Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful Thoughts

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

It's been a busy several days in our house.

Saturday brought us a late-night trip to the ER for Mr. Max.  He woke up to vomit his last feeding and then continued to vomit mucous every 15-20 minutes afterward, for a total of about 15 times vomiting.  Ick.  My poor boy was miserable.  They tested for the flu and RSV, which he doesn't have, and they did a chest X-ray, which showed viral conditions in his lungs.  They drew blood (traumatizing for both baby and mommy/daddy) and got him hooked up to IV fluids.  During the blood draw, Max was crying so much, but no tears were developing.  He was THAT dehydrated.

Thankfully, after a steady drip of fluids and some rest, he woke up smiling.

If only we could all look this adorbes in a hospital gown.  I didn't know they made them that small!

We had to experiment with some nasal saline, a bulb syringe, and some Pedialyte in order to get him back to working order and able to have some breastmilk, which I had to pump and give to him via bottle in small amounts to make sure he kept it down.  

Three days later, we're back to nursing for short periods, but still using nasal saline/bulb syringe and some water before his first and last feeding.  His cough seems to be dwindling but it's still there, and he's still sneezing occasionally.  But he is so happy.

That brings me to my list of things I'm thankful for, in no particular order:

IV fluids and modern medicine

breast pumps (even though I don't enjoy pumping)

Health insurance
Our otherwise good health
My sweet family
My family in Ohio (immediate and extended)--who I will see so soon!
Sis, Mom, and Me back in 2011
My in-laws in Maryland--I couldn't have asked for a warmer, more welcoming family to marry into.  So lucky to have them here when my family is so far away.

The day Max was born
Crazy Kenny the dog, who guards our house with his anxious barks

My husband's work ethic.  He works so hard for our family so I can stay home with Max.  I don't think he truly realizes how much we love and appreciate him.

Great friends who are like family

Twix bars and Dr. Pepper

Coffee

This beautiful Earth and having the opportunity to explore it


Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!  I will be taking some time off from blogging to enjoy time with my family, but I'll be back in December with more recipes, crafts, and other random thoughts!


Friday, November 21, 2014

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Happy Friday everyone!

I think this is the first time this week that I've been able to sit down to blog without doing other things at the same time.  It's difficult to blog efficiently when you're bouncing a baby on your leg and trying to keep him from banging on your keyboard.  Ha!  For the creation of this post, Max is peacefully napping in his room, I'm enjoying my second cup of coffee, and a Law & Order: SVU marathon is on USA.  Aahhhh, serenity.

As I mentioned in my Chicken Tortilla Soup post, Tuesdays are always Taco Tuesdays in our house.  I try to switch it up each week so we're not having plain ol' tacos week after week, but we try to stick with the theme every Tuesday.  A few years ago, I started paying more attention to the ingredients in the packaged food items I was buying, and I wasn't comfortable with all the "extras" in the taco seasoning packets, so I looked up a recipe so I could make my own.  I am happy to say I have never gone back to the packets since!

I don't even remember where I got the recipe.  All I know is that is fabulous.  It's got a bit more of a kick to it than the seasoning packets offer, and you can alter it to make it spicier if you wish.  All of the ingredients are pretty much staples in most kitchens, so you most likely won't need to go out to buy any of the spices in order to make it.  Perhaps you'll be inspired to have a Fiesta Friday tonight to test it out!

Homemade Taco Seasoning
 good for seasoning one pound of meat of your choosing
All natural, baby!
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt (I sometimes only use 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon (about 2 teaspoons) flour

Measure out all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.  Dust over cooked meat and add 2/3 cup of water.  Stir until well blended and let simmer until sauce thickens.

Enjoy!  Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A message to the twenty-somethings

I've been watching a lot of NBC lately; between The Today Show, Ellen, Parenthood, and SNL, it's pretty much the only network I watch anymore (unless I'm watching Law & Order: SVU marathons on USA).  During all my NBC watching, I keep seeing a commercial for the Meredith Vieira Show in which Jessica Alba says something about being sad that she'll never be in her twenties again, and it's struck a chord in me.  Every once in a while I find myself reflecting on my life now and the way my life used to be and sort of comparing the two.  And I know that they can't really be compared because they're different life stages, but it doesn't keep me from thinking about how much has changed.  I'm turning 30 in less than a month, and it's amazing to look back at the past 8 years and all that's happened since I became a real "grown up."

I have to say, the greatest decision I ever made was to move away from home.  I think it shocked a lot of people when I announced my plans, including myself; it was definitely not a "Rachel" thing to do.  I am a creature of habit/comfort, and I cling to the familiar.  I've always been a bit shy, and it takes me a while to warm up to new people and situations.  I also don't enjoy deviating from my plans much, even if I can't completely control said plans.  I thought that I was going to graduate from college, get a teaching job somewhere in Ohio, and have a blissful future with my college boyfriend.  
The summer after graduation, I applied everywhere but I couldn't find a job at an elementary school in Ohio, so I started working in the toddler room at a local daycare.  I enjoyed the tots, but didn't care to do that job long-term.  And then my college boyfriend and I broke up.  And then one day in late June, a college acquaintance and I were catching up on AOL Instant Messenger (old-school texting), and she told me that she got a teaching job in Maryland and that her district had lots of openings.  So on a whim, I applied.

Within a matter of days, I was called to set up a screening interview.  And then I was sent out to interview at 4 schools.  And then my favorite of the 4 schools offered me a position.  I was hired.  Before I knew it, I was putting in my resignation at the daycare and preparing to move to Maryland at the beginning of August for my first real teaching job...the start of my career.  If you would've told me at graduation that I would be moving to Maryland by the end of the summer, I would've laughed in your face.  Funny how things work out.

Now, I know what you're all thinking.  "Oh, she's saying that moving to Maryland was the best decision she ever made because if she hadn't, she wouldn't have met Victor and they wouldn't have gotten married and then she wouldn't have Max..."  Well, yes, and no.  Of course, I'm beyond grateful for all that I have been blessed with since moving east, but so much more resulted from my move to Maryland.  It really shaped me as an adult.  I was forced into an unfamiliar world and had to find my way on my own.  I was scared, and at times it was difficult, but it's brought me to where I am today and I truly believe I am a better person as a result.  

My early twenties were so much fun. I moved to Maryland with a good friend from high school, Michelle, and we lived together our first year here.  We're still close; our babies were born about a month apart, we took Mommy & Me classes together, and we live about 10 minutes away from each other now. 

Me, Max, Michelle, and Baby M
My first year in Maryland was a blast (as were the subsequent years).  Thinking back to that time, I still get butterflies when I reminisce about how exciting it was to be on my own in a new place, with my first post-college apartment, making my own money, providing my own health insurance, paying my own bills, making my own decisions about how I spent my time.  It was such a thrill.  I made new friends and spent many a weekend whooping it up in Annapolis, enjoying the beautiful scenery and the nightlife. 

Still love Annapolis
I was completely independent.  When I hear some of my favorite songs from that first year here, I'm immediately taken back to that carefree time.  Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly" is one that really brings the memories to life.  Seeing young people with their small suitcases at Metro stops on the weekends also takes me back.  I did a lot of solo traveling during that time, mainly back to Cincinnati for quick weekend trips and holidays.  There's something so "grown-up" about making your own travel arrangements, getting yourself to the airport, and taking that flight back home.  I'd also go visit college friends in our respective new "homes."

Our first "housie" reunion after we all started our first jobs or grad school
 My second year in Maryland brought along a new series of adventures, the first being living alone.  Kenny and I rented a 1-bedroon apartment just 10 minutes from my school, and we lived there for 3 years.

I fell asleep many a night on that couch watching TV or movies.  It was also my guest bed.

Countless papers were checked/graded, craft projects were completed, and dinners were eaten at this table.

My first little kitchen where I began to explore the wonderful world of cooking.
I enjoyed my alone time...I always have.  I got to be selfish and spend my time however I wanted, without having to answer to anyone.  I could lie around watching TV and movies all day in my PJs.  I could do my Hip Hop Abs workout DVDs in the living room any time without being disturbed.  I could leave a mess in the kitchen overnight (although I hate doing that, so that probably didn't happen often).

I'm so glad I used those 3 years to really do what I wanted.  Those selfish days are long gone since getting married, and especially since becoming a mom.  My time is no longer my own, but I don't mind.  I love taking care of my little family.  And I had my early twenties to really spend time with myself and acclimate to adult life on my own terms.

While it's not incredibly necessary to move to a new city after college, I do think there is something inherently precious about living on your own, either solo or with a roommate or two.  You learn to be independent and responsible in a way that you've never experienced before.  Living with your friends in a house or apartment in college doesn't count.  Your main responsibility is going to class and your priority is your social life (for the most part).  It's once you're out in the real world, with a real job/career, paying our own bills and budgeting your time/money, making your own decisions and ultimately having to face the consequences (good or bad) on your own...that's when you truly start to find yourself and build character and an identity.

It was very hard for me to leave my family and be thrown into the real world so abruptly.  I only knew my roommate and my college acquaintance when I moved to Maryland.  I was nervous, but I was also so excited.  I've always enjoyed sharing such big milestones with the people I love most--my family--but there was something so rewarding and fulfilling about experiencing that all on my own.  It was mine.  I was writing my story on my own.  And it was exhilarating.

Me and Kenny against the world!

Sometimes I find myself missing that time in my life.  You couldn't pay me to go back to high school.  It wasn't a traumatic time, but it wasn't my favorite, either.  I'd go back to college in a heartbeat, but only if all of my friends could come back with me.  I'd probably do a few things differently in college in my do-over so I could enjoy it even more than I did the first time.  But I think that if I could, I would do my early twenties again exactly the way I did them the first time.  I don't think I fully appreciated how monumental that time of my life was while I was living it.  But I recognize it now.  It was invaluable, and I'm grateful everyday that I had the opportunity to have the experiences I did.

One of many nights in Annapolis

If I had to give a pearl of wisdom to other twenty-something women who are just starting out, I don't think I would advise them to move somewhere new or even to live on their own, even though I've been singing the praises of those two things in this post.  That's not for everyone, so others might not get as much out of it as I did.  But I would tell them this: Do not let fear hold you back.  I think that's what this all comes down to.  I was scared to leave my family and the familiar.  But they're just a plane ride (or an 8-hour drive) away...and, worse case scenario, I could always move back if I was miserable enough.  I was afraid to leave my relationship at the time, which was why I never entertained the idea of leaving home earlier.  But if a wonderful opportunity presents itself to you, and it involves leaving your significant other, DO IT!  Long distance relationships are hard, but if it's meant to be, you'll pull through it.  If you can't pull through it, it isn't meant to be.  There are much worse things you could have to overcome in a relationship; distance is nothing in comparison.

I truly believe that I'm happy and well-adjusted in my life as a wife and mommy as a result of my experiences in my early twenties.  It hasn't always been easy adjusting to these new roles, but it certainly helps that I have no regrets from my single days.  I did my single livin' and enjoyed my freedom while I could.  And now I'm basking in the thrill of this new chapter in my life.

Love my sweet family.  Photo by Dottie Millwater Photography
Did anyone else take a chance and venture out on their own in their twenties?  How did it turn out?  Would your recommend your path to others?  What advice would you give to twenty-somethings?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Weekend Recap on a Tuesday

How was everyone's weekend?  I know it's Tuesday and you're supposed to do post-weekend catch-ups on Mondays, but Monday was Max's half birthday, so blogging was dedicated to him.  Which means we're recapping the weekend today.  Please forgive! ;o)

On Saturday, Max and I traipsed around the mall with my MIL and future SIL.  Lots of good shopping was done.  Max cruised around in style and took a few snoozes.

Don't all guys wish they could nap in a chariot when they're dragged to the mall?

Saturday night, Max and I played with his toys and he practiced the art of making a mess.

He's getting really good at it.

On Sunday, Victor offered to watch Max while I ran some errands.  I can't remember the last time I was Max-less while running errands.  Not that I mind taking Max with me, but the speed at which I can complete said errands increases dramatically when I don't have to do the "take stroller out of  trunk, unfold stroller, remove carseat from base, place carseat into stroller, ensure I have keys and wallet" dance at each different errand location.  But I digress.  Since the weather has gotten colder, I've been looking up tutorials for making a carseat canopy, and I figured last weekend was the weekend to make one.  I went to JoAnn Fabrics and got my fabric, Velcro, and thread.  And during Max's afternoon nap, I got to work.

I didn't take any pictures during the assembly of the carseat canopy.  I am a complete amateur when it comes to sewing, so I have no business offering tutorials in that area.  My stitches are never straight, and I do a lot of "winging it."  I measured incorrectly when I cut my fabric, and I sliced my thumb with my rotary cutter.  I had to rip out a 20 inch seam after making a mistake that I would've avoided if I'd followed my gut instinct.  I am the poster child for "learning the hard way."  However, I love the finished product.


Max likes it too.

All the tutorials I found made it seem like this project would be a breeze and would be completed in a few short hours.  Ha.  I had to finish it on Monday.  It was the perfect rainy day for a DIY project.  Max occupied himself with some toys, and he really clocked some time with this Talenti Gelato lid.

Why do I bother buying toys?
He also explored his "Good Night Maryland" book, which he received last week from darling Janelle from Vintage Simply Love.  She doesn't know it, but she's the one who inspired me to start my own blog.  Go check her out.  Her blog is lovely.

Yes, we're wearing Christmas jammies already.  I'm afraid he'll be too big for them by Christmas.

I'm very glad I finished the canopy yesterday because we had to venture out in the frigid temps and wind today for Max's 6-month checkup and our first winter-session Kindermusik class.

We did an 8-week fall session of Kindermusik and Max loved it!  45 minutes of singing, rhythmic bouncing/tapping/swaying/rocking, and baby-sized instruments every Tuesday...what's not to love?!  We highly recommend Kindermusik classes to anyone who's looking to find new ways to interact with their baby or young child.  There are also classes for "Big Kids" (ages 4-7) and even family classes!  Max started the baby class when he was just over 3 months old and got a lot out of each class.  Plus, we learned lots of songs and movements that we do at home all the time!  Here are some pictures from today's class.

Exploring bells.  He chewed on this after shaking it a few times.
We did some scarf play too.
Instruments are for eating, right?
video
Here's Max enjoying the instruments during "Instrument Exploration"

A little 7 month old girl in our class (she was in the fall session with us, too) squeals with delight every time we get up to do a dancing/movement activity.  If the movement involves moving up and down (meaning it involves me basically doing squats with Max in tow), Max is full of giggles.  Perhaps he'll grow to enjoy rollercoasters one day...

Hope everyone had a great weekend and a wonderful start to the week!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Max's birth story

My little bug is 6 months old today!  I can't believe he's halfway to a year old already!  


Victor and I just can't get enough of this little guy.  He is at such a fun age now.  He loves his solid foods.  He purposefully plays with his toys.  He sits independently.  He loves to grab faces and bang surfaces with his hands.  He has two teeth (second one popped up yesterday!).  He giggles when we play "Ring Around the Rosey," and when Mommy gets dizzy from the spinning, he still giggles when I just sing the song.  He doesn't take me seriously when I say, "I'm gonna get you!" in my scariest voice possible.  He thinks it's hilarious when you pretend to eat his hands.  He's incredibly happy when he wakes up each morning.  And he thinks he's funny when he tries to roll off the changing table.

I can't believe he's already six months old!

In honor of Max's half birthday, I thought I'd share his birth story with you all.  Such a whirlwind of a weekend...best one ever!

***

I had big plans for the evening of Friday, May 16.  It was my last day of work before I began my maternity leave, so I was looking forward to celebrating.  Victor was going to Baltimore with his friends to see his favorite comedian, Demetri Martin (my birthday gift to him), so I was going to have the house and TV all to myself.  I was going to have Chipotle for dinner and binge-watch Gossip Girl on Netflix while I attempted to snuggle with Kenny on the couch with my big ol' belly.  I just needed to go to my 38 week check-up after work and then I'd be on my way home.

I wasn't feeling any different than I did at my 37 week appointment, so I wasn't expecting to get exciting news about baby being ready to come.  I thought it was weird when the nurse had to re-pump the blood pressure cuff after she'd already started letting air out (is that what's happening when they do that?) but she didn't say anything about it so I didn't allow myself to worry.  Dr. A came in and asked me how I was feeling while she looked over my chart, then said, "Ooh, looks like I need to send you next door!"

Confused, I gave her a blank stare, to which she responded, "Your blood pressure is high.  138/96.  You'll just need to get your blood and urine tested, and they'll monitor your blood pressure for an hour or two and then make a decision about how to proceed. Dr. G is on call at the hospital, so he'll be the one to decide.  Your blood pressure has been fine the entire pregnancy, so you might just need to be sent home and take it easy until baby comes, but we should check things out to be on the safe side."  As I attempted to maintain my composure, I gathered my things and headed next door to the hospital (in my haste, I ripped a huge hole in the belly panel of my pants as I yanked them on).  It was just after 5 PM.

I called Victor as I moved my car and told him the situation.  I encouraged him to go through with his plans for the evening since it would be a few hours before we knew if anything exciting was going to happen that night.  But, just to be safe, I had him load the hospital bags and the car seat (still not installed) into the car.  I called my mom and my sister and relayed the situation to them.  Cindy, my coworker and good friend, texted to see how the appointment went, so I filled her in too.  I remained calm through all of my conversations and kind of laughed at the situation, but as I checked in with the emergency registrar at the hospital, I was fighting back tears as I quietly went into shock/panic.  What's going to happen tonight?  What if they induce me?  What if something's wrong with the baby?  What if Victor can't make it back in time for whatever may or may not happen tonight?  What am I going to do for the next two hours while I wait it out?

I got up to the Labor and Delivery wing, changed into a gown (which I put on wrong and needed assistance to put on correctly), and climbed into the bed.  They put the blood pressure cuff on me and it now read 154/96...I started to panic a little more.  They drew my blood and took a urine sample and then...I had to wait.  My mother-in-law, Dorabela, and Cindy came to sit with me, and we watched some Seinfeld reruns as we waited for the lab reports.  The charge nurse came in and asked a million questions for paperwork's sake.  Then Dr. G came by around 7:30 PM and told me my labs looked good.  He performed a pelvic exam and told me I was just under 2 cm dilated (up from 1 cm the week before) and about 60% effaced.  He looked at my blood pressure record from the last two hours (the machine was reading my BP every 15 minutes) and said, "Well, even though your labs are good, I'm still concerned about your blood pressure since it's staying high.  You're only 8 days prior to your due date and you're dilated enough to have your water broken, so I'd like to err on the side of caution and go ahead and induce you tonight."

Even though I was not expecting that plan of action, I responded, "Ok, let's get this party started!"  I called Victor, who was on his way to Baltimore with his friends for the comedy show.  "You need to turn around...they're inducing me, " I reported.  After a long pause, Victor responded, "Are you serious?!  You're joking, right?!"  The funny thing is, when I gave Victor the tickets to the show for his birthday back in April, I jokingly told him that the only way he wouldn't be allowed to go is if I was in labor, not even considering that it would actually be a problem.  We decided that he should continue up to Baltimore and see some of the show before he drove back since it would likely be a while before anything happened. Induced labors tend to take a while.

Cindy and Dorabela stayed with me as they got me hooked up to the contraction and baby heart rate monitors.  I started feeling a little crampy as they got my IV hooked up (my veins were not cooperating because I was retaining so much water, so THANKFULLY they called in the anesthesiologist to locally numb my arm as he fished around for a vein...yikes!); turns out my contractions had started on their own before they even broke my water or started a pitocin drip!  I joked that Dr. G must've flipped a switch inside during the pelvic exam to get things moving.  At around 10 PM, they got me started on pitocin and shortly after, Dr. G broke my water.

Victor showed up around 11 PM, and that's when Cindy and Dorabela left for the night.  Dr. G came by one last time before he left for the night to put a wire on the baby's head to monitor his heart rate (they were having a hard time getting consistent readings with the external monitor).  He told me I could get an epidural whenever I wanted and that he'd be back around 6 AM to check on my progress.  I told him that I was going to try to get through labor naturally and asked him whether that was a good idea in my situation.  He said I could do whatever I wanted, but typically in induced labors, the best way to get things moving was to make the mom as comfortable and relaxed as possible to give the cervix a better chance to dilate faster.  He told me that if I decided to get the epidural, all I needed to do was ask the nurse.  I thought the contractions hadn't been too bad so far, so I was pretty determined to make it all the way with no meds.

My nurse for the evening, Dina, came in periodically to check on me and the baby.  She put me on oxygen a few times to stabilize everything and make baby comfortable, and she kept telling me to get some rest, but I had a hard time getting comfortable.  I was doing my best to breathe (and eventually moan) through the contractions, but they were getting very strong thanks to the pitocin.  After learning about all the different labor positions from our childbirth and Lamaze classes, I had hoped to be able to labor out of the bed as much as possible. Unfortunately, hospitals (as opposed to birthing centers) pretty much confine you to the bed to allow for constant fetal monitoring.  I knew being confined to the bed was not going to be ideal, but I had no choice at this point.  I was also afraid to adjust my position much in the bed because of the wire on the baby's head, so I pretty much stayed lying on my side, which got uncomfortable after a while because my bottom leg was going numb.  On top of all that, I was lying in the after-effects of having my water broken, and the "juicy" sensation was getting to be more than I could bear.  I put up with it all for as long as I could before asking for an epidural at 2 AM.  Luckily the anesthesiologist was able to come fairly quickly and got me all set up right away.  Victor had to hide in the bathroom while they got me all settled because he was afraid he was going to pass out after seeing the doctor's tools (I don't blame him, I would've done the same thing.  Luckily I didn't see any of it!).  After I was all taped up, I fell into a sweet slumber for the next 4 hours. 

Dina came in to check on me around 5 AM and told me I was 5 centimeters dilated.  They increased the pitocin to help dilate me fully, but baby's heart rate dropped considerably as a result, so they took me off pitocin completely.  Dr. G came in around 6 AM, as promised, and told me that since they had to turn off the pitocin, it might take a bit longer for baby to arrive.  He had first anticipated that he'd be born between 7 and 9 AM, but now he guessed anywhere from 9AM - 3PM.  He asked me how I was feeling and I told him about some increasing pain on the left side of my abdomen.  He got the anesthesiologist in there right away to adjust my epidural meds and the pain went away fairly quickly.  Meanwhile, my sister, Holly, was preparing to drive out to meet the little guy!

Dr. N, the new doctor on call, came in to check on me around 10 AM.  By that time, I was fully dilated but the baby was still pretty far up the birth canal, so she decided to try to put me back on a low dose of pitocin to bring him down.  Baby continued to be stubborn and his heart rate dropped, yet again, so they took me off pitocin and told me I'd have to wait it out.  Thankfully, the epidural made all of this waiting a breeze!  I felt nothing!

 Waiting...

My new nurse, Dolly, came in around 11:15 AM and said, "PLEASE tell me you're getting some urges to push!"  I told her I was, but the urges were at least 10 minutes apart, if not more.  However, within 45 minutes, my urges were very frequent, so they got Dr. N in the room for delivery!

My legs were so heavy and numb from the epidural, so Victor and Dorabela helped hold one leg while Dolly used her body as resistance against my other leg.  For the next hour, I would check the contraction monitor each time I felt an urge to push (to confirm that I was really having a contraction), then bear down and push while Dr. N and Dolly counted to "10" three times, giving me time for a cleansing breath in between each 10-count.  It was hard work, pushing that little nugget out...and luckily I didn't feel any of it!  I pushed for an hour, most of which was dedicated to just getting his head out ("He has red hair Rachel!" Victor announced as he watched me push him out), and then the rest of him slipped out fairly easily afterward.

The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck once, which I didn't know until several minutes after he was born (thankfully); Victor later told me that the baby was as blue as denim when he came all the way out.  Of course, Dr. N was prepared for such an occasion (1/3 of vaginal deliveries involve the cord being wrapped around baby's neck at least once) and clamped, then cut, the cord immediately when she saw what was happening.  Once he started crying, Dr. N placed him on my chest so I could admire the little thing that had been squirming inside my belly for the last 9 months...I was immediately smitten and cried tears of joy!

Max was born at 12:57 PM on Saturday, May 17, 2014, weighing 7 pounds, 8.5 ounces, and measuring 20.5 inches long.  Dr. N announced that Dr. G predicted an average 7.5 pound baby, and he was right on the money!

"Heyyy, where'd my warm hot tub go?!"

Victor watched as they cleaned Max up while Dr. N took care of me.  When the nurses were finished cleaning him up and checking him out, they brought him to me to hold and nurse him.  Victor and I both agreed that the name we had been favoring, Ricardo, didn't seem right for our little redhead, so we were back to the drawing board for names.  Dr. N came over to look at him once she was finished with me and said, "Awww, he looks like a Max!  I'm sorry...I never associate names with the babies I deliver...but he looks like a Max!" Victor and I had to pick our jaws up off the floor because Max was actually the first name we had considered months earlier, but we had abandoned it when we couldn't decide on a longer form of the name.  We both agreed that the name "Max" was meant to be, and we took the next 24 hours to decide on the name Maximiliano Phillip for our new bundle of joy.

Baby burrito

***

About an hour or two after Max was born, my nurses got me up to use the bathroom and change to prepare for my move to my postpartum room.  And then I hemorrhaged.  I hemorrhaged all over the bathroom floor.  I didn't know what was happening.  In fact, I actually asked, "Sooo...is this supposed to happen?" thinking that it might be normal...right before I got lightheaded and almost passed out.  Thank goodness it happened in the hospital, and thank goodness the nurse was right there.  She called for assistance as she helped me sit down, and the nurses got me cleaned up and back into my delivery bed.  

Dr. N came in and ordered bloodwork, a drip of pitocin (to help my uterus contract and hopefully slow the bleeding), and some IV fluids.  She and the nurses massaged my belly (it sounds pleasant, a belly massage, but it was AGONY!) to encourage the uterus to contract.  They had to put another IV line in, and since my veins were still crap, I had to get a local anesthetic again to get hooked up.  They had to take my blood to make sure my cell counts were good; if they weren't, I could need to receive more blood since I had lost so much.  When the lab tech came a second time to take more blood, I cried...where else was she going to prick me?!  I already had one "blown" vein in one arm, and I had IVs in two others.  She had to go between my knuckles!  I felt like a pin cushion.

 After the hemorrhage...looking and feeling awful

The doctors and nurses think I hemorrhaged due to my bladder being full for too long after having my catheter removed.  I didn't have a sensation to use the bathroom because I was still somewhat numb from the epidural, so my uterus wasn't able to begin contracting since my bladder was so full.  I will be sure to FORCE myself to use the bathroom as soon as I'm able to next time around to hopefully avoid this.  I'd rather not go through that again.

I stayed in the delivery room overnight so the nurses could keep a close eye on me.  I still wasn't allowed to eat in case they needed to do D & C to curtail the bleeding.  I had another catheter put in, and I didn't move from my bed.  Victor had to do all the diaper changes, and he brought Max to me for every feeding.  My arms and wrists hurt so bad from my IVs...they had to put them in some uncomfortable places due to my silly veins.  It was awful.  But my baby was safe and healthy, so I tried to count my blessings.

 On the mend.  Had to get better for this sweet guy.

 On Sunday, they took my blood AGAIN to check my cell counts, and everything looked good.  They wheeled me into a postpartum room, and by mid afternoon, I was off of the pitocin, fluids, and the catheter.  It felt so good to be disconnected from all those machines!  A nurse told me that I would need to try to get up to use the bathroom, and I got really scared.  I felt the tears welling up and my throat tightening, but I tried to remain composed.  The nurse, Victor, and my sister saw right through it and asked me what was wrong.  "What if it happens again?  What if I start bleeding like that?" I said through tears.  The nurse assured me that what happened to me was incredibly rare, and the possibility of it happening again a day later was even more rare.  The nurse helped me to the bathroom, and all went according to plan.

On Sunday night, I got to eat for the first time since lunch on Friday.  I got to shower on Monday for the first time since Friday morning (I was the vision of beauty before that shower.  Ha!).  And Monday afternoon, we headed home with sweet Baby Max.

 Heading home!

***

Even though I was induced, Max still made his debut within about 16 hours.  Many of my friends who had to be induced endured much longer labors and eventually had to have a c-section.  It makes me wonder if I would've gone into labor that night anyway, especially since my contractions started on their own before my water was broken.

While I had some traumatic events occur during and after giving birth, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.  The end result is completely worth it.  However, I'm a worrier, so next time around I'll probably still worry about my blood pressure spiking, and I'll most likely worry about hemorrhaging afterward.  But it won't scare me enough to not want any more babes.  I loved being pregnant, I'm in awe of the fact that I brought life into this world, and I adore my little blessing more than anything in the world.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The helpless mommy

You know what sucks?  

Being sick while pregnant.  You can't really take anything to relieve your symptoms, so you have to suffer in misery while your body tries to fight whatever bug you have.  I got my typical winter cold during my 5th month of pregnancy.  My typical remedies of Theraflu teas and Mucinex were out of the question.  I didn't even want to take some of the stuff I was allowed to take because I didn't want to harm the baby.  So I toughed it out.  And my cough became worse...and worse...and worse...until one night I woke up, struggling to breathe with a feeling of something jabbing into my lung.  I had to lie in a particular position on the couch in order to not feel the stabbing sensation, and deep breaths were beyond agonizing.  I was afraid I'd have to go to the ER that night, but after a few miserable minutes, the pain went away.  Turns out I bruised a rib from all the coughing.  Fun!

And then I got sick with the same type of cold a few weeks ago, while I was home all day with a 5 month old baby...who is teething.  That might suck worse than being pregnant and sick.  There are more options for medications you can take while you're breastfeeding, but you still have to be careful because this ingredient can affect your milk supply and that ingredient can cause an irritable baby and this other ingredient requires you to keep an eye out for a drowsy baby.  All I wanted to do was take a nap, but that wasn't on Max's agenda.  I had to nurse, play, sing, rock, read, puree, cook...my duties still needed to be addressed.  
 
I'm on the mend now, still with a lingering cough.  But I think that was worse than the lung-jabbing pregnancy sickness.

And then Max got sick.  And I am convinced this is the absolute WORST.  He's not even that sick.  He's coughing and has lots of boogers.  But the coughing makes him vomit.  And every morning for the past 4 days, he's thrown up his entire "breakfast."  Typically that's what it takes to get all the phlegm up and out, and then he's fine for the rest of the day.  But it's still awful to witness.  Aside from getting soaked by my own regurgitated breastmilk (how's that for a visual?), I am completely at a loss as to how to make it better.  There's no predicting when he's going to cough himself to the point of barfing.  Yesterday, I took him into the bathroom every time he started to cough, and he didn't throw up.  So then the one time I didn't take him into the bathroom, upchuck city.  His humidifier runs all night long in his room.  This morning I tried using "The Snotsucker" to suck some of the gunk out before nursing him, but all I got was spit.  The good stuff is deep down.  I'm worried that he's not going to get enough to eat with all this barfing, or worse, he's going to become dehydrated.

Your kid being sick is by far the worst thing EVER.  All I want to do is take it away.  I say to him, "Give it to me, Max.  Give me your sickies.  I'll be sick.  You get better."  I feel so helpless.  I remember when Max was about a month old and was having terrible gas, to the point that he was so fussy every evening that we thought he had colic.  I was sitting on the floor with him, rocking him, crying along with him, muttering, "Max, I don't know how to make you feel better.  I'm sorry, baby."  He had jaundice when he was first born and had to get his heel pricked and squeezed 3 different times in one week to check his bilirubin levels.  I was about to throw my foot up on the exam table and have them check mine instead.  Poor baby screamed his lungs out.  Seeing him get shots isn't as traumatizing for me now because the heel pricks were terrifying.

I know this is only the beginning of me being unable to make my kid's problems disappear.  I know I'm in for a lifetime of feeling helpless when there's only so much I can do to make things better for my son.  And I hate it.

Being a parent is the greatest gift, but it definitely comes with its share of heartache.

At least he doesn't look sick.  Except for the rash on his chest.  That's from drool.  So much drool.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tuesdays are always "Taco Tuesdays" in our house.  If we're not having tacos, we're having some other Mexican- or Latin- or Spanish-inspired dish to keep with the theme.  

I was flipping through my Betty Crocker Cooking Basics cookbook (LOVE!) a few weeks ago and happened upon this little ditty of a recipe.  SO easy and SO delicious!  It's great as-is, or you can add some extras--corn, beans, peppers, whatevs.  The salsa you choose will end up determining how flavorful/spicy the soup is.  The chicken takes the bulk of the prep-work, but if you've got some leftovers it'll be done in a snap!

source

Chicken Tortilla Soup
from Betty Crocker Cooking Basics
Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 medium avocado
10 oz cooked chicken or turkey
1 carton (32 oz) chicken broth (4 cups)
1 cup chunky-style salsa
broken tortilla chips
shredded Monterey Jack cheese
chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges (optional)

Each time I've made this recipe, I've baked the chicken and shredded it with two forks.  I just love the texture of shredded chicken in soup.  And I'll let you in on a little secret I accidentally discovered a few summers ago: Montreal Steak seasoning is amazeballs on chicken.  Seriously.  It's my go-to seasoning.  Just lay out your chicken breasts on a foil-covered cookie sheet (foil makes clean-up a snap!), sprinkle some Montreal Steak seasoning, and bake at 350 degrees for 25-ish minutes.  Then pull apart the chicken with two forks until you have a nice heaping pile like this.

 
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the broth, salsa, and chicken to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, cut your avocado into a crosshatch pattern to make nice chunks.  Crunch up some tortilla chips, and chop your cilantro.

Divide soup into bowls and top with avocado, cheese, crushed chips, and cilantro.


Enjoy!  Let me know if you try it!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Things I'm loving today

I love this time of year.

The weather is crisp.  Sweaters and slippers are a daily wardrobe staple.  Pumpkin- and apple-flavored EVERYTHING is available everywhere you turn.  The anticipation of seeing family for the holidays reaches a new peak.  My "I do what I want!" naturally-curly hair finally begins to cooperate as the humidity drops.  I can listen to Christmas music on the daily and not feel TOO weird about it.

Such a glorious time!


Since I'm bursting with loving feelings today, I thought I'd share some things I'm currently loving.  It's kind of a mish-mosh of items, but I'm a mish-mosh kind of gal, so it works.

Sophie & Lili Custom Watercolor Portraits


I happened across the Sophie & Lili Instagram account a while ago when I was browsing the "Explore" tab in the app.  I just LOVE Jennifer's portrait style.  She is so talented!  

Look at this awesome side-by-side of an original photo and her watercolor rendition.


I want to get a custom portrait based off of one of our holiday photos.  She's no longer accepting orders for delivery before the holidays, but wouldn't a custom portrait make a great Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthday...ANY DAY gift?!  Jennifer also does prints for Land of Nod, and she makes custom dolls, too!  Check out her website to see more of her amazing work!


The People's Couch on Bravo


Who'da thunk a TV show featuring people watching TV would be worth watching.  I think it's hilarious!  I doubt viewers would think Victor and I watching TV was funny.  An evening of TV in our house usually consists of Victor talking about something irrelevant and me shushing him so I can hear what's happening.  

Another reason I like the show is it taught me a new phrase: "What the feezy?!"  If you know me well, you know that I can curse like a sailor (I'm working on it...don't judge).  Now that I've got a little set of ears around me 24/7, I'm trying to be more careful about what comes out of my mouth.  I can DEFINITELY make "What the feezy?!" work.  Definitely.

Chrisley Knows Best on USA


This family cracks. me. up.  Todd, the patriarch, in particular.  He has so many funny one-liners, and his southern accent makes them all the more hilarious.  Some of my favorites include:
"Class, not a**."
"Y'all don't know whether to scratch your watch or wind your a**."
"Ignorance I can fix.  Stupid is forever."
"I been there, done that, and got the t-shirt, son.  You just playin' reruns."


Itzy Ritzy Teething Necklace

 source

I was at Target the other day when I came across this necklace and many other Itzy Ritzy products.  I decided to throw down the $20 and give 'em a try.  At this point in my life as a mommy, it was the best 20 bucks I ever spent.  Max LOVES chewing on the beads and running them between his gums, and I actually got a lot of compliments on the necklace.  People were shocked to find out it was a teething tool!  I got the turquoise one pictured above, but there were also gray and magenta options, as well.  There were other styles of beads and also some bracelets and pendants.  If your baby is teething and looking to chew on anything in sight, I'd recommend these products to you.


Family Yearbooks


I saw this idea in an article on Buzzfeed about meaningful gifts you could give your kids.  There are several great ideas, but this one really stood out to me.  Even if you don't give this to your kids as a gift, I think it's a wonderful idea to do each year to document all the memories you made together.  I will be working on our first family yearbook first thing in 2015!


Christmas Music

 Do I need to explain this one?  What's not to love?  I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet and blah blah blah...but Christmas music is good for the soul.  I always get warm fuzzies whenever I put on my Christmas playlist, no matter the time of year.  Instant mood lifter.  I mean, how can you still be sad or mad or sleepy or some other emotion that's not happy when THIS is on?

I remember when this video was released.  Color me giddy.


These socks


My sister got these for Max, and today was the first day he wore them.  It was also the last day he will wear them because they are WAY too small.  But darn it, they're adorbs.  And so are those pudgy legs.


And now for something I'm not loving...
My Max is a bit under the weather.  I gave him my cold (I gave it to Victor, too), and now he has an icky cough.  It's so icky that if he goes into a coughing fit shortly after nursing, he barfs up everything he just ingested.  We're talking several ounces of fresh liquid gold, all over my couch and floor...and me.  All I gotta say is thank goodness for leather couches and hardwood floors...clean up is a breeze.  

I took him to the doctor today and he says everything is fine, health wise.  Just have to wait it out.
But please say your prayers that my sweet little nugget gets better soon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I worked out today!

I visited my friends at the school I used to work at yesterday.  Max and I had lunch with everyone, laughed, played "Pass the Baby," and I spent a large chunk of change on books at the Scholastic Book Fair.  I also may or may not have dropped 12 big ones on a little Pete the Cat stuffed animal for Max.  


I love the Pete the Cat books.  Therefore Max will love them too.

While we were visiting, I got a lot of comments on how "great" I looked.  I'm not trying to toot my own horn or anything.  Yes, I've lost the baby weight (and then some), but no one is more shocked than I am that I was able to lose it so quickly.  "What have you been doing?  What's your secret?!"  The honest truth is NOTHING.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I do a heck of a lot more sitting on my hiney now than I ever did while I was teaching, so I can't claim that walking around all day has helped in the least.  Max and I do get out as much as possible--errands are my cardio.  I've been exclusively breastfeeding since Max was born, so I know that has helped tremendously.  That and lugging around a 23-pound almost-6-month-old.  Seriously, my kid is a tank.  He weighed 16 pounds at 2 months, more than double his birth weight.  Victor and I joke that if our future children grow at normal rates, we're probably going to be concerned that they're too small!

That's a 12-month outfit

I gained 45 pounds during my pregnancy.  I was blessed with virtually no morning sickness, and I craved Chipotle ALL. THE. TIME.  I was wearing maternity pants at 11 weeks because my regular jeans were too uncomfortable.  They still fit and buttoned fine, but I was miserable wearing them.  I was also exhausted during my first trimester, so I didn't really begin a good exercise regimen early, and therefore didn't keep it up throughout the pregnancy.  That will be different the next time around...hopefully.

Before today, I worked out twice since Max was born.  It felt great both times, but I'm always finding excuses to avoid it, the biggest one being that the weight is coming off on its own...why do I need to work out?   

I'll tell you why.  My rear is turning to mush.  My tummy, while flattening, is squishy.  My thighs and arms could use some toning.  AND we're going somewhere tropical in the next few months and I'd rather not wear my "mom" bathing suits.

So, this morning during Max's nap, I did a 30 minute barre3 video.  And I fell in love with it all over again.


Barre3 was founded by the lovely Sadie Lincoln in Portland, Oregon.  It's a combination of ballet barre, yoga, and pilates, and I'm obsessed with it.  A friend introduced me to it back in early 2013, and I went to studio classes on the weekends and did online videos at home during the week to get "wedding ready" for my big day in June.  I was working out 7 days a week, which was atypical for me.  But I loved it.  And today proved that I missed it, too.  My legs were "shaking and quaking" as I struggled through power leg, sumo squats, and standing diamonds.  My thighs burned when I brought Max downstairs after his nap.  But it hurts so good.

My friend and I joke that we are going to open our own studio nearby (the closest one is in the heart of DC, which isn't super convenient for a mommy with a baby) as soon as we win the lottery.  Then barre3 would be my JOB!  A girl can dream, right?


If you'd like to see for yourself how amazing barre3 is, try this 30-minute Standing Slim workout.  You won't be sorry.  Here's a preview.


I didn't enjoy working out during Max's nap (constantly checking the monitor, fearful that he was going to wake up and interrupt my efforts), so I'm planning to get my mushy hiney out of bed at 6 am on weekdays to get my workout in.  I know I'm going to feel great and after a while, I won't struggle to get out of bed to do it.

The opinions in this post are 100% my own and I am not being paid to endorse barre3.  It's just that good.

Will you/have you tried barre3 or another type of barre workout?  Did you enjoy it?  What are your tips and tricks for ensuring that you get your workouts in each day?