Monday, July 27, 2015

Big Sister Update

**This post was written a several days ago; I am just now publishing it**

I am going to try and write this post while little girl makes laps around the downstairs entertaining herself with my flip flops, an empty box, and the dog's lips. I'm in ultra-quiet stealth mode, as usually any peep or change in position from me and she detects it and comes over to me and demands to "help" with whatever I'm trying to do. She even hears when I press the home button on my iPhone. She's crazy. We'll see how far I can get before I am detected this time.

Finally we are 2 DAYS away from seeing little peanut! I could be as far along as just shy of 11 weeks and we still don't have a clue what little baby is up to in there! I have been experiencing lots of nausea - round the clock this time. With Ava, it was only in the evenings and I barely ate anything because I hated almost all food! This time around, nausea hits me at all times of the day and I try to power through it and eat something substantial, which most of the time I can accomplish. The only thing I WILL NOT eat is broccoli and cauliflower. Just thinking about it makes me want to gag! I already have cravings - nothing consistent, just desiring comfort food mainly, if I had to categorize it.

While half of my brain is focused on little baby growing inside my belly, the other half is obviously focused on Ava. She is blowing my mind with how much she is learning and what she can do. Her vocabulary is exploding! If I ask her to go find her bear, her baby, cars, books, or her train, she will go and find it. On bath nights, I will ask her if she wants to go take a bath and she will stop whatever she is doing and walk to the stairs. I can ask her if she wants to go upstairs and read books (which is how we transition to naps) and she will do the same. I am so thankful I taught her to sign "more" and "all done" because now she is applying it to things beyond mealtimes. We can ask her if she's all done with an activity and she waves her hands to say all done. It's great! She did it at the splash park this weekend so we knew she was ready to go. She loves to ask for more snack - she was quite happy the day she really made the connection and finally got these grown ups to give her more Cheerios! After we came home from Kansas, I got out all of Ava's new things she had been gifted. One of the gifts was a little backpack and she walked over to it, picked it up, and carried it over her shoulder. I turned to Chris and said, "do you see what she's doing?!" He said, "well she probably sees you carrying the diaper bag" (which is a backpack). I couldn't believe that she had picked up on what to do with a backpack already! She did it without any hesitation and that is how she carries it any time she plays with it. She will find her play phone and sort of hold it up to her ear (more like her neck) and then hand it to you to do the same! I've seen her play with it alone and she'll say, "eh-doh? eh-doh?" (hello)! It is the cutest thing ever. She tries to imitate everything we say!

Ava likes to crawl up the entire flight of stairs. I try to let her do it at least once a day to work on her large motor skills. Plus, there's usually a kitty at the top of the stairs waiting for her! I let Ava do a few things on the iPad. I found some Baby Einstein videos on YouTube and I found a baby app where she has to tap the screen for a puppet to appear and then it will do silly things and make silly noises. It always makes her smile! I'll let her watch it for a few minutes if she's been fussy and nothing else has helped to "reset" her. Sometimes I turn on Sprout on TV to see if she is interested, but she never is. The only thing that really ever catches her eye on TV is sports! I still don't want her getting a lot of screen time, but there are a lot of educational options out there and I don't see anything wrong with her learning something from a screen once in awhile. Technology isn't going anywhere; iPads are used in schools now!

Ava likes to keep track of what mommy and daddy are doing in the house. She's a really fast walker and we have to be sure to close ALL doors and baby gates behind us immediately because she's always right behind us! She really likes to dance. She has a singing tea pot and she loves all the songs! She loves all of her toys that play songs or that let her explore cause and effect.

We had her urology appointment at Vanderbilt last week. She is still showing signs of hydronephrosis on her left kidney on the ultrasound. But she is still having no symptoms, so we will continue to check on it yearly as long as there are no issues. Her doctor said it seems to be improving! He was talking to me about potty training with her and how we will not want to force it. I probably had a shocked look on my face because potty training is not anywhere on my radar with Ava! Potty training?! Are we for real talking about this?! My baby?! My tiny baby?!?! I can't possibly think about these "toddler" things; she's still just a baby! She's growing up so fast!

And now we are going to have another baby!

Another crib!

Another changing table!

Newborn diapers!!

Another c-section. blahhhhhhhhhh

I'm really not looking forward to that part. I hated recovery. I have seen so many photos of new mommies in their hospital beds sitting CRISS CROSS or sitting with their knees bent underneath them. That makes me jealous!! I wish I could do that...but that could literally tear me open. Plus I will be anchored to my bed with those compression wraps squeezing my legs every 10 seconds (how come nobody ever told me that was a reason you would get NO SLEEP that first night?!) with my catheter and blood pressure monitor and my IV and morphine button. I will never forget the night my nurse came in and asked me if I had made it to the bathroom yet to put on some of the fancy mesh underwear..."um, no, I can't get up with all of these cables and wires coming out of me". I can't believe how nice my verbal response was because inside I wanted to smack him! I feel like he should have been fired on the spot. I'm sorry, have you cared for a post-surgical new mommy before?! Do you know what you are doing?! Idiot. (I laid it alllll out on the survey I got in the mail from the hospital. There were other things we were less than impressed with, too.)

The thought of being cut open again is less than exciting, for sure. It's really hard to walk upstairs and impossible to get out of bed without help. I won't be able to pick up Ava or drive for 6 weeks. But at least with a scheduled c-section we can avoid the scariness of the emergency c-section that happened with Ava. My recovery should go more smoothly since they won't be literally ripping the baby out of me to save her life. I was told they were being a little rough because of the hurry they were in. I guess I am glad I was knocked out for it!

I feel ready for this baby, even though we aren't even out of the first trimester yet! I have learned so much with Ava and I know that the hard times will be over and done with before I know it. I will definitely be sleep training the next baby should s/he need help with sleeping. I will be doing Baby Led Weaning (even if the pediatrician doesn't agree, haha) because I have now seen it start to finish with Ava and I am so happy we skipped over baby cereal and jarred foods. I know now not to worry about the small things and that happy and safe kids are better than a spotless house.

Ava just walked up to me and said "eh-tee" (eat) because she wants to go eat lunch! This girl!!! That is the first time SHE has told ME that it is lunchtime! I guess I'll stop now and go see if the water is boiling for the mac and cheese yet!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Another Miracle in the Making

**This post was written a few weeks ago, and I am just now publishing it.**

I don't even know how to start this post so I'm just going to start putting my thoughts down.

I find it so ironic that my post from earlier today included a part about wondering how I'm going to store all of Ava's baby things.

I found out just a few hours ago that I will only have to keep them in storage for 9 months!!!!!!

...yes, I found out today that I am pregnant...AGAIN!!!!!!!!

Oh my gosh. Obviously I am writing this up just a few hours after seeing that positive test, so things are just sinking in.

It is just so wild! God sure does work in mysterious ways!

So let's rewind to how I got to this joyous moment!

Chris and I decided when Ava was around 8 months old that we would forgo the birth control and let nature take its course. We want to have kids close-ish in age, and once again, we felt confident in going the "no birth control" route since my body sucks at ovulating. I was still not 100% ready for another baby, but we figured there was no point to prevent pregnancy in case it took us a long time to conceive again. As things became easier with Ava with each passing month, I realized I was coming around to the idea of being pregnant again. 

TMI ALERT (haha)
Fast-forward to May, and we are still moving along sans birth control, when AUNT FLO shows up for the first time since before my pregnancy with Ava...and man it was AWFUL. I'm talking going to the bathroom to "freshen up" every 45 minutes for the first 2 days. I slept on bath towels to eliminate the risk of ruining the mattress. Yeah, it was that bad!! I dreaded when my next period would come because I didn't want to deal with that again.

The conversation of a visit to the doctor came up a few times. Since we know we are moving, we thought it might be a good idea to talk to my doctor about getting Clomid again so that we could at least have the medication on hand when we were ready to try, especially if I would be "between doctors" for a little while until we get settled in Georgia. I knew I could not take Clomid while breastfeeding, so Ava had to be fully weaned before I could take any fertility medication. So we were kind of waiting around for Ava's birthday so I could begin weaning her.

Chris and I had talked about how fun it would be to surprise everyone at Ava's first birthday party with the news that she would be a big sister. Her party came and went and I never had the slightest feeling that I needed to take a pregnancy test. It wasn't even on my mind at all. I was still anxiously awaiting my next period and I was hoping that it wouldn't arrive during our trip to Kansas!

Once we got home, I began weaning Ava, and Chris and I started a high-protein, low-carb, no sugar diet along with an exercise plan. We were ready to get fit and eat better, and for me, there was no better time to do it than when I was planning to wean Ava. I was mentally ready to focus on ME and getting my body back on track without having to worry about if/how it would affect my supply.

So we began the diet, and Chris was loving it because you eat all the time and eat tons of protein and veggies. Me, on the other hand...I seemed to be struggling to eat the chicken and veggies even when I was starving. I've never been a big protein person; I like the side dishes more. I'd be happy with a 4 ounce steak at a steakhouse! Anyway, at dinner last night Chris had a heaping bowl of broccoli and cauliflower and just looking at it made me want to gag! I had made some oven roasted broccoli earlier in the week that I just couldn't bring myself to eat as leftovers. I thought, man, this diet sucks! Why do I have to fight my gag reflex when I'm starving?! I thought it must be just my body adjusting to weaning Ava and this no sugar/low-carb diet.

Today at lunch I was starving..and once again had to force myself to eat my chicken and veggies. I threw half of it away. I took a trip to the commissary and it occurred to me...I should probably take a pregnancy test! My period was awhile ago, and who knows when it will come back since those first few postpartum periods are whacky anyway. I had a hot flash in the store, and I remember picking up the box on the shelf and smiling because I think I realized there was a chance I could be pregnant.

But then again, how in the heck could I be?! My ovulating has always been a mess! What would the odds be that I could get pregnant without any kind of help after 4 years of trying to get pregnant with Ava?!

I came home and unloaded groceries and got Ava all set up with lunch. I peed on the stick and then went back into the kitchen to put groceries away. I honestly forgot the test was waiting for me in the bathroom. I went back in after a few minutes, and the only thought that was in my mind was an ever-so-casual thought, "I honestly think I will be disappointed if it's negative!"

Just like a leaf in the wind, not even a deep or preconceived thought. Just in that moment, I realized how much I wanted to be pregnant again.

To my surprise, it said PREGNANT +3. 

(The cheapest box of digital tests was the one that "predicts" how many weeks along you are.)

I immediately gasped and kept on saying "oh my gosh" over and over and carried the stick around the house until I found my phone. I called Chris at work and asked what him what he was doing to make sure he wasn't distracted or super busy. He said something or other - I'm sure he could hear how big my smile was on the other end - and I blurted it out:

"I just took a pregnancy test, and it says POSITIVE! It says POSITIVE!!!"

I was laughing! I was crying! I was sweating!

Chris was laughing with me and said "Really?! That's so awesome!"

And we just kind of gasped and breathed and laughed and I cried some more and wiped my brow and we tried to gather our thoughts. I told him I was sorry for ruining his focus for the rest of the day! And of course, since this happened on a Friday afternoon, I had no time to make it in to the doctor for a pregnancy test. It will have to wait until Monday. It's not quite as scary this time around because: 

1. Chris is home this time and I didn't have to keep it a secret for 4 weeks (that was such torture) and 

2. I know exactly how this will work this time and there will be no stressing out about knowing what to do: I have to do a walk-in pregnancy test at the clinic, it gets sent up to OB, they call me a few days later to set up my orientation appointment, at the orientation appointment I will then be assigned to a doctor. At that appointment I will get an ultrasound and then we will officially know how far along I am. It takes 3 visits to get a due date, ugh!!

My pregnancy app that I've already re-downloaded tells me that I'm already 8 weeks along. I'm kind of doubting that, but I guess it's possible if I ovulated like a normal person. But since I'm not normal (haha) and slight nausea seems to have just kicked in, I'm thinking it's more like 4 or 5. We won't know for sure until that first ultrasound!

I am already wondering what this first trimester will feel like. Will it be the same as with Ava? I had a lot of breast tenderness before I tested with Ava, and I haven't felt that at all this time, but I am finishing up nursing so that could be why. I have had a lot of uterine rumblings feelings tenderness I can't even put it into words - just that sense that something was happening, which I assumed was my period threatening to show up any day.

And I was just thinking to myself earlier today: "what am I going to blog about now since there are no more weekly pregnancy updates or monthly Ava updates?!"

Well I guess you all are in luck because you are about to get 9 MORE MONTHS of updates!!!

Ok, well I may not post as much as last time because I'll have Ava to chase after and even though it is still so exciting to be pregnant again, it won't be my first time so things aren't as new.

We love you already, little one! Ava is going to be a phenomenal big sister!!!

Do I Really Have A One-Year-Old?!

I feel like someone has turned a page into a new chapter in my book of being a mother. Chris and I were talking after we got home from our Kansas trip and we both agree that Ava seems to know that she is a 1 year-old. She just acts bigger! 

She learned how to say "cracker". It just sounds like "kkkkkkkkkkkk" at the back of her throat! She's pretty impressed with herself when she says it!

She walks everywhere! She has really become a walking expert and doesn't even crawl at all anymore. She also doesn't want anyone to hold her hand while she walks. She's very into the "me do it" phase with walking!

She just acts like a such a big girl!

It's almost as if the universe knew she turned one and now all these changes are happening. It makes me so happy to see her loving life and learning new things each day. I love all the communicating she can do - she finally signed "more" a few weeks ago and I love when she does it!

I am trying to figure out how in the world I am going to store all this baby stuff she outgrew - her car seat and base, bibs, blankets, clothes, toys, bottles, burp cloths...and then to find places for all of her toddler toys! I am switching out things in her room to make space for all her big kid stuff!

I have begun the weaning process and it is going well so far! She only gets nursed first thing in the morning and then she gets a cup of milk at each meal. I've never really nursed on demand (except for when she was tiny, of course) nor have I nursed for comfort, so it's not really been an issue for either of us! I haven't really experienced any engorgement now that I go 24 hours between nursing sessions, which I was a little worried about. I plan to remove her final nursing session next week! I am having a little bit of mixed emotions about it. Although I am looking forward to the freedom of a weaned baby, I am also feeling a bit sad, like this is the "final step" that signifies Ava is no longer a baby. I can tell she's ready; her morning session is super short and when she's done, she sits up and is ready to get off my lap and play. Ava has always been more of a cold-turkey kind of girl when it comes to transitions and schedule changes. It only takes her a day or two to adapt.

Her birthday party was so fun! Super busy for momma, but Ava enjoyed all that was going on! She was a little slow with the whole "cake smashing" concept - she was intrigued by the star marshmallows and wanted to eat all those instead of get all messy in the cake. She wasn't a fan of having frosting stuck to her hands and she kept trying to shake it off. Finally daddy took a fork and scraped some of the frosting away to expose the cake inside, and then she went to town! She ate cake for a few minutes and then signed "all done" and we got her cleaned up for opening gifts!

Ava was pooped. I could see it in her face that all the excitement was wearing on her! We opened her gifts quickly while she sat in a wagon and we'd show her all the new things she got. The party was still going on strong but we knew Ava was going to get feisty as it was already an hour passed her bedtime, and she still needed a bath. She said her goodbyes to everyone and was bathed and put to bed. She slept in the next morning!

Ava did phenomenal on the way home. She really didn't fuss much at all. Her naps were only 30 minutes, of course. Too much excitement for her to sleep long. We stopped for lunch at an Air Force Base on the way home. We were hoping to find a park but we settled on a shady patch of grass near the commissary instead. We fueled up and hit the road again! Ava did so well on this trip - this was by far the most successful trip with Ava that we have taken!

We are going to Vegas in a few weeks...and I am little worried about the super early flight out there and the 2 hour time difference. I'm trying not to stress about it because ultimately Ava will be the one deciding when she is going to sleep. I wonder how she'll do?! It might just be a few days of crazy, but that's ok...what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Our Baby Turns One Year Old!

Our sweet Ava Mckenzie, our Ava baby, Ava Bava, Ava Mac & Cheese, my little froggy...turns one year old today!!!

And what a difference a month can make!!

I feel like I've only recently become really good at making the most of each day, specifically, her nap times. Did it really take me 10 months to get to the point where I was eager to get things done while she was sleeping?! 

Yes, it did!!!

Know why? Because that's how long it took for her to start sleeping through the night, and therefore, I no longer felt like a complete zombie. She's an early riser so some days I definitely still want to nap, but I'm finally feeling more productive and in control of my days, and I feel like tackling small projects again. Yay me!! During one nap time, I can now:

*Sit and do nothing for a little bit
*pick up the downstairs
*do a little workout (emphasis on little!)
*clean a toilet or two
*shower and/or get dressed
*work on a project

...all in an hour and a half!!

I've gotten really good at cleaning the kitchen during Ava's mealtimes, so that's nice that I can kill 2 birds with one stone! Adding one more mouth to feed (even though its a tiny mouth) sure has generated a lot more dishes! The dishwasher gets run daily, whereas we used to run it every couple of days.

I modified her bedtime routine so that nursing is almost not even a part of it. And then Ava decided she no longer wanted to nurse at bedtime. She would literally laugh at me and turn away! What?! I never imagined that would happen!! So we decided to go ahead and add in a sippy cup of milk at dinner a couple of weeks early so she could get all the calories she needs. 

I have packed up all her newborn toys, blankets, and bibs. I wasn't expecting to feel sad about it, but I was! 

Where has the time gone?!

This has been the most memorable year of my life. I knew what being a mom must be like, but I was not prepared for what it would feel like.

Intense joy.

Intense fear. 
(What should I do? How do I handle this? Am I doing this right?)

Intense love. Such intense love!!

About this time, one year ago, I was in labor at the hospital. We had NO IDEA what was in store for us on that day! I barely remember seeing her for the first time. Our stay in the hospital felt like an eternity, even though it was only 48 hours. I realized the first week with her was such a blur, and at the time I didn't feel like I was in a heavy-painkiller-haze, but looking back, I know I was.

One of the earliest memories of being a parent that sticks out to me the most was when we were at her newborn photography session. Ava was 11 days old. The photographer was getting Ava all positioned for her first picture and she asked me how I do her hair.

"Her hair?!" I remember thinking.

I immediately felt panic wash over me. I had no idea how to do her hair!

It was such a simple question, but one that I was so unprepared for. I was surprised at how it made me feel - I felt like I was already failing as Ava's mother because I didn't know how I wanted her hair to lay. I simply hadn't thought about it!

I think I just shrugged and the photographer moved on with making Ava look like sleeping beauty without missing a beat. I doubt she knew what was going through my head, but I immediately felt relieved that it wasn't a big deal that I suddenly realized that I have this baby and I have no idea what I'm doing.

I have definitely realized that other parents have no idea what they are doing either - we just try to make the best decisions we can. Even though it may look like we know what we are doing, we probably don't. Everyday is a new day filled with new experiences. What worked yesterday may not work today!

Raising a baby is tough, y'all!!!

We are celebrating Ava's birthday at home with family and friends!! I couldn't have imagined her first birthday any other way. We still have family who haven't met her yet and her birthday is only a few days before her cousin's birthday, so we decided to have a joint birthday party...4th of July themed, of course!! I am so happy we get to be at home for this day. She is such a joy, a blessing, a treasure...and I am thankful we have this day to share her with everyone!

I can't wait to watch her eat cake for the first time tonight; I think she's gonna love it!!

We made it!! 
We survived 365 days of raising a baby!!!