Clothes & The New Mama

Sunday, February 28, 2010

As one of my New Year’s resolutions to dress as a stylish and cute mom, I’ve started to research fashionable and affordable clothing websites. Of course there are the traditional Gap, JCrew and Banana Republic stores, but really, who can afford a $48 t-shirt?

One shop I’ve found (and subsequently become obsessed with) is Shade Clothing. They’re based out of Utah and tout themselves as stylish and modest clothing wear. I recently purchased a dress and two skirts (the skirts were $12 each) and am really pleased with the quality and cut of the clothes. I also recently discovered eShakti, but they’re a bit more expensive. Of course, there’s always the ever popular Shabby Apple, but in my opinion a lot of their dresses seem a bit weird (and overpriced), maybe it’s just me.

Personally, I think it’s really important for women to maintain their appearance even after having children. I think it’s easy for many women to “let themselves go” after having a child and I’m determined not to let that happen to me. For my husband’s sake and for my own, I want to stay fit and cute. And while the fit part is a work in progress, I can still dress well and I intend to.

Do you have any clothing stores or sites you would recommend?


Hannah's 1 Month Stats:

Height: 23 in.
Head Circumference: 15 1/4 in.
Weight: 11 lbs, 3 oz.

(In the picture she's wearing a hat she was given as a gift. This picture cracks me up.)

Small Successes

Thursday, February 25, 2010
It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that.

1. Finally sent out the last of Hannah's birth announcements. Now on to tackle all the thank you notes and the Baptism invitations.

2. Made a candlelight dinner for my husband last night along with two new recipes. And for dessert I made a delicious (if I do say so myself) Apple Cranberry Crisp. Yum!

3. Painted my toenails. I'm starting to feel like a girl again.

I feel like a rockstar just getting these things accomplished.:)

Read more Small Successes here.

One Month

Monday, February 22, 2010

My baby is one month old today. Time flies. Happy one month, Hannah Claire. We love you so much and can't imagine our lives without you!

Jacqui's Visit

We had so much fun while my sister was here. Although, we didn't do too much and had one disastrous trip to the mall (I forgot Hannah's diaper bag), we simply enjoyed our time together.

Thanks for coming out Jacqui! We can't wait to see you in April (hopefully).


Friday, February 19, 2010
Umm, my poor little baby is starting to go bald. She looks like a medieval monk (see picture). Actually, I think it's my fault. I may have rubbed her head a little too hard during bath time and caused some of her hair to fall out. Lesson learned, I'm not going to wash her hair again for a while. Oh well, hair or no hair she's still really cute.

Lent 2010

I cannot believe it’s Lent already. I certainly don’t feel emotionally, physically or spiritually prepared to begin Lent, but alas, the Lenten season is upon me, so prepared or not, begin I must.

Truth be told, I love Lent. I believe Lent, more than any other time of the Liturgical year, really helps to purify and strengthen my relationship with God. I also enjoy the sacrificial aspect of Lent, I thrive on the challenge to offer more of myself to God, to do and to be better. Sometimes I think that if Lent lasted year round, I would be a much better Christian. Although, if that were the case, I’m sure I’d find a way to slack off there too. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

This Lent will be a bit different than any previous because of the fact that I have a newborn and am nursing, so the fasting and abstinence demands are a little less for me. Because of this, I’ve had to reconsider what my Lenten resolutions would be.

Initially when considering my Lenten plans I thought, I know, I’ll go to Mass every day. I momentarily forgot that I have a 3.5 week old and getting out of the house takes a good two hours these days. Ha. Instead, I plant to attend just one additional Mass during the week. I also plan to forgo ice cream and cookies, that one will be the real challenge. Lastly, (and this one is more fun than anything) I intend to watch one movie on some aspect of the Faith each Friday. For example, tonight we're going to watch a documentary on the Shroud of Turin. Next week, I hope to watch the movie about St. Bernadette. Hopefully, this way I can educate myself a little better on topics involving our Catholic Faith.

And finally, I plan to take full advantage of this slightly altered Lent and to kiss my baby a bit more often and thank God for the gift of her life, to joyfully wake up with her in the middle of the night, to lovingly practice sacrifice by putting the needs of my child before my own and hopefully by doing so, unite us both a little closer to the Cross.

Vancouver Olympics

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Maybe it's just hormones, but this commercial makes me cry every single time. I love the Olympics.

Ash Wednesday

"Remember, man, thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return."

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Lord, help me to not be like the hypocrites.

Hannah & Her Swing

Hannah LOVES her swing. She especially loves the little mobile above her swing. She watches it so intently and smiles at the little animals going around. It cracks us up. I love the swing too because it keeps her so content, I can actually try to get a few things done (like update my blog).

Daddy's Girl

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The father daughter bond can be one of the strongest and sweetest relationships between two people. I love that Matthew and Hannah already have such a strong connection and one that will only continue to grow over time. Hannah is already such a Daddy’s girl and Matthew is completely smitten with his daughter. It’s so sweet and I want to do everything I can to encourage and foster their special relationship.

One little tradition Matthew has started is sending Hannah flowers on Valentine’s Day. He plans to send her flowers every Valentine’s Day until she’s married. And if Valentine’s Day should fall on a school day, he plans to have the flowers delivered to her school. Just imagine a kindergartener receiving flowers from her Dad on Valentine’s Day. The thought alone makes me melt. I love, love this plan and love even more how important it is to him.

Watching my husband become a father has been one of the best parts about having a baby. I love him all the more for it. I always knew he would be a good Dad (it’s one of the main reasons why I married him), but to actually see him in action, holding her, kissing her, doting on her, is just so touching. I feel so incredibly blessed as a woman and wife to have such a good man who loves me and is devoted to our child. Oh yeah, and Hannah is lucky too.

Another Beautiful Birth Story

Thursday, February 11, 2010
After writing Hannah's birth story the other day, I stumbled upon this family's unique birth experience. It's an absolutely beautiful birth story about how God often blesses us in unexpected ways. I totally cried.

Jacqui's Coming to Visit!

Yay! My sister is coming to visit tomorrow! I can't wait for her to meet Hannah. She came to visit us last February, my how things can change in a year. We walked all around NYC last year and had so much fun. This year we won't be able to take in the sights as much, but I think that's okay with Jacqui. Her plans only include holding Hannah the entire time she's here.

I just wish all my siblings, Dad and grandparents could meet her tomorrow too. It really stinks being so far away from them.

Baby's First Bath

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

We finally gave Hannah her first bath a few days ago. I'll admit, I was a little nervous to give her a bath so I kept putting it off. She wasn't so sure what to think at first, but then she began to enjoy herself. I think this girl is really going to like her baths.

Hannah's Birth Story

We had the birth all planned. I would spend the first few hours laboring at home. We would talk and laugh, maybe watch a Will Ferrell movie and simply enjoy the last remaining hours of being a twosome. We would begin to pack the cooler with food. I would make Matthew a sandwich. As labor progressed we would make our way to the birthing center, where I would continue to labor in peace. We would walk, practice our Bradley Method relaxation techniques before I would get into the tub. Oh how I was looking forward to laboring in the tub. I would spend a few hours in the tub and then after 20 minutes or so of pushing our beautiful child would emerge. We would spend some time together as a family, pop the champagne, enjoy some food, eat some birthday cake, take a little nap before heading home. It would be beautiful. It would be peaceful. However, it did not happen this way…at all.

Here's the short version of her birth. I went in Wednesday (the 20th) for a checkup with my midwife. At this point, I was nearly two weeks late and my midwives were encouraging me to try some induction methods. One such option was cervidil gel, a cervical ripening agent. So we opted to try it that morning, hoping it would do the trick. (All other natural induction techniques were just not working.)

Later that night I started having contractions, nothing too regular or strong, but we were thinking things were off to a great start. We went to bed and then in the middle of the night (early Thursday morning), I was awakened by a contraction. I sat up to go to the bathroom when I heard a little pop and felt warm water trickle out of me. I went to the bathroom and realized, much to my surprise, that my bag of waters had broken. Usually, a woman’s water does not break until she’s actually in active labor, yet there I was. Excited, I woke up Matthew and told him the news. He jumped out of bed and was ready to go. I called my midwife and was told to come on in.

Generally, women planning to labor at a birthing center are not supposed to come in until their contractions are about 5 minutes apart. However, a few weeks earlier I had tested positive for Group B strep bacteria, which is a normal bacteria found in adults, but can be harmful to babies. This complicated matters a tad because it meant that I would need antibiotics intravenously during labor, one dose every four hours. And in the event that my water would break, I would have to come into the birthing center right away so they could start me on penicillin. So we headed in. We were excited, thinking this was it, in a few short hours we would meet our child. Oh how naïve we were.

After arriving at the birth center, the midwife checked me and I was 1cm dilated. My contractions were only about 7-10min. apart and not very strong, so we just hung out for a while, walked around, ate some toast. At 7:30am Thursday morning, I called my mom and told her where we were. The game was on.

After a few more hours, my contractions became a bit more regular, maybe 5-6 minutes apart. However, when the midwife checked me I still was about 1-2cm dilated. We opted to try another dose of cervidil in the hopes it would help to jumpstart active labor. Unfortunately, the extra cervidil didn't really help, so we tried nipple stimulation to increase the intensity of the contractions. Much to my surprise, that really worked. My contractions started to come about 3-5 min. apart. This went on for a couple more hours, but unfortunately when they checked me a few hours later, I was still 1, not even 2 cm dilated. For whatever reason, labor wasn’t progressing.

At this point, we had been at the birthing center for about 12 hours and the midwife wanted to transfer us to the hospital to try a few more stronger induction techniques (i.e. pitocin and cytotec), but we begged for more time. She allotted us two more hours. We were under the gun and the clock was ticking. My contractions kept coming regularly at about 3-5 minutes apart. We were convinced that we were now in active labor, certainly I must have dilated one or even two more centimeters. I have to add a little side note here about Matthew. He was such a great coach. He was so incredibly supportive and encouraging. We really came together as a team and I simply could not have done have endured all that I did without him.

By 6ish Thursday night, our extended time was up. The midwife checked me and sadly, I was still at 1-2 cm dilated. We were dumbfounded. How could I be having contractions and not dilating? We were being transferred to the hospital. I forgot to mention that the midwife kept trying to push cytotec on us. If I didn’t know any better, I probably would have tried it. It’s an ulcer medication, but often used in hospitals as a cervical ripener (to encourage dilation). However, cytotec is not approved by the FDA as a cervical ripener and even the makers of cytotec strongly urge doctors not to use it for this purpose because it can cause the uterus to rupture resulting in the death of the mother or child or both. So no way was I going to try it. The doctor later encouraged me to try it and again I refused and told him why. The nurses seemed surprised and confused when I told them why I was not going to try cytotec, I have a feeling they never knew the controversy surrounding the drug. However, I found it interesting that he said he understood. He didn’t push it on me again after that. Maybe it would have been fine and nothing would have happened, but why risk it?

So I was wheeled over to the hospital, which was across the street from the birthing center. To be honest, it was somewhat embarrassing to be wheeled around. I had never been in a wheelchair before. Shoot, I had never been admitted to a hospital before.

Once we were settled into our hospital room we rested a bit and my contractions spaced out yet again. None of the midwives or nurses knew why my labor wasn't progressing, we still aren't sure why I didn't really dilate. Anyways, around 1 in the morning (Friday morning, I think), they decided to put me on pitocin, which I was really hesitant to do. I've heard pitocin contractions are hellish, and let me tell you, they are! Oh gosh, they are SO painful. Pitocin, I hate you. But right as the nurse started the pitocin drip, Hannah’s heart rate suddenly dropped. The nurse, with a panicked look on her face, rolled me over in bed and immediately placed an oxygen mask on me as she called for a few more nurses to come assist her. However, just as quickly, Hannah’s heart rate went back up. Apparently, she had rolled over onto her umbilical cord which caused her heart rate to drastically decelerate and since I was hooked up to the fetal monitor, I could hear her heart rate suddenly slow. That was so scary. So they delayed starting me on pitocin for another 20 minutes or so, which I was grateful for. But once the pitocin was started my contractions became closer together and much, much stronger. Long story short, I was on Pitocin for the next 14 hours or so without any meds. Whoa. That was hard for me and for Matthew too.

Looking back, the entire time I was on pitocin is a blur for me. Although 14 hours sounds like a long time, and believe me it is, when you’re in labor, time is relative. Hours pass without realizing, which I suppose is a blessing. I do remember spending a lot of time laboring on an exercise ball, some time in the tub and some time in the rocking chair. My contractions became about 1 minute apart for several hours. The worst part about pitocin is that the contractions come one right on top of the other, there really is no time to rest. I remember thinking more than once as I felt a contraction coming on, wait just wait, give me another second to rest. I’ll admit, I cried more than once.

Fortunately, through it all our midwives and nurses were amazing. We had two midwives with us the entire time(one was a student nurse-midwife who became my bff) and then there was always one hospital labor and delivery nurse with us. I cannot possibly begin to tell you what an incredible comfort they were to me. They encouraged me, rubbed my back, told me I was strong and that I could do this. My love language is verbal affirmation, so their encouragement went a long way, let me tell you. I am forever indebted to those women.

Finally, at about 4 in the afternoon, after about 14 hours on Pitocin, the midwife checked me. I was still only 3cm dilated. I cried. After all that pain to only progress about 1cm was heartbreaking. What was even more frustrating was that I could not control the situation. Being an athlete, I felt confident going into this experience that my body would simply do what it needed to, but, and I hate to say this, my body failed me in a way. That had never happened to me before. Never. I was confused, in pain and scared.

At that point, the midwives, nurses and doctor all recommended I get an epidural so that they could increase the pitocin even more in the hopes that the high dosage would cause me to dilate more quickly. Although I desperately wanted to be rid of the pain, it was difficult deciding to get the epidural. I felt as if I was surrendering my dream of a peaceful and non-medicated birth (although the peaceful part was out the window at this point). In the end, I decided to go ahead with the epidural.

As soon as the anesthesiologist administered the epidural I became a different person, I was talkative and happy. I was relieved. I totally understand now why women opt for the pain medication. You really don’t feel anything. It’s a very odd experience. As soon as the epidural set in, they upped the pitocin. I have to add that fortunately, through all of this, Hannah's heartbeat remained strong. I was really reluctant to even have them increase the pitocin because I was so afraid she might go into distress (which often happens to many babies in this situation), but she stayed strong. Everyone kept saying “strong mama, strong baby.” She has been my strong child since day one. Thank God.

Since I no longer feeling any pain, I was able to relax. I tried to sleep, but couldn’t. I kept listening to the sound of the baby’s heart monitor. I wanted to make sure her heartbeat remained stable. Later, Matthew was able to get something to eat, thankfully. Up until this point, he hadn’t really left my side, so I encouraged him to go and get something to eat from the cafeteria. The student midwife stayed and chatted with me. We talked and talked. I told her how good she was at what she did, I meant it too.

Finally, finally (I guess this story isn't the short version I thought it would be), around 10ish the doctor came in to check me and I was only about 4cm dilated and the baby's head was still in a high position. I had also started to develop a fever. This did not bode well for being able to deliver naturally. Yet, the doctor was so great and admitted that "this really stinks and I really hate to be having this conversation with you, but I really think we should go ahead with a c-section." Just having him admit that this was not our ideal situation really helped us to be able to go along with it. I think if he had come in and said "you need to do this" I would have been really defensive. Again, everyone we worked with at the hospital was awesome. We were so, so blessed.

At this point we were exhausted and had been laboring for nearly 48 hours, longer if you count the contractions that began Wednesday night, so we were okay with going ahead with the c-section. Although we had tried everything to avoid having to go through with a c-section, we both felt truly at peace about the whole thing.

My mom is convinced that Hannah simply needed to come out that way and that she may have been harmed by coming through the birth canal. (She heard about a baby who had been injured and consequently disabled by something in the birth canal.) Who knows. All I know is that I was praying throughout everything, saying Hail Mary’s and invoking the name of any and every saint I could think of to help me have the labor and delivery we wanted, but for whatever reason, it was not to be. We had so many people praying for us, including an order of nuns that offered up a novena of masses for us, that I cannot help but think it must have been God’s will for Hannah to be born via c-section. I do know that all those prayers kept Hannah safe, and for that I am eternally grateful to everyone who prayed for us.

Anyways, we made the decision around 10 Friday night to go ahead with the section and they immediately started prepping me and then wheeled me into surgery, which I'll admit was a little scary. There's all these people working around me and I was just lying there. Again, our midwives were with me and they were awesome. They told me what was happening and were comforting me. Matthew had to wait outside the room until after they started the procedure and then they brought him in. It seriously took all of 10-15 minutes and she was out. As Matthew kept telling people, it takes longer to make an omelet than to get a c-section. Ha. So our little Hannah Claire was born at 10:35pm on Friday night, perfectly healthy, praise God. As soon as they pulled her out and announced she was a girl, I started to cry. The midwife immediately came over and asked if I was okay, if I was in pain, what was I feeling. I told her, “I feel happy.” And I did. I had a beautiful daughter. The hard part was not being able to see or hold her right away. I had to crane my neck to even catch a glimpse of her. And then they took her up to the nursery, but fortunately, Matthew was able to go with her. I was finally able to hold her about 20 minutes later in the recovery room. It was so surreal.

We stayed in the hospital Friday and Saturday night and went home Sunday afternoon. My Mom was able to come see us the next morning and stayed with us for a week, which was a huge, huge help. It was awesome to have her here. Thank you, Mom!

My recovery is going great. The doctor did an excellent job and I really feel good, but am still trying to take it easy so I can heal quicker.

All in all, Hannah’s birth was not the one we had initially wanted or planned, but it was still beautiful. As difficult and painful as it was, Hannah was totally worth it. They always say you'll forget the pain once the baby is born and during those crazy pitocin contractions I was thinking "no way will I forget this," but I have and I did. She is here and she is such a joy to us, how could we not give thanks to God for her birth?

The doctors and nurses still had no explanation for why I didn't dilate. I think if my water hadn't broken and I didn't have GBS that I could have labored at home for a long time and while it still would have been a long labor, I would have been able to deliver naturally. But it's like all these circumstances collided to form the perfect storm, so there was really no way around how things happened. We're really hoping for the next birth to maybe have a home birth, provided I don't have GBS again. We'll see.

So there you have it, the condensed, not so short version of the birth of Hannah Claire. Thanks be to God for her healthy arrival.

Good Grief

Saturday, February 6, 2010
I feel like I'm leaking fluids everywhere.


A Picture

Friday, February 5, 2010

I'm loving this picture right now. My mom's friend sent Hannah these super cute pink boots, so I put them on her to take a picture and this is the face she made. She's thinking, "Mom, I cannot believe you are making me wear these. Ugh, mothers."

Our Growing Girl

At Hannah's doctor's appointment yesterday she weighed in at a whopping 9lbs, 1oz. (She gained a little less than one pound in a week.) Our little girl is growing! It's funny the things I take pride in now that I'm a parent. I'm so proud that my girl is thriving and gaining weight on my breastmilk. Even the doctor was impressed that she gained as much as she did on breastmilk alone. She certainly eats enough. We're so proud that she has such strong neck muscles. She is able to hold her head up for a good while and look around. So, my daughter's weight gain and her neck muscles, the things I take pride in these days. Ha!

Hannah's First Two Weeks

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The pictures are a little blurry, but you get the idea. And I love the accompaniment, it's Taylor Swift's "Love Story" performed by pianist Jon Schmidt.


Wow, I can’t believe it’s February 3rd already. Who would have thought caring for a newborn would be so time consuming? I’ve been meaning to catch up on emails and blog posts, but alas Hannah requires a lot of attention and she’s way cuter and more enticing than any email or blog post.

Motherhood is wonderful. I love it. It may sound clichéd, but being a parent really is the best thing in the world. Nothing prepares you for how much you will love your child. I feel like it’s Christmas morning every time I look at her or hold her. I told Matthew I think I have the opposite of post partum depression. Does post partum elation exist? I don’t know. It does for me. And I know you’re not supposed to say these sort of things about your own child, but seriously my daughter is beautiful and so good. She’s such a happy baby, very mellow, very curious. In a few years she’s going to be the kid asking all sorts of questions.

We feel so icredibly blessed by her presence in our lives. Maybe because things are going so well with Hannah we’ve already started talking about baby #2. Should I not have said that? Well, we have, so I’ll just put it out there. If God should bless us with another child, we would joyfully welcome him or her.

I plan on writing a post on Hannah’s birth story, but I’ll quickly say, pretty much nothing went according to plan. I suppose that’s the first rule of parenting, or life even, things often don‘t go according to plan. Despite the fact that I was praying throughout labor and invoking the help of any and every saint I could think of to help me achieve the birth I wanted, God had other plans. In the end, Hannah came out healthy and perfect and, ultimately, that’s all I wanted.

God is good.
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