Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mother of Two

Okay, so my last post might have been a little melodramatic (or "desperate sounding" as Jacob said.)  While I am still in awe of just how HARD it is to be responsible for two little lives, I'm pretty pleased with how my first week home alone with Jack and Cora has gone.

In all honesty, there were moments where the word drudgery was coming to mind.  Another poopy butt to wipe, diapers needing washing/drying/folding, time to pick up another room, the monumental effort required to get going somewhere...  But I got a healthy dose of perspective this week when I remembered that parenting is all about shepherding children from tiny babies to happy, productive adults and that all stages will be brief.  This thought helped me remember that it would be smarter to focus on what I like about each phase rather than being overwhelmed by the harder aspects as I know I will miss each phase once it's past.

And there have been so many wonderful moments this week.  Cora still sleeps a good bit, so I've gotten to spend a lot of quality time with Jack, which has been really special.  We've had several breakthroughs.  First, he's pooping in the potty!!  After months of trying to get him to do this, something clicked last weekend and now he's going on his own initiative.  (And I mean the child is going!  4, 6, 9 times a day - no lie!)  Second, after meltdowns when it was time to go home on our first two outings out, I started talking to him about how important it is for him to be willing to go when Mommy says it is time, how this is part of being kind to Mommy and helping her.  We talked about how the right response is to say "okay, Mommy" and by golly the child did this on Friday when we left the Parenting Center.  It was surreal!  It's been followed by an "okay Daddy" departure and we are hoping to hear it a lot more!

We've fallen into a nice routine this week during the day.  Jacob has been getting up with Jack so that Cora and I can sleep in a little longer.  After I feed Cora, little J and little C and I pile into the double BOB and go on a walk/errand.  Jack brings a breakfast snack and a book and when those are gone, we play I Spy.
A wide load

Once home, Jack then plays while I eat breakfast.  Then we spend an astonishingly long chunk of time working to get all of us ready and Cora fed again.  Every day at this point, we went somewhere (doctor's apptmt., Parenting Center, library) so that Jack could have a change of scenery and some fun.  We come home for lunch for all of us and then I put Jack down for his nap (50% success rate).  I then straighten up from the disaster of the night before (dirty diapers and clothes dropped by the bed).  I got a nap one day, but Cora tends to want me during Jack's nap/quiet time.  After nap/quiet time, Jack and I have been dancing/reading/puzzling/coloring (except for the one day I was pretty much passed out on the couch and he just destroyed the house around me).

During my "nap", I especially like the basket on the side table
Jacob's been trying to get home at a reasonable time and we've gotten to share Cora with friends who have dropped by after work. After dinner and Jack's bedtime routine, I start prepping for the night ahead (diapers and extra clothes by the bed, dirty diapers in the wash, get ready for bed) before Cora wants to eat so that I am ready for bed right when she is.

Evening Routine: that blue ball is a small child having tummy time while Daddy does homework
Night time is another post, but with 3 or 4 nighttime feedings, I am pretty worn down!  I don't really remember this part when I think about Jack as a baby, so I know she'll be able to stretch it out soon, so I'm just hanging in there for now.

On a positive note, all that eating has her plumping right up!

I'm proud of how well Jacob and I have teamed up to support each other this week and I'm so thankful to our wonderful friends who have been bringing us dinner!  That was really helpful in making this week manageable!

Some sweet shots:

Jack digging

Cora awake

Saturday, June 23, 2012

If I'm being honest...

My mom left 2 hours ago.  It's amazing how motherhood can reduce someone who once considered herself quite accomplished to a pretty anxious and overwhelmed state.  I don't know that anything I've ever had in front of me daunted me quite as much as being on my own this week with two little children.  Not speaking in front of thousands of people, running a marathon in 80 degree heat, walking in to teach a class of 20 2nd graders on 5 weeks training, or anything else I've done.  Is that melodramatic?  I don't think so.  I'm schooled enough in this motherhood field to know that this week is going to kick my butt, so maybe I'm just smart to be nervous :)

Case in point.  In 2 hours of being on my own, Cora cried without ceasing on the drive home from the airport, while Jack screamed "Go back and pick up Grammy" and then wet his pants and carseat.  Once home, he has since pooped twice in the potty (a good thing) which as a new and novel thing kept me by his side while Cora continued to cry.  On the positive side, I did feed all of us and Cora is now asleep and Jack hopefully is falling asleep.

As with most things, I think if you can prepare well for a job/task/goal, then you can probably knock it out of the park.  The thing with motherhood is that you always seem to be working in subprime conditions.  I'm now going on two weeks of sleeping in 1.5 - 2.5 hour chunks, so I'd have to say I'm not at optimal performance levels.  I also got slammed with some mastitis and a double dose of pink eye, so again, not optimal.

Post afternoon naps
Enough with the complaining, I have two healthy children and I'm determined that this week will go well.  I want simply to keep everyone safe, fed, and feeling loved and to not lose my cool.  Simple goals, right?  Wish me luck!

(P.S.  Jack is definitely not napping, alas.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

The First Week

June 17, 2012

First off, Happy Father's Day to our favorite daddy!  Your babies love you and I am so happy we are in this parenting thing together!!

Cora's first week has passed quickly.!  I could just sit and hold her all day.  She literally only sleeps and eats.  We are still waiting for her to really wake up.  She sleeps until it's time to eat and then she falls asleep while she is eating.  Changing her diaper is used to wake her up to eat/finish eating.  She seems to have a handful of awake times besides this pattern where we get to see her dark blue eyes as she stares wide eyed around at her world.  Almost all her pictures thus far are of her sleeping because that truly is all she does!

Cora during a rare awake moment

Jack on the other hand is operating at a Jack Landry Level 10.   He is high energy and enjoying the onslaught of attention from grandmothers, grandfathers, and aunts.  He loves visitors and will ask them to read him a book before too long.  My mom has been INVALUABLE this week getting up with Jack in the morning, feeding us all meals, doing laundry, taking Jack places, and keeping him entertained.  He actually napped every day but one, so that has been a blessing and hopefully one that will continue when Grammy leaves...???

Just a note - I love that Jack loves to read.  Who wouldn't love this trait?  But now there are others who understand how you can actually get tired of reading.  "Grammy, I want to read 4 books...Grammy, do you want to read this book?....Grammy, can we read a nummy book?"  He would read 100 books a day if he had willing adults.  My mom and I both laughed when my dad arrived and Jack said, "Big Papa will you read me this book?" and Big Papa good naturedly said "Sure Jack".  "Fresh meat" we were thinking.  We'll see how many books it takes before Big Papa also starts negotiating the act of reading.  (Seriously though, I'm so glad Jack loves to sit quietly and listen to stories and that he loves books so much, I think it's more the need to have constant entertainment that is tiring!)

He also likes to play in the dirt, so he loved continuing to help with the landscaping projects:

Here's a look at what Cora has been up to during her first week

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cora's Birth Story

Cora Beth Landry
June 9, 2012 
7 lbs., 11 oz. - 20 in.

Here is Cora's birth story, with all the details.  If you're interested in a quick summary:

- NOT fun and REALLY painful, while at the same time ideally quick
- perfect timing
- beautiful, healthy baby

The Story.

Friday, June 8th was a perfect day.  I was about to be 38 weeks.  I'd worked all week and took Friday to be at home with Jack.  We didn't have any reason to rush, so we went on a walk, to the bakery, and then took our breakfast to "my park" as Jack calls it and took our time playing.  Then we went home, arriving minutes before a major rainstorm.  Later in the morning, we went to the Parenting Center where we happened upon "water day" and Jack got to strip down to his undies and play in the sprinkler/pool they had set up.  It was such a leisurely morning and special quality time.   And then Jack actually napped!  This allowed me to spend several hours wrapping up things for my job and finishing some random to-dos.  To then have Cora born the next morning - how perfect it was to spend such a special last Mommy-Jack day AND feel so on top of preparing for baby AND not have to go all the way to my due date!

In the morning, I'd had my normal contractions, but after lunch I felt like maybe the day's contractions were a little more frequent and slightly more uncomfortable than they had been.  After having literally thousands of contractions in the last several months, I didn't think too much of it, but while Jack was napping I started writing down when I was having them to see if they were regular.  They weren't all that regular (10-20 mins) but they lasted all afternoon no matter if I was up and doing things or sitting, which made me wonder, since my contractions up to that point had always stopped being consistent after a few hours.

We had dinner plans but since I felt fine, I decided we should still go out and just see if the contractions kept up.  We went to Jacob's NORLI graduation dinner and I continued to feel fine but the contractions continued.  They were closer to 10 minutes apart at this point and the few I paid attention to were about 30 seconds.

After we got home, I decided to time them for 30 minutes to see what was up and they were lasting about a minute and were 9-10 minutes apart.  This made me think it could actually be early labor, so I texted my friend Toy to give her a heads up that this could be the night we dropped Jack off at their house!

It took me a while to go to sleep because I was keyed up (and I drank tea for dinner - mistake).  I noticed contractions occasionally but they weren't really painful and didn't seem regular, but I was also dozing, so it's hard to say.  I got up several times to pee and by 2:00 I had probably only slept 2 hrs. and I had heartburn so I just sat up in bed.  This woke Jacob up, and so I said let's time contractions.  It took a while for me to have one, but when I did, it was strong.  I said, I won't be able to sleep through them, so I'm going to get up.  I called my parents to give them a heads up since my mom wasn't planning to come till Tuesday.

I got out of bed around 2:45 to take a shower.  The contractions immediately picked up and within 15 minutes, they had gone from 5 to 3 minutes apart.  At this point, I started needing a coping mechanism, so I would drop to the floor on my hands and knees and started kicking the ground with my feet and counting my breaths to get through the contraction.  (I also managed to put my make-up on during this to Jacob's "Really?")

My hair was wet so I thought I'd blow dry my hair but as I started to do this (on the ground) I started feeling lots of pressure and had a monster contraction, so I put vanity aside and started giving commands to Jacob to hurry us out of the house.  He finished packing, loaded the car, called the midwives and Toy and got Jack up.  We locked the door at 3:49 a.m. after I had one more hands and knees contraction on the ground.

Jack took getting up this early in stride and was excited to go to his friend "other Jack's" house.  He said "can I take a nap there?"  I had two contractions on the short drive to Toy's house, but managed to just breathe through them looking forward so as not to scare Jack.

On the way to the hospital I had strong contractions at both 3:58 and 3:59, so I started to panic slightly about how many steps there still were to getting to the hospital.  We got to the parking garage at about 4:05.  I had one contraction as we parked and it seemed like the next one was just a minute later.  As we got off the elevators, Jacob grabbed a wheelchair which made navigating the under construction hospital at this point in labor much more manageable.  I made him stop when I had a contraction because they were so intense and it hurt more to be moving.

We rolled up to labor and delivery and Jacob did the talking while I huffed and puffed through another contraction.  We wanted to try a water birth, so he asked for their special "tub room".  Our male nurse (just saying this because even in the state I was in, I still had the thought that a MAN was going to see me in these next stages?!) ushered us in the room where I lost all modesty and hit the floor on the next contraction and started hollering.  Clothes got tossed in a pile in exchange for the hospital gown which quickly also got tossed in a pile.  The nurse attempted to check me which broke my water.  My midwife wasn't there yet, so the resident doctor checked me and I was completely dilated.

I felt like I wanted to push, so I got up on the bed, but then started saying "Someone tell me how, I don't remember how to push."  At this point, it is just Jacob, me and the nurse but the 2 deep breaths and then two held breaths/pushes approach came to me, so I started doing that on the next contraction.  My midwife came in right around then (I think this was about 4:25) and I was very happy to see her.

After the first push or so, I remembered "oh yeah, pushing will get this baby out and END this, so I should push hard!!"  So I closed my eyes and just started going for it, hoping it was working.  I got offered a mirror and to feel the baby's head, but I had no interest in this because I didn't want to be disappointed if we weren't making fast progress!  It became quite evident by the pain that the baby was coming and while the pauses between contractions at first were nice, they quickly became very uncomfortable with the head partly out!  My midwife was great about just telling me to go with what I was feeling and it didn't take too long because Cora was born at 4:38 a.m. (7 lbs, 11 oz and 20 in.)  There was such relief when her head came out and I knew to just give one more push because I remembered how quickly the rest of Jack came.

I said several "thank Gods" mainly because I was so glad she was out and not inside anymore and then I got to see her and everything switched from me being wrapped up in the pain to being so excited to meet my daughter!

I'm sure this blog will devote much space to Cora, but let's just say the last 24 hours have been awesome.  She is just a tiny (1 lb less than Jack makes her seem tiny to me) ball of preciousness and I am loving all this time to just hold and look at her.  I couldn't have been happier with how Jack's and Cora's meeting went and he has continued to ask to hold her and been interested in her.

I got my indoctrination to being mother to 2 a few short hours after Cora was born when Jacob brought Jack to the hospital (pre-arrival of grandmothers) and he pooped and peed in his big boy underwear.  Jacob was holding Cora, so I took over clean up duty.  No rest for the weary - I had a feeling!  (I am taking my full 2 night stay in the hospital though - real life will come soon enough and I'm resting up!)

*P.S.  Thank you to my coach, Jacob who calmly led us through a crazy morning and helped me bring our second beautiful baby into this world.

Here is our daughter:

Daddy and Cora

Big brother kisses
Grammy with her 2 grandchildren
First family of four shot

Sunday, June 03, 2012

37 weeks

37 weeks pregnant (6/3/12)

Yeah!  37 weeks means this is a full term pregnancy.  I do realize what a blessing this is and I'm so glad Cora is getting her full time to grow and develop.

I've been nesting away and have had fun finishing up my baby to-do list.  Diapers are on the changing table, clothes are clean and in the closet, crib and cradle are ready, house is pretty clean.  Bring on baby!

Here is a check-in on my initial list:

To-Do List Before Baby

1) Jack's Room: Buy big boy furniture and move Jack from nursery to big boy bed in his room - Done! I still want to buy a new dresser and hang curtains, but that is a later project.

2) Nursery: Decorate nursery to welcome new baby - Done!  I love the finished project.  I also love that we finished it early because Jack and I go in there daily to rock and read in "Cora's room."

Cora's cradle in our room

3) Dining Room: Finish decorating - we need bar stools, at least one piece of furniture to sit on, and to hang pictures - Eh, we bought the stools and I'm happy with the room - I'm sure we'll do more here later.

4) Our bedroom: Find places for very large pile of stuff and turn this corner into a nursing/reading/relaxing nook with a glider + ottoman - Pile is gone and corner is empty; nursing/reading nook still seems like a great idea, but we couldn't buy everything at once.  Hopefully we'll get something for our room soon because I do like the idea of a place to nurse/read upstairs besides climbing up on a bed.

5) Porch: Clean off our porch and start using it - meaning buy some porch furniture - Yes!  The porch was stained and we bought furniture.  We will ultimately move the swing into the yard, but I love that we have a place to relax.  Too bad it's SO HOT in this city.

6) Backyard: Test our backyard for lead, remediate if need be, landscape, possibly put up a back fence, and make it a place that will be fun for Jack to play outside this summer. - Tested and yes we have lead.  Jacob did some serious excavating on our future play area and we dropped some serious change on dirt (seriously - did you know dirt is expensive?!)  Today's project was spreading out the new dirt in our side yard and porch beds and then next weekend we are getting sod delivered.  That just leaves purchasing a swing set and then Jack will have an awesome spot to play! 

Jack liked being Daddy's little helper and he was in HEAVEN with dirt we'd actually let him play with

What a messy activity!  After lunch he got an outside bath.

 (Oh yeah, we also are the "parents" of 6 chickens now!  Isn't the coop cute?)

7) Baby Supplies: We only NEED new cloth diapers, upgraded changing table, a toilet bowl sprayer, a double stroller, and some girl clothes. - Done!  All purchased, cleaned, and ready!

Week Thirty-Seven Stats:

How it feels to be pregnant at 37 weeks: My contractions are becoming stronger and longer but still irregular.  Labor's onset definitely doesn't seem far off at this point.  I am proud to say that Jack and I were out for several hours yesterday: on a walk, at the park, at the farmer's market, and at a library party and I realized how fortunate I am to feel as good as I do at this point!  My main complaint is my back and that's only at times.

Belly Comparisons

37 weeks with Cora
37 weeks with Jack

My healthy pregnancy intentions for last week (how I did): 

1) Midwife appointment on Wednesday where I'll get an exam to see if these contractions are actually doing anything (We're moving in the right direction.  70% effaced and 1-2 centimeters dilated!  I was 2 cm dilated with Jack at 37 weeks, so this puts me progressing at the same rate as last time (and he was born 8 days early) so I'll take it!

2) Checking off lots of final things on baby to do list (washing bedding and diapers, finishing Cora's room, etc.) (Yes - I really don't have that much more to do and there are lots of cute clean girl clothes hanging up!)

3) Keep walking daily even though I'm starting to feel more tired/winded overall (For the first time this week, I took two days off in a row because it is just SO HOT and with the more intense contractions, walking did NOT sound appealing.  We were back out yesterday though and I foresee continue to walk until the baby comes.)

4) Bradley exercises + relaxation practice (I did not do well on this one - why am I slacking off now?!)

My healthy pregnancy intentions for this week:

1) Midwife appointment on Wednesday

2) I really want to still be pregnant on Tuesday night so I can hold the first La Leche League of New Orleans meeting (7:00 at ZukaBaby).  I'm hoping for a good turn out and have everything ready to go, just need Cora to stay in until at least then!

3) Eat healthily, take walks, and go to prenatal yoga.

4) I'm still working this week and do have some final things to finish up (on work/personal to do lists) but I want to purposely take time to rest and relax since that is equally important!

5) Review Bradley book and get back up to 4 days of Bradley exercises.