Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Bath

Jo got her first bath today! It was mostly a shock for her, and some tears were shed. On the plus side, Oliver loved helping bathe her! Afterwards, he took his stuffed animals and pretended to bathe them in her tub.

Once I uploaded her first bath photos, I realized that her expression in one was eerily similar to Oliver's. I put her first bath photo next to Oliver's first bath photo and got this:

Can you tell they're related? Geez, they look identical!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Deck the Halls 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Adjusting to Life as a Big Brother

Oliver's adjusting fairly well to his new role as Jo's big brother. It's clear he loves his sister. For the most part, she only really cries when she's getting changed or is getting a new diaper. No matter what Oliver is doing, he stops and runs to her when she's crying. He'll even get the other parent (whoever is not doing the diaper change) to help. He loves to kiss her and pet her head gently. On Wednesday, Andrew took Jo over to his mom's for a couple of hours. Oliver kept going to the door and saying, "Dad. Baby Jo." I keep telling Oliver what a good, loving big brother he is.

There's evidence that he's struggling with the change, though. My potty trained boy has peed on the drive home from the grocery store three or four times now. Normally, he goes weeks without an accident. There have been a few moments when he's started throwing his toys around and tipping hampers over, too (that type of behavior isn't normal for him). More often than not, he's been fighting sitting down for dinner time and doesn't want to do his night time routine. I think all of these problems are slowly improving. In fact, so far today, we haven't had any issues (knock on wood).

My heart goes out to Oliver when he's upset. I just keep reminding myself to be consistent and not to change the rules on him. Of course I want to make everything easy on him and let him just do whatever he wants to keep him happy, but I know he'll be happiest when he realizes all the rules and expectations are still the same as they've always been.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our First Family Outing

We went on our first family outing today! We packed up the kids and took them to Starbucks. The Starbucks near our house is located right on a reservoir, so after sipping on our coffee (in Oliver's case, his milk), we took a walk around the reservoir. It's a mile around, which is the perfect distance for me post-pregnancy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Meet Joanna

Joanna is a very easy-going baby. She can usually be found sleeping. If she's not sleeping or nursing, you can typically watch her gaze around a room in wonder. She cries occasionally, but not very much at all. So far, parenting is much easier this time around!

We're getting a decent amount of sleep, considering there is a newborn at home. We have her "bed time" be from about 9pm to about 8am. During that period, she sleeps in her bassinet and gets up about four times to be nursed. She usually goes right back to sleep, but sometimes we're up with her for up to an hour, rocking her back to sleep.

At 1 week old, here is a list of Jo's likes and dislikes:

Being held
Looking at Oliver
Laying on Daddy's stomach

Bright lights
Diaper changes
Changing her clothes

Oliver's 1 Week Update

Monday, November 14, 2011

Joanna Ballerina

Uncle Mike sent me this in an email today. I love it! I think it's going to end up in the kids' room below the photo he'd sent of Oliver (pictured here).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Homemade Panda Hat

My mom's work friend, Stephanie, crocheted a panda hat for Joanna. I love panda bears. It's the perfect gift! I just had to take some pictures to show it off.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oliver Cares For His New Baby Sister

Andrew, Jo, and I were released from the hospital today. Oliver was thrilled with his sister's arrival home and pointed out everything from her eyes to the monkeys on her clothes. Then, he disappeared upstairs for a moment only to return with stuffed animals to share with Jo. I took this video in the minutes after, which shows our two kids meeting for one of the first times.

Joanna Elizabeth: Tradition in a Name

Joanna Elizabeth was named after my Grandma Jo (July 22, 1923 - December 18, 2007). In our family, it's a name that has been passed down to strong women. Grandma Jo's grandmother's name was Johanna. Johanna named her daughter, my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Johanna. My great-grandmother, whom we called "Oma" because she immigrated from Germany, named her daughter (my grandma) Johanna Elizabeth. My grandma came to America as a young girl and hated the letter H in her name. She had it legally changed to Joanna.

My grandma wasn't keen on continuing the naming tradition, but after the birth of her 6th daughter (her 9th and final child), she gave her the name Elizabeth Joann. My aunt went by Bette Jo growing up and later even went by Lizzie. She did not pass the name on to any of her children, but my Aunt Carol gave my cousin Jana the middle name Joanne, and my Uncle Matt named his daughter Elizabeth, or Beth.

My husband gave Oliver the middle name Kory. Kory is my husband's best friend. When we planned on our second, I got to choose a person to name her after. I knew immediately that I wanted to continue the family tradition and name my daughter Joanna Elizabeth. I think about my grandma all the time, as the smallest things remind me of her. Whether it's decorating for the holidays, finding a box of windmill cookies in the store, or opening up the trunk of my car (the car was my grandma's, and it still smells like her in parts of the trunk), I love the constant reminders of her. It's fitting to me to name my daughter after a woman I loved so much.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Joanna's Birth Story

Almost all of the pre-labor symptoms I'd had (Braxton-Hicks contractions, pain in my cervix) completely stopped over the weekend. I was still in a lot of pain and had difficulty getting around, but, by Monday, I felt great. My body was less achy, and I was convinced that the upcoming birth was a while off.

Monday night (November 7), the contractions came back. There weren't many--maybe three--all evening, but they were more painful than before. I went to bed early just in case. Throughout the night, I woke up every half hour to two hours. I'd feel a few seconds of pain, and that was it. The baby was moving like crazy, and I had trouble sleeping. Oliver woke up every time I did, so Andrew had a restless night, too.

At 5am on Tuesday (November 8), I stopped trying to go back to sleep. I laid there and wondered if the contractions would lead up to labor. They were pretty painful, but they only lasted a few seconds. When I stood up, they increased in intensity, but not in length. I was experiencing contractions that lasted only about 10 seconds long every 4-5 minutes.

Oliver, Andrew and I all went downstairs at 6am for breakfast. I was confused about whether or not to call the midwife because my contractions were so short. However, they hurt so badly that I couldn't talk through them. I finally called her, and she told me to come in for an exam at 7:30am. My mother-in-law, Colleen, came over to watch Oliver while Andrew and I headed to the hospital. The drive was about thirty minutes. I only had two contractions during the drive. In between contractions, I thought that there was no way I was actually in labor, and I was wasting everyone's time. Their timing had slowed down, and they weren't lasting long. Then, a contraction would hit, and it hurt so much that I knew this was the real thing.

Andrew dropped me off at the ER entrance and left to find parking. As soon as I stepped out of the car, the contractions started to come much more frequently. By the time I was brought to my room, I started to have them about two minutes apart. My midwife looked at my face and said, "That is a woman in labor." She hooked me up to a monitor, and I learned my contractions were actually lasting a full minute each. I only felt about 10-15 seconds of them, though. Last week, I'd been dilated 3cm. At the hospital, I was dilated 5cm. I was admitted.

Because of everything that needed to be taken care of first, I didn't get my epidural until 9:30am. The last half hour of that was pretty excruciating. Getting the epidural wasn't painful, but getting the IV in my arm was awful. It was the worst part of labor, and I cried like a baby after the nurse dug into a vein for the third time and missed. Once the epidural kicked in, the pain stopped completely. I couldn't fall asleep, but I was able to relax and visit with my parents and my husband. My midwife checked me, and I'd dilated to 7cm. She predicted the baby would arrive by lunch time.

Lunch time came and went. I stayed dilated at 7cm for a couple of hours, but the most discouraging thing was that the baby wasn't dropping. She was at a -5 when she needed to be at a +2 to push. This is what happened at Oliver's delivery. My midwife started to talk about Pitocin. I wanted to yell, "No!" because Pitocin was the worst thing ever, and it didn't succeed in pushing Oliver down. Nothing did, until my doctor had let me try to push him down myself. I told my midwife that, and she responded kind of snippy. She said, "If you need Pitocin, then you need Pitocin." She said she'd be back in a little while to check me again to see if the baby would drop.

After my midwife left, I started to secretly push down (just a little) at the peak of some contractions. I couldn't feel the contractions, but I could see them on the monitor. When my midwife checked me next, she was thrilled at my progress--our baby dropped to -1! There was no more talk of Pitocin. As she felt my dilation, my water broke. I gently pushed down through a few more contractions.

At some point (I can't remember when because the day went by in a blur!), I needed to be given medicine for my low blood pressure. I'd been at increased risk of high blood pressure during delivery because of my increased HCG levels early in the pregnancy. That was not an issue! My blood pressure dropped low, and our baby's heart rate dropped in response. I was put on oxygen and given some sort of blood thickener (I believe).

Around 3pm, I could really feel the pain of the contractions through the epidural. I couldn't talk through them, and I felt like I needed relief. The anesthesiologist's nurse gave me a boost of medication. It took the pain away, and that was what I wanted. However, it also made me feel drowsy and nauseated. It numbed me a little too much, and I couldn't feel any pressure at all. That's when my midwife came back. She checked me and announced I was ready to push! She and a nurse quickly got things ready. I told them I'd need their help telling me when to push because I was completely numb. Right when the told me to, I needed to vomit. Andrew had to help me throw up in a vomit bag three times. Once I was done throwing up, the nurses told me to push. I pushed, and I could feel our baby's head. They told me when to push the second time, too. Then, they told me I just needed one more good push and to do it when I was ready. On that third push at 3:30pm, Joanna Elizabeth was born.

Jo was put on my chest immediately. I broke down in tears. Both times I've experienced childbirth, I've worried I wouldn't feel bonded to my baby immediately. Thankfully, that isn't a problem I've ever experienced. I felt a flood of emotion, but it was mostly love. She was beautiful. Somehow, she had dark hair, almond-shaped eyes, and even a cleft chin.

Andrew snapped this photo within minutes of delivery:

Five minutes or so passed, and my midwife asked Andrew to cut the cord. He did, and cut it cleanly with one slice (as he'd done after Oliver's birth). I held her and nursed her for her first hour of life. After that, Andrew got to hold her, and she was finally measured and weighed. Baby Jo weighed in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces and measured 20 inches.

It took longer for me to deliver the placenta. It didn't detach by itself, and my midwife had to manually remove it. I wonder if the reason it didn't detach was related to the bleeding I'd experienced earlier in the pregnancy. Perhaps not. As my midwife worked to dislodge the placenta, I was quite grateful I was still numb from the previous boost of medication from the anesthesiologist's nurse. If I hadn't been, I think that would have been the worst part of the entire labor and delivery. She quickly stitched up a "superficial tear" that I assume only required one stitch. I was quite pleased that I wouldn't have to deal with another 4th degree tear!

My legs regained feeling fairly quickly. After an hour, I was able to get up, walk, and use the washroom (albeit slowly and with help from the nurse). Shortly after that, we received our first visitors.

Here is our first family shot, which captures the first time Oliver met his baby sister:

Oliver was very cuddly and didn't want to leave my side. I got to hold both of my babies. Amazing.

Grandpa Larry got to hold his first granddaughter, Joanna:

Grandma Judy also got to hold Jo, the grand baby named after her mother:

And here is Grandma Colleen holding Jo, who she believes is the most beautiful baby to enter the world since Oliver:

We transitioned to our room in Maternity. I was pleasantly surprised they had a room for us! Apparently, there were so many births between Monday and Tuesday that they'd run out of rooms. Many people had to stay in their labor rooms.

This photo of Jo was taken about 6 hours after birth. She still hadn't been cleaned from delivery. In fact, she didn't get cleaned until nearly 1:00am--that's how busy the hospital was!

We didn't even get to try sleeping until the wee hours of the morning. Even then, nurses went in and out, dropped things, bumped into our beds, and just generally woke us up all night. Jo, on the other hand, slept soundly through it all. I had to wake her to nurse, and, even then, she was too tired to try latching on a couple of times. We managed to survive the first night, and, in the morning, we were rewarded with a visit from Oliver! Once again, he was thrilled to see us and his sister.

Joanna, Day 2, finally cleaned up:

Mother & Daughter:

Father & Son:

Oliver even taught Grandpa Larry how to play Angry Birds:

Friday, November 4, 2011

100 (Attempted) Ways to Entertain a Young Toddler, Day 57: Carpentry

Like most kids, our son loves trying to do anything and everything Andrew and I do. Months ago, I'd purchased new doorknobs for all of the upstairs doors. I needed to use the screwdriver, and Oliver has been fascinated with the tool ever since. I let him play with it while supervised. He walks up to screws around the house (mostly on doorknobs) and tries to use the screwdriver on them.

Oliver actually does a pretty good job! He sets the screwdriver up to the screw and unscrews it in the right direction. However, he doesn't push hard enough to do anything.

Today, Andrew wanted to open up the infant swing to check on what size batteries it takes. Oliver eagerly offered his help. It was adorable watching the two of them together. Andrew helped him unscrew both screws. Oliver was thrilled.

As they were piecing it back together, I realized that this activity is one that keeps Oliver happy and occupied. I think it's good for his mental development and dexterity. So, I snapped a picture and made plans to post it on my blog.

I call it "Carpentry." As Oliver gets older, this might be expanded to other tools and purposes (hammers and wrenches, perhaps?). For now, he's happy with the screwdriver. I also want to add that our screwdriver is the magnetic kind that allows for us to change out the tips from flat head to phillips. Oliver also enjoys working on that, so, yes, the screwdriver keeps him busy for fairly long periods of time. Of course, it can be dangerous. You don't want your child sticking a tool in a socket or leaving small parts around the house for little ones to find. As long as you're able to closely supervise your child, then "Carpentry" is a good activity. I give it an A-.

Still Here.

This is my TMI post. For other pregnant women who are curious about their symptoms, please read on. For people who really don't care about the intimate details of my bowels and such, you can skip this entry in its entirety.

Our baby has not arrived yet. I'm kind of OK with this. Every time another day passes, I think, "11/11/11!" I'm semi-kidding.

That's not to say that there haven't been any changes. There have! For the past 24 hours, I've been losing my mucus plug. Some women go into labor when that happens. For other women, it can still mean labor is a couple weeks away. So, really, I don't know more than I did Wednesday. It's exciting to have something happen, though. Really, it feels good to know my body is getting ready. I didn't get to go through any of this stuff with my first pregnancy.

A couple of weeks ago, I started to have loose stools. You see, when you're pregnant, your digestive system tends to slow down a lot to make sure your body can extract all the nutrients it can. Many women end up constipated when pregnant. Things loosened up for me these last few weeks. When it first happened, I thought, "Maybe this is a sign!"

Well, today, I've had a little diarrhea. Nothing too major, but enough to get me thinking (once again), "Maybe it's time!" Many women experience diarrhea within hours or days of starting labor. Some doctors think it's the body's way of clearing out the bowels to make room for a baby passing. Anyway, I suppose it could just be a coincidence, but with the dilation and loss of mucus plug, I can't help but think labor is going to start very, very soon.

Finally, my pains changed today. I still get the occasional stabbing sensation and pressure, but I've been getting pains in my side throughout the day. You know when you run too fast too quickly? You get those side pains that make you stop in your tracks, and it hurts to continue moving forward. You're basically forced to stop and walk really, really slowly. Well, that's exactly the pain I've had today (although, I can guarantee you that it's not from running!). There have been a few occasions today where it's hurt too much to even stand, and I'm forced to sit back down. It got so extreme that Andrew actually had to leave work to help me out at home.

Poor Oliver. It breaks my heart how much he's been neglected all week. I'm in so much pain in my back and pelvis (and now my side) that I just can't do anything. He's been forced to play a lot on his own, and we've snuggled and watched way too many music videos. I don't know what else to do. I keep trying to remind myself that I'm doing the best I can and that this is all temporary, but, to be honest, I wish I was able to be more involved these days. In case you'd wondered, that's the reason the 100 Ways to Entertain a Toddler posts have all but ceased.

Anyway. Labor is coming soon. I know it. Part of me wants to hold out until Friday, 11/11/11, but another part of me (the part that hurts and the part that feels so badly for my son) is ready for labor any time now. I'll keep my blog updated as much as I can!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Getting Close!

Well, as it turns out, all the pains I dealt with on Friday and yesterday meant something!

I went to see my midwife today. It was my first internal exam because I missed my appointment last week due to snowy weather. There was snowy weather again today, but my husband took off for the afternoon to get me to my appointment. I talked to my midwife, and I told her about the pains I'd been feeling. I explained to her how I hadn't felt any labor signs with Oliver at all and ended up being induced, so I'm not sure what to expect with this labor and delivery. I described the stabbing pains that have felt like pap smears, and I described the pressure and occasional contraction. She said it was all normal. I told her, "Well, now I'm hoping you'll tell me that all these pains meant something. I hope to be at least a little dilated."

Well... she told me I was 3cm dilated and 60% effaced! Also, she told me that my water was "bulging." What? I didn't even know you could be 3cm dilated without being in labor! I later read online that many women are 1-2cm dilated for their second pregnancies before going into labor. Some women are dilated up to 3cm before labor. I read you can't really use that information to determine when labor will begin because some women will stay 3cm dilated for a week. Still, I'm so excited that my body is preparing!

My midwife asked me if I'd like her to sweep my membranes. When a midwife or doctor sweeps the membranes, they use their fingers to sweep across and separate the membranes/sac from the cervix. It releases hormones that can help cause labor to start within the next 48 hours. She told me that doing so is slightly painful and could result in some cramping and spotting. She said, in my case, the treatment would have about a 50% chance of being effective.

I couldn't decide on the membrane sweep. On the one hand, Oliver's got a lingering cough, and I don't want to go into labor and have him not be able to visit me in the hospital. Also, part of me is still thinking about the 11/11/11 birthday, even though that shouldn't really matter. On the other hand, my body hurts. Every week day is overwhelming for me, and it's getting so difficult (physically) to take care of Oliver. I finally decided to go for it.

The procedure actually didn't hurt at all. She told me that it's sometimes difficult to reach to do the sweep, and she struggled to reach with me. Also, she said a little bit of blood can be a good sign, but I didn't have any blood. She didn't say it, but I got the impression that she wasn't very confident the sweep she did would help stimulate my labor. I'm OK with that.

It's been about three hours. I haven't had any cramping or discomfort from the sweep. So, I don't think labor is imminent yet. However, I'm so excited to know that the next time I start to deal with the pains might be the real thing! Three centimeters! Woohoo!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pre-Pre-Labor Signs?

I wrote a post on Friday regarding the false labor symptoms I seemed to be having. The pains grew more intense throughout the evening and then suddenly stopped before bed. Before they stopped, I thought, "This has to be pre-labor!" No, it wasn't.

The weekend was full of aches and pains, but nothing that made me think labor was on its way. The pains were mostly limited to my hips, back, and butt bones. Today, however, I'm getting some of those stabbing pains again. It literally feels like a doctor is giving me a pap smear, which is why I keep describing the pains to my husband as being located "in my cervix." To all you ladies out there, imagine having a pap smear last about 2 minutes long. That's what I'm feeling right now. Stab, stab, stab. Not fun.

I haven't lost my mucous plug yet (that I'm aware of), so I don't think I've dilated much. However, I have yet to get an internal exam from my midwife. I go in tomorrow, and I hope to hear that my body is showing some signs of progressing.

Like my last post on labor signs, I'm going to wait a while before posting this one. I just don't want to get people anxious or unnecessarily excited about our baby's arrival when there's still no real contractions or other signs of impending delivery.