June 29, 2010

109 days later

I am mother to an almost 4 month old baby girl. What? The past four months have literally been the craziest, longest, shortest, most trying, changing, self evaluating of my life. And, of course, I have not had the time to blog. How in the world do I compact the last 109 days in words?

I LOVE being a mom. It is so freaking hard and I still love it. And it's nothing like I thought it would be. There is nothing like motherhood to show you how much you need to change and how much you, in fact, do NOT have things together.

Our hospital visit is a wonderful blur of a memory to me.  I was told that the hospital stay kind of sucked, but I absolutely loved it.  Despite being in some pain, everything was ethereal - the nurses were kind, Drew was a champ and Jolie was, well, very real.  Drew and I were exhausted and undeniably elated.  Those two days may become some of the sweetest in my memory.  

We came home to a clean house (thank you, Renata!) and an overwhelming sense of responsibility.  What would I do with this little, helpless baby with no nurses around and Drew soon returning to work?  The first week was a challenge, and that's an understatement.  We had a bout with jaundice, nursing issues and then a car accident to top off the first 7 days of Jolie's life.  I'm pretty sure I've never cried more in a 7 day period - ever.  The next 2 weeks were a recovery period; though there were some nights I felt like I couldn't do it anymore.  I remember the first time I felt angry at Jolie and the first time (of many) I lamented, I never want to do this again!  Why did we think this was a good idea?! as I cried my eyes out and Drew gently assured me that it could only go up from there.  People asked me if I liked being a mom and sometimes, I lied when I said yes.  Sweet Jolie was in the world and I was her mom, but it was harder than I thought...and my heart was heavier than I expected.  Drew always reminded me that all first time moms go through all this muck and that I wasn't weird.  In retrospect, the late nights really did take their toll on me.  Though, even in the late night feedings, I was given grace in the form of a sweet, sleeping baby, her stomach full, diaper changed and needs met.  Sometimes I would just sit in the dark and hold Jolie while she slept, taking my time to hold her close and smell her before putting her back in the cradle.  Mmm, yes, those were sweet times.

Things started getting better once I began implementing a routine with Jolie.  Drew and I decided before Jolie was born to give Babywise a try.  I know it's super controversial, but it's principles worked wonderfully for us.  Jolie began daily cycles of eating, awake time and naps.  The first 6 weeks were pretty challenging.  Jolie's little body had to get used to eating and sleeping, plus she was learning the difference between night and day.  By week 8 though, we were averaging 6 hours of nighttime sleep and we both began to know what to expect during the day.  Now, at 15 weeks, Jolie sleeps 10-11 hours every night - and so do I, thank goodness.  I know Babywise and routines are not for everyone, but they worked wonders for my sanity.  I received a ton of practical advice from Chrissy S. (thank you, thank you!), and since then have joined a forum with other Babywise moms.  

Jolie has been exclusively breastfed since day 1 and, with the exception of maybe 4 bottles of formula, has continued to do so.  I love nursing!  That may sound weird, but I do.  We're coming in to 4 months and going strong; and since we had such a rough start, I am proud of both of us! :)  I'm hoping to continue for her first year; we'll see how it goes.

Right around week 8, Jolie began to smile!  I definitely cried.  We discovered she has a trademark dimple like me, just a little higher on her face.  She crinkles her nose when she is happy, too, and I'm not sure where she got that from.  Smiling babies are wonderful.  Motherhood began to feel rewarding!  Nowadays, Jolie smiles most of the day and coos and chit chats with me regularly.  She is a little social butterfly already, sometimes interrupting a nursing session to look up at me and babble.  She even wakes in the morning happy and cooing away!

We started off with nicknames immediately, shortening Jolie to Jo a lot of the time.  I began calling her Jolie Girl, which has still stuck.  Drew trademarked Jolie Bug early on and, surprisingly, that is her most common nickname!  Jolie Bug inspired Jo Bug, Little Bug, The Bug, Bug...and with different activities, Water Bug and Bed Bug.  She is The Bug.  Drew also dubbed Jo's pajamas "P Jo's" (instead of PJs). :)

Jolie's entering such a fun stage of life!  She really likes looking at books and loves her bouncy chair.  She is very interested in words more than pictures; she likes contrast.  Funny enough, her favorite things to look at are our Chinese scroll and her panda bear dangling toy.  Proof of her heritage? :)

I can honestly say that now, 109 days later, I am having fun.  I love spending the day with Jolie and getting to experience her little milestones.  I know she's growing up fast and we're already talking about her being mobile and throwing tantrums...and I've already cried over her wedding day.  Oh my.  

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He fills my life with good things...
Let all that I am praise the Lord.

Psalm 103

March 30, 2010

Work it, girl

It's been 18 days and this is the first day I brought out the big guns camera!  Look at this gorgeous girl:

(Love the headband, right?  It's from Knits and What Knots!)

We don't think she smiles on purpose yet, but it's a smile none the less!

And the last one...poor Jolie.  This is the "Mom-why-are-you-doing-this-to-me" face. :)

I've been anxious to try and take her picture the past 2 weeks, and now I figured out some tricks!  More to come, I'm sure.

March 25, 2010

Jolie's birth day

Jolie Kate Ackermann is 13 days old today.  We're sort of starting to settle into a routine around here, and it's high time I told the story of her birth!

I will offer this disclaimer: this blog is a personal archive of our family; something for me to look back on in years to come.  If you think some parts of this post are TMI, sorry.

March 11 - 3:00am
I woke up to use the bathroom for the 27th time since going to bed, as usual.  While in the bathroom, I noticed that I had lost my mucus plug!  I, of course, got very excited, but with only Braxton Hicks contractions for the past 2 weeks, tried my best to go back to bed.

I awoke sometime later with my first true contraction.  Definitely different than Braxton Hicks, which was a relief to me.  I woke up Drew and we started timing them.  By 6am, they were getting stronger and closer together.  Drew and I both thought it was the day!  We called the doctor around 8 and they said to high tail it to the hospital.  I wanted to shower and eat breakfast, so we didn't leave until about 9.  By then, the contractions were a lot closer together, but they were starting to become less painful.  Weird.

They literally stopped when we walked into triage.  I was hooked up to the monitors for an hour or so, then they sent us home.  To say I was disappointed is an understatement.  We spent the rest of the morning in Annapolis, trying to walk around, hoping that the contractions would come back or that my water would break in some dramatic fashion.  I didn't have a contraction while the sun was still up.  Boo.

That night, we watched a movie with Tom and Renata at home and I realized that I was getting contractions again.  They started around 15 minutes apart, but they hurt a lot more than the previous ones did.  We went to bed at 10, contractions still far apart and very bearable and I fell asleep until 1.

March 12 - 1:00am
I woke up to pain with excitement!  I could no longer sleep through the contractions.  On the 1-10 scale, they had climbed to about a 5 and were about 8-10 minutes apart, so I woke up Drew.  He told me to try and rest and that when they got closer together, we'd start really timing.

I laid awake contracting the rest of the night.  By 6am, they were 5-7 minutes apart and had climbed a 7 on the pain scale.  I couldn't talk or move through them anymore.  We called the doctor and headed to the hospital once more.  I tried not to get myself too excited, and kept telling myself that they could still send me home.

Sure enough, my body hates me and the contractions slowed in time and intensity as soon as they hooked me up the machine.  I was only dilated about 3cm and it looked like it might be another disappointing morning.  Boo again.

My doctor was not available and was being covered by the doctor on call.  A nurse came in and said that the doctor would like to admit us and get me started on Pitocin!  We were really surprised, but told her we wanted some time to think about it.

Drew and I really wanted to let my body go into labor on its own.  I was scared of Pitocin, as I heard it made contractions a lot worse.  We spent a good 20 minutes discussing whether or not we wanted to be admitted or to go home and wait it out.  Under no pressure (which was wonderful) and some prayer, we decided to stay.  It would be my actual due date, plus it was a Friday which meant Drew wouldn't have to take off work to stay at the hospital and I was ready to not be pregnant anymore.  We came to the conclusion on our own and both felt great about it.

March 12 - 10:00am
We were checked in and I was hooked up to a lot of IVs, including the Pitocin drip.  Our wonderful nurse Mary (wonderful does not describe her well enough - she was awesome!) made sure we had what we needed and we were off!

Contractions started picking up almost immediately on the Pitocin.  I had planned to not make a definite decision about an epidural until I was actually in labor, as I wanted to feel contractions for myself and not be pressured either way.  I labored unmedicated for 4 hours, which got pretty intense.  By the time 1pm rolled around, my contractions were 2 minutes apart, lasting a good minute and a half (so only 30 second breaks) and a definite 9 on the pain scale.  Drew was awesome.  He kept reminding me to breathe and that each contraction was one less I had to do again.  I decided on an epidural at 1:30 and they came to administer it at 2pm.

I was a little nervous about the giant needle being stuck into my spine, but all went great (and it really didn't hurt).  I did have one last contraction during the procedure and must've squeezed the color out of Drew's arm, but then it was done.  The second that it started working, I was so happy.  Just ask Drew.  I kept saying, "Drew!  I am so happy right now!"  I promptly fell asleep soon after I was checked at 4cm.

By 4pm, I had slept almost 2 hours and the doctor came to check me again.  We were surprised to find out I was at 10cm already!  Jolie was still up pretty high, but I would start pushing fairly soon.  I tried to get some more rest, but it was hard.  The epidural made me a little nauseous, plus I was anxious to get started.

Mary came back in at 6 to get the pushing started.  They told me it could take up to 3 hours of pushing, but I was hoping to be lucky. :)  No such luck.  I pushed for 2 and a half hours.  During the first 2 hours, I was literally trying to get her past my pelvic bone with not a lot of success.  My contractions actually slowed down a little, too, which was frustrating.  I was getting so discouraged.  I was tired, nauseous and pushing is hard!  Drew tried to keep my spirits up and was wonderful.  The nurse finally convinced me to look in a mirror, which was super encouraging.  Drew got to see her head before it crowned.

Finally, at 8pm, things started happening.  With one good push, half her head was out, the next contraction brought her whole head and with one last push, she was born.  Drew was a mess as soon as her head came.  When she was born and put on my chest, we both lost it.  I was super surprised at the overwhelming amount of emotion from both of us.  I'm tearing up thinking about it now.  What a wonderful memory.

Drew stayed with Jolie while they weighed her across the room.  I got stitched up and enjoyed watching Drew with his daughter.  Funny enough, we had to take our first pictures of Jolie with a cell phone because we forgot a camera!  She didn't open her eyes until she was in Drew's arms for the first time, which was wonderful.

Our stay at Anne Arundel was amazing.  Our nurses were all awesome.  Even though I was in pain and pretty much bed ridden, I will cherish those memories as some of my sweetest.

Now, 12 days later, Jolie sleeps in her cradle next to my bed, still captivating us with every little movement and facial expression.  It's still pretty hard to believe that she is real and mine and that I am part of my own family.  Learning to completely give of yourself is a super hard lesson.  But Jolie is worth it.

March 04, 2010

39 weeks and counting

39 weeks today!

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and was a little disappointed to find out that I'm not dilated at all.  I've heard it doesn't matter though, so hopes are still high!  Actually, it gave me some peace of mind.  I've been so anxious about labor starting!  Today, I have a lot of peace that it will start when I'm ready and if that's not for 2 more weeks, it's okay.

My doctor told me that if I don't deliver by my due date (which is next Friday), we can induce on March 15th or 22nd.  Honestly, I'd very much like to go into labor on my own.  Drew and I have decided to wait it out until the 22nd, as long as Jolie and I are still healthy and I'm not in pain.

I would so appreciate prayer about this; for peace, labor to begin naturally (and preferably soon!) and health for everyone.  Eight days until my official due date!  AHH!

March 03, 2010

The Home Stretch

Here I am, at the cusp of 39 weeks, almost not believing how fast the past 9 months has seemed to flown by.  The past two weeks have been full of impatience on my part and I am very eager to go into labor.

Everyone says that the last month of pregnancy is the hardest.  I'm actually not sure that's true for me yet, but the waiting has been killing me.  Back in August, I determined that I would deliver early and willed myself to produce a February baby.  Obviously, my plan did not work out as it is March and I am still very pregnant.  The weekend of my Mom's birthday came and went, with no Jo.  I don't know why I set myself up for such impatience early.  I've really been trying to get over that this week.  I started having noticeable contractions two Fridays ago, with 3 instances of 8-10 minute intervals for over an hour.  I'm starting to get used to it now and not work myself up each time.

The (good) anxiety in Drew and me has been rearing its head in interesting ways.  My urge to nest is RIDICULOUS, but at the same time, I try to avoid feeling overwhelmed by getting out of the house.  I wake up every 2 hours or so at night to go to the bathroom and start the tiring process of turning over in bed.  Each time, though, I wake up thinking to myself, "Am I in pain?  Did my water break?  Why am I awake?!"  I can't help it.

Drew, on the other hand, has been telling me more that Jolie crosses his mind more frequently during the day.  At night, he is not sleeping well and hasn't been realizing it.  He is a stomach/side sleeper usually and has been sleeping on his back for the past week.  He's been talking in his sleep a lot to me and says things like, "It's okay!  I'll fix it!" spiritedly.  He wakes up at my smallest whisper, which is super odd as normally I have to shake him.  I think he's just subconsciously waiting for me to wake him up and say it's time.  Poor guy.

The few times I do get to actually sleep, I dream about labor and Jolie and real life things.  Sometimes, I wake up feeling disappointed that it didn't actually happen.  I seriously cannot wait.

My mom threw me a wonderful shower a few weeks ago and I was so blessed by all the love and generousity.  I'm pretty sure we've spent more money this month than we have in a good year and I've loved putting all of Jolie's pretty little (pink) things away.  Thank you to all who came to the shower and have blessed me with advice and gifts.

I have really wanted to spend a lot of time with my mom over the last month.  Not that I don't normally, but I really want to be around her most of the time now, even to just sit around.  She came with me to my last 2 ultrasounds and it's been so nice to talk about babies and motherhood.

Mom pulled out the only newborn picture she has of me yesterday so we could compare it to Jolie's little face from the 3D ultrasound.  The resemblance is uncanny.  The only difference is her lips, which belong completely to Drew, but the rest of her is me.  I try to tell Drew that no one really understands what it's like for me to finally have family that looks like me.  I don't know anyone in the world that I look like.  To most people it's not even a second thought to hear "You have your mother's nose" or "You did that just like your dad!".  I've never gotten that!  I can't wait to hear "Jolie looks just like you" or "You're going to look just like your mom".  It's very exciting for me.  I know the chances of having a girl/boy are 50/50, but I don't think my first child being a girl is a coincidence.

I get so excited and lost in hanging her little clothes and washing her things, sometimes I forget that we're actually having a BABY.  Like, a child.  Our friends Danny & Andrew just had their baby, Malakai, last week and by random circumstances, Drew and I were able to visit them just hours after birth.  I got to hold sweet Kai for our entire visit and it was just intoxicating.  And he wasn't even mine.  Danny told me she couldn't stop crying when she looked at him.  It was a wonderful visit. :)  I'm so ready for that experience!

Hopefully I'll get a chance to take one last pregnancy picture and I'll post it.  We are continually appreciative of all the generousity, love and prayers that are physically FELT.  Let's go, baby, let's go.

February 18, 2010

SnOMG 2010

I guess since Drew and I missed the first big snow of the season for NYC, it was only fair that we be here for the mother load.  We've been snowed in for almost a week, with Drew only going to work one day.

Our street:

We're at the very end of the road, so we haven't gotten a lot of help from the plows.  Drew and Tom have shoveled very valiantly.

The amount of snow we got is just ridiculous.  Ree. Dic. You. Luss.  I was up to my thighs and could comfortably sit.

The plowing and snow drifts were as tall as Drew:

Renata and Tom brought the boys out to play; it was fun watching them try to traverse the snow!

Jack just wanted to eat it.

We even tried a little sledding down the small hill in front of our place.

I love Hayden's "That was VERY fun!".

We are all super sick of the snow now, but it will be fun to remember the blizzard of 2010!

February 07, 2010

Jolie in 3D!

After weeks of constant wondering, bizarre dreams and almost unbearable impatience, I got a break.  We discovered that our medical benefits would cover an elective ultrasound - even in 3D!  I scheduled an appointment for the next morning. :)

My mom came with me and we got to see fully developed Jolie, looking ever so much like an actual baby.  The last time I saw her was almost 20 weeks ago, and boy oh boy, little lady has changed.  

I have worried for a couple weeks now over if she would, in fact, come out a boy and I would have to return everything pink.  It is confirmed that she is indeed a girl and I have begun cutting tags!  :)  Weighing in about 5 pounds and probably a little shorter than 20 inches, she has a head full of hair (oohh, I hope it's dark!) and is nice and chubby!  The technician showed us her fat little butt, chunky forearm and even a fat roll on the back of her neck.  Mom and I died.  Apparently, she has a wide head, too, which is something every first time preggo wants to hear. :)

As far as what she may look like, we determined that she does have Asian eyes and a wide face like me.  Her mouth, though, is all Drew.  Proof:

Jolie was pretty mad at us for interrupting her rest time; she kept trying to hide behind the placenta and her hand, and gave us a couple of mad faces, which Mom and I still loved:

We also got to see her in 2D from the side and got to watch her little mouth move around.  We got a great shot of her puckering:

And, of course, she sucked her thumb, probably trying to get us to stay away :)  (P.S. Please ignore the "I Love You!".  I'm not sure why technicians think you want that on an ultrasound picture.)

It's crazy to sort of know what she looks like!  And it's even crazier to think that we're just a few short weeks away from seeing her in person!

February 04, 2010

A few of my favorite things

As mentioned in the last post, the nesting instinct is starting to kick in hard core.  Never before have I had such a strong desire to organize, clean and organize again (Chrissy? Kaley? Jessica? DREW? Back me up, here).  I have started a "Jolie" pile in one corner of my room that is slowly growing.  Mostly, I am excited about organizing her clothes. :)

It started with these shoes.  They still sit on my dresser where I can see them everyday.  Now, however, we have entered the world of super cute hand-me-downs and thoughtful gifts!  Baby clothes are so. cute.  Since I have no closet to show yet or baby to dress, I figured I might as well confess my mini obsession with Jolie's wardrobe and show you how cute some of this stuff is.

Renata has been coming home with a thing or two over the past couple of months.  One day, she came home with these:

A former photography client of ours started her own Etsy business and her stuff is gorgeous!  I HAD to buy some stuff from Knits and What Knots!  I got a sweet hat:

And this ridiculously adorable headband:

Even though I have no baby to dress yet, I still like to go through the clothes and pick out little outfits.  Go ahead, call me crazy.  I don't care. :)  My favorite so far (compliments of Rachael and Ava!):

I would totally wear this.  Jo is going to be my mini-me.  :)  

Thank you for indulging the crazy pregnant lady.