Monday, December 8, 2014

First night home

After we came home from the hospital we had Gracies swing all put together. The first thing we did was set her in it. She looked SO small! We just stood there and asked each other if thats how she's supposed to look, lol. She didn't cry so we assumed she was okay. She slept for most of the day then I got her out to change her. Literally the first diaper change at home she has a MASSIVE blow out that consisted of projectile poop!!

Do you remember the scene from I Love You Man when Paul Rudd's character vomits on Jon Varvreau's character? Heres a refresher if you don't know what I'm talking about:

Her poop was pretty much like that. I lifted her legs and she just let it go, ALL over myself and our brand new bedding.

I was so shocked I screamed, brandon was talking on the phone with his mom and told her he had to go cause Gracie just shot poop all over the place, haha. He snapped this picture as I was yelling at him to help me. I think my face in this picture sums up what I was feeling.

After a shower, thrown out pillow, one load of laundry, and a clean baby later, we had a good rest of the night.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Our Miracle Baby Part 1

According to a source I found on the internet a placental abruption happens to approximately 1% of all pregnancies. Another source said one in 830 pregnancies. Either way, its rare and extremely dangerous. A placental abruption is when the placenta pulls away from the uterus causing rapid blood loss for the mother with oxygen and nutrient loss for the baby.

 This is what happened to me with our first (and possibly only) child.

The exact cause of an abruption is unknown but there are risk factors which include high blood pressure, smoking, street drugs, past abruptions, trauma to the body, and increased maternal age. None of which I had throughout any time of my pregnancy.

I was 25, non-smoker, in decent shape, with no history of family illness when I got pregnant.
Throughout my pregnancy nothing came back abnormal and our baby was growing the way she was supposed to.

On July 24th 2014, our baby's due date, I started to have contractions around 3pm. My best friend from home and her sister drove down a few days before to be with me and for the arrival of our little one. I was becoming frustrated because I couldn't tell the 'start' and 'stop' times of each contraction I was having. They just felt like mild period cramps. My friend started to keep track of each one and I was having them pretty consistantly every two hours with some minor back pain. I knew it wasn't enough to go to the hospital yet but I was assuming the next day she would probably be here.

Around 9-9:30ish as I was laying on the couch I felt a little gush. I immediately got excited because I thought it was my water breaking. I jumped up and went to the bathroom. As soon as I started walking I saw drops of blood and once my feet hit the bathroom floor I started to gush out puddles of blood. I screamed that my placenta was breaking. I remember seeing the shock on Brandon's face as he called 911. My girlfriend cleaned up the blood as I sat on the couch. I didn't get emotional until I couldn't feel the baby move. I was shaking my stomach talking to her hoping I could feel something, but there was nothing. No movement at all.

Luckily we live literally across the street from our emergency medical center so the ambulence was at our apartment building by the time I walked down the three flights of stairs. They got me on the stretcher with Brandon in the front seat and my friends in the car behind us. The EMT asked the usual questions about myself and checked to see if I was crowning yet. At that time I thought I could feel movement but wasn't sure. He gave me an IV which hurt like hell, then asked what happened.

We pulled up to the hospital and the EMT wheeled me up to the labor and delivery floor. He asked the lady at the desk if they received the call about a patient who was coming, she said no they hadn't. The first thing the nurses did was take me off the stretcher, as I'm still bleeding, and put me on a scale to weigh me! I couldn't believe it. Brandon was so mad at this point because it didn't seem like they found my situation to be an emergency. I started bleeding all over the scale while screaming for someone to get me to a room so I could lay down. The younger nurse grabbed me by the arm and spoke softly to me saying I needed to calm down and that we would be going to a room shortly. At this point I was so upset with them that I pulled away and started walking faster towards the room. I finally was in a bed and the older nurse put a fetal doppler on me, she said to the younger nurse they weren't allowed to do anything to me until I was registered in their system. I COULD NOT believe what I was hearing. Here I am bleeding my guts out and they were worried about paperwork. After she put the doppler on me I heard a faint heartbeat. At that point I knew I at least knew my baby was still alive. The younger nurse started to give me paperwork that I was supposed to fill out along with questions she was asking. I had her asking me questions, the older nurse putting in another IV, Brandon on the other side of me whispering in my ear, all the while I'm still bleeding badly. I remember looking at Brandon and thinking I was going to die. I thought "this is how I'm going to go out, I'm going to bleed to death as I sit here looking at my husband, never getting to meet my baby girl".

Finally the doctor came in and checked me. She said she believed my water broke with blood mixed in then walked out! After what seemed like an eternity she came back in and told me she was going to call it and take me into surgery for an emergency C-section. I was actually relieved because at this point I did not want to push this baby out by any means.

The nurses put head gear on me while Brandon suited up with the doctor telling me the dangers of surgery. I signed a form and was on my way. I asked if Brandon would be allowed to be in the room with me and she said no because I would be be unconscious. I wasn't even able to say goodbye to my husband.

The only way to explain going into surgery is it was like a scene from ER. They didn't explain anything to me of what was going to happen so I started shouting out questions like how long I was going to be out for, what is happing to the baby, if Brandon would be allowed to see her right away. Not answering my questions, the doctors and nurses were all rushing around the room in their blue suits getting tools situated as they put me on the operating table. I had one nurse put a mask on me whispering in my ear that everything was going to be okay, it would only be a little bit and just to relax. The gas smelled funny so I assumed thats how they were putting me out. I just took long breaths while praying everything was going to be okay. I remember feeling a water-like substance being poured over my belly and then I was out.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Miracle Baby Part 2

I woke up in the recovery room to no voice with my throat hurting like hell. I asked the nurse why I couldn't talk and she said I had a tube down my throat during surgery so it might be a while before I could speak again. My girlfriend and her sister came to see me which I was thankful for. I hadn't seen them since being at the apartment. I remember all I wanted to do was sit up farther in the bed. I kept asking the nurse and she said I had to lay like I was for another half hour. Brandon finally came in to see me and I couldn't focus on anything. I was still heavily under the drugs they gave me. They asked me if I wanted to see our baby girl but I said no because I couldn't even see straight. I wanted my first time to see her to be with complete focus. 

After the half hour they wheeled me up to my room. Brandon had told me that my mom was on her way with my brother. My sister lives in VA so she was on her way down also. My sister came into the room and I lost it. The whole situation was traumatic and I was happy to see a part of my family. At this point I didn't know the status of our baby, I assumed she was alive but I had no idea at what state she was in because of the trauma. 

The doctor came in and explained our baby had some seizer like activity so they sedated her. The doctor came in for a second time and said that her situation was too much for their NICU to handle so they were going to send her down to another hospital that has a better NICU. I was happy they at least knew they weren't prepared for her so they made the decision to send her somewhere else to get better care. Ironically it was the hospital that I was supposed to deliver at, but seeing as I had to get to a hospital as quickly as I could, I couldn't deliver at the hospital I wanted to. So I was happy at least one of us got to go there for their care. 

After a while Brandon's sisters showed up, then my mom and brother, then Brandon's parents and lastly my dad and sister in law. I wasn't understanding why our entire family showed up but it was nice to have them there during that time. Brandon and I were able to see her once in the NICU there then they brought her into our room so I could say goodbye before they took her down to the new hospital. It was so sad seeing her, she was in an incubator with wires hooked up in all sorts of directions. It broke my heart that there was nothing Brandon or I could do for her. 
Later on, my sister told me that no one was sure if the baby would make it so thats why everyone showed up to be there for support. I had no idea at that time that our baby was in such bad condition. 

She didn't have a name at this point. Brandon and I said we would wait until we saw her before we would decide on a name. We had always liked Gracie for a girls name. My name means 'Grace' so we liked having a version of that for our daughters name. We decided on Gracie Abigail. We thought it was fitting for her after the traumatic birth she went through it was only by God's grace that she was still living. 

They transferred her down after a day in a half of being in the NICU to the new hospital. I was still in my room for another day before I was released to go see her. I told my nurse I had that I needed to get out as soon as I could because I needed to be with my baby. She understood completely and released me Saturday morning, after I just had our baby Thursday night. 

Brandon brought me back to the apartment so I could shower then we headed down to the new NICU Gracie was at. As soon as I walked in I couldn't hold it back. I started crying. I just felt so helpless knowing there was nothing I could do for her. 

I knew she was getting the best care though. We took Saturday and all day Sunday for ourselves with no family in the room. We prayed over her every night, and read books to her so she could hear our voices. In a weird sense this traumatic experience brought us closer together as a couple. Brandon was the best husband anyone could ask for. He was taking care of me since I could barely stand up on my own. Helping me with showering, covering up my incision, reminding me on when to take my medication and to pump. 

The doctors at the new NICU said they didn't believe she had seizers, but the seizer like activity just came from the trauma of birth. They did an EEG on her and it came back normal. The first of many humps she needed to get over. She was on a vent to help her breathe for the first few days of life. They took her off the vent once, but by morning she needed to be back on it again. A minor set back but overall she was getting better. 

The first time I got to see her with her eyes open. I was in love. 

It was either the first or second day I was there and the nurse asked if I wanted to change her diaper for the first time. Lets just say it took me forever to do. 

By Sunday, my dad came to visit for a bit. He was the first one that had to leave so he came to say goodbye and to see Gracie. The hospital was providing a cookout for all the families of the NICU so we ate and had a nice visit before he left. 

On monday, we decided my family would stop in to see Gracie then Tuesday his family would come to see her. My brother and sister in law came first and they saw her and we spoke for a bit. 

Brandons sisters had to get back to Michigan so they stopped in to say hi for a bit also.

 Afterwards my sister and brother in law came. The NICU had a policy of no children under 12 unless they were immediate family so unfortunately none of the nieces and nephews were able to see Gracie. Because of that they didn't stay long. My sister snapped a few photos then they left. 

Afterward my mom and girlfriends came and stayed for the rest of the afternoon. 

 At this point no one had held Gracie, not even Brandon or myself. My mom mentioned to the nurse that she would like to hold her, at that point the nurse turned around and couldn't believe no one offered for us to hold her. We just assumed we couldn't since she was still hooked up to the monitors.
                                                                 Our first skin to skin
Everyone says it helps the baby overall but we didn't think it helped THAT much. But it did! As soon as we put her on my chest her heart rate and breathing went up and stayed that way. It was so cool just seeing how much better they do being with the parents skin.

My mom was the third person to get to hold her. 

On Tuesday Brandon's parents came to see her, they got to hold her also. We went out to lunch then they left to go back to MI.
After all the family left, it was just Brandon and myself. It was so nice to have unexpected time with our family but it was nice to get back to just being us and Gracie. 

For a while Brandon didn't want to change her diaper, but I finally told him he eventually will have to so he might as well get it over with. 

Our life group leaders came to help up in a big way, they opened up their home since they would be out for the weekend to my family to have a place to stay. They came down to the hospital where I was to see me then also to the NICU to see Gracie with some food and a gift card in hand. They are seriously the best. They happen to snap this picture of us giving Gracie her first bottle. At this point she was still on some fluids but we were transitioning her to breast milk. I was pumping and breastfeeding then when we weren't in the room the nurses would feed her bottles. I was a little nervous on how she was going to take all these things but she never had nipple confusion. We were so grateful. 

On one of the days we noticed her fingernails were getting really long so we decided to cut them. Brandon did such a great job, he didn't clip any skin so we decided he would do that from then on. 

After a week in the NICU she had an MRI done on her brain to check for any damage done with the lack of oxygen, it was the biggest hurdle we needed to get over. We were obviously going to love our child no matter what was different about her but we wanted to prepare ourselves if there was. 

This was right after she came back from the MRI. They put these hats on the babies with little headphones playing music. I wish we were able to go with her but we weren't. 

It felt like an eternity to finally hear back the results of the MRI. She was in the NICU for at least a week by then. She was off the vent, had no more tubes or IV's in her, she was on breast milk completely. This was the last thing we needed to know since everything else was looking good. 

The news came back negative. There was nothing wrong with her brain.

As soon as we heard that we both looked at each other and I started to cry. This was such an emotional time for us that I broke down, it was a mixture of exhaustion and relief. 

After 11 days in the NICU Gracie was able to come home with us. We were so excited after almost two weeks, we finally got to go home as a family and start our new lives together. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Maternity Shoot!

So a few months ago, my sister asked if she could do a maternity shoot to work on her photo taking skills. Of course I said yes. She came down to visit a few weeks ago. The first night we went to our local beach and here are a few of my favorites:

The second day we went down to Wilmington to a local flower museum and parts of downtown: 

I was thrilled to see how they turned out in the end! I can't wait to print them off and put them in her baby book :) 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Growing Belly

Well I am almost to the finish line in this pregnancy!! You have no idea how good that feels to say.  I have less than 6 weeks to go and I am counting down the days till our little one decides to arrive :)

Lets take a look back at my growing belly shall we? 

I stunk at taking pictures in the beginning because well, you don't grow much then so I didn't feel the need, lol. 

Here is me at 17 weeks, my first time I put a picture up on social media. During this time I was feeling pretty good, but still in the awkward  "is she pregnant or just fat?" stage. 

From here on out, I tried to take a picture every two weeks. I finally popped out at 19 weeks. I literally felt like I woke up in the morning and I looked down to a belly. I was feeling big but knew it was just me. 

21 Weeks in. This was probably the best time, you have the adorable little pregnant belly and everyone says "you are the cutest pregnant girl ever!". Which is duh, what every pregnant woman wants to hear. (my OCD is killing me in this photo, WHY did i turn the opposite way?? ugh.)

23 weeks. Still in the cute pregnant stage, although I specifically remember I couldn't see my feet when I looked down during this week. I could still fit into most of my bigger non-maternity shirts which I was pretty excited about. 

25 weeks in. I was well over halfway by then and this little girl would not stop kicking. I was in the "omg I can feel this baby kick in my belly and its the coolest thing!!" phase. 

 I don't remember which week this was taken but I do know I was in my third trimester. So maybe 27 or 28 weeks? It started to become a little difficult to bend down by then and the kicking was somewhat uncomfortable but still bearable. 

 29 weeks. I was feeling HUGE by then to say the least. Maybe its the lime green tight fitting tank top I chose to wear? Either way, I was completely over the excitement of feeling this child move inside me. It become harder to breath just walking up the three flights of stairs to our apartment and I had to take breaks while trying to get things done around the house. I officially was out of the cute stage.

 Here is the most recent picture I have. I was 32 weeks and look like I am holding a basketball under my shirt, lol. The movement has turned from being a cool feeling to just plain uncomfortable. And the swelling!! omg, the swelling has been awful.  I blame it on the 15 hr car ride to and from MI that made my feet swell to the size of golfballs. Thankfully since I have been home the swelling has gone down again. 
I am SO ready for her to be here. 

Hopefully she will be too in a few weeks! 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A letter to my daughter.

Don't try to grow up too fast.
Be a kid. Go outside and get dirty. Ride bikes and play on the swings. Please don't worry about finances or bills. That's my job. You worry about what friends you are going to see that day and if you got your homework assignment done.

Be unimpressed by material objects.
I pray and hope you will look past what people own, and instead see people for who they are. Material items are only so deep, and you aren't able to take them into Heaven. Please don't get caught up in societies idea of 'needing more'. Remember, you are privileged already. Even just living in the United States you are already wealthier than more than half the world on a daily basis. Be mindful of what people don't have and grateful for what you do have.
Have a givers attitude.
Everything that we own is a gift from God, so treat it that way. My hope for you is to have a passion for giving to others. I pray it won't be something that you think about once in a while, but that it will be constantly on your mind. The money you eventually will make is Gods, money so repay him by tithing every week. Let that become routine in your life. Even if you feel you are unable to give, trust in God for him to take care of you.
Have patience and self control.
Your father would say I'm not the most patient person, so please take after him on this one. He is the most patient person I know and that's one of the reasons I fell in love with him. Don't let the little things get the best of you. If there's heavy traffic, then take the time to pray in the car. If you're like me, and can't stand having multiple sounds going on at once, then calmly ask for things to be turned down or off. Don't wait till the last minute and burst out your feelings. Be self-aware and share before you lose control.
Be assertive, but not defensive or argumentative.
One of the worst qualities a person can have is being argumentative after every thing they hear. Please be understanding. Everyone will have an opinion even if they don't agree with what you are saying. Still respect them. Please don't be defensive if someone is being critical of you. It took me years to realize your father was being critical of me out of love because he cares and not to make me feel bad. Please be understanding of this. Don't assume someone is trying to hurt you, but rather they are giving advice or loving criticism. On the flip side to all of this, be assertive to your needs. Speak up for what you need or want. Especially in your relationships and workforce. Learn how to communicate your feelings in a loving respectful way rather than having it turn into a yelling match.
 Be nonjudgmental or a grudge holder.
Remember everyone is different. You are not the same as anyone else on this earth. Please keep that in mind when looking at others. Everyone has something going on in their lives that you may not know or be aware of. Please don't judge just on outside appearances. Do you want people judging you? If not, then don't judge them. Do unto others as you would want done unto you. At the same time, I pray you won't be a grudge holder. If you are going to forgive someone, please be sincere in that forgiveness. Forgive and forget. Don't bring up past experiences that you were upset about later on down the road. It doesn't help you or the other person and only brings on heartache that was once there before.
 Be at peace with silence.
In today's world and probably more so when you grow up, we are surrounded with noise. This is a daily struggle for myself even. I feel the need to be constantly around noise whether its music, television, or people talking. It's hard for me to sit in silence. I hope that you embrace the silence and enjoy it. Having silence is a good thing in your life. It allows for God to speak to you. I pray that it will become routine for you to have a moment of silence in your everyday life. I also hope you won't feel it necessary to have an electronic device hooked to you at all times. It is okay to not have or know where your phone is sometimes. I hope you will pick books and hobbies over your use of technology.
Be respectful of your elders.
Every parent wants their child to grow up and respect them. I have the same want for you. Please be respectful of the people who came before you. Even if you don't agree with their views or values, still respect them. They have lived a lifetime longer than you, and you should understand they are wise and you could learn a great deal from them. Same with your father and I. You may not like us or want us around, but I gave birth to you and we will love you unconditionally. If anything, I ask you respect us whether you want to or not.
Have a heart for the broken.
Being from the social work background, this hits close to home for myself. I pray you will have the same passion as I do. I hope these stories and situations you see stir up something inside of yourself so much so that you will feel the need to help. Have a heart for the broken and weak, pray for them. If you can, comfort them. Everyone will need help at some point or another in their lifetime. More so than others. Don't shy away from the need, instead I pray you will have the wanting to help.
Have a thirst for Christ.
This is last, but definitely not least. I pray for myself mostly on this one. I pray that I might be an example for you and you will have all the tools for wanting to be more in love with Christ and to have a relationship with him. I pray that you will be strong in your faith and bring others to Him.
Above all, I pray that your father and I can be good examples of all these things. I pray that we will be your role models that you will look up to in the future.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Perfect, Unexpected Surprise

On November 17th 2013, Brandon and I found out I was pregnant. Something that was not in the plans by any means.
Brandon had asked me when the last time I had my 'time of the month'. And to which I answered that I couldn't remember. I quietly went and got a pregnancy test, just praying to Jesus it would be negative like it was so many times before.
Those two minutes of waiting seemed like an eternity.
I watched as the first line came up, then slowly with the second line meaning a positive test. I couldn't believe it. We had been so careful, our chances of getting pregnant was slim to none. Or so I thought.
I wasn't sure how to feel at the beginning. Brandon heard me whispering to myself and came into the bathroom asking if I was pregnant. I showed him the test and he just hugged me. I was in disbelief so I went to get another test just to make sure. Another positive. After the second test I burst into tears.
This was not in our plans. We wanted to wait a few more years before thinking about having children.
Brandon kept saying "we're going to have a baby, we're going to be parents!". He held me in his arms as I wept out of fear and frustration. I did not want to be a parent, nor did I want to have a child right now.
God is funny like that, He puts us in situations knowing we can handle them. God knew I would never want to try having children, it needed to be accidental, which is exactly what He made happen.
After initially getting over the shock of being pregnant, Brandon and I went to my first doctors appt. The baby was only a dot on the screen. Honestly, I couldn't really get excited about seeing a little dot that was inside my belly. But I was happy to have Brandon standing next to me for the support. He knew this was hard for me and I needed him to be there. The doctor said I was five weeks pregnant, one of the earliest times to find out your expecting. I was put on prenatals and was out the door.
My next appointment wasn't for another ten weeks due to some insurance issues. I was seen while I was visiting family in Michigan. My sister in law took me to my next appointment. She waited in the waiting room while I got an ultrasound done by myself. I remember the room being dim and warm, and the lady there was so nice. She spoke in a soothing voice which calmed my nerves. I so badly wished Brandon could have been at that appointment with me. I heard the heartbeat and saw a little human growing. I started to cry when the lady had said the baby was growing normally. I was having mixed emotions of being relieved the baby was okay, sad that Brandon couldn't experience this moment with me, and excited that I was hearing the heartbeat of the baby we created.  
On February 21th 2014 I felt the baby kick for the first time. I was lying in bed watching TV as I felt this movement I hadn't felt before. I wasn't sure if it was gas or if it was the baby. I put my hand over the area and waited. It happened again but this time my stomach poked out so I knew it had to be a kick. I started tearing up, now being able to feel what was growing inside of my belly.
On February 25th I had another appointment to find out what the sex was. I was almost 19 weeks at the time. Ever since I became pregnant, I had this gut feeling it was a girl. I was having dreams about having a little girl and I just knew something was telling me it was going to be a girl.
Well, at the appointment, my assumption was confirmed. The lady asked what Brandon and I thought it was. We looked at each other and both said "girl". She said, "well it looks like you are right, you're having a girl!." I believe my first comment was "I told you, I just knew it was going to be a girl!!". 
Again I started crying (silly pregnancy hormones)  while we watched our baby girl move on the screen. It was the first time she looked like a baby on the ultrasound. All of the other ultrasound she was still forming but this time we could see the head, legs, arms, fingers, toes and heart.
It was in that moment I fell in love with her. To me she looked perfect. Watching her move on the screen while simultaneously feeling her move in my belly was a feeling I can't describe. All of my fears melted away as I watched her move. I peeked over at Brandon to see he was tearing up also. He grabbed my hand as we sat there staring at what we created.
This perfect, unexpected surprise.