Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mama's little _____________



Bathtime buddy

Sleeping Angel

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why so long?

It's hard for me to say why it's been so long, dear Blog, since you and I last spoke. So much has changed since then. So much has not. But let me try to explain:

1. I've been busy doing this thing called "being a mother."

2. Having a baby makes one a complete mess for a while. Seriously. I had no idea what I was in for. Add on top of the instantaneous drop in hormones the traumatic birth experience Adela and I had and then the weeks upon weeks of horrendous breastfeeding trials and tribulations, and I was not doing so well. If it's any indication what a hot mess I was, I started--but couldn't bear to finish--a post entitled "Bathing my baby in breastmilk and tears." I think you get the picture.

3. Plus, when you have a baby, you don't get much time to yourself. Showering (let alone shaving your legs) can sometimes feel like the best feat in the world.

4. But even after things started to get better and settle down a bit--say when Adela was around 9 weeks old--I thought of you and contemplated becoming reacquainted with you again, but didn't want to give up any precious moments with my little one. Ok, really I was ashamed that I had hardly taken any photos with which to post to you (and in fact still haven't. Jake and I aren't picture people. Let's face it. At least future children of ours won't be upset when there's no pics of them either.) Our lack of documentation of this whole process is ridiculous, given the fact that we bought an incredibly nice camera for this occasion.

5. And did I mention yet that when you have a baby you don't get much "mama time?"

6. I've gone back to work. Adela's in daycare. I also contemplated writing to you then to report of this new change in our life, but how to put all those emotions into words? Perhaps you'll help me work through it someday later, but right now it's too raw to explain.

Now, though, I find myself with just this: a short span of "mama time" and I'm not entirely sure what to do with it. I am experiencing a rare night of sleepiness from my little girl. She's all swaddled up in her crib. I've just completed my various chores for the evening, including making scrumptious stuffed green bell peppers and doing laundry for the umpteenth time this week. And I thought, "Hey! What the heck? Why don't you write a little. Say hello to your online presence. Put a few words to paper so to speak."

So dear blog, it's good to be back. My life--while crazy--is so very much worth every bit of chaos.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Precious moments

No, not the figurines, silly! Those precious moments of the first week...

Your "going home" outfit

Snuggling with Mama

Snuggling with Papa

First sponge bath at home (she's a bit camera shy here!)

Tummy time on the beautiful quilt your Grandma Mary made for you

Cloth diapering adventures begin! Adela modeling the wool soaker made for her by Mama's friend, Victoria

Wearing the onesie Courtney gave us. Adela and Maddie must have a matching onesie party asap!

Playtime with Mama

And then there's all those times that I don't have the camera for, like when she's finished nursing and she purses her lips and sighs contentedly, when she coos in her sleep and makes the funniest facial expressions, when she stares at me with her big beautiful eyes as if pondering the meaning of life. Those are the moments I hold in my heart because they're the most precious of all.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Adela Marie's Birth Story

Adela Marie Melby
Born Friday, August 5, 2011 at 3:17 pm
UPMC Mercy Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA
7 pounds, 8 ounces
21 inches long

Here is your birth story, as real as they get down to every last detail, not necessarily for you (at least until you're well older), but more for me as I want to remember all that happened and begin the healing process:

9 days overdue. You were just as snug as a bug in a rug. We were scheduled for the biophysical profile ultrasound at 7 am that morning. The night before I added lots of pepper flakes to my dinner and went for a walk. Just like I had done for the previous 3 nights. But something must have changed...

I realize now that as we were driving to the hospital for the ultrasound I was starting to have contractions. They continued through the ultrasound, about every 5-6 minutes. Hhmm...I thought.

The ultrasound did not go as well as hoped. The technician noticed particularly low levels of fluid, not uncommon for a baby that overdue, but it was worrisome nonetheless. She paged the Midwife Center, and the technician cautioned us that we may not want to leave the hospital. Luckily we had our bags in the trunk if we needed to stay. And so the waiting began.

Promptly after the ultrasound, though, I had to use the bathroom, and had the "bloody show" that accompanies early labor. Woo hoo, I thought! Only it was a lot bloodier than I thought it probably should be, and I started to get nervous, and so I too paged the Midwife. I then called our doula, Courtney, to let her know the scoop and that labor had likely started.

And we waited some more for her to call us back. The contractions kept coming, close and furious. We went to the cafeteria to grab a bite to eat (because once you're admitted all you get is ice chips!), and we finally heard from the midwife on call, Theresa. She had been waiting to hear from the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor that they consult with to see if we could perhaps attempt a birth center birth, even though fluid levels were so low. But she couldn't get a hold of him, and she said she knew what her back-up Doctor would say--stay at the hospital. So about 2 hours after the ultrasound began, Courtney met us at the hospital and we made our way up to labor and delivery.
Last picture pregnant! 41 weeks, 2 days.
 Because the fluid levels were so low, Theresa explained that I would have to be on continuous monitoring throughout the labor. If baby's heart rate remained steady and didn't decelerate during contractions, I would be able to have the wireless telemetry monitor so I could get up and move around. They hooked me up and we waited some more as they monitored me through contractions, which at this point were running 3-4 minutes apart. Another hour later and about 3 centimeters dilated, I was given the all clear--baby was handling contractions just fine. So they strapped me into the telemetry device and a walking we went.
Getting ready to go a-walking!
 And it wasn't long, between the walking and the squatting during contractions, that my water broke.
Right before my water broke.
 It was just like everyone describes--an internal "pop." Now, I didn't have a lot of water in there anyway, but it made all the difference in the world. Those contractions kicked into high gear instantaneously. The next few hours are a blur. All I know is that I found my rhythm--a rocking rhythm accompanied by low moans--and tried to go with the waves. I sat on the toilet quite a bit and leaned over the birthing ball on the bed. Those were the positions that seemed to work best for me. I also was very hot during labor, and they all kept me bathed in ice cold wash clothes during the entire time. It was genius! The contractions got stronger and closer together. I was making lots of progress, which Theresa was very happy to see. I went from 3-5 centimeters in an few hours, and dilated the rest of the way by about 2:30 pm. I didn't ask for pain meds, and there was only one time where I said "I don't think I can do this." And Jake and Courtney both reminded me--numerous times after that--that I was in fact doing it.

What was sort of abnormal was that I started having signs of transition at 5 centimeters, complete with puking, shaking, and yes, even pooping. I didn't know before I got pregnant how common pooping was during labor, so I didn't feel that bad despite it being a tad bit awkward! I also had a strong urge to push from 5 centimeters on. Theresa was great and just let me roll with it, which I appreciated because I don't know if I could've stopped it even if I wanted to. Apparently the low fluid levels could be blamed for that, but because of the puking and pushing, I dilated completely by 2:30. All told--a pretty quick labor.

So things were looking good. I was all set to have the unmedicated birth I had wanted. And then I did a few big pushes. And baby's heart rate plummeted. We tried another position, but it plummeted again during the pushes. It came back up during the resting period, but always dipped low. So within what seemed like 30 seconds, all of a sudden I had an oxygen mask strapped to my face, 5 new people in the room, the OB telling me that they were going to try a vacuum extraction, and I was wheeled off to the OR. They kept telling me not to push--which is the hardest thing in the world--and as they wheeled me into the OR, I knew things were not looking good. But funny, at the time, I was never scared. I was still just rolling with it. Perhaps I was delirious from the pain, too.

In the OR, there was such hustle and bustle, it was incredible compared to the relative calm of my labor when it was just me, Jake, Courtney, and Theresa in the dimly lit room, all whispering words of encouragement. And here's where things get even blurrier. I remember them getting prepped for the vacuum extraction, and the OB just yelling in my face to push harder than I've ever pushed in my life. And I did. I tried. The vacuum popped off once, and they reattached it. I could feel as they gave me an episiotomy. I thought I was so close during my last two pushes. But then I just felt the OB push the baby's head back in my body, Jake was ushered out ("Dad needs to leave!"), and the prep began for the cesarean. I first received a drug that stopped contractions, then the spinal anesthesia, and they brought Jake in just as the screen came up. And a few minutes later, the cries could be heard of our little girl. Jake looked over at me and said "That's our little girl," (or something like that), and I could see her just out of the corner of my eye as they got her cleaned up. Jake was invited over there to watch, and as they finished stitching me up, Jake brought her over for me to see. All I wanted to do was hold her, but had to wait until they finished with everything. Mom does all the work, and she's the last one to hold her in this scenario. So be it, though. It wasn't long before they put my little girl in my arms and we made our way back to our room.
On top of being late, thus leading to the low fluids, you were also posterior (sunny side up) and as you were trying to come out, you decided to tilt your chin back instead of down. Apparently, as I found out later, the OB on call that day happened to be more anxious than others and wasn't as willing to let things play out as others might have been. So all of these things combined to eventually lead to the pretty traumatic birth that happened.

And while I am of course grateful that you are healthy, as my midwifes and Courtney keep telling me, it's okay to grieve about how the process went. We had done such preparation to try to bring you gently in the world, but as is always the case, our best laid plans went awry. I am taking great pride in the fact that at least part of our plan--an unmedicated labor--was achieved, especially with the fact that you were posterior. And my midwives keep telling me I'm an excellent candidate for a VBAC, so I may get a chance to have a vaginal birth yet. Especially if I have a doula as great as Courtney was (seriously, she was amazing! Jake and I couldn't have done it without her!).

But that, in sum, is the beginning of your life, my sweet Adela. Now, we're soaking you up. Your papa is mesmerized by you and is already proving to be much better at this job than he thought he was going to be. Because of my healing process from the cesarean, he was thrown in head first into diaper changing with zero experience, and he lives to tell about, first meconium diaper and all.  Nursing is going, albeit not all that well. We haven't quite found our groove as far as latching goes (let's just say I'm sore all over these days), but I know we'll get it. We're both too stubborn to give up that easily. You already make the cutest noises and faces while you sleep, and if I could, I would give you kisses all day long. You are just that kissable :-)

I also want you to know that your name carries with it the legacies of many strong women who all love you very much. My great-grandmother "Dale" lived until she was 104; may you have as long and as a fulfilling life as that Adela had. Marie is my middle name, my mom's (Grandma Karen's) middle name, a variation of your Grandma Mary and Great-Grandma Marion's name, and as I later found out after we had already decided on it, was also the first Adela's middle name. Know that you will always carry with you the love and support of family, no matter where you go and what you do. We will always be behind you.

We are all so excited to see the person you are going to become!


Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Relativity of "Due-ness"

Dear Baby Girl,

You were due to arrive on this grand planet 4 days ago. Where are you? Comfy cozy inside my belly, as my little bud Aiden would say. Comfy cozy.

It's hard to describe the anticipation that comes and goes when thinking about your due date. I tried to be as non-chalant about it's inevitable passing. I started out my day with an intellectually-discussion at the Opera on TAP workshop, went to the Ballet to do some paperwork and a meeting, then off to dinner with some colleagues and one of our major donors, then lastly, the light at the end of my tunnel for July 27th (outside of you potentially arriving)--a pedicure at Salon Booth. It was worth every penny as the massage chair was the best massage chair I have EVER sat in. And my technician, Tom, when I told him I was due that day, said, "Uh uh. Not in my tub honey!" He was delightful to talk with and made my toes as pretty as can be. I'll definitely be going back to him in the future! But at the end of the day, I'm not gonna lie--there were twinges of disappointment.

So that's what I did on the day you were supposed to arrive because, well, you didn't. And so now, four days later, each day drags on a little more. Each pain and contraction I have I wonder "is this it?" And then I try and relax and remember that you'll come whenever you're ready and whenever you feel "due." Due-ness is, after all, quite relative to the wealth of factors that make one ready for labor and delivery.

Yet, as frustrated and impatient as I am to meet you, I really am proud that already you have a mind of your own. But I implore you, Baby Girl--please come sooner rather than later. It is summer after all :-)


Friday, July 22, 2011

Busy as a Bee

Been busy as a bee lately!  Growing a baby...
Week 38

Week 39

Making gifts for friends...

Making more things for baby...

  • Tag Blankie

  •  Pacifier clips

  • Swaddling blanket

Modeled by our current baby of the house.

Working out in the garden...
The abundant amount of garlic that Jake dug up...only to have a large portion of it chomped on by Beau! But isn't it pretty?
And starting to get very impatient for Baby Girl to arrive. I'm getting so unbelievably excited to meet her, hold her, and love her at the same time that I'm becoming increasingly uncomfortable amidst the heat and humidity. I know I should take it one day at a time (and I'm trying), but the thought of having to be pregnant for another two weeks is a daunting prospect. So please--help take my mind off it! I know in my head I won't be pregnant forever, but still...the days are really long when the heat index is above 100 degrees!

Oh, and I suppose for those of you have read all the way through, wondering if there would be a clue on the name, all I will say is "High FIVE! We're almost there!"

Saturday, July 9, 2011

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Oh finally! Inspiration and the time to write a non-pregnancy blog post! I hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Last night, after hemming and hawing in the car about "Eat out? Ooh, Chinese sounds so gooood! But we shouldn't spend the money. And we're having Asian tomorrow night, etc.," we finally decided to make another grill pizza. We had one on Thursday night, and while it was delicious, I was in the mood for something really savory and salty. I suggested BBQ Chicken Pizza. Jake got giddy with excitement. BBQ Chicken Pizza it was.

When we got home, Jake turned on the grill and I immediately pulled some of our cooked chicken from the freezer. Seriously, preparing meat in advance is the BEST. THING. EVER. Meals come together in no time at all! I cut up some onion, cheese, and pepperoncini fresh from the garden. Jake mixed our leftover pizza sauce with some BBQ sauce, and trust us--it doesn't take much to give it a BBQ flavor. He then mixed a bit of this with the chicken. I was skeptical of this method at first, but it really did help keep the chicken from drying out. I stretched the dough. I didn't do any fancy twirls with the dough, but I think my dad still would have been proud. Then we assembled. Here is the pizza before baking:

 Then we put it on a pizza stone that we use exclusively for the grill. If you try and use one for both your oven and your grill, your house will get smoky very quickly (trust us!). It's best, we've found, to NOT heat the pizza stone up before hand on the grill. Since the heat source is bottom heat, it has a tendency to burn very quickly before the rest of the pizza is done. And about 12-15 minutes later, here's the beauty of a pizza we turned out:

Dad, you taught me well :-)

And because we had some garden greens to use up (beet and kale), I sauteed those up with some onion, garlic, and creole seasoning for what turned out to be a delicious Southern meal--pizza style. Delicious!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

All my bags are packed...

All my bags are packed because baby, we are at 37 weeks. Holy moly. Full term peeps. That's what that means. Baby Girl Melbs could arrive at any time and everything would likely be okay. While you can never really know how things will ever go, there's definitely a sense of relief to know we made it this far.

Here's the belly at 25, 33, and 37 weeks in the same outfit for a little comparison:

Whoa. It's amazing what the female body can do!

I keep meaning to blog about something other than pregnancy, but have found my inspiration to be lackluster lately. So, for those tired of hearing about the impending arrival (and it's okay if you are...there are times I'm sick of talking about it, to be quite frank), here's some other things that have been going on in the Melby household:

A delicious, refreshing lunch on my half-day Friday last week. Fresh basil can make any meal go from blah to grand!

Processing the last of the peas from our garden. I think we have about 8 bags of them in the freezer, ready to go for stir frys and the like.

And our puppy. Who is the cutest puppy around :-)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Time flies...

Dear Blog,

Time flies. I'm so sorry to have neglected you recently.

In my paltry attempt to make up for my busy, whirwind life these past two weeks, here's a bit about what's been happening. I hope you enjoy the catchup!

1. 35 weeks came...

and went.

2. Last weekend was spent making freezer meals. Unfortunately, I didn't have the energy (nor free iota of time or set of hands) to document it, but here's how I helped get us stocked up for when baby arrives:
  • made two fryer chickens in the crockpot--season and forget it!--that turned into 2 8X8 pans of chicken spaghetti hotdish; 4 two-cup containers of cooked, cut chicken ready for whatever stirfrys or yummy dishes we can dream up; and 3 quarts of scrumptious chicken broth.
  • made one large pork roast in the crockpot--season and forget it!--that turned into 4 large containers of pulled pork for sandwiches, Thai dishes, or something equally as good.
  • 7 two-cup containers of spaghetti bolognese sauce
  • 6 two-cup containers of sloppy joe mix
  • 2 loaves of pumpkin bread
  • 1 loaf of zucchini bread
  • 1 large batch of granola
  • 4 pizza dough balls
  • 28 breakfast burrito wraps
  • 18 chorizo, bean, and rice burritos
  • 2 8X8 pans of lasagna
And I think that was it. All in all, I probably spent about 11 hours over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the kitchen prepping, cooking, and cleaning. So not terrible. And now we've got a whole lot of food to use up once Baby Melbs arrives! A small price to pay for how useful it will be later on!

3. We received a lovely package from my mother-in-law, Mary, that contained the beautiful and gorgeous quilt she made for the crib. It matches the set that we were interested in perfectly! I couldn't believe it!
Isn't it just darling? I can't wait to wrap up Baby Girl in it and snuggle her tight as I rock her to sleep :-)

Also included in the care package (which I love to get, even at this age...I must remember to pass those onto our daughter when she's old enough to get mail!) was another quilt we can use for downstairs, some clothes, Jake's baby blankets (which almost made me cry--how sweet we get to wrap up our little girl in all that history!), and a strand of butterflies to hang, and I thought, "Hmmm...I bet this would make a great mobile for the crib!" And with a little finagling, here's what I came up with:

4. Jake and I also finished setting up the nursery--what a relief! Well, I should say ALMOST as we still have a small bookshelf to put together. But that'll be easy-peasy. So here's the snuggling corner, all set up...

...and the changing table, all ready to go. We're using disposables for the first week or so until the meconium poops have passed and because we had them to use up! Then it'll be onto the cloth diapering adventure...

...and then the crib corner. Oh wait, what do I see? Is that a letter? Yes, but it's the one I gave before--in place! The rest have been photoshopped out :-)
And because I don't want to torture my dear mother toooo much (because I know the effects of Karma), here's another letter, but where it will go, who shall know!

5. 36 weeks is here--one more week until full term! Both Jake and I are having a hard time really comprehending that Baby Melbs could arrive at any time. We're trying to savor our time together, in this state of two-person family that we're in right now, before we welcome our sweet addition and have to reconfigure how we operate and function. Which might take some time, but, as the point of this post goes--time flies! So either way--we'll survive, and hopefully well enough to savor all the moments of Baby Girl's infancy to the max!

So, Blog, I hope that this has made you feel better about my recent two-week absence. I did miss you and hope to update you with more cheer and happenings soon.