Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend Rewind ~ Springtime in January?

I know that so many parts of the country have been experiencing some crazy winter weather...not heavy snows & frigid temps, but abnormally warm & windy days that makes it feel more like Spring than January aka the month when we normally receive the most snowfall. I have mixed feelings about it...I certainly love a beautiful winter snowfall but I'm also quite glad we haven't had to deal with sub-zero temps with Elyse--I have a feeling we'd be staying home a lot more if we had normal winter weather!

We had a pretty fabulous weekend, low-key but fabulous anyway! Friday night we took advantage of a gift card we received after Elyse was born and treated ourselves to dinner at McAlister's. We also had a little bit of a sad night as one of our favorite shows had it's series finale.

Hubby & I have been Chuck fans since it first aired several years ago and we're so sad that it's over. It was a fun, family-friendly show that still had many of those spy/action movie aspects...but without all the crazy blood, gore, violence and language. Shows come to an end all the time, but this is one that we'll really miss! Elyse wasn't too excited about Chuck, she passed out early in Daddy's lap!

Saturday we spent most of the morning lounging in bed with our baby girl. We had a quick dinner before heading out to run a few errands and then going to a Missouri State basketball game. It was a "maroon-out" but Elyse doesn't have much maroon so we dressed her to the nines in her Missouri State gear!

Starting her out right with jeggings & pink Uggs!

Our sweet family minus a happy baby~she wasn't too excited about the hat!

Thankfully the game had a great outcome and Elyse was a very good girl the entire game! It helps when she sleeps for at least half of the game, but even when she's awake she was a happy girl! I'm so glad the noise doesn't bother her...we love going to the games!

After the game we sent Elyse off with her Papa, Gigi, & Uncle Nick and Hubby & I took advantage of a Groupon to a local fondue place. We hadn't made any other plans so we were home LONG before we needed to be for Elyse's last nightly feeding, but we had a good time and it was nice to have a fun evening out together. I'm so glad that we're making this a priority! Not that we don't absolutely LOVE being with Elyse, but maintaining our relationship is so important as we walk through this parenthood adventure!

Yesterday we headed to church where we heard a fabulous sermon on finances, we grabbed a quick lunch and then came home to relax for the afternoon. We just spent the day hanging out and trying to get a few things done around the house. It's amazing how fast times flies when you're at home trying to take care of the baby to-do list!

We did find time for a manicure...
...but Mommy & Daddy really aren't sure how they feel about it, it makes her look like such a big girl!

We headed back out last night to witness a very special time for one of our great friends. Andrea was baptized last night in the pool at our local YMCA; she's been a believer for a long time but had never been formally "dunked." It was so great that we were able to be there to support her for this special moment!

We love you girl...and are so happy for you!

It's a little bit of a bitter-sweet week for me. More about it later on this week, but with our present plans this is my last week when I'll be home with Elyse. Next Monday I go back to work part-time for 3 days a week. My mom will be keeping Elyse and I'll still see her every day at lunchtime, but it will definitely be an adjustment after I've spent the last 7 weeks with her practically all day everyday!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Six Week Momma Reflection

Yesterday was my 6 week post-partum visit and I decided it was the perfect time to do a little reflection of my first 6 weeks as a momma...the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The good...

~Nursing has gone much better than I could have hoped. Elyse caught on incredibly well and she is gaining weight like a champ! Sometimes I wish I could eat 8 times a day and it be considered a wonderful thing...ha!

~I'm grabbing sleep whenever I can. Everyone always says to sleep when the baby sleeps and it's so true! For the first month I tried to nap at least once during the day when Elyse was sleeping. Once Hubby went back to work after the first of the year I spent several days at my parents' house and I would nap while my mom would watch Elyse. Thankfully I'm getting about 8 hours of sleep each night in 2 4-hour segments...I can't ask for anything more than that!

~As of today I have lost all but 14 of the 40ish pounds I gained during the pregnancy. Thank goodness for nursing!

The bad...

~Time...seriously where do all the hours go in a day?!? I used to have these grand plans of what I might accomplish during a day...but with feeding & diaper changing & laundry & pumping..the day disappears so fast!

~So I might have lost most of my baby weight, but things definitely aren't where they should be! Now that we've got a little bit of a routine going I can start finding a little bit of time during the evenings to workout just a bit...5k in May? Maybe?

The ugly...

~Hormones, hormones, hormones! Oh my goodness, in the first few days I was seriously OUT OF CONTROL!!!! I'm not going to lie, I had my own version of PPD and it was not a fun time. I had serious paranoia...everything from not being able to produce enough milk to feed my baby to some seriously crazy ideas that my high blood pressure was going to cause me to die! Yeah, it was crazy...and definitely not the best moment in my life. Thankfully those hormones have leveled off & I'm not a crazy momma!

~Ok, so maybe that's not entirely true...there are still some days when the tears flow freely & I feel like I'm doing a terrible job of being a mom! However, I am SO blessed to have such a strong support system to lift me up and just be my shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen when I need to vent. I was certainly OCD about the details before Elyse and while I still care about the details, I have learned to relax just a little bit!

~Google. Yes, Google is horrible for a new mom. In those first few weeks I spent most of Elyse's feedings on my phone searching all sorts of stuff from poop color to sleeping patterns to my diet to infant hiccups. Let me just tell you...Google will make you even more crazy than you already are! I'm sure there was a small bit of truth in what I read, but it was consuming me! After a serious chat with my best friend & my mom, I decided to stop reading anything and to just follow my motherly instinct. That instinct seems to be serving me pretty well right who needs Google!

And because no post is complete without a picture of Elyse...

Bath time for my Baby Girl with those big Baby Blues!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Elyse Ann's Arrival~Our Stay at the Hospital

I decided that Elyse's birth story wouldn't be complete without the details from the rest of my hospital stay. Someday I'll have Elyse read this to know exactly how hard it was for us...but for now this is for my own memory...which is even more important since I honestly don't remember much of it anyway! This will be long and detailed, so feel free to skip ahead to the end where there's some precious pictures of our baby girl!

Let's go back to the beginning...if you want to read Elyse's birth story you can check those posts out here, here, and here.

With my exhausting, stressful, and long delivery process my recovery was definitely not the best time of my life. Just to put it bluntly, Tuesday night and Wednesday are pretty much a complete blur. There are certainly details and visitors that I remember, but I was definitely not in a good place. Because of Elyse's evening arrival on Tuesday and the unplanned c-section, no one came by on Tuesday evening as we settled in and enjoyed our new bundle of joy. Hubby's sister & our nephews did stop by for a brief time, and apparently they were quite hilarious as they examined Baby Elyse! Of course the only thing I remember about their visit is why they left...yup, I became nauseous & sick so they promptly headed out. Definitely not a pretty picture!

I had heard from multiple people that if possible we should send Elyse to the nursery overnight during our hospital stays so that Hubby & I could at least catch some sleep in between feedings. And because of my exhaustion this didn't even become a question. We sent Elyse to the nursery that first night and the nurses brought her in so I could nurse her at the proper times. In addition to these wakings, my own nurse came in every 2 hours to check my vitals. Ughh...sleep was just not to be had that night!

Wednesday was not a good day as I had various family members come by to visit around lunchtime and during the afternoon and I honestly barely remember them even coming to visit. It's one of those things that I feel a little bit bad about now, but I was definitely not in a good place that day. I remember telling my mom that I thought I was going to be in the hospital forever. This simply came from the fact that I felt so horrible that I didn't know if they would ever release me to go home. I also know that I was feeling depressed because I wasn't even feeling well enough to ENJOY Elyse. Everyone was so happy that she was here and talking about how beautiful she was, but at that point I couldn't see any of that.

Our hospital has what's called "naptime" for the maternity ward each day from 1:30-3:30. If you choose to participate, all visitors (both hospital & family) are kept from coming into your room so you can simply rest & enjoy your baby. We chose to take advantage of this time each day & I'm so glad we did....Hubby took care of Elyse while I tried to catch up on some sleep. After naptime on Wednesday I woke up in a horrible sweat. Elyse was laying on my chest and honestly I'm surprised she didn't slide right off of me. I realized that part of the reason I was feeling so horrible is that I was running a fever...once the fever broke after my nap I felt like a completely different person.

I finally got my IV removed on Wednesday afternoon and Hubby promptly helped me take a shower...since I hadn't showered in almost 36 hours. Thank goodness Hubby & I decided to take quick showers before we ever headed to the hospital!

Due to how horrible I was feeling on Wednesday, Hubby & my precious family sent word that we would prefer no visitors on Wednesday night. I just wasn't in a place where I was ready to see anyone and the exhaustion was just now starting to go away. My parents did come visit and it was a nice break to see them...but otherwise it was a pretty quiet night with just our family of three.

Thursday was a much better day & we had several visitors come to see our precious baby girl. Nursing was going well except for Elyse's initial aversion to the right side. (we're still not sure what that's about, because she still nurses better on the left compared to the right!) We had several people come by to visit on Thursday evening and it was so nice to see my family & friends.

Friday was come-home day & my doctor acted as if she would be their early Friday morning to release me. Well, the hours came and went and finally after lunch I made a quick phone call to find out when she might be arriving. My blood pressure was a little higher than what they prefer, but she sent me home with instruction to take it easy & stay hydrated so I could start to get some of this crazy fluid off my body. We loaded everything up, taking everything but the hospital's bassinet with us and headed home as a family of 3. What a strange feeling that was for them to just ship us out with a brand new baby! I definitely felt like that episode of "Up All Night"...shouldn't there be an instruction manual for this?!?

I think we finally made it home sometime around 4ish on Friday afternoon. The first night was honestly a TON better than I ever expected it to be. Elyse woke up several times, but Hubby & I alternated and I actually got more sleep than I expected. It's definitely a good thing since we had our first Christmas of several on the Saturday after we were released from the hospital!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Say Cheese!

I'm quite proud of myself...I finally caught a little grin from Elyse on camera!

Can't wait to see so many more of these cheesy grins!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend Rewind~Growth Spurt

I was definitely ready for the weekend to arrive as we've decided our precious little angel was having a bit of a growth spurt...I mean what else could explain the reason she decided to turn into a one-eyed monster! ha!

We had very few plans this weekend which was definitely a nice break from last weekend!

Friday night was a night of nothingness. Nothing really sounded all that exciting for dinner so Hubby & I ended up fending for ourselves from whatever was in the refrigerator...thankfully we did have a few options! We hung out watching tv and playing with Elyse before heading to bed with visions of extended sleep in our dreams!

Elyse enjoying her Mamaroo & her Wubbanub Puppy pacifier!

Saturday morning we laid in bed practically the whole morning just cuddling with our baby girl and trying to figure out exactly what schedule she would LIKE for us all to be on. Just when we thought we had it figured out and she changed her mind! I feel like all I did early on Saturday was feed her because instead of the 3 hour feeding schedule we had been on, she was wanting to eat every 2 1/2 hours! That 30 minutes makes a huge difference!

Saturday afternoon we headed down to my parents' house for dinner with them & my brother & SIL. My mom fixed up some yummy soup & chili and then we just spent the rest of the evening relaxing. For us as new parents, it's always nice to get out of the house and have someone else take care of your baby for awhile...the only thing I was responsible for was feeding.

Momma & her baby girl!

Yesterday we had church and again we had another Elyse-driven schedule, but thankfully we're learning to just go with the flow and adjust everything as needed. After church we had time for a quick lunch at Qdoba before coming home just in time for Elyse's next meal. We spent the afternoon just lounging around watching football before heading off to Small Group. Again, we ended up in a place where we walked in the front door and basically passed off Elyse until we walked back out! I hate to sound like we aren't enjoying her...because we certainly are! She's an absolute joy & has completely stolen our hearts! It's just that sometimes we need a break! Speaking of which...I'm headed down to my parents' house tomorrow to spend the day with my mom. So thankful for grandparents!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Elyse Love ~ 1 Month Old

Weight: Probably about 8 lbs...but it's just a guess from Hubby stepping on the scale with her! She is still wearing all newborn diapers...I can't see her moving to size 1s really anytime soon. We definitely have a petite little darling!

Clothes: Elyse is mainly still wearing all newborn clothes, but some of her sleepers are starting to get quite small! Last night she did sleep in a 0-3 month sleeper and it fit her quite well. I would say that several of her newborn outfits will be stored away very soon...awwww, my growing baby girl!

Food: Elyse is my little piglet! She is eating like a champ! Nursing has never been a struggle for her and she got the routine down right away. I'm so thankful for this, and even though I had the typical new-mom concerns in the beginning about being able to provide for her, those concerns were wiped away when she gained almost a pound and a half in the 11 days after we left the hospital! Last night we gave her her first bottle of pumped milk & it went so well! This will allow Hubby to help out with the feedings or also to free us up if nursing her isn't an option due to the circumstances.

Sleep: For a newborn baby, I really can't complain about Elyse's sleep schedule. She normally goes down after her last feeding at about 10:30, will sleep until about 2:00-3:00 am before waking up for a feeding and then will sleep again until 6:30-7:00 am. After being home for 2 weeks or so, I started putting her in her crib for naps and then quickly transitioned her to the crib for her nighttime sleep as well. The past few days have been a little rough when it comes to sleeping during the night and naptime...but I'm really convinced that she's going through a growth spurt; or at least I hope that's what it is! One overnight feeding was definitely nice!
Activity: I guess Elyse has as much activity as any newborn baby. I have really tried to focus on letting her be as independent as possible from the time we brought her home. During her waketime we are trying not to hold her ALL the time, but sometimes the precious girl just wants some good quality cuddling! We have an activity mat & Mamaroo that she enjoys being in which is certainly helpful when I need to get a few things done around the house. She has had strong neck & back muscles from the time she was born but we are still working on tummy time as well. She seems to HATE it most times, but there are times when she doesn't seem to mind. I do love to put her on her tummy and put our hands behind her legs...she pushes off like a champ & just scoots across the floor...sometimes screaming her head off the entire time! It's really quite pitiful! ha!

Personality: Elyse change so much everyday & while she obviousy doesn't have a ton of personality quite yet, it's certainly starting to make an appearance every once in awhile. She has a very happy disposition most of the time...mainly only crying when she's hungry or just really, really wants to be held. She also seems to think she may miss out on something so sometimes, even at a month old, she fights taking a nap even though I know she must be tired!


*her pacifier~thankfully it doesn't seem to matter which one

*music~she's got her own playlist on the iPad!

*movement~anytime she is REALLY mad, we can normally calm her down with rocking, swaying, butt-patting, or some combination of the above

*changing clothes~I wish all baby clothes had buttons and didn't have to go over her head!

*diaper changes~although sometimes she stays incredibly calm during this process

One Month Milestones:

*First Missouri State Bears basketball game~12/31/11

*First Walk around the subdivision~12/31/11

*First Sunday @ Our Church~1/1/12 with Mommy, Daddy, Papa, & Gigi

*First Shopping Trip~1/11/12 Out with mommy & Gigi to lunch, Babies R Us, & Target

*First Smile~1/13/12 @ mommy & daddy before daddy left for work

Monday, January 16, 2012

Busy Weekend Rewind...with a baby...

In our life before Elyse, it was not uncommon for us to have cram-packed weekends that involved us simply going from one activity to another or just running home only to change clothes and head out again. This is just our life. We enjoy being busy & spending time with friends & family which of course sometimes leads to busy weekends.

Well...this was our first BUSY weekend with a baby. And we survived.

Friday night we voted for dinner out so we made our first excursion out with Elyse for a meal. Of course it was just pizza at our local pizza place about 5 minutes from our house, and Elyse slept through the entire meal...but it was our first family dinner out anyway! After dinner we came home and had our "1 month" photo shoot! More on that in another post...let's just say that there will be quite a few outtake photos from our experience.

Saturday morning I stayed at home with Elyse while Hubby went off for his last work-related test ever! He has now officially passed both of his insurance exams. Yay!!! Any other test he would take would be of his own choosing...I am so proud of him!

Daddy & Elyse opening her 1 month birthday present from Mamaw & Pappy

We had lunch together and then I headed out to a baby shower for one of my college roommates...her baby is due tomorrow!!! I took Elyse with me to show her off so I have absolutely no photos...I was mainly just concerned with keeping her content & asleep the whole time I was gone.

After the shower I raced home, fed Elyse & then we abandoned our daughter for the first time. Ok, we didn't abandon her...we left her with Papa, Gigi, & her Uncle Nick so she was in great hands. Hubby & I had date night and it was so nice! We had dinner at our favorite local Mexican restaurant (Maria's), we went to the mall and walked around for a bit so I could give Hubby some birthday ideas for myself, and then we got frozen custard before heading back home.

First date night as parents!

It was such a refreshing evening to be together as a couple and to be reminded that our relationship still exists and is still wonderful...even though our focus in life has totally been turned upside down! We were home in time for me to feed her at 7:30, but even those couple of hours out of the house were fabulous. I can see lots of quick date nights in our future and maybe next time we might be able to work out dinner AND a movie!

Sunday we made it to the early service at church, came home to do some work around the house while Elyse took a nap, and then headed back out to a Missouri State Bears basketball game. She still sleeps through practically the entire game & it's another excuse for Papa & Gigi to see their granddaugther so she's certainly no trouble!

Mommy & Elyse before church...

doesn't our sweet girl look excited?!? ha!

The game went into overtime which kind of made the rest of our day a little hectic. I ended up feeding Elyse in the car before we headed home, we raced into the house and cooked up a quick snack before heading back out again for our Small Group kickoff gathering. We just gathered together for snacks and to catch up before we'll dive into our study in a few weeks. It was so great to be back with all our great friends. We are so blessed to have such a fabulous small group!

Elyse & I have finally started to get on the same schedule, so hopefully my days will seem a bit more normal! I've actually been incredibly productive today & haven't even tried to fit in a nap...dinner is in the oven and things are being checked off my to-do list! It feels great to get in some sort of routine!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Elyse Ann's Arrival ~ A Dramatic Entrance

Disclaimer: Extremely long, detailed post with what might be considered a little TMI!

Hearing the monitor hooked up to Elyse's heart rate fluctuate so much definitely created quite a bit of stress for all of us who were in the labor & delivery room. As various nurses came in and out and as fetal monitor after different fetal monitor was attached to Elyse's head, Hubby & my parents were beginning to realize that everything wasn't going quite as smoothly as we had hoped. Of course, no one was voicing these concerns to me and I was only focused on that dilation number...which was fast approaching a 10!

I had finally dilated to a 9, which I knew meant that the time of pushing was coming soon. There were still the same concerns about Elyse's heart rate, but I still assumed I was on the verge of delivering this baby. I mean, I'd been in labor for almost 24 hours, was dilated to a 9, and I was ready to meet me baby girl!!!

At some point a little after 4:00 pm (which let's remember for a moment is almost 24 hours after my first labor contraction), the doctor came in and looked over all my records and the situation that she was dealing with. Even with all the drugs and all the exhaustion and all the stress, I will never forget the words she spoke to me. She looked at all of us and said..."Right now, you have a healthy baby & you're healthy...and I don't want that to change." It quickly became apparent that I wasn't going to be delivering this baby naturally.

I remember asking something to the tune of ..."does this mean I have to have a c-section?" And after that everything that happened seemed to be chaotic, urgent, and all a blur. I burst into tears, and I'm pretty sure that Hubby & my parents were on the verge of tears as well. This wasn't what we had planned, and this wasn't how things were supposed to happen after 24 hours of labor! I was supposed to start pushing and meet our baby girl in just a few moments!

While the doctor acted as if there was an option in the beginning, there really wasn't. As each contraction occurred, Elyse's heart rate would plummet and as she continued to move down the birth canal no one could really know what would happen. They assumed this had something to do with the location of the umbilical cord but obviously no one could know for certain. Apparently the whole "pushing" part of labor could last 5 minutes or 2 hours...and my baby's health would potentially be at risk during each contraction.

Nurses started flooding into my labor & delivery room as surgery preparations begun. They kept reminding me that everything was going to be ok, but everything wasn't OK! I was seemingly being rushed into an operating room and it seemed as if everything had a very "emergency-like" tendency to it. I remember the nurses giving Hubby a quick run-down of what was going to happen and when my family would be allowed in the recovery room.

The other thing that will be vivid in my mind forever is that just a few moments before I was wheeled out of the room I asked my daddy to pray. And pray he did. It was hard to focus on his specific words, but he prayed for Elyse and for me and for the dr's hands as they worked to get Elyse out as quickly as possible. And he prayed for peace. Peace that this was the right thing to do and that everything was going to be just fine.

As he said AMEN, I'm pretty sure I started to roll...and I was taken into a bright & sterile operating room that I had seen during our tour of the hospital but I never expected to occupy. My doctor and a whole team of nurses hurried around making the preparations and the anesthesiologist came back to my side to pump up my epidural to surgical level. I'm so thankful that I had opted for an epidural earlier in the this prevented any other delays in the procedure! A few minutes later Hubby was scrubbed in and was placed at my side.

It seemed like hours & I won't go through any of the surgical details, but after just a few short moments Elyse Ann Layman made her official arrival into this crazy world. 6 lbs 4 oz, 19 1/2 inches long and absolutely perfect!

Elyse's 1st Photo (thanks to whichever nurse snapped this photo!)

As she was born, I remember crying out "does she have hair?", "is she crying?" and then I got my answer to both questions...yes & yes! Elyse was brought over to Hubby who held her over to me so I could see the precious miracle that we had just brought into the world together.

Momma's first kiss

I swear it took way longer for them to wrap up the operation than for them to actually get to Elyse. The group of doctors I see are known for their operations and apparently the doctor who performed my caesarean is known to be a "fast-cutter." (sorry for the tmi!) I'm sure my dad was really comforted when he was told that the lady who would be performing surgery on his daughter was a fast-cutter! ha!

Dr. Derrough and our beautiful Elyse...I am so thankful for this doctor!

One of the worst parts of the process was after Elyse had been born and they were wrapping everything up. I think with the exhaustion and the shock of what had just happened, my body couldn't handle it...and I got the shakes like I've never experienced. Of course I couldn't feel the lower part of my body, so basically all that was technically shaking was my head and my arms but they were uncontrollable! I also got quite nauseous and thankfully they quickly put something into my IV to help with the nausea...but those shakes just wouldn't go away! The nurses eventually rolled me into recovery where I was still trying to fight off those shakes. I kept trying to pull my arms up to gain some sort of control, but the nurses kept putting them back down so my blood pressure cuff would operate correctly.

Poor baby kinda looked like she'd been through a battle...which I guess she had been!

Ughh...those shakes! My body almost starts to shake just thinking about them! The entire team kept telling both me & hubby that the shakes were completely normal, but they were TERRIBLE!!! I'm not sure how it came about, but finally someone mentioned that there was something I could take, but it might make me nauseous again...I looked at one of the labor & delivery nurses and she said "I would take it." And I'm SO glad I did. Literally 2 seconds after they put those meds in my IV, I could feel my body completely relax. Oh sweet relief!

A few moments passed & eventually my family was allowed into the recovery room to check on me and also meet the newest member of my family! The entire process from the time the c-section decision was made to the time Elyse entered this world was only about 30 seemed SO much longer than that! I think my family was finally able to make it into the recovery room about an hour after Elyse was born and then I was wheeled up to my hospital room about an hour later.

Never been so happy to see my momma!

This picture practically brings me to tears...My SIL, my brother, my momma and my daddy...all there for Hubby, Elyse & I when we needed them most!

My entire entourage headed up together...Me, Hubby, Elyse, my parents, my brother & his wife, & my best friend. Complete with bags, balloons, stuffed animals, & flowers...I'm sure the nurses got quite a kick out of the huge gathering of support we had gathered around us! Thank goodness we ended up with a private room; there wouldn't have been enough room for us all otherwise!

The rest of that evening is a total & complete blur...I don't remember hardly anything except for my mother-in-law arriving a little before 10:00 pm. She got on the road as soon as she could after Hubby called her first thing that morning and after a LONG drive from Michigan she made it a little before 10.

Whew...what a long day for Hubby & I along with the rest of our families! But the goal in the beginning was to deliver a healthy baby...and that's what we did (along with an incredible team of doctors & nurses!)

Our first photo as a family of 3...I remember asking someone to take this and it's obviously the most un-flattering photo of me possibly ever taken...but it's our first family photo and I'm proud of it anyway!

More recaps to come, but for now I have to go and check on my precious baby girl who is fighting her afternoon nap like crazy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Elyse Ann's Arrival~Hours 1-23

At the very end of the work day on Monday, December 12 I experienced my first true labor contraction. I was afraid that I wouldn't recognize a labor contraction when they first was I wrong! My contractions were all in my back and the sharp pains I experienced could be described as nothing other than the beginning stages of labor. I walked to the back of our office and was able to catch the attention of Hubby long enough for him to realize that something was going on. We had been advised in our childbirth class to stay home as long as we were comfortable or until my contractions were 5 minutes apart for at least an hour.

So at 4:45 we started timing them...Initially they were about 30-45 minutes apart. But the same pain every time and with each contraction I was more certain that Elyse would be arriving very very soon!

We had plans that evening for our small group Christmas party at a local pizza place. There wasn't any reason to stay home with contractions so far apart, so off we went. We obviously decided to keep the labor a secret so as not to excite anyone at dinner, but Hubby sat close by and each time a contraction would come I would simply squeeze his knee until the pain subsided. After dinner we came home and wrapped the last few Christmas presents we had & I mentally prepared to leave for the hospital sometime during the middle of the night.

Hubby & I both headed to bed...but there would be no sleep for me. My contractions began to get closer and closer together--about 10 minutes apart at this point--and finally at 2:30 am I decided it was time to wake Hubby up and start making preparations. We both decided to take quick showers knowing that it could be awhile before we had a chance again, loaded up the car, said a quick goodbye to Bogey and headed to the hospital. I think it was about 3:30 am when we finally left the house and my contractions were definitely at the 5 minute point.

It was a rainy night and we were practically to the hospital before Hubby turned on his flashers. We honestly didn't need them, but I think he just wanted to experience driving with his flashers on with his pregnant wife in the seat next to him! We headed to Labor & Delivery, all the while hoping that the nurses would affirm what I thought I knew...I was going to have a baby! After being examined in a triage room and a quick phone call to my dr. (who just happened to be on call that night), the nurse gave me the news...I was going to be admitted to the hospital @ 4 cm dilation. We weren't being sent home and we wouldn't be leaving the hospital before our baby girl was born!

Hubby & I had made the decision early on that once admitted to the hospital we would only be calling our parents & my best friend. They would be responsible for making any other calls, but we really only wanted immediate family & my best friend in the labor & delivery area. Everyone else would hear about Elyse's birth as soon as she was actually here.

The next few hours all kind of blend chips, bathroom break, chips, bathroom break, contraction...I was dealing with the pain fairly well and while I was making some progress, I could tell this was not going to be a fast process. Sometime between 10 & 11 am, the doctor on call (which wasn't my actual dr. anymore) came to check on me and again asked if I was planning on an epidural. Since my answer was yes, she wondered what I was waiting on and the preparations were made for the quick procedure.

Sidenote: I was TERRIFIED!!! This needle-fearing girl, was oh not-so-excited about getting the epidural, but the pain level was getting to the unbearable point. I made the decision to just get it over with and while it was definitely not pleasant and I considered passing out...Hubby was in front of me holding my hands and being my rock. It wasn't nearly as bad as I think it could have been and as things turned out, I'm so glad that I made the decision to have that epidural.

About 30 minutes-1 hour after I received my epidural, Elyse's heart rate started doing some strange things and my water had yet to break on its own. An entire team of nurses came into my room and they broke my water in order to place a fetal monitor on Elyse to more accurately monitor what her heart rate was doing during each contraction. It was a little bit of a scary moment with so many nurses in my room, but I was assured that everything was fine. Also with my lack of much progress, they started some Pitocin in my IV and in a matter of about 45 minutes I went from 5 cm to 8! They obviously cut off my Pitocin right away because that was just a little too much progress too fast!

For the next couple of hours I made slow, but gradual progress. However, during each contraction we would all listen & watch as Elyse's heartbeat would go from normal to extremely slow and it would always have a hard time rebounding after each contraction. We're not talking minor changes, we're talking a movement from around 120 bpm down to 60 bpm. They switched out the fetal monitor several times, trying to convince me that maybe they just got a "bad batch" of monitors that were having trouble properly registering Elyse's tiny heart. They moved me around to a variety of positions trying to get the heartrate to stabilize, but nothing seemed to be working for any extended period of time.

Looking back, I think they were simply trying to keep us all calm until the doctor on call could get out of surgery & come check on me herself...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Elyse Ann's Arrival~72 Hours Away

The second weekend in December was scheduled to be just like any other December weekend...busy, busy, busy! Honestly, we never expected to make it through the entire weekend without welcoming our baby girl...but make it we did. We had 3 Christmas parties in 3 days, who would have thought we would really be able to attend all three of them?!?

Since I never got a chance to do a weekend rewind, let's just run down the timeline of the 72 hours before Elyse decided to begin her entrance into this world:

Friday~December 9: Date night (and what would be our last date night before parenthood) @ one of our favorite local pizza places & dessert @ The Cup
Saturday~December 10: Gigi's predicted day of Elyse's arrival & our office Christmas party...not to mention a full moon!

Hubby & I @ our office Christmas Party

All the girls @ our office

Sunday~December 11: Morning church service, a beautiful day which resulted in a trip to Branson Landing to try and WALK this baby out, Church Christmas Party & Gifts for Foster Kids Celebration

Hubby & I @ Branson Landing (I think we walked close to 2 miles that day along with lakefront...not sure if that actually worked or not?)

Monday~December 12: Work all day & Small Group Christmas Party @ a local pizza joint!

@ my parent's house over our lunch hour on Monday, December 12...and my last pregnant photo: 39 weeks, 2 days

And at 4:45 pm on Monday, December 12 I experienced my first contraction...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year, New Life, New Normal

For most of the working world, today is the first official day back to work after the end of the crazy holiday season. But for me, I consider it my first "official" day of maternity leave here at home with my baby girl. See, thanks to a very understanding boss (who happens to also play the roll of grandpa), Hubby has been home with me practically every day since Elyse was born. He did go into work 2 days last week, but I also headed down to my parents' house to catch a LONG nap while my mom watched Elyse.

We've spent 3 incredibly hard & wonderful weeks together as we have learned to navigate this incredibly rewarding, ridiculously trying new adventure called parenthood. Hubby & I have learned more about ourselves, and more about our strengths and weaknesses than we could have ever imagined. We've realized that even though we knew that "We would never be ready..." we really had no idea how "Not ready" we were.
I'd love to sit here and type that things have been all rosy & fun, but I'd be telling one of the biggest lies I've ever told. Parenting is SO hard...and we're only 3 weeks in! However, parenting is also the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. God blessed us with an incredibly beautiful, perfect baby girl and the love I have for her has already taught me so many things about myself.
In these first 3 weeks of Elyse's new life, we've already experienced so MANY firsts (which I'll try and post about very soon) and I can't even begin to imagine the things we are going to experience in the next weeks, months, and years of our first born's life. She has already changed SO much from the little 6 lb 4 oz newborn that we brought home 3 weeks I can't hardly handle how much she will change as our life continues to move forward! These 3 weeks have been so hard and I've definitely had some low moments, but I know I'll be so sad when these days of her FULL dependence on us are gone.

Life as we knew it before December 13 is gone, the holidays are over, and our new normal will begin to take shape beginning today. Elyse & I will spend our days either at home playing together, sleeping, and working to keep up with the never-ending loads of laundry...or some days we'll head down to my parents' house for a little time with the grandparents & to see Daddy over the lunch hour.
As we move into 2012, life for the Layman family will be unlike anything we've ever experienced. Sure there will be hard times, but if I've learned anything in the past 3 weeks it's that those really, really, difficult times are simply temporary and tomorrow is certainly another day. Honestly, tomorrow might not be any better fact, it could be worse, but it's all a matter of perspective and simply putting one foot in front of the other and doing what's best for our baby girl. In order to keep that perspective, I have plans to go back and post some of my experiences in these first 3 weeks as a new mom...both the good and the bad.

Even with all the struggles, life couldn't be more perfect than it is right now. Hubby & I have an absolutely awe-inspiring amout of support around us and I am so incredibly thankful for the blessings that God is pouring out on us each day. And trust me, blessings come in both small & large packages these days...from a LONG afternoon nap to 7 1/2 hours of sleep in a night or from precious friends bringing over dinner to a day with NO plans whatsoever...Hubby & I are certainly learning to appreciate the little things. And maybe the littlest thing we are loving most of all is our precious baby girl...what more could we ask for in this incredible thing called life?