Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lenten Chaos

My Lent did not go the way that I planned. I had decided that I would do 40 bags as my penitential act for the season and that it would coincide perfectly with nest/getting the house ready for Ellie who was due just 4 days after Easter. My house was going to be so clean and decluttered just in time to welcome a little girl that would certainly clutter it right back up.

Well as I'm sure you're aware...that didn't work out. Ellie needed to come right smack dab in the middle of Lent and it really threw my plans for spiritual growth off.

Fortunately God doesn't need to work around what we plan. I always knew that becoming a mother would change my outlook on life, on myself, on what's important but I had no idea the changes that would occur so deeply and so quickly. The entire experience of her birth humbled me in such a way I'm still working to process it all.

And even though it was nothing like I planned it has been one of my most spiritually fruitful Lenten seasons. I've thought more about God's love and His sacred Passion in the past 4 weeks than I probably have my whole life. I've offered my suffering up with His on the cross. I've literally given my body to be cut open to ensure the safe arrival of my daughter. I have come to better know what unconditional and truly sacrificial love is. A love that I thought I understood from the graces we've received through marriage but have found we've only begun to learn what that kind of love means.

I have never felt more connected with our Holy Mother either. Every late night feeding or "Why won't she just quit crying and just sleep for like 1 minute!!" freak out I think of our Blessed Mother comforting Jesus and again do my best to join my suffering with hers. What a gift Jesus gave us when He looked down from the cross and bestowed her as mother to us all!

Of course, it hasn't all been sufferings and trials but it's much easier to focus on the hard times and how to emulate our Blessed Mother during them than it is when she's peacefully sleeping. Though contemplating the human aspect of Mary and imagining how she reacted when Jesus first smiled, or made a silly face. Thinking about how I call for Steven "Quick!! Look!!" and imagining her calling for Joseph in a similar way. It warms my heart to think of those intimate family moments they shared.

This definitely isn't the Lent I planned on having but I'm so thankful for the chaos.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New Mom Five Favorites

1. Hands free pumping bra: AKA God's gift to pumping moms. These things are ridiculously expensive for what they are (sports bra with holes in it) but they are so worth it! Pumping went from being the most frustrating part of my day to tolerable. I mean I still don't love pumping but at least if Ellie's crying and Jack's barking and I'm thirsty I can at least attempt to put out some fires.

2. Moby: Worth its weight in gold!! We were told not to try too much "training" with Ellie about being held vs sleeping because as a preemie she just isn't there yet. So we hold her a lot, it saves her energy so she can focus on growing and eating when she needs to. Unfortunately that made getting anything else done a real pain. Well thanks to the Moby I can do all my important things like eating kettle chips while browsing imgur without ever having to put her down. (And occasionally I'll get some laundry folded.)
She normally does better with it than this.
3. Gumdrop pacifier: I don't know if it's just because that's what she was used to in the hospital but she LOVES this pacifier. She spits out a Soothie most of the time but can't get enough of the gumdrop. I think maybe having the cut out for her nose makes it more comfortable. I honestly don't know nor do I really care as it keeps her content (and helps her digest her food. Booyah!)
Basically my everyday attire.
4. Robes: Oh my gosh I love a robe. I have two big warm fluffy ones that I've been rocking lately. They make for easy pumping/nursing access and they're super comfy. Plus they aren't tight or form fitting which is nice for my post partum self conscious self.
5. All the food: Seriously...I can't quit eating. Between pumping and just being awake a few extra hours each day I am hangry roughly 90% of the time I'm awake. I went to Aldi and Price Chopper this weekend so that I could stock my pantry with all my favorite snacks and meals (read kettle chips, Chips Ahoy, and some baby carrots to make myself feel a little healthier). I am constantly snacking on something. I guess I'm just jealous of Ellie's every 3 hour eating schedule. :)

So that's what I know. All the things I thought I'd love (boppy, swaddlers, sleep sacks) have been nice but definitely not as nice as giving me the ability to pump, pacify Ellie, eat kettle chips, and wear basically a big fleece blanket at the same time all day long.

Head to Hallie's for more favorites!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Love at first sight?

I remember reading posts from people about how as soon as they saw that second line on a pregnancy test their entire life changed. They were overwhelmed with love for the tiny little person growing inside of them. Their prolife beliefs convictions were further impressed on their hearts and they grew leaps and bounds in their faith life because they could finally understand the unconditional live that God has for each of us.

Well it didn't happen like that for me. We were trying to get pregnant for a bit so it's not like a positive pregnancy test was an unexpected shock for us. Instead we were desperate to see one, anxious to know we would be parents but still when I saw it I didn't get "that feeling." When I first heard her heartbeat...nothing. When I first saw her on the ultrasound and saw her little hands and toes and nose and even saw her heart beat...nada. When I first felt those little kicks and jabs...nope.

Even as we were in the OR and I first heard her cry or when they brought her to me for the first time...nothing. I mean I was happy and relieved that she was ok but I certainly wasn't overcome with emotion, stricken by the fact that I just fell unconditionally in love with this new little person. There was no Barney Stinson moment for my Ellie.

Not exactly how it went for me...

That really bothered me at first and I felt like I had to compensate in front of the nurses at the hospital so they would think I actually loved my daughter. Don't get me wrong, I do love my daughter...very much. It just took a little bit for me. My transition to being a mother has been more like a bringing a pot of water to a boil as opposed to turning on a gas grill. I love her and I love her more each day but it wasn't something that just happened instantaneously and that's how I thought it was supposed to happen. That's how I've seen other mothers react when I delivered their baby. But surely I'm not the only one who has seen their baby for the first time and not felt that immediate click?

I feel like I'm living in a state of disbelief...that I'll wake up from this dream and it'll be July before we ever got a positive pregnancy test. I honestly cannot believe that I have a daughter and that they let ME take her home to take care of her and raise her. Surely that is so absurd that it has to be a dream, right? As crazy as it is to trust us to raise this perfect, innocent, beautiful little girl I'm so excited to do it (and terrified, lots of terrified).

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

We're home!!

We got to come home on Friday! My mom came up for the weekend and helped us get a ton of the things done that we had meant to have done by the time she was born. (Ya know...things like having her pack and play set up, having diapers, carseats installed, a semblance of a nursery, really ambitious stuff). She even brought a ton of food for the freezer (which space in there is becoming a hot commodity as I apparently pump enough to feed a village). Plus we had two visits with the home health nurse over the weekend and Ellie is doing so well. She's already surpassed her birth weight (by over an ounce)! She's a whooping 5lb 7.7oz now. Anyways, we had a busy weekend but today is my first day at home with just her and I'm excited and terrified. It'll be nice to learn our schedule but man...what if I need help?!? She's a very intimidating 12 day old baby. Anyways, here are a few pictures from the first few days at home!

"Waving" bye to the hospital!

Leaving the hospital

She wasn't too sure about leaving.

Introducing the dogs.
They weren't too impressed.


Napping with dad.
Modeling her adorable outfit from Mandi 
She survived her first bath and only looks moderately scarred.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and for the unbelievable outpouring of support we've received. I came home from the hospital to so many packages and cards from all over the place from you all that I cried my postpartum eyes out (for the millionth time). Shocking, I know.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Update on Ellie

Ellie was born Thursday night via an urgent c-section due to...a lot of issues. I'll try and hash them out later if I get around to writing a birth story. Anyways, because she was only 35 weeks old and had meconium (poop) in her fluid when we ruptured, we (doctors included) were all pretty worried about how she would do on the outside.

Well Miss Elle has shown us all a thing or two. She's skinny and had problems holding her temperature at first so she needed to be in the special needs nursery in an incubator for the first few days but she never had to go to the NICU like we thought she may. She graduated from the special needs nursery on Sunday and has officially got to room in with us since then because she's been able to maintain her temperature.

She is so over the nursery!
As you can see though she has a tube going down her nose. Feeding is another issue she has because she's premature. She doesn't have enough fat on her to keep her warm or to be able to expend energy to eat so she's been eating via NG tube since birth as it takes almost no energy on her part to do. We did start breastfeeding (just to get her use to it) Friday morning but it takes a lot of energy for her to nurse so we were only able to do every other feed at the breast. Yesterday was a big day though as she got to start bottles. They don't want to discharge us if she's still requiring NG feeds so a bottle is the bridge. She rotates her feeds getting them from the breast, the bottle, then the NG tube and has been doing really well with them. Yesterday she got 3 bottles and she was able to take the entire feed from the second two bottles. HUGE step! She also nurses really well considering she's so young. She latched the first day and has been getting more and more coordinated with her sucking everyday! Baby girl knows how to eat! (She gets that from me.) 

It doesn't hurt that I have been a milk making machine. I'm serious, I think I could win a prize in the county fair at this rate. They had to bring me my own fridge for my room because I was making too much milk for their nursery fridge and crowding out all the other mom's milk. It's crazy.
Otherwise she appears to be completely healthy and we are praising God for that. We were prepared for the worst healthwise but have been blessed with a beautiful, healthy daughter. We so appreciate the prayers you all have said on our behalf and I'm certain they played a huge part in how healthy she is. Thank you so much.

Ellie says thanks! 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Meet Elizabeth Claire!

She's earlier than we expected but she's perfect. She was born Thursday at 7:57pm and weighed 5lbs 6oz.  The doctors were very worried how she would do being only 35 weeks but she's surprising them everyday. We're just working on keeping her weight and temperature up and then she'll be good to go. Thank you all for the prayers!

One happy dad!

Too cool for school.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Update from bedrest

Day 4 of bedrest and it is definitely not all it's cracked up to be. Teenage Katie had no idea what she was talking about when she wished she could just lie in bed for days! But I suppose it could be worse, I have the internet and basketball to watch and yesterday I had a few visitors which made the day pass a little more quickly. Plus Steven stopped by for a surprise visit this morning which made today already seem better.

Pretty flowers that make my room smell so much more fresh!

And boy do I need today to seem better!

Unfortunately that's all the good news I have so on to the bad news. My liver doesn't seem to like this whole preeclampsia thing very much and is throwing a bit of a fit. We're keeping an eye on it (and I'm threatening it with it's life to behave) but with the way things are going...we're not making it to 37 weeks. If we make it another week we'll be pretty lucky. So my doctor's are calling the perinatologist to get their opinion on what to do and until then we're just hanging out on bedrest. I sent Steven to work because we're just waiting. I told my mom to stay home because again we're just waiting. And so I"m just sitting here waiting and instragramming.

Why yes, that is a flip phone. 

And because I may not get too many more "bump" pictures here's today. (Yes I know it's gross and in the bathroom but it's the only place with a big enough mirror and light to get a decent picture. I'm not allowed to leave my room so I don't have that many options. No judging.)
34 weeks 6 days
That's all I know right now. I'll keep you as updated as I can. Also, thank you all so much for the prayers and support. The fact that I haven't been tied to the bed due to a complete mental breakdown is nothing short of a miracle.

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