Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Baby Clara's Nursery

Setting up Clara's nursery was probably one of the more difficult tasks we had to accomplish in preparation for her arrival.  I attribute this to my inability to pull the trigger on purchases.  I looked at rugs at Target for probably 2 months before I bought a rug to put in front of our door.  I have to take my mom with me to get me to actually buy the things that I need.  On the bright side, I don't have an impulse buying problem!
Anyway, once I finally made a decision on the crib things started to come together.  I shopped around and ultimately decided that I wanted a gray crib and I wanted Clara's nursery theme to be hot air balloons, as I said in my post about prepping for baby, this theme as really hard to find things for.  
I found a crib on which was honestly really convenient.  On Wayfair, all the big stuff ships free.  I have HGTV to thank for that information.  
The next challenge was the dresser.  I had an extremely hard time with this.  I had something specific in mind, and I just wasn't finding it, or I was and it was at Pottery Barn for $699.98.  No thanks.  I was mostly shopping second hand for these.  Lucky for me, my mom was also shopping second hand for them.  
She found one that someone had locally for $100 so I decided to go for it.  I didn't like the color and I wanted it to match the rest of the nursery, so it ended up my first furniture transformation project as well. 
I used paint designed for furniture re-finishing and contact paper from the one-spot at target.  I also replaced all the drawer knobs and I left off the cupboard door to make life easier.  It was a challenge, but I really enjoyed turning it into something I really liked.  The hardest part was definitely putting that contact paper in the clear plastic windows. It probably took loner than the whole dresser.  

I was also lucky enough to find matching cloth drawers and a laundry basket. The cloth drawers are filled with diapers and there's an unreal wipes supply on those shelves.  I also have diaper genie refills and the first aid kit.  I had the square shelves in my living room, but when Corey moved in, we moved some things around and put the square shelf in the babies room. On the shelf is a lambs and ivy lamp (on sale! It cost me $5 at Babies 'R' Us) and we also used the favors from the shower to decorate.

In the corner there is a cloth shelf filled with blankets, swaddles, burp cloths and other odds and ends that needed a place in the nursery. We were also lucky enough to find the cute hot air balloon crib set at Target along with the mobile. 

The chair was a pipe dream that I put on my registry NEVER expecting someone would actually get it for me.  Well Corey's parents surprised me and got it as our shower gift.  I cried when I found out I was so excited.  The cart is an IKEA purchase.  it has about 100 burp cloths and bibs in it. 

The adorable pictures on the wall were a gift from my friend in my unit.  She has a friend who does water colors, so she had her paint those custom prints.  I'm completely in love with them.  

While I was in the hospital with the baby, my sister and cousin went to my house and made sure that everything was organized as best as possible, cleaned my house and put diapers and wipes in every room but the kitchen. Setting up the nursery was probably one of the hardest parts of preparing for baby, but I'm really happy with how it turned out. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Call Me Mom

Clara's entrance into the world was a relatively dramatic one.

It all started on Monday after my 39 week doctor's appointment.  The doctor checked my cervix and it hadn't changed much since the visit a week prior.  She stripped my membrane and we started talking about induction.  Apparently that's just standard procedure, but I felt so defeated.  I was getting so tired of being pregnant.  My back was hurting, I wasn't sleeping, and I had heart burn that would not rest. 

A few hours later, I started having painful contractions. Being a first time mom, I was unsure if they were the real thing or if I was just irritated by the membrane stripping, so I mostly ignored them.  

The next day, they were much worse, but I still wasn't really sure what to do.  I spent some time with my mom and had Taco Tuesday with my family, all the while randomly clutching my contracting belly.  We had a really great night, but I was starting to feel extremely miserable.  My mom suggested we go to the hospital to get checked out, and I was definitely on board. 

When we got there, they hooked me up to all the machines and checked my cervix.  No change since my appointment Monday.  An hour or so later, they checked again and, of course, no change.  They sent me home and told me to come back if my contractions got closer together. 

A few hours later, I was in misery.  I was pacing around our living room every time a contraction hit.  I did everything the internet suggested to ease the pain, but nothing as working.  Eventually I couldn't take it anymore.  Around 2:30 am I called the hospital and spoke to the on-call doctor.  She recommended that I get my "cute little uterus to the hospital"  because it sounded like I was in labor.    
 I woke up Corey, made sure we had our bags and our phone chargers, and we headed out the door for the hospital. Sure enough, once we got there, they checked my cervix and I had dilated to a 3+.  They admitted me and the count down to meet Clara had officially begun.  

I got the epidural very shortly after I was admitted.  I had a little bit of anxiety about getting a needle in my spine, but it wasn't a big deal at ALL.  Getting the epidural made my labor experience so much better than if I'd waited.  The whole morning and afternoon I was smiling, welcoming visitors and in a great mood. 

They started me on Pitocin to help move things along.  Epidurals can slow down the process so Pitocin is how they help labor progress.  Luckily with the epidural, I was able to get some sleep.  Giving birth is hard work, so I'm really glad I was able to take advantage of the chance to sleep. 

After a little while, my cervix was checked and it was discovered that the baby was face up.  When babies are face up it makes it difficult for labor to progress. In an attempt to flip her around, they put this little green ball thing between my legs and had me roll over every 30 minutes or so. 
Looking at this picture I am so glad that Corey went to get a haircut instead of coming to Taco Tuesday.  

A few hours later, they opted to put in an internal monitor to see how strong the contractions were.  When they put in this monitor, Clara's heart rate dropped.  I could tell that my doctor and the nurses were worried.  More nurses started coming in the room and they were paging the anesthesiologist.  They put an oxygen mask on me and started getting me ready to move.  I honestly wasn't sure what was going on.  All I knew was that I needed to stay calm.  

I got stabbed in the arm with a shot meant to stop my contractions and I completely lost it.  My doctor as doing her best to calm me down, but I couldn't stop crying.  I wasn't even really sure what I was scared of, I think it was just that all the medical staff was swirling around me and making me panic. 

They ran me to the operating room, walked me through the C-Section risks and I felt Corey grab my hand.  I couldn't see him, but it was nice to know he was there.  My doctor was yelling at all the staff in the operating room letting them know that we weren't ready to deliver my baby.  They waited about 15 minutes and Clara's heart rate came right back up.  It was a terrifying 30 or so minutes in our lives, but luckily we were able to avoid a C-section and our baby was okay. 

Because they had to stop my contractions, it was like starting from square one.  My cervix was dilated to a 4 and we had to wait until I had 2 hours of "adequate" contractions. 

This didn't happen until around 8:30.  The nurse (third one of my labor experience)  checked me and told me "would you believe me if I told you you're at a 10 and ready to push?"

I didn't believe her and I was terrified.  After everything that had happened, I had basically prepared myself to have a C-Section and was NOT ready to push.  Of course, though, I got myself together and was able to push when the time came. 

I pushed for about 30-45 minutes and then my sweet baby was laying on my chest all covered in goo. I could hardly even believe it was happening.  After 9 of the longest months of my life, my baby was finally here. Please excuse my double chin...

Our first Family Photo

Daddy holding Clara for the first time. 

Labor was hard.  Giving birth is the hardest thing I've done in this life so far, but as I type this and look at my little girl sleeping in her bassinet beside me, I know I'd do it all over again to have her in my life. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What to Bring When The Baby is On the Way

**This post contains Affiliate links to quality products that can be purchased on Amazon**

Packing the bag for the hospital is an important part of having a baby.  Some people back up their hospital bags months before their baby is due to arrive.   I, being the picture of preparedness that I am, packed my bags a few days before Clara made her appearance. 

There are tons of things on Pinterest that tell you what you should pack for your (hopefully) short stay at the hospital.  I probably looked at a more than 20 little graphics saying what was essential for each member of the family.  I also talked to my family that had recently had babies at the same hospital, and eventually came up with a few things to stick in our bags. 

First things first:  Baby Clara's Diaper Bag

 From everything I've read, people tend to regret bringing way too many things with them to the hospital.  We figured we would already be overwhelmed with all of the new things that come with being a new parent.  We didn't need a whole mess of things getting in our way.  

For Corey and I:

When I was thinking about what to pack for the two of us, I started with a huge list.  The more I looked at he list, though, the less I wanted to take all of those things. We live close enough to the hospital that Corey could go home to clean up and change clothes, so what we brought for him was pretty minimal.

Form my stay at the hospital, I ended up really only using  a few of these things in the picture.  It was honestly sort of difficult to do anything but lay in bed.  There were people in and out of the room, we were working on breast feeding (this is a post in and of its self...), signing paper work, and figuring out how to be parents. I swear even eating was a challenge because we were so busy.   

My Advice For Packing Your Bags:

1:  Contact the the hospital and see what they provide for you. 
The hospital I delivered in provided me with everything I needed for my recovery to include awesome mesh undies.  They also had diapers, wipes, and receiving blankets. When you know what will be provided, you can make a decision on what additional comforts you want.  

2:  Be aware that dad gets nothing. 
In general, dad is not provided with many comforts.  They'll give him a pillow and a blanket, but you and baby are the patient.  Bring him a change of clothes and something to help him sleep comfortably.

3:  You'll want to have something to wear besides your hospital gown.
I was very grateful to have bought a nice nursing night gown and robe.  We were having a really hard time with breast feeding and it was very helpful to be wearing something nursing friendly.  It was also nice to be able to walk around the halls and not worry about my bum peaking out. 

4:  Don't forget your phone chargers!
You're probably going to take a thousand pictures and you'll have to let everyone know that your baby has arrived.  You don't want to have to worry about your dead phone.  Also, don't leave them in the birthing suit or the maternity floor! They collect a lot of phone chargers. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

10 things to Do When You're Expecting the Unexpected

Alternately titled:  The Unplanned Pregnancy
A lot of people plan their pregnancies.  They read up on all the right ways to make a baby.  They may even only do certain things or eat certain foods to try and conceive one gender over another. These people have been writing their "Before Baby" to-do list for a while now.
Then there are people like me.  The people like me didn't really plan on creating a human life, but it happened anyway.  This list is made up of things that I did once I found out that I was going to have a baby.  I really wish I would have done some of these things differently.  Learn from my mistakes.

1) Make a plan to save.

If you didn't plan on getting pregnant, you also weren't planning on the spending roughly $12,000 throughout their first year of life.  Now that estimate is probably on the higher end, but better to estimate high than low right? Corey and I started a savings account right after we found out I was pregnant and it has been a life saver when buying those big items like the crib.  It will also help us when I take a big pay cut on Maternity Leave.
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My advice: 
-Research assistance programs you may qualify for. WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) can help you purchase qualifying food items and formula.  They have a pre-screening tool where you can check your eligibility.  You may also qualify to receive state assistance for childcare.
-Consider breastfeeding and making your own baby food (I got a baby bullet from my work friends so we can do this!)
-Tie up loose ends! I set up my student loan repayment through the Army, set up a payment plan on an old debt, and made a plan to reduce my monthly spending to make things a little easier with a baby.
-Shop online/used/consignment/yard sale sites etc.  Of course you'll need to be careful about what you buy used, but there are definitely ways to save money on baby things by buying used.  People even sell unopened packages of diapers online at a discount!
2) Decide how to document your pregnancy.  Or if you will at all. 
I made a plan for this and did not follow through with it.  I really wish I had though.  My issue with this was I never felt "cute" enough to take a "bump-date" picture. If I would have just picked an outfit and stuck to it, or planned one day every week or two weeks I would have been a lot better at documenting this time.

My advice: For success on this one is to set up a specific plan on when you want to take pictures, what you want to wear, and how you want to show how far along you are.  Or else you'll end up like this:
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3) Tell your friends and family.
If your pregnancy was a whoopsie like mine was, telling your friends and family is probably more nerve-wracking that it is exciting.  When I told my mom, I was very nervous, but it helped me to prepare for her reaction.  I thought about the questions she (and anyone else I told) would ask and I answered them as they came. 
Corey and I told our parents, sisters, grandparents and other family individual, and we made an official announcement after the 10 week ultrasound.  We made up our cute little announcing picutre and took to Facebook.
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My advice:  It isn't a bad idea to wait until after you're 10 weeks along to tell people.  The risk of miscarriage greatly decreases after you hear and see the heartbeat.  But of course, to each their own. I didn't wait till 10 weeks to tell my family and it turned out alright.  Also, anticipate the questions people will ask.  Corey and I aren't married and people ask me all the time "When are you getting married?!"  I don't know if they realize this is a little rude...but regardless, I'll answer.  I have a rehearsed response that helps me handle this question.
4) Decide if you want to know the gender.
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This was a no-brainer for me.  I definitely wanted to know and Corey did too.  This is another one of those questions that people ask right away so decided how to answer this is a good idea.
My advice:  Decide sooner rather than later.  I promise you won't have the strength to say "No" to the question "Would you like to know the gender?"  If you decided in the moment.

5) Determine if  you'll be having a baby shower.  Most first time moms will have a baby shower.  Your sister/mom/aunt/friends will usually plan it and you'll be the guest of honor.  However just because someone didn't jump up and volunteer to throw one, doesn't mean they don't want to.  Suggest it to your friends and family and see what they say.  In my opinion, you can even throw one for yourself.

I was a part of the planning process for my shower and I loved that.  I decided on the theme, gave my sister the guest list, helped pick out the invites, and chose the food.  My family did all the heavy lifting, so to speak, and Corey and I attended.  We got lots of much needed gifts and we had a diaper raffle that supplied us with plenty of diapers to get us started. It was a huge success and I highly recommend it.

In fact, I'm going to write an entire post dedicated to having a shower.  Stay tuned for that one.

For me: registering really paid off.  Most of my friends and family purchased off my registry which means I got things that I needed/wanted.  As I got several duplicate items at my shower, because I was registered at Target they took every item and returned it whether it had a receipt or not.  As long as they carried it, it was returned.  I ended up with a nearly $200 gift card for me to purchase any left over items at that 15% discount.

6) Make a plan for new baby's insurance.
In my inexperience, this is one of the last things I thought about.  I'd be willing to bet that this one caught you by surprise too. As I'm under 26, I'm still on my mom's plan.  New baby cannot be on my mom's health insurance plan. 
My advice:  Get ahead of the game and plan for this early.  Apply for Medicaid, research your marketplace options, check out what your employer has to offer, etc.  Clara's due date has completely sneaked up on us and I'm scrambling to ensure she has health care coverage.  Don't do that.  It's not worth the stress.
7) Decide on a nursery theme and colors.
I decided early on that I really like gray furniture with other colors to accent.  Later on, I decided that I wanted the decoration theme to be hot air balloons.  Just so you know, this was NOT as easy as I expected.  So far, the only thing hot air balloon in my daughter's room is her crib set and I didn't even really try to match those colors with the other items in her room.
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My advice:  Pick something that isn't so hard to find.  I love the hot air balloons and I don't regret it, but I haven't really done a lot of decorating because I feel like I have to fabricate hot air balloon things on my own. 

Lambs and Ivy has TONS of different themes to choose from that will be easy for you to find in stores and online.  If you have the money to spend, I'd recommend finding your favorite theme there and going with that.

8) Make sure you know what's up with your living situation.
When you aren't planning to get pregnant, where you're living may not work out so great with a baby.  If you have roommates, this could pose an issue.  Do you live with your parents? Does your baby's dad live with you? Do you want him to?
For us, it worked its self out.  I was living with my little sister, but rent got to be too much for her income.  Corey was living with his friends who are also pregnant and needed his room for the nursery.  Sister moved out.  Corey moved in.  I knew right away that I wanted Corey to be there with me, but we had 6 months to actually make the move and we were able to give the landlord plenty of notice.  She even let us renew the lease to next spring to make new baby life easier.

9) Get to cleaning.
Chances are you don't need this on a to-do list to get it done.  My nesting instincts kicked in a few months ago and they've been fairly strong since.  I'll still let a mess accumulate (I'm a messy person...sorry, Corey) but I've gotten much better at getting them cleaned up in preparation for the baby.
My advice:  Don't try to do it all at once but take advantage of the inspiration/spurts of energy to clean or organize. I couldn't sleep the other night, so I started sorting Clara's washed clothes and putting them away.  More than half of that is done and I don't have to worry about it.  I also organized my closet and figured out some ways to help keep things cleaner later.  I know it will be hard once the baby comes so I want our routine to be easier if possible.

10) Decided if you want to take Maternity Photos.  In my last post you saw that we did ours recently. This was an awesome experience and I know that I will absolutely love having those pictures to remember this time.  I would  highly recommend it.  Because I was so terrible at documenting my pregnancy these photos were even more worth it.

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