Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Welcoming Brayden Donavan

Everyone says the day your child is born is a day you'll never forget. So true. For both Lauren and myself, the experience was memorable and amazing. So what happened? Let's start at the beginning.

Finding out I'm pregnant. My response? Extreme excitement, a sweet little hop for joy and an immediate phone call to Lauren. Lauren's response? He actually gave himself an "Atta-boy!" He was just so proud of himself.

Being pregnant. The pregnancy itself went great. Aside from the big belly in the third trimester (and the knowledge that there was a person growing inside me!), for most of my pregnancy, I didn't "feel" pregnant. I wasn't miserable; I wasn't uncomfortable. I worked out until I went into labor (jogging until Lauren forbid it in month seven, and at the gym doing low-impact cardio even after my due date). I didn't have the extremes that a lot of people go through. My morning sickness was bearable and my mood swings were minor. There was one great hormonal feat the weekend of my Chicago baby shower, however, when I broke down in tears. Why? Because of something that happened three years ago, of course. Lauren was gracious enough to wait to laugh at me until after I finished sobbing.

Boy or Girl? My pregnancy was actually going so well that I made the joke to Lauren that it must be a boy, because girls are never THAT nice to their mothers (apologies to any women with young girls - I'm sure you will be best friends your whole life through). Since we left the gender a surprise, everyone was guessing whether it was a boy or girl. And everyone had a very scientific reason for their choice (including the notion that girls steal the beauty from their mothers and when you're pregnant with a girl, your butt gets wider and your face gets fat). For whatever reason, after the ultra-sound at 20 weeks, Lauren and I both had the feeling it was a boy. Score one point for us.

The Due Date. As my due date approached, I was getting a bit nervous. Lauren and I really wanted to have a natural childbirth. And we really, REALLY did not want to be induced. We listened to all the old wives tales from people about how to jump start things (spicy foods, curb-walking, stairs, pineapple) and we foolishly tried most of them.

On My Way. I was due on a Tuesday and my labor started the following Friday. I started having very minor contractions Friday morning. All of a sudden, after dinner, they kicked into gear. They were still about 10 minutes apart but I had a feeling this was "it" and really wanted to do something to keep busy. What did I choose? I requested a trip to the grocery store so we could buy raspberries and make a cobbler. Yep. I was BAKING while having contractions. Lauren was quite the sport about everything and donned his apron to pacify my pre-labor cooking bout. (If you're looking for a super-tasty summer treat, by the way, here's the recipe we worked off of.)

Cooking between contractions.

Hospital Time. After the contractions had become pretty strong and only 2-3 minutes apart, we headed to the hospital (around 2:30 a.m.). There was some pretty funky weather that weekend and the nurses said "everybody" was going into labor. We actually got the last room in the hospital. We were assigned a nurse who was really a manager not scheduled to work, but who came in because of the labor-boom. It's lucky for us so many people were in labor, because she was simply amazing.

Baby Time! When we checked into the hospital, I was about 5cm. Lauren and I found a pattern that worked for us through the rest of labor; I was leaning over through my contractions, and he was massaging my back. After hours of this pattern, the nurse looked over at Lauren and joked that he would need pain-killers for his hand because he must be in pain. To which he (intelligently) replied, "yeah, but I can't complain" as he pointed at me.

The labor went really well. I was sort of hoping I would have a crazy hormonal/pain-induced outrage to have a good story to tell (like when Lauren injured his back and was on pain killers in the hospital and started acting out scenes from Top Gun). But I didn't. I asked Lauren afterwards and he said I wasn't even a little bit mean to him. Guess I blew that free pass, huh?

The "transition" phase was difficult for me and I started doubting my ability to go the natural route. Lauren and the nurse were both so supportive and reminded me just how close I was. Lauren kept telling me how proud he was of me and how great I was doing. So I stuck it out. And not long later, it was time to push. The pushing lasted 30-45 minutes, maybe. Lauren was a bit surprised at how casual the doctors were acting. In between pushes, he says the nurse and my doctor were just chatting about things unrelated to the child emerging from my lower half. I was resting between pushes and getting pretty exhausted. Then finally, something kicked into high gear and I decided I was ready to just finish the job. A few more pushes and out Brayden came. Lauren says that no one "caught" him and he just kind of slid across the bed, and spun to the side a little. I wish I could have seen that; it sounds amusing.

Lauren and I were so excited when the baby was born that we didn't even think to look at the gender of the precious baby being put into my arms. It wasn't until a few minutes later that it dawned on us. I looked down and happily exclaimed "it's a boy!" Lauren had a look of shock on his face, asked "really?" and then let a big smile emerge. So adorable.

We are both so blessed that we had a completely healthy, problem-free, medication-free, natural childbirth.

And that we were able to eat cobbler after coming home from the hospital, of course.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Joining the blogging world

Along with my recent shift from "married with no kids" to the exciting land of motherhood, I figured I'd also make the change from blog-stalker to blog-writer. I'm not necessarily giving up the first; perhaps just evening up the playing field. With all of the adventures going on inside this wonderfully chaotic life, why not share them with everyone? The more the merrier, right? For anyone reading, you can share all of the fun and crazy I dish out along the way, get some good laughs, and maybe toss some advice my way (especially since the adhesive on my new "mother" name tag hasn't even worn off yet).

A bit of background might be helpful for anyone new or whom I've been out of touch with for a while.

If my world had a bumper sticker, it would probably say something like "the sweet life." I'm a pretty lucky girl who has a pretty amazing life. I'm married to my college sweetheart (who just so happens to be a hilarious yet supportive guy who knows just how to challenge me and keep me on my toes). I  have a ton of hobbies that add joy to my life, keep me busy, and give me insight and adventure. I love traveling and am fortunate enough to be able to do quite a bit of it. After my husband and I moved to Virginia in 2008, we adopted two ultra-active (and adorable!) Vizsla puppies, who have brought us so much fun. And most recently (and perhaps most notably), we welcomed a baby boy into our loving family. I'll be staying home for a few years to watch over the munchkin. While I'm doing so, I'll be working on the book I started writing eons ago. I'm so lucky that Lauren and I are in a position that allows me to do this. I'm thrilled to stay home and raise our baby, and so excited to finally be free of a full-time job and able to devote the time needed to write a book.

Obviously, my hands are a bit full right now. Brayden turned 1 month old on Monday (see his photos in the gallery!) and I'm still getting used to having another person to take care of. A lot of people have asked me about his birth (and the first month!) so later this week I hope to detail the wonders of Brayden's first 30 days. Until then, I'll leave you with a list of things I've learned over the past month (aside from how to swaddle a baby and what to do when your baby doesn't want to poop for a week).

10 Things I've Learned After a Month of Motherhood

10. Babies are like puppies. 
Cute ones bring smiles to strangers' faces, elicit "oooohs" and "aaaahhhs" and are conversation starters.

9. Murphy's Law is ten times stronger when you have a baby.
Just put a cute new outfit on your little one? Expect spit up, vomit or some other type of mess. Just put your baby down for a nap and are sitting down to eat something for the first time all day? You better believe the crying will start the second you go to take a bite.

8. It's okay for the house to be messy.
When you've gotten two hours of sleep and are carrying around a crying baby, you really don't notice those dirty dishes in the sink. 

7. It's far easier to look good being pregnant then to look good being 1-month postpartum. 
When you're nine months pregnant, looking "big" is cute. Not so much when you've had the baby. You still have a lot of weight to lose, your pre-pregnancy clothes don't fit yet, but your maternity-wear is designed to show off your "cute" bump. Not so good.

6. You have way more patience than you ever knew.
You might think you don't have much, but trust me, you do. When you have your own kids, you find a way to be more understanding, patient and kind. And when you're dealing with exhaustion and fussy babies, somehow things that used to bother you just don't.

5. There's just no avoiding baby talk or getting poop on you.
Both of them will happen. As much as you hope they won't. They will.

4. Raising a baby can be like magic.
Sometimes you just have to figure out the trick. After Brayden spent a few (long) days fussing and not sleeping, we tried out something new. We started a nighttime routine (yep, for an infant) where we gave the munchkin a bath, put him in (adorable!) pajamas, fed him, and tucked him into his crib with his musical lamb. Since then, he's been waking up only once or twice at night to eat and going right back to sleep afterwards. So exciting.

3. The baby-gear industry is insane.
We can't help but laugh at some of the crazy things that are out there. Like strollers with shocks on them. "What's that in our garage?" you ask. It's a stroller with shocks on it. "Checkmate" says the industry.

2. People love spoiling babies and helping mommies.
I'm so amazed at how many strangers offer to help me with my groceries or open doors for me when I've got the little man in tow. Lauren and I were also so touched by how many cards and gifts Brayden received after being born. He jokes that Brayden has more clothes than he does. But actually, it's not a joke. It's very, very real.

1. Sleep. Is. AMAZING. 
It's one of those things you don't appreciate until it's gone. But really, I miss it more than a South Beach dieter misses carbs.

Am I forgetting any? What were some of the wonderful motherhood epiphanies you had in the early days?