Thursday, October 31, 2013

Round Up: First Week

The intention was to post a "Cassidy is 1 week old" update. But um, she's definitely 11 days old now. So here's a photo round up of her first week.

Some "fun" facts about Cass as of last Sunday:
  • Likes: breastfeeding, being held, snuggling, her brother talking to her
  • Dislikes: things that involve her being put down (swing, bouncy seat, crib, etc.)
  • Eating: a ton! I'm confident we were hitting 12 feedings a day if not more during our first week
  • Sleeping: Sort of a blur. We sleep when we can.
  • Wearing: a combo of newborn/0-3 month clothes. Using up the rest of the newborn diapers before moving on to 1s. 
  • Trip to the doctor: Thursday, October 24 (with a repeat visit on Friday, October 25 to check bili levels and weight). By Friday she was back up to her birthweight.
  • Trip to church: Sunday, October 27
  • Outing aside from doctor/hospital: walking around Toys R Us/Babies R Us with Daddy, Troy and Mommy after the doctor on Thursday, October 24
  • Outing alone with Mommy: Babies R Us on Saturday, October 26
Ready to go home for the hospital!
Big bro snuggles
Daddy snuggles
Napping next to Mommy
So pretty :)
More sibling love

Monday, October 28, 2013

First day

More posts to come soon but here's one from our first day home alone (today) to tide you over. Cute big bro moment overload!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cassidy's First Day Part 2 - First Photoshoot

Several months back, I mentioned to my friend and photographer Carrie that I would love to have pics of Troy and our family coming up to the hospital to visit after Cassidy's birth. There were so many unknowns as to whether or not the timing would work out well, since Carrie juggled a full time job, booming photography business and now (excitedly!) growing her own bambino, too!

Well, things worked out great. Carrie came up to the hospital to visit us and brought her camera along. When Troy and my parents arrived a little bit later, she started snapping away. This set of photos makes me tear up every time I look at them, as it was such a special night for our family. Troy came in and was super-snuggly and sweet with Cassidy and I. Then we all enjoyed DQ ice cream and relaxed and visited. It was really, really special to have her there snapping away. Thank you Carrie!! Here's just a few of my favorites :)

those eyes :)
those cheeks!

Cassidy's First 24 Hours Part 1

So Cassidy was born around 10pm at night. Once all the commotion had died down and her first visitors (Gramma and Grampa) had left, it was close to 1am (I think). We were still being monitored every.30.minutes by the nurses, which I understand but it got annoying at this point. However, once we turned the lights off and Mike dozed off on the couch, it was just me and her. She was breastfeeding at least once an hour, if not more, and just snuggling like crazy on me. Really, I wasn't all that exhausted and I would MUCH rather have spent a night getting zero sleep snuggling my brand new baby than having contractions all night laboring.

So get up the next morning and got Cassidy dressed to meet her big bro. She had an adorable "lil sis" onesie with matching bow for the occasion, created by Emily :)

Troy seemed a little wound up when he came in. He was super sweet with Cassidy though and I think just really excited. I know he "got it" all along but I think the reality of an actual baby in front of him was pretty awesome to watch :)

After some hugs and snuggles, Gramma and Grampa left with him to go home for a bit. I was really glad they'd had their first meeting! Thanks, Gramma and Grampa, for taking such great care of our boy while we were in the hospital, and bringing him to see us a couple times :) 

Then we had some lunch time visitors, co-workers/friends from church popped over to meet our little miss. Laura and Christina took great care of Cass while Mike and I enjoyed lunch :) 

After a delightful nap (my first stretch of sleep longer than an hour I think), Anne stopped up to meet Cassidy. I am blessed with lots of amazing and supportive friends that have prayed over this birth, and Anne especially has been a steadfast prayer warrior on this front for me. Thanks, Anne!!!

And so concluded the earlier part of Cassidy's first day :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Happy Birth Day, Cassidy!

Here it is... Cassidy's birth story! I'm still so in awe of how it all came together that I can't wait to share it with all of you, blog readers :) And to make sure that I don't start forgetting the little details that made it even more special! So, as long as you're up for reading the nitty gritty details of Cassidy's birth... you're welcome to read on. I didn't omit much because I've loved reading many of your birth stories, too :) Male readers (all three of you) and any squeamish females... there will be plenty of cute pics of Cassidy coming on future blog posts, so feel free to skip this one!

I've pretty much been praying over Cassidy's birth since long before she was even on her way. After the experience I had with Troy, I just knew that God wanted me to experience birth in a different way the next time around and just prayed that it would be so. Once we actually got pregnant, I started praying over all the specifics. And I was fortunate enough to have a number of women surround me in lifting up the same prayers. There were so many of us praying for this birth by the time I went past my due date, I'm still beyond overwhelmed! (So thank you to ALL of our family and friends who prayed for Cassidy's birth!) Truly every prayer prayed was answered.

With the third round of NST (non-stress test) and BPP (biophysical profile) tests scheduled for 41 weeks, 4 days on Monday, October 21, I knew that talk of an induction would be coming onto the scene. And I really, really didn't want to be induced. I knew that induction would be taking my chances for my best possible birth and making it just a little more unlikely to happen. I also knew though, that I wasn't comfortable going past 42 weeks. So this past weekend I started praying about what to "do". I feel like I had a lot of trust in God's timing, but I started to get worried and question things a little bit. Was there a way for me to "induce" myself so that we wouldn't have to go through the hospital's induction? Talk of castor oil came up around Saturday and something about it just made me so uneasy. It wasn't until I was praying about it late Saturday night that I heard God say, "You do that and you take away the chance that I can reveal tomorrow or tomorrow night as MY timing for your birth." Done. I went to bed with all the peace of mind (and some tangible physical signs that labor was close) I needed to get a good night's rest no matter what the next days brought.

Saturday night I didn't have as many contractions as I'd had some other overnights. Woke up on Sunday like normal, went to church like normal, had some great prayer from friends (Julie and Anne directly, I also know that a couple people had prayer "huddles" on their own during that day for me) that labor would begin and then headed out to the orchard to pick up some pumpkins. The three of us enjoyed the outing and even though I wasn't certain when labor would start, I felt like it was the last time it was just the three of us doing something like that.

After Troy went down for his nap I was texting my friend Holly, who had the brilliant idea to go get pedicures and relax that afternoon. We enjoyed a spontaneous friend date getting our feet pampered, toes primped and catching up. And not just talking about birth-related things either, which was refreshing for me :) She prayed for me when she dropped me off and we parted ways. (Thank you for dropping everything that afternoon to help me relax, Holly!)

Around 3:30, I went back inside and Troy was still sleeping so Mike and I were watching TV. I noticed I was having contractions but they weren't much different than what I'd been having. They were short and like at least 10 minutes apart. At 4:30 I texted Jill (my friend and doula) and said I was having contractions and praying they would stick. We were headed out for a walk to try to get things going. We came home and I started cooking dinner and went upstairs. They were definitely stronger now. While dinner cooked, I used the breast pump for a couple of times to see if they would strengthen even more. I think I only used it like 2 or 3 times for a minute or so and noticed they were getting stronger. This is when I started timing them (a little after 5:30). They were 4-5 minutes apart, lasting 35-45 seconds.

At 6pm, it was time to finish up cooking dinner. I went down and put the fajitas together and realized it didn't look good to me. Mike and Troy ate fajitas while I got out a bowl of cereal and an apple and kept contracting. They were definitely painful but not so awful yet. Went back upstairs.

Then things stepped up a bit. They got stronger and were all under 5 minutes apart. Some under 4. I texted Jill and she said to keep moving! So I did. At 7:30 I texted her that I definitely couldn't talk through them. (Still 4-5 min apart and under a minute long.) She said to let her know when I wanted her to come over. Less than five minutes later I said I had one around two minutes apart and could she head over. Right before 8, i said they were all 3 minutes apart now and she asked if we'd rather meet at the hospital. I really, really wanted her to give us the "go" at the house before we left, since we had gone so, so early with Troy. We also had our sitter for Troy on the way at this point.

Mike put Troy to bed. I tried not to scare him as he hadn't seen me having a "bad" contraction yet and I wanted to keep it that way, but also wanted to say goodbye/goodnight. Jill and Kristina (sitter) walked up at the same minute. I picked up my shoes and Jill told me to slow down and I heard her tell Mike she still thought I had awhile to go :) But then my body just went into overdrive. In the matter of one contraction we decided we were headed to the hospital right then. Mike drove our car and I went for a ride in the "doula mobile", AKA Jill's van with the seats out of the back, so I could just rest on the ground. I remember just a few minutes before Jill told me not to hurry to put my gym shoes on, but once we decided we were going, she told me just to grab flip flops and go! My how things changed.

I was dreading the car ride. I knew the hospital was about 8 minutes away and I would have at least 4 contractions in the car. I just prayed I could get through them and make it there safely. I found a comfortable position reclining on the floor of the van that helped relieve a lot of the pain I was feeling and pretty much stayed there the entire drive, contractions and all.

We walked into the ER the same time as Mike. I think it was something like 8:58 when I walked into the hospital. I remember sitting in the wheelchair and being annoyed we had to wait for someone to transport us. Then, the guy that transported us got lost trying to find the fourth floor (because, yippee! we were headed straight there!) The fourth floor is a very small wing for low-risk women who request to deliver down there. You stay in the same room from the time you arrive through delivery until you are discharged.

I was really relieved when we got upstairs. We found out I was the only person on the wing, so the two nurses gave me undivided attention. Yes, I wanted to be "far along" when we arrived at the hospital, but I didn't want to be pushing in my clothes when we rolled in far along. I was so relieved when I had time to change into a gown, get a thing of ice water and hook up to the monitor to hear Cassidy. I had wanted to get into the jacuzzi tub in the room but you had to have 30 minutes of monitoring first. And then the silly machine wouldn't print, even though it was recording data. So I sat on the ball. (Me giving the thumbs up between contractions below.)

And a contraction. Ouch!

At some point I heard Mike talking to another person in the room and realized the midwife on call, Ray, had walked in and sat down on the couch to observe me. I really, really liked Ray and was very happy to see him walk in :) Knowing how close I was, Jill asked if she could fill up the tub even though I knew I couldn't get in yet since it hadn't been thirty minutes yet. Shortly after, i started feeling some pressure, so Ray asked if he could check me (my first and only cervical check during labor!) His response? "How would you like to have a baby now?" I was complete! YAY! We realized I wouldn't get in the tub. But I wasn't really disappointed. I remember him saying, we need thirty minutes of monitoring to get her in there and she's going to be holding her baby in far less than thirty minutes. WOO HOO!

Around this time, Mike stepped right outside the door of the room. We had talked and agreed that "when things got real" he could step out for the pushing part and come back in right afterwards. He says he stepped out, grabbed a coffee, prayed real quick and took a selfie on his phone while staring at the door :)

The amazing Jill (seriously, how did you capture all these photos AND doula me while pushing!?) took photos of the clock when I started pushing and when she was born. People, look closely because there's not much of a change in the clock!

I think I pushed like two times. My water actually still hadn't broken at this point. It didn't break until she was born, which means she was born "in the caul". Its apparently pretty rare and good luck :) I did hear Ray say there was meconium in the water, which means she had a bowel movement inside and the NICU had to be called. The chance of this happening increases the longer you're pregnant so I was familiar with the risks since I'd read up on it. Basically, they just wanted to make sure she didn't suck any of that gunk into her lungs with her first breath. Thankfully, since she was born in the caul, Ray was able to wipe it away from her face and suction her, so she didn't get any of it at all. Thank you Lord!

I had put in my birth plan that I wanted to catch her as she was born, if possible. I had no idea if I'd even want to in the moment. But everything worked out great and I did. Here's a photo from the moment she was born, screaming and clearly healthy. I heard Ray say to cancel the NICU, they weren't needed (the nurse was still on the phone calling them down). This photo is in black and white just of me because 1) there was baby poop everywhere and 2) I had gotten SO hot in that whirlwind that I had nothing on. Seriously, priorities were pushing that baby out and everything else was secondary.

Mike came in as soon as he heard her crying :)

Cassidy got to stay on my chest and her umbilical cord wasn't clamped for a loong time. Since Mike didn't want to cut it, I got to. It was actually really cool and I hadn't even thought about doing that myself when we typed up my birth plan. Ray spent a couple minutes finishing up with me (as for that goes, let's just say even though she was born so quickly, I was still in better shape than when I delivered Troy, which was a good thing.) He told us he was going to go spend more time charting about my birth than he had actually spent attending my birth now :)

Cassidy left my chest for the first time and was weighed and measured. Big girl! 8lbs 9 oz. Who knows how much more she would have weighed had she held that poop in a bit longer :)

After that, I breastfed her for the first time and Mike, Jill and I sat there just kind of stunned. It had gone so incredibly well it was hard to believe!

After her first meal, we both needed to clean up, so she got the deluxe newborn spa treatment and I hopped in the shower. Like 45 minutes after giving birth. It felt AMAZING! Best. Shower. Ever.

She got all sweet smelling :) Goodbye, yucky poop hair.

I couldn't stop grinning after we got settled back in bed. The room was all cleaned up. It was all over. Less than one hour after walking into the hospital, I was holding my perfectly healthy baby in my arms. We said goodnight and thank you to Jill and Cassidy was wide awake.

We had called my folks when we were on the way to the hospital. They decided to drive in to stay with Troy and relieve our sitter that night and got on the road. They were barely out of Chicago when they got the news she was here! Since Troy was sound asleep at the house and it was already late, they headed to the hospital upon arriving in C-U. And brought me McDonalds since the hospital food was shut down. It was so great to introduce them to Cassidy a couple hours after her birth!

As I reflect on what happened, especially towards the end of the pregnancy, I just can't describe how grateful I am to God for all He did through bringing this little person into the world. 10 days late doesn't seem like long at ALL when you get that kind of experience at the end of it. When I look back I think, how could I have ever wanted it any way OTHER than the perfect time God decided for her to be born? It was so evident that when it was time, it was time. And I'm incredibly, incredible grateful to have experienced it!

Short list of things I prayed (or friends prayed over me) in the weeks and months ahead of birth. You can see how every single one was answered. 
  • Mike would be in town (HA! He'd been in town for nearly three weeks by the time she was born.)
  • Once past due date, that all tests would come back clear and she wouldn't show any signs of anything other than health in there!
  • She would be in a good position (leading to shorter pushing stage/labor)
  • I would be able to deliver on the fourth floor
  • Labor would begin on its own, not by induction
  • Water wouldn't break until I was in active labor (Another HA! Never would have guessed she would have been born in the caul.)
  • Once labor begins, contractions would settle into a regular and strong pattern
  • That we would have a natural, drug-free labor and delivery free of any complications whatsoever before, during or after!
  • We would have extra doses of peace in the time leading up to the birth (no worries/stress)
  • That it would be a redeeming, powerful and amazing experience.
  • That it would "almost be fun!" (which those exact words came out of my mouth right after we were done. 
  • For God to get all the glory... not any old wives tale or anything I "did" (doesn't mean I didn't end up eating spicy food, pineapple, walking, bouncing on my ball.......)

Pumpkin picking... 41.3

41 weeks and 3 days pregnant and starting down what was sure to be the final days of this pregnancy... we went to church as usual and then I thought it would be fun to go over to the orchard and pick out our pumpkins. After checking on the goats and chasing some cats, we were off to the pumpkin patch! I couldn't believe how Troy was able to pick up such a giant pumpkin. He picked a second smaller pumpkin for Cassidy too :)

That was the first part of 41.3....

Thursday, October 17, 2013

This is 41

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Baby photo 40 + 6

Well I know we'd all love to see a photo of Miss Cassidy in her mamas arms, but today's photo is brought to you straight from her cozy home for for last nearly 41 weeks. We hadn't seen a photo of her  in about 20 weeks or so, and she's changed a lot. This photo is looking straight at her face and you can see her adorably plump cheeks :)

All tests came back clear (thank you Jesus!) but I have to go back to do them again in two days. Join us in praying that labor starts on its own in the next couple days so we can finally meet this girly!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

40 + 2

Waiting continues around here... while we're attempting to keep busy, its growing more difficult when you pretty much had your entire schedule cleared to be snuggling with a newborn by now :/ I know its very common for people to go a week or more past their due date but that doesn't make waiting any easier.

Quick prayer request before we get to the fun stuff... we had another uneventful checkup on Friday (which is certainly good) but I had to make an appointment for this Weds morning to have a few hours of testing done to make sure Cassidy is doing well in there (once again, our checkup was fine, this is just customary practice). As much as I want her here NOW, I REALLY want her here before that so we don't have to deal with all of that :/ Please pray she arrives before then! And thank you to everyone who's texting and emailing encouragement over to me throughout the days. I really appreciate it! And as one dear friend said, "Jesus has been with you this entire pregnancy. He hasn't forgotten about you now :)" A very good reminder that my prayers are still being heard!

Okay, on to photos from yesterday... we went to the local Fire Safety Prevention Week event again this year. (Click here for last year's post and man, was my kid bald this time of year last year. Sorry again Troy!) His favorite thing at all these events is always the bus. Literally we sat on this bus for a half hour total I would say.

They were passing out tons of goodies at this event, and Troy wouldn't take his fire hat off for awhile after we got home. Pretty sure the word we used was "crazy" after at least an hour of going about his business wearing this plastic fire hat.

While we were playing in the yard, Troy stumbled across not one but two toads in their "mud house" in our yard. Sadly for him, they were snoozing away and very comfy in their home. We checked on them a couple times but the rule was we couldn't disturb them until they woke up on their own.

And so, right after a TROY football victory, Daddy and Troy headed outside at dusk to see them waking up! Troy had been saying all day he would hold one in one hand and the other in his other hand. Dream.come.true. These were pretty big ones too!

Even I got in on the fun. Pretty sure I'd never picked up one of these creatures before, let alone two. Shortly after this photo was taken, I was peed on by one of them. This is the most memorable part of the experience for Troy. Pretty sure this was the most memorable part of my day yesterday too!