Thursday, February 11, 2016

Finley's First Christmas and Wedding!

We made it to Florida not once, but twice in December!   The first trip was for Kris and Gabe's wedding (amazing and I need to do a separate post!) and the second trip was to spend Christmas with our families.  You could say it was a busy month...

But first, here's a few pics from Finley's first trip to see Santa Claus.  We went to the mall in Northbrook, a northwest suburb of Chicago, mostly because it was close and they allowed for online reservations.  Note to self: reservations are the way to go if that line was any indication!   We went after work so Tom could join us and we quickly learned that they don't call it the "witching hour" for nothing!  Finley was not in the best of moods so we got the requisite baby crying photo with Santa.  Also, how great is that Santa?!  I think he may be the real deal...

Even while waiting in line, you can see he was not impressed....

Of course, he was all smiles as soon as we were done!  Little stinker :)  His smile goes straight to my heart!

Now onto other random Christmas shots we took throughout the month.   Well this next one is technically not "Christmasy" but it's too cute not to share ;) little cubby bear

Somebody's stocking is bigger than the others (as it should be!)...

Shopping for his first Christmas Tree!

We stayed at my parent's house for Christmas but made it a priority to split our time between Tom's family and my family as much as possible.  It was busy but we are so happy we could be with everyone after such a special year!   It was also unseasonably hot - in the 80's - so I was glad I had the hand-me-down's Karly had given Finn. I remembered to grab them on the way to the airport - otherwise, he would have been pretty hot in his Chicago gear!

"Opening" his first present ;)

Christmas Jammies!

Just a small portion of his presents...he is a very loved kiddo!

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Some pretty adorable pics under the tree with his cousins!  Nonnie got the outfits and they were super cute!

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Sweaty baby on the way to get oysters at our favorite oyster bar, Hunt's

More of his Florida attire

Airport baby

This was pretty much our set-up for both flights - he had his own seat for most of it and it made it really easy.   He slept almost the whole way.  Traveling with an infant/baby is a lot easier than older babies or so I hear.

The Wedding
The wedding was at the beginning of the month and it was so beautiful!  Kris and Gabe had to scramble and find new locations halfway through the planning process and ended up with an even better location: the Meeting House at Carillon for the ceremony and Runaway Island for the reception.  Both families are pretty large but it managed to feel intimate and special.  Everything from the flowers to the makeup to the weather couldn't have been better and Kris and Gabe have never looked more stunning.  Holly Gardner did a fantastic job capturing it all!  Tom and I felt blessed to be a part of their wedding and I'm so glad Finley was able to make it and be a part of it as well!  Their original date was in October so we were thisclose to missing it.   Sometimes things happen for a reason I suppose :)

I have to note that it felt different being at a wedding as a mom with a newborn (he was 2 months at the time). Normally I'm out on the dance floor tearing it up, but I was more concerned about helping my parents keep an eye on Finley.  Tom made up for it by dancing up a storm for the both of us (the guy has got moves!) so I think we were still well represented, ha.  It did make me a bit sad though, because I didn't quite recognize myself...not really sure how to explain it.  Post baby headspace can be weird.  However,  I had an absolutely wonderful time celebrating with family and friends and we are so excited for the happy couple!

Also, thank goodness she picked black for the bridesmaids!   It is so much more forgiving when you are still making your way back to your pre-baby body.   It was interesting shopping for it because I kept dropping weight (not that I'm complaining!) so a dress that fit the week before would all of a sudden be too big.  Rent the Runway to the rescue..again ;)  Also, my mom is a safety pin ninja and was able to alter the dress when it was still a bit baggy for me which helped a lot.    I wore this dress with lot of spanx!

 Here's a few photos from the day!

What a great month - gonna be hard to top :)


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Looking Back: Finley's Birth Story

I have been keeping notes on this whole motherhood thing since the beginning but was waiting to get my pictures together before posting this.  It was written 2 days Post Delivery on October 7th, 2015.  Needless to say, our lives changed forever in the best possible way on October 5th when Finley made his debut.

I was so fortunate to have a great birth experience - not that I am looking forward to doing it again it anytime soon!.  It was thankfully uncomplicated and Finley came out perfectly healthy with a 9/9 on the APGAR scale for which we are eternally grateful.  Seeing him for the first time was an unbelievable experience that neither Tom nor I will ever forget.  Honestly, I won't spend too much time putting into words what we felt because it was/is just indescribable.  The love we have for him defies explanation and blows me away on a daily basis. However, I did want to document how it all happened because if we are lucky, maybe we will do this again sometime in the future ;)

Prior to Finley's birth, I became increasingly impatient for him to get here already.  I was so excited and anxious to meet the little boy who kicked and hiccupped all night (something he would continue to do as a newborn!).  Yes, it's true that the final weeks are the most brutal. Besides the feeling of excitement and nervousness, I was just plain uncomfortable especially when my pregnancy induced sciatica would flare.  It was uncomfortable for me to do anything like take walks or even sit on the couch for too long.  If I could have stayed in bed all day, I would!  Best purchase of the year was our new king size mattress for sure!

Furthermore, my docs - who are great - kept getting my hopes up during my weekly appointments. I kept hearing how much I was progressing and even got a "you will not make it to your due date!" comment.  All this did was stress me out as my due date approached and I am sure that nervousness halted any progress I was making.  I found myself trying every possible old wives tale trick to kick off labor including oils, acupuncture, and massages.  Nothing. To boot, we had a situation a couple of days prior which resulted in a quick trip to L&D because he had decreased movement – thankfully all was ok (the apple juice did the trick!  I'll make sure to keep that stocked at all times in the future).  So as you can imagine, we were both pretty on edge.
I went to bed the night of my due date (Sunday, Oct 4th) convinced I would need the induction we had scheduled for Wednesday, the 7th.  At that point, I had no real promising signs or symptoms which was beyond discouraging:  There were no Braxton Hicks, no period like cramps, no "cleaning out" and - this should be no surprise to anyone who knows me - no "nesting".  The only possible sign I noted was that I had a couple of hours of hot flashes Sunday afternoon/evening during a mani/pedi which was a first for me. Hindsight is 20/20, but that was really the only clue that my body was preparing to go into labor (I'm assuming it was my hormones fluctuating or something...who knows!).  Again, I am noting this because I spent way too much time on google trying to figure out what signs might indicate it was go time!
I woke up Monday at 1 am  after tossing and turning all night and waddled to the bathroom to pee for the umpteenth time.  Just as I stepped onto the bathroom tile, my water broke. I remember yelling at Tom "Hey! I think my water broke!" and him shooting out of bed saying "Seriously?!"  He was so surprised because he figured it would be Wednesday before we met FInley.  We were both so shocked with how I went from 0-60: from no symptoms to my water breaking.  It actually continued breaking off and on for a bit (didn't realize that was possible,,,) and from there, the contractions started almost immediately.  Mine felt…I dunno how to really describe them at that point…not a tightening, not really cramps, just different.  A quick call to my doc confirmed it was time to head to the hospital!  We doubled checked our hospital bag, brushed our teeth, grabbed the car seat and were on our way!

I remember driving on Michigan Ave seeing the city lit up looking beautiful and just being excited through the uncomfortable waves of pain. This was it!  We were actually going to meet our son in a matter of hours!  It felt surreal.

From there, it actually progressed pretty fast.  Triage confirmed my contractions were 4 min apart and I was 4 cm dilated (at this point, I felt most of them and for me they felt like a ton of pressure – like I needed to poo…also I should note that I didn't feel all contractions which surprised me because so many people said "trust me, you will know it's a contraction".  Guess what? That's not always the case...

I got an epi as soon as I was in my room which – if you are on the fence, I have to say I would do again. in a heartbeat.   I say this even though I had an inexperienced nurse who had do my IV 3 times before it stuck and even then forgot to connect the IV ti to the fluid bag which caused me to almost pass out during the epi process. I had to have them start the epi all over again.  OUCH (in retrospect, this was actually more painful than the delivery if you can believe it).  I couldn't even be mad at that point though because I was just so excited to be thisclose to meeting our son!  The epi allowed me to feel pressure and that pressure definitely felt painful at times, but  I was grateful for the buffer.

Because my waters had already broken, they leaned towards induction (pitocin) which I was also ok with (I know it's not for everyone). Just prior to getting the epi my contractions had stalled a bit and between the epi keeping me relaxed (which allowed me to nap and save a ton of energy for pushing) and the pitocin, I went from 4 cm to 10 cm in about 1.5 hours.  All told, I pushed for 35 minutes which surprised my doc who earlier had warned us it would be a long day!  He also told me I was a terrible pusher, so I guess I had something to prove :)

My mother was thankfully able to change her flight from Wednesday (the date of the induction) to the first flight out of Panama City!  She literally made it to the hospital as I started pushing!  We got a laugh out of the fact that she waltzed into the delivery room suitcase in hand, and I had to stop pushing to say - "I'm a little busy, I will see you soon!".

I still remember them saying as I was pushing that they could see his head which both freaked me out motivated me at the same time (not so fun was hearing, "Almost there! Just have to get past the shoulders"....ouch).  However, before I knew it, he was out and screaming!  I remember Tom looking over at me with tears in his eyes saying "He's perfect!  You were amazing" and them placing him on my chest for skin-to-skin.  It's odd though because I actually didn't see his face for a while as he was laid on my chest.  When I did it was love at first sight.

I was relieved that I lucked out in having a relatively uneventful labor. He was born at 11:00 a.m. so all told it was about a 10-11 hour delivery.  Not too bad.   Also, for those that say their amazing experiences are owed to their obsessive working out and the perfect flow of nutrients, know that my sciatica meant I didn't work out at all and towards the end of the pregnancy, I ate whatever I could get down (typically bland things like cereal and rice cakes)…making me believe even more that you just never know how it's going to go and its luck of the draw. 

It's only been a few days but there were a few things that surprised me about all of this

No one warned me how much staying in the hospital would suck.  Everyone blames the actual newborn for lack of sleep but I have to say that the hospitals screw you over right from the get go so you start off in a sleep deficit when you get home. EVERY hour of the day and night someone was in our room either checking on me or the baby, running tests etc.   I get that it's needed and am appreciative, but I guess I thought it would be more…contained?   between needing to feed him every 2 hours and still riding the high of birth and crashing hormones, it meant that I maybe had 2 hours of sleep between today and Monday morning…so now you know why this is a long rambling post! 

It's tough watching your baby endure all of the newborn tests.  His cries tore my heart out and I highly resented all of the poking and prodding of my kid who was all of a day old.   The practical side of me knew it was a good thing, but the mama bear instinct is real.  The second day was the roughest bc it was essentially non-stop screaming as he was checked out by various docs (and this for a kid with no issues…so my heart goes out to anyone who had any type of complication to deal with). I couldn't wait to get him out of there so we could bring him  to a cozy, warm environment. 

The lack of sleep and crashing hormones are real and make no sense.  I'm probably the only one who is surprised by this.  I was lucky in my pregnancy in that I never had a wave of crazy hormones – I was pretty steady throughout – no major cryfrests etc – and yet going into pregnancy I heard all about how I would be a crying machine bc that is just what happens when carrying a baby.   So now, I am beyond surprised by how many times I have cried since Monday.  i know its the lack of sleep but wow.  Sometimes the crying makes sense (being frustrated at the lack of breastfeeding progress) sometimes its anxiety (we both had trouble even attempting naps when it was both of us alone with him bc we watched him like hawks)…but it's also been because of nothing. Gah.  Also, I was someone who was like – "yeah, I'll give BF a try but no shame if it doesn't work out…yet am now beside myself because I am having trouble with breastfeeding…go figure).  God bless my husband who was a rock throughout all of the craziness!

So that's where I am at in a nutshell…elated, in love and also struggling with figuring this out.  I am off now to finally catch a nap so I can snuggle with my son somewhat refreshed.