Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Samuel's First Weeks

This precious boy is nearly a month old and is a complete and total blessing. He has turned my world upside down in the best of ways and I truly can't imagine life without him. I want to remember so many moments of the past month....

One of our first family portraits as a family of three with our sweet 1 day old

-The amount of time I spent (and still do!) staring at Samuel is crazy! I am so in awe that he is ours forever. It feels so surreal that he is my son and that Preston and I get to keep him forever.

-The fierce protectiveness I feel over Samuel surprised me completely. I knew I would love him and naturally as his mom I would want to protect him, but it is truly overwhelming. The first week I hardly slept because I would watch him every minute of the night making sure he was breathing, safe, etc. This love is like nothing I have ever experienced!

-On night one in the hospital, Samuel had TEN dirty diapers which is pretty much unheard of! I still couldn't stand up from surgery, so every time he had one Preston was on duty - it was quite the initiation into fatherhood! At one point he was changing a poopy diaper, and Samuel went again mid diaper-change. Needless to say we were laughing all night {in our sleep deprived state everything was hilarious}.

-Watching your husband become a dad is one of the greatest things in the world. I never knew changing diapers would make me fall in love, but watching him so in his element with Samuel melted  my heart.

-This first week, nursing HURT. I will do a full post on our experience later, but the pain I had from nursing far outweighed my surgery recovery pain. I am SO glad we pushed through, but I think it is important to not sugar coat what the first couple of weeks are like - especially so other new mamas know what to expect and that it gets soooooooo much better!

-For the first four weeks of Samuel's life I didn't cook one meal. Our family and friends have spoiled us rotten with love and I am so thankful for the support they have provided. My mom, in particular, stayed at our house for the first two weeks we were home and cleaned, cooked and most importantly loved on Samuel, Preston and I. She was a lifesaver!!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Samuel's Birth Story

Samuel's birth story really begins at 34 weeks. At our appointment, the midwife palpitated my stomach and commented that it felt like he was in a really position but that we would do a quick scan to confirm. Sure enough, that scan showed that what we had thought was his bottom was head - he was breech. I tried to play it cool but tears spilled out of my eyes on the exam table. There was still plenty of time for Samuel to flip head down, but in my heart I knew that wasn't going to happen. I cried, prayed and did every single thing in the book to try to turn a baby vertex - chiropractor appointments daily, acupuncture, moxie, spinning babies, headstands in pools, you name it we tried it.

Up until this point, we had gone to a freestanding birth center and were planning on a midwife-attended, natural childbirth more than likely in the tub. This changed everything. We started the process of switching our care over to the previous practice I had seen that was an OB/ midwife joint practice. I will forever be thankful for how welcoming they were to us and that from my initial welcome back consultation they set out to make our new birth plan, which would be a family-centered cesarean if he remained breech. While a c-section was what I wanted to avoid at all costs (hence a planned birth center birth), I realize now that God had been working on my heart for several weeks opening up to this change of scenario. When I was serving in Sunday school a few weeks prior, all three of the women I was in the nursery with were sharing their birth stories - all of which were c-sections. Some had good experiences, some bad, but it was eye opening to look around and see all of their children were beautiful, loved and smart - how they arrived in the world had no bearing on that.

As soon as I shared that Samuel was breech, I was overwhelmed by the love, support, advice and guidance of so many women who had been in similar situations. I felt so encouraged and uplifted and realize now that this was supposed to be our journey. I had every single thing planned for our natural birth, and this was God not-so-gently reminding me that I am not the one in control. It was one of my first real lessons of going with the flow and accepting that I can't plan everything!

I will forever be thankful that I had several weeks to wrap my mind around our change of plans and to work with our providers to make sure our wishes (family-centered cesarean, immediate skin to skin, breastfeeding within an hour of his birth, etc) were all honored. Because of this, we went into his birth week feeling so excited while also very calm. We celebrated my 27th birthday, played plenty of competitive games of Spoons with my family and counted down the days until we were going to meet our precious love. On Wednesday, we went on one last pre-baby date night (which of course included Moonshine skillet apple pie) and talked about how in just a matter of hours our world would be changed forever.

On the morning of Samuel's birthday, August 4th, I set my alarm for 4 a.m. - exactly 8 hours before my surgery so I could get in one last meal! I never want to forget the uncontainable joy I felt making eggs in the kitchen in the early morning, knowing that it was the day I would get to meet my son. I ate, went back to bed and woke up a few hours later with a perms-smile on my face. Preston and I showered and got ready, all the while knowing that Samuel Jacob would be in our arms in a matter of hours.

At 9:30, my mom came over to the house and took a few last pictures of us before we departed to the hospital. We checked in, and then because it was a busy day, we sat in the lobby where Hannah joined us and we got to relax and enjoy the excitement! Once they called us back, we had the sweetest nurses getting me all prepped while Preston changed into his OR attire (which made him look like an astronaut). Our Dr. came in at that point and did one more quick scan to confirm Samuel was still breech, which he was of course - little man was incredibly cozy in my rib cage!

At that point it was time for me to head into the OR so I could get my spinal and get prepped for surgery. Preston stayed in the pre-op room, and funnily enough was able to visit with one of his flag football teammates, whose wife was also having a c-section that day! In the OR, the mood was so happy and joyful. I will forever be thankful for the team of nurses, the anesthesiologist and of course our awesome doctor. They explained in such great detail everything that was happening and what it would feel like (i.e. when they inserted the spinal, the drugs, etc). I was pleasantly surprised that while you are numb to pain from your stomach down, you still have feeling so I could still sense pressure, etc. Once the spinal was in, Preston joined us in the room and I was SO happy to see him! I knew once he was there it would only be a matter of minutes until our precious son was there.

We had opted to have a clear curtain so that we could see when Samuel was born (versus them cleaning him up and then bringing him to us several minutes later). BEST DECISION EVER. Preston got to watch the whole thing (I was nervous he would be squeamish but he wasn't at all) and as soon as the Dr. picked him up (which was maybe 10 minutes after Preston had come in) and held Samuel over the screen I got to reach out and touch my precious son. It was INCREDIBLE. He was showing off his strong lungs, covered in amniotic fluid and was pure perfection. I truly couldn't believe that he was really here and that this perfect, handsome, chubby angel baby was OURS.

Once they cut the cord, they took Samuel to weigh him and when they announced that he was 9 lbs 4 ounces I could't believe it! My midwives and dr had all said he was a good size baby but I never felt big enough to be smuggling a 9 lb baby in my belly! I was so glad he was healthy and will never forget how unbelievably happy I was at that moment. Once they weighed Samuel, Preston held him and brought him over to my chest so we could do skin to skin. Seeing Preston hold our son for the first time was another memory that no matter how long I live I will never forget and having that precious boy on my chest will forever be one of the best moments of my life.

I had wanted to have all of the newborn testing done in the OR and didn't want Samuel taken away from me at all, however because it was such a busy day in the hospital they had to take him to the nursery. I was surprisingly okay with this because I knew that Preston would be with him and would make sure our son was safe and well taken care of. For the 10 or so minutes they did that, I finished up in surgery and then got wheeled into recovery. I had a permanent smile on my face - it truly felt like I was dreaming and I couldn't believe that our son, who I had spent the last nine and half months growing, was finally here.

A few minutes after I got to the post-op room, my mom found me in post op and came in to give me a huge hug! I had shared how much I wanted Samuel to stay with me the whole time, so as soon as she saw him in the nursery she came in find me to make sure I was doing okay which I so appreciated. Maybe five minutes after my mom arrived, Samuel and Preston came back to the OR and within minutes I had Samuel on my chest for skin to skin and breastfeeding. One of the biggest reason's I didn't want Samuel separated from me was because I wanted to begin breastfeeding within the first hour after his birth, and I am so thankful we still got that opportunity. He knew what he was doing (much moreso than I did!) and latched on great. I couldn't stop staring at him with the biggest smile on my face (I am writing this weeks later and that is pretty much all I do still!). Hannah got to come in the post-op room to see as well - I felt like the luckiest person in the world, they have a strict one person only rule (which is normally the dad) but having my mom and Hannah sneak in to come see us brought me so much joy!

A couple of hours later (which flew by because we were all so enamored with Samuel), we got moved to our actual room. On our tour, Preston had asked about upgrading our room to a suite (not surprising at all if you know him) and was told that it was not an option, there were rooms that were bigger and nicer but they were not available for requests from the general public. However, since it was such a busy day in the hospital, we lucked out and got one of the upgraded rooms which was amazing (especially because we stayed for 4 days!).

Having Samuel was truly an amazing experience. Yes, there were parts that were not at all glamorous (i.e. puking my brains out after going nuts with ice chips in recovery) but that is the case with any birth. The care that we received from the nurses at the hospital and the love and support our families gave us was incredible, and the emotion I remember the most from his birth is pure joy. A c-section was not my plan, but you know what? I'm not at all disappointed - this was the birth God had planned for our precious Samuel and I would gladly do it a thousand times over for him.

Samuel Jacob, thanks for making a mama precious boy. You are the best gift I've received and for the rest of my life I will treasure, protect and love you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bump Update: 39 Weeks

Our Moonshine skillet apple pie on our date night before Samuel was born!

Baby Size: We will know in just a couple of days! Samuel will be born two days before I hit 40 weeks so in a matter of days we'll get to know exactly his size! 

Feeling: Really amazing. I am so excited to meet this precious boy, every day I wake up it feels surreal that he will be here on THURSDAY!

Food Cravings/ Aversions: Still all the fruit, all the time! And delicious lemon cake made my mama for my birthday - my sister had a full spread of fresh fruit, enchiladas and then the lemon cake for my birthday celebration, this mama-to-be was in heaven! 

Symptoms: I had to turn around from one walk early the day before Samuel's birthday, which I was bummed about because I haven't had that happen! Fortunately Preston and I were able to go on one that evening to make up for it. :) Besides that, I would say nesting and over-the-top excitement tend to be the only symptoms. I will forever be thankful for such an amazing/ easy pregnancy!

Weight Gain: 27 lbs

Projects: Date nights, family game nights and enjoying the last few days pre-Samuel. And birthday celebrating, which was so fun! Preston took me to Barley Swine, an amazing farm-to-table Austin restaurant we have been wanting to try for years and on Sunday we went to Hamilton Pool which was GORGEOUS. 

Dear Samuel: I'm finishing this post now, post Samuel, and it seems impossible to write out just how excited I was for him and just how much he exceeded every expectation I ever had. This love is like nothing I've ever known! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Bump Update: 38 Weeks

This is my friend Brittany's ADORABLE newborn son, Blake. He was around 8 lbs here which is what they have estimated Samuel to be - which means I LITERALLY HAVE A BABY THIS SIZE in my belly! It was so crazy holding him and thinking about that. After snuggling Blake Preston and I have both commented at least a hundred times how excited we are to have Samuel here - we were both in heaven holding this sweet little man!

Baby Size: As big as a winter melon (whatever that is!) and close to 20 inches and 7 lbs according to apps. We will know so soon his real size! 

Feeling: In general, really awesome. I am amazed by how even this far into pregnancy I continue to feel great and am so, so thankful for that. It has been the most incredible thing to watch my body change and feel Samuel grow and I will always remember these nine months as some of the happiest and most meaningful of my whole life.

We did have a bit of another curve ball thrown our way when at our 38 week appointment our midwife and OB told us that I actually was a candidate for a version even though I had been told previously by a different practice that I wasn't. A version (or ECV) is a procedure where doctors will use their arms and elbows to essentially try to manually rotate breech or transverse babies into a head down position. I had been told by women that have had it done that it was barbaric/ worse pain than natural child birth and I felt conflicted as to whether or not we should try the procedure. My biggest worry stemmed from it being dangerous for Samuel, but my doctor reassured me that it was perfectly safe and would be done in a hospital setting and that should Samuel not react well we have a full term baby that we could immediately get out safely. 

I went back and forth and ultimately decided that if it gave him the chance to have more room (I have been getting really concerned about his comfort levels in there since he is upside down and twisted all around) and my doctors suggested it then we would try it. We did it on Thursday, when I was two days shy of 39 weeks (which is late to attempt a version - typically they are done at 37 weeks). It didn't work, and quite honestly I wasn't expecting it to based on the overall success rates and the things I had going against me (first time mom, full term baby, etc). He coped with everything really great and it was comforting to be able to monitor him before and after to ensure he was safe. I really did struggle when I got home and through the night emotionally being so, so worried about him and how the version felt for him. While I know that babies are protected in the womb, ECVs are aggressive and I hate thinking that it could have been as painful or uncomfortable for him as it was for me. I was up doing kick counts all night to confirm that he was still as active as he previously had been and he was (and continues to be). His safety is our top priority and we are so glad that we are going to be able to get him here safely in less than a week! He is one loved little boy and I can't wait to show him the world. 

Food Cravings/ Aversions: Fruit always sounds good - in our fridge this week is watermelon, cherries, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, apples, grapefruit cups and blackberries. Summer pregnancies get a bad rep but between being in the pool all of your third trimester and fresh fruit in season I have absolutely loved it! 

Symptoms: I have been feeling really good for the most part! Sleep was tough this week with getting up to go to the bathroom 100 times each night, and I had a few days where the lack of sleep caught up with me and I was more emotional than usual. I have also had a change in appetite - after returning to my normal hunger level the third trimester, this week I have noticed I get hungry more often and need to eat right then! Samuel gains a half a lb a week now, it sounds crazy but I can feel him sucking the calories from me, ha! I was also sore/ tender from the version for the second half of the week from the ECV - I missed being able to rub my belly and feel Samuel's sweet head right up in my ribs. :) In general, I am still so pleasantly surprised with how great I am feeling this far into pregnancy - it makes it really bittersweet to know that this incredible time of growing him is coming to an end so soon.

Weight Gain: Didn't weigh myself

Projects: Food, food and more food! I've done what I believe are our last grocery shopping trips, we have a stocked freezer full of meals and Costco snacks that I've strategically hidden in the kitchen at Preston's request so he doesn't eat them all before Samuel arrives. :) I also think our most fun date night has been squeezing in as many dates as we possibly can pre-babe! We have been to the dinner, movies, played games, swam our hearts out and explored Austin a bunch lately and I am loving it! I had kept our calendar pretty clear for July in case I wasn't feeling up to tons of plans but I have felt great and have loved having the free time to enjoy with Preston, friends and family!

Dear Samuel: My sweet love, you will be here late next week! I hope that you are ready to come into the world. Up until a few weeks ago, our plan had always been to let you choose when you would join us. A few days late, 41 weeks, I didn't care - you grow and bake as long as you want to. While I am still in no hurry, our safest option is to get you here right about when you are due through a cesarean. I worry about those bright lights on your precious, hardly working newborn eyes and about the fluid that will likely still be in your lungs. Know that I have made it very clear that barring any emergencies as soon as they take you out, you are coming straight to my chest where I will hold you for the next 18 years (just kidding - 18 months). Know that your dad will be right there, ready to snuggle you for hours on end, change your diapers, teach you how to throw a football. Know that you have a home waiting for you where you will ALWAYS be welcome, loved and safe. Know that your dad and I will do everything in our power to protect you as you grow into a toddler, a boy, a man. Know that you have tons of extended family on both sides who are beyond excited to meet you and already love you without ever seeing your face. Know that every single day for the next 18 years, your dad and I will make mistakes with this whole parenting thing. We will try our very best, but we are new to this and I hope you give us some grace and always remember that everything we do - including discipling you - is done because we love you more than we could ever put into words. See you soon, sweet Samuel.