Wednesday, January 31, 2018

It's a girl!

We have a baby girl! Addison Isabel Easton was born on December 1, 2017 at 8pm, weighing 8 lbs 1oz and measuring 21 inches long.

My pregnancy went pretty well. Varicose veins made the last ten weeks of pregnancy uncomfortable but, luckily, we had cooler weather for most of that so it wasn't unbearably hot wearing knee high compression socks every day. We chose not to find out if the baby was a boy or a girl at the 20 week ultrasound. It made buying baby clothes a little tricky (sorry Mom!) but it made the birth all the more exciting.

Around 32 weeks along, we discovered the baby was not head down (AKA breech presentation). This wasn't a big concern yet as babies can still be moving around at that point, but I started making efforts to get the baby to turn so it didn't become an issue. Between doing Spinning Babies stretches, going to a chiropractor, getting a priesthood blessing, and trying Chinese moxibustion, something helped the baby to flip around 35 weeks and stay head down the rest of the pregnancy. 

My mom planned to fly from California on November 29th to help with the birth. My due date was December 5th and since I've had babies born at 38 and 39 weeks, she was worried she wouldn't get here to Indiana soon enough. At 37 weeks I was already 3 cm dilated and 50% effaced so it was a valid concern. Luckily, I tried my hardest not to go into labor (if that's even possible) by taking it easy, keeping my feet up and not cooking Thanksgiving dinner (we have wonderful friends who invited us to eat with them). My house was not nearly as clean and organized as I wanted it to be when my mom arrived, but I was still pregnant, so mission accomplished!

On the morning of Friday December 1st, I started having contractions around 9:30am. I was cautiously optimistic that this was the start of labor, so I started timing them. Right away, they were coming every 5-7 minutes.  From 10-11am, they were coming every 4 minutes. Since I tested positive for Group B strep again, I wanted to get to the hospital sooner rather than laboring mostly at home. I wanted to get 2 full doses of antibiotics in (with 4 hours between doses) so they wouldn't have to treat the baby for infection after birth.

I called the hospital to speak to the midwife on-call, who happened to be the same midwife who delivered Bennett. I had seen her at my appointment the day before and she knew I was close to labor. She asked if I could still speak through contractions. I told her I can usually speak through my contractions right up until the end so that wouldn't really help with gauging progress. She agreed that this was likely labor. The hospital was very full that day, so she asked me to come to the outpatient office (where I normally went for visits) rather than the hospital to be checked since they didn't even have space in L&D triage.

Mckay and I packed some things up and we left, while my mom stayed home with Bennett. We stopped at Jimmy Johns to pick up some lunch on the way over to the hospital, knowing it could be a while before we ate again. We got to the outpatient building before 1pm. At this point, the contractions were coming every 3 minutes. They were increasing in intensity but still very manageable. After being checked (I think I was about 6cm?), my midwife said they were getting a room ready for us and we made our way over to the hospital.

Final belly shot at 39 weeks, 3 days.

We got settled in and I was hooked up to monitors for some initial monitoring of the baby while I answered a billion questions I know they already have answers to on file. ("No, my address hasn't changed since my last appointment an hour ago.") I could tell the nurse I had was new to working with the midwives, who favor a low intervention and hands-off approach as directed by the laboring mother. After I got the first dose of antibiotics around 2pm, I asked the nurse when I could be unhooked from the fetal monitors and IV. She said that those would stay throughout labor. I replied, "No, I want to get up and walk around." She went to check with the midwife who assured me I could disconnect (keeping a saline lock on my hand for the next dose of antibiotics). There were a few other times when the nurse would say to for me to do something, only for me to check with the midwife to find that wasn't the case. So when the nurse told me I needed to lay down in the bed with monitors on because the baby's heart rate wasn't responding to contractions well, I was hesitant to believe her. When my midwife came in and said the same thing a few seconds later, I was more willing to comply. 

After about 15-20 minutes of laying on my side in bed and drinking a sugary soda to wake the baby up, they were no longer concerned and I was able to get up and move around again. My mom and Bennett came over to the hospital to visit for a while. Bennett seemed very unphased by being at the hospital and seeing me there in a hospital gown. He was very sweet and well behaved. Around 3:30pm, my mom left with Bennett to pick up the other kids from the bus stop and take them all over to the Madsen's house to play and be watched while she came back over to the hospital with us. 

We played card games and watched some TV while we passed the time. Contractions were still coming every 2-3 minutes and I had to focus on breathing through some of them, but I was still feeling pretty great. With the hospital being so packed and busy that day, the nurses and midwife had lots of other people to tend to. And since I was feeling great and didn't need much attention, my midwife didn't spend a ton of time in our room like she had in the past since there were other moms who needed her more.

We had a few good ideas for girl names, but still did not have a boy name we could agree on. We spent a good part of the afternoon/evening spouting off as many boy names as we could, each name more ridiculous than the last. We made little progress on actual candidates.

It was time for the second does of antibiotics after 6pm. With that second dose in, we could consider options to speed things along a little, like breaking my water. I wanted the boys to be able to come over to visit that night and meet the baby, and I knew that labor would go very quickly for me once my water broke, so I was strongly considering it. First, my midwife said she would have to check with someone (the nurses desk maybe?) to see if it was ok to break my water. I was confused at first on why she would need anyone's permission other than mine, but I think it had to do with how full the hospital was. If there was no space for me to have a recovery room in the Mother/Baby wing, then they probably couldn't let her "speed up" my labor for no medical reason. She got permission and broke my water. 

At some time during the antibiotic dose and the breaking of my water they brought the inflatable birthing tub into the room and began filling it. Mckay took over the job of filling it with water and making sure the temperature was just right. Once it was filled I got in. Contractions were picking up in intensity and I loved how the warm water helped to diffuse that intensity. I labored for about an hour in the tub.

I'd guess it was around 7:30/7:40pm (I wasn't paying attention to the clock so I'm a little hazy on the timeline) that contractions became very intense. I asked for the TV to be turned off and really had to focus on calm breathing to get through them. My contractions  quickly went from being manageable to very uncomfortable. It was around the time that Mckay's outlandish baby name suggestions stopped being funny that I knew the baby would be coming soon, so I asked Mckay to stop with the names and to fetch the midwife. I was beginning to feel pressure. I've previously pushed babies out very quickly, in under 5 minutes, and had some tearing with that. This time, I tried really hard to push slowly to avoid tearing. I'm not sure how slow or fast I was but after some minutes of very intense pressure the baby was out at 8pm exactly! 

I pulled the baby quickly up out of the water and onto my chest. It was such a big relief to be done with labor and to have a sweet baby in my arms that I momentarily forgot that we didn't know if the baby was a boy or a girl. I pulled her away from my chest for a quick second and saw that we had a girl! I think I said, "Is that a girl?! Is this a girl?!" I think being exhausted, worn out and hungry, I wasn't sure I could trust my eyes. I thought we would be having a girl, but part of me didn't want to think it could really be true because I didn't want to be disappointed by whatever child we were blessed with. So when I saw she was in fact a girl, I was overcome with joy. Mckay and I both cried a little.
I don't think I've ever cried after labor before.

We took turns snuggling her while they checked us both over. I didn't need any stitches this time which really made a huge difference in how quickly I recovered. I was feeling pretty great after only a few days.

Shortly after Addison was born, my mom went to pick the boys up from the Madsen's house and brought them to the hospital. She told them the baby was born but didn't say if if she was a boy or girl. They had all been hoping for a sister. When they walked into the room and heard she was a girl, Dallin started jumping up and down, cheering, "I knew it! I knew she was a girl!!" They all took turns holding her.

I'll take a moment here for a shout out to my wonderful friend Maren. She watched the kids all afternoon/evening for us at a moment's notice (along with her own 4 kids), fed them dinner, and sent some homemade cookies with them to the hospital. You can see the bag of cookies in the above picture, on the left side of the window. Those cookies were so delicious and especially welcome as the first thing I ate post labor. Maren is the best!

Mckay is also the best for going out to pick up some food for us to eat and continuing the tradition of bringing me ice cream after delivery.

The nurses told us that we would likely stay the night in the delivery room instead of moving to a recovery room 2 hours post birth (the standard) because the hospital was so full and rooms were limited. Delivery rooms are bigger anyway so I was perfectly fine with not moving. Mckay, Addison and I settled in for the night. Around 2AM, our nurse came in, turned on the lights, waking us, and exclaimed in what was probably a normal voice but loud for 2AM, "Great news! There is a recovery room open for you in the mother/baby wing so we're going to move you there right now." I can only imagine how my face looked, but's Mckay's definitely did not look like this was great news at all. We groggily gathered our things and changed rooms. The nurse said when the room became available she said, "My patients get that room! They've been here the longest." She kept talking about how she really "fought" for us. She really shouldn't have.

The rest of the hospital stay was pretty uneventful. They checked her biliruben level twice and it was zero both times. The nurse thought the handheld testing device was broken because it only showed a zero. Then she realized that was the correct number. Addison was a very red baby!

When Bennett was born and I was GBS positive for his delivery, the hospital made a big deal about letting us go home before the standard 48 hour hospital stay. (You can read about his birth story HERE.) Being GBS positive again for Addison's birth, we wondered if it was worth fighting the hospital policy again or just waiting the full 48 hours until 8pm to go home. Sunday morning, I was cleared by my midwife to go home and the on-call pediatrician came in to evaluate Addison. We asked the pediatrician if  we could go home early, and he nonchalantly said, "Sure, I don't see a problem with that. She looks great." We were amazed! Clearly, the hospital "policy" that was thrown in our face so much last time is more of a guideline.

It always takes longer than I think to pack up, go through all the discharge information and do the newborn screening heel stick, so we got home from the hospital around 6pm. 

The boys all love holding her every chance they get.
The first night she was home, Bennett picked her up by himself while we weren't looking, carried her to a couch and set her down. I saw the very end of it happening. After recovering from the mild panic attack I had in that moment and wishing I hadn't yelled at him, it occurred to me that Bennett hasn't been around babies much and genuinely didn't know what the right/wrong things are for him to do with the baby. We've since had many discussion with all of them about being gentle with her.

My mom stayed for two weeks and it was a big help. She took care of the older kids, helping them pack lunches and get to school every morning. She played with Bennett and kept him busy, and she kept us all well fed. She took care of Addison late at night so I could get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. She is great.

Addison survived her first bath.
Even with Bennett "helping."

We all love her a whole bunch.

Read Dallin's birth story HERE.
Connor's brith story HERE.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Happy Birthday Connor

Connor is 5 now!
 I asked Connor some questions about himself. Here are his answers (with my comments in parentheses).

Connor, according to Connor (Age 5)

Favorite color: red, for fire

Favorite game: Guess Who (the old-school game)

Favorite tv show: Transformers Rescue Bots and PJ masks. "Transformers isn't better than PJ Masks and PJ Masks isn't better than Transformers. They're both the same like."

Favorite book: A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems

I really like to wear: my shark shirt

I love: cake

Favorite animal: cheetah and armadillo. When asked which animal would win in a one-on-one battle: "Armadillo, 'cause it can roll into a ball and has armor all around and under him. And then when he jumps into the cheetahs face it just Boom! Bonks him in the face."

favorite stuffed animal: octopus
(He just got this for his birthday. I made it.)

Favorite breakfast: cereal, cookie crisp or frosted flakes

Favorite lunch: chicken nuggets or a hot dog

Favorite dinner: corn dogs

food you don't like: onions

what are you really good at: drawing

Best Friend: Ellen (she moved away a few months ago and Connor misses her)

Are you going to get married when you grow up? Yes
To whom? Maddie (a friend from church who we see all the time at playgroup, the library, etc.)

What do you love to do with mom: go on bike rides

With dad: build things, help him with projects. But I couldn't help him with his thesis, cause I didn't know any words I could write.

With Dallin: play legos and swing outside

With Bennett: running away from Bennett when he's chasing us with a lightsaber and we have to run until we get to the secret base.

I would describe myself as: a painter.

What do you want to be when you grow up: a painter. (He changed to this answer about 2 months ago. Before that, his answer was an animal doctor.  Before that, it was librarian. He asked if he was allowed to change his mind on what job he wanted to have as a grown up. I told him he could still change his mind lots of times and that he has many years before he REALLY has to decide.)

Connor loves to learn. He loves to ask a lot of questions (which is very tiring at times) because he likes to understand how things work. He likes looking at maps, and he asks me to draw him maps of the roads we're driving on to follow while we're driving. After using several poorly drawn maps, we gave him some free ones from the Lafayette visitors center as a birthday gift. He is so excited to start marking all our favorite landmarks in town.

We also got Connor a bigger, surprise present. Here is a video of him opening it.

We love our Connor boy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Connor's 5th Birthday

Connor's birthday in October is always at a busy time of year when all our weekends are filled up with Halloween parties, piano recitals, etc., so his birthdays are usually a family-only affair. This year, he really wanted to have a party with some friends, and we made it happen. The only time that worked for us was a weekday morning, which meant that his 5 year old friends already in Kindergarten couldn't come, but it worked out really well for the preschool crowd. Connor wanted an animal themed party. That's a pretty easy theme to throw together at the last minute (which is what I did!). 

When the kids first arrived, they decorated paper animal masks (found at Hobby Lobby).

Then we played a few games. Monkey bean bag toss.
I drew the monkey free hand on poster board, added details and color and attached to a large cardboard box.

Then they played an Elephant peanut race.
The kids had to push a shelled peanut with their nose across the floor to the finish line. This was actually harder than I thought it would be.

For the next game, the kids each had a straw to be their elephant trunk. They had to suck air through the straw to pick up foam packing peanuts with their "trunk" and move it into a bowl.
You could make this into a competition to see who could pick up the most peanuts, but these young kids just enjoyed the process and worked together to fill bowls. And they were all so quiet with straws in their mouths! This game was a win!

Then it was lunch time. I used our sandwich shape cutters to make elephant and penguin shaped bread.
 Everyone got to make their own sandwich.

Sides: animal crackers (obviously), tiger tails (cheetos puffs), apple boats (I'm not sure why, but that's what Connor called these apple slices), watermelon, and lion hummus.
I love the way the lion turned out.

Connor helped me decorate the cupcakes to look like monkeys and pandas. 
Connor placed most of the candy eyes on the monkeys, which is why it looks like they're all looking up surprised. We used m&ms, mini oreos, chocolate chips and sprinkles to make the rest of the details.

He looks very serious here, but I promise he was super excited to eat the panda.

I forgot to put these out with lunch, so they became a party favor to take home: tiger cutie oranges!
So simple but pretty adorable.

The decorations were also simple but I loved how it looked. I taped strips of green streamers to the ceiling to look like jungle vines. Connor cut out some paper leaves to attach to a few of the vines.

 The easiest part of decorating was using all the stuffed animals we already had at home and putting them on any surface that would hold them.
Like on on the ceiling fan, the couches, the TV cabinet...
and the curtain rods.

 Connor wanted me to take a picture of him coloring in a new coloring book he got as a gift at his party.

 We had a fun time and played pretty hard. So hard that Connor wiped out on the couch not to long after.
Snuggled up with his octopus.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Dallin's Superhero party

Dallin just turned seven! We had a birthday party for him with some of his friends. We suggested a superhero themed party and he was on board. If it was completely up to him, I think he would have chosen another Star Wars party. The best date for it happened to be the same Saturday as General Conference (at 12pm in the Eastern time zone), so we made it a morning party. We embraced Dallin's love for pancakes and made it part of the theme: it was a Superhero Pancake Breakfast Pajama Party!
I made the invitations on Picmonkey.

The Star Wars bunting from his last party got an update. I flipped it over (so all the Star Wars characters are still intact) and attached superhero/Avengers images. 
I went with paper cutout this time and taped them on with scotch tape, so this decoration is super temporary.
I cut out the Avengers characters from some Valentine cards we had leftover. Who knew a $1 box of Valentines would be so useful?

(You can see Yoda's ears poking out from behind a few of the flags. I mean to tuck them behind, but then I almost enjoyed seeing him hiding there.

Mckay and I dressed up for the party.
Mckay was "Marathon Man." He has the super ability to run 26.2 miles in just over 4 hours! 

I was "Super Mom." Teething babies drooling all over my shirt won't stop me at all!

We started right out with eating breakfast. We had banana muffins, an egg and ham casserole, fresh fruit, and pancakes in various superhero shapes.

I made spiderwebs (for Spiderman), the Batman logo, Captain America's shield, and The Hulk's face.
It was fun to try out different pancakes shapes. I don't think the "art" pancakes taste as good as regular pancakes. Maybe because they're thinner and not as fluffy, or maybe because the batter is overworked which makes them tougher. The kids didn't seem to mind at all though. They loved the cool shapes.

Making a lot of the food ahead of time really helped when having a morning party at 9am. I made all the pancakes the night before, then froze them on baking sheets. In the morning, I popped them into a warm oven (about 200 degrees) in a single layer on the pan until warmed through. The egg casserole was mixed together and sat overnight in the refrigerator, then baked in the morning. The muffins I had made a few days before and warmed them before serving. All I had to do the morning of the party was cut fruit and warm food. It was pretty easy!

After eating, it was time for superhero training. First, to be a superhero, everyone needed a costume. I had simple white capes for the kids to decorate with fabric markers and stickers.

I also sewed some easy felt masks.
Mask pattern found here.

 Everyone put on their cape and mask and listened to Mckay's training.
They played several different games with balloons.

Some of the balloons had signs on them. (Words bubbles found here.)
Using their best "splat," "pop," "bam" and "pow" moves, they had to get all the balloons onto the other team's side.

They played a round where they all threw balloons at Mckay and he had to dodge them. I think they all enjoyed that one the most.

 Then Dallin opened his presents.
He got tons of cool Star Wars and superhero gifts.

I printed these cool cupcake toppers (found here). It was way easier and cheaper than anything I would have found at a store.
As an added bonus, this was easy to do at home the night before when I remembered I hadn't planned any cupcake decorations. :)

Dallin had to blow really hard to get the candles out.

After everyone left, Dallin immediately asked to open the Legos he got. 
They spent the next several hours like this.

Dallin had a blast. I'd say this is another successful birthday party in the books!