Friday, December 20, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Newborn Photographs

When Natalie was 10 days old, we had a photographer come to the house to take newborn photos of her. Tara at Creative Hearts Arts was amazing! The way she was able to keep Natalie asleep and change her or get her into different positions was incredible. We tried very hard to get a good photo with Zoey but both dog and baby were not being too cooperative with that...so oh well.

We love how these photos came out, and will treasure these for a lifetime.
 
Tara took a bunch of Christmas photos for us as well and even edited them for us in just a few days so that we could make up our holiday cards as quickly as possible.
This one is my favorite photo of  the day. I think it says everything! I love our little family!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Cards

When it comes to invitations, announcements and various cards, I've always been a huge fan of TinyPrints.com. We ordered my Baby Shower Invitations from them:
Source
 I also ordered my Baby Shower Thank You cards for the shower from them:
Source
So when the time came to order Holiday Cards/Birth Announcements this year, I knew Tiny Prints would be my go-to destination! The Social Media team at Tiny Prints went above and beyond to ensure that I got the best possible holiday card/birth announcements and most importantly that I got them quickly in time for the holiday season! I can't thank them enough for the amazing customer service. I always got a response quickly, even on the weekends or late at night!!

It was really hard to pick a card because there were quite a few that I liked, but in the end I chose the New Fallen Snow: Slate template from their site, and I'm so happy with how it came out!
Front: Source

Back: Source
This allowed me to highlight some of the professional pictures we had taken of Natalie (more on that tomorrow!!) plus include a little picture of our first daughter, Zoey!

Thank you Tiny Prints for our amazing Holiday cards and for always providing the perfect products to complement these great milestones of our lives!

If you are still trying to send out holiday cards this year, remember that Tiny Prints offers Super Rush Delivery (two day shipping) and Super Rush Plus (next day if ordered by 1pm!) options on all their orders. It's not too late to send out holiday cards this year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Picking Natalie's Name

There really is no big story or meaning behind picking Natalie's name. I made a list of potential girl names and would randomly mention a name here or there to Chris to test him out. I learned early on that "sitting down to discuss name after name" was not the way to go about picking a name. It made the process too serious, and when one of us didn't like a name the other person really liked...we would just get annoyed and defensive. So I took to the method of randomly mentioning a name here and a name there to gauge Chris's opinion.
Source

Natalie
For the most part, Chris didn't like 99% of the names I picked for both boys and girls, which was frustrating. Finally, while we were on our babymoon in Miami, I said "What do you think of the name Natalie?" For the first time ever Chris said "I actually kind of like that" I played it cool and just nodded my head, but in my mind I was thinking "Done and done...that's going to be our daughter's name." It was the first (and basically only) name that we both liked right off the bat.

From the Late Latin name Natalia, which meant "Christmas Day" from Latin natale domini. This was the name of the wife of the 4th-century martyr Saint Adrian of Nicomedia. She is venerated as a saint in the Orthodox Church, and the name has traditionally been more common among Eastern Christians than those in the West. It was popularized in America by actress Natalie Wood (1938-1981), who was born to Russian immigrants.

My baby name book stated the following:
This steady favorite is especially popular for Christmas babies, thanks for its meaning "birthday of the Lord." It's taken from the French form of the saint's name Natalia. Natalie sounds more classically American, Natalia more dramatic. 

source

Claire
Claire was one of my front-runners for a first name. I think it's a beautiful name, I don't know too many people with it, and it has been steadily rising in popularity over the past few years. Chris didn't want it for a first name, so I filed it away for a rainy day. We had two other girl middle names that we were debating on right up until the Saturday before she was born. For various reasons, they just weren't working for us. Finally I suggested we use Claire as a middle name and Chris was surprisingly on board with it. So, Claire was not decided upon until one week before she was born!

My baby name book:
Claire is straightforward, in the best kind of way: sweet, pretty and smart. This classic is now enjoying a burst of popularity, especially among urban professional parents who appreciate its dressed-for-success strength. The traditional English spelling is Clare, the French is Claire.

Online:
Claire, luminous, simple, and strong, with a barely distinguishable French accent, is one of those special names that is familiar yet distinctive, feminine but not frilly, combining historical depth with a modern edge. And though Claire is enjoying revived popularity--it now ranks at Number 45--its highest ever-- it will never be seen as trendy. Claire is also a great middle name choice.

Famous women named Claire include the medieval Saint Clare of Assisi (who was made the patron saint of television in 1958 because of her reputed power to see events at a distance), writer Clare Booth Luce, silent screen siren Clara Bow, and actresses Claire Bloom and Claire Danes.

And that is the "story" behind Natalie Claire.

Also, in case you are wondering, or planning to ask: mums the word on what our boy name would have been. We have to keep it a secret in case we have a boy next! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Natalie's Birth Story Part 2

Yesterday I shared Part One of Natalie's Birth Story. Today, I'm continuing on with Part Two.

I'm going to backtrack a little bit: When I arrived to the hospital, my usual OB was the doctor on call that day. I was so excited that she would be the one to see me through my delivery! But unfortunately, her shift ended 2 hours after I arrived. :( :( :( The next doctor to take over was the other female doctor who I had seen several times during my pregnancy, and again I was happy that she would see me through my delivery! She stayed on 2 hours later than her shift because she thought I would deliver...but unfortunately, she ended up having to leave for the day. Not to worry though, she was leaving me in the capable hands of Dr. A! My response was: "Who?!"

Remember how I had made a point to see all the doctors in my practice so I would know all of the OB's who could potentially be on call during my delivery? Well...I managed to completely miss one doctor in the practice, and that just happened to be the doctor who I ended up having!! Luckily, she was really awesome, and I've already scheduled my 6 week follow-up appointment with her. I have no complaints, I just think it's so hilarious that she was the ONE doctor I never saw during my 9 months of appointments!

Moving on: Around 2:00pm, a barrage of nurses, my doctor, and a med student stormed into my room with machines, and various other medical equipment. I think the med student was participating in his first ever delivery, not because he was bad, but because he was being talked through every single little thing, and he seemed in total awe of everything. Apparently, it was time for me to start pushing. I was surprised! I thought I had a few more hours until I would be 10 centimeters dilated, but I was already there! It was then that I started to get nervous. I realized that this was really, actually happening. Was I ready for this?

Labor is kind of crazy. But at the point where you realize just how insane it is, you're already too far in...you can't turn back, and you have absolutely no choice but to get the baby out.

Heather asked me a great question yesterday, and it's a question I feel I should answer for everyone, because up until 3 weeks ago, I would have had the same exact question, and I should have been more specific yesterday.
Also, was it basically 2-3 hours of pretty much continuous pushing, or more like pushing, then waiting a few minutes, and pushing again? I guess it's good that it felt much quicker than it was.

When I say that I had 2-3 hours of pushing, it wasn't continuous. I pushed only during contractions. During each contraction two people on either side of me held my legs up and pushed them back. I was instructed that as soon as I felt a contraction coming on, I was to take a deep breath, hold it, and push as hard as I could for 10 seconds. I was to do this 3 times for each contraction, and then I could rest until the next contraction. Sometimes these rests were a few minutes long, sometimes they were only seconds. I found it interesting how my body would react accordingly based on what I was able to handle. For example: There was one contraction in particular where I pushed extra hard and really expelled a ton of energy. The rest period after that contraction lasted twice as long as usual...because my body knew that I needed the extra rest. After that, I didn't push as hard as I could have, and as a result, my next contraction came 10 seconds later. My body knew I had more in me. It was incredible how the contractions happened sporadically based on what I could or couldn't physically handle.

During my rests in between contractions, I usually laid on my side with my eyes closed and tried to relax as much as possible. Chris would sometimes try to engage me, but I wasn't really much for conversation, and I didn't really have the energy to talk back to him. He kept giving me ice chips as I needed them (I wasn't allowed to drink water, but I could suck on ice). During one rest in particular, the doctor asked us if we knew what we were having. When we told her we didn't know, she got really excited because it's not that common anymore for couples not to find out. As a result, she's not used to announcing "It's a girl!" or "It's a boy!" anymore, so she would try and remember to do so when our baby was born.

Natalie was stuck behind my pelvic bone for quite a few pushes, I'm not entirely sure how long it was. Once we finally passed that difficult part, she was kind of half out/half in for a few more contractions...my pain and uncomfortableness was at an all-time high for that part of it. I was so close, I just need to muster up a bit more energy for the last part. For my last contraction before she was delivered, I did my pushing for the required 3 times....but I knew she was there. So I told them I was going for a 4th push and with one big cray cray energy burst I pushed her out and she was officially born. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, so Dr. A had to cut it instead of Chris.

Through the excitement of everything, added to the fact that the doctor was focused on cutting the umbilical cord, she didn't remember to announce our baby's gender. What followed went something like this:
Dr. A:  "Put him over on the table to cut the cord"
Chris: turning to me "Well...it's a boy!"
Dr. A: "Oh..is it?!"
Chris: "Yea...well..you just said 'him'"
Dr. A: "Oh! I didn't even check!" she runs over to the table with the baby "It's a boy...no...no...it's a girl!"
Laura and Chris: "Are you serious?!?!?!?! Wait...no, are you really serious?!"
I thought she was joking, I thought she was being funny. But Chris went over, and sure enough...it was a girl.

I. was. shocked. (but still very very happy of course)


I wanted to have skin to skin contact as soon as possible after the birth. But unfortunately it didn't happen. They cleaned her up and took care of everything, but a nurse from the NICU was concerned about her pale color (ummm hello? Have you seen how pale I am?!) I was informed that I could hold her for a few minutes, but that they would like to monitor her for a few hours in the NICU until she got a better color in her.

I have to say that even though she was taken to the NICU and I, of course, wasn't happy about that...I really never honestly felt nervous or distraught. Of course, I wished that she was with me and that I could start breastfeeding right away...but I knew that she was fine. I knew that they were just being extra cautious for the sake of her health, and I never for a second thought that there was actually something wrong with her. Maybe I was too exhausted to fret or worry, but I knew she would be fine.

I was still in the stirrups for a good 30-40 minutes after delivery. The doctor pushed on my abdomen to deliver the placenta (funny story: It came out so quickly the doctor didn't have time to react and it fell on the floor. True story. You heard it here first folks.) She stitched me up - I could feel her stitching me, so she had to apply a local anesthetic to numb the area. I was cleaned up, and I was supposed to stay in that room to recover for the next 2 to 3 hours. However, they ended up needing the room for another delivery that had just arrived, so I was taken to a separate recovery room.

I have to say, one of the biggest surprises to me about labor was how I felt after labor. No one ever tells you how much you hurt for the next hours/days/weeks. I felt like I had gone through major surgery. I couldn't stand up straight, I needed the aid of a nurse just to go to the bathroom, the cramps continued for hours afterward and were still extremely strong, and the blood just wouldn't let up. It hurt to move, it hurt to shift positions in bed. My epidural needle was removed and I "relaxed" in the recovery room for a few hours. It was while I was there that our parents and Chris went home to get themselves dinner, and wash up a bit before heading back to the hospital that night. I was glad to have some quiet time to myself - even though there were women on both sides of me WITH their babies, and being visited by tons and tons of people.

At around 9:00 p.m., I was finally wheeled to my post-partum room, where I would be for the next two days. These were private rooms, with huge amazing bathrooms. Basically, I felt like I was being put up in a hotel room for two nights where I'd get around-the-clock care for both me and my baby. It was an ideal situation. I can't imagine having to share a room with someone, as I know so many hospitals still do. Both our families were back at the hospital and we were anxiously awaiting Natalie to be brought up to us. I was told that the NICU was releasing her at 9:30 p.m.

9:45 p.m. rolled around, and we still didn't have her! Chris and my mother-in-law went to go see what the hold up was and tried to move them along. At 10:00 p.m., Natalie Claire was brought in to us and our families were able to meet her for the first time.

I let everyone in the room get time with her, but then I had to ask everyone to leave. I was very eager to get started on breastfeeding, and knew that I had already lost 5 1/2 hours with her where I could have been establishing our breastfeeding relationship. The nurse came in to help get me started. I have much to say on breastfeeding, and I will address that in the coming weeks. I was totally winging it, but we did have a pretty natural and easy start right from the beginning and for that I am so grateful.

The next two days were a blur of visits from both family and friends, restless sleep, great nurses, awful nurses, a not-so-helpful lactation consultant, learning how to change our first diapers, learning how to swaddle, down time together just Natalie and me, and time together just Natalie, Chris, and Me. As eager as I was to get home to start our new life together as a family, I was actually really sad to leave the hospital on Sunday. The hospital was safe. If anything happened, I could have a nurse or doctor there in two seconds flat. In the hospital, I just called downstairs for my food order three times a day and a tray of food would arrive to my room 20 minutes later (good food I might add!) In the hospital, if I needed something, I could just push a red button on my bed and someone would help me. Most people can't wait to leave the hospital...I wanted to stay.

But Sunday came, and we sat down with the nurse and signed a bunch of paperwork releasing both me and Natalie from the hospital. The nurse did a final check on me, and a final check on Natalie. She loaded us up with some more supplies, and before we knew it...we were left to our own devices. Chris and I dressed her in her "coming home" outfit, we spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to get her into the carseat (ok..come on, those things are complicated) and then Chris went to get the car and pull up front. 

I'll always remember a friend who recently had a baby said when her and her husband left the hospital they were driving home with their baby in the backseat and they looked at each other and said "They just let us leave with a baby!" We felt that way too.

"Umm...there's a baby in our backseat. Are we qualified to just leave the hospital on our own...with a baby? What do we do now? Is this car-seat even properly installed?? Will the balloon I attached to her car-seat kill her?? Did I dress her warm enough to be allowed outside? Did we even have newborn diapers at home to fit her?!"

And Chris? He probably didn't break 20 mph the whole drive home. I'm sure even senior citizens were passing us, cursing those crazy "Sunday drivers."

And the we arrived home.

Which is a whole slew of other posts, best saved for another time. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Natalie's Birth Story Part 1

The night before Natalie was born, Chris came home really in the mood for ribs. I didn't have anything prepare for dinner, so we went off to Tony Roma's. It's kind of rare for us to go out in the middle of the week but we realized that impromptu dinners like this would be hard to come by in the coming weeks. Side Note: The fact that the night before I went into labor we were off to a restaurant to satisfy my husband's food craving is not lost on me. ;)

Nevertheless, we enjoyed our dinner and the time spent together. We talked about a lot of things: how our lives would soon change; what we were excited for; what we were nervous about; etc. etc.
Who needs ribs? I was excited for dessert!!

That night we went home feeling extremely motivated to pack 100% for the hospital. We had packed for the hospital the previous week...but it was very haphazardly, and we still had toiletries and electronics to get together.

There were two things that I had been putting off doing all that week that HAD to be done before going to the hospital. One was reattaching the car-seat pad to the car-seat after washing it, and the other was finalizing my hospital bag. We accomplished both that day...of course, having no idea that I was going to go into labor that night. But it was like my mind and body knew that I was finally fully ready for the baby to arrive. I will do a separate post on what we packed for the hospital.
Hospital Bag items

By the end of packing I was really losing steam. I was exhausted and when I laid down to rest, I was seeing stars and felt dizzy. I also was feeling intense pressure in my abdomen and felt "weird". As we got into bed, Chris said "You're going to go into labor tonight" My response was "Honestly, the way I feel right now...I wouldn't be surprised."

I fell right to sleep, and woke up at 4am for my usual morning pee break. It started out normal, but the pressure I had felt before bed was still there and when I went back to bed I started to cramp really badly. I wasn't sure if this was contractions but they did seem to be coming and going every few minutes, and at 4:33am I finally started timing them out using the free Contraction Timer by ibirth (I am SO GLAD I downloaded this app...it was really helpful in knowing exactly how far apart these contractions were, and how long they lasted. I didn't have to stop and do any math or figure anything out, it was all there for me. I highly recommend this app if you're about to go into labor!)
 
My first contraction lasted 1 minute and 31 seconds, the second one came 6 minutes and 52 seconds later. This was my first indication that not only was I in labor...I was within the parameters of "you should go to the hospital". They say to go when your contractions are 5-7 minutes apart. I had decided on my own that I wouldn't go to the hospital until my contractions were 4 minutes apart. Kristen from Mama and Mou had once given me advice "If you can sit comfortably in the car...you're going too soon." My reasoning for wanting to wait was to insure that I wouldn't be put on a bed too soon or need petocin to induce labor.

Anyway, my second contraction came 5 minutes later, the one after that came 4 minutes and 42 seconds later. I couldn't believe how quickly they were coming!! From what I understood...it could sometimes take hours for contractions to go from 7 minutes to 4 minutes..this took minutes! At that point, I woke Chris up because if things kept progressing this quickly we wouldn't even make it to the hospital in time to deliver!

The timing was all over the place, but they seemed to mostly be under 5 minutes apart. I took a quick shower, enduring some more contractions. By the time I got out of the shower, my contractions were timing under 3 minutes apart!!!


We arrived to the hospital somewhere between 6:30 and 7:00am. I went to the admitting office at the hospital...and promptly threw up in the woman's trash can who was getting me set-up. It was horrible! The contraction pain was incredibly intense. I was sent up to triage, where they would decide how far along I was in labor.

Once they started hooking me up to iv's and a fetal heart-rate monitor I said "So I am in labor right?" and the woman said "Oh yes...you are a superstar. Most women dream of being this far along once they are admitted to the hospital." That made me feel good...but I also was shocked. I literally had woken up 3 hours ago and here I was...already 3 centimeters dilated, and my contractions very close together.

When we were in triage, I turned to Chris and said "I think I'm going to want an epidural" I felt bad about it, I felt guilty for caving so soon after deciding that I would "wait as long as I could" for an epidural. But after throwing up downstairs, and with my contractions getting more and more intense, I was pretty sure that I wanted the epidural.

I was then sent to the labor room where I was set up in a bed, all hooked up and the anesthesiologist arrived for my epidural. I was nervous for it...many people say the epidural is just as painful as contractions. But really, it wasn't bad at all! I felt instantly better and calmer. And for the next few hours, I was in blissful denial that my contractions were even happening.
I was so happy that I went into labor on a Friday because it meant my parents were able to take the day off of work and come to New York for the weekend and into the next week. I was always nervous that they would miss her whole delivery, and it was comforting to know they were right there, safe and sound.  

By the time I was 7 centimeters dilated, I started to feel the contractions a bit more. This was partly because the epidural had evened out (as opposed to the initial large dosage I was given), and also because the contractions were becoming more intense.

The rest of the labor is a bit of a blur, so I'm going to recap it in the form of an FAQ. These should answer many questions that I have been asked over and over again by friends since my delivery:

1. How long was your delivery? 
I woke up with pain at 4am and Natalie was delivered at 4:26pm. 12 hours and 26 minutes, though I think I was having contractions for a few hours in my sleep before that.

2. How long did you push? 
I pushed for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours before she was delivered. It felt much quicker than that though.

3. Was the pain worse than I imagined? 
Unfortunately, yes, which is why I was so quick to give in to the epidural. However, I will say that I felt more during the last 3 hours than I thought I would with an epidural, which I'm thankful for. I was nervous the epidural would make me so numb that I wouldn't feel what was going on, but I definitely did. Honestly, I can't imagine how much more intense it must have been without the epidural.

4. Did I tear? 
I had a small 1st degree tear, and was stitched up afterward. The stitches should dissolve in 4 weeks. I didn't know that I tore, everything hurt so I don't know exactly when it happened.

5. Did I poop on the table? 
Yes.

6. Really? Was it embarrassing? 
No, it was my proudest moment to date. Just kidding.

It was incredibly embarrassing. I was holding back from pushing because I was afraid it would happen. If I kept holding back, I realized I would never deliver the baby, so I had to just let it happen. It was pretty much the elephant in the room. Everyone knew it was happening, but it was quickly cleaned up and no one acknowledged it.

7.  How was Chris during all of this? 
Chris was a great coach and a great partner during the labor. He has stated that he's "seen things he can never un-see" but he's really not squeamish over things like that, and handled it all fine.

8. Do you regret getting an epidural? 
No, I don't regret it. It kept me calm for most of the day and allowed me rest to build up my energy for my 2 1/2 hours of pushing.

Natalie was born at 4:26pm. I have more to share regarding the last part of labor, what happened afterward and a funny story on how we found out she was a girl!

Do you have any other questions regarding this part of the labor? Don't hesitate to ask me!


Monday, December 9, 2013

Unconditionally

Helllo! I (hope) to be back to a regular blogging schedule this week. I feel sort of back to reality...as much as I can be with a newborn. As I stated before, I have MUCH to share about my first two weeks as a mom, and hope to get cranking out on these posts. For today, I have a video/picture slideshow of Natalie's first two weeks in this world.

Soon after I came home from the hospital, I heard Katy Perry's new song, Unconditionally. I loved it, and I loved the lyrics...it seemed absolutely perfect for what I was feeling for Natalie. I looked up the lyrics and the meaning behind them. Katy Perry even stated in a recent interview that this song could be about many things...one of which is the love a mother feels for her child.

I've been playing this song non-stop and singing it to Natalie since she arrived home. Watching this slideshow I am aware of three things: 1. Natalie changes every day. Each day she looks a little bigger, a little more grown-up. It's scary. 2. The last two weeks have all been a blur to me. I must make bi-weekly slideshows to remember everything! ;) 3. She's so freaking cute!
Unconditionally
Katy Perry
Oh no, did I get too close oh?
Oh, did I almost see what's really on the inside?
All your insecurities
All the dirty laundry
Never made me blink one time

Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally

Come just as you are to me
Don't need apologies
Know that you are unworthy
I'll take your bad days with your good
Walk through this storm I would
I'd do it all because I love you, I love you

Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally

So open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart, and just let it begin
Open up your heart, and just let it begin
Open up your heart
Acceptance is the key to be
To be truly free
Will you do the same for me?

Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally
And there is no fear now
Let go and just be free
'Cause I will love you unconditionally (oh yeah)
I will love you
I will love you
I will love you unconditionally