Sunday, July 27, 2014

2 Years

Although William has been 2-years-old for one month now, I couldn't let another week go by without sitting down and documenting some tidbits from his party and some facts about this fun stage I don't want to forget. 

Since we weren't sure when Lydia would arrive, Nathan and I planned to spend William's actual birthday as a family of four and keep it low-key, and then have a party with family/friends in mid-July after we'd settled in some. 

For some reason, William is obsessed with the Cracker Barrel billboards on the interstate and points them out to us when we drive anywhere. He emphatically yells "Cracker Buckle!!!!!" whenever he sees one. He had been doing this for months before his birthday, and we're not really sure why...he's maybe eaten at Cracker Barrel one time? When it got close to his birthday, Nathan and I decided what better way to celebrate than to take our sweet boy to the Cracker "Buckle" and let him have his pick from the menu. 

In true toddler fashion, William was quite the pill on his 2nd birthday - and even kicked and screamed his way into the car seat (even though we kept telling him "We're going to eat at Cracker Buckle. Yea!!"). But once we got there, he really enjoyed himself. He liked seeing all the signs hanging on the walls, the deer head above the fireplace, and of course shopping in the Cracker Barrel store. 


He was too busy coloring to smile for the camera ;)



After our lunch, we came home and surprised William with a blue cupcake. He knew exactly what to do!


I'd say he enjoyed himself ;)

He also got to open a few gifts, just from Mommy and Daddy


For his birthday party, we decided to host it at the nearby park. I knew William would love having his party outdoors, but in all honesty I planned it this way because I knew I wouldn't want to clean my house from top to bottom 7 weeks after having a baby. ;) 

We invited our Alabama family, our Nashville family, and one of William's BFF's. It was very low-key, and so nice to see so many people come out to celebrate William's birthday.

Lydia got to meet her Great Grandpa, Great Grandma, and Great Aunt





William was so cute and specific about his party details - he requested sandwiches, pretzels, fruit and cake. But not just ANY cake - he specifically requested vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting and orange stars. It must have been a good choice because all of his party-attendees raved about it. ;)

And now for the gushy stuff...

I really can't believe I'm even writing this post. It seems like just a few months ago we celebrated his first birthday. I have never seen a whole year fly by faster than it just did. I guess our move had something to do with it? Or my being pregnant? Who knows. But I hope they all don't go that quick. 

It also blows my mind to think that William just learned to walk a mere 8 months ago, and now he's running, skipping, saying 5-word sentences and planning his birthday party menu! I've so enjoyed watching his mind expand and seeing him go from a baby to a full blown toddler, but this phase also brings with it his strong will to be independent. It's bittersweet, but he's needing us less and less. 

I'm very proud of how brave he's become, how very rough and tough pure boy he is, how he likes to entertain his sister, how he longs to be by daddy's side every second, and how genuinely sweet he is to pray for his friends and family members each night, tell us he loves us, and say "I'm sorry" when he's done wrong. There's a big heart inside this little boy, and I'm so thankful that God blessed Nathan and I with the opportunity to help shape and mold him. We couldn't be more proud of you, William! We love you!





Sunday, June 29, 2014

One Month In...

I can hardly believe a month has passed since we brought our sweet Lydia home from the hospital. It is so true what they say about the 2nd child - everything goes by so much faster. I feel like the days have flown by, and I'm scrambling to soak up every minute of her newborn days before they vanish right before me!





Our first month has been a total adjustment period as we've juggled two kiddos. I've had to learn to relax, be flexible, and sometimes as bad as it sounds, let someone cry. That might be William, Lydia, both...or as proven last week, it might be that I lock myself in the bathroom and do some crying. Not to scare anyone away from having a 2nd child, but I guess I didn't prepare myself for how much everyone would need me. Nursing is definitely a full time job, and as any mother of a toddler knows - that job is one that is busy, testing, and always ON. Juggling William's schedule and Lydia's nursing routine leaves me with about 1 hour during my days where both are asleep and I can have some "me time". This time around, I've wised up and started using that as nap time for myself ;) This means that the house is often left messy, the dishes dirty in the sink, and clothes in piles, but it also means Mama gets some rest before the afternoon/witching hour/bedtime routine kicks into high gear! 

Another thing I've learned this first month is that as a parent of one child, you think you have it all figured out and then comes along a second child who is the absolute complete opposite - it sends you for a loop! :) Where William loved the swing and would sleep in his car seat just about anywhere for the first 4 months, Lydia hates the swing and refuses to sleep more than 10 minutes in her car seat. It has been interesting learning this sweet girl and what her needs are. Although it has its challenges, it's also kind of fun that the kids aren't a carbon copy of one another...I can't wait to see how their unique personalities grow and develop. What a blessing it is that I get to be a bystander in all of it! 

Now that Lydia is one month old, she's finally coming out of the newborn sleepy phase, and it is so sweet to see her so alert, smiley and curious about this great big world around her. She smiles every time one of us talks to her, and any time she hears William's voice. :) She's also proven to be a pretty decent sleeper at night. We've gotten 2 nights where she's gone 5 hours in between nursing sessions (although most nights it's about 4 hours), so I'm hopeful that this will stretch out soon. And so far (keeping my fingers crossed), her witching hour isn't nearly as painful as William's was at this age. She usually has a difficult time between 5:00-7:00 PM, but then once she's been fed around 7:30 she is down for the night. I'm hoping this continues! 



Sweet Lydia - it has been so fun adding you to this crazy mix we call a family. Although he's rough, tough and loud, I know William is crazy about you (despite the few times you've gotten a toy chucked at your head). Your daddy is mesmerized by your smile and your bright blue eyes, and well, your mama just can't get enough of you! Keep growing, smiling, and adding that extra bit of girly sass to our home - we love you, pretty girl!  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lydia's Birth Story

As many of you know, with my first pregnancy, I had high hopes of how it would go when it came time to labor and delivery. However, God had other plans. At my 38-week OB-GYN visit, William was discovered breech and it required a c-section at 41 weeks (after many attempts to get him to turn). My OB-GYN at the time assured me that I would be a perfect candidate for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) when it came time for baby #2, so that's exactly what we hoped and prayed for since the day we found out about Lydia's impending arrival.

Throughout my pregnancy with Lydia, I really fought against fear. Fear that she would be breech like her brother. Fear that I'd make it all the way to labor and stall. Fear that something would go wrong. All my fears were wrapped up in one package though - fear of another c-section. It's not that the first time went horribly, but I just didn't want to have surgery again. I wanted to feel contractions. I wanted to know what it felt like to labor. I wanted to have a baby the way God designed it. So I began to meditate and pray Psalm 20:4 every time I felt fear creeping in. "May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed." 

All along, the midwives I saw were very confident Lydia was head down (the midwife practice I used did not do ultrasounds or internal exams past 20 weeks, so most of their assumptions on position were total guesses based on how everything felt externally). However, on Tuesday, May 27 (one week before miss Lydia's due date) I had my 39-week appointment at the midwife office and it was quite an emotional one. During my external exam, the midwife was certain she felt Lydia head down, but when she did my internal check she was unsure and said she wanted to send me to have an ultrasound to confirm baby's position. She also said that my cervix at that point was high, firm and closed. Basically - I wasn't anywhere near having this baby and we weren't sure if she was even in the correct position to be born. I immediately felt a wave of fear when the midwife told me this but tried blocking it out knowing that the results were still standing.

I was able to schedule an ultrasound for that day, but it would mean waiting 2 hours. I called Nathan and told him the news, and asked him to come down and meet me and go with me to the appointment. He instantly called his parents, arranged care for William and left the house. Meanwhile, I grabbed some lunch and headed over to Bicentennial Park for a stroll and some prayer time. During my walk, I felt God's peace come over me and somehow I just knew everything would be OK. If she was breech and I required a repeat C-section, God would be with us. And if she wasn't and we had a successful VBAC, God would be with us. Either way, He had not abandoned us and He quieted my heart with that truth before going over to meet Nathan. 

We were so anxious to find out the results of the ultrasound that we arrived at the clinic 30 minutes early. Thankfully, they brought us right back and started right in on the ultrasound. Nathan had to use the restroom once we got settled into our room, but the tech started the process anyway. She placed the wand on my belly and immediately said "Head Down!", to which I replied with a huge grin, "Can you wait until my husband comes out before you go any further?" Nathan came and stood by my side and I grinned with tears filling my eyes as I said "She's head DOWN!" I can't even describe the wave of relief that came over me in that moment. 

We left the appointment that day with hearts so full of thanks, and a little...errr, big surprise - the tech told us that it looked like Lydia would be a whopping 8 lbs 13 oz based on her measurements. We now had a mission - get this baby here and get my cervix working before she gained another ounce! :)




***

From Tuesday, May 27 to Friday, May 30 I spent tons of time nesting. I got her Pack and Play set up in our room, repacked our hospital bag for 45th time, organized our pantry, cleaned out her dresser, and had some great quality time with William. 

On Friday, May 30 we arranged for William to spend the day with my in-laws. There's a great park nearby that has a 5-mile loop and Nathan and I have been dying to hike it since we moved here 1 year ago. What better time to try it out when your toddler is away and you're 39 weeks pregnant?!? Looking back, it was a crazy idea. But I had so much energy and since my cervix was high, closed and firm I guess I thought, "may as well live it up while I can!" :)

The hike was so nice, but by the end I was tired. We came home, had lunch, and I cleaned up the house a little before passing out for a nap (looking back, I'm so glad I napped!). 

When I woke up, I began having some stronger contractions than I had been used to but thought I probably just overdid it a little on the hike. I began making dinner (my mom, dad, and cousin were coming into town for the night on their way back to New York). By the time my parents arrived, the contractions were a tad stronger, but nothing unbearable. I just kept trucking along, trying to entertain as best I could. 

After dinner, we moseyed into the living room for conversation and my mom began talking about how much she wanted Lydia to come that night so that she wouldn't have to drive back to New York. She was planning to stay with us for a week after Lydia's arrival, and my mom just thought it would be so convenient if Lydia saved her from buying a plane ticket ;) 

Around 8:30 PM, my dad announced they were going to bed because they were tired from their travels. I didn't tell anyone this at the time, but I was so glad he said that because during all of our talking, my contractions had only intensified. By the time Nathan and I walked back to our bedroom, I said "I think you need to start timing these. They are pretty intense." 

I grabbed my exercise ball, and began rocking on it, and Nathan began timing the contractions. At this point, they were about 10 minutes apart. Since we live so far from the hospital, our midwife told us to call when contractions were 7 minutes apart. I kind of lost track of time, but the contractions continued speeding up and intensifying until they were 7 minutes apart and Nathan asked me to call my midwife. 

I spoke with her and told her what was going on, and she agreed that the hike probably made me go into labor. She instructed me to take a warm bath, drink 20-oz of water, take some Benadryl to help me sleep and get some rest. If I continued laboring then she told me to call her, but she felt pretty sure it was false labor due to the busy day we'd had. 

I took her advice, but the bath and water didn't slow things down. I'm so glad I didn't heed her advice to take the Benadryl because I would need my energy for the next 6 hours! ;)

***

It was getting close to 11 PM when the contractions were about 5 minutes apart. At this point, Nathan had changed clothes 3 different times and been adamant with me about going to the hospital already. My biggest fear was getting there and being sent home, so I wanted to wait until I was certain it was 'go time'. Call me stubborn, but I didn't want to drive 45-minutes only to be sent home. ;) 

I called my midwife again, and she basically said to use my discretion - she knew I planned to not only have a VBAC, but to do it naturally without any pain meds. Staying at home as long as possible would only help my chances of that, so we stayed a little bit longer. About 15 minutes after that last call, I had to go to the restroom and that's when I realized that labor was imminent! 

We grabbed the bags, hopped in the car and made our way to the hospital. The whole ride in, I was praying that the trip would not be in vain. "Lord, please let this be the real thing!" was muttered over and over and over again. ;)

***

Once we arrived, it felt like forever until we got into a triage room. But once we did, the midwife checked me and said I was 5 cm dilated and would be staying! 

They got me into a Labor room, and surprisingly none of the ways I thought I'd enjoy laboring felt comfortable. I tried the exercise ball, laying down in the bed, etc but what seemed most comfortable was sitting in the rocking chair. From the time we got into our room until 4:30 AM, things were what I would call very....boring. I was contracting every 3-7 minutes, but not really making much progress. Because I was a VBAC patient, the hospital rules required me to be hooked up to continual fetal heart rate monitoring (which also limited my mobility). I felt sure that if I got up and started walking it might speed things up, but I was very limited to how far I could go. 

Around 4:30 AM, the midwife checked me and said I was only 6 cm. I felt a little defeated because we had been there for several hours already. She felt very confident that if she broke my water it would speed things up nicely so I told her to do it. She also said that it would intensify my contractions...but she wasn't sure if that would happen immediately or within a few hours. Thank goodness it didn't take that long, because within 10 minutes of her breaking my waters I was definitely progressing! From 4:30-5:30 AM, I was in labor ya'll. I wouldn't say it was necessarily "painful" but it was frustrating to have so many contractions so close together...I could barely catch my breath before another would come on! This is where my breathing exercises and visualization techniques from Hypnobirthing came in handy! (most of the book was a little cooky for those interested, but those 2 things helped me through the hardest parts of labor!)

I should also mention here, that Nathan was a tremendous support. He was my "silent encourager", holding my hand every time he saw another contraction coming on, and softly whispering "you're doing so good", "I'm so proud of you" every once in a while. 

Around 5:30, I told the midwife I felt the urge to push and she wanted to check me. This is how our conversation played out...

Me: I think I need to push
Midwife: OK. Then I need you to turn over and let me check you. That would be amazing if you were already 10 cm!
Me: I don't want you to check me.
Midwife: Why?
Me: Because I don't want to be discouraged. I want you to check me when it's time to push!
Midwife: OK. But if you keep feeling the urge to push, let me know and we need to check you.

5 minutes later...
Me: I think I need to push
Midwife: Let me check you
Me: No. Not yet.

5 minutes later...
Me: I think I need to push
Midwife: Let me check you
Me: No. Not yet.

a few minutes later...
Me: I think I need to push
Midwife: Turn over. I'm checking you. 

Once I got flipped over and she checked me, she said "You're complete!" To which in my delirious state I replied, "What does that mean?!?!" She chuckled and said, "It's time to push!"

At this point, pushing out those contractions felt so good!!! I could finally do something with the contractions instead of just breathing through them. I pushed for 45-minutes, my head spinning with thoughts like "I cannot believe I made it this far. I really hope her head fits through there. Lord, please don't make me push too long!"

During my pushing, I could feel Lydia's head descending. It would come down, and then go back up, come down, and go back up. The midwife sensed I was starting to get frustrated so she instructed me to push and hold it for 10 seconds. She counted off for me, and I began to push with all of my might. I also remember saying things like "Come out of there, Lydia!" (Nothing like a little encouragement from your mama to pick up the pace!)

Pretty soon I had one big push (and an intense amount of pressure!), and felt her head arrive. The midwife told me not to push and to take a deep breath (what a relief to take a break for a millisecond!). Then with one last big push, her sweet shoulders, tummy, and legs arrived as I wailed out in a somewhat warrior-womanish cry. She was here! 





In my whole life, I've never done anything more physically demanding or rewarding. The instant she was in my arms, the pain went away - which is saying a lot because her head was 14.5 inches, y'all and she came out with her hand beside her head (so maybe add another 2 inches? - yowza!) It's so true what they say about natures anesthesia though! I was on top of the world. 

Not only had God allowed our sweet girl to be born vaginally, but He'd also equipped me with the strength I'd need to do it the way my heart desired - totally natural. 

I honestly can't explain the feelings I felt over the next few days. I stopped several times throughout my days with tears filling my eyes and asked "Lord, why do you love me so much?" William's birth taught me so much about faith in God when we're going through the unknown, and Lydia's birth taught me so much about trusting God with my hearts desires and how He delights to give us those because He's our loving Father. 

Since she's arrived, we've also experienced another wonderful answer to prayer - she is a pro at nursing and we have been breastfeeding really great these first 2 weeks! I'm so happy we can have this bond and special time together (although it is quite demanding right now with a toddler running around too). 


One of the best things about delivering naturally and vaginally is the little time you spend in the hospital! Lydia was born at 6:30 on Saturday morning and we were reunited as a new family of 4 by Sunday afternoon! 



I'm not going to lie, our new life with 2 small children until 2-years of age has been tiresome so far (there's a whole other post about that down the road!), but each night I crawl into my bed I'm thankful for these 2 healthy, beautiful kids and our crazy busy, sleep-deprived life. :)









Thursday, June 5, 2014

We'd Like You to Meet Miss Lydia!


Lydia Ann Atwood 
Born - May 31 @ 6:31 AM, weighing 8 lbs 4 oz and 20 inches long
Hair color (looking more red every day! *squeal*)

Lydia Ann Atwood decided May 31 (the day her grandparents were set to leave for NY) was the perfect day to make her appearance. Conveniently, her Grandma got to stay with us for an extra week! ;) We are loving her every detail and enjoying newborn snuggles, but I'll be back in a while to share her birth story. 

Until then,

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Morning Busyness

In an effort to slow down and notice more, I've been trying to be intentional and document some of the normal bits and pieces of my day as a SAHM. Taking more photos of the everyday-this-is-not-that-glamorous-but-it's-real-life moments that make up memories, laughs, cries, tantrums, play, and learning. 

These were some of those moments...


Now that William has a mouthful of teeth, he's discovered so many wonderful new food groups - corn on the cob (aka "torn" - one of his favorites), pretzel sticks, and fruit snacks (we try to only give him the "healthier" ones). I love seeing him grab a full corn cob and just go to town! It's a good thing we're planting a lot of "torn" in the garden this summer. ;)


The Nashville Zoo is a bit of a drive from our small town, but now that William's older it's a great place to spend half of the day exploring. We went a few weeks ago with our friends who have a membership and William's favorites were the flamingoes, fish, goats and kangaroos (yes! They have Kangaroos that you can pet/feed...so fun!). 



His little vocabulary is exploding and recently he's been saying more 3 and 4-word sentences. My favorite was when we were decorating baby sister's room. I placed one of my first babydolls in her room to display and William thought it was hilarious. He started laughing and pointing and said, "I see dat baby!" Hopefully he doesn't think the baby sister we've been talking about these past few months is a doll that sits on the shelf. ;) He will be quite surprised!

Most of the times his sentences are still fragmented. He'll say things like "daddy - tractor - grass" when he sees Nathan in the yard mowing. I can tell his little brain is just soaking every conversation we have up...a little scary/exciting all at the same time ;) 


He loved brushing the goats "hairs"


Although our boy is small in stature (he still only weighs 23 lbs), he's looking and acting bigger and bigger every day. This sweet overall outfit was the one that kind of smacked me in the face - he got this as a birthday present last year when he turned one from his sweet Great Granny in Alabama. It was an 18-month-sized outfit that looked really big when we opened it. Now he fits perfectly in it! How does it feel like his first birthday party was just a few months ago, and in reality we're getting ready to celebrate his second birthday in June?!? 


Not only could this season in William's life be categorized as the "talking phase" but it's also a season in which it is all about daddy lately. It melts my heart to see William love on his daddy and prefer his daddy's time over mine. Some mom's might get jealous, but I actually love it! It means that I can sit my 9-month-pregnant belly on the couch and read a magazine while the guys chase each other outside in the 90-degree weather. ;) thankyouverymuch

This photo perfectly captures William's fascination with daddy lately. He was diagnosed with his very first ear infection 2 weeks ago. This was taken late one night in the ER when William's fever spiked so high that we were told to take him in. He wouldn't leave daddy's side for anything, and the whole time he was being evaluated he sat just like this in Nathan's arms. 


I'm not sure why, but baby sister's impending arrival has me feeling all sorts of funny emotions. The main one being mom guilt (as if we don't feel that enough, right?!). I guess I just feel a tinge guilty that William won't be the center of attention anymore - our one and only child. Although I know there's many great benefits to him (and us!) to introduce siblings into his life, I've been feeling this innate need to please him, spoil him, and do tons of fun stuff before sister arrives. (This is probably going to totally backfire on me this summer when we're stuck at the house with a newborn who wants to nurse/nap all day long). At any rate, we're making tons of fun memories during these last few months of it just being me and William at home. 

Like, strawberry picking! And playdates with friends, and visiting the local pet store for the 472 time (I'm pretty sure they're eventually going to make us buy an animal), and going to the park 50 times per week. 


Just this past week, we asked William what he wanted for his birthday and his response was "a bunny, George [aka Curious George books], M's [aka M&M's], and money." Nathan looked at me with his deep father-love eyes and said "What is it about being a parent that makes you want to give him everything he wants?" So true, my man. This little boy has our hearts. 



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter Recap

Last year, Easter was pretty simple as far as the kiddo activities were concerned. William was about 10 months old, not walking and we were smack in the middle of selling our home and packing. 

This year, however, he had lots of fun opening his Easter basket, finding Easter eggs, and joining us in the "big service" as church (he lasted through the music and 5 minutes into the sermon before we had to leave because he kept yelling things like "Light!"). ;)

Here are some sweet photos of our fun-filled weekend.

On Saturday, our church hosted an egg hunt and William was thoroughly confused. He would gently pick up 1 egg at a time, shake it, open it, and pop the chocolate (with the wrapper) inside his mouth. 

It took us roughly 30 minutes to collect about 5 eggs ;)

Sunday morning, he was elated to find his basket filled with goodies - a carrot sippy cup I swiped from the Clearance section at Target, some fruit snacks, bubbles, new socks, etc.


After church, we were able to snag 1 good photo of the three four of us

Nana and Papa came over to join in on the Easter fun!

And by the time he had his 2nd egg hunt for the weekend, William was a professional! This time he knew exactly what to do and gathered up the eggs quickly. 

He insisted on eating only the fruit snacks that were hidden inside. We also put some crackers in some of the eggs, but he would bring them over to us and open more eggs until he found more fruit snacks :)


And the Easter fun hasn't stopped! On Tuesday, Nathan watched William for me while I went to my midwife appointment and he said William wanted to hunt more eggs. Since it was a little rainy out, they ended up doing 6 egg hunts inside the house. Daddy's a softy ;)

We were so blessed to spend this Easter with family, good weather, our lovely church family and our sweet boy!