Saturday, December 30, 2017

Life Lately/2017 Recap

Hi There,
     End of 2017 here we come! I have loved this year. While we still were processing our grief from last year (a lifelong task, honestly), we also had a lot of fun, learned a lot, had wonderful experiences, and welcomed Hank into our lives, the cherry on top of this great year.

Here are some highlights from 2017---

January: Decided to read 30 books in 2017, Continued Boot Camp workouts

February: Went to Phoenix for a Sisters Weekend, went to the Harlem Globetrotters

March: Turned 30! Surprise trip to Vegas to see Britney Spears

April: Accepted a new teaching job, surprised AJ's parents and made an Oregon road trip, flew to Seattle for a friend's wedding and to visit family

May: Planted a garden, found out we were expecting a baby on Cinco de Mayo!

June: Moved out of my classroom, hosted the Baby Bow Bash , delivered bows to hospitals to celebrate Hadley's first birthday, hit 100 Boot Camp Workouts

July: Visited the Oregon Coast and stayed in a beach house with family, met with college friends in Portland, announced our pregnancy, reached book reading goal

August: Started new teaching job, found out we were having a boy

September: Began work on baby's nursery

October: Pete the Cat for Halloween, 2nd Annual Pumpkin Painting for Hadley

November: Bought a new car, spent Thanksgiving with both sides of family

December: HANK WAS BORN!

2017 was a perfect mix of busy, rest, reflection, change, growth, lots of quality couple time, and bringing our sweet baby boy into the world.

Life with a newborn is both what I expected and also completely different. I guess that's just parenthood, right? Hank is such a sweet baby and even at 2 weeks old, I can see glimpses of his personality. He's a little cuddler and he really only cries big when he's hungry (and I totally get that). He's been a champ with lots of lab work/blood pricks and time under "Bili Lights" for Jaundice. There were only three days in his first 2 weeks home where we didn't have to go to the lab or pediatrician's office.  He got a clean bill of health on Friday and jaundice has cleared so home health is coming to pick up the light bed. Woohoo! I was most worried about sleep deprivation before he was born. I'll say this: I probably get the same amount of sleep (in hours) but it's just all broken up. He eats every 3 hours or so and I usually get up with him but I am a super heavy sleeper and often AJ takes the middle of the night feed and lets me sleep. Since we're on Christmas break and then I'll be on maternity leave, I can also get in some naps. Ask me again when I go back to work. Haha.

We've discovered some baby items we could not live without and others that are a waste. I'll compile some of our thoughts for a future post if you're interested.

We are so thankful for all the love and well wishes we received after Hank's arrival. We think he's pretty awesome, too. We enjoyed our Christmas with family and for the first time, we spent Christmas at our house (we aren't ready to take Hank out yet). It was a great relaxing day with our traditional French Toast Bake for breakfast, wonderful gifts, and lots of baby snuggles. My mom made lasagna and brought that over for our dinner. It was the best Christmas yet.

Twice last week I left the house without Hank. I missed him! But also, I needed to get out for a bit! My sister and I went and got mani/pedis (I was scheduled to get a mani the day I had Hank, so my nails were looking worse for wear), and Friday night AJ and I went on a date night. My parents offered to babysit so we went to dinner out at The Bohemian (one of my faves and I was super excited to get a beer but then the thought of pumping and dumping was not appealing so my first post-baby alcoholic beverage is still waiting!), we went to the baby store to look for some new bottles, and then ended our night at The Chocolate for dessert. It felt awesome to get some one on one time with AJ and to put on real pants, do my hair, makeup, and wear some jewelry.

That's our life lately! I'm savoring these days. Hank is looking bigger already and babies truly don't keep. Have a very happy new year. Cheers to 2018! I have a feeling this one will be one for the books. Thanks for following along here on this little blog space for another year!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Very HANK Holiday & Birth Story

Oh my goodness, there is so much I want to write about! I wanted to get Hank's birth story written before I forgot a single detail! I'm running on little sleep so please excuse any grammatical errors in this post. Introducing Hank Grayson Steele, born December 17, 2017!

Ok, before I get the birth story, I just have to share the most special moment in this past week. It happened in the car. AJ and I got Hank into his carseat, the nurse brought me out in a wheelchair and the trunk was loaded down with samples from the hospital, folders of paperwork, bags of dirty clothes in plastic "personal belonging" hospital bags, and our duffels and totes from our 4 day stay. We were parked in the roundabout in front of the women's center and AJ and I just held hands (me from the backseat, I wanted to ride by baby, obvi!) and cried and cried and cried. We cried tears of joy, of sorrow, of reflection, of peace, of overwhelming gratitude. Having a baby, we'd done that before. Holding our baby? check. Recovering after a C section? Check. Knowing what to expect staying at the hospital? Double check. But taking our baby home, driving away and beginning our lives together as a family of 3? This was new. And it took our breaths away. FINALLY after a two year experience of pregnancy, loss, waiting, journeying through the thick fog of grief and hope, we are headed, all three of us, HOME, and that was, easily,  the best moment of my life. Welcome to our crazy little family, Hank Grayson Steele. We have been waiting for you and we love having you home.

Ok.....let's talk about deets of his birth! Warning: This will be a LONG post. Last Friday, December 15th, before leaving school, I just had this weird feeling that I might not be back. One of my teammates (hi, Lindsay!) remarked that she just had a sneaking suspicion she wouldn't see me come in on Monday. I spent the afternoon getting papers in order, neatening up my plan book (that thing seems to only make sense to me....I needed to make it understandable for my sub!), and as an afterthought, on my way out the door, I laid out Monday's work and put my maternity leave notebook front and center on my desk. Just in case.

The weekend proceeded as usual, we slept in on Saturday morning, I made a berry coffee cake, and headed out for a hair appointment in the afternoon. I came home and AJ and I decided to go out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse since we might not have another dinner out before baby came (See?! I feel like we must have known!). We ate an early dinner, ran some errands, grocery shopped, and were home around 7. I'll spare you specific details here but I had some signs that labor might be starting so we dropped our groceries at home and headed to Labor and Delivery. There, they examined me and assured us while baby might be arriving soon, I was definitely not in labor that night and to go home and come back if I was experiencing more labor signs. We went home, me feeling slightly silly that I was one of "those" people who obviously had no clue what real labor felt like. We came home and went to bed after watching Saturday Night Live.

   Sunday morning we did our usual routine of drinking coffee and having breakfast together. We've gotten into something slightly embarrassing on Sunday mornings but I am dedicated to telling the whole story.....watching "In The Kitchen with David" on QVC. I know, I know, we're so lame. But I adore David's bubbly personality and we usually have it on while we do work for school, meal prep etc. About 20 minutes into Sunday's show, I felt a trickle down my legs that I was sure wasn't urine. I thought uh-oh and before I could tell AJ, it happened again. When my water broke with Hadley, it was a huge gush that soaked the bed. This was definitely not a huge gush but it was something unusual. I felt sort of uncomfortable but that's pretty much life past 34 weeks pregnant (I was 36 weeks and 2 days pregnant at this point). We left everything right where it was and hopped in the car. My hospital bag was packed and we quickly debated bringing it, but decided not to because I wasn't certain this was  actually my water breaking because it was so different than before.
He folds his hands like this all the time! #praying 

We got to the hospital and they gave me a gown, checked my vitals, and I gradually become more uncomfortable. Not sharp pains, just "hurty" if that makes sense. They tested the liquid and it tested negative for amniotic fluid. At this point I'm feeling really dumb, two false labor scares in a row? The nurses told me there were two more tests they could do to determine if my water really did break. The doctor examined me and said I was making no progress, in other words, labor had not begun. But I just did not feel "right." I vomited a few times and within minutes the pains increased and the nurse came in and said it looked like I was having pretty strong contractions. I knew it!

Representing ASU: Fear the Fork! 
 Now, to give you a time frame, we arrived to the hospital around 10 am, and it was now about noon. We asked the doctor on call to contact my doctor. My pain was getting strong. I asked how long they would keep me feeling like this since I was having a C section anyway. The doctors and nurses reminded me that less than an hour before I was dialated to a zero, so just to be patient before we rushed to the operating room. At this point, things got blurry for me. The pain was intolerable. I started asking for pain meds and then begging for pain meds. I told the doctor I knew that an hour ago I was at a zero but I really felt like something was happening. She checked me again and I was AT A TEN. Unmedicated. In about 50 minutes from the first check.  It was awful. I honestly feel like I turned into some sort of psycho, I started yelling, "Make it stop! Give me medicine now!" Our doctor was apparently on her way but they weren't sure she would make it on time, baby was in a serious hurry.

In a situation that felt eerily similar to Hadley's birth, they rushed me to the O.R, and threw AJ his surgical scrubs on the way there. I was crying and begging for "The medicine guy" (my term for the anesthesiologist). One of the nurses (or doctors, I honestly don't know, there were about a dozen people in the room), told me "He's basically right there, just push." I panicked. I was supposed to have a C section. A lot of Hadley's distress occurred during the pushing/birth process. Nevertheless I felt the urge to push so I started. AJ shouted out, "That's not the plan! It's supposed to be a C section!" I did not think I had the strength or energy to keep pushing unmedicated when I wasn't expecting it. At that exact moment, our doctor walked in all scrubbed up and AJ and I breathed a sigh of relief. I have never been so happy to see someone in my life. Once she arrived, everyone got in their places and within seconds my new boyfriend who I lovingly termed "Medicine Guy" came to my rescue, and I got hot, tingly, heavy and all the pain lifted away.

I don't remember much from the actual procedure but I do remember hearing some grunts, a coo, and then.....a cry. A loud cry. Music to my ears. Hank was born at 1:35 in the afternoon. Since Hank was still not full term he was passed through the window to the NICU. AJ went to be with him while they sewed me up. It was super calm after that and as the doctor's chatted about their Christmas plans, I was blissfully pain-free watching my husband and son meet for the first time through the window to the NICU. The nurses were shouting out to us the weight (6 lb. 7 oz), measurements, and Apgar score. The doctor looked at me over the sheet and said, "He's doing great, honey." And for the first time in a very long time I felt a great sense of peace.

They took me to the recovery room where my family was waiting. It was so good to see them. I told them all about the birth and then AJ came in and we hugged and cried. He showed me pictures of Hank on his phone and said he needed to be monitored for some breathing issues but they didn't think he'd need to stay overnight in the NICU. After an hour or so, they brought my bed to the NICU and it felt like that end scene in Titanic where the doors open and Rose sees all these familiar faces. We walked (well, I rode) the familiar halls of the NICU, right into the wing where Hadley stayed and I saw nurses and techs who I had not seen in 18 months. Most of them remembered us, and smiled or gave my hand a squeeze. It was surreal. Once in Hank's room, they handed Hank to me. Now, since I didn't get to hold Hadley for 4 days after birth, getting to hold Hank so soon was SO special for me. AJ recorded the moment I met him and I will always treasure that video (maybe we'll show it at his wedding, ha!).

Hank "graduated" from the NICU at around 8:00 that evening and got to stay in our room with us! It was perfect. A few hours later, AJ's parents flew in from Oregon. Hank got a warm welcome into this world.

A bit about his name. We knew we wanted another "H" name and Hank was easily our top pick. We agreed on it and decided on it right after I found out I was pregnant. We tossed around a few middle name ideas but decided it'd be special if both our babies had the initials HGS. Since Hadley's middle name is Grace, we decided Grayson was a nice spin on that. Plus we liked the way Grayson sounded with Hank. And now that we know him, he is such a "Hank," it fits him perfectly.

We got home a few days ago and are excited to celebrate our first Christmas all together. Overall?  I'm tired. I'm sore. I'm paranoid about germs and his health. I'm over the moon. I still look sort of pregnant. I'm loving watching my husband be a daddy. I'm always doing a load of laundry or washing bottles or pump parts. I have a to do list I haven't touched. I don't know what I'm doing but it feels like I was born to be Hank's mommy.  I'm just so thankful and my heart is so full. Welcome home, Hank.
At the hospital 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like....

It's beginning to look a lot like:
End of 2017!

So I haven't blogged in two weeks but I'm 35 weeks pregnant, the holidays are coming, and I'm doing what I want! But really, every time I've settled in to write a blog post I realized I didn't have much to say. Life feels simultaneously like it's going at warp speed and also going slowly. I have NINE teaching days left for the year and until maternity leave. It's 9 days filled with all sorts of festive fun and enjoying my time with "my kids" before my own kiddo enters the scene.
Last week, 34 weeks 

We went on a date night this week for Chinese food 
Our days have been filled with getting ready for the holidays (we are skipping gifts for each other and family and not putting up a tree.....huge stress relief right there), but there are always last minute holiday things to pick up and get ready for. I've been nesting a ton and enjoying this phase of pregnancy because I've never experienced this part! I've washed all the sweet wittle newborn clothes and socks and we have little man's bassinet in our room all ready to go. We got our carseats installed last week (I found out the police department will install for you to make sure they are put in correctly. The kind officer gave us all kinds of great car/baby safety tips and saved us countless swear words that would have come up had we done it ourselves), and this week's baby goal is getting a basic hospital bag prepared. I treated myself to a prenatal massage this weekend and it. was. delightful.  It's all exciting and while I am giddy with joy---- I am so scared. I can't wrap my head around the fact that there will be a third person living here. My previous pregnancy journey ended in sorrow so it's hard to imagine a different ending. I found this quote this week that I've really connected with for this final stretch of pregnancy:

I have been reading a lot lately and am on book 60 of the year! I know I say this all the time but I cannot emphasize enough how much dedicating myself to reading has meant to me this year. I have laughed, cried, discovered great authors, read suggestions from friends, passed good books along, and have really just enjoyed my time in 2017 between the pages. I don't know what 2018 will hold but I know I want to continue my journey as a reader.
This was a cute modern twist of a Christmas Carol story. Perfect light seasonal read. 

Lots of people recommended this one and I really liked it! Super suspenseful. 

In other news, huge shout out to my sister Libby who graduates from Arizona State tomorrow! We are so proud of you!

Here's to enjoying these last two weeks before Christmas! May your days be merry and bright. And if you can't enjoy a seasonal cocktail, then at least enjoy a festive seasonal mani.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Life Lately: Holiday Edition

What a blur this past week has been! I am settling in this Sunday afternoon with candles lit, my new CuddleDuds lounge pants, Christmas music playing and am ready for a blog recap! I hope you all had wonderful holidays with friends, family, good food, and grateful hearts. It's true that gratitude turns what we have into enough and I am so so so thankful for all the enough and the abundance in my life. I am most thankful for the chance to become a mommy again and every year on Thanksgiving I will always give thanks that I got to meet and hold Hadley. I don't take a single second I had with her for granted. We had a great time with BOTH sides of our families. It was, overall, a great Thanksgiving week.
Let's go day by day, shall we?

Monday morning: AJ's car won't start. It's about 6:30 am, so I drove him to work in my pj's, came home, got ready, then rushed back to work myself. His car had been in the shop about 4 times this fall for significant repairs and each visit came with a very hefty price tag. Ouch. We looked at each other on the way to school that day and both said it: New car? Maybe? Do we want to invest more money into it? #Adulting. Sheesh. After a busy day at school, AJ had his truck towed to the dealership and we awaited their diagnosis the next day.

Tuesday: The last day of school before Thanksgiving break! My team did Thanksgiving rotations for the day so we each taught one Thanksgiving themed lesson/activity 5 times for each first grade class. It was so fun working with all the kids! In my class we made "Pilgrim Butter" and sampled it on bread while we wrote out the "recipe." It was the perfect way to spend that last day at school for the week. I picked up AJ from school (love the fact that we work blocks from each other!) and we came home to greet his parents who had stopped by our house on their way to get Matt, AJ's brother, from the airport. We visited for a bit and it was lovely to see them since we hadn't since before school started in August. We all gathered for dinner at The Pie (bad blogger alert: no pictures).
I got this pic via Google, but this was what our homemade butter looked like. It was so fun making it with the kids! 

Wednesday: The diagnosis for the truck came back. Hefty price tag. Again. AJ and I headed to the car dealership to look around. We settled on a new Rav-4 in gray. We were able to trade in AJ's truck and after a whole day of paperwork, waiting around at the dealership etc, we suddenly had a new car! We both really like it and are so thankful to have a new reliable ride. They even let us test drive it all the way to our house to see how it fit in our garage. That evening we had everyone over for a taco bar (virgin margarita for this girl!) and it was nice catching up and chatting the evening away.

Thursday: Thanksgiving! We slept in, went for a Starbucks run, watched the Macy's Day Parade, and headed over to my parents house in the afternoon. It was so nice to have everyone all together and being pregnant on Thanksgiving has some major advantages, notably everyone traveled to us this year (and not to mention that every pair of maternity pants comes equipped with delightful stretchy spandex at the waistband. Baby or turkey, you better believe you'll be comfy feeling like a bowling ball is under your shirt either way!). We talked, laughed, and ate. My parents had some fun games planned---like a white elephant-type exchange and holiday trivia. AJ's parents brought out the scratch-it tickets after dinner and we had a blast with those. It was so wonderful to have both sides of our family together for the holiday---siblings and all! And because I was so busy talking and eating (see: spandex pants), I only caught one quick pic of AJ and I at dinner. Booo, I wish I snapped a few more of everyone!
Starbucks? Check. PJ's? check. Macys Day Parade Tradition? Check! 

AJ's mom made this super cute turkey cheese tray! How fun! 
Friday: There was no Black Friday shopping for us this year. I did look at all the ads and honestly, nothing seemed worth hopping out of bed early and battling crowds for. We had a chill morning, finished up some things in baby's room (nursery reveal post coming soon, promise), and we said goodbye to our houseguests. That evening my family and I went to a birthday party for a family friend (AJ was at work). Oh and we also spent some time on the phone with the debit card number was somehow stolen and apparently someone (some butthead rude person) did end up Black Friday shopping on my dime. Grrrr, all seems to be sorted out now, but it's scary nonetheless.
AJ captured this pic and it absolutely cracks me up. AJ's dad was busy doing handy man stuff for us and in this picture he's putting a name plate on baby's cradle (which he made, btw!) and I crawled into bed and dozed off! Pregnancy life has me conked out a good portion of the time, lol  
Saturday/Sunday: I think all the busyness caught up to me and I've been cursed with a cold. I've been in pjs, drinking tea, doing some meal prepping (making this soup for dinner this week) for dinners and lunches, doing some reading, and overall just resting and praying these sniffles away.
I'm loving this book and am ready to pack up and move to Scandinavia......except the cold, no thanks. 
There are only 19 more school days before Christmas break (and before baby arrives!!) and I am so excited for holiday cheer and 1st grade fun. I succumb to the craziness this time of the year. Bring it on! We decorated the house for the holidays (but no tree this year, this type A girl can't go into labor after the holidays knowing there's a tree in the house that needs to come down!) and I'm ready for holiday baking, Christmas tunes (started Nov 1st, don't judge), and cozy evenings. Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Bumpdate: 32 Weeks

It's been a while since I've done a Bumpdate! You can check out my 23 week and 27 week  bumpdates too if you'd like. Sometimes just for fun I check out my blog traffic stats and found it interesting that anything having to do with pregnancy and babies (Hadley and our little man) typically gets 4-5 times more page views than any other posts. I get it and agree: these little ones are the best thing about me. So thank you for reading, caring, and praying. I love this little blog space. 

 This week is the 32 week Bumpdate! Can you believe it?? I sure can't! Thanksgiving week was a huge huge milestone in my heart. It just meant that I made it through the whole fall pregnant and that I was nearing the final month or so. Unless you've had a preterm baby (in Hadley's case, very preterm), I don't think you can really grasp the joy that being pregnant each week brings. Baby is still in there---growing! I get so excited each week that he stays put.
 So as of last week, I am officially the most pregnant I have ever been! And it's definitely different. I feel like my bump is BIG and I even got some new maternity clothes last week. I was holding out, but when your maternity shirt is still not covering the belly, it's time for some upgrades. I can't do things as quickly as I used to (and for a go-er and a do-er like me, that's a harsh realization). I always sit in the same spot on our couch, in the corner of the two pieces and lately it's been quite the effort to leave my corner space to stand up! Thank goodness for AJ to help me as I scoot and grunt my way up (#truth). 

I spent SO much time in the hospital last year that I for sure wanted something cute and comfy to wear for recovery. Target PJ section to the rescue! 

The nursery is done except for 2 things: the crib skirt and the changing pad cover. I ordered both from Etsy and they are due to arrive in the next few weeks. I love hanging out in there and AJ's taken to playing his guitar and reading or drinking coffee in the nursery rocking chair. We only have 5 more weekly shots left and while I usually whine and whimper getting it (they hurt!), AJ reminds me of the important truth: I'm getting shots so hopefully our little guy won't need to be poked and hooked up to machines as much as his sister was. Ok, so worth it! 
My parents go us this cute tie blanket kit and finally this kiddo can have something homemade by his non-crafty mom!

I still crave Chick-fil-A (I don't think it's pregnancy anymore, it's just who I am now), english muffins, peanut butter, and I drink a ton of water (coconut la croix forever and ever). Yes, I still puke most mornings. People are always like "Omg, that's horrible!" and yes, it is. BUT I puked morning, noon, and night for most of the first trimester so once a day? I can work with that. 
My view from my desk at school. He likes to kick up a storm during math lessons and when I read aloud to the kids. I always tell them he'll be the smartest baby ever because he's been in 1st grade right along with them all year. 

We tried once again to get a good view of our little man's face, but at our last ultrasound a few weeks ago he had both hands covering his face. So needless to say, we can't wait to look in his eyes and finally meet face to face. He is predicted to be about 4 and a quarter lbs. this week! 
We took some time to have a little brunch after our doc appointment this week. Hey when you have half the day off! 

Overall this pregnancy has gone well, but I will not sugar-coat it. It's scary. SO scary trying again after loss. We know there is no such thing as "in the clear." Every time I get excited and filled with anticipation and joy there's still a piece of me that thinks, "But what if...." I know that based on what we went through it's normal, but I don't want to cheat this baby out of a joyful pregnancy and birth experience because I am terrified. He deserves better than my fear. Easier said than done. So we wait. We pray. We dream. We fret. We hope. We remember and miss Hadley fiercely. We plan. We anticipate. We worry. And we lift each other up. Literally...that corner of the couch is no joke.