Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Good Luck Boys!!!

My sports teams must REALLY like my kids!! In Liam's first year, the US Soccer team won their World Cup qualifying group and won a game at the World Cup for the first time since 2002. Now my  little man, Topher, is here and my Dallas Mavs have made a return to the NBA finals. I am liking this!! I think it is time for my boys to finally get their first pieces of Dallas Mavs gear!!


The Art of a Bookcase

We have officially lived in this house since Liam was about 2 and a half months old. He is now 2 months shy of turning two. We still have SO much to do before this house is fully decorated. I don’t even have lots of my pictures hung! **SIGH** One of my projects since I’ve been out on maternity leave with Topher, child number 2, is the wall of bookcases in our front room. Technically this room is meant to be a formal living room, but we are not really formal living room kind of people. Instead we’ve decided to turn this room into our study (hence the bookcases!). Plus the desk we plan to get will soon be getting LOTS of use (but more on this in a future blog post).

My first step in decorating the bookcase was to do a little research and to get tips. So this post is to show off my newly decorated bookshelves and to share the tips that resonated with me most. First, here’s a picture of the finished product (you can click on the picture to see them larger):

Now for the tips….

(1)First, gather up odds and ends around the house that you might be able to use on the bookcase. I gathered up some vases, flowerpots, baskets, a kitchen platter, photo albums, frames, candles, etc.

(2)Think about whether you want to have a theme or color scheme. Though, truthfully I don’t think that this is a necessity. My theme, loosely, is nature. I’ve incorporated lots of flowers and leaves. And I suppose there is quite a bit of red accented throughout.

(3)Don’t forget to decorate the top of the bookcase. Originally I thought about adding additional height to the bookcase, but ends up I’m glad I didn’t so I could decorate the top. Now I have to brag about the metal frame with the flowers. I did purchase multiple pieces to complete the look and only spent around $100 total. The flowery frame piece I got for only $7 after a sale and coupons at Kohl’s. Actually everything I got was on sale.

(4)Don’t be afraid of empty spaces. You don’t want to decorate every space on every shelf. Your eyes need a place to rest as they look around the shelf.

(5)Your shelves don’t have to line up all the way across, though they should have some symmetry. You should have some shelves that are the same all the way across, as well as some differences. I have 5 cases side by side. Bookcase 1 and 5 are set up the same, as well as 2 and 4. The one in the middle is slightly different.

(6)Consider using storage, such as baskets/file boxes, etc for things you want to have hidden, keeping your bookshelves looking clean and pretty. I ended up purchasing these as well.

(7)Don’t feel like you have to put all of your books together on shelves lined all the way across. Break them up by turning them on the side and putting items on top of them. Or fill up half a shelf and add a bookend of some kind. But remember to keep things balanced. If you do use a shelf for lots of books, do the same on the bookshelf opposite of it. I tried to group my books by particular topics. In the shelves pictured here, I have books related to death and dying/connecting with and supporting others (I AM a hospice social worker!) grouped together and photography books grouped on the shelf underneath. I have to note here that after decorating the bookshelves, Will’s comment was that the vase I chose to place with my hospice-type books remind him of an urn, lol. I told him that he is welcome to place my ashes here and add a cork after my death. Though I’m not sure he thought that was funny!

Other groupings not individually pictured are a section of relationship type books, a grouping of Bibles, and books on learning Spanish/travel. I’ve also kept our textbooks together on separate shelves (Will’s engineering/computer books and my social work books). Then I grouped fiction/leisurely reading together. And yes, that is my Harry Potter collection grouped proudly in the middle!!

I do still have some finishing touches to do. I still have an empty shelf on the left. I’m thinking of adding votive candles to that shelf and the one opposite of it (removing the flower pot I have there to the right now). I also need to put some pictures in my frames, lol. I’m still deciding which pictures I want to put in there. Then of course we’ll need a rug, a large desk, and some seating. Who knows when we’ll have stuff done around here, but I’m happy to get things done one project at a time!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Topher is OUT of our bedroom....

...and into our closet! LOL Yes, it’s true, I moved Topher into the closet and tonight is his first night to sleep there. I’m simply not ready to trudge upstairs for middle of the night feedings. Plus we only have one crib and Liam is still sleeping in it. The plan eventually is to move Liam to a new room and his “big boy” bed, but I’m kinda dragging my feet. The thought of Liam being able to get out of bed on his own scares me, especially since he likes to stay up and play at bedtime. But, we were definitely ready for Topher to be out of our bedroom. So, the closet is his new room! Luckily we have a large closet and its separated from our room by our bathroom. Here’s a picture:

These were already here, but I'll show a picture anyways. We put some Ikea cubby holes in our closet for baskets of clothes, toys, baby stuff, etc...

For those of you who are worried about my child being shut in the closet, you can stop worrying. Our closet even has a vent. : )

The one thing missing was the rocking chair for middle of the night feedings. Luckily my wonderful hubby got me one for Mother’s Day! Sadly, the opening to our closet is one whole *size of my foot* smaller than any other doorway. And yes, that is how I measure things. : ) After multiple attempts I realized there was NO WAY it was going to fit through the door. Here’s a picture of my new rocking chair…

Luckily, the rocking chair we have in Liam’s room fits easily through the door! This is the rocking chair my mother rocked us in as babies, and it’s the chair I nursed Liam in. So it’s perfect! And my new rocking chair made its home in Liam’s room for story-, prayer-, and song-time before bed. Here’s a picture of the family rocking chair in Topher’s “new room.”

Fingers crossed we have a great night! Day 2 of daycare is tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Topher's Birth, Finale

Saturday morning, after my contractions slowed through the night, we started pitocin sometime just after 9am. I had my Kindle and read to pass the time and have a distraction. When Liam was born, I labored with pitocin after my water broke for about 8-9 hours before I got an epidural. I was completely internal and hummed through every contraction. So coming into Topher’s birth, I knew that I would likely be internal again. My goal this time: a natural birth with no epidural. The book helped me focus on something, as well as go inward without too much outside interaction. I am a bit fuzzy on the timeline, but I read through the morning and into the afternoon. I actually finished my book. Though, I don’t think I could have read much longer even if I hadn’t finished it. I was definitely IN PAIN! At one point around 2pm or so, Carleen, our photographer (, asked me if I saw the supportive Facebook posts. I responded with three words, “I don’t care.” Yeah, I was in pain, lol. I just don’t think they realized how much. In trying to help with the timeline, I went back to Facebook to read all the posts. Will of course was tweeting updates. : ) I definitely got teary re-reading all the supportive posts. What great friends we have!

Anyways, Tania, the midwife broke my water sometime in the early afternoon. Maybe close to 2pm or so. We all felt sure this would definitely speed things along and bring this baby home!!! I kept thinking to myself, “Surely he will be here by _____.” Fill in the blank with a time. I must have thought it at least 5 different times and sadly, I kept having to push back the number. I have to give a quick shout out to our photographer. She hung out with us ALL day waiting for Topher….she was there about 18 hours start to finish. Talk about a dedicated photographer! : ) Once my water was broken, my pain just kept increasing. I tried to change my position often, hoping it would progress my labor. Will was AWESOME and I didn’t want anyone to touch me but him. Mostly he massaged my back, held my hand, and encouraged me lots. Tania, our midwife, was also amazing. She spent lots of time with me and rubbed my back during contractions and rubbed pressure points in my feet. Another sign my choice to birth with a midwife was the right one for me! At one point she told me I was neck to neck with several other women and we were all likely to deliver soon. Each time she came back I knew that one of the other women had their baby. Finally I told her this made me the winner since I was laboring the longest. Ha. I was much more in control this time around than I was during Liam’s labor. Maybe it’s because I knew more about what to expect. Or maybe because I was in a much more supportive environment. The nurses and midwives were AWESOME. I should talk a bit too about how Topher was doing through all this. His heartrate remained consistently slow throughout the labor. Of course this worried the nurses and they required that my heartrate be monitored as well so they could be sure that the Topher’s heart rate was being picked up at all times. My heart rate was actually about the same as Topher’s. At times it was actually faster. This made the nurses crazy nervous, lol, but they hung with us anyways.

At one point when things were really dragging on, I asked that the pitocin be turned up. I hated that I had to have it, but I was ready to get this kid out and he was taking his time!! They cranked it up and I continued to manage the contractions without any pain meds, though it was ridiculously difficult. Probably the worst part of labor without an epidural is needing to get up and go to the bathroom. Trying to move in between contractions and make it to the bathroom, then dealing with contractions while on the toilet. So not fun…. Plus the fluids they were giving me made me have to pee a lot.

Finally, around 7 or 8pm I was dilated to a 7. I was really struggling at this point and was feeling exhausted. After talking with the midwife we decided to turn off the pitocin so I could get into the tub. Without the pitocin I didn’t have to be hooked up to the continuous fetal monitor. The tub and warm water saved me. The water seemed to make the contractions less strong, but I could tell they were still productive. I grabbed Will’s hand every contraction and my mom would rub my back. At one point she walked off and I yelled for her. Any change in my support threw me off, lol. I definitely wouldn’t have made it through without Will and my Mom. I tried to change my position from time to time, sometimes standing and swaying and others on my hands and knees. I could barely stand to be out of the water much at all though. Every time I got up my contractions became back to back and felt 10 times stronger. I was simply too tired to handle them well, so I would slide back into my comfort zone of the tub. I kept telling myself to relax and I could literally feel Topher getting lower and lower with each contraction. Will thought I was never going to get out. I stayed in the tub for over 3 hours. We simply kept refilling it with warm water and I was literally asleep in between contractions. I kept asking Will what time it was and the clock kept on ticking. Then the unthinkable happened, he told me it was just after midnight. Topher’s birthday was now a whole day later. Man. At that moment, I turned to Will and said, that’s it, I’m getting out of this tub. I felt like the longer I stayed in the tub the longer it would take for him to come. I was ready to deal with the stronger contractions so that Topher could make his arrival. Somehow I made it back into bed. Tania was there to check on me and told me I was dilated to a 9. She told me she was surprised that I wasn’t trying to push yet. I responded with “I could definitely push.” I thought I was supposed to wait for permission, lol. She asked me if I wanted to just try it. So, lying in bed with Will holding my left leg and my right foot pushing against Tania who was sitting in the bed I started pushing. Evidently I pushed well enough that they called for whatever kit they needed for the actual birth. It was finally time. My mom was still in the room and standing just beside me and Carleen had her camera ready for Topher’s arrival. I’ve been told by multiple women that pushing without pain meds is better than just having the back to back contractions. That was so not the case for me. In everything I’ve read, pushing and delivery is also described and “the ring of fire.” Oh….my…..gosh. So true. Worst pain of my entire life. I just needed him to be outside of my body and in my arms. At one point I got to reach down and feel his hair before I got him all the way out. I kept pushing, and crying, so ready for this to be over and so exhausted. I pushed for a total of maybe 15 minutes or so. Topher was born at 1233am. I remember the second he came out. I looked at him and he took one small breath in, and that was it. No crying and no regular breathing. Instead of getting him put directly on my chest, he was whisked away for intervention. Will didn’t even get to cut the umbilical cord. At first I thought, he’s fine. I think I even said it out loud, mentioning how Liam had some trouble at first too. But time just seemed to stop. I closed my eyes and just started to pray out loud. My mom became faint and had to sit down on the floor. I heard everyone talking about Topher; I just kept praying. I finally heard them say he was pinking up and then came the miraculous sound of his cry and I knew he was going to be okay. I didn’t get to hold him for a little while but was so happy to know that he was finally here and was healthy. At one point I heard him say his heart rate was completely normal. Thank God. What a miracle baby he is! He weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces and was 22 inches long. Those extra 2 weeks inside gave him plenty of growing time! As exhausted as I was, none of that mattered anymore because my sweet Topher was finally here, two weeks late, 16 hours after starting pitocin and 28 hours after being admitted to the hospital. He is worth it all, every bit of pain, worry, and stress. We are so in love and blessed to have a second son join our family. Thanks for letting me share his story.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Topher's Birth Story, Part 1

If you’ve ever been pregnant a full 40 weeks, then you know the misery of those final days. Now imagine being pregnant for TWO MORE WEEKS!! That’s how long I was pregnant with Topher, 42 weeks. I ended up having to go back to the specialist group twice that first week past due, just to make sure fluid levels were okay for me to continue being pregnant. Since they were fine, I was given the go ahead to keep waiting. I was obviously looking forward to Topher’s arrival and I was eager to see how the story of his birth would begin. Would my water break first? Would I labor at home, and then rush to the hospital for a quick delivery? I was certain this delivery would be quicker and easier than my first. Isn’t that true for every second child?! Well when my due date came and went, I was still sure that any day or any moment I would be in labor. Yet the clock kept ticking and the days crept by. I even got to the point where I debated using castor oil to jumpstart my labor. Luckily I decided not to. I was an emotional wreck one minute and optimistic the next, knowing it had to be soon. I treasured the moments rocking Liam to sleep those last two weeks knowing he would never again be an only child. I went and saw a movie with my girlfriends, went to lunches with my mom and sister, and made special tea’s that were supposed to help ripen my cervix. I walked, we had sex, and I even drank wine to try to relax my way into labor; supposedly all of these things have worked for OTHER women, but they certainly didn’t work for me!

Originally one of the midwives planned to bring me in Sunday night for a Monday induction, 7 days past my due date. I felt that was too early and had it pushed back to a Wednesday induction. But at my appointment that Monday, we decided to push it back even further to Saturday. Sitting at that appointment I was a wreck. I was frustrated feeling like I was fighting for a birth with no extra intervention, yet here I was making decisions about how and when this baby was coming. What day would I be induced? Would I get cervidil to ripen my cervix the night before? Or we could do a balloon catheter to help me dilate which would hopefully send me into labor. Or what about just breaking my water? Ugh…I just wanted to go into labor and have a baby without intervention…I held out hope. The midwife scheduled another appointment for Friday afternoon where we could decide on doing the catheter (where I could go home and wait for labor) or going in for Cervidil for the formal induction. As this was my second pregnancy, Tania (the midwife) really felt like either one would jumpstart my labor and it would be all I needed. I really wanted to avoid pitocin if possible. At every appointment for the past several weeks, I was dilated only to a one and I wasn’t having any further development, which was awful, because I was having tons of contractions, making me feel they were completely useless. By Wed my contractions were so consistent I swore I was in labor. I even downloaded a contraction timing app on my phone and they were definitely coming every 5 minutes apart. I went and took a shower and told Will I was going to lie down and rest until they were stronger and closer and felt we should leave. Then, when I got in bed and completely relaxed, my contractions slowed and became inconsistent. Ugh, so I went to sleep. It was like this every day, but I stopped timing my contractions much because I figured I would know when it was REALLY time. Plus I was tired of being disappointed when after hours of consistent contractions they would stop, so I mostly started ignoring them.

Finally, my appointment Friday rolled around. March 11. I was dilated to a loose 2/tight 3. Woohoo! This seemed like big news, at least SOMETHING was happening. The midwife felt the balloon catheter wasn’t really an option now that I was dilating some on my own. So, even though she felt comfortable waiting it out until Monday, we opted to head back to the hospital that night for the cervidil. Plus I really liked and trusted Tania (as she saw me both Monday and Friday that week and she was on call to deliver for the following day). I might have been crazy enough to go back home and wait it out the weekend, but at that point I really felt like if we didn’t do something I was actually going to be pregnant forever. Plus, though Will was being totally supportive and giving me the freedom to make decisions, I wasn’t sure he could stand me pushing back the induction date another minute. So, we went home, hung out a bit with Liam and then went to dinner before heading to the hospital. For the several hours leading up to the hospital, my regular contractions were back. I was so used them by this point that though I mentioned them to Will I certainly didn’t worry about them. I joked though that we were going to get to the hospital and I was going to be far enough into labor that we wouldn’t have to have anything at all. Will was less optimistic of this and was simply glad to know that no matter what we were finally going to have this baby soon.

We got to the hospital a bit early, so I insisted we walk around before heading in. When we went back to the car for some of our luggage, I took the stairs. Anything I could do to encourage Topher out on his own I did, lol. We finally made it to the L&D floor and filled out the paperwork for admission. I told them I wanted one of the rooms with a tub, as I was striving for a natural birth and didn’t want any pain medication. Since we had to wait for them to clean a room, they put us in another room to wait. The nurse came in to ask a bunch of pointless questions to complete my paperwork. She was very nice, but spoke with an accent, and I am horrible with accents. I kept looking at Will for assistance on the simplest questions because I didn’t understand what she was saying. HA! Finally we made it to our room and they began to check me out. My contractions were indeed very regular and they didn’t see any need to administer Cervidil. I think I did a happy dance in my head. I was thrilled. I told Will that after all of the waiting Topher was going to come on his own. Summer, the midwife that night, felt we might even have a baby by morning. I was thrilled. I called my mom and told her we were going to try and get some rest, but that I’d call her once I started progressing further. I also called our photographer to tell her the same. But when I went to sleep, my contractions did the same thing they’d done every other night that week. They slowed down and became irregular. So morning rolled around and I wasn’t any further dilated than I was when I left the office visit the day before. Ugh….so much for my happy dance. At this point we were talking about starting pitocin, which would hopefully send me into labor and we would be able to stop it once things really started moving. But we decided to wait until Tania did rounds before starting the pitocin. Since we were sure that things were really going to start moving once that started, both my mom and Carleen, our photographer, came up to the hospital for the ‘fun’ to begin. Little did I know, the fun was going to last another 16 or so hours before Topher would FINALLY make his appearance….

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Topher's Pre-Birth Story, Finale

Though things were definitely stressful after that 16 week visit, we started getting positive news from all the tests that were taken. My blood work came back normal, ruling out the possible autoimmune diseases. The quad screen blood test came back with extremely low possibilities for Down syndrome or Trisomy 18. Of course with the previous sonogram findings, they narrowed those risks to about 1 in 200 or so. However, this simply confirmed our decision not to have an amniocentesis, as the risks for miscarriage with that is also 1 in 200. At 20 weeks I went back to both my regular OB and to the specialist group. Dr. Thigpen, our specialist, released us as all of the previous sonogram concerns were no longer even there. The brain cysts were gone, as well as the bright spots in the bowel and the inconsistencies with his growth. The only thing that remained was the calcified spot in his heart, but he didn’t feel this was something to be concerned with. He looked again at the functioning of Topher’s heart, which was still slow but otherwise did not indicate any problems. He didn’t see any reason I wouldn’t be able to have a normal delivery and didn’t see a need to see us again unless our baby’s heart rate dropped below 100 for a consistent period of time. What great news!

At my OB visit, we spoke again about switching to a midwife group and I decided to switch to the UNT Health Midwife group out of Harris hospital downtown. This way if there was a problem with Topher’s heart after delivery, we were right there next to Cook Children’s. So at 24 weeks I began visiting the midwife group. They were fantastic. They are a group of 6 midwives and you visit with each and then deliver with the one on call when you go into labor. Every time I met a new midwife they’d be taken back by Topher’s slow heart rate, but took it right in stride as they had my records. They never seemed to feel I wouldn’t be able to have a natural childbirth, as my fear was a rushed c-section due to the low heart rate. With each visit I felt reassured I made the right decision to switch.

My pregnancy progressed from there with less stress, though it still proved to be a much more difficult pregnancy than my first. Topher moved a LOT more than Liam ever did. I swear he did complete flips until he got so big flipping was much harder to do. But even then he was always shifting. I have to admit this was actually very reassuring, as it helped me know he was okay in there. However, this time around I was having tons of back pain from my herniated disc, likely because I was also chasing around and carrying my 1 year old. I also developed carpel tunnel in my hands experiencing complete numbness at night and sometimes partial numbness in my fingers during the day. I started sleeping in braces to try to minimize this. These pains were in addition to the normal joys of pregnancy including my favorite, getting up to pee every hour through the night! I have to give lots of credit to Will here, as I had to give up bath time with Liam as it became too difficult to bend down and sit on the floor because of my back. Not to mention my ongoing exhaustion. Working full-time and then playing with Liam took all the energy I had. I never would have made it without Will. I’m lucky to have such a supportive husband who is the most caring father to our children.

I continued to work until Feb 25, the Friday before my due date on Monday, Feb 28. With Liam, my water broke two days before his due date and he was born one day early. As this was my second, I was sure I wouldn’t have to wait past my due date for him either. Boy was I wrong! Stay tuned for my next post which will start getting into the fun stuff...Topher’s birth story!

And just for fun, here are some photos of me while pregnant with Topher!