Thursday, July 31, 2014

E.J. Meets Papa

Now that we've got the birth story and hospital talk out of the way, let's catch up on some other things that have been happening since E.J. came along!

About one week after E.J. was born, my dad came up for a visit to meet him. The visit was cut a little shorter than anticipated due to illness, but I think E.J. enjoyed his first encounter with his Papa, and I know Ellie liked having some Papa time. He joined her for story time on Friday, and we all drove past our new rental house (I promise, I'll talk about this eventually) and hit a playground on Saturday. And, E.J. and my dad got in some good quality time while we put Ellie to bed on Friday night.

My dad holding E.J. for the first time

Ellie and her Papa playing at story time and the playground

E.J. and Papa hanging out in the evening

Thanks for coming, Dad/Papa!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

We're Home!

E.J. and I are home from the hospital! We were discharged Monday morning and we are so excited to be back home and together with Eric and Ellie as a family of four again.

That was a long two weeks in the hospital, but well worth it because E.J. is healthy as can be now. His fever broke the Thursday after we first went in (July 17), and he was fever-free for the rest of his stay. They continued to give him the full dose of antibiotics for 14 days, and usually at the end of all that they would do a CT scan or MRI to check for any damage the illness may have done to the brain. However, in E.J.'s case, because he was fever-free for as long as he was and never had seizures or anything to indicate possible problems in the brain, they didn't see the need to subject him to unnecessary radiation. So, no scan necessary, just instructions to follow up with our pediatrician in a few days!

E.J. was a rock star through the whole thing. He was such a trooper. He was subjected to so much - blood draws, catheter, spinal tap, a couple of different x-rays, nasal swab, respiratory testing, IVs (including many, many failed attempts to get one in), a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter), shots, constantly-beeping monitors, and of course, endless poking and prodding by doctors and nurses alike. He was so brave, though. The nurses even said he didn't cry at all when they inserted his PICC line, only when they removed the tape that was restraining his arm. Everyone gushed over how good and sweet and brave he was. I am one proud mama.

A superhero Band-Aid for one superhero baby

It was so, so hard to watch my brand new baby be subjected to all of that, though, and E.J. was the recipient of many a tearful apology from me. I hated that he had to go through all of that, and that I couldn't protect him from his illness or the whole ordeal, and I couldn't make it stop. The guilt was strong (presumably only amplified by the fact that I was still less than two weeks postpartum and on a hormonal rollercoaster anyway) - as a parent, you know you won't always be able to protect your child from hurt and illness and difficult situations. But, you at least hope you can make it two weeks, right? Here he was, less than two weeks old, going through such an ordeal. I felt horrible and I just wanted to take it all away for him.

But really, things got better as the stay went on. After E.J.'s fever broke we were able to stop worrying a bit, and finally getting a diagnosis was a relief (even if it was essentially a diagnosis of "we don't really know what this is, so we'll just call it something and get on with our lives"). Things were still crazy though, just by nature of being in the hospital. I complained a lot about hardly having a moment's peace, because people were constantly in and out of our room:

  • The techs came by every four hours to check E.J.'s temperature. That meant every four hours, the poor kid was being woken up by a thermometer up his butt. Yes, even at 4:00 a.m. Fun for everyone!
  • The techs also checked his blood pressure every morning and weighed him every night.
  • The nurses came in to check him at every change of shift and generally checked on us throughout the day.
  • The nurses also came by to administer his medication every six hours. He received two antibiotics in each dose, both by IV. Each took a half hour to administer. So, around 12:00 a.m./p.m. or 6:00 a.m./p.m., the nurse would come in, flush his PICC line, hook him up to the IV and start the first medication. A half hour later (after the IV started beeping SO LOUDLY), she would come back and change out the syringe to start the next medication. A half hour after that (and more beeping), she would return, flush his line again and unhook him. Repeat the process again in six hours.
  • He was checked on by at least two doctors every day: the primary pediatrician and a resident. In the peak of craziness, he was also visited by many other doctors.
  • Aside from all the medical checks, the Food & Nutrition people came by six times each day for my meals (drop off/pick up a tray for each meal). We were also regularly visited by the "Wolfie Wagon" selling snacks and gifts, cleaning crew, and various other professionals: financial assistance, safety checks, etc.
E.J. hooked up to his IV for a dose of his meds

As E.J.'s condition improved things did get a little better - first, they removed all his monitors so I was finally able to hold him and snuggle him without fear of disconnecting any wires (which meant loud, incessant, stressful beeping every time I tried to hold my child). Then, we were able to talk them down to just checking his temperature every eight hours instead of every four. By the end of our stay, the techs had pretty much learned that if he was sleeping, I would refuse the check regardless, and they were okay with that. Just let the poor kid sleep already! The doctor visits slowed down (though we still saw two doctors every morning), and when they did come by it was generally just a quick, "Hey, is he still doing okay? Great. Any questions? No? Well, just keep on keeping on, then." But, even with the decreased monitoring/disruptions, you better believe I was happy to get home and away from all the commotion.

I was also just glad to get home and no longer have to track everything. I had to write down every single one of E.J.'s feeds on a white board: what time he started eating and for how long. I also had to save all his dirty diapers and put them on a scale to be weighed to track his output. Neither of these are huge inconveniences, of course, but by the end of two weeks I was really ready to just do my thing: feed him when he was hungry without people hounding me for details, and throw his dirty diapers in the trash like a normal person.

My nerdy math teacher husband had some fun with my feeding log

One thing that was kind of surprising to me was how respectful of our privacy the staff was when it came to breastfeeding. Unnecessarily so, actually, in my opinion. If anyone came in and I was feeding him, they'd very sheepishly apologize and say they'd come back later. Or, they'd ask if it was okay if they were in there while I fed him, or ask if I wanted the blinds on our door closed while he ate, etc. I appreciated their discretion but at the same time, if I can't feel at ease feeding my newborn in a children's hospital, where can I? But I guess I was just used to the atmosphere in labor and delivery, and this was different. Regardless, I was surprised.

As for how we spent the rest of our time, I was able to get some work done on a number of projects: obviously, blogging; baby books; thank you notes; cross-stitching E.J.'s Christmas stocking. I also had lots of visits from Ellie and Eric, who tried to come visit us at least once every day. Ellie really was a tremendously good sport through the whole thing, and would even ask to come see Mama and E.J. every day. She loved to play in the hospital playroom (especially with a toy train that had Dumbo, Simba and a 101 Dalmatian figures to ride on it), and she ate a lot of her meals in our hospital room while watching trusty old PBS programming. She was so good, in fact, that by the end of our stay, night nurse Heidi gave her a Cinderella doll as a "prize" for being so great.

Ellie loved these crayon statues at the entrance to the hospital

Saying hi to E.J.!

Eric and E.J. watching the British Open (E.J.'s first major!) together

Ellie playing while E.J. gets his meds

Checking E.J. out with her new stethoscope the doctor gave her

Showing off her hard-earned Cinderella doll!

While we were "on the inside," I also celebrated my 32nd birthday. It wasn't much of a full-out celebration, but it was just fine. Eric brought up some dinner the night before, and on my actual birthday he helped Ellie make a picture for me at storytime. He and Ellie came up to visit that evening and we had pizza (and delicious cake!) for dinner, and during the day I received some lovely flowers and cards from friends and family. The nurses also brought me a cupcake! That was also E.J.'s first monitor-free day (a wireless baby is a great birthday present!), and that day marked the halfway point in our stay. So, not too shabby!

Kicking off my birthday: wireless baby, a monitor that is NOT beeping incessantly, and another day crossed off on my countdown!

Hospital birthday breakfast with my handsome date

Beautiful flowers!

So many cards!

Cupcake from the nurses

The monster picture Ellie made for me hanging on my wall (along with some other family pictures I hung to spruce the place up!)

With my family on my birthday!

In addition to my mom's visit that I mentioned in my first hospital-related post, we also had visits from Eric's siblings. Kelley stopped by on the 21st with a friend on her way back home from a conference in Chicago, and Ronnie, Stephanie and Charlie came up over the weekend. E.J. was able to meet his aunts and uncle, Ellie was able to play with cousin Charlie, and having guests at our house enabled Eric to come hang out with me in the evenings after Ellie went to bed. Big thanks to all of them for allowing me that extra company!

Ellie and Aunt Kelley by the crayons

E.J. meeting his auntie

The W. brothers and their kiddos (well, two of the three!)

E.J. loved Uncle Ronnie!

Clean cousins!

I also have to mention how incredible Eric was during this whole thing. I mean, not that I would have expected anything different, but he was really something. He single-handedly took over all of Ellie's care, including taking her to storytimes and park hops and that sort of thing. He grocery shopped. He cooked. He cleaned. He even did Ellie's hair. All that while also shuttling the both of them back and forth to the hospital once or twice every day, and trying to be there to be involved in E.J.'s care as well as a support for me. During this time he has also been dealing tirelessly with E.J.'s insurance, to try to get that squared away, and has been working on finding movers for our upcoming move. He has been fantastic. On the one hand, I was so bummed this happened now because we had so been looking forward to spending six weeks together as a family of four before Eric went back to work, and I hated that we got cheated out of that. BUT, thank heavens for Eric being home this summer. God bless teachers' schedules, because I don't know how we would have done this if he was still in law. Thanks to Eric, I was able to just stay at the hospital with E.J. all day, every day. That meant I could still breastfeed him with ease, and there was always someone there to deal with doctors and nurses. And, because Eric is so great, I was able to do all that without giving a second thought to what was going on at home, because I knew that Eric and Ellie would be just fine. Oh sure, I thought about them all the time, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't tear up most nights when they left the hospital for the day. I wanted to be there with them so badly. But, because Eric is such a great man, I knew I didn't need to be there. He always had it entirely under control, and I am so grateful to him for giving me that peace of mind and taking such great care of everything.

Ellie and Eric at Barnes and Noble story time

Fun at Southside Park for another Jax Moms Blog Park Hop

One thing that I hated about the stay was people commenting on how much bigger E.J. was by the end. And he was, I know that. He's also starting to try to hold his head up and is starting to find his voice. Basically, he kept growing while we were in there. I did not want that to be the case; I wanted to freeze time, to be able to restart his life after we got out. I was already sad enough about how fleeting his newborn days will be, and to have to spend 14 of those precious days in a hospital room was nearly unbearable. That was not how I wanted his life to begin and I hated that like it or not, that's just the way it was, and he was going to start growing up regardless of our surroundings. I just wanted better for him.

But, time kept on ticking away and at long last, we were cleared to go home. E.J. had his last dose of antibiotics at 6:00 a.m. on Monday morning, and they removed his PICC line soon after. We were cleared to leave by 9:00 a.m., so we packed up all our things (I had basically moved in), and bid farewell to room #411:

E.J.'s name outside the door

My "bed" during my stay. E.J. never used the hospital crib; instead he slept in his Rock 'N Play (aka "his nest") by my bed all the time.

The desk and cubbies where I unpacked all my stuff: projects to work on, clean clothes and linens, snacks, toys for Ellie.
Homecoming morning! No more PICC line, no more days to cross off on the countdown, and one snazzy outfit (courtesy of Auntie Heather)!

And then we were off to sweet, sweet freedom!

This kid loves wearing bowties home from the hospital. It's kind of his thing.

Finally on the outside! - Standing in the very plaza that I stared at out of our hospital room window all day, every day.

It is so great to be home. We're all thrilled to be back together. Now let's all just hope and pray that this is our last ER visit/ hospital stay for a long, long time!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Final Thoughts: E.J., My Attempted VBAC & Being a Family of Four

This will be my last birth-related post, and it's largely going to be a hodgepodge of various other things I wanted to document: how E.J. got his name, thoughts on my birth team, the beginning of our breastfeeding journey, etc.

And of course, I also want to give a short update on a few of the bigger issues I worried about before birth: my thoughts on my failed VBAC, becoming a mother of two, and where we go from here.

E.J.'s Name

We've gotten lots of questions about E.J.'s name. Okay, really one main question: is he a junior? The answer is "no." He and his dad are both named Eric, but their middle names are different. We did consider an Eric Jr., and if we had gone that way we still would've called him E.J. But, Eric decided he didn't want a full-blown junior, so we abandoned "E.J." for a while and started considering other names, likely using Eric's middle name "Ryan" as the baby's middle name. But nothing really felt right. I had been pushing for "James" as the baby's first name, but Eric wasn't loving it. Then one day, I realized, hey. We could go with "Eric James" and still use "E.J." as a nickname. I suggested it to Eric, and although neither of us outwardly agreed to it for some time, that just felt like "it." So, there you have it. E.J. is not a junior, but his name is a combination of two family names: Eric for his father, and James was my late paternal grandfather's middle name. Both of those men are/were good, strong, devoted family men, and I'm proud that my son is named after both of them.

Eric with E.J., and my Papa with baby me - almost exactly 32 years apart!

Also, for the record, we were not going for an "E" theme, although I understand it looks that way. We just happened to like two "E" names, and I did think "Ellie and E.J." sounded cute as a set. But, should there ever be a third child in our family, you can be pretty certain his/her name will not start with an "E."

My Recovery

I mentioned this in Friday's post, but my recovery this time around has been a million times better than last time. I attribute that to both fewer complicating factors, and fewer days of no sleep leading up to birth. I was able to get out of bed less than 12 hours after my surgery, and really was surprised how quickly I felt good enough to be up and about. Granted, for some time I still would get pretty sore if I tried to do too much too soon, and I'm certainly not Speedy Gonzalez running all over the place just yet. But I'm med-free already and for the most part, feel really good. Which, thank goodness, because I've been sleeping on a hospital cot for almost two weeks now. In a way, I think E.J.'s unexpected hospitalization may have helped my recovery, giving me basically nothing to do besides rest and take care of him. If I were home with my family, I would be more likely to be chasing after Ellie or simply taking on more physical exertion than I am here. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather be doing that. But hopefully this extra rest time will just make it so I am that much stronger and ready to dive right back into our family life as soon as E.J. and I are set free.


Breastfeeding has been going extremely well so far. E.J. and I figured out the breastfeeding thing very quickly, exactly as I had hoped. He's a very good eater and I feel like on my end, my milk came in very quickly and largely regulated very quickly, too. (Well, with the exception of one clogged duct just this week - because my time in the hospital with E.J. wasn't fun enough, so why not add some pain to the whole thing?) I do think breastfeeding was one department where having done this so recently/for so long has benefited me, because it just feels more natural and I feel very relaxed about it this time.

One funny thing has been seeing Ellie's reaction to breastfeeding. I had wondered what she would think of it, considering she was just weaned herself in January. She doesn't seem to have any recollection of nursing herself, but she does like to talk about how E.J. likes to "eat nipples!"

VIDEO: Ellie discussing what she and her brother like to eat

My Medical Team

I know I mentioned this in the birth story, but I absolutely loved my medical team this time: Full Circle Women's Care in Jacksonville. As I said before, I chose my previous doctors for their reputation as natural-birth friendly. However, in comparing them to my current providers, I really feel that they were simply okay with my plans for a natural birth, whereas my current team encouraged it. Does that make sense? When we came to Jacksonville and I found out I was pregnant, I was worried about finding a provider that would be willing to let me try for a VBAC. The practice I found, however, not only was wiling to let me try, but it really seemed like it was assumed that I would go for a VBAC. Throughout my pregnancy they were very nonchalant about it, recognizing that my history in no way made me a poor candidate for a VBAC. They were very reassuring and completely on board with my plan (with a few caveats for safety, of course).

The majority of my prenatal visits were with midwife Lauren, and Eric and I loved her. We had a bit of a change of plans doctor-wise, however, as the primary OBGYN that drew me to this practice was leaving - her last day was June 30, and my due date was July 1. My research had informed me that she was the OB for VBACs in Jacksonville, so I was concerned when I learned she probably wouldn't be around for my birth. Lauren was great, though, and as the practice secured a new OB to take the previous doctor's place, Lauren continued to reassure us that the new doctor would follow the same philosophy and in no way were my VBAC plans in jeopardy.

As it turned out, the new doctor, Dr. Chandra Adams, was awesome. She was very kind and respectful, and as I described in the birth story, she treated me the way she would want to be treated if/when she is seeking a VBAC. She gave me every opportunity to have the experience I wanted; unfortunately, it just wasn't meant to be. I can't express how much I appreciated her empathy and willingness to try different things to give me what I was hoping for, and her bedside manner when that didn't happen was just what I needed to feel that I was still in control of the situation. She really did everything she could to make me feel okay about ending up with another c-section, because she allowed me to exhaust all other options first. I am so grateful for that.

With Dr. Adams immediately after E.J. was born

My Doula

My doula was Cloe Smith and she was amazing. I worried a lot about finding a doula this time around because my doula last time (Jess!) was so fantastic, and I wondered how I would find anyone to compare. Luckily for us, we found Cloe. Her personality was very different from that of our previous doula, and when we made the decision to hire Cloe I was gambling that what made her different would make her right for this birth, because this birth was going to be different from my last. As it turned out, I think I was right. Jess was exactly who I needed at my first birth, and Cloe was who I needed at my second.

Cloe was very bubbly, optimistic and outgoing. A diehard introvert myself, I wondered how I would feel about that while in labor, but she was just what I needed. She was consistently encouraging and at times even a bit forceful in her admonishments to basically stay focused, don't waste energy, don't say you can't, keep going. I would say, "I can't do this," and she would say, "You ARE doing it." She essentially took the lead in how my labor went - constantly suggesting new positions and techniques. Every couple of hours it was, "Okay, now let's try this," which kept me from getting "stuck" in my head and just helped me progress through labor in stages. I think I needed that regular change of strategy to keep me moving through the day without getting discouraged or overwhelmed. As a massage therapist, and with her knowledge of positioning techniques, she did so much to help me relax and to try to get E.J. to turn how we wanted him. She was always calm, always matter-of-fact, and I trusted her to guide me through the process.

With Cloe's help, I was able to do just what I had hoped: I was able to labor at home, intervention/med-free, essentially until I was ready to push. I strolled into the hospital at 9 cm, just as I had planned. If not for Cloe, I don't know that I would have done that. I probably would have gone to the hospital too soon, and would have ended up with an epidural much earlier, and ultimately I would have spent the rest of forever wondering if that was why I ended up with a c-section again. But thanks to Cloe, I know that I did everything I could. I labored the whole way through. I pushed. I didn't get my VBAC, but Cloe helped me get as close as I possibly could.

Basically, Cloe was great, and if you are looking for a doula in the Jacksonville area, I highly recommend her. Feel free to email me for her contact information.

With Cloe after the birth


It probably goes without saying by now that Eric was incredible throughout labor and delivery, and during my recovery. I am so blessed to have a husband who so effortlessly knows what I need and is willing and able to give me just that, without a second thought, always. I have talked in two different birth stories now about how in sync Eric and I were during labor, and about how my memories of laboring with Eric's support are memories that I will always treasure. Yes, I was in extreme pain, and that part wasn't fun. But I had to do it and in that case, there is nowhere I would rather be than in Eric's arms. His presence alone is a comfort to me and his physical support was how I made it through. I am forever grateful for his love, patience, encouragement, strength and support during the births of both my children. He is a phenomenal husband and father and all three of us are lucky to have him.

Being his usual attentive, sweet self

We did it!

Of course, at this point I'm only talking about Eric's support during E.J.'s birth - I haven't yet even touched on what a rock star he has been while E.J. has been in the hospital. Prepare for a lot more gushing when I get to that part, folks.

Processing the Birth

I have talked at length here about my hopes for a VBAC, and my fears of birth after my experience with Ellie's delivery. I do wish so much that I was here now talking about how I did it, I got the VBAC experience I dreamed of, and how empowering that is. But I'm not.

How I will process this birth really remains to be seen, and I know that it's going to be an evolving process. Only three weeks out, it already has been. In the immediate aftermath, I was very at peace with everything. I knew without question that I did everything I could have done. I knew that I was strong. I knew that I endured and fought for that birth that I wanted. I knew that my birth team did everything they could to help me. And ultimately, I knew that we made the decision that was necessary for both E.J. and me. No regrets.

And really, all that is still true. I still know all that. But very quickly, with the passage of very little time, some sadness started to set in as well. As much as I know all of the above to be true, I still cannot believe that I actually wasn't able to do it. It really didn't happen. I'm a little bit in disbelief, and a little bit angry - angry because I spent the majority of my pregnancy acknowledging the fact that a VBAC may not happen for me. But, at the very end, in an effort to make use of the power of positive thinking, I allowed myself to be convinced that it would happen. I envisioned it. I cried tears of joy at the anticipation of it. I forced myself to turn my thoughts around; I finally bought into what everyone around me was saying: I will have a successful VBAC. This will happen for me. And then it didn't. It may not be logical, but a part of me is angry at myself for buying into the hype only to be let down. It also doesn't help that I ended up with the exact scenario I was most afraid of, the one in which I labored completely and still couldn't do it. I said all along that if I was going to have a c-section again, I wished that it would be for some clear-cut reason (breech baby or some such thing) so that I could just schedule it and go in and avoid any uncertainty or surprises, not to mention having to go into surgery already fatigued from the physical stress of labor. But, that's just what happened, and then I had the pleasure of recovering physically not only from surgery but also from labor and hours of pushing.

I feel that ultimately I'm going to have to do a little bit of grieving. Should we decide to have more children, I will not try for a VBA2C. I just don't think I have that in me. So now I'm grieving that experience that I dreamed of but know I will never actually have. Not only that, I always envisioned having a large family - four kids, maybe. But I do not see myself putting my body through four c-sections, so my family plan will have to change. I had a hard time moving past Ellie's birth, but at least after that one I could say, "well next time, it will be different. I can try x, y, z." But this was my next time. There may not be a next time at all, and if there is, I already know what my birth will look like. I don't see another second chance here. I had my chance, and it didn't work out. And that's okay; I have two beautiful children who were well worth any method of delivery, a million times over. But now that I've failed to deliver vaginally twice, I need to think about what that does mean for me, should we ever want more children. And I will need to grieve the experiences I longed for but will not have.

I assume it will be a process. At least as of this moment, I do feel much closer to being at peace with this birth than I was with Ellie's at this point. But then again, I didn't realize how much was still unresolved for me after Ellie's birth until I was faced with doing it again. So for today, for the most part, I feel okay. But I also recognize that it may sneak up on me and I may have more processing to do down the road. We'll just deal with it as it comes, I suppose.

On Having a Second Child

Well, it's true. Mark me down as another one of countless moms who, before her second child was born, could not possibly fathom loving another child as much as her first, and now that the second child is here, can't imagine things any other way. What they say is true - you can't understand it until you feel it, but you just do love that child as much as the first, just differently. I feel like Eric hit the nail on the head when, after we had been home as a family for a couple of days, he said about our two kids, "They're both my favorite." Yes. Exactly.

Not only was I immediately filled with love for this sweet baby boy, but my love for Ellie has also changed as I have watched her interact with her brother. I plan to write more about Ellie as a big sister in its own post at a later date, but to this point, she has been every bit the doting sister I hoped she would be. More so, in fact. She is fully smitten with E.J., and asks about him first thing every morning. She wants to tickle him and rock him and hold his hand. When she sees him she coos, "Oh, E.J.! Hi, buddy! Hi, little one! Oh, E.J.! Look at him! He's so cute!" Her voice gets this excited, loving tone that I have never heard before and that I hope I will always remember. When he cries, she gets very upset (a sad side effect of being with him in the emergency room, I fear), and the rest of the time, she is telling us what he needs: "He needs his Mama! He needs to go in his nest (Rock 'N Play)! He needs his Daddy!" I love watching Ellie with E.J. and I can't wait to see them become great friends (hopefully) as time passes.

Ellie hugging E.J.


Going Forward

I know people are wondering if we're going to have more children. Most are wise and haven't asked it outright (dude, don't ask a woman three weeks postpartum if she wants more kids, because most likely she will laugh you right out of the room), but I know the question is out there. And the answer is a big, "I don't know." As I mentioned above, I always pictured myself with a big family. But should we decide to have another, I will have a scheduled c-section. And in a way that's comforting, being able to know what to expect. But, I also know what to expect, you know? And I don't know how many more times I want to put my body through that surgery. Should we decide we want more kids, it will be something I will discuss with my doctor and Eric (of course) and we'll decide what's best for us. Of course, that decision also largely depends on where we end up in life (location and career-wise), so there are a lot of factors at play. And as of right now, I'm feeling pretty darn fulfilled with my two sweet babies. So, time will tell.

Of course, the idea that E.J. could possibly be my last baby brings up a whole host of other emotions - primarily, the desperate urge to freeze time, to remember every last detail of this sweet newborn, mixed with the helplessness of knowing that it's not possible and no matter how hard I try, details will be forgotten. All at once I don't know if I'm ready to be done, but I also don't know that I can really do it again. I guess we'll all just have to stay in suspense, won't we?

For right now, our plan is this: Enjoy our two little ones. Enjoy each other. Figure out our next life steps. We have a lot of figurative balls up in the air right now, and our new focus is getting some of those taken care of while we enjoy our little family of four. I don't know how long all of that will take, but it's going to be an adventure and I'm looking forward to it. And I have three really awesome people on the journey with me.

Family photo in the hospital on my birthday!

I am one lucky mama.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


E.J. is three weeks old now, and naturally, we're all still getting to know each other. He has been a very sleepy newborn, but his wakeful periods are increasing in frequency a bit and much of his awake time is spent just observing his world with those amazing dark eyes of his. So far, his personality seems to be very thoughtful and serious, good-natured and quiet. He seems like something of an old soul.

This is one of my favorite pictures of him so far. It was taken in our first day or two at home, before this whole hospital episode. I just love his expression, and those eyes. I feel like he's listening intently to you, taking in every word you say, so that when you finish he can offer you some very sage advice.

I CANNOT WAIT to get this handsome little man home at last - quite possibly TOMORROW!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Recovery and Homecoming

The rest of our stay in the hospital after E.J.'s birth was delightfully uneventful. My recovery was light years better this time than last. Granted, I didn't have the HELLP concerns this time, nor the blood oxygenation issues, etc., etc. Because of all that, I was able to get out of bed much quicker. In fact, they make it a point to get c-section patients out of bed within 12 hours of surgery, so by midnight after E.J.'s birth, I was up and (very slowly) walking around (and by "around" I mean the three feet from the bed to the bathroom, but it totally counts). I was also able to both eat real food and take a shower the next day. All of this was a great improvement from last time, and I think getting out of bed so quickly was key. Sure, I was rocking the pain meds for a couple weeks afterwards, and now, nearly three weeks out, I'm still moving a little slower than normal. But I feel a million times better now than I did at this point after Ellie's c-section, and I'm so grateful for that. My biggest recovery complaints weren't even pain related! Instead I was most whiney about the epic postpartum hot flashes I endured for a couple of days (SO HOT - I used so many ice packs), and the insane swelling of my feet, and well, everything a day or two after we got home from the hospital (stay tuned for our professional newborn photos for proof of that...oof). But I will certainly take those two things over breathing treatments, magnesium and a nearly-hospitalization-worthy kidney infection any day. E.J.'s Birth Recovery for the win!

Because we weren't spending our entire post-birth hospital stay dealing with my health issues, we were instead able to focus on E.J. - a delightful change of pace! We spent most of our time cuddling him and admiring him.


Eric and E.J.

Fussing over my boy

A couple of handsome Erics enjoying some skin-to-skin time

Checking each other out

We also did some eating. I mentioned that my liquid diet was lifted the very next day, but it gets better - because I was breastfeeding, the kitchen sent double portions of every requested meal. Feast!

This is me with two omelets, two servings of bacon, two servings of potatoes, two bagels and a whole bunch of juice. (Don't worry - I shared with Eric!)

We also found an opportunity to FaceTime with my sister in Japan to introduce her to her new nephew!

E.J., meet your Auntie Heather!

The primary way we passed the time, however, was with visits from my mom and Ellie. With each visit, Ellie got more and more brave in terms of interacting with E.J. The day after he was born, her big "step forward" was blowing raspberries at him when asked to kiss him (ha!) and touching his head.

My mom holding her grandson

Getting braver!


Oh, these kids.

The second day (Sunday), however, was when stuff really got cute. Ellie found the courage to "hold" E.J. for the first time (with close supervision by Daddy) and it was just about the cutest thing I ever saw in my life. She was beside herself with happiness and was so, so sweet with him. She was gentle and loving, and if her immediate reaction wasn't enough to melt you into a puddle, she then decided that she should share the stickers she had on her shirt, and took one off and gave it to E.J. And then I died.

Ellie holding her baby brother for the first time

Too much.

VIDEO: Ellie holding E.J. for the first time

Giving him one of her stickers

E.J. sporting his sticker

The hospital was willing to leave it up to us as to when we wanted to go home, either Sunday or Monday. We had originally been leaning towards Monday (I wanted the good pain meds), but by Sunday I was feeling well enough and we were getting tired of having to track every little thing (feeding, diaper changes, etc.). We wanted to get home so we could just do our own thing without interruptions. So, we were ready to head home Sunday afternoon. Not too shabby considering I'd had my c-section only about 48 hours prior! We spent most of Sunday packing up and preparing to hit the road, and finally, we were able to bid farewell to Room 5.

The room we first lived in with our son

The other side

Alright! Let's get out of here!

Of course, E.J. was dressed in his snazziest attire for his big departure!

Two days old and already VERY fancy.

And so we loaded him into his carseat and home we went.

Loves it.

Bye, hospital!

He's ready!

Ellie was pretty excited to have us home, and when we put E.J. in his lamb bouncy seat, she immediately went to get her own lamb mat so she could "sleep on a sheep like E.J." She also threw out an unprompted "I love you, E.J." right away on the first night, just to make sure I was as big of a hormonal emotional mess as possible.

My two kids, both sleeping on sheep

That night we put E.J. to bed in his own crib, and that was it - the start of our life at home as a family of four!

The beginning of something wonderful!