Friday, September 25, 2009

Avery is 3 Weeks Old...Mom is 25!

Today is my birthday...25 on the 25th. This year, I must say I have the best gift ever! Avery is 3 weeks old and growing so fast! I weighed her yesterday at the Breast Feeding Support Group and she is now 7.11, which means she gained a little more than a lb in a week! Her umbilical cord stump actually fell off exactly 21 days after she was born, so she is going to get to take her first real bath very soon.

She is a side sleeper, just like her Mommy and even sticks her butt out like me. She has hiccups at least 3 times a day but never gets upset with them. This isn't a surprise though, because she had them all the time in the womb. She also sucks her thumb when she can find it!
She is so alert and has started to really pay attention to the mobile and mirror on her swing. She is finally able to fit into some of her newborn outfits and she is absolutely adorable in them.

So far, she is still napping and eating well. Sometimes she fights sleep a little, but eventually goes down. She will take a bottle, but when we tried to substitute it for nursing at her 2:00 feeding she would not go back to sleep. We concluded that she liked the food, but needed the nursing for the comfort to fall back asleep. So, I decided I would rather spend an 45 min. nursing than 3.5 hrs. trying to get her to fall back asleep and all has been good since. Hopefully she will be sleeping through the night in a few weeks anyways. Sometimes we give her a bottle around 6:00 p.m. instead, just so Levi can enjoy feeding her too.

I had my first scary mom moment yesterday. My blood sugar plummeted and I had to call my mom to come over to help me and to take care of Avery. After I got home from the support group, I started feeling dizzy. I got through feeding Avery and thought that I better lay down. She needed her diaper changed and during that I continued to get more dizzy. I remember thinking that I wouldn't be able to carry her from the changing pad to our bedroom. Somehow I did, but when I laid down in our bed, the entire room was spinning and I felt incredibly nauseous. So, I called mom and she left work immediately. Avery started crying and I managed to get her up on my chest and she fell asleep; Thank God! When mom got there, I had stumbled to the bath room to get the garbage can and was leaning on the wall because I couldn't stand. She helped me back to the bed and got me a cold wash cloth. About 2 minutes later, everything came up. Mom then watched Avery and I slept for almost 2 hrs. After discussing my food intake for the day and activities, we determined it was blood sugar. I have a history of these attacks, but haven't had one since college in 2006. Being sick as a mom with a little one, is so different than being sick alone. I was so worried about her and worried that I was going to pass out. I am going to be a lot more aware from now on about eating.

Until next time...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

9/1/09: The Day the Journey Began

I want to write about the day Avery was born. Not so much for the blog world, but for us, so that we will not forget the details. It was a lengthy event, so it is a long post. Levi's comments are in blue. The pictures are from the very end of the pregnancy.

At 3:00 on Monday, August 30th I had my 40 week Drs. appointment. Dr. Smith checked and I was still right at 3 cm and 90% effaced. Avery had moved down a little more and was sitting right on top of my cervix, ready to come at any point. The week before we had talked about inducing and he had said that if all was well with this appointment, he didn't see any reason we couldn't go ahead with it. The 30th, we talked about it again and he felt like she was perfect and that Tuesday would be a great day to for us to welcome her to the world. As we left the office, we let the idea of being parents within the next 24 hrs. set in, called all of our family, and ended the night with final packing and Captain D's. When we laid down, Levi said a prayer for our new family and we got the last night of straight 8 hr. sleep we will have for a long while! Avery moved around lots that night, which made me very sentimental and happy. I think it was a gift from God to feel her move that much, one last time before she entered the world!

At 6:45, on Tuesday, September 1st, Levi and I arrived at EAMC to begin the process of meeting our baby girl. Before we got there though, I had to have an egg and cheese biscuit from Hardees. That was my favorite breakfast treat throughout pregnancy! Levi ate a few bites of my biscuit, but was a little too nervous about the day to eat one of his own that early :) When we got there, it was cloudy and it looked like it was going to rain. They got us set up in room 3129 and my nurse, Sharon, came in to explain the process of induction. I had hoped I would be able to walk around some during labor to help with the contractions, but soon realized, that hooked up to Pitocin I would only be able to walk to the bathroom and sit some in the rocking chair. That was a little disappointing...but I was still excited that we were on our way. Just as I was about to begin having my first child, on the Today Show, the Dugger's were announcing they were having their 19th...Crazy People!

At about 9:00, Dr. Smith came in to check me and do insert a Foley bulb to help effacement along. Right about the time he started to insert the bulb, my water broke on its own! (It was like Emily was sitting in a kiddie pool. I thought the ceiling might have started leaking right above the bed.) So it turns out we would have been there that day any ways! At this point it was raining really hard and steady. Dr. Smith said that rain makes for a perfect day for delivering babies and that all our room needed was a faux fire place to make it a completely cozy environment! When he starts to design delivery rooms he is certainly going to make that standard! It wasn't long until I was hooked to the Pitocin and waiting for the contractions to begin. Every 30 minutes, Sharon would come in and up the dose I was receiving, which increased the duration and intensity. By 11:30 I was practicing my breathing exercises and experiencing "Active Labor."

At about 11:45 Levi's parents arrived at the hospital and came in to see us for a little while. My family all arrived in the waiting room a short time later. Levi and I decided that we wanted the whole experience to be between us, so I did not have any visitors back in the delivery room after Levi's parent left. It was lunch time and although I couldn't eat anything solid, one of my family members went to get Levi Jim Bob's. (Possibly the best chicken fingers I have ever eaten. I skipped breakfast, remember?) The smell made me a little nauseous and I was glad when he finished eating. I had some orange jello, Sprite, and CranGrape Juice.

As my contractions started to get more consistent and regular, Avery's heart rate began to drop. It would go from 145 to 75 or lower without any warning. The nurses monitor your progress from their desk and come in when they see a problem. Upon seeing this they came in and first put me on my left side to see if it would stabilize. This worked for a little while, but then it happened again. You could see my contraction level go up, and then her heart rate immediately dip. This time, they stopped the Pitocin and put the oxygen mask on me. For the rest of the labor, she was completely intolerant of me laying on my back or right side.

After several hours of active, painful back labor, and only progressing to 6 cm, I decided to get an epidural. I asked for it at about 3:15 and struggled through contractions every 2 minutes until 4:00 when they finally got there to give me the shot. It was so quick and easy. (Apparently they call the anesthesiologist "Hurricane." I have never seen a medical procedure performed so fast. I thought Emily would never walk again.) I didn't have a contraction during it, which made me very thankful. Right before he got there though, I had a small breakdown. Levi was standing in front of me for support and I had a terrible contraction. I think I nearly pulled his shirt off and after it the tears just began to pour. (It would have been really akward for the doctor to enter the room and catch me shirtless...) I didn't think he was ever going to get there to give the epidural! For about an hour after though, all was great...then the shaking started.

I shook uncontrollably pretty much the rest of the the delivery. The oxygen would help to stop it for short periods and then it would return. It made me terribly sick to my stomach. They started the Pitocin again and my contractions started to get a little more normal. Avery's heartbeat continued to drop intermittently and I continued to get more sick. At about 7:30 I had progressed to 8 cm. Dr. Smith though was worried that she wasn't dropping more. He felt that if my contractions were as strong as the monitor was showing that she should be coming further down. He told me that there was a possibility that she may not fit through my pelvis and that we might have to do a C-section, but wanted to try a couple of things first. So, they did an Amnio Infusion, which involved putting more fluid inside my uterus to help cushion the baby. They also started monitoring my contractions and her heart beat internally. From here until she was born, the room was pretty much silent. I couldn't talk because I was so nauseous (I was nauseous because America's Got Talent was the only thing on TV that night) and Levi didn't talk because he was so nervous about everything that was going on. I cried a little more and Levi did what he does best, comforted me.

At 10:15 Dr. Smith came in and at long last declared that I was fully dilated, the baby was in perfect position, and that I could start pushing! We were not going to have to have a C-section afterall! My nurse, Beth, who was amazing, started preparing the bed and getting everything ready for the baby to arrive. Because I couldn't feel my legs, she and Levi held them while I pushed. (I remember thinking that I did not sign on for this!) I was nervous that I wouldn't push correctly, but apparently I did really well for being completely numb. Levi watched the whole thing and only got a little light headed a couple of times. I didn't look, but I will take his word for it on how amazing it was. (I guess the adrenaline started flowing at some point. I swore through the whole pregnancy that I did not want to see any of the action on that end of the bed and I would stay near Emily's head. The problem is that there is no escape and once I allowed myself to look I couldn't turn away.) Who could blame him, it was really intense! After 45 minutes of pushing and throwing up once (on Beth and me)...Dr. Smith arrived to deliver. I think I did three sets of pushing and then her head popped out. He suctioned her and then she just came on out without another push. She was born at 11:12 pm. We later learned that our families had started taking bets on if she would make before midnight!

As I relaxed from the hard work, I waited to hear the sound every mother is desperate for; her cry. At first it sounded like a little kitten, not very strong, which made me worry. I asked if she was OK and Dr. Smith said she was perfect, just to give her a second. Sure enough before long, she was screaming. Levi and I both agree that it was the sweetest sound! Finally I began to tear up. Levi cut her cord and then they laid her on me. (This was much easier than I thought it would be also.) I kissed her forehead and then Levi. Wow, such an overwhelming moment and representation of God's goodness! They took her and finished cleaning her...Levi followed to take pictures. He said it was when she grabbed on to his finger that he started to tear up. Dr. Smith finished with me...I didn't have to have an episiotomy and tore only a little. I just had two tiny stitches. (Somehow I turned around just in time to witness the stitches and afterbirth too...)

A few minutes later we attempted nursing for the first time...not much success but sweet none the less. Levi then went to get our family and the fun really began. Of course they didn't know her name yet, so they were thrilled to finally meet Miss Avery Caroline and then proceeded to pass her around joyfully to one another. I was starving and my awesome brother sacrificed his initial time to hold Avery and volunteered to go on a food run for me. Since it was mid-night, my choices were limited, but I finally settled on popcorn chicken from Sonic. Like Levi's chicken fingers from earlier, this could have been the best meal I have ever had.

Overall, I have never felt so many different feelings all at once. I was excited, scared, happy, nervous, overjoyed, nauseous and anxious. I was completely in love with Levi the whole time. When she was born, it was the most precious thing I have yet to experience with him. Our love and marriage reached a new depth and now has an even greater see this beautiful gift from God grow to love Him with all of her being. People have asked, "Was it worse than you expected?" and the answer is yes...much worse! But it was worth every minute of pain, sickness, and effort it took to get her here. After only three weeks I can definitely say I look forward to doing it again...Some Day...but definitely not 9 months from now for sure!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Avery's Newborn Pictures

Many of you have already seen Ashley Gentry's beautiful work with our precious Avery. If you have not though, visit her blog at to see a few of the priceless images she captured. Ashley you take amazing pictures. Thank you so much for sharing your gift with us!

Friday, September 18, 2009

2 Weeks Old and Reflections

Avery is 2 weeks old and is already changing so much. After I feed her, we talk, sing, kiss, and cuddle and sometimes I can get her to laugh and give me a really big smile. I promise I am not lying about the tiny laugh. She loves her time with Daddy in the afternoons too. Levi loves to cuddle with her and read all the latest about Auburn football to her. She is so bright eyed lately. She sometimes sucks on her thumb when mama is trying to get ready to feed her and when she is content, she folds her hands together and lays them on her chest. She can sleep on both her side and her back. We love her more than we ever thought we could!

We went for our final lactation check up on Tuesday and she was back to her birth weight which was 6 lb. 10 oz. When we were discharged from the hospital she weighed 6. 5 and at our first check up 4 days later she weighed 6.3, so she did really well putting her weight back on!

Levi went back to work this past Monday and we are both tired from our first week of "real life." Thankfully, we have great friends and family who have been providing us with meals these first few weeks. I am not pushing myself to be super woman. I get up each day with a list of goals to accomplish in my mind and try to complete as many as possible. But if I don't get to a few, that is ok and I don't worry about it. Levi is a huge help. When he gets home, he goes on diaper duty and at night he changes her before and after I feed her, then puts her back to bed. We are definitely a team :)

Avery is truly a joy. I know I have said this before, but it is 100% true. She eats, looks around and smiles for a little while, naps and then starts the process all over again about 6 times a day. Her last feeding ends around 9:45 and then she goes down until about 2:15 and after I feed her, she doesn't wake back up till about 6:15. What a blessing! One piece of parenting that is absolutely amazing is the number of diapers you go through in a day. The best is when you change one and not two seconds later it needs to be changed again!

The first week we were home was really tough on me emotionally. The Baby Blues is a true term, and I have felt comforted by many moms who tell me they experienced the same feelings. It was really strange to be so happy and sad at the same time. I could think about anything...the birth, the pregnancy, our marriage, the future, the past, and I would start tearing up. Your hormones are just so crazy and everything transitions really fast, so much faster than you prepared yourself for. It was hard for me to deal with not being pregnant any more. No more weekly drs. appointments, no more updating people on when she would be here, no more feeling her move inside of me...but I focused on how much in those last couple of days we wanted her here and longed to meet her. Levi and my family were awesome in supporting and taking care of me.

Now, I am happy to report that I am feeling much better and almost back to normal. I was actually able to get through an episode of baby story without crying yesterday and today! It definitely feels like she is part of the family now and we are working to treasure every second of her being tiny. There again, it makes me so sad and happy at the same time to think about her growing up...

I am off to get ready for our date night. Mom is keeping Avery tonight so Levi and I can have some us time. Gotta keep the love flame burning!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

War Eagle!

Levi and I did our part this year to add to the Auburn Family! We can't wait till she can sing the fight song and shout War Eagle!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One Week Old!

Everything around here is going really well. Other than me being emotional at the drop of a hat, I am doing great. Avery is eating like a champ and sleeping well too. Levi and I feel just so incredibly blessed. He has been amazing in every way. He is definitely putting in to action the love he has for his two girls :)

We had our visit with the Lactation Consultant on Monday and got a good report. Her weight was 6 lb. 3 oz. and her jaundice levels were good. Her discharge weight from the hospital was 6 lb. 5 oz. I know she is gaining it back a little each day because she is eating like a little pig at every feeding!

Levi took the pictures below of her soaking up some sunshine! Please continue to pray for me, especially for next week, when Levi goes back to work.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Avery Caroline!

Avery Caroline made her debut on September 1, 2009 at 11:12 p.m. She weighed 6 lbs. 10 oz. and was 20 in. long. I will post lots of details about the labor later. Thank you for all of the sweet comments, thoughts, and prayers. Levi and I are so thankful for all of our friends and family and can't wait to introduce her to everyone! We got to leave the hospital at 8:00 Thursday night and have been settling in ever since. So far, Avery has been a complete joy and has done really well through the night. Nursing is going really well too! The hard part has been that we both have/ had pretty bad colds and haven't been able to sleep well due to them.

Wow, I am now a Mom...Levi is a Dad...We are Parents...and couldn't be more blessed and thankful for every moment we have with her! The pictures are in reverse order of how the events transpired. Notice in the last one the difference in my hair and overall appearance from when I first got to the hospital, to when she was actually born!

More to come on the experience later!