week before I started really thinking about what happened during Charlotte’s birth. This is when I started hounding Chris to fill me in on every last detail. While I was calm and cool after the whole situation in the hospital, I was beginning to feel very sad about my first birthing experience. Missing out on my daughter’s first moments in this big, scary world is something I’ll always regret and feel guilty about. I also felt like my body had failed her because I wouldn’t have been able to deliver her safely on my own. See, in the delivery room, the doctors figured out why Charlotte had been losing so much oxygen during labor: the umbilical cord was growing abnormally out of the placenta. Rather than growing out of the center, it was coming out of the side, which caused it to pinch with each contraction. So my c-section was not a choice made by doctors to “move me through” and get my labor over with – we truly needed it in order to ensure a live delivery. Holy cow, did that thought give me nightmares for a long, long time.

Thank goodness I was in a hospital.

But let’s talk about the happiest moments, shall we? Let’s talk about love!

I wish I could say that I fell instantly in love the moment my little angel was placed in my arms, but I don’t think I was capable of that much feeling at that time. The love set in hours later, probably around 2 a.m., when the drugs had worn off and I was able to really gaze at her as she lie in a bundle between Chris and I in bed. Her warm little body, her sweet rosebud lips, her tiny wrinkly hands and feet – I remember thinking how perfect it felt to have her right between us and that I never ever wanted to leave her side. I smiled at Chris and, together, we looked back down to smile at her. I haven’t stopped smiling since.

Being Pregnant With Charlottte

I want to remember things. And I want Charlotte to know everything one day, if she’s curious. Many months ago, I wrote about the day we found out Charlotte was a baby girl. Tonight, I’ll share some of my memories and thoughts about my first pregnancy with our precious girl.

Even though nothing in life ever goes according to plan, somehow this did. Chris and I got married relatively young (before 25) and had no desire to have children right away. We both wanted to find jobs, further our educations, get a dog and a new car, and generally just enjoy being married in our twenties. When I was 24, I remember thinking that 27 or 28 sounded like a nice age to have a baby. I also remember thinking that it was a good thing I had so many years before I hit 27 and 28. When I turned 25, I realized 27 was only two years away (English teacher here), and that somehow, I was going to be much older in two years than I was right then because I’d be ready to have a baby. That sounds really stupid, but I was actually right. 

I contracted Baby Fever when I was student teaching in Fall 2009. Luckily, Chris was into the idea, too. We had to wait a few months because I was taking a medication, but when I came off it, voila! I was pregnant. Magic.

Actually, right before we found out in late March 2010, we were in Florida visiting Chris’s grandparents for Spring Break. Hoping for a baby, I didn’t drink any alcohol all week (okay, just one glass of wine), and I wondered whether Margaret and Carl would think that was strange. I don’t even remember what reason I gave them for passing on the wine at cocktail hour every day. I wonder if they suspected?

Sure enough, as my pee-on-a-stick pregnancy test revealed about a week after our trip, little seedling Charlotte had already taken root. I called Chris into the bathroom and we stared at the stick together. Then we laughed in that nervous, excited, I don’t know what else to do way, hugged, then stared at the stick some more, just to make sure. We were totally thrilled, but also we couldn’t believe it happened so quickly; I was expecting to have to pee on at least two or three sticks before seeing the double pink lines. Since I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out, the pregnancy test sat on top of our toilet for probably a month. Eventually, the lines faded, which was a very polite way of telling me that a pee stick probably doesn’t make the best keepsake.

I was co-teaching a science class at the time and we just so happened to be knee deep in our animal unit at that time. Just a few days after finding out our baby news, the dreaded “reproduction” lessons began. I remember sitting in the back of the classroom, wanting to jump up and shout, “Like me, right now!” every time Mr. Kluber mentioned fertilized eggs and fetuses. Because yeah, I had one of those.

We waited a week before we told anyone, and then I called my mom from work one morning during my prep period. It’s funny how even revealing a good secret can make you nervous. I paced around my classroom as I gave her our news. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mom was very happy (and surprised!). She told me she could cry, and then I wanted to too.  That phone call put me in the best mood all day.

Telling Dad was a little different. He found out later that day on our way home from Menards. His first reaction was simply shock. There were a lot of oh-wow-oh-ok-wows. Then he told me, “Just don’t have too many kids, okay? You don’t want to be like those crazy people on T.V.” Um, ok Dad. The next day he called me back and expressed his excitement about our news. It just took a night to process that his kid was having a kid. I can understand that.

The next eight months were a blur (like everything else these days). I loved being pregnant. First of all, I was carrying a baby inside of me! A real baby. Growing. In me. Whoa. I loved feeling her kick and squirm and watching myself grow with each passing week. Also, everyone smiles at you when you are pregnant. I love that. It’s like we all share this wonderful secret about how perfect life is. (Luckily, people still smile at you after you have the baby [as long as you have it with you, of course]. This is good if you are like me and got really used to being smiled at all the time.) I didn’t have any awkward experiences with strange people touching my stomach, so that was good I guess. As long as I knew you, I wouldn’t have cared if you touched my stomach though. That never creeped me out probably because my pregnant stomach really felt nothing like my actual stomach. It was like an alien body part that I was happy to allow others to pat away.

Okay. I know I’m bragging when I say this, but I had a perfect pregnancy. No morning sickness, nausea, high blood pressure, heartburn, or strange food cravings (though I will admit that I kinda hoped for those). I didn’t get stretch marks or varicose veins or cankles or a big swollen face. I was also able to sleep well all nine months, which was glorious. Besides being very tired and feeling a little blue for the first ten weeks, the only negative symptom I had was some back pain for the last two months, which really only got bad at the very end. But all that’s just the superficial stuff. Most importantly, I had a healthy, developing baby girl growing inside of me, hitting all her little fetus milestones.

Being pregnant, giving birth, and raising a child has been awe-inspiring since the moment it all started over two and a half year ago. But now, watching Charlotte run around our home, hearing her laugh, and witnessing her learn so many new things every single day, I am even more humbled by it all. How lucky I was. How lucky I am. How lucky. How lucky.

I know, you’ve seen this one before. I just can’t resist.

Getting Personal

Making the photo book has inspired me to go a step further in my memory preservation, so I’ve been working on writing more things down. You might think I do so already with this blog, but there is a lot I leave out. See, I’m still not entirely sure what this blog is. So far, it’s Charlotte’s baby book, with a few posts about our home, jobs, and pets. Things never get too personal, and for that reason, I feel it’s not a completely accurate reflection of our lives. A large part of me wants to write something deeper so that we can look back and remember and reflect. Because while I think it’s certainly important to remember how much your baby weighed in pounds and ounces on his/her birthday, I think it’s far more important to remember the weight of the moment your baby was placed in your arms. These are the things I need to write down.

So far I’ve covered the positive pregnancy test, the pregnancy, and my first ultrasound. So yeah, I’ve got a lot more to do. Is it safe to say that I’m trying to write our entire life story? Yes. Is that ridiculous? Yes. But I like doing it, so be it.

I’ll share with you our “It’s a girl” story….

Chris and I decided right away that we would find out the sex of our baby at the 20 week ultrasound. It’s not that we don’t appreciated surprises, but we figured pregnancy and childbirth would present us with plenty of those.  (Yep.)

Ever since I even considered kids with Chris, I assumed we’d have sons. All sons. Chris is one of two boys, and his dad is one of four. Six of the eight Doran cousins are boys. I always figured that the Dorans just don’t make girls. Certainly, this child inside of me was a boy; it was a boy long before we were pregnant.

When the day of the ultra sound arrived, July 10th, I was beyond excited. This would be the first time I got to see the little Sprout who was finally making my belly round. Amy and Bob came for the day, and we had lunch beforehand at one of our favorite places in town, Motley Cow. I can still taste that delicious poached egg on sourdough sandwich I had….Mmmmm.

By the time we got to the hospital and I was jellied up for the ultra sound, my stomach was fluttering from nerves (or baby?). Then we saw Charlotte pop up on the screen. She flipped and stretched and scrunched into a little ball for us. It was the most fascinating movie I’d ever seen. The nurse pointed out Baby’s head and feet and hands to us. She pointed out Baby’s spine, belly, and stomach. Most of the time all I could make out were lots of blobs. In fact, there were so many blobs of varying shapes and sizes that I thought for sure a few of them must be my son’s testicles. (Although the quote I used in real life was, “Oh look! I think I see little balls!”) Since we had a student nurse learning how to take all the measurements, we were lucky to have thirty-five minutes of baby-watching. I learned after the fact that most ultrasounds last only about ten minutes if everything’s looking the way it should. Lucky lucky us!

“Do you want to know the sex?” the nurse finally asked. 

“Yes!” we answered. This was it!

The nurse smiled. “It looks like a little girl!”

Pause. Smile. Squeeze Chris’s hand. Oh My God! A girl!

“Are you sure?”

“Well, here are her labia so, yes.”

I didn’t see said labia, but I took her word for it. We were having a girl!

Right away, I could imagine my daughter. My daughter. She was two or three with wispy blond hair. We were holding hands in a field (or something). It looked like a hazy photograph in a magazine, and I never felt happier. I think expecting to have a boy made us even more excited to have a daughter. It was so fun to be wrong. I couldn’t stop smiling.

In bed that night, I asked Chris if he was at all, even a little bit, disappointed. I knew the answer already because it was written all over his face all day, but I wanted him to say it. He did: I’m even more excited because she’s a girl. Charlotte was already the luckiest baby in the world.

In truth, I’d always wanted a daughter first. I am a first-born daughter, so I know firsthand that it’s not a bad gig. Your first child is also your only child that gets to be an only child (at least for a little while), and I think it’s special for a mother to have a daughter to share this time with. Corny as this sounds, Charlotte really is my dream come true.

True story: A couple of weeks before I gave birth, I developed a sudden fear that the ultra sound tech made a mistake, and our little she would turn out to be a little he. I’d only had one ultra sound (until the day I went into labor), and everyone has heard the stories. The thing is, those stories are funny and cute when they are about someone else. But when you already have a closet full of pink clothes that you’ve already washed and can’t return (and more importantly, when you’re operating in full-on nesting/frantic/slightly terrified/very large and uncomfortable mommy-to-be mode), it’s not as funny. Plus, when you find out the sex of your baby before its birth, you’re implying that you don’t want a surprise. (Champagne problems, right?) As it turns out, Charlotte didn’t surprise us by coming out with a third leg, but she did surprise us with her grand entrance into the world. Oh boy, was that a surprise.

(I must say: Of course, a first-born son is just as special, and I would have been elated had the nurse indeed found a pair of little balls. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) But isn’t it true how, once you have your baby, you can’t imagine having anyone different? Especially not the opposite sex. That’s all it is.)

 (Oh, and please don’t tell me I should just be grateful to have a healthy baby no matter the sex. Duh. If Charlotte did turn out to be a baby boy, I’m sure I’d think it was the best surprise we’d ever received. But still: That boy would be wearing a lot of pink.)