Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Anna: One Month

Look who is already one month old!  I have to admit that when Charlie hit the one month milestone it felt like he should be going to Kindergarten.  This time around, the time has flown by.  Maybe I'm more sentimental, maybe I'm more relaxed, maybe I'm just getting old.  Whatever it is, I'm enjoying it.  Bring on month two!

Anna at 1 month:

Sleeps a lot
Eats a LOT.  She's a fantastic nurser!  (Prefers nursing every 2-3 hours during the day.  On a good night she'll sleep about 4-5 hours between feeding-- as long as she can get the burp out.  If not, we're in for a looooong night.)
Loves being carried in the Moby
Endures walks with Mom and Brother (although voices her dissatisfaction when she realizes she's not nursing)
Has met lots of people who have all doted on and adored her.  But nobody loves her more than her brother.  He is absolutely s-m-i-t-t-e-n.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Good Day

I've gone on the record as saying that I would happily give up the four seasons if it meant I could live somewhere that never saw snow.  And while I'm not quite ready to retract that statement, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't at least enjoy autumn.  And honestly, if every day of autumn was as beautiful as the past three days have been, perhaps I'd enjoy it even more.

This past weekend was so good.  There's no other way to state it.  No other words can sum it up.  We were able to get out and enjoy the world-- and spending time with my two littles gave me a wave of happiness that I can't quite explain.  It was magical.   It was lovely.  It was beautiful and warm and sunny.  It was crisp and cool and clear.  It was rejuvenating and refreshing.  It was exciting and fun and playful. It was darn near perfection.

(Okay, so maybe one of us would have rather been snuggled up inside, 
eating continuously for five hours)  

The First Days

Disclaimer:  We're all (relatively) happy and healthy and doing well at the moment.  That said, when Anna was just a few days old, she gave us a little scare-- sending us back to the hospital for two nights.  Read on for the full story.
This time around, Mason & I were sure we had this baby thing figured out.  We weren't going to fret.  We weren't going to worry.  We were going to be easy breezy pudding pie.  Babies cry, parents lose sleep, everyone survives and so will we.  We were going to be cool, calm, and relaxed.  Spahnville was going to be a continuous state of zen perfection.  (Or something like that.)

Anna's first day and night home were uneventful.  She slept and cooed and cried a little.  She quietly slept in her swing or bassinet while we ate supper as a family.  "Isn't this nice?" we said to each other. "She's so sweet!  She's so perfect!  It's so beautiful outside, let's go show her off!"  We happily began lacing up shoes and tossing on sweatshirts when all of the sudden, Mason yelled, "She's choking! She's choking!"

I ran out to the living room where he was holding Anna like a football, patting her back.  Her face was red and she wasn't breathing-- and not making any sounds either.  Finally, she took what sounded like an incredibly painful gulp of air and gasped for breath.  "She's fine she's fine she's fine she's fine" I murmured as I scooped her out of Mason's arms.  But as I looked at her, she looked different.  Her eyes seemed far away and her body was as limp as cooked spaghetti.  I cooed softly into her ear and assured her that she was in fact, fine-- although I wasn't sure if I was trying to convince her or me.  We finished gathering our gear for the walk and I began to set her in her carseat when I notice that she looked....different.... again.  Mason rushed over and told me that she was choking again so we quickly removed her from the carseat and repeated the drill we had just gone through.  Again, when she had resumed breathing, her whole body was limp and lifeless.  Her eyes looked far away-- and though I only had known her for three days, I felt like something could possibly be very wrong.

I cradled Anna in my arms and walked (paced) around our house-- whispering reassuring messages in her ear.   As I walked past our mirror, I caught a glimpse of our reflection and couldn't contain the tears that were forming.  Suddenly, staring at the two of us in the mirror, everything seemed much scarier.  Here I was, with my brand new baby-- a gift that I wasn't sure we would ever have again-- and now something might be terribly wrong.  I held her and cried and whispered and pleaded-- nothing can be wrong-nothing can be wrong-nothing can be wrong.

During the next few minutes, Anna endured two more "spells" and Mason was on the phone with my uncle-- a pediatrician who occasionally listens to our after-hours concerns.  He agreed that it might be a good idea to take her to the ER and have her checked out.  (I didn't need the green light from him-- my mind had been made up much earlier)

After a quick call to an angel of a friend who took Charlie for the night (His first sleep over! He was so excited!) we floored the swagger wagon to the Waterloo ER.  And let me tell you, the actual ER is much different from the TV version of the ER.  There are no swinging doors and throngs of nurses and doctors already clad in surgical gear.  There's nobody waiting at the door to whisk you away the moment you walk through the door.  No, instead there's the drone of elevator music on the speakers and a late-night infomercial on the tv.  A receptionist wearing scrubs chomped her gum and asked us questions as her long painted fingernails typed our responses into the computer.  She didn't seem to sense our urgency as she casually asked us to have a seat and told us that someone would be out to see us soon-- like we were there to file our taxes instead.

The next few hours are a complete blur.  We saw several doctors, who ordered tests and x-rays and eventually admitted us to the pediatric floor for overnight observation.  Poor Anna was poked and prodded and monitored almost continuously.  By the next morning, the combination of worry and crying and lack of sleep had left me exhausted.  Fortunately, the nurses on the Peds unit were fantastic and helped me get some much needed rest while they kept a watchful eye on Anna.  We ended up staying in the hospital for two (never-ending) days to make sure that she was on the mend. She had four "episodes" in all-- but the doctors ruled out seizures and brain related concerns.  In the end, the doctor gave us several guesses on what had been happening-- but nothing definitive.  We were sent home on Friday with specific instructions about feeding, after-feeding, sleeping, and monitoring her-- and of course, we followed them them precisely.

While our hospital stay was not pleasant, I couldn't help but think of the families who have far more serious concerns with their children.  My heart ached for what other people experience within hospital walls and I couldn't help but be overcome with gratitude for my healthy children.

Bringing Anna home from the hospital the second time was not quite as carefree as it was initially.  Our easy-breezy attitude had been shaken.  We were back to worrying and fretting-- but we weren't going to let it control us.  Charlie was thrilled to see his sister again, but he offered her a stern warning: "I love you Baby Sister!  But don't do that thing again that made Mommy cry, okay?"  Now, nearly a month later, things have relaxed quite a bit.  Anna hasn't had any more medical issues and appears to be doing really well.  We've been able to relax when it comes to eating and sleeping, which means we've been given a little more time to devote to 'real life' again. We're adjusting to life as a family of four and admitting that maybe, just maybe, we don't have this whole parenting thing figured out.  And even if we did, we definitely were reminded that life can throw us a curve ball that we'll just have to endure, at any time.  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Introducing: Anna Rose Spahn

By now most of you have heard our big news:

We have a baby girl!

Is anyone else as surprised as me?  It's been ten days since she was born and sometimes I still can't believe that I have a daughter.  A Daughter!  We're mother and daughter.  Father & Daughter.  Big brother, little sister.   It's crazy and amazing and I couldn't be more thrilled.  Read on for Anna's birth story, or just gaze at the amazing photos taken by my friend and doula, Melissa-- whom supported and encouraged me throughout labor--- even walking endless miles with me around the hallways of the Labor & Delivery floor.  She's amazing and I couldn't be more thankful for her. 

Saturday, September 20 2014: 

After spending the beautiful day with friends & family, we headed home for a quiet evening alone. Charlie helped Mason put together our new outdoor patio heater while I tidied up the house and noticed that my ankles were suddenly really swollen!  The evening was uneventful and we fell asleep believing that everything would still be the same the next morning.  But around midnight, my water broke.  I hadn't experienced this with Charlie-- so I wasn't quite sure at first.  It only took a slight shift in seating positions to know for sure-- yes, water has definitely broken.

We had several people "on call" in case Baby came in the middle of the night-- and really, do babies ever come during a more convenient time?  We called contact #1 and then #2 and then #3-- but everyone seemed to be zonked.  For some reason, I wasn't panicked in the slightest-- and things ended up working out fine.  Our #3 contact came over and slept on our couch while my parents took a little midnight road trip to Spahnville.  When Charlie woke up and saw my parents.... he knew what was going on right away.

Meanwhile, Mason and I were at the hospital anxiously awaiting the arrival of our baby.  Although my water had broken, my contractions were not intense and still about 3-4 minutes apart.  Because I had tested GBS positive, I needed to be given a dose of antibiotics--fortunately, this didn't hinder my ability to walk the hallways-- which Melissa and I did for hours.  While the walking helped somewhat, things just weren't progressing as we had hoped.  Eventually, Melissa convinced me to head back to the room and "get this party started".  (Yes, that's a direct quote from her.)  She had asked me to bring my breast pump because pumping has been known to help induce labor.  Although it was not the most comfortable thing I've ever consented to, I hooked myself up and 'pumped' for about 15 minutes.  Amazingly, during that time, my body got the message and sent me into pretty active labor.

I labored in the tub and desperately tried to get comfortable.  (Is that an oximoron when talking about labor?) Mason was by my side the entire time, encouraging me and talking me through each contraction.  He held me and soothed me and rubbed my back.... and then stepped away when I may have mentioned I didn't want him touching me.

I lost all sense of time and awareness of others in the room.  I focused on breathing.  I focused on Mason.  I focused on visualizing this baby moving downward.

After only about twenty minutes of pushing, Anna Rose was born.  Her umbilical cord was very short (as was Charlie's) and had wrapped between her legs and around her neck.  Because of this, there was resistance when pushing.  My midwife ended up cutting the cord before she was born-- which was all that was needed for her to make her entrance into this world.  I think my midwife said, "It's a girl!" and then Mason looked at me with the sweetest, most excited face and said, "We have a little girl!"  I couldn't have been more surprised-- I think my exact words were, "What!?  Really!?  A girl!?" and I admit that I'm still getting over the surprise of it all.

Anna was immediately taken over to the warming table because she was pale and had a low temperature, due to the umbilical cord being wrapped around her.  Fortunately, her daddy was right there to check her out and reassure her that all was going to be well.  

My body shook uncontrollably as my hormone levels spiked and crashed and it felt like she was on the warming table for hours-- all I wanted to do was see her and hold her and verify that it really was a girl!  But finally... after all the waiting, someone placed her in my arms and all was well.

We couldn't be prouder parents-- and are totally completely one-thousand percent in love with our little girl.  

And later, when this happened, everything felt right.  My heart is full, our family is complete.  So very blessed and grateful.  

U-N-I Fight! And our last day as a family of 3

Charlie and I have an eventful day on Saturday, September 20th-- hanging out in Cedar Falls for the UNI Homecoming parade with friends.  Aside from a few raindrops, the weather cooperated and turned into a gorgeous day.  Charlie had fun with his buddies, and I loved spending time with their mama. We joked about the baby being five days overdue and hoping the excitement from the parade would speed his/her entry into the world.  Of course, I knew I'd be heading back to work on Monday-- afterall, there was no way this baby was coming out any time soon! 

C's hand was always on my belly-- he constantly wanted to be touching/kissing/loving "his baby". 

Again, notice C's head placement-- giving "his baby" a hug in the picture.  
After the parade, we headed to Sara's sister's house and ate OP pizza, watched the boys play "Spy Mission", and were given a karate performance by Sara's nephew.  The mama chatted and the men watched the Iowa game.  Perfect conditions for a fall afternoon.  After C & I left, we ran some errands then headed home to enjoy the beautiful (and unusually warm) autumn day.  That night Mason & Charlie played soccer, Charlie had a bath, we read a zillion books, and then we all settled into our beds, assuming the next day would be just another day we'd get to spend as a family of three....