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Newborn Life: the First 3 Weeks

Newborn Life: the First 3 Weeks | CosmosMariners.com

Life with two kids.

That idea terrified me more than when I found out I was expecting our first kid. Perhaps it was because of the overwhelming guilt I've felt over taking time away from my beloved preschooler. Perhaps it was because I knew exactly what I was getting into this time.

The Tiniest Cosmos Mariner is Here!

The Tiniest Cosmos Mariner is Here! | CosmosMariners.com
After the stress that was my daughter's birth, I had very low expectations about how things were going to go with this second labor and delivery. I figured that if I went in with only the most basic idea of the experience (i.e. to have a healthy baby), I wouldn't be hideously disappointed as I was with Britton 3.5 years ago. 

The Journey I Never Intended to Take

This post was supposed to be about my recent trip to Walt Disney World. I was going to share cute pictures of my daughter dressed as Princess Anna (who's practically another family member at this point), discuss my feelings on going to Magic Kingdom mid-August, and review the off-site hotel where we stayed.

I did go to Walt Disney World with my mom and my daughter. But the experience turned out to be devastating, and I'm just now figuring out how to process it all.

Walt Disney World wasn't the cause of the problem--it was just the setting. In what is supposed to be the most magical place on Earth, I had to experience the most difficult thing I've done thus far.

I lost the sweet baby I was carrying.

I was 17 weeks along and feeling great. The morning sickness had long passed, I had lots of energy, and I was just starting to pull out my maternity clothes.

For the first day we were in the Magic Kingdom (Thursday, August 20), I felt great. Britton, my mom, and I hopped from ride to ride, ate brunch with Pooh Bear, and watched a few of the shows. Even when we headed back to the hotel around 3 for Britton's nap, I was pain-free and in great spirits.

It was only after I woke up from my nap that I started to feel poorly. My stomach felt as if it was in a vice grip. The feeling was nothing like labor pains, but rather as if someone had put a vice grip on my abdomen and wouldn't release the pressure. I figured I had pulled a muscle or two from all of the walking--or perhaps I hadn't had enough water that day. Despite being in a tremendous amount of pain, I decided to head back to the park with my mom and Britton.

We ended up in the Contemporary resort after a horrible storm made us rethink walking around in the park: we had dinner there as we attempted to wait out the thunderstorm, but around 8 p.m., it was still pouring and we decided to head back to our hotel. I was still in a considerable amount of pain, so I wasn't too upset.

When I woke up on Friday, the abdominal pain wasn't as bad, but I discovered I had started bleeding. This scared me far more than the pulled-muscle feeling, so I called my obstetrician here in Charleston, and she recommended that I go to the ER to get checked out.

I was poked, prodded, examined, and sent for an ultrasound. And after several hours in the ER, the doctor came and told me those two horrible words: fetal demise. My heart fell into a million pieces at that moment, and I still haven't even tried to put it back together.

I was rushed up to the labor and delivery ward, which seemed so horrible. Women normally go there to have fat, healthy babies. People are happy there. Instead, I was devastated and in a great amount of pain. As soon as he heard, Landon rushed down from South Carolina to Orlando, and the nurses had agreed to wait to induce me until he arrived. My mom and Britton were there, but I knew that I didn't want Britton in the room when it was time.

In the end, my body had other plans, and I went into labor at 6:30 that Friday night. Landon was still an hour and a half out from the hospital, so the nurses helped me through the experience. I really didn't want to do it by myself, and the nurses were absolutely wonderful to me. I did get to see our baby--a little boy!--after I had delivered him, and those few moments are all that I have of his tiny life. He was so small, but absolutely perfect.

I ended up losing a significant amount of blood and had to be rushed into the OR immediately after delivery. Because of the blood loss, I had to stay in the hospital until late Saturday night to finish my blood transfusion and medication. We made the long, quiet, sad trip back to Charleston that Sunday.

Today marks two weeks since the miscarriage, and I'm no closer to understanding it than I was when I first found out. Landon and I were so excited about this upcoming baby, and, now that I'm not pregnant anymore, the world seems to have shifted in this strange and horrible way.

We named our son August Gibson--August for his birth month and for Landon's grandfather, who was named Augustus, and Gibson for my mom (it was her maiden name). He seems so tangible to me still, and the worst part of all of this the the sudden realization that comes just after the moments when I forget that I'm not carrying him anymore.

We're still taking things one hour at a time. Everyone tells me that the pain will eventually become more bearable, and I take comfort in that.

But I still miss him.

Guess Who's Seven Months Old?

seven month old baby

Okay, so there weren't too many people around here in the running:

But it's Britton!

Landon and I have successfully kept her clothed, (generally) happy and (more or less) in one piece for over half a year.

And what a fun ride it's been so far.

Classics for the Littlest Literature Lover

classics for babies
"I think I'll take a look at Oliver Twist when I'm done with Pride and Prejudice."
Also, note Britton's shirt, which features the four main characters from Jane Austen's classic. (Thanks, Auntie Amb!)

(Before I go any further, the English teacher in me has to point out that I know that "littlest" isn't a word. But somehow, the "smallest literature lover" didn't have the same ring, so forgive me this time!)

Reading keeps me sane. Seriously.

When I go more than a day or two without reading something--even if it's just the Reader's Digest at my parents' house from 1998--I feel as if my brain is atrophying.

Reading is a huge part of my life, and I want to pass that love along to my daughter.

Baby Physics 101

funny things that babies do

Welcome to Baby Physics 101.

This class will seek to understand the basic principles behind the often enigmatic and always erratic movements of the common baby. 

Please note: Baby Physics 101 is a pre-requisite for Toddler Biology 201 and Childhood Psychology 304, and not a pre-requisite for traditional Physics 101, as the concepts in Baby Physics generally conflict with the tenants of traditional physics.

It's Been Nice, 2013

(Counterclock-wise from top left) Britton in her Cinderella outfit at 4 months, our first baby shower, the nursery, pregnant Natalie at 28 weeks, 2 month old Britton, the new family at Britton's baptism, Landon in his onesie, opening presents at our second shower

This year has been crazy--some crazy good and some crazy bad.

Over the weekend, Landon and I were talking about how we were excited to start 2014 because of all of the fun things we've got lined up in the coming months.

Christmas Randoms

This year was Britton's first Christmas. We tried to make it as exciting as we could--visiting Santa, getting our tree, buying lots of fun gifts for everyone--but at the end of the day, she was most excited about the wrapping paper.

And speaking of wrapping paper, twinklepoop is totally a thing (as I had the joy of evidencing yesterday). Don't say I didn't warn you.

While I'll dive into more of our holiday antics next week (after I've had a chance to breathe), I wanted to share a few things with you before we head out for Christmas round 2 at Landon's parents' house.

My family did our third annual Progressive Christmas Dinners, which is basically an excuse to eat amazing meals back-to-back over the course of four days. Just one Christmas dinner? You are way behind, my friend. (This event is so awesome that it warrants an entire post next week.)

Britton was awesome during the Christmas service. She refused to take a nap all day Christmas Eve, and by the time the 3 p.m. service started, she was rubbing her eyes and bucking like a bronco. Maybe it was the music, or maybe it was a Christmas miracle, but she danced and played the entire service without a peep.

"Gosh, mom, you're embarassing me."
We exchanged presents at my parents' house Christmas Eve, and had the final dinner in our Progressive Christmas Dinner series.

Britton: "The Day of Wrapping Paper has finally arrived! My life is complete!"
Two seconds later: Britton decides that she's done opening presents, and she's off to eat something that she shouldn't.
Can you tell that Britton is the daughter of a former college Literature professor (and the niece of a die-hard Mr. Darcy lover)? She got so many cute classics-themed gifts that I'll have to do another post on them!
We stayed overnight so that we'd all be able to see our Santa presents that arrived Christmas morning.
Britton investigates her loot from Santa. And yes, I'm totally rocking footed onesie pajamas.
Britton LOVED the monorail that I got to go under our tree next year. Giant baby takes over Disney World!

After playing with our presents from Santa, we packed up in the car and headed out to my grandmother's house, which is about two and a half hours away. I really didn't want to go back this year because the house reminds me so much of my grandfather, who passed away just before Thanksgiving. But my grandma really wanted to go back for one more holiday (she now lives with my parents here in town), so we did it to make her happy--and hopefully help start the closure process.

With my dad and Britton at my grandma's house.
Grandma opening a present from my cousins.
I don't know what we'll be doing next year, but it will involve staying home on Christmas day, which will be the first time I've ever done that in my entire life. We lived all over during my childhood, so we always traveled to my grandparents' house each year. My tradition for Britton is centered around one thing: not traveling. We've got another 11 months to figure out the rest of the details.

I read Marisha Pessl's Night Film (which I loved) and saw The Wolf of Wall Street (which I thought was awful). I'll definitely be doing a review of the Pessl book because it is so awesome and I just want to talk about it all the time with everyone, but I might do a review of Wolf, too, just because it was like a car wreck, and sometimes you've just got to talk out your feelings after you experience something terrible.

So, there's our holiday in a nutshell. We're off tonight to see the other side of the family.

We're embarking on a four hour trip with a 6 month old who hates being in her carseat. Pray for our sanity.

Happy Holidays, all!

A Baby's Guide to Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve Eve, everyone!

Freelancing: What It Is and How to Do It

If you're like me (a stay at home mom), you're probably looking for a way to bring in a little extra money: that's where freelance writing can come in.

Before Landon and I had Britton, we worked hard to make sure that we could live off of one income. Not only did this tactic allow us to put more money towards responsible things like buying our first house and paying down our school debt, it created the opportunity for us to travel to Scotland and have a baby.

When we had decided that the time was right to start a family, we agreed that whoever was making the lesser salary would stay home with the baby. As it turned out, our salaries at the time of getting pregnant weren't that far apart, so we decided that I would stay home with Britton because I had the flexibility to work from home through freelance writing.

As luck would have it, I had started freelancing just after I found out I was pregnant. I loved writing, so the idea of getting paid for publishing my work was a great fit for me. Plus, I could do it in my spare time away from my full-time job (which, at the time, was teaching English at a homeschool program). After some research, I found several places that would kick start my freelancing career. Freelancing is kind of like getting a book published: no one wants to take you on unless you've been published, but you can't initially get published unless someone hires you. While I won't ever buy a private island with my freelancing income, the jobs I've taken on have given Landon and I some extra fun money that we wouldn't have otherwise had with me staying at home with Britton.

So, here are my tips and tricks on freelance writing and editing:

  • You have to LOVE to read and write. I don't say this lightly. Clients sometimes ask me to research and write a 500 word article in just a few hours. While 500 words isn't that much (most of my blog posts are probably longer), creating and researching an article of that length while also watching a six-month-old isn't the easiest. Someone who only kind of likes writing, editing, and researching should consider a different work-at-home position.
  • You have to be able to adapt quickly to whatever comes your way. With freelancing, clients are paying for both quality and quantity. They don't want an article filled with poor writing, factual mistakes, and grammar errors. They want a well-written, cleanly-edited piece that their readers will be able to easily follow. I've written articles on everything from Disney World (which I know a TON about) to faucets and energy-efficient plumbing (which I knew NOTHING about before writing the articles): if I don't know about a product or company, I need to find reliable resources that will allow me to write about them as if I'm an expert. 
  • You have to look for the jobs--and the competition can be vicious. A freelancing job hasn't ever fallen in my lap. At minimum, I've had to send in writing samples, references, and links to past jobs. My most intensive application process was about a month long and required me to produce multiple new sample pieces and demonstrate that I could do basic HTML coding. There are a ton of people who are qualified to be a freelance writer and editor, so you have to be on top of your game constantly. Double check your work. And then check it one more time. If you don't, you will lose jobs because of poor editing.  
  • Start with the people you know. If you're looking to get into freelance work, collect your best blog posts together and post them on Facebook, Google+, or Pinterest. Let your family and friends know that you're open for business; you never know who might be willing to give you a shot. My first freelancing job was for a high school friend who had recently opened his own marketing company. He wanted to focus on the business side of things without having to worry about the quality of the writing on the client blogs and websites. Just remember to have your expected minimum wage, completion timeline, and job requirements in your head from the very start, or you could lose the client due to being unprepared.  
  • How you get paid varies. Some clients want to pay me per word; other will pay me per paragraph. Some will want me to bid on a project--these are the scariest since you don't know what the other writers are bidding. As a freelance writer, you get to set your own rates most of the time; ask around to see what other freelancers are getting. Don't sell yourself short! Also, open a PayPal account if you don't already have one. This is a safe, easy way of getting paid, and most clients are very comfortable completing a transaction through PayPal.
Places to start if you're just getting into freelance work:
  • About.com. I worked for them as a wedding invitations topic writer before they restructured their website (they phased out the topic writers in favor of the guide positions, which require a much larger commitment). They are owned by the same company that owns the New York Times, so they are an extremely reputable company. The application process for these positions are insane, so be prepared to pull out all the stops. If you get one of this positions, you have arrived as a freelance writer, as an About.com position is considered the gold standard of freelancing. They pay per article and you are guaranteed a paycheck each month for completing your minimum. If you are extremely knowledgeable about a topic, check out their open listings: there are available positions in everything from jewelry to DIY home repair to powerboating.
  • Craigslist. As with anything on Craigslist, approach with a healthy dose of caution. However, if you can weed through the scams, there are often some great writing and editing jobs to be found here (both local and remote). Just remember: never accept personal checks or send out your financial info without knowing the person. Any legit company will work with you to make you feel comfortable in all aspects of the writing process. 
While there are a million other places to find freelance positions on the internet, I'd start with these if you're new to the game. 

Happy writing!

Gaining and Losing

Gain and loss.

No, this isn't a blog post on how to lose weight quickly (or at all--I'm definitely not the one to ask about weight loss right now since I can't seem to keep my fingers out of the cabinets for more than fifteen minutes). 

This is a blog post on life and death and everything in between. 

2013 has been emotional. I gave birth to my amazing daughter, a time that was both wonderful and terrifying, and I said good-bye to beloved grandfather. 

As a first-time mom, I got to experience the highs and lows that come along with being pregnant, going through labor and delivery, and coming home with a beautiful but puzzling little human. 

On the other end of the spectrum, my mom's dad passed away just a few short weeks ago. He's the third grandparent I'd lost, but, since I was with him when he died, his death has impacted me in such a different way than the others. 

You might wonder what I'm doing--what does the birth of a baby have to do with the loss of a grandparent? To me, everything. 

I hadn't ever experienced the dawning of a new life until Britton arrived. And I hadn't watched the setting of someone else's until Grand-dan passed away. 

But having been there for both (and in such a short time period), it seems as if they are so much more connected than people want to admit. 

When Britton was born, I kept asking Landon, "Where did she come from?" He thought that it was the medication talking (and, to some extent, it probably was), but what I was trying to grasp was this idea of being, of place, of existence. We've all got our individual ideas on what happens after death (reincarnation, Heaven, nothing, etc.), but no one really seems to dwell on where we come from. 

In those heavily medicated days, I also would cry and cry because I probably won't be there for every day of Britton's life. I would think of her as an old, old woman, and know that I would not be with her. The idea that we'd be separated tore me apart in those emotional first days. It saddens me now that she and I will one day have to say goodbye to one another just as I did to my grandfather. 

When my grandfather went into the hospital, we all thought that he would be okay. He'd been having some issues with his heart, so we were completely shocked to find out that he had stage 3 cancer. After he found out about his diagnosis, he seemed to accept it--and at that moment, his health began to decline drastically. I went up to be with my mom, grandmother, and grandfather; I stayed in the hospital room with my mom and Grand-dan for moral support and company. 

Those 48 hours that I was there opened my eyes as to what happens at the other end of life. I learned that there are signs that death is impending, like the way a patient is breathing or the color of the patient's legs. I learned that helping someone through the final transition is mentally and emotionally challenging for everyone involved. Grand-dan told me multiple times, "I want to beat this, but I know I can't." He wanted us to know that he was okay with dying, and that was the hardest thing for me to accept. 

I had to tell him, "Grand-dan, I love you. It's okay to go."

Just as I had to help bring Britton into this life from wherever we come, I had to help lead Grand-dan out of it. Neither was easy. There were tears shed, memories made, hands held, doctors talking, hugs exchanged, and lives changed in both.

In some ways, I feel as if I peeked behind the curtain of life and, for a brief moment, saw a tiny bit of what makes this world tick. But I have no conclusions, no big reveals about the meaning of life still. Birth and death remain mysteries to me. And they should. 

What I do know is that I love both of them and will treasure the time I do have. If I look at it that way, there are only things to gain, and nothing truly to lose. 

Favorite Things: The First 6 Months

Baby Physics Law #1: The smaller they are, the more stuff they need.

Britton has been showered with love in all forms since the day we found out that we were expecting. Since she's been here, we've gotten to test drive so many things. Some have worked out better than others, and some have been absolutely indispensable.

Here are the wonderful items that have made our lives with a baby a little easier in Britton's first six months of life:
Since I don't have a picture of us, you get treated to a stock photo from BabyKtan.com.
Baby K'tan. I love scarves, headbands, earrings, and necklaces--if you can find an accessory, chances are I will love it. It's no small wonder then that I was drawn to the woven wraps and carriers that are so popular for babies these days. After researching the available baby carriers, I decided that dealing with the super long fabric of a Moby-type wrap was more than I could handle, and that the Ergobaby was comfortable but a little more than I wanted to spend. In my research, I found the perfect solution for Britton and I: the Baby K'tan. It comes in a bunch of colors (which appealed to my accessory-loving self), and it was made of soft fabric. It was easier to put on and use than a traditional style wrap, but I knew it would still be comfy for baby Britton. And instead of the $100+ that the ErgoBaby commands, the K'tan was about $45.

I practiced on a baby doll before Britton arrived so I would be familiar with the types of holds: there are many, many helpful videos on the Baby K'tan website and YouTube to guide you through the multiple ways to wrap the K'tan.

Britton LOVES the K'tan, and we use it regularly when we're out on shopping trips. I sometimes wear it around the house when I'm doing my freelance writing work or chores. When she was super tiny, I would put her in the kangaroo carry and she'd fall right asleep while I worked. Now, she loves the inward facing and outward facing carries, and will gladly stay in either for quite some time while I'm working or shopping.

All strapped into her car seat and stroller and ready to go for a walk!
The Graco LiteRide Stroller in Zooland. At first, I didn't want a stroller (all of you experienced moms can go ahead and get a good laugh out). I figured that the Baby K'tan was versatile enough that I wouldn't use a stroller. Luckily, my mom insisted on buying the Graco stroller to go with the matching car seat we already had. I love being able to snap Britton in the car seat, and then quickly click her into the stroller when we get to the mall or the grocery store without taking her out of the seat. It's especially helpful when she's sleeping, and taking her out to put in the K'tan would wake her up. Plus, the stroller's really easy to break down and put in the trunk, which is awesome for a complete weakling like me. We also have a running stroller (which we also love) but that one is so much heavier and not really great for quick trips in and out of the store.

"Just five more minutes, Mama!"
Luv 2 Zoo Bouncer. This is Britton's new favorite thing. She could spend HOURS in it. One time, she actually fell asleep in it--I noticed that she was being very quiet all of a sudden, and when I turned around, she had her cheek propped up on the edge of the seat. She bounced herself to sleep!

There are three different stations on the bouncer, and the seat rotates 360 degrees so she can access any of the toys when she wants. At 5 months old, she was about 24" tall, and she could juuust touch the floor with her toes. To make it easier for her to bounce, we put a little box under her feet. Now, at almost 6 months old, she doesn't need the box. The bouncer has three different levels so it can continue to grow with her.

Nom, nom, noms.
Nuby transition bottles. We started off with the Medela bottles that went with the manual pump I got because I (erroneously) thought we'd only occasionally need to bottle feed Britton. Her voracious appetite led her to discover how to drain those in just a few minutes--she already has issues with spitting up all the time, and the gulping of her milk wasn't helping. We tried pausing during her feedings so that she was forced to take a breath, and that helped space the feedings a little. When she was about four months old, however, she had enough coordination to try and hold the bottle during feedings; Landon and I quickly found that fighting Britton for control of the bottle on top of attempting to pace feedings was too much. If Britton wants to help feed herself, then we'll help her make that happen. We got the Nuby transition bottles, and she immediately took to them. I love that they can be used as a regular bottle, a handled bottle or a handled sippy cup, which will really make the transition out of a bottle easy.

Other honorable mentions:

  • The First Year's Infant to Toddler Tub with Sling. It's safe, it fits in the sink, and it has a removable baby sling. Plus, it's lightweight, sturdy and inexpensive. What else could we want in a baby tub?
  • Mesh Crib Liner. When she was a baby, Britton constantly would wiggle in a corner and get her foot stuck in the slats since we didn't put up a traditional bumper. This would wake her (and us) up, and in an effort to ensure that we all got more rest, Landon and I went on the hunt for a breathable bumper. This one worked beautifully; Britton no longer gets her feet stuck, and I can sleep easier knowing that this type of bumper doesn't increase the risk of SIDS.
  • Infantino Vented Carrier. This is Landon's carrier of choice. The K'tan (my carrier) comes in sizes, and there's no way that Landon was fitting his shoulders in my size small carrier. He had to decide between getting a second K'tan or getting a harness type carrier (the Moby style wraps weren't even a consideration in his book). He found this carrier on Amazon and really liked it; he actually uses it, and Britton likes riding in it, too. It's great for keeping her close while doing chores, and Landon likes to wear it when he and Britton are on their own while shopping. It's adjustable, which means I can wear it too!
  • Baby Trend Jogging Stroller. We've only gotten to use this a few times since Britton has only recently gotten complete head control (which is necessary for riding in any stroller without an infant carrier attachment). Landon is the runner of our family, and he says that the stroller works like a charm when he, Britton, and our dog Phoebe are out on jogs. I've taken it on a couple of walks, and the stroller is extremely easy to push; I also like the two cup holders. It's a bit bulky for quick runs to the grocery stores, nor is it compatible with the Graco car seat we have, and that's why I've used the Graco (above) more. 
Experienced moms: what were your favorite items in the first six months? What should we look to get for the second six months?

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Britton's Giggle Fit

Sometimes parenting is hard. Really hard. I won't lie and say that everyday with Britton has been a breeze--there have been some days that I have wondered what I was thinking when I decided to try and raise another human being.

I have definitely not enjoyed every minute since June 5 (despite the advice of every little old lady I meet in the grocery store); running on three hours of sleep a day, listening to Britton cry and cry because she's too tired to go to stay up but too stubborn to go to sleep, and figuring out how to balance my working/ writing schedule, Britton's sleep/ eating/ playing schedule, and my pumping schedule have driven me to tears on more than one occasion.

But then something will happen and I understand why people say that parenting is the best job ever. I thought I would explode with happiness the first time Britton smiled at me.

Recently, she's started doing something even more awesome: laughing. Landon caught her on his camera on night as the two of them were playing with an old stuffed Minnie Mouse of mine. I'd never heard her belly laugh like that before! It happened the night before I went up to stay with my grandfather in the hospital as he was dying, and watching that video got me through many, many tough moments over the next week and a half.

So, take a look at little Miss Britton:

I Wish...

...that I could find a sweater/ legging combo that worked. I'm tall enough that most tunics just look like slightly baggy shirts on me, and thus, would be ridiculous looking with leggings. Still, I find these pictures on Pinterest of these perfectly coiffed women who look so cozy in long sweater tunics, thick leggings, and riding boots, and pine away.

Britton, why you do dis to meeeeee?
...that Britton would figure out that 5 a.m. is a time for sleeping, not breakfast. It's much, MUCH better than 3 a.m., but there's something about that pre-dawn hour that makes me so weary. It's too early to think normally, but it's too late to really go back to bed (because Landon's alarm will go off and wake me up about 3 minutes after I get back in bed). Could I order a 6 a.m. wake-up tomorrow, little one? Pretty please?

...that I didn't have to wait until next year to go to Disney World. We're planning on taking Britton when she's 18 months old because 1) that's an awesome age for kids and Mickey Mouse, and 2) it will be right around Christmas, which is my favorite time to go. That just seems so long! (As a side note, I must say that I wouldn't dream of going right now because I'd have to haul all of Britton's baby stuff, including my pump...and let's face it, nothing sucks the magic out of Disney World like having to haul a stupid breastpump around with you.)

...that the house would magically stay clean. I've never been OCD about my house, and, before we had Britton, I was good about keeping it slightly messy but clean. Now, I spaz whenever I find Landon's flip-flops under the coffee table for the nineteeth time in a row. I'm sure it's because I'm at the house all the time now and so any mess bothers me more. Unfortunately, my hatred of messiness did not come with an overwhelming desire to clean more. Total catch-22.
Yup, nailed it.
...that the weather would stay gorgeous forever. It's currently 78 here in South Carolina, and I'm in shorts. I hate being cold, so this warm front is very welcome. Stay away, winter!
My idea of the perfect holiday
Happy weekend, everyone!


In my last post, I talked briefly about control and how my attitude towards it has changed since having Britton. Since that post, I lost my grandfather (who I was extremely close to) and that experience has made me examine my control issue even further.

From day one with Britton nothing turned out the way I planned. I wanted an all-natural birth with no medical interventions. I used my Hypnobabies home program, and my husband and I listened to the tracks religiously. But then, at 39 weeks, we found out that 1) I had tested positive for GBS and had to be administered an IV during labor (there goes the no intervention), and 2) Britton was measuring so far ahead that she needed to be induced. There was much talk of her head being too developed to be delivered naturally, but I decided to hedge my bets and be induced. That entire process ended with me in the operating room fourteen hours later delivering a baby in respiratory distress via C-section.

One day old, and covered in tubes and wires.
Then, I decided that I wanted to stick to my guns and breastfeed, the other important part of my labor/ delivery/ postpartum plan. The NICU that Britton stayed in for three days wasn't breastfeeding-friendly and only wanted to give her formula. Then, after taking her home, nursing her was hideously painful, so we continued to give her a bottle when I was in too much pain to try and nurse. About a week and a half after Britton was born, a lactation consultant finally diagnosed her with a severe tongue-tie, which we corrected with a quick procedure. Her nursing habits, however, were more difficult to change; she didn't know how to latch properly, and I was tired of trying and failing, and ending with pain and crying. So, I started to exclusively pump and feed her out of a bottle.
By pumping, I could get everyone, including my parents, to help out during meal time!
As Britton grew, I found it exceedingly difficult to let go of the notion that I got to go to bed when Landon did. 10 p.m. would roll around, and I would tearfully watch Landon get ready for bed; after all, he had to go to work the next day, bright and early. Before Britton figured out night from day, I was up at all hours--but none were as difficult as the early morning ones. I'm actually kind of a night owl, so being up late wasn't the thing that got me. It was the lack of control I had to tell this tiny baby, "Okay, it's night time. Go to sleep like Mommy and Daddy do." She was dictating the schedule at that point, and I had to learn to go with it.
If I keep my sunglasses on all the time, you won't be able to see the half-shut eyes and dark circles--right?
When my grandfather was sick and in the hospital, I was lucky enough to be there with him in the days leading up to his death. He knew that he was dying--and was glad that it was the pneumonia that would take him and not his newly-diagnosed cancer--and he was okay with it. He told me, "I want to beat this, but I know I'm not going to." That was the hardest thing for me to accept. I was completely helpless in this situation. I could do nothing to help my grandfather except tell him that it was okay to go. But how do you let go of someone who you love?

Christmas 2012. I'm in the front row (four months pregnant!) with my grandmother and grandfather. Landon's standing behind me in the purple shirt.
In the last five months, I have shed many, many tears over all of these situations--some are obviously more important, but all have worked on me in their own ways. Looking back, I know that I have learned to release some of that control. Deciding to exclusively pump was emotionally heartbreaking, but I have a little schedule for pumping now and I know I'm still giving Britton the nutrients she needs. Landon and I have regulated Britton's sleeping schedule, so it's more consistent now. She'll even sleep through the night most of the time. Being with Grand-dan when he passed showed me how much of our lives are trust that someone else will continue to bear the burden when we are too tired to go at it alone.

For all those new moms and dads out there, you can't control everything. And that's okay. Control over every situation is not the important thing in life. Love, in all of its forms, is.

39 Weeks!

This will definitely be my last weekly update, as baby Britton will be making her debut tomorrow! I'm 39 weeks and 1 day according to my original due date, and Britton is measuring like a 42 week old baby or so. She'll be induced tomorrow morning beginning at the horrendous hour of 6 a.m.

We thought long and hard about the decision to be induced. I was originally completely opposed to any sort of medical intervention and wanted a natural birth through and through. Babies, however, have a mind of their own, and I've decided that a slightly-less-than-natural-birth is the best thing for me and for Britton.

For one thing, I tested positive for Group B Strep, which I wasn't expecting. It can be passed to the baby during delivery and can have some horrendous effects on a newborn if the mom hasn't had antibiotics to treat it during the birthing process. That, coupled with the fact that I am over halfway dilated at this point, made me nervous that my birthing process might go too quickly to administer the necessary medications to protect my baby girl if we weren't already at the hospital when my labor began.

Britton is big and healthy and ready to rumble, so it only made sense to schedule an induction. I'm covering all of my bases, and I am protecting my daughter as best as I can.

My doctor is going to try every possible natural method of inducing me before recommending Pitocin or other invasive labor-starting techniques, so I'm still getting the birth experience I wanted (close to it, anyway). At least I will have my baby with me very, very soon!

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers tomorrow. It's going to be monumental for our family! :)

The Weekly Stats:

How far along? 39 weeks and 1 day.
Total weight gain: No comment.
Maternity clothes: I have been living in some soft cotton maternity shorts and Landon's t-shirts. Everything else just feels tight and binding at this point.
Sleep: I am officially in baby sleep mode: I don't sleep more than an hour and a half at a time (thanks, tiny bladder), and false contractions often wake me up in the middle of the night.
Best moment this week: Seeing Britton on the final ultrasound. She looks healthy and amazing!
Miss anything? Eating sugar without getting pummeled by my baby afterwards (she's strong!). Being able to stand up and sit down without my knees hurting. Wearing normal clothes. [I could go on and on but I won't bring the post down with lots of complaining.]
Movement: For someone whose house is so snug, she still moves around all the time. Landon and I joke that she has cardio class at 1:30 p.m., kickboxing at 3:00, and dance around 4:30. She's especially active after I eat something sugary, and particularly loved my cookies and cream milkshake I had before the ultrasound last Thursday. 
Food cravings: Anything cold, like ice lollies or ice cream. Fruit is also a big draw (watermelon and strawberries, especially). And oh, what I would do for a sub sandwich! (Guess what Landon's mom and dad are bringing me tomorrow when they come to the hospital?!?!)
Anything making you queasy or sick?  Still a little heartburn here and there, but nothing I can't cure with a Tums or two.
Gender: Girl! Her name is Britton.
Labor signs: Being 5 cm dilated. Having insane amounts of false labor contractions. 

Symptoms: Hugeness in the stomach area. Swollen feet and hands. 
Belly button in or out? STILL an innie! It is clinging to that status within an inch of its life, but I think I can safely say that I will not ever have an outie during this pregnancy.
Wedding rings on or off? Off. I'm glad I took them off when I did because they would be super uncomfortable right about now.
Happy or moody most of the time: Moody. I am so uncomfortable that so many things annoy me (see: every song on the radio, things being repeating more than once, moving).
Looking forward to: Holding Britton for the first time. I am going to be an emotional wreck in the best way!

Dear Britton,

Daddy and I are so excited to meet you and make you a part of our family. You are so loved and treasured already, and I know that those feelings will only intensify once you're here.

I need you to be brave and strong tomorrow because it's going to be a tough day--but don't worry because I will be strong and brave right along side you.

Only about twelve more hours before we start the process of getting you here.

I love you!


37 Weeks

How far along? 37 weeks and 6 days. 
I started the usual weekly questions, but gave up after only a minute or two. Those questions don't seem to deal with the root of how I'm actually feeling at this point. Rather than go through those questions, I will tell you how I really feel (beware: there is a lot of complaining below): 
1) Huge. Even turning over on the couch at this point requires careful planning and uncomfortableness. My feet and hands are puffy and tight no matter how much water I drink or how long I put my feet up on the couch. 
2) Frustrated. I had a membrane sweep at my 37 week appointment last Tuesday, and I was TOTALLY sure that would give Britton the kick start she needed to get going. It did get the contractions started, and I've had two separate times where Landon and I just knew we were in labor (alas, we have been terribly wrong both times). For some reason, I knew Britton was coming this weekend. I have no clue why I thought this, but I completely had myself convinced. But, here it is, Sunday night and no baby. I haven't even had that many contractions today. 
3) Moody. In the last seventy-two hours, I have cried (in all seriousness!) for all of the following reasons: 
  • I wasn't in actual labor but rather just having contractions that go nowhere.
  • Britton was ignoring me (because she was refusing to come out). 
  • The dog doesn't love me anymore. 
  • No one else thought it was a great idea for me to pour water on myself and go to the hospital and tell them that my water broke and to take the baby out.
  • My dad asked if I was still pregnant and I was snippy with him. So, I cried because I thought I hurt his feelings.
  • I don't know. I have started bawling several times for no apparent reason at all. 
The worst part is that I KNOW I sound completely ridiculous when I say these things, but, in the moment, my normal, rational, logical self goes off somewhere without the rest of me.
4) Impatient. It is no secret that I hate waiting on things. The idea that I could have days and days or even weeks before my baby arrives is driving me crazy. I want to be un-pregnant, and I want to meet her SO BADLY.

I know all of this will be completely worth it once Britton is here, cuddling with me. I try to keep that in mind above all things when I get worried or frustrated. She will be here soon, and she will be perfect and amazing and healthy and worth every moment of annoyance on my part.
I also have to remember to cut myself a little slack--Britton and I have been together for eight-and-a-half long months at this point, and we have been awesome together. This next step will be tough work for both of us, but I am ready to undertake it. Britton, we are ready when you are, little girl!

36 Weeks (in Which I Turn into a Giant Beachball with Limbs)

These last two weeks have thrown me for a loop. Landon and I were slowly chipping away at our checklist of things to do pre-baby, all while thinking we still had about four more weeks to go. I knew I was getting bigger--my doctor had been telling me that I had been measuring ahead for weeks now--but I chalked it up to being almost full-term. 

Until last Thursday when we had an OB appointment and ultrasound to evaluate Britton's growth. To our shock, 36 week and 4 day old Britton is (on overage) measuring more like 38 weeks. Her head is measuring 39 weeks!! 

Our due date was moved from June 10 to May 29, and there was discussion of induction because Britton is already so big (about 7.5 pounds and completely full-term-sized). Now, our weeks have been cut in HALF and, realistically, Britton could show up any day now. I go back to the doctor's office on Tuesday for a re-evaluation, and we'll talk more to the doctor about our birth plan options then (I want to go completely natural with my Hypnobabies program, but, if necessary, I will consider induction). 

Me and my friends Anna and Brittany at my baby shower on Sunday.
(stolen from Anna's Facebook page--thanks, Anna!!)
How far along? 36 weeks and 6 days (according to my original due date). Britton is full-term tomorrow!
Total weight gain: 28 pounds. 
Maternity clothes: I'm so big that my maternity clothes aren't even fitting anymore. Can't I just wear a muu-muu and slippers until she gets here?
Sleep: It's all uncomfortable. I get up constantly to pee at night (like every hour and a half), and I am fully ready for our baby to get here so that I have a more exciting reason to get up at night. 
Best moment this week: Our second baby shower hosted by Landon's siblings. We had such a wonderful time with our friends and family!
Miss anything? I usually put something about how I miss sub sandwiches or being able to bend at the waist (which I do), but right now I'm getting into the super heavy, kind of miserable stage. So, most of all, I miss looking like a normal person rather than a walrus or beachball. 
Movement: I can tell that she's getting ready to make her debut because she's stopped moving as much as in past weeks. She's still a mover and shaker, but her space is quickly running out in there. As I type,  my stomach is moving slightly side to side as she makes herself comfy. 
Food cravings: Watermelon(!!) times a million. Strawberries are a close second. 
Anything making you queasy or sick?  Not so much anymore. Since Britton has dropped, I don't get heartburn as much as I have in the past weeks. Usually, I can make it through the day with only a Tums or two. 
Gender: Girl! Her name is Britton.
Labor signs: Braxton-Hicks on and off--they've gotten more substantial in the last week or so. Britton has also dropped in preparation for the big day!

Symptoms: I'm huge. If you can't tell I'm pregnant at this point, you are blind. 
Belly button in or out? STILL an innie! I really thought it would have popped by now, but (though it's smaller than before) it's still in. 
Wedding rings on or off? Oh gosh, my hands and feet have started to swell something serious. I'm glad I took my rings off when I did because they would be stuck at this point. 
Happy or moody most of the time: Still happy, but tired. 
Looking forward to: Meeting our baby!! She's soooo close to being here now. :)

34 Weeks

Landon and I went to the doctor last week and found out that I am still measuring ahead of where I'm supposed to be. Our doctor recommended another ultrasound at our 36 week appointment so that she can see how big Britton has gotten and to re-evaluate her due date if necessary. 

We're getting SO close to Britton being full-term (18 days!!! until she's 37 weeks, and 40 days until her due date). I'm ready for her to be here, but at the same time, I wish for more time to finish everything on my "before baby comes" checklist. But, I'm not in the driver's seat, so I have to told tight until Britton tells me it's time to boogie!

How far along? 34 weeks and 4 days (well, I was when I wrote this post--I'm well into my 35th week now)
Total weight gain: 26 pounds. 
Maternity clothes: I dream of my pre-preggy clothes at this point. I am cheap and refuse to buy anymore maternity clothes this close to the end of my pregnancy, so I feel as if I'm wearing the same things over and over and over again. 
Sleep: I have definitely been sleep-trained by Britton. If you'd told me a year ago that I could work eight hours after getting up every hour and a half to pee at night (and feel mostly fine during my work day), I would have thought you were crazy. I do miss having long stretches of uninterrupted sleep even if I can function without it. 
Best moment this week: Finding our pediatrician and having our meet and greet with him. Another thing checked off my to-do list!
Miss anything? Being able to sleep on my back. My cute summer-y clothes and shorts. Sub sandwiches.
Movement: Alllll the time. Britton has decided that she loves to put her tiny foot up next to my right rib. I'm glad she's comfy, but that sure makes it hard for me to get to sleep. 
Food cravings: Salads and watermelon are still winning. I've also wanted a scoop of dark chocolate with pecan praline mix-ins in a sprinkle waffle cone from Marble Slab Creamery for a while now, but haven't gotten around to getting one yet.
Anything making you queasy or sick?  Oh, the heartburn, the bane of my existence. Sometimes my preggo brain makes me forget to take my pill in the morning and I spend the rest of the work day chugging water in an attempt to combat the fire in my esophagus. 
Gender: Girl! Her name is Britton.
Labor signs: Braxton-Hicks on and off. 

Symptoms: Big belly. Slight waddling. Tiredness. 
Belly button in or out? My innie belly button is very resilient. It is STILL hanging in there (but just barely).
Wedding rings on or off? They had to come off early this week. I am very sad, and I feel naked without my jewelry. 
Happy or moody most of the time: Happy (at the baby and the fact that school is almost over) and annoyed (at the house, which still hasn't been fixed, and the lack of subsequent nesting that I will be able to do before Britton arrives). 
Looking forward to: Our third ultrasound (I love getting to see our baby!) and learning more about how big she is. 

33 Weeks

The baby shower and our flooding incident have gotten me so behind. But regardless of the status of our house, baby Britton is still on her way, so I need to get it together!

How far along? 33 weeks and 6 days
Total weight gain: 24 pounds. I don't even want to talk about it.
Maternity clothes: Pretty much all the time. My belly has gotten so much bigger these last few weeks!
Sleep: Fleeting. Between multiple bathroom trips each night and Britton doing the conga line around 4:30 each morning, I am quickly learn how to function on less and less sleep.
Best moment this week: Putting the car seat bases in our cars. We can take our baby home from the hospital when the time comes. Yay!
Miss anything? Sub sandwiches. My ribs not hurting. Actually being able to get off of the couch without feeling like a beached whale.
Movement: I feel tiny baby body parts pretty consistently now. Landon and I like to guess what it is we're feeling--is that an elbow or a knee?
Food cravings: Salads. Lots and lots of salad. And fruit. I've wanted watermelon for months now, and Landon found me one at Publix. It was $6, but worth every penny. I ate the entire thing in two days!
Anything making you queasy or sick?  Heartburn is still in full swing, so taking my medicine is a must if I don't want to feel horrible. Citrus, chocolate and tomatoes are particularly bad triggers. 
Gender: Girl! Her name is Britton.
Labor signs: Still having those Braxton-Hicks. I'm using them to practice my Hypnobabies birthing method.

Symptoms: It's pretty obvious that I'm pregnant now--the belly definitely gives it away. 
Belly button in or out? It's still hanging on as an innie. But I think that fight may be settled anytime now.
Wedding rings on or off? On. The swelling comes and go, but isn't ever bad enough for me to be uncomfortable yet.
Happy or moody most of the time: Happy, tempered with horror that my house still isn't livable yet (and probably won't be for several more weeks). 
Looking forward to: Finishing up with school, having our second baby shower, meeting my little girl.