Cate - 1 Month

It is hard to fathom that my baby girl is already one month old.  In my sleep deprived oblivion, Cate has thrived despite a few challenges.  She was a dream child her first two weeks. Eating every 3 hours, sleeping well - easy peasy.  Then things seemed to change and I got a little concerned. 
Nursing still hurt so bad I was in tears during every feeding.  I was racking my brain trying to figure out what was going on.  Since I had an atypical start to nursing with Cooper, I wasn't sure if the pain was normal or not.  After lots of research, I came to the conclusion that Cate potentially had issues with her mouth.  I met with my IBCLC and she agreed that things weren't right.  I sent pictures to a friend whose littlest had a tongue tie.  She pointed me toward a Facebook support group for local moms of babes with lip/tongue tie.  That group then suggested making an appointment with Dr. Bailey Coleman.  She is the only local dentist who is trained to do laser revision of ties.
Last week, I took Cate to see Dr. Coleman.  She was diagnosed with lip, tongue and buccal ties.  She also has an abnormally high palate.  Altogether, this means she cannot suck properly in order to get a good latch.  These issue also tend to cause reflux and excessive gas.  We had the laser revision done the same day as our consultation.  We do stretches 4 times a day to make sure the tissue doesn't grow back.  It sounds awful, but it's not so bad.  The tissue that was cut looked really bad for about a week.  Then over a 24 hour period it healed completely and looks as if nothing ever happened. Except, of course, for the fact that she can use her mouth properly.
Thankfully, even with the nursing difficulties, Cate is still thriving.  At exactly 10 pounds, she is definitely not struggling with weight gain!  She loves to eat, snuggle and toot (still have pretty epic amounts of gas - haha!).  Hopefully we can get back to a little better schedule; we went in to survival mode after the revision trying to make sure she wasn't in pain.  She really only seemed to hurt for a few days, but that was all it took for our routine to fall apart.
 Her brother is ridiculously sweet with her!  Cooper talks to her and sings to her.  It's so fun to watch him be a big brother.  He keeps asking us when she will laugh at him. Since she smiled at Daddy for the very first time today, I don't think it will be long!

First Day of Preschool

Cooper started Preschool at his new school today.  I think he's excited to be with other kids again.  He loves hanging with his Nana, but I think he's really missed some of his daycare friends.  And let's face it, Mommy and Cate can be kind of boring.  

I know it's going to be no time and we'll be sending him to college.  I'm going to go cry now...

Hello! My Name Is...

***Warning - this post is long and graphic.  I have tried to include every detail in an effort to preserve the memory of every moment of the process.  If you have a weak stomach or just don't like hearing birth stories, go ahead and click on over to Facebook, or Pinterest, or anywhere but here.  Again, you've been warned.***
To say that Cate's arrival was as I planned it wouldn't be entirely accurate.  To say it was perfect is exactly right.  I decide about 7-8 months into the pregnancy that I wanted an unmedicated delivery.  I had several pregnant friends who were planning unmedicated deliveries and that gave me confidence that it might possible for me.  It wasn't any sort of competition or something I felt I had to do.  It was something I just never thought I would consider.  I 'm kind of a wienie about pain.  With Cooper, I knew I wanted to labor as long as I could without an epidural, but I knew I definitely wanted an epidural.  I was around 6cm with him when I got it.  My labor stalled for several hours at 8 cm and there was nothing I could do to move things along.  I just laid there and let his birth happen to me.  I didn't feel like an active participant until the pushing phase.  It wasn't a bad experience; I just wanted something different this time around. 
So the plan was to go into labor on my own.  Labor at home as long as possible then head to the hospital.  In my head, this meant I would be about 8 cm when we went to hospital; too late for an epidural, not much laboring left.  I thought this would give me the best odds of going unmedicated.  I knew if I got to the hospital too early I might cave.  Not that getting an epidural would be the end of the world, just not the goal.
I had an appointment with Dr. Davis at 2:15 on July 31.  Christy, the PA, mentioned at my last appointment that we could potentially sweep my membranes at my next appointment if I wanted.  I had a lot of internal debate about whether or not that's what I wanted to do.  I had read lots of pros & cons about it.  Apparently if you and baby aren't ready, it won't work.  I sat in the doctor's office for quite a while because she was down delivering a baby, so I had a few more minutes to debate.  She got to me about 3pm.  Dr. Davis did a cervical check and determined that I was still at 4 cm, 75% effaced; she asked if I wanted to go ahead with the sweep.  I said yes, she asked if I was sure...I said, "Well no, but let's do it."  I immediately felt a little nauseous.  It wasn't necessarily regret, just a feeling of...stuff just got real. Dr. Davis asked if I had my hospital bag in the car.  I didn't.  She suggested that I go home, get my bag, eat some dinner and plan on heading back to the hospital.  I had read that 50% of the time, a membrane sweep would lead to active labor within 24-48 hours.  So surely we had some time...
Cooper was at my parents house.  I had my laptop from work and needed to go there to check some connection issues I had been having with our internet.  So I headed that way and got my laptop working - relief.  I had been stressing about it not working when I was home on maternity leave.  Cooper and I left my parents house a little after 5.  I was feeling a little achy/crampy, but not having any real contractions.  I got a call from work about some computer issues and (thank the Lord!) was able to log in from our house and fix the issue.  Finished up with that around 5:45 and went outside to find Tanner and Cooper checking the mail.  Coop and I decided to take a walk down the street and back while Tanner headed inside to start trying to figure out what we would have for dinner. 
We settled on "fend for yourself night" meaning that Tanner and I would eat whatever and I would fix Coop a quick bean burrito.  Easy-peasy.  I got Coop's burrito ready and made myself one.  Felt a little contraction coming kept coming, more intense than any so far.  I thought, "Okay, so maybe we're getting started."  A few minutes later another came, then another.  They weren't painful, but they were definitely the real thing.  After several of those, I timed a few.  Less than a minute but anywhere from 3-6 minutes apart. I sent a quick text to my mom and sisters just to let them know.  There a stinkin' mosquito in our house that had decided to munch on my feet and ankles (weird right?!?) and at the time, I was more concerned about that - haha!
Tanner and Cooper had headed upstairs to watch a movie.  I had stayed downstairs packing my last-minute hospital bag items and listening to my labor playlist.  At around 7:30 I took Coop some pajamas and we got him changed and started our bedtime routine.  Thankfully, contractions let up for about 30 minutes (only had 3 or 4) so I was able to enjoy a few snuggles with Cooper.  By the time we were nearing the end of bedtime, the contractions were ramping back up.  I had to finish prayers doubled over on the floor.  It wasn't that the contraction were that painful; they just required all my focus. Coop knew that things were changing.  It's like he could sense it and he just wanted a few extra minutes with mommy.  I hugged his neck one last time and left Daddy to get him tucked in.
So by around 8:30, Coop was in bed and I decided to try laboring in the tub for a while.  So many women just rave about how great waterbirth is and how getting in the tub provided so much relief.  I'm not sure if it was because I didn't have the water hot enough or what, but I was a little disappointed at how little relief the tub provide.  I think it was partly that leaning back was really uncomfortable so I was just sitting up in the whole time.  I'm sitting in the tub, in the dark, when I know I need to throw up.  Thankfully I had prepared in advance and had a bag on the tub deck. Tanner walked into the bathroom just in time to bring me a cool rag and dispose of the bag.  Have mentioned how wonderful he is?  No? Well, he's pretty wonderful.  :)  The whole time I was in the tub, he moved quietly in and out of the bathroom packing up the truck.  At one point, my mom called.  My dad, who had come over to stay at the house with Cooper when we headed to hospital, always has his phone on speaker so I could just make out a few things here and there as I heard the phone coming closer to the bathroom.  Tanner was bringing the phone in so my mom could talk to me.  As soon as he hit the door, I began shaking my head.  I couldn't talk; the contractions were too intense. 
Around 9 o'clock (just guessing because I really had no idea what time it was), I had a contraction that felt like it thundered through my body.  It was different than any that had come before it. I knew I needed to get out of the water because we needed to get to hospital. It took 2-3 more contractions to actually get out. As Tanner helped me out of the tub, I told we needed to go.  I'm pretty sure he already knew. 
I went into our closet to get dressed and had a contraction.  Put on shirt...contraction.  Shorts...contraction.  Shoes...contraction.  They were right on top of each with only a tiny break in between.  Finally I was dressed and walked as quickly as I could from our closet, through our bathroom, bedroom, living room.  I hit the kitchen and had another contraction.  My dad asked how far apart.  I think he was a little surprised when I told him I had no idea.  Each contraction to every ounce of focus I could muster.  There was no way I even start and stop on the app on my phone.
As soon as that contraction was over, I knew I needed to get to the truck.  I wanted to get in before another contraction hit.  I made it as far as the passenger door when the next contraction came.  I pretty sure any neighbors within a 2 block radius probably knew where we were headed by the low moans that were somehow helping me cope.  This contraction came with an urge to push - WHAT?!?!?!  How did I already need to push?  We can't be that close to having this baby! Get in the truck - that was my next goal.  Just get in the truck. 
Between contractions I somehow got in just as Tanner was shutting his door.  As he backed down the driveway he called my dad and told him to have my mom and sisters meet us at the hospital.  At the end of the driveway we had to stop.  I couldn't handle the spinning motion of getting out of the cul de sac while having a contraction.  Thankfully, once we got moving, I was okay.  I sat on the front edge of the seat with a death grip on the dash. Tanner drove as quickly as he safely could hitting mostly green lights.  We hit red lights that were sent from heaven.  God knew that I couldn't handle motion and contractions.  A few blocks from the hospital, Tanner called to let them know we were on our way.  In an effort to not jump the gun, he said, "I'm bringing my wife to the hospital. We think she's starting labor."  I laughed (felt good to laugh) and said, "I think we're past starting."
From what I'm told, we arrived at the hospital at 9:38.  There was a heaven-sent security guard who let us in a side door that would get us to the women's center faster.  I love you Mr. Security Guard! He went to get a nurse and wheelchair while Tanner helped me inside.  As they approached with the wheelchair I shook my head as big contraction came in the lobby; I couldn't imagine sitting in a wheelchair at that point. 
We hit triage and I told whoever was in the room at the time that I thought I needed to poop; at that point I felt two distinct sensations: baby and bowel movement.  The nurse handed me a gown as I walked toward the bathroom and told said, "Okay, but don't bear down in case its baby. If you can give a urine sample, that's great."  She must be joking, right? I got halfway seated (half-squatting with my hands on my knees had been my preferred position for working through contractions all evening) and knew it wasn't poop.  Tanner had stayed at the nurse's station to do paperwork.  I kept thinking, "Where is everyone?" as hovered over the toilet.  Suddenly, big contraction and, POP - water broke.  I'm not sure if I said something or if everyone heard the splash but Tanner and a nurse came into the bathroom.  I have never been more relieved to see my husband's face. 
The nurse could tell that I was really close and kept telling me, "You have to move."  "I can't," I cried out repeatedly.  She got right in my face and said you have to move because I can't catch this baby if you have her in the toilet.  Took a few steps and knew she had crowned.  (Side note - ring of fire was not what I expected.  Yes it burned a little, but I was expecting it to be much more intense.  We'll chalk that up to God's mercy knowing I couldn't take much more.)  Nurse kept telling me to walk; "I can't".  I was trying as hard as I could, but legs just wouldn't go.  With Nurse under one arm and Tanner under the other, they got me to the bathroom door. A second nurse grabbed my legs under my knees and lifted me onto a gurney that was right outside the door.  God bless you Second Nurse for taking charge in that moment.  As soon as I hit the gurney, someone said, "She's crowning."
One contraction on the gurney and her head was out, no pushing required.  I looked down to see her head and was utterly shocked.  I was doing this!  Nurse kept telling me to push and I couldn't make myself do it. "I just need a minute," I replied.  Nurse said, "What you need to do right now is push." Tanner looked at me and said, "You can do this.  You're DOING this!" I couldn't make myself actively push, but I closed my eyes and made my "push face" and kind of pretended to push.  I'm not sure how it happened but that was all it took. 9:46 - only 8 minutes after we got to hospital, Cate was here.  Six pounds, fourteen ounces, 19 inches of perfection in one squishy little miracle.
They put her on my chest immediately and started checking her over.  I gazed at her in awe of this little person.  "I did it.  We did it.  You and me, baby.  We did it!"  I looked up and actually saw everyone in the room for the first time.  I laughed out loud and said, "I don't even know your names."  Nurse smiled brightly and replied, "I'm Whitney."  I later learned that Second Nurse was Lisa and Cate's nurse was Karma.  They were all so fantastic.  I truly feel God put those specific nurses there because they were exactly who I needed.  Thank you nurses!  You rocked it!
This, my friends, is what shock and awe looks like.
As they were cleaning us up and checking everyone out, I saw my mom and oldest sister, Terra in the doorway of the triage room.  "She's here," I cried.  Their faces were absolutely priceless!  Mom's eyes about popped out of her head and Terra covered her mouth in shock.  I later learned that when they got to the hospital, my mom saw someone in the lobby, said "my daughter" and was immediately pointed in the direction of the women's center.  As the approached the security door, there were two cleaning ladies right outside the door.  Mom told them her daughter was here having a baby.  They smiled, said, "I think she already did!" and kindly let Mom and Terra in the door.  Thank you to all the nice people who helped my mom and sister get to us!  They still missed it, but it was nice having them there.  :)
I was moved next door to one of the regular rooms and my doctor showed up minutes later.  As she walked through the door, she said, "When I told you I would see you later, I didn't think it would be like this!"  Since we live in the same neighborhood, I told her we should've just picked her up on the way.  I had a minor tear that needed to be repaired.  Again, I was surprised by how little the numbing shots she gave me hurt.  Lisa quickly got an IV started so they could give me a little Pitocin.  My bleeding looked good, but they just wanted to be safe.  Almost as soon as Lisa got the line, it blew.  I have a pretty vicious bruise to prove it!  Lisa did another quick stick in my hand and we were good to go.  Whitney came in with a Demerol shot not long after that. I didn't really want Demerol but it was in my thigh before I even knew what it was.  At that point, I didn't much care.  I wasn't in too much pain, but it was good to get on top of it quickly.  I was so buzzed from adrenaline it didn't make me too silly.  When my middle sister, Tiffany, who is 6ish months pregnant walked through the door, I smiled and said, "Challenge accepted?"  She just laughed. I don't think she wants things to go quite so quickly.
We spent the next few hours snuggling our sweet girl.  I was incredibly emotional seeing Tanner hold Cate for the first time.  With Cooper, he didn't get to hold him in the delivery room.  He didn't even get to hold him on his birthday.  It wasn't until the next day when Coop was attached to all sorts of wires and tubes that Tanner finally got to hold his son.  This time was different.  He held her moments after she was born, completely untethered.  It was one the most beautiful things I have ever been blessed to witness.

Sometimes beautiful moments make for ugly faces.  :)

 My Sweet Cate,
We make quite a team!  Thank you for the incredible experience of bringing you into this world! I cannot wait to watch you grow and see the amazing things God has for you.  I am so blessed to be your Mommy.  I pray for wisdom, grace and discernment as I try to be the example I need to be for you.  May I lead you to the center of God's will for your life and help you find joy in the journey.  Please forgive, because I know I will make mistakes.  I will say the wrong thing, make the wrong choice, or react unbecomingly.  Please remember how much I love you.  I may not always be your favorite person in the world, and that's okay.  But at the end of the day, I pray that I'm the one you come to with the joys and sorrows in your life, that we can talk about everything, and that we are best friends.  Oh to be so blessed...