Wednesday, January 29, 2014

School of Fish Valentines

A cute lil twist on your typical Valentine's Day card, "School of Fish" treat bags for your child's classmates.
Super simple and easy to do, but I would advise buying the Swedish very fish last minute, or else you might eat the whole bag while working and have to go out for more on three separate occasions. Not that I did that or anything. 

- The mini clear plastic treat bags I found at Michaels.
- Bakers twine I found at Marshall's but can be found at any craft store.
- Gift tags I printed out from my home computer on 8x11" paper and cut down to tags.

Happy VDay crafting :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Birth Story & Post Partum Period 2.0

As you may know, and probably all too well if you actually speak with me on the phone or hang out with me in person, I thought Blair was going to come early. It was just one of those weird mothergut instincts I had throughout the course of my pregnancy with her. By the time October came, I was ready to have her, in all aspects. 
Enter the month of November, still no baby.
I tried every old wives' tail to naturally induce this baby to come. Many a joy ride over bumpy roads, spicy food (which led to a new obsession with Indian), power walking every morning, all to no avail. Many nights I would sit in her nursery and rock back and forth in her rocking chair and fantasize about the day she would finally arrive, what her birth would be like, what she would look like, the things we would do together, what it would be like to hold a newborn again. 
Finally, 2 nights before her due date, we just got comfy downstairs about to pop in a movie, and I felt something. A sharp, short, intense pain in my stomach. Was that just a contraction?! And then another, no more than 3 minutes afterwards. Everyone told me your second birth happens quicker than the first but holy hell I wasn't expecting it to come on this quick. They tell you to get to the hospital when they are 5 minutes apart and I was barely reaching 3. I started pacing the basement while Chris packed his bag. (Oh don't worry mine and Blair's were packed and ready to go about 3 months prior). I couldn't believe the moment was finally here. Mildly speaking, I was PUMPED. Chris' sister came over to stay with Landon for the night, we grabbed our bags, kissed Landon goodbye and were all a flutter with excitement. I just kept thinking It’s finally, FINALLY happening. I’M GOING TO HAVE MY BABY!!!!!!!! It was an awesome feeling knowing that sometime in the next 24 hours our little Blair Bear would be in my arms.
I had been to this hospital before and had asked my girlfriend who recently delivered there which building the maternity ward was in, so I had figured there was no need to take the hospital tour (I bet you can imagine where this is going). So here we are, 10:00 at night, in the wrong building, which I kept swearing was the right building, and couldn't find anyone to help us. It was open, there were lights on, but it was a ghost town. We followed signs up and down barren hallways and empty elevators. Contractions were increasing and seriously intensifying. Not a soul in sight and no cellphone service either. I started having trouble walking and breathing. Panic set in and I thought to myself, I am going to collapse and Chris is going to deliver this baby right here and now. Just then, an angel cloaked in janitor's apparel appeared before us out of nowhere. The heavens opened in front of me and a chorus of angels sang above us. "WHERE'S LABOR AND DELIVERY?!" Chris asked him desparately. The man took a quick look at my ginormous belly (he looked absolutely terrified) and said "follow me right this way." He brought us through locked doorways and secret hallways, & finally, we had made it through to the other building and where I was going to deliver our baby.
Checking in at the triage seemed like an eternity. I think they thought I was a first time mom and didn’t believe that my body had the sense of urgency that it had. They had to first evaluate me and make sure I was in fact in labor and that I could stay. I told them all about the mucus plug I lost earlier, and the fact that my water just broke and for some reason they still seemed skeptical. (Maybe because as it turns out, my water, in fact, had not broken at that point). They told me to "please wait" for what seemed like forever and I was pleading with them to just "please" give me an epidural. I think I somehow forgot how painful it was with Landon and I actually thought I might be able to have a natural birth this time, but that desire was (very) quickly thrown out the window. There is really no way to describe the pain in a way that could possibly do it justice, but in short, its blinding. There is truly nothing anyone can tell you that will prepare you for the intensity of pain. It's an excruciating pain you simply can't even imagine and that you quite honestly don't know how you're going to live through. 
They finally told me that I was about 7 cm dialated, in active labor, and that we were staying. A few quick happy, dorky selfies of us in our glasses while I was in between contractions:
I finally received my epidural at about 11:00pm and instantly felt a million times better, minus shivering and freezing cold from the IV.
My water still hadn't broke yet, so we just had to wait and "try to rest" now. Chris had fallen asleep next to me and I laid wide awake for the next 4 hours, praying to God the entire time over and over to please give me a safe delivery and healthy baby. 
Finally, at about 3:30am they opted to break my water and told me that our baby would be here very soon. My OB was nothing short of amazing. She came to the hospital as soon as I called her and told her I was on my way and she stayed at the hospital the entire time I was in labor. Shortly after they broke my water it was time to push, and she took over from the nurses, stayed with me the remainder of the delivery, and coached me through the second biggest moment of my life. After only about 6 or 7 pushes, she told me the next push would be the last but that it needed to be as strong as possible. I closed my eyes, contracted my entire body, pushed as unbelievably hard as I could would all the strength I had left in me, and about 3 seconds later, I felt her come out of me and they placed her tiny body on my chest. I laid there with her in my arms weeping uncontrollably over all that we had just gone through and I couldn't stop staring at this new little, absolutely perfect creation: 
Chris was amazing, as I knew he would be, and as he was with Landon's birth. He was so supportive and pushed the nurses to hurry for me when we got there, and reminded them that I needed my epidural when the pain wouldn't let me speak for myself. And yes, he was down at the business end helping leverage my legs and encouraging me to push. He saw everything and wasn’t freaked out at all. I know it’s not for all men, but I think it’s often a fear by both sexes that once they see you like that they’ll never see you the same again. I know Chris can separate it, and I know he’s psyched he got to see both our son and daughter being born and I hear him brag about it constantly. He was blown away by what he saw and I think his respect for me completely sky rocketed each time. To see our baby come out of me, to hear those first cries – I mean, he loved me very much before, but I’m pretty much a goddess to him after giving birth to our two children. And rightfully so.
Landon came to see his new baby sister immediately following preschool, about 6 hours after she was born, and he was smitten with her from the very moment he first saw her.
Here is some live footage of him meeting Blair for the first time (of course I am weeping). More about him in a minute.
I seriously struggled with how to write this post for the past 2 months. I actually wasn't even going to post about her birth story since we have, after all, done the whole birth experience before, & you've probably already read about it here. It was conflicting. How is something so trite, something that is done millions of times a year, hundreds of thousands of births a day, by women all over the world since the beginning of time, still feel so special and unique each time for each and every woman, each and every time?  I searched for metaphors or analogies that could better describe or help people understand how incredible giving birth is, but there just aren't any. And each time is equally as amazing as the first. It stretches your parameters of love and happiness and gratitude far beyond than what you already have and ever knew existed. And at the same time there begins an underlying uneasiness...something of a 'mom craze' sets in.... a feeling of realization that if something ever happens to this child I will never, ever, ever recover.
My hormones the first few days were absolutely crazy. Crying over everything. I was off the wall when my milk came in around 2-3 days home from the hospital. After about 2 weeks post partum I was beginning to feel "normal" again. (For me). But still even now, there have been days (usually following nights of extreme sleep deprivation) where I find myself feeling completely overwhelmed and spouts of tears for no real reason.
But ultimately, I realize there is really nothing to cry about when these three people exist:
It's crazy the difference just one day can make - Because after even the worst, most emotional & exhausted day, I can wake up the next morning with a full heart and positive energy, radiating throughout the day. Overall, I think I've been mostly in a state of bliss. Bliss, and utter exhaustion, and busy. I don't have the luxury of just laying in bed and cuddling all day or 'sleeping when the baby sleeps' like I did when we just had Landon. But nonetheless, this post-partum period has been filled with an insane amount of love, and even more love and support overflowing from family and friends and even complete strangers. My FIL and brother in law took Landon for the 3 days we were in the hospital, and then my parents flew in and stayed for a week when she was 7 days old and were a huge help. Friends dropped off groceries, they ordered and delivered dinners, and are still coming by with Starbucks and countless beautiful gifts for her. 

Although we've been having the most brutal winter in history, it's forced me to stay inside, slow down, and relish in the quiet moments that I dare say are even more meaningful and special the second time around...I think this is because I know how fast this time goes, how big they get so soon, and that soon I won't remember holding her like this or her looking like this. Or maybe it's because I'm breastfeeding, something I wasn't able to do with Landon. Something I always heard other women describe as "bonding" with their infant and that I always shrugged off, but that I now know is one of the most incredible experiences in the world. I think I must spend about 3/4 of my day breastfeeding, bonding, and staring at this little face in stupor while she sleeps:
As for Landon - he was already the sweetest kid ever, but he is twenty million times sweeter as a big brother. He watches my every move with her, taking note of how I respond to her, and wants to be able to do the same. She will drool or spit up and he will grab a wipe and gently clean her face. She will be sleeping in my arms and he will come up to me with the softest whisper he can manage (note that these are never soft whispers and always wake her up) and ask me if baby sister is sleeping. He knows that when she sleeps, the mumma monster can come out to play. We play monsters until we're both out of breath, we tickle and we wrestle and we laugh. And usually I wait until he's all out of energy (this is a very brief moment), and I pull him in my arms and I hold him tight and rock him back and forth and call him my baby. I don't think I will ever stop doing this with him. 

I'm blown away at how naturally big brotherhood came to Landon. We experienced no regression and he never displayed so much as an inkling of jealousy or distaste towards her. He makes sure to come get me anytime she needs anything, (as you can imagine this is very frequently) and he can hear her cries from a mile away. He'll run to her and tell her, "Hold on Bear! Mama's coming!!" and then he'll run to me and pull at my leg and hands and say "Mama! Please come! Baby Bear's sooo hungry!!" And I nurse her. I am constantly nursing her. And he waits. Whatever needs he may have, he understands that hers come first, and when I'm done, he will ask me for snacks or to play trains or to clean up his latest spill or his "Landon mess." He helps me with her, retrieving things I need for her and throwing away her dirty diapers. He gives her his trains (this is kind of a big deal) and he'll proudly exclaim, "Mama, I gave baby Bear Gordon!" He gives her "big hugs" and kisses all the time, something I have to pull teeth for. 
He absolutely loves her, and I think to myself about every 5 minutes, dear God, how did I get so lucky.  

Life was good before Blair, of course. But just feels a little more complete now.

Thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog, those of you who have been on this journey with me from the beginning and those of you who are just here for the first time today. Words can't express how much I appreciate all the sweet comments and support (and therapeutic value) I've received through this space. I love writing and photographing all these special moments and hope you find your time here almost as rewarding <3

Monday, January 13, 2014

Little Bits

Big yawns. (Obsessed with this Baby Gap bear hoodie which is no longer in stock, but a similar here).
Big bites.

Realizing I started doing some pretty strange yet equally impressive things since Landon started, I'm a pretty awesome dinosaur. and I can simultaneously breastfeed while building Castle Grayskull out of moon sand. and I can make you one heck of a Ghost Cat with 5 minutes notice. & most recently, blue pancakes for dinner. Why fight it?
Beautiful details at a friend's baby sprinkle.
I just can't get enough. (crib sheet via Land of Nod)
A new little piggy. (Sources of all items pictured can be found at the bottom of this post)

If you want to find out how rich you are, count all the things you have that money cannot buy*
This is Blair sleeping, something she refuses to do at night. But my goodness I love her. 
(Headband from The Lil Cupcake)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

These Moments.

Amidst the craziness of the holidays, the crazy weather, the lack of sleep, and juggling a toddler and a newborn along with never ending household demands -- everyday for at least 30 minutes I get to have one of these quiet moments with my little Blair Bear, and in these moments, I feel like I know what heaven must feel like. 
I don't think there is anything in the world that can compare to these quiet moments together, holding this 7.5 pound person against my chest and rocking back and forth until she nods off against me and begins to purr as she reaches her deep sleep. She is peaceful, she is angelic, and she is miraculous, and I feel like I could sit and rock and just look at her here in these moments forever. And every so often, her little lips will break open into a momentary smile, and I wonder if she's dreaming of me. 
It is in these moments that I feel pure contentment, forgetting the 'to-dos' - they can wait. Forgetting the frustration of my post partum body - my body grew this for 9 months, we were once one, and her little heart was once beating inside of me. I forget all worry about the future because I know and and am physically holding what truly matters in life. 
These moments are filled with a peace I don't remember feeling before, a love I didn't know I was capable of, and with awe and wonder I can only thank God for.
8 weeks old now, and the time has truly escaped me. I can feel her getting stronger and stronger, and although I'm proud of her growing strength and agility, it is a constant reminder that this time is fleeting and she won't be this precious innocent infant forever. I inhale her sweet baby scent and I gently rub the softest skin that I have ever felt. I kiss her sweet little cheeks and the top of her head over and over and over, and I hold her tight against me. I hold onto these moments with all the strength in my heart and mind and do everything I can to engrain them in my memory forever. 

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