Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas Tree Hunting and a Visit to Aunt Jann's! (AKA: The Day After Thanksgiving)

My husband and I want to create wonderful memories for our family by having fun family traditions. Two of these traditions are cutting down our own Christmas tree and visiting our aunt Jann and uncle Dennis on the day after Thanksgiving. (Here is the link to my post last year about our visit to aunt Janns: Aunt Jann's Christmas Elves)

We went to Lochsloy Acres Christmas Tree Farm in Lake Stevens, WA to cut down our Christmas tree. This is the second year that we have gone to their wonderful farm. Last year we got a 12 foot Douglas Fir for $40! This year we decided to with a different tree type - a Frasier Fir - which was 9 feet tall and $70. 
(I LOVED the Frasier Fir! To me the price difference was totally worth it!)

It was pouring down rain that morning, and we weren't quite sure if we wanted to go cut down the tree in the rain (plus, we got a late start that morning and didn't want to be late to aunt Jann's). But we figured "This is supposed to be a tradition! We have to go!", so we bundled up the baby and headed out to Lake Stevens. Luckily for us, we had gone to the Christmas Tree farm a few weeks prior (on a beautiful, sunny day) and picked out our tree and reserved it. That meant all we had to do was go cut it down, have it bailed and secured to the top of our car and we would be on our way. Once we got there, I was just going to sit in the car with Riker while the hubby cut down the tree... but once we realized how close the tree was to the car (and the rain had let up a bit), we decided to take a few pics with Riker in front of the tree.

Once we took the pics, I sat in the car with Riker while my husband cut down the tree (which took only a few minutes!). He rolled the tree onto a toboggan they provided and he pulled it up to the barn, where they had staff bale your tree for you, free of charge. Their staff also tied the tree to the top of our SUV for us too! It didn't take long at all before we were back on the road headed home!
Once home, we barely had time to put the tree in the stand, add some water, and then head over to aunt Jann's house.

Here is what our tree looked like!!!!!

Once we got to aunt Jann's, we visited for a bit, and then got to enjoy some of aunt Jann's DELICIOUS chili and cornbread. SOOOOO GOOD! My sister and her boyfriend went as well! (My brother and his GF had just moved to San Francisco, or they would've been there too.)

Riker and uncle Dennis. They even have coordinating outfits!!!

My sis and I with Riker

Our perfect little family

After a wonderful time relaxing and visiting (and eating!), we headed home to decorate our Christmas tree. We always break out the Christmas music and hot chocolate for this!

Riker LOVED the lights! In fact, we decided to use colored lights this year because we thought Riker would like those best (as opposed to white lights, which is what we normally use).

(Don't worry, they are LED lights! They weren't hot!)

The tree turned out beautiful! Christmas decorations are so cozy and festive - they make me so happy!

The day after Thanksgiving is one of our very favorite days of the year, because its the day we get to put up our Christmas decorations, start our holiday family traditions, and visit aunt Jann and uncle Dennis!

What are some of your family traditions?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Riker's Newborn Photos

  Exactly one week after Riker was born, we took him to our good friend and family photographer Kristina Marie. (You may remember that she also did our maternity photos).  She took some adorable pics of our little man, even when he wasn't cooperating very well. She was very patient and very comforting to our tiny nakey baby. He managed to both pee and poo on her, and it didn't phase her one bit!
We LOVE the photos! Enjoy!
And please check out her facebook page!

Our Birth Story

Many of my friends and family have asked about how my labor and delivery went, so... here is our birth story! Its been three months since Riker's birth, so I will try to remember the details as best as I can. 

My due date was Wednesday, September 17th. The whole time I was pregnant, I thought that he would come early. I was even told by one of our doctors that he would probably come early or on time, but not late (and she guessed he would weigh around 8 lbs). 
Well, my due date came and went, like it does for most first time moms. I actually had a doctors appt on my due date... and I was dilated 2cm, and was about 60% effaced, but wasn't having any contractions. Because there was still no baby, we made an appointment for the following week (on a Tuesday), and also scheduled me to be induced on that following Friday (in case he STILL wasn't here). 
A few days after that appointment I started having strong braxton hicks contractions, but they never turned into real contractions... and after two or three days, they stopped. 
At my next appt (on Tuesday, Sept 23rd), the nurse taking my blood pressure said that it was very high, and that I needed to relax. Now up until this appointment, my blood pressure has been great, EXCEPT for the last time she took my vitals several weeks prior (see, my doc was getting married in Spain around the time of my due date, so at each new appointment, I would see a new doc, with a different nurse, just so I could meet all the docs in the practice. Eventually I circled back to docs and nurses I had already met). She took my blood pressure three times, saying it was very high each time. When the doctor came into the room, she immediately said that she wanted to send me to the hospital to run tests on my vitals and to probably be induced (due to her concern of preeclampsia). I immediately panicked (internally). I was prepared to be induced on Friday... not today! And now I was concerned for my baby. (Although both my husband and I wondered if the nurse maybe did her counting/math wrong when she checked my blood pressure, because up until then I had great blood pressure, and I wasn't stressed out... just uncomfortable). 
They let us run home to grab our hospital bag and the car seat. I am not going to lie, I cried as we left the clinic to run home. I was worried about our baby. I was worried about labor. The surprise of being told I may be induced in the next hour or so put me into a bit of a panic! But I told myself that it wouldn't do any good to panic and let those anxious thoughts get the better of me. My husband and I got our things from home, prayed, told our immediate family what was going on, and then we headed off to the hospital.
By the time I walked into those hospital doors (around 12:30 or so), I felt much more calm about the situation. I got all settled into a room so they could monitor my blood pressure for a while. And just as we suspected, my blood pressure was just fine. Although, I was having contractions that I wasn't feeling. The doctor on call came into the room and gave me the option of going home, and coming back Friday to be induced, or to just go ahead and be induced now, since I was already there... and to monitor my blood pressure just in case there had been something wrong while I was in the doctors office. The doctor encouraged the inducement. After a little discussion, my husband and I decided to just go ahead and be induced. We decided on using the cervical gel Cervidil for induction, instead of petocin. (Cervidil is a vaginal insert, as opposed to a drug that is introduced into your body intravenously. TMI ALERT: Think of a cotton string with gel on a mesh strip at one end. It is inserted up the vagina, with the mesh strip/gel in the opening of the cervix. The string hangs out like a tampon, for easy removal). 
The cervidel was put in around 5pm. I was told that if I wasn't dilated enough after 12 HOURS, then they would switch to petocin. (At this point Im thinking, "Man, I don't want to have to wait 12 hours, and THEN have to be put on petocin and wait LONGER before I get to have this baby!!!!! I'm going to be here forever!"). 
I felt fine for about an hour, then all the sudden I started getting bad contractions. I couldn't talk through them... I just had to close my eyes and focus on getting through the pain. (I just breathed through it and imagined the pain as being really warm/hot water that enveloping my stomach - like slowly being submerged into a hot tub. That actually helped a lot. And I didn't let myself tense up anywhere... not my eyes or my hands or anything. Tensing up your body can actually cause more pain). After only a few really painful contractions, the nurse came in and asked me what I would like to do about the pain. I immediately (and nicely) requested an epidural as soon as I was able to get one (thinking it could possibly take a while before the anesthesiologist could get to me). But the "stars [were] aligned", as the nurse said, because the anesthesiologist was available right now and could get the epidural in in just a few minutes. They sat me up, injected the numbing medication, and got that epidural in in no time. The anesthesiologist was great because she calmly told me what she was doing every step of the way... just so I was aware of what was going on. They laid me back down and now it was just a waiting game. 
Shortly after I got the epidural I got the shakes, mostly on the lower half of my body. They stopped after a little while. I still had the use of my legs a bit (I could use them to help adjust how I was sitting on the bed, if I needed to scoot up or roll over...etc.). After some time the epidural started to wear off. I was able to get two extra doses of some drug to help, which it totally did. I got the shakes again, but all over my body this time, and they lasted much longer. It was pretty unpleasant... but I wasn't in pain. After a few more hours my epidural started to wear off again, but this time it felt different... I was getting horrible pain on my left side only, right under my ribs. It felt like a very very severe side ache... and I thought I felt Riker's little feet kicking my ribs on that side as well. I was given another two extra doses of that same med and that helped SO much. My pain was virtually gone again. My labor nurse said that the pain I was describing was strange, and so she decided to take out the cervidil to check on things. Right as she took it out she saw that my water had broken. And when she checked my cervix, I was at 9 1/2 centimeters! TIME TO PUSH! 
At this time, It was about 1:30 am. Now, because they had JUST given me that extra dose of medicine in my epidural, I had ZERO feeling down there. I felt absolutely nothing, and no longer had any control over my legs. That made it VERY difficult to push. My labor nurse was AMAZING though, and was using the big bar that goes above your bed and wrapped a sheet around it and I'd pull on the sheet for leverage and I'd push and push. Then after a while she would stand at the foot of the bed and hold one end of a nursing blanket and I'd hold the other end and I would push and push. After a while they checked on Riker and noticed that he was "Sunny Side Up". This means that his face was facing up toward the sky, instead of down toward the floor. When babies are sunny side up, it can make delivery much harder, and most of the time you end up getting a c-section because they cant turn them around (thank goodness I didn't know that these situations often ended in c-sections. I thought this was a fairly normal thing - them having to try to turn him). So they had me lay on my side and push for a while... then they had me back on my back, and with every contraction (and with the docs hands on either side of his head), they slowly turned him. I'm so lucky they were able to turn him all the way around!
So I pushed some more, and my epidural was starting to wear off again at the top of my uterus, so I was starting to have that strong pain again with every contraction. After pushing for a while longer, I noticed his heart rate dropping a little. I kept asking if he was ok and they assured me he was doing fine. But at one point, the doc said to me "You have done a really good job, and you should be really proud of yourself." I'm thinking "Oh no, don't tell me after all this I need a c-section!". But she continued with saying, "I think at this point we need to use forceps. I am very confident using them. But, sometimes me just mentioning that we need to use them will get moms to push their babies out. What do you want to do?". I asked that she let me push a few more times to get him out. We pushed with each contraction a few more times and then she firmly said, "We need to get him out. Don't stop pushing between contractions, just keep going.". I pushed as hard as I could a few more times and felt lots of wiggly pressure way down there. Next thing I knew the doctors were telling me to look down cause my baby boy was finally here! They held him up, he purred a sweet little purr, and then he cried a little when they wiped him off. They put him in my arms, he cuddled up and stopped crying, and I cried out of pure love, and relief that he was finally here and was healthy. (He actually ended up having shoulder dyscocia - which is where his shoulder gets stuck - but they were able to get him unstuck without him having any injury). 

After 4 hours of pushing, Riker was born at 5:56am at 9.58lbs and 21.5 inches long.
It was a hard, but amazing experience. This sweet boy, that we created, was finally here with us. Its truly a miracle.