Thursday, October 31, 2013

Day 31: New To Two Finale

It has finally arrived - the last day in the 31 Days of Writing Challenge.

This month of October has completely flown by for me! Not sure how much of this was because of this New to Two role of mine, and how much had to do with the writing challenge.

The fact that I managed to post something every single day, before the midnight deadline, is beyond shocking to me! It has really helped me feel accomplished in one area of my life. Granted, this blog is overall one of the least important aspects of my life, but these days accomplishment does not come easily or readily, so I will gladly take it where I can.

I wasn't able to write posts on about half of the subjects that I had outlined for myself at the beginning of this journey. Most days just didn't allow for deep, though provoking, or soul baring writing. However, my main goal in joining this challenge was to record life, memories, thoughts, and emotions of this time in our life - adjusting to having two kids, under the age of two. And I feel like I did that. Even while traveling!

As luck would have it, I had great plans for this final post. And great plans for this final day of October.  You guessed it - not going to happen.

I've started working out again, and realized very quickly if I am to keep it up, and not ruin my favorite 3 o'clock hour ( I detest working out, and doing so during the 3 o'clock hour would completely ruin my "me time") I am going to have to get up earlier then the girls. Earlier starts to the morning also need to happen just to help life run more smoothly around here.

This morning I had my alarm set for a not too early of a time so I could get in my work out before we started the day. I have a long list of small tasks to accomplish today, as well as an evening full of plans. All of this should have gone smoothly, thanks to the plan in place.

As luck would have it, I woke up at 3:30 am with a splitting barometric pressure headache. Having a brain/head that is a freaking measurer of barometrics is not my idea of a desirable talent, but its what I have been given. When Quinn's 5 am feeding rolled around, my head hurt even worse, and I felt like I hadn't slept at all due to the headache. I turned off the alarm. The work out would have to wait until 3.

As I was eating breakfast, I got a text that Ellie's day long outing to the grandparents (aka a mom's saving grace!) was cancelled due to cases of the fall sickies. The to-do list would have to wait until… my youngest is 2 yrs old. And yes, that statement is overly dramatic.

When I started the month of October, and this writing challenge, I thought/hoped that the end of this month would find us in our groove. Schedules would be kept, errands run, chores completed, re-entry into society would be running smoothly, etc… Ha!

In all honesty, things are more disorganized now in many ways, then when this month started. But thats  because we have re-entered society. Errands are being run. Chores do get completed, just way past when they should have been. And because Ellie has decided now is the time to not only protest the very existence of her baby sister, but also take up pitching fits at any moment of day for any given reason, and often for no reason at all. Hello toddler-hood!

The only thing Ellie semi-enjoys about Quinn right now are her dirty diapers. She takes great delight in throwing "Shoonies" away. However, the slightest coo or whimper from Quinn sets Ellie off into a full on scream fest. You can imagine how things spiral from there.

Dear Lord, serenity NOW!

And while I realize this is a completely normal developmental adjustment, I know my daughter, and realize I need to do a better job incorporating her in Quinn's care and routines.

I am hoping and praying, that just like all other times in life, this is just a phase. Plus, I also realize that we were out of town for 5 days, and came home with an awful case of strep throat that resulted in a massive allergic reaction to penicillin. Its not been an easy past week for any of us.

As the mom, I set the tone for the house for the day, sometimes even down to the minute. It is more necessary now then ever before that I make sure I am taking care of myself, and cultivating my relationship with Christ on a daily, somedays even hourly, basis.

The role as a mom makes you hit your knees unlike anything I have ever experienced. Ten trips to time out in an hour (the first hour after breakfast), and the toddler is still doing the exact thing she keeps getting in trouble for, can make you feel like a complete and epic failure of a mom. Quite possibly a candidate for the worst mom in the whole world award.

In addition to being spiritually healthy, being mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy is also important as a mom. Seeing the numbers on the scale at your 6 weeks appointment, and having them swirl before your eyes every time you try to find an outfit to wear, will do a number on you mentally and emotionally. It is possible to still be carrying around the tons of pounds of water weight you obtained after giving birth due the massive volume of fluids you were bolused with, right?? If the answer is no, hush your mouth. Its what I am telling myself for now.

While I had hoped this post would be full of goals accomplished, awesome insights realized, and tips for how to survived the New to Two role, we just aren't there.

Fortunately, God started working on my need to adjust my relationship with expectations before I entered this new role.

Yes, I still battle self doubt, insecurities, and experience disappointments on the regular. But I also am learning to more readily stay flexible, and to adjust my expectations on the fly. As I am closing up shop, so to speak, in the evenings, I think this, this, and that is what I would like to do tomorrow, but we will just take it an hour at a time, and see what all the day has in store.

The month of October I wanted to write daily and settle into a productive schedule and routine. Well, I did write daily. Our routine is somewhat better. Quinn is at least sleeping better at night. Productivity is hit or miss, depending on the day.

So looking ahead to the month of November, the month of giving thanks, I want to do just that. Live thankfully.

Yesterday, I sent this to Jared:

"coot" is how Ellie says "cute":)

He is right - I will have years, later, to shower before 5 pm. I want to the be thankful in the days where the house is a disaster, I am unshowered, and the girls are wild and emotional. After all, this is what I prayed for and wondered if I'd ever get to experience.

Our interactions with the college ministry are picking up again, as we re-enter society. Life is getting really really busy, and we aren't even into the Holiday swing of things yet. Here is an overview of our week:

- Sunday: church/family day
- Monday: Main service on campus in the evening
- Tuesday: A few students come over in the evening to watch the shows we DVR for them:)
- Wednesday: our own "adult" small group
- Thursday: Bible studies on campus
- Friday: late morning play date. Evenings, usually visits with family or college kids, or family time
- Saturday: UT football, family time, household stuff, etc…

Yes, that is a pretty full schedule! But its a life we love.

In addition to being Thankful, I also want to accomplish some other simple goals:

  • do my own personal Bible Study every day (I am think about doing She Reads Truth's James study on 
  • get up before the girls
  • work out 3-5 days a week for at least 30 minutes.
Those three things are tasks whose completion is nearly solely dependent on me. I can't blame my girls as the reasons for not getting them done. Accomplishing them most of the time will help me be a better wife, mom, and a better me. I am going to give myself grace to not accomplish them perfectly, or even daily. I somehow managed to write on this blog daily, so I have proved that I can do something daily if I really want to.

I have shared this picture before, but I love it so much, I am sharing it again.

In order to be thankful life doesn't have to be perfect. In fact, I think true thankfulness can be found more fully in the gaps and imperfections of life, with Christ.

I am not sure how many people, if any, read along with me this month, but for those of you who suffered along through it - thank you. I do plan on continuing to blog, but definitely not daily. That would bore y'all to tears! Maybe 2-6 times a month? We shall see.

Its been fun! Off to do some "toddler time" activities before Quinn wakes back up again!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day 30 : when a nurse becomes a mom

Being a pediatric nurse can be a great asset in motherhood. Not only for your immediate family, but also for your other friends who are moms.

I love getting calls, texts, and emails from other moms asking questions or for advice on various childhood health and illness issues. 

I love these communications because I love the many acts of the nursing profession! One of my favorite aspects of the job was always the patient education aspect. Followed closely by broadening and deepening my own knowledge base. Helping out my mom friends encourages the continuation of both these interests.

My husband probably doesn't appreciate my skill and knowledge set as much. He is convinced I only have sympathy for illness if you've had your chest cracked open, have drains pouring out at least three orifices, or are currently receiving CPR. While this is not the case, it is true that I have no fear of a sinus infection or a stomach bug bringing any realitivly healthy person anywhere near death.

This pretty much sums up our family's interaction with medical establishments, when I do the decision/appointment making:)

Jared comes from a family with a... shall we say healthy relationship with all establishments medical, while growing up my family was doing good just keeping up to date with immunizations. 

There have been more then a few times he has second guessed my decisions about not contacting a medical practitioner (but to date, its always turned out just fine). Overall he goes with my gut in the end. After lots of repeated explanations on my part. 

While I am very confident in handing out advice to others and helping our friends come up with a plan of action, I am also very comfortable saying I don't know, check with your doc. In the end though, it's their choice what to do - to get checked out, or just treat and watch at home.

Funny thing is that when it comes to my kids I do find i second guess myself. And it's not that I second guess my nursing know-how. I second, triple, and quadruple guess my mothers intuition.

I still have way more confidence in my experience as a nurse then in my experience as a mom

All my life, I have always been far more comfortable with things of the head as opposed to matters of the heart. 

When I would help prepare my patients family's to take home their babies after major open heart surgery, we had  huge list of signs and symptoms to watch for and report, things to do, things to avoid, medications to give, schedules and appointments to keep, CPR to certify, etc… But in the end, I always concluded each discharge teaching session with, "but you are the mom - you know you baby better then anyone. If something seems off to you that is not on this list, do not hesitate to call us about it.

And I still believe a mom does know her child better then anyone. I believe this is true for me and my children.

So why do I triple and quadruple guess myself when making medical decisions for my kids?

Well, first of all, most of my experience comes from giving other moms advice based on what they have told me about their kids and what their gut saying. I use the info they give me and combine it with my nursing knowledge to formulate a plan. My nursing knowledge is way more experienced then my mommy intuition has yet to become.

Second of all, when its my kids its just me, myself, and I giving the advice to my mother's intuition. And let's be honest, that's just way too much Amy for any one person to really handle.

There is probably a little bit of pride mixed in there too. You know, not wanting the be that nurse who can't tell the difference between a common childhood cold and their kid dying.

In her first year of life, Ellie had an ear infection at 4 months of age. Other then a few minor runny noses it was the only time she was sick or on antibiotics. I found out about the ear infection at her 4 month well child exam. Clearly, I had no idea she had an ear infection. She had a cold with a low grade fever a few days prior, but all those symptoms had cleared up. I am fairly convinced the ear infection was viral, not bacterial, but still… I didn't know she was still sick. I apologized profusely to her doctor and to Ellie. The pediatrician looked at me like I was crazy.

About 5 months later, Ellie was either teething, having a really bad 3 days in a row, or she had an ear infection, and I had no clue which it was. And we were getting ready to go out of town. So I did what drove me batty when I worked in a pediatrician's office, I called for a Friday afternoon appointment to make sure my kid wasn't sick before heading out of town. Its pretty much the equivalent of sending your custom ordered plate back at a restaurant because you forgot to mention you wanted the dressing on the side. Except as nurses, we can't spit on anything related to you because we understand germs too well… and you would probably get sick and have to be seen again next Friday afternoon.

Anyway, I had to interrupt Ellie's nap to take her in to be seen, because my pediatricians office is amazing and is always able to somehow work you in. And her ears looked perfect. I just had a fussy, coming into her own attitudinal self, 9 month old, who was now sleep deprived, on my hands.

Again, I apologized to the nurse practitioner profusely about taking up her time when she could have been tending to patients who really needed it. Thankfully, she is a young mom herself. She looked and me and said,"Amy, you are a great nurse, but first and foremost you are a wonderful mom. You can't always been the medical expert for your kids. That's what we are here for. But you are always the expert for your kid. You knew something was wrong, you thought we could help. Unfortunately, and thankfully, there is not we can treat Elliott for, but I have complete confidence you will come up with a perfect plan of care for her when you get home."

Without knowing it, she hit on a deeply seeded mistruth I tend to believe about myself - I need to be practically perfect.

The arrival of Quinn has helped solidify me more deeply into the role of mom. Plus, with two babies under the age of two, I need more help then when I just had Ellie. While I may still have dreams of perfection, I am well aware that it is no where near a viable option.

This past week, Ellie has had strep throat, and through this process I have realized several things - I am a good nurse; I make mistakes; my mommy intuition has gotten better; and even though I am good nurse; I still need medical help.

Here is how the past 7 days have gone. Thursday, Ellie woke up with a low grade fever, but no other symptoms. Odd. Usually childhood fall illness involves congestion at least. That night, I gave her what I thought was ibuprofen to help keep her comfortable as she slept. Unfortunately, since I buy dye free medication, I got confused and grabbed acetaminophen, but dosed her based on ibuprofen. Y'all, I never  made med errors when I worked, and now I can't give the most basic of OTC meds to my kids without over dosing them!!!

Come to find out, I had not overdosed her as I had also hadn't paid attention to the concentration. Miraculously, I had somehow given her the exact right dose. As a result, she was just fine, slept great, and Tylenol and Ibuprofen are now kept in separate places.:)

The next morning, she woke up screaming. And screamed for two hours straight. Her fever was 104. Then she started pull at her ears saying "Ooooowwwweeeee." I am usually a watch for at least 12-72 hours with fever before call the doctor type person, but I listened to my mommy intuition and called.

Raging strep throat.

Quick fix with some amoxicillin. Everything was looking good until Sunday when we noticed Ellie look like she had just woken up from a life long sleep all day long. Her eyes were so puffy.

They were worse the next day, plus her face looked a little swollen. These are the first signs she exhibits when she accidentally comes in contact with eggs, which she is allergic to. When I changed her diaper I noticed a very odd looking rash. It did not look or act like strep-type rash, or an antibiotic reaction rash. But something besides strep was clearly going on with her. So back to the doctor we went.

Atypical reaction to penicillin… most likely. 

Before I could even start my apologies the nurse practitioner stopped me by saying," Don't even think about apologizing, we aren't even sure she is in fact allergic to penicillin, as this isn't a typical reaction type rash."

Just like it took time for me to become confident in my roll as a nurse, it is going to take time in becoming confident in my role as a mom. And I need to be ok with that.

In the meantime, we may just show up to the doc a little unnecessarily, and maybe a tad too late sometimes.

And that's ok.

This is really old picture of Ellie, but one of my favorites

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 29: swag wag

We added a new member to the family this weekend.

A brand new member.

Our old faithful Mazda is no longer in our ownership.

Or as I like to say, it took steroids and POOF!!!

Meet the new Ross-mobile! A Brand new minivan! Or swag wag.

I don't think I have ever had any cool points, but if I did, I have now lost them in joining the ranks of the minivan driving moms.

Somehow this status strikes me as more adult-like then the fact that we have two daughters.

Yes, that strikes me as strange too.

What is even more crazy is the fact that this vehicle will more than likely be driving me and Jared into our 40's!! Uh, Yikes!

It is worth mentioning that my husband bought this vehicle without me ever driving it or even seeing it... And with my complete blessing. 

I really could not care less about what car I drive, especially in regards to a minivan. A van is a van. As a busy babysitter through high school and college I have driven just about every make and model van there is. A van is a van is a van.

We had decided our next purchase would be a van, in spite of the fact that Jared has sworn our entire marriage he would never buy a minivan (never say never honey, God laughs!). Once that decision was made, and we narrowed our choice down to two "brands," I knew I needed very little say in the situation.

I just didn't want a bright red or bright blue van, if it could be avoided.

I can not stand the car buying process. The haggling, smoozing, the lets-make-a-deal-ing. I assume 75% of what the dealership tells me is a lie. And driving around with the salesmen is just awkward.

So when Jared found some potential options online that he wanted to see, I told he to go alone. I completely trusted him.

And I didn't want to disturb the nap schedules of the tiny humans... The oldest one recovering from strep.

So I either have the worods most trustworthy husband, or I am totally lazy.

Or both.;)

I have never owned a brand new car. So naturally I am terrified to drive it, having convinced myself that since I have never been in a wreck, let alone received a ticket, my time has come and I will wreck our brand new vehicle.

Because that is rational thinking!

checking out her new ride

I think she likes it!

Thanks Daddy, for our our Swag Wag!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 28: The Finale of The Prolonged-Early Arrival of Quinn Collins, Part 3

Finally, let's see if we can get this series wrapped up! Click on the links to read Part 1 and Part 2.

Sept 5, 2013

I got up around 4:45am in the morning to make sure I got a complete shower and shave in, along with a touch of make up before giving birth… you never know how long the labor process is going to take and how you will be feeling afters, or what state you will be in. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have not gotten to shower in a day, in the last 5 years. Yes, even when I have the flu or am newborn-baby-sleep-deprived, I shower. Showering daily is basically in my DNA. Besides, labor makes you not only feel awful, but look terrible! A little mascara can go a long way to helping a girl feel a tad better about herself.

As I was getting dressed, I told Jared I was really glad today was the day, as I didn't feel like Quinn was being active enough for my liking. Again, she was reactive, but her own independent motions seemed dramatically diminished. And again, I felt like my abdomen was tiny in comparison to what it had been before.

Oddly, I was not have experiencing any pain contractions. I remember thinking great, I have been miserable all week with contractions, and now that I really need them to work for me, they quit.

Just my luck.

By 6:30 am, I was in a hospital gown, hooked up to a fetal monitor, and having my IV placed. It felt so different from the last time, when it was all new and unknown. Instead, it felt like just yesterday that we had been here for Ellie Faith's birth.

Some of the same nursing staff were there from last time, and remembered us. Everyone seemed to think this labor would progress much like Ellie's, and that Quinn would be in our arms between 12-2pm. I continued to prepare myself for something different, like a marathon of a long labor.

The monitor showed mild, but consistent contractions, and Quinn's heart rate was holding rock solid steady at 145. Exactly were she had hung out the entire pregnancy.

Good, she is just fine. Probably just a little tired, like her mom, from all this stupid prodromal labor nonsense. 

This greatly relaxed me. Once I could hear my baby second by second, I had the constant reassurance she was ok. Now, I just started to prepare for, and dread, the labor aspect.

I had made a  Labor Playlist, much like I had prior to Ellie's birth, but I opted for a quiet room for now, in hopes of getting some rest.

Side note: when I had been making this playlist Jared thought he would be sooooo witty by saying he knew what my labor theme song would be this time: Roar by Katy Perry. The glare I gave him nearly made myself a widow. Needless to say, that song did not make the cut.

Jared and I tried to catch a few minutes of sleep during the nurses shift change, before the pitocin got started, and the "real" fun began.

My day shift nurse was Rose, and she was about to become my new BFF, ally, and advocate. She was pure Bostonian - thick accent, catholic, and cussed like a sailor. But kind of grandmother-ish too. She was awesome! The nurse in me could tell instantly this woman knew what she was doing, and she did a good job doing it.

Sometimes when I am in a medical setting I don't tell people about my own nursing background. Just depends on the situation. In this situation, I wanted everyone to know, in case Quinn got compromised, something went wrong, etc… I wanted the real facts, and I wanted them quickly and succinctly. I didn't need much in way of wordy explanations. I also wanted them to realize I was capable of making informed decisions. This ended up really paying off in the end.

Rose and I chit-chatted about all things of the nursing profession, while Jared sat back and made of us and rolled his eyes.  I gave a pretty short but detailed description of my labor with Ellie, so Rose understood what my goals and expectations were this go around… and that I wasn't the quietest of laboring patients.  (Hence the Roar theme song suggestion.)

One of the main things I wanted really wanted to be different with this labor was to keep my bag of water intact as long as possible.

"So when are you going to start my pitocin?" I finally asked.

This was when Rose told me that she had decided to wait until the midwife arrived on the floor to start pitocin, even though she already had the orders in hand.

Apparently, I had been listening to Quinn's heart beat with my mommy ears and not my nurse's ears. While Quinn's heart rate was holding steady at 145, she was not having any accelerations after my contractions. In fact, she had had a few decelerations already. For the lay person, late decelerations tend to indicate placental insufficiency, and poor blood flow.

I wasn't too concerned when I heard this. If anything it just reassured me that I was right in noticing that Quinn's movements and actions had changed and that is was definitely time for her to come out.

By the time my midwife arrived, there had been a few more decelerations on the monitor. After talking through it, we decided we would in fact go ahead and break my water, while holding off on the pitocin. The thought being that breaking the water might self induce my labor/speed up and intensify my contractions more naturally then pitocin, which can be hard on the placenta. Also, my OB-GYN was in surgery, so on the off chance something went wrong, we wanted him as readily available as possible.

Because of the decelerations, they wanted me to stay in bed to keep a close eye on Quinn, so no walking around.

Right off the bat, I was having to let go of any ounce of control I had hoped to maintain.

They had a much harder time breaking my water this go around, because apparently there wasn't much amniotic fluid left, as it pretty much just trickled out, as opposed to the typical gush. I was 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced. It was around 7:45ish.

I don't really remember the exact times of things after this point. My mom showed up at some point, but I don't remember exactly when.:)

Around 9:30-45, decels were still happening, and my contractions hadn't picked up a whole lot. They decided to do an amnio-infusion (place a catheter between the baby and my uterus to infuse warm liquid to help ease the strain of labor on Quinn) as well as place a scalp monitor just to make sure the decels were in fact decels. I was around 5 cm.

FYI scalp monitors hurt like crazy!!!! My advice, do everything possible to avoid them unless you have an epidural. Good Gosh, it was awful. I am sure the addition of the catheter through  my cervix to my uterus wasn't helping either. In addition to natural labor. Just a few too many things going on down there for my liking!

As luck would have it the infuser they needed for the amnio-infusion was in use in surgery, the second floor set up was no where to be found, and central supply in the main hospital was "coming with it" for over 1.5 hrs.:) So the infusion never got started. Those who have worked in a hospital setting understand this scenario with all too much familiarity.

Around 10:30, my OB-GYN came in to check on us. He hemmed and hawed with Rose and the midwife looking over my contraction and Quinn's heart rate graphs. He felt confident that Quinn was fine now, and that it was more an issue of my placental blood flow. The big question was, how long could we go on like this, and how would my placenta and Quinn react to transition.

After the doctor left, Jared did what he always does when we find ourselves in these medical situations - he asked me, "so what do you think?" My answer was short and to the point, "Probably a c-section."

About this time my contractions kicked it up many notches. I was having to close my eyes and breathe through them. They were coming every 5-7 minutes and lasting for 45-90 secs. I could not move comfortably with those dang chords and wires hanging out of my crotch, so I couldn't rock, which is the motion I prefer during contractions. But I was somehow able to go completely limp, and just breathe extremely deep with each wave of contractions. I was willing those babies to work for all they were worth with every cell in my body.

In spite of all the in and outs of medical staff, changing of plans, and beeping of monitors, the room was extremely calm. The lights were low, people spoke quietly, and it was just pretty chill. No panic. We hadn't turned on my Labor Playlist. Instead I think Jared and were just both continually praying silently for peace, safety, and wisdom.

Even as Jared and I began to discuss, what I figured was a rapidly approaching c-section, we both were completely matter of fact and unemotional (in the way of negative emotion). I decided that even if they decided to continue to let me labor, especially with pitocin, that I was going to get an epidural.

My thought process was that if I ended up needing an emergency c-section, an epidural already in place was my best chance of avoiding general anesthesia. Plus, I know how important it is to relax in order for labor to progress. Even though I was overall calm, I was worried about my baby, and knew that worry would only increase the longer she was inside me, and that labor can make you loose all rationale.

It was after 11 when my midwife and OB came back in on things. The amnio-infusion equipment was still unavailable. My ob decided to do an exam to see if I had progressed at all.

Let's take a moment here to note that I have never had a cervical exam done by a man. Let's also point out the fact that every time my midwife did my exam, she made sure she waited until my contractions were over. I should also note that I love my OB, and think he is the best at what he does! However…

This is how that exam went:

OB: oh I see you are having an contraction, a good one too…..
        WONK - up to his elbow in my va-jay-jay!

I am quite sure a levitated off the bed. Good news, I was 7.5 cm and completely effaced. Bad news, I am quite sure I will never let a man give me cervical exam every again… unless he has hands the size of a 12 year old, below average sized boy.

By now my contractions really hurt. Fun fact, once you decide you are going to get an epidural, you loose the ability to mentally go the place you need to go to handle the pain of contractions leaves, like it was never there at all.

My OB said he was willing to let me attempt to labor for an hour with a low dose of pitocin, with close monitoring. He thought I could potentially deliver in an hour or two, since I had already progressed so quickly, and reacted so favorably to pitocin with Ellie. As he was saying this, Quinn had one of longest decels yet, and I looked at him and said, "I think she needs to get out, now."

What transpired next is a blur. I stayed curled up on my side with my eyes closed breathing through contractions.

Surgical apparel was thrown at Jared and mom helped him garb up.

Nurses were in and out of my room, taking things out of me, putting in new things, prepping, etc… then I was being wheeled into the OR. And that's when I finally started to cry. Not sob or boo-hoo. I just had a continuous flood of tears pouring down my cheeks.

I would like to say I was reciting long portions of scripture at this time to calm my nerves, but all I could do was silently beg God to, "hold my baby for me, protect her."

I remember thinking it was really warm in the OR. It was bizarre being the patient and not the medical staff. Before I knew it, I was sitting on the side of surgical table, socked feet dangling like I was 5 year old (and silently shedding tears just like one too), having my back prepped for the spinal block. Sweet Rose, made me lay my head on her shoulder and wiped my tears, and kept telling me it was ok, and not to to cry, because then she would have to cry too.

I felt something less then a pinch with the spinal. NO pressure, no pain. Just a tiny pinch!

As soon as I laid down, my feet started to feel like they were falling asleep, but just for a a few seconds. After that the most incredible warmth just spread up my body, as I went numb.

About this time Jared was brought back to the room, and informed me he had been taking selfies of himself in the surgical attire ( ha ha!) and texting an update to my friends.

And to think that whole time we had been separated I was so worried that he was freaking out without me there to tell him what was going on and assure him I was fine! He held my left hand, that was strapped down, and my anesthesiologist held my right hand, and kept my right arm unstrapped.

The only moment of panic I felt was when they started prepping my abdomen for the incision, and I could feel it! I quickly let them know! I was then informed I would in fact feels somethings, nothing sharp thought "just" dull. Um… excuse me what!?!? They asked me if what I was feeling was in the prep work felt wet or dry.

It felt like a dry cotton ball was being rubbed over my abdomen. And apparently that means you are numb enough for surgery. Who knew!?!?

I couldn't feel the incisional cut, but I could feel just about everything else, but it was not painful at all. I was aware of clamps and retractors being placed, hands inside me, pulling and tugging, but it was not painful in the slightest. Most bizarre sensation ever!

Because we knew Quinn was going to be pretty small, my OB cut a much smaller incision then usual. Lucky me! Even though she was so small, she was very low in the birth canal, and they nearly had to use forceps to get her out! Jared and I were both surprised with the aggression used to get her out. I could feel my body being rocked back and forth, side to side. You could also see the force/strain my OB was using in all his movements.

And then, the tiniest little purple baby was held up over the drape and my OB said,"Hi mom!"

"She is TINY!" 

And off she was wisked to the warmer and NICU staff. I sent Jared over to her immediately.

She let out a few little cries but was silent after that. I kept asking if she was ok.

Apparently, she was just looking around, taking in her new surroundings. Just like her sister did. And just like with her sister, as soon as she was out, my tears stopped. She was fine. My baby was finally outside of me, and she was ok.

size comparison to daddy's hand

newborn diapers swallowed her, but check out the size of those feet!

And she was 4lb 11oz, and 18 inches. The baby doll we had bough Ellie as a big sister present was bigger then that!

I asked my OB to give me a six pack since he had me sliced open already. He laughed and said he would do what he could, but that I should be thankful for my small incision. The c-section he had done before me was for a 9 lb 11 oz baby. Bless its mother, y'all!

When I had been moved from the hospital bed to the surgical table, some meconium had been noted on the sheets, but thankfully there was no sign of Quinn aspirating any of it. Her apgars were 8 and 9.

The decision to have the c-section was made around 11:30. I was wheeled to the OR at 12 o'clock, and by 12:40 I was back in my room, holding Quinn. The nursing staff had been right - she was in our arms between 12-2 pm.:)

My parents and sister in were the room waiting for us. Quinn was so little, even all bundled up, they didn't notice that she was in my arms until I held her up for them to see.

Ok, so I thought this was going to be the final installment, and technically it is. However, there is still quite a bit I want to document about how Rose was the best postpartum nurse ever, how we managed to keep our 4lb-er out of the NICU, c-section recovery, post-spinal headaches, etc… Looks like I will be doing a Postpartum post in the near future.

I've been asked a lot if I was/am ok with the way everything happened. Yes, over all I am. We got a healthy baby at the end of the day. Am I disappointed that I wasn't able to give birth naturally, a little. But mainly only because I now have mildly increased my risk of needing a c-section in the future. Immediately after delivery, the nurse in me was worried about wound dehiscence and infection, and worst case scenario (because nurse know too much sometimes) uterine rupture.:) Recovery was no where near as bad as I thought it would be. But still way worse then a vaginal delivery! I don't mind my scar. It is rapidly diminishing in size, and looks neat and straight.

While I will always be a huge proponent and supporter of natural labor and childbirth, I am beyond thankful for the advances in modern medicine. Without them, I probably wouldn't have two healthy girls. 50 years ago, I could have been one of those women who always delivered a still born, for unknown reasons.

So there you have it! How our teeny-tiny, little rockstar finally made her early appearance, in style and fashion.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 27: sister snapshots

This is a pretty short/boring installment of Sister Snapshots. Traveling, unpacking, and a sick toddler haven't provided good opportunities for grabbing the camera. Today's post will be the last Sister Snapshot posting in the 31 Days of Writing Series. I've have really liked the concept, and the challenge it provides to make sure I keep photographing the girls together, so it may be something I continue to do, maybe on a monthly type schedule. 

The girls in their party dresses for Lolli's surprise party

Always gotta give the baby sister a check up

night time snuggles with mom… and the new toddler smile

a sick toddler and an infant mean you need a bigger lap!
after church sunday snuggles before naps… for everyone

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! Off to plan out final posts for the upcoming week!

Can't believe we are almost done!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 26: sad sickies

We have a sick, sick girl in the house.

Strep has struck the toddler, and she is pretty pitiful.

Overall, she is a pretty good sick baby. She has just been sitting on the couch watching shows on the iPad, snuggling in mommy's lap. 

And sleeping! She napped twice yesterday, which she hasn't done in over 6 months! She slept a total of 7 hours during the day yesterday! And slept 12+ hours last night!

I am usually a "let them run a fever a good 2-3 days before going to the doc" type of person, but when her fever was 104 upon waking up and she screamed for two hours about her "eeeeee-yours" (ears), I knew we needed antibiotics.

I was convinced she had bilateral ear infections. But no, it's strep and her ears looked perfect. So much for my nursing assessment skills.

I wish I could look this cute when I went to the doctor, in my jammies!

Don't let that sweet smile fool you - she screamed the entire time we were there, until I took the camera out to snap a picture of the pitifulness.

... Out came the cheese!

I had high hope all the hours of watching DocMcstuffins and giving all those check ups to her animals and baby sister would help out at the doctors office. 


At least she still blows kisses and says "dad-dooo" (thank you) through her tears when they are done with her exam.

I had my first drive around for an hour because the kids are asleep in the car experience. 

Fit pitching at the doctors office can really wear a girl out! Wears mommy out too!

I thought a healthy toddler could destroy a house unlike anything I had ever seen. Well, a sick toddler wreaks way more havock. 

Like, whoa!!!

We had plans today for a family pumpkin patch outing, but instead it looks like we will be hanging out inside snuggled up watching movies. 

Ellie Faith is watching her first Disney movie, Tangled. 

Its a it's a toss up who is enjoying it more, Ellie or her daddy!;)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 25: Matters of Marriage, and Singles

I should start this post by saying no one is more surprised then I am that I got married. I decided in my late teens-early 20's that I really didn't want to get married. I didn't have a problem with the institution of marriage at all. I just didn't think it was what I was created for.

Therefore, I never spent much time or energy day dreaming about my soulmate, my fairytale wedding, or our happily-ever-after. 

I am pretty weird in that I always like to research/become familiar with the otherside of any issue. If I read a book geared for girls or women, I always read the male counterpart, when available. 

So while I read books on singleness, I also read a lot of dating and marriage books to help me understand the majority of my friends, and society as a whole.

I am so thankful I was created this way, with the desire to understand the otherside of situations. It prepared me for many situations I was to face in the future, and for marriage in particular. Since I didn't think marriage was a ticket to a fairytale, I read books that dealt with the heart of marriage, not the fluff of weddings.  Reading about how marriage could be a refining tool used to grow you into the person God created you to be, gave me the courage to keep an open mind on the subject of marriage. And I am so glad I did!

When I first decided to take part in the 31 Days of Writing challenge, I made a list of topics I wanted to write about. Marriage/my husband was one of those topics - How to keep your husband your priority after adding another kid to the brood, etc... Let's just say I am in still in the very early stages of learning these lessons. After just getting back in town, recovering from all my late nights, and a sick toddler, this week just isn't providing the literary stimulation for such a topic. And my husband would probably think I was a complete hypocrite. ;)

But I still had lots of "marriage-y" thoughts rolling around in my head...

Last night I read an awesome relational blog post by one of my favorite Christian Authors, Gary Thomas, about how his daughter being in love on her wedding day was not his top priority for her on her wedding day. Yes, I know, it sounds insane and way too radical. But seriously, read the post. Its awesome! Its what I hope we can instill in Ellie Faith and Quinn when it comes to picking out their spouse.

Then it hit me - I have a lot of singles (primarily ladies) who read this blog. Why not write something more relevant to them. While I am still very much figuring how the wife and mom combo, I feel confident enough to say - when it came to choosing my spouse, I hit it out of the park. I am not taking all the credit for this  - my parents, authors like Gary Thomas, and other christian mentors had a lot to do with it. But I am going to give myself credit here, something I don't often do. I personally spent a lot of time in my younger years cementing into my heart what my spousal criteria was. And because I didn't put stuff like "tall, dark and handsome; guitar player; worship leader; starting quarterback; doctor, etc..." my list lasted through my ages and phases in life.

1. He had to be a solid christian. Independent in his relationship with Christ
    a. if our relationship progressed, he needed to love Christ more then he loved me.
2. He had to respect me.
    (yes, I wanted respect before love. I am weird that way)
3. He had to make me laugh.
    a. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones prov 17:22

I still stand by these criteria. They are not for everyone nor are they a guarantee for success, as we all have our own free will to choose and make decisions as we see fit. However, here is how I see it:

  •  if someone maintains ownership in their relationship with Christ, their chance of keeping up the marital relationship are far better than someone who starts (and tries to maintain) a christian walk for someone else.
  • if you have respect as one of the cornerstones in your relational foundation, that is going to support the waves and trials of life way more then any butterflies-in-the-tummy- in-love feeling could ever hope to do. Because guess what, you may not always feel in love with your spouse. In my opinion and experience in all types of relationships, it is my respect for someone that will keep me maintaining my relationship with someone, over my love for them.
  • if someone can make you laugh, chances are they can laugh at themselves too. I wanted someone who was kind enough to help me laugh, even at myself at times when needed, but was also humble enough to laugh at himself too. I never wanted perfection, and I didn't want perfection required of me. Humans make mistakes in life, and if you can really and truly laugh together after mistakes, I think you have probably both learned something.
Gary Thomas says something in his book Sacred Marriage along the lines of what if marriage isn't just to make you happy, but to make you holy?

Ponder that for a minute. Let me assure you in NO way is he stating that you should ever enter into a joy-less marriage, or that an unhappy marriage is a healthy marriage. No, what he is aiming at is that what if marriage, in addition to everything else we are familiar with marriage being,  is also something that could be used to make us more Christ-like, and draw us closer to God.

If this is truly the case (and I firmly believe it is) and I am a single today, in the process of choosing my future spouse, I am going to do my darn-dest to make sure I choose someone who is going to make this process as easy as possible on me. :) Because I don't like pain, discomfort, stretching, or stepping out of my comfort zone. Someone who is going to be pursuing Christ on their own, and who is on their own journey with Christ, so that when I am going through the training process of becoming who Christ created me to be, they will love and support me through the painful and difficult times. Because they see Christ in me and in those times. And if I am to love an imperfect human, who might from time to time make my life not so fun or uncomfortable, I want to know that I can see Christ in them. Because, sadly, I am selfish. I don't like others to suffer on my account, but I sure as heck get frustrated, ok even angry, when someone else's shortcomings are having an negative affect on me

A commonality in Christ will carry you much further than any feelings of love ever could. 

Single readers - it matters greatly who you marry!

It will affect every action of every day for the duration of the relationship, and leave a lasting impression on you if/when the relationship ends, whether by death or divorce.

The type of car or house you buy is not going to affect you for the rest of your life. Who you marry will. So please, choose carefully!

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”  
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 

This is the perfect verse to help evaluate yourself in the process of choosing your spouse. 

Are you on your guard? Ladies, especially, we can get swept away quickly by our emotions. I tell girls all the time you can't help who you feel attracted to, but just because you are attracted to someone, does not mean they are someone you should enter into a relationship with. I am even willing to admit, based on the exact right circumstances, you sometimes can't help who you fall in love with. But just because you are in love with someone does not mean a relationship, short term or long term,  is the correct path for you to follow. Guard your heart! Know what your criteria are, and don't settle. Be on guard for people who try to appear like they meet your requirements, but in reality are only becoming who you want them to be, and not who they really are.

Are you standing firm in your faith? We are all humans, therefore we are going to make mistakes, and God will love us despite our shortcomings. However, if we are being vigilant in not only maintaining our relationship with Him, but more importantly, being active in getting to know Him better, our mistakes will tend to be much less costly mistakes. Calling a deepening relationship with Christ as sort of like an insurance plan definitely cheapens the relationship in a word play, but in reality it kind of is your insurance plan. Yes, you have free will to make your own decisions, as do the people around you. You will be the victim of other's free-will made decisions. But if you are actively pursuing Christ and His plans for your life, you will make life much easier on yourself. I promise you - there is safety in His plans for you!

Are you being courageous? A charge to be courageous is not an encouragement to go out and try something different or outside the God's plan. I think being relationally courageous more often times means being brave enough to not compromise. To hold true to who you are and your convictions. This can be very scary, especially early on in a new relationship. Being you is extreme vulnerability, as is expressing your convictions. But better to do the courageous thing and be honest upfront in the beginning, then attempt to do it later. Chances are, you will have compromised some of you by then, and that deep honest place inside you will be much harder to express, or even find.

Are you being strong? In order to be courageous, you have to be strong. Real relationships take strength. They are hard work. Doing the right thing is often hard, sometimes even undesirable. And if you ever want to maintain an lasting marriage, you better have strength in Christ beyond words! Again, this is where a personal on going relationship with Christ is so vital. He will help you be strong and courageous! Go ahead - try Him!:)

Are you doing everything in love? Clearly I am not just talking about twitterpated love, I am talking about the real deal. Sometimes loving someone means not entering into a relationship with them, because you aren't whats best for them. Maybe they have some lessons they need to learn and maturing to do first. You might be a distraction, enabling, or even a crutch. Loving someone isn't always fun, and it isn't always, initially, rewarding. Its often hard and painful, but when its done correctly, whether in a romantic or friendship type relationship, it can bring about much growth and beauty.

Marriages today often don't last. The younger generations are becoming used to seeing divorce as the more common and acceptable outcome, as opposed to marriages of 60+ year being ended by death. It can make it very difficult to know how to find the right spouse, especially if you think your parents got it all wrong.

So what are the singles to do? Everything I already stated, along with surrounding themselves with a church body (and much more... I don't have all the answers!).

Yes, statistics show that the divorce rate is just as high in churches theses days, but the marriages in the church that do work are, for the most part, built on foundation of Christ's love. Not only will the husband and wife love each other, they will have asked Christ to enter into their marriage. They will also be honest about what they have learned, the mistakes they have made, and how God has redeemed their short comings. A Christ-centered marriage will/should become your standard. I love what Gary Thomas says:
" want to become so aware of genuine character and godliness that when you hang around false character and pseudo-piety, you smell it for the rat that it is."

Finally, more for the marrieds out there, I recently had a revelation about love languages.

I am not a clear this or that when it comes to the 5 Love Languages... it kind of depends on the person and situation I am dealing with. But this revelation came to me involving my husband and my house.

Our house is small and gets messy very quickly, especially with the toddler, also known as hurricane Ellie. A messy house drives me batty, and often makes me feel like a failure, or just really far behind in the day.

And for the sake of full disclosure, the thought of allowing someone other than myself or Jared to clean my house or do my laundry makes me shudder... its a bad pride issue. And, I like things done a certain way, and if its not done that way, I won't like it. Yeah... not good.

Jared is not a neat freak in any shape, form, or fashion. He is very much a Quality Time and Words of Affirmation love language guy. (let's all just agree that physical touch should just be a given when speaking of male love languages, ok!? Good! Moving on...) So he would rather me sit on the couch and watch a stupid football game, and discuss it, or just talk, then live in a tidy house day in and day out.

The other day I was fuming inwardly that, in my mind, he never did anything around the house except make more housework for me.

I really try to stop these negative thought patterns as quickly as possible. Sometimes I am better then others. Right now, I realize I am still somewhat sleep deprived and hormonal from being postpartum. There is a very good chance I am the one out of line. :)

My husband does the vast majority of life very well, so I usually just try to think of those things. And that's when it hit. He is always commenting and complimenting me on the intentional quality time I spend with our daughters.

When he is home with us, he is always doing something with either one of the girls. Even if he is "just" watching tv, he is usually holding Quinn. He takes Ellie to the park, or on walks. He is very intentional with the time he has at home with the girls.

Yes, would the act of service of having him clean the kitchen, vacuum, clean the bathrooms, etc... knock me over. It absolutely would. But that is me only looking for love in the places I think I want it most.

When in reality, if he asked me, "Amy, would you rather me clean the bathroom or take Ellie for a walk?" I wouldn't even think twice about it - take our daughter for a walk!

I think we often show others love in our love language, because it is what makes the most sense to us. I am trying to love Jared by keeping the house clean, and he is trying to love me by spending time with the girls.

In doing so, we are both loving each other, actively.

So if you are getting frustrated with your spouse, first, remember the role female hormones play in life, then look to see if you are being blind (or deaf actually I guess) to the language of love your spouse is speaking, acting, or doing in your life.

In closing, I thought I would share some for my favorite relational books, authors, and posts.


For Girls:

For women of all ages:
Liberated Through Submission ( pinky swear its not scary, but awesome, even though it deal with the dreaded "s" word - submission)

On marriage:
Sacred Marriage ( Gary Thomas recently wrote a book for singles, Sacred Search. I haven't read it, but I am sure its great!)

On Singleness:
Singled out for Him

And for if/when the marriage falls apart:
Beyond Ordinary
(this book is must read for ANYONE! Even though the central theme is marriage, it applies to anyone in all walks of life. One of things I most respected about these authors, was how they in no way sensationalized the affair that took place in their marriage. I have many articles, etc... about broken marriages and relationships, and often times come away feeling that more time was spent on how things went wrong, almost more of a how-to, if you will, then how they made things healthy again. Again, I recommend this book to everyone to read. More than a book about marriage, it is a book about a personal relationship with Christ.)

Blog Posts:

It matters who you marry: girls

It matters who you marry: guys

That should keep you busy reading for a while! :)

Happy Relationships!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 24: the 3 o'clock hour

The girls and Lolli right before we headed back hom
We are back home in East Tn this morning. Our trip back yesterday was much less eventful then the scream fest we experienced going to my parents house on Saturday. Thank God!

There was this peaceful scene for a brief time in the trip:

both girls sleeping... at the same time
Another bright spot in the trip home was stopping my brother Daniel's office (he is a physical therapist) for a quick visit.

Unfortunately, in the car,  awake toddler happiness was the result of listening to the DocMcstuffins theme song on repeat for an hour and a half! Followed by the Hot Dog song for another 40ish minutes, until Ellie lost her listening privileges due to high pitched, ear piercing screaming. 

At this point, we were about 20 minutes from home and both girls were shrieking. So I did what every normal mom would do - turned on the radio at nearly full blast.

Mikky Ekko and Rihanna's song, Stay, was just beginning. Miraculously, silence ensued, and continued throughout the song! At the end of the song, Ellie held up her pointer finger and said "Rooowwwwn mo time, peas." (Round one more time please)

Thankfully, I had the song on my iPod! We listened to Stay on repeat until we got home. Then Ellie screamed more because she had to get out of the car and couldn't listen to "Rooowwwn" anymore.

Never thought I would thank Rihanna for improving my child's behavior.:)

As wonderful as our time with my family was, I very glad to be home and to be getting back into our normal routine.

Our house is a disaster zone with all our half unpacked bags, laundry... I am tired from all the late nights up visiting. Ellie is a little out of sorts and missing all my family members who waited on her hand and foot (as my husband says, this ain't the Ritz, kid). 

This morning, as I sat nursing Quinn, in the middle of the mess that is our house, I had a moment where my attitude began to quickly spiral downward. You know that overwhelming feeling when you think of all that you need to get done that day? 

I started to pray for peace and focus. Then I remembered the 3 o'clock hour.

It is one of my most favorite times of the day. Ellie Faith is usually down for a nap by 2 pm. Quinn doesn't eat until 3, so from 2-3 I do a house hold chore blitz. By 3 pm the house at least looks clean, if you don't look too close.

Quinn eats at 3. I love being able to sit in a neat/clean room that smells good and really enjoy the moments of feeding my babies. After a diaper change, Quinn is usually back to sleeping soundly. She and I enjoy a few moments (or more) of some uninterrupted cuddles. I usually reheat some decaf coffee, and pretend it has caffeine to give me a extra push to finish the day strong. Sometimes I read, catch up on blogs and social media, doze, watch some unashamedly mindless tv, etc.. Basically, it is a small moment in the day when I am usually pretty free to do me.

Maybe it's selfish. But I have found I am a much better wife and mom if I take those 30-45 minutes in the 3 o'clock hour to be mindless, goal-less, and quiet. I don't need much me time, overall, but for now, this window of time in the day helps my attitude and sanity. 

Being needed and wanted 24-7 can wear anyone out. There are days it exhausts me. 

So until I grow and mature more in my role of wife and mom, the 3 o'clock hour is mine... or until my girl's schedule changes.:) But even with growth and maturity, I still think it is very important for me to continue to maintain a brief window of time in the day for me to connect with me. Not to indulge necessarily, but to connect with myself. To see where my mental and emotional status is. How I am changing and evolving. 

And don't worry, my devotional/quiet time before the Lord happens first thing in the morning... otherwise it won't happen. And as a mom, my prayer life is alllll day long. How else do you survive!?!:)

For me to be the best wife and mom I can be, I need to be the best me I can be. And that takes honest introspection. 5, 10, 20 years from now I don't want to be doing things, routines, life, the same way I am today all because I never took the time to stay in touch the evolution of myself. If I never stop to take inventory, I will never know or see areas that need improvement, or even be encouraged by areas of growth.

So for now, 3 o'clock will be a time I look forward to every day. Even if all I do is watch this little one sleep on me.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day 23: sister snapshots

I realized I didn't do a sister snapshots post this past weekend. Today we are heading back to Knoxville, so its a good day for a next to wordless picture dump type post.

My photo stream through iCloud on my phone has been punky since the software update. I can only access a fluctuating 100-200 photos. Before the update I always had 1,000 photos in my stream. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Without further ado, sister snapshots

giving "bebe" sister "loves"


giving baby sister a check up
Mom life at its finest
Ellie's special new smile - precious right?

Quinn was not a fan of her ears getting checked by Ellie Faith:)

The girls with their Great-Nanny and PopPop