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Walt Disney World Bucket List

While I'm no stranger to the wonderful world of Walt Disney, my daughter is. At 18 months, she's about to embark on her first ever trip to the most magical place on Earth, and I'm just a little excited.

(That's pretty much the understatement of the century. I've been planning this trip since before she was born.)

How to Dress at Walt Disney World: Look Like a Princess While Staying Comfortable

How to Dress at Walt Disney World: Look Like a Princess While Staying Comfortable | CosmosMariners.com

You're probably thinking, "It's a theme park. I shouldn't have to dress a certain way."

And I would agree with you wholeheartedly. As long as you're more or less covered, I say rock your vacation wear as you see fit.

However, in my many years of visiting Walt Disney World, I've come to find that certain wardrobe choices will grant you wildly different experiences. Here are my tried-and-true tips for making sure that your clothing doesn't keep you from loving every minute of the magic.

A Pirate Ship, A Castle, and a Mini-Publix: Our Trip to the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry

I've lived in Charleston for a long, long time. I was born here, then moved away for ten years because of my dad's job, then came back when I started middle school. Since then, I haven't really left--I went to college at Clemson, studied abroad in London, and got my grad degree at USC, but I always considered Charleston my home. Then, when I finished being a professional student and got a job, I headed back here permanently with my (then new) husband.

Even though I've done a lot of things and seen a lot of places, Charleston always has more to offer. Now that I have a little Charlestonian to occupy every day, I get to see a completely new side of my hometown. 

This week, my friend invited Britton and I to go to the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry with her and her son. She and I were pregnant at the same time, and our kids are only 2 weeks apart in age, so it's so fun to go out on adventures with them. 

Children's Museum of the Lowcountry

12 Months Old

I promise that I'll get back on track with all of the London posts tomorrow.

But for right now, I'm still in birthday mode, so indulge me one more non-travel related post. (Though, while parenthood doesn't involve a ton of travel normally, I could definitely make the argument that it's an adventure no less daunting than setting out to a country where you've never been and where you don't speak the language.)

My baby turned one last week, and I still haven't come to terms with it. 

Britton's First Birthday Luau

This week was both awesome and exhausting.

Kind of like the entire last year has been. 

As Britton was at the root of both, it was a fitting end to my beautiful daughter's first year of life. 

11 Months Old!

Britton's still growing (funny how that happens) and she's now hit the 11 month month.

I will not lie: I love this age so much more than the newborn stage. Britton sleeps through the night, she loves playing, and she smiles all of the time.

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.

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!

Christmas in Savannah, Georgia

Landon and I decided not to give each other presents this year. We already have a lot of stuff, and  most of the things that we really wanted to give one another (a new master bathroom, a new house) weren't really feasible for holiday gifts.

One thing that was wanted was time together. And that is definitely possible, though a little difficult with all of the Christmas stuff this time of year.

Since we were taking Britton with us, Landon and I chose somewhere that wasn't too far away for our mini-escape. We didn't want to torture our poor baby (or ourselves) with a really long car ride because she's recently decided that she hates her car seat and will gladly scream until we let her out.

We live in the Charleston area, and there aren't too many places that you can get to in two hours that are worthy of a mid-winter break. From here, we could go to Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Florence, Hilton Head, or Savannah.

Landon and I both have a soft spot for Savannah (so much so that I named our blog after a Savannah-based author), and we've visited many times. The city has a ton of stores to walk around in and great restaurants to eat at, which was just perfect for us--we wanted a low key weekend away.

We didn't make any plans. We didn't book any tours. We just found a great deal on Priceline the day before we left, packed a few things, and piled in the car. It was completely stress-free (which is saying a lot these days, as anyone who's ever traveled with a six month old knows that being between a 6.5 and an 8 on the stress scale is pretty much a given).

We stayed across the Savannah River from downtown over on Hutchinson Island. I'd never been to the Westin resort, but I'm always up to try a new hotel. I was excited when our Priceline bid was accepted and we found out that the Westin would be our home for the weekend. Plus (and this was a BIG draw for me), we got to take the water taxi across the river to go shopping and to eat. I know--I'm a huge dork. It's the little things in life that amuse me to no end.

Britton wasn't too bad on the car ride down there: she sleep half the way and screamed half the way. After we checked in, we wandered around the hotel to look at all the decorations.

Bundled up in her Baby K'tan to check out the hotel Christmas lights!
River Street and the Savannah skyline from our hotel
After exploring the hotel, we headed back upstairs to our room. Britton was acting tired, rubbing her eyes and yawning, so Landon and I thought "yes! she's going to go to bed early, so we can all get some rest!" Britton's always been a good sleeper, but in the last week or so, she'd been fussy when we put her down to rest and she'd been waking up multiple times each night. I figured it was a combination of the vaccines she'd gotten last week, teething, and her six-month-growth spurt. Whatever the cause, we were all tired.

So much for wishing.

With a full tummy and in her warm pajamas, Britton fell asleep in my arms as I rocked her, but as soon as I put her in her crib, she woke up and started screaming. Landon took over, rocked her back to sleep, and tried to put her down. Screaming ensued. This cycle continued for two hours until she finally went to sleep after midnight.

Needless to say, our relaxing retreat didn't start out exactly as we expected.

However, being the eternal optimists that we are, we figured that Britton would sleep in Saturday morning since she'd gone to bed late.

Let's all laugh together.

At the stroke of 6 a.m., she was back up and at 'em. She was so grumpy, but refused to go back to sleep. Landon, being the saint of a husband that he is, offered to walk her around the resort for a bit so I could rest. Ahhh.

I woke up again an hour later to a beautiful morning in Savannah. I was a little sleepy, but nothing could dampen my mood for our full day of shopping and sightseeing.

The view from our room. Hello, Savannah!
We hopped on the free water taxi that ferries visitors across the river. It makes three stops: at the Westin, at the Waving Girl statue, and near the Hyatt Regency on River Street. If you're visiting, make use of the public transportation to get around. There's also a free trolley that goes up and down River Street, as well as one that hits up major points in the historic district. Walking is definitely the best way to see the city, but sometimes, you've just got to rest those feet for a minute!

We can at least look perky, even if we don't feel that way! 

Our shopping was interrupted by a downpour. The rain cover on Britton's stroller just wouldn't withstand the rain, so Landon put her in the Infantino carrier and zipped her up in his Columbia rain jacket!
After darting through the rain, we headed over to eat at the Pirates' House Restaurant. I know it's a tourist spot, but I love eating there. Plus, where else can you eat in a 300 year old house where a guy dressed up like Jack Sparrow will give you a history lesson?
Next was lunch at the Pirates' House restaurant. I love their Fried Green Tomato BLT (BLFGT?) salad.
Walking around burned up some calories, so we stopped by Sweet Carolina Cupcakes to get a few treats. Landon was afraid that the icing would get smashed if we just held them, so we put Britton in my carrier and strapped the cupcakes in the stroller. People pretty much thought we were crazy!

That night, we were tired from walking around, so we took the water taxi back over to the hotel. We were sort of hungry (but still kind of full from our lunch and snacks), so we ordered a hamburger from room service. I'm totally country-come-to-town, but I've never ordered room service before. The guy who brought it even set it up in our room.
Plus, there were mini condiments. Life is good.
Britton got up TWICE Saturday night (between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.), so we still weren't feeling too great Sunday morning. Still, we wanted to make the most of our last hours in Savannah. We packed up the room, and then headed out to the nearby Fort Pulaski for an early morning history lesson.

What's the best way to keep your baby warm when you encounter a chilly breeze? By stuffing her inside of your jacket, of course.

The front of Fort Pulaski. It was designed by the same man who was behind Fort Sumter (in the Charleston harbor) and Fort Jefferson (in the Dry Tortugas, off the coast of the Florida Keys).
A few more pictures from inside the fort:

Even with Britton's bizarre sleeping patterns, we still had a wonderful time. Landon and I decided that we're going to try and do a weekend getaway every year instead of exchanging gifts--any ideas on where we should head next year?

Have you ever gone on a trip instead of exchanging gifts?

Britton Visits Santa (+ My Thoughts on St. Nick)

About a month ago, someone asked me when Britton was going to visit Santa, and the question caught me completely off guard.

I don't know if it's because I haven't gone to see Santa in about twenty years or because I was seriously sleep deprived at the time, but I had not given one second's thought about a picture with Santa.

I asked my husband, my sister, and my mom about a potential visit, and all of them looked at me as if I were crazy. Of course Britton needs to see Santa, they all told me.

I still wasn't convinced. After all, she's only six months old and guaranteed to remember exactly nothing of this Christmas. Plus, I am deeply conflicted about Jolly Old St. Nick (but more on that later).

Then, the Mommy Guilt started to set in. Britton's going to be the only baby who doesn't go see Santa. Britton will look at me in ten years and say, "Mom, what was wrong with you? Why aren't there any baby pictures with Santa?!" Also, I was going to completely ruin Christmas this year, and since it was the first Christmas that Britton would experience, there was basically a slippery slope from skipping Santa to skipping the whole she-bang in a few more years.

So, off to Santa we went. Landon and I were unsure as to how Britton would react. Most of the time, she'll go to anyone. She does this so well that, half the time, I'm pretty sure that she would assist in her own kidnapping because she's just so friendly to everyone. But then there's that 2% of the time when she decides that I am the best thing since sliced bread, and if I give her to someone else, she gets completely and totally grumpy.

Add this to the fact that she refused to take a nap yesterday afternoon, and we had a perfect storm of baby grumpiness brewing.

Or so I thought.

She ended up being a little angel. Britton checked out Santa, looked at the camera, and even smiled a tiny smile. Piece of cake!

I'm always worried about the creepy factor of handing my child to a perfect stranger dressed in a red wool suit, but this Santa was really nice and very patient as Britton figured out where to look for her picture. All in all, we couldn't have had a better experience. Plus, I highly recommend going on a school night because there wasn't a line at all.

Britton and Santa:

While the picture is impossibly cute (and I admit to sneaking peeks every few minutes!), I'm still not totally sure about the whole Santa thing in general.

As a kid, I didn't dwell too much on the idea of Santa. I went to Catholic school, as well as Methodist (and later Episcopal) Sunday School, so the religious aspect of Christmas was never far from my mind. Somehow, Santa had something to do with baby Jesus, but I didn't worry about it--I was one of those little kids that accepted things as they were. I wasn't the curious one asking where babies came from, or how Santa visited all of those kids in one night, or how in the world a bunny can carry baskets of candy. If my parents said it was so, I believed that it was.

It wasn't until late elementary school that I deduced that something was off about Santa, and I got a little creeped out by the idea that a diabetic, bearded man that I didn't know was roaming around our house while I slept.

While I know that many parents point to the Santa tradition as something fun and creative, I can't get away from the idea that I'm 1) lying to my child, and 2) getting away from the actual reason for the Christmas season. I'm all about making this fun for Britton--and heaven knows that I was a creative, highstrung child--but looking back, I'm not sure what a belief in Santa did for me growing up.

I don't like lying about anything. Most people in my life would tell you that I'm too honest. So why would I spin a yarn to Britton about Santa? I'd rather her know that it is her parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who love her and want to gift her new things. Plus, how can I tell her not to lie when I'll basically be doing the same thing under the guise of holiday fun?

The important part of Christmas to me is the time that I get to spend with my family: going to the church service Christmas Eve, making our Christmas Eve supper, opening the presents we've all worked so hard to purchase and wrap, and watching a holiday movie or two. The season isn't about getting stuff from a man in a red suit.

I'm still not sure what I'm going to do about this in the years to come. It seems cruel to ignore Santa completely, but I'm not one of those people who think that Santa MUST be this huge part of our holiday celebration. I think I'd be more comfortable with Britton learning about the actual Saint Nicholas and the myths that have been a result of his actions.

What are your thoughts on all of this? How did you think about Santa when you were a little kid? How have you approached the Santa component of Christmas, especially if you're Christian?

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:

Britton's Birth Story, Part IV

I have never been as grateful for family as I was in the hours and days after we had to rush Britton to MUSC for those tests. While Landon rode in the pediatric ambulance with our little girl, my mom and Landon's dad rushed downtown to the hospital to meet the two of them there.

Since I wasn't even 48 hours out of surgery, the nursing staff begged me to stay where I was; I could barely walk and was still incredibly weak, so I chose to remain in the hospital with my dad, my sister, and Landon's mom by my side.

As soon as Britton arrived at the research hospital, the staff there began to run tests on her to determine what was causing her to vomit so violently; they also needed to figure out a way to keep her heart rate and blood oxygen saturation stable. She was x-rayed, and the attending physician determined that Britton had an infection in her lungs, possibly pneumonia. She was given antibiotics for that, but, since the pediatric radiologist wouldn't be able to see her until the early morning, we still didn't know if she had an intestinal blockage.

That night was the longest night of my life. I couldn't sleep, even with all of the pain medication I was taking. I could only sit and stare at the ceiling and worry about my two-day-old baby who was going through something I couldn't help her with. The worst part was that I was so far away from her and completely helpless myself. I was told that I would be discharged as soon as I could get up and walk around, so my sister and I walked the halls as much as I could in my weak state. I was determined to see my baby the next day.

Saturday morning finally dawned, and the pediatric radiologist at Britton's hospital administered the tests to see if she had a bowel obstruction. Two tense hours later, Landon called with the news that Britton's tests had come back negative! The doctors had determined that the infection in her lungs and her abnormal vomiting were two symptoms from the same root cause: her aspiration of meconium during her delivery. While that wasn't great news, it gave us a course of action to take--one that didn't involve surgery (thank goodness).

When the day shift nurse at my hospital came on, she assured me that I would be placed at the top of the list for discharge. By 1 p.m. that afternoon, I'd made the horrendous journey into the heart of downtown Charleston. It wasn't horrendous because of the distance (it was only 7 or 8 miles), but because of all of the potholes and uneven roads, which were not kind to my brand new abdominal scar.

I was so excited to see Britton and Landon again. Britton looked really great, even after being poked and prodded for all two-and-a-half days of her existence. Landon had been up all night with her, holding her and keeping her company.

Even though Britton made my heart happy, I hated being up in the NICU at that hospital--there were so many very sick babies, some of whom had been there for months. There was one baby across from Britton who had been permanently sedated to keep him out of pain; he'd been in the NICU for six months and was still extremely delicate. Seeing them made me that much more grateful for my almost-healthy baby; I only wish all of those babies could have the quick diagnosis and recovery that Britton did.

Even though she was doing much better when I got up there on Saturday afternoon, she wasn't out of the woods yet. Britton's doctors wanted to make sure that her lung infection cleared without any more complications and that she was able to eat without additional vomiting.

I got extremely frustrated with the nursing staff because I wanted to breastfeed her (the one part of my birth plan that I had clung to since I'd had to make so many other changes in my labor and delivery); even though they claimed to be friendly to breastfeeding moms, they didn't want me to pick her up very much (so how can I breastfeed?!?) nor did they want to give her the tiny bits of milk that I was producing at the time (but what else can one expect--usually milk doesn't come in until the fourth day or so). I ended up pumping as much as I could, but it still wasn't enough for them. Landon and I argued and argued with them about not giving her formula (our original plan), but they told us that if we let them supplement what I was pumping with formula, they could then see if she would really eat, and she could go home soon. That Saturday, I stuck to my guns and told them that I only wanted her to have breastmilk.

When I went back up to the NICU Sunday morning (after getting up every two hours to pump), I was exhausted and ready to bring my baby home. Landon, who'd had all of about nine hours of sleep since Thursday night, was edgy and annoyed. The nursing staff had all but thrown him out of the NICU around three that morning when they couldn't get Britton's IV in. They still weren't feeding her what I had worked so hard to pump, and Britton was solely on a dextrose drip to keep her blood sugar stable. Their rationale: if we give her just the little bit of milk that you're producing and we don't supplement, then she'll still be hungry and will get upset. Maybe so, but if Britton had been home like a regular newborn, she'd only be eating what I was producing anyway.

I saw Britton for about twenty minutes that morning before I had to step away and collect myself. I just couldn't stand looking at her IV that they'd stuck in her leg or the black and blue marks on her little hands where the nurses hadn't been able to get the IV back in. The charge nurse found me in the family waiting room around the corner, bawling my eyes out. She and I had a frank talk about Britton's treatment, and we tried to come up with some answers to make everyone happy.

The nurse told me that Britton was really a Level II baby, but MUSC's Level II nursery didn't have any open beds. They couldn't move her to Level I because she hadn't eaten yet and, thus, still needed an IV. Our insurance wouldn't cover a transfer back to the Level II at our original hospital, so we were stuck in a situation where we had the healthy, recovering baby in a room full of extremely sick babies. In an effort to get Britton closer to being released, Landon and I agreed to allow the nurses to feed her what I had pumped and then (and only then) give her formula to supplement. It wasn't ideal, but I wanted my baby home.

I went back to my parents' house that night at 7 p.m., exhausted from a long day at the hospital and sore from moving around so much. I had just stretched out to take a little nap when my mom brought the phone into my room: it was Landon. "Can you come back down here?" he asked, and my heart stopped--I immediately assumed the worst. But then: "The night staff is going to discharge Britton as soon as you can get up here."

What a surprise! I jumped up and threw clothes on. I was going to bring my little girl home! I didn't even care that I had to bump along those terrible roads in downtown Charleston again: the pain and exhaustion would be worth it.

By the time my parents and I arrived at MUSC, Landon had dressed Britton in her going home outfit. He and I went through a quick discharge meeting with one of the nurses, and then the nurse helped carry her to the car. Four days after her birthday, Britton finally came home!

Britton's Birth Story, Part III

After my c-section, I had to lay in the recovery room with my nurse, Kim, for an hour. I still hadn't seen my new baby, and Landon was all the way on the other side of the labor and delivery ward with Britton as the nursery staff attempted to make her more stable after her difficult delivery. As I lay there, all I could do was sob and shake uncontrollably. My delivery had been anything but expected, and I was terrified about what was going on with my hour-old baby. 

At eleven o'clock that night (an hour after I came out of surgery), the neonatalogist who was directing Britton's treatment came into the recovery room and told me that Britton had been stabilized in the level II nursery. Britton was having trouble breathing because of the meconium that she'd aspirated, but the nursing staff had gotten her breathing under control enough to have me visit quickly.

Landon took this picture while I was in recovery and brought them to me so I could see our daughter.
Landon came down to escort me to the nursery, and I was wheeled in on my gurney to meet my daughter. Because of the epidural, I couldn't do much more than touch her little foot, but the nurses did get my gurney as close to her tiny bed so I could see her. She was so small and beautiful, and she looked exactly as I had imagined: she had a swatch of dark hair and my nose. I hated that I couldn't pick her up and hold her, but I knew that she and I had both gone through a difficult time, and we needed to rest. 

The nurses pushed me back to my room, and I saw my parents, Landon's parents, my sister, and Landon's brother for a few minutes before I passed out from exhaustion and my pain medication. 

The next day, Thursday, Landon took me to the nursery so I could interact with Britton more. I even got to hold her for the first time!

I hated seeing all of the medical stuff that she had on her, but her breathing and oxygen saturation had to be monitored. She was doing really well until Thursday afternoon when my sister and mom came to visit; they both held her and her blood oxygen level plummeted. Because of that, Landon and I had to be very careful about overstimulating her during our nursery visits. 

By Friday, she was still having trouble regulating her breathing and oxygen level, and the nurses talked with us about the possibility of her staying in the hospital for several more days until those issues had been taken care of. I couldn't be discharged until late Saturday or Sunday, but the nursing staff ran us through their "Rest Easy" program, which would be available to us if Britton did have to stay extra days--through that program, Landon and I would have a room to ourselves for the duration of Britton's hospital stay for free. We were feeling optimistic that her medical issues would soon be over, and that we would be able to stay near her until the nursing staff was ready to send her home. 

Around four p.m. on Friday, I lay down for nap. Landon told me he was going to spend my nap time in the nursery with Britton, and I fell asleep comforted by the fact that Britton wouldn't be by herself for a little while.

I hadn't been asleep even an hour when I woke up to Landon shaking me. I knew as soon as I looked at him that something was very, very wrong. Landon choked back tears as he told me that Britton had taken a turn for the worse, and the neonatalogist on call was recommending an immediate transfer to a level III nursery at a local research hospital. Britton had been throwing up in the last hour, and the nursing staff was concerned because the vomit was green, which can be a sign of intestinal obstruction.

The neonatalogist came into my room to explain what needed to be done: Britton needed x-rays and tests done to determine if she had an obstruction. If she did, then she would be rushed into surgery to correct the obstruction, or she could risk dying. Needless to say, Landon and I were an absolute wreck.

In less than an hour, the pediatric ambulance from MUSC came to pick up Britton. She was wheeled into my room so that I could see her again before she was transferred. She looked so small in the transport incubator that they had her in, and I cried as I was allowed to hold her little hand. I gave Landon one more hug, and the two of them were rushed out of the room by the transport team.

Part IV here.

Britton's Birth Story, Part II

Read part I here.

Around 6 p.m. on June 5, the midwife in charge of my labor and delivery announced that I was completed dilated and effaced and ready to push. Just about this time, the nurse that had been with me all day, Rachel, had to trade off with our night nurse, Kim, because of the shift change. I was sad to see Rachel go, but Kim ended up being an awesome part of our delivery team as well!

The midwife, Gene, and Kim coached me through a few practice pushes so that I would know what a helpful push would feel like. I figured that out quickly and started pushing through the contractions. Landon, Gene and Kim were awesome at keeping me positive through each of the contractions, and the two and a half hours went by surprisingly quickly. At one point, I even thought, "Wow, this part is way easier than earlier" (but that may have had to do with the fact that my epidural was working extremely well, and my contractions were under control). 

So, I began to push. 

And push.

And push. 

For nearly three hours. 

Britton had actively been descending for much of this time, but in the last half an hour or so, she stopped moving down and essentially became stuck. No matter how hard I pushed, she couldn't make the turn around my pelvic bone. Her heart rate started going up, and my temperature went up. 

Gene the midwife told me that I had chorioamnionitis, which can occur when a birth goes on too long. At this point, I had been in labor almost 14 hours, and I could feel myself getting very weak. She had me rest for about ten minutes and then push one more time. I knew as soon as I looked at her after that series of pushes that things were going from bad to worse very quickly. 

This complication was putting too much stress on myself and the baby, so Gene ordered an emergency c-section. Gene and the nurses were also worried that Britton would aspirate the meconium in her amniotic fluid because of the stress and prolonged birthing process, so it was essential that I go into surgery right away. 

As soon as I heard that I had to have a c-section, I started crying. Everything that I'd wanted in this birth had gone completely in the other direction. I'd wanted a completely natural birth, but ended up getting an epidural and an induction. I'd wanted to avoid a c-section, but now had to get one to keep my baby and myself safe. Looking back, I know that all of these decisions were absolutely the right ones for myself and Britton, but it was so hard to wrap my mind around the sudden changes after preparing for a particular birth experience for nine months. 

Kim, the nurse, quickly explained what would happen in surgery: the doctor would make my incision and the baby would be delivered in less than ten minutes. As soon as the baby was delivered, she would be quickly assessed and cleaned, and then she'd be brought around to the side of the surgery curtain where Landon and I were. The entire surgery would take around 45 minutes, then I would go to the recovery room for about an hour before going back to my room to rest. 

I cried as the midwife notified the doctor on call to prepare for surgery and the anesthesiologist to up my medication.

I cried as Landon put on his surgery scrubs.

I cried as I was wheeled into the operating room. I cried as I was prepped for surgery.

And then I cried all the way through the surgery. On top of all of that, I shook the entire time, which is apparently normal for that stage of labor. 

The surgery was scary--I've never had anything worse done than my wisdom teeth taken out, so I was completely unprepared for the experience. The worst part was when the doctor had to take Britton out. There was a huge amount of pressure where the midwife had to press on my stomach while the doctor pulled Britton out because Britton was stuck under my pelvic bone. 

The surgery started at 9:05, and at 9:13 p.m., the doctor announced that Britton was born. Landon and I looked at each other and were so, so happy. We heard Britton cry just once, and then there was complete silence, which scared both of us. We could hear the nurses scurrying around, but other than that, nothing. 

Kim (who was amazing during and after the surgery) told us that Britton was having trouble breathing, and they strongly suspected that she had aspirated meconium during the birthing process. Because of this, the nurses were trying to keep her from crying and, thus, from swallowing or breathing in more of the toxic liquid. She explained that a neonatologist had been called in to assess Britton. 

When that doctor came in, he recommended that Britton go to the Level II nursery immediately for tests and monitoring. Landon and I had to make a snap decision about where he'd go; I told him to go with the baby and make sure she was okay. While I was still on the operating table, Landon had to follow Britton to the other side of the labor and delivery ward to accompany her during her procedures. 

I lay helpless on the table as my brand new baby was wheeled past me in an incubator. I could only see her tiny leg as she went by. Neither Landon nor I knew what she looked like yet. 

For the next thirty minutes, I clung to the anesthesiologist's hand while my surgery was finished up. Kim stayed with me the entire time and sat with me in the recovery room: she kept trying to find out what was going on in the nursery with Landon and the baby, but no one had any definite answers. 

Stay tuned for part III...

Britton's Birth Story, Part I

I had known for several weeks that Britton had grown faster than we'd all expected. By week 38, she was measuring like a 42 week baby, which presented some issues for her upcoming birth: the major ones being that she might be too big for me to birth naturally, or she might have expelled meconium into her amniotic fluid. I also had tested positive for Group B Strep, which--if left untreated during delivery--could have devastating effects on Britton. Because of these risks, we went ahead and scheduled an induction for her 39th week.

On Wednesday, June 5, Landon and I woke up bright and early at 4:30 a.m. so that we could be at the hospital by 6 a.m. After I had settled into my labor and delivery room, and a TON of paperwork had been completed at the hospital, my doctor broke my water (weirdest feeling ever) and I was encouraged to walk around to start the contractions. The nurse noticed that my amniotic fluid was slightly tinged with meconium, so the medical staff was careful to keep an eye on that while I labored.

In the hospital waiting for the doctor to come break my water and get this party started.
Landon and I took several laps around the labor and delivery ward to no avail. My contractions had started, but were erratic. The nurse started me on pitocin at a very low dose (about 4 milliunits per minute) to see if that would start things along. The contractions started to even out and get closer together, but, as the doctor wanted them to be two to three minutes apart, they still weren't doing what they needed to. The pitocin got slowly increased over the course of seven hours.

The nursing staff encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to in order to stay comfortable--I used a birthing ball, walked around, leaned on the bed, and sat in a hot shower. The shower really helped me focused through the increasing discomfort. Throughout all of that, Landon coached me using our Hypnobabies techniques; he kept me calm and focused through each of the contractions, and I wouldn't have been able to deal with the contractions as well as I did without him.

By two thirty, the contractions were coming less than two minutes apart, and I had little to no recovery time between some of them because of the way that Britton was positioned. I was exhausted after over seven hours of completely natural labor; the final straw was learning that (in those seven hours) I had only dilated another 1.5 cm to 6.5 cm total. At that point, I really didn't think I would be able to continue to labor for additional hours without some sort of pain relief, so I asked for an epidural.

I had originally been against an epidural because 1) I have a super sensitive back and I hate people touching it, and 2) I detest needles. By the time I'd been through those hours of pitocin-labor, I was ready for help wherever it came from, even if it meant I had to deal with the 1-2 punch of back touching and needles.

The anesthesiologist came almost immediately to administer the epidural (during which I tried to hit the doctor, but that's another issue all together) and my contractions were reduced within just one or two waves.

I don't remember much about the next few hours, other than I tried to relax and recover some of my strength so that I could push when it was time. I could still feel the contractions a little bit, but the pain was much, much more tolerable. During this time, I also found out that my doctor who had seen me through my pregnancy had gone home with strep throat, so she was being replaced with a midwife from the same OB group.

Around six p.m. the midwife told me that I had completely dilated and it was time to push!

On to Part II...

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.