Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Month for Your Marriage {Week 1 - Togetherness}

I'm taking a little break from playing "catch up" to join Jen at Into Your Will for her "A Month for Your Marriage" link-up.  When I read Jen's post about the first challenge of the month, I thought to myself, "This will be EASY; Alex and I love doing things together!"  I guess that should have been my first clue that God was about to send me a slap across the face and a healthy does of humility to boot...


It's true though, Alex and I really do love doing things together.  One of the worst parts of me working while he's a stay-at-home dad is having to leave for work in the morning knowing that he and Bennett get to spend the whole day together, even if Bennett is a tough kid and things are certainly not rainbows and sunshine while I'm away.  However, I thought this challenge was going to come naturally to us and in some ways it did (we didn't intentionally do anything different), in others it really didn't.

We've been gearing up for Bennett's first birthday party which is coming up next weekend.  While we moved into our new house at Thanksgiving, we had never gotten around to hanging anything on the walls.  It didn't bother me so much at Christmas/New Year's, but almost 3 months later, I have been itching to make the place our own. 

In an effort to get the ball rolling, we left Bennett with my Nanna on Sunday afternoon and shopped like crazy for some fun new touches to our d├ęcor, especially to dress up Bennett's room that had never actually been decorated in our old house (I was pretty much anti-baby room for a while, but Bennett's turning a year old now and I felt it was time).  We really had a great time, but we hadn't found exaaactly what we were looking for, so we went back out again on Monday evening, as a whole family.  Alex had put dinner in the crockpot on Monday morning, so we were good to go with heading to Lafayette for a few quick stops after work and before dinner. 

I work "late" on Tuesdays, which meant we weren't going to get anything more done on the house that day, but we did manage to squeeze in a family walk and hosted dinner for my dad.  It was nice to take a brain break on the decorating front, though.  And, I think I was able to read a chapter for school while Alex put Bennett to bed, but that's neither here nor there...

Wednesday, we went on another family walk (love those), shared dinner, and then...I failed at life and became apparently ungrateful, mean, and demanding toward Alex.  Obviously, I never mean to hurt his feelings or make him feel like anything less than the amazing man that he is, but nevertheless, it happened.  I try to be understanding of his emotions toward being stuck at home all day, but I'm not perfect and I am not always as respectful or gracious toward him as I should be. 

At this point, I don't remember much about Thursday, but I do think we managed to share another family walk that evening.  Friday, Alex took one for the team by keeping Bennett while I went to dinner with some girlfriends (after being with him all day as well).  We had talked about squeezing in a walk again, but time just didn't allow it.  BUT, we did end the week on a good note when we asked Nanna to keep Bennett again so that we could attend a performance of Annie Jr., put on by the new Christian Youth Theater group in town. 

I think I said some other things to upset Alex again this morning, which means I REALLY need to take Jen's next challenge to heart and work hard at building him back up again through affirmation.  And if you read all the way through...mad props to you.  Here's a picture of Alex and I from a trip to the local pumpkin patch way back in 2014.  Apparently I also need to make a point of getting a recent photo of us together for next week's post.  :)


Have a good one, ya'll!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Celebrating a Hungry Caterpillar

Still trying to play catch up by sharing about 2016 in chronological order, so today I'm here to relive our baby shower...Enjoy!

--

Some family and friends threw together a cute little shower for us on New Year's Day (2016).  It was an adorable "hungry caterpillar theme," with yummy food and fun games to entertain guests.  The weather did NOT cooperate (SO cold, windy, wet, gross and very unlike Louisiana), but we made the best of it and went on with the show.  



Shower hosts:  Dawn, Victoria, (myself), Jen, cousin Laurie, and Great Aunt Jackie
Laurie's triplet 5-year-olds served as bell ringers in our wedding 3 years prior
Drew (my godson), Sophie, and Emma
Jen's son, Chase, totally stole the show all day.  He and Alex were buds.  
A co-ed shower wouldn't be complete without a drinking game, no?
My daddy was the champion!
A nice photo with my parents, brother, and Nanna.  
Okay, now all that food is making me hungry, lol.  In any case, we really appreciate the effort made by those who contributed to this special day.  We received lots of love in the form of tangible gifts (but no diapers/wipes/or repeats, yay!) and silly notes too (mad libs, anyone?).  Next up, a surprise baby arrival (birth story), introductions, and the announcement of a winner from our baby pool!  

-Lauren

P.S.  I know for some this type of post can be uncomfortable, difficult, or just plain painful.  Please know that we recognize this and pray for those of you who may struggle with infertility (any variation thereof) and/or infant loss.  Our hearts go out to families affected by these struggles each and every day. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Can we say gorgeous? [Maternity Photos]

Although these were taken over a year ago now (late December 2015), I am still in love with our maternity photos, and never got the chance to share them here....so enjoy! 

Just a little background first...Katie Hoffpauir is the photographer who took our engagement photos, bridals, and photographed our wedding, as well.  We love how she is so incredibly flexible, good at what she does (we're not the most photogenic or model-like people!), and wonderful to work with in general.  I started talking to Katie about maternity photos back several months before these were taken, but we lived 3.5 hours away from Katie at the time, so our schedules didn't line up until we were about 34 weeks along in the pregnancy.

I asked Katie for some simple photos that we could use for New Year's greeting cards (yeah, those never happened) and to remember the bump while we were at it.  Not only did Katie fill my requests, but she went above and beyond to do so (as always!).  We love our photos and I'm excited to share some of my favorites!











And these don't scream "maternity" but I LOVE them anyway!  ("Dirty hot chocolate," yummmm.)



If you want to check out the whole album, they're on Facebook, or you can visit Katie's online gallery.

Enjoy!
-Lauren

P.S.  I know for some this type of post can be uncomfortable, difficult, or just plain painful.  Please know that we recognize this and pray for those of you who may struggle with infertility (any variation thereof) and/or infant loss.  Our hearts go out to families affected by these struggles each and every day. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Out With the Old: Goodbye 2016!

Wow, well, I didn't expect it to be 11 months between blog posts.  This last year has been I-N-S-A-N-E.  When I left off, we were days away from becoming parents, and I was completely oblivious to what the rest of 2016 would bring for us.  Let's see if I can bring us up to speed here...

On February 15th (yes, I said February 15th, NOT 16th as was shared in my previous post), we welcomed our little “be-ritto,” Bennett Alexander.  He was born at 8:28 a.m., and weighed in at 8 pounds 11 ounces.  We all rested up just fine and returned home a few days later to begin our life as a family of three.   


The adjustment to parenthood (re:  HELLacious nursing experience, to hopefully be discussed here on the blog in a future post...) continued as the days warmed with the season.  I returned to work in May and Bennett began his (short-lived) adventure at daycare.  Meanwhile, Alex traded in a long season of travel with ULM Baseball for Daddy duties and home-games only.   

In June, Alex vacated his position with ULM.  Subsequently, I accepted a position with the V. (edited for privacy) Parish School Board, and thus began the process of relocating to south Louisiana.  Our home was promptly prepared for market and officially listed with an agent around mid-June.    My last day at work was July 8th.  We packed essentials and established a temporary residence at my parents' home.  Bennett enjoyed swimming in Gam and Pop’s pool, and spent many hours wearing his daddy out! 


I began my new position as an Early Interventionist/Kindergarten Special Education teacher at the end of July.  I participated in several staff development workshops in preparation for work within a Kindergarten “combo” (inclusion) class, featuring 17 students, six of which have developmental delays or other disabilities.  There are two teachers and two paraeducators serving within the classroom, and oh does it make for loads of fun!  


Bennett experienced his first airplane trip when he and Alex traveled to North Carolina to visit family and attend a friend’s wedding in September.  The boys had quite the adventure, which included sprints through the Dallas airport and a much-needed nap on the airplane afterwards.  Bennett even returned with a very special souvenir – his first tooth (at 7 months old)!  


With the start of football season this fall, Alex began freelance work with a local newspaper and nearby university.  He covered local high school games on Friday nights and spent Saturdays working for TV crews doing stats during home games for college games.  His favorite part of this new gig was experiencing the excitement that is high school football rivalries in the south.   

In October, our home in Monroe went under contract (exactly 4 months after) on the very same day an offer was made for their new home in south Louisiana.  Despite some last minute hiccups (re: very angry moments), we moved into our new home just before Thanksgiving. 


Bennett received exactly what he wanted for Christmas, his two front teeth (ha!), and we enjoyed celebrating in our very own space.  We hosted extended family for a game of Dirty Santa on New Year's Eve and spent New Year's Day at my aunt's.  Needless to say, we are (mostly) loving being near family and friends again and Bennett is a huge fan of his new stomping grounds, as he continues to master his crawling and climbing (but not sleeping) skills.


Looking ahead to 2017, we hope for a more peaceful and stable year.  We are excited to start planning Bennett's first birthday party, and my 30th is right around the corner, as well.  No doubt, Bennett will be walking, running, and jumping soon enough, and that’s plenty of activity to keep everyone busy!  

As far as blogging goes, I am hoping that I will be getting back in the saddle again now that things are sort of starting to settle down.  We still have zero decorations on the walls, as well as a patio and fence to build, all while working, taking classes, searching for jobs (Alex), and caring for Bennett...in other words, I'm not making any promises. However, I did just realize that I have two or three drafted posts that never published, so I'll try to share those before too long. 

And you...friends...I have missed you SO much.  That's one of the saddest parts about not writing for a year...missing all of you!  Please, share an update on how things are going with your family...I haven't been able to keep up with reading posts either, so I am totally in the dark here. 

What's up?!?
-Lauren

Friday, February 12, 2016

Promotion: Effective Tuesday

Alex is working (in town - thank goodness) all weekend, so I had every intention of putting together Quick Takes tonight, but by the way the afternoon went, that's just not going to happen.  Instead, announcement time............. (Warning:  This post is super long.)

Baby will be here...on Tuesday (if not before)!


How do we know this?  Well, it's a little thing called a scheduled cesarean.  Yeah, definitely not what I want or planned, but it's probably best and well at this point it's done.

Let me back up a little...Doctor has been warning us for a while, baby has measured big as far back as what was supposed to be our last ultrasound in late December.  At the time, it measured in the 78th percentile and predicted to be at least 8 pounds.  I'm a short person (5 ft even), so there isn't a lot of space inside for baby to grow and/or deliver naturally.

As a result of this estimate, doctor encouraged us to do another growth ultrasound at 37 weeks to see how things were looking.  She said, though, that nothing could or would be scheduled intervention-wise before the 39th week unless it were to be an emergency.  At that scan (9 days ago), the ultrasound tech confirmed that we were still looking at a baby that could be upwards of 9 pounds (now measuring at the 85th percentile), but this time noticed the head was positioned sideways, basically as though it would deliver ear-first if it were to come in its current state.  Obviously, ear-first doesn't work for delivery, soooooooo doctor encouraged us to do another ultrasound (seventh total!) at 39 weeks - that's today.

For today's scan, I tried stay calm and kept hoping we'd get good news about the head moving into a better position, because I long ago gave up on size being a non-issue at this point.  At first, the tech seemed to think the head had moved, but she took her time and very thoroughly looked from all angles, changing my position and trying to see as much as possible.  Unfortunately, baby is now measuring 8.5 pounds (giver or take half a pound) and above the 90th percentile for size.  The head is also in the same position as before, and even more concerning today was the presence of the umbilical cord that is either near or around the neck (I can't remember exactly how she said it).  It's her opinion that the cord may be what's interfering with baby positioning itself properly, and with the combination of the two, a) probably will not change before birth, and b) could result in some serious distress if I were to go into labor naturally.

After a couple of stressful hours going back and forth with the ultrasound tech, a nurse, and then finally speaking with the doctor, a decision was made to schedule the cesarean for Tuesday at Noon. It was all very confusing because the tech was very confident in her findings and prepared us for that conversation, but the nurse instead was incredibly vague and said she couldn't recommend any decision over another, that it was totally up to us but I needed to decide today or there wouldn't be a spot on the schedule for the following week.  For a time, I felt very (anxiously) unprepared to be making such a big decision without fresh input from the doctor, and I was thiiiis close to declining a scheduled intervention with the understanding that I'd see doctor on Monday and talk about it in person with her then.

But then.  Doctor called.  I can't tell you how relieved I felt just to hear her voice on the other end of the line.  I knew I'd get real input and hoped I'd feel more confident in whatever decision after our conversation.  And in the end, all of the above.  Doctor repeated the information the ultrasound tech had shared, consistent in facts and opinions of the situation.  She said there's no viable way to deliver with the head in its current position and given the other factors it seems incredibly unlikely that this would change.  She said she always goes into decisions thinking about what she would recommend for her sister or for herself and in this situation she predicted a 99% chance that even if I tried to labor it would result in a cesarean.  She didn't recommend the risk of attempting induction or natural labor for the 1% chance it would have positive results.

A big concern for me is extended recovery time (remember, I wanted to be independent postpartum), and negative effects for future pregnancies.  There's not much anyone can do about the recovery, but doctor reassured me that she is very willing to do VBACs (though upfront, wanted me to be aware that those cannot be induced whatsoever, only another c-section can be used if in an emergency situation) and she has experience doing cesareans for women who have had as many as eight children.  She told me it wouldn't limit the number of future children I could have (huuuge concern given the contraceptive society we live in), and that she didn't see any reason it would be a problem down the road.  Can we say HUGE weight lifted off my mind???

So then the issue of what to share with my family (who, remember, wants to be present ASAP) given my desire to have a very private birth experience.  I was finally able to put into words exactly what made me anxious about all of that - a) having people in my space while laboring, thinking I'd feel claustrophobic and just plain over stimulated by the presence of others, and b) feeling pressure to speed things along knowing there are others "waiting" on me.  ...But the thing about a cesarean is that a) only one other person is allowed to be present (YAY HUSBAND) and b) it's a 20 minute deal, so the waiting part is pretty much nonexistent. Realizing my fears about having others around wouldn't be so much of an issue with a cesarean, we decided to be honest about the situation and share the plans with my family.

Although I'm not certain my father won't be awake at 4 a.m. trying to drag my mother out the house, I spent a great deal of time telling my mother NOT to get on the road any earlier than necessary and to take.their.time. getting here.  My father, on the other hand, asked to come on Monday night...to which I quickly corrected him about traveling the following morning, ha. I still really don't want people waiting around, especially knowing I want that magic hour of just the three of us together after baby is born and the thought of having people in the waiting room at that point still stresses me out.  And then of course, it will be my grandmother in addition to my parents, and possibly my brother too.  AHH, people!

The plan is for family to arrive sometime around midday on Tuesday and leave Thursdayish, since my daddy will go on call Thursday evening.  (Of course, my daddy is talking about switching his call and not leaving on Thursday as he would have to...EEK, Father!!!)  I'm *hoping* things go well enough to be discharged on Friday and have our family of three home together for the weekend and following week.  My mother/grandmother want to come back and stay when Alex goes back to work, but I'm not agreeing to anything just yet.   Then, Alex's mom will be flying in Saturday, March 5th and leaving on Friday, March 11th.  We'll see what I think about that in about two weeks...yikes.

And...all of these details could totally derail if baby decides it wants to arrive before the 16th.  So, we'll see!

As always, prayers greatly appreciated.

-Lauren

P.S.  Someone I know had her baby today, and gave it the same name we picked out (yes I'm being intentionally vague in case someone puts two and two together)!!  Now I have this complex that she'll think I stole her baby's name, even though neither of us talked names AT ALL beforehand.  ...I sent her an email that surely sounds like crazy talk about how I'm so sorry we picked the same name.  Go ahead, laugh...you deserve it after sticking around through this post!

P.P.S.  I know for some this type of post can be uncomfortable, difficult, or just plain painful.  Please know that we recognize this and pray for those of you who may struggle with infertility (any variation thereof) and/or infant loss.  Our hearts go out to families affected by these struggles each and every day. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Hello, Gorgeous!

Stephanie may still be on maternity leave, but I'm having a hard time keeping up with her!  As I said before, she's still churning out good stuff, so head over to visit her at Captive the Heart.  I'm totally not a beauty blogger, but there is something I'd swear by for all brides to be.  To find out more, and learn what others are saying about tried-and-tested beauty tips on your wedding day, go check out her post.

Photo credit:  Katie Hoffpauir Photography
Check back regularly to visit with Stephanie, as she will be sharing more from "Brides Who've Been There" during this Wedding Q & A series!



Sunday, February 7, 2016

On my mind.

Alex is out at a Superbowl gathering with coworkers tonight, and I've been home doing laundry while catching up on the DVR.  There are tons of thoughts running through my mind, and while I really don't want my blog to turn in to all baby, all the time, I really just want to get some of it off my mind.  And, maybe some of you experienced ladies out there will have some wisdom to share, as well.

-This pregnancy has flown by, and for that I am grateful!  However, it's also really weird knowing that your life is about to change in huuuuge ways, but the "when" part is totally unknown.  This could be my last full week of work, or I may not even make it there tomorrow morning (very unlikely).  There's just no way to know and that's difficult to wrap my mind around!

Custom crib bedding from Etsy arrived this week!
It's not the fanciest, but I love it! 
-Baby is still measuring very much ahead of schedule size-wise, and now doctor is worried its head is positioned in a way that isn't conducive to vaginal delivery.  She's been preparing us for a while that we may end up in a induction/cesearan situation, but that's becoming more real with each passing week.  We'll have a check-up and seventh (!!!) ultrasound this coming Friday, and a decision may be made then about scheduling either one of those options (as early as 2/15...EEK!).  I really want my body to do this on its own so maybe if you feel so inclined to send up a few prayers for us....that would be great.

-So speaking of scheduling... Maybe I'm weird but I really want this birthing experience to be sacred between Alex and I.  I don't want family or friends to be hanging around the hospital or even there to meet baby immediately.  I don't want to feel rushed to progress any faster than my body and baby are ready, and I want to cherish those initial moments with our little family and no one else.  My mom has pressured me to let her in the delivery (to which I responded with a big fat NO), and while I think she has finally accepted my decision, everyone still expects to be notified as soon as I see the first signs of labor. I have no interest in alerting the masses and would really rather just tell people after it's all said and done.  Everyone (except Alex) is making me feel guilty about it but I feel super strongly about this...am I awful for feeling this way?

Jan. 28 - 36w6d
SO BIG!!
-On a related note, I also don't want people coming to visit and stay with us immediately either.  Again, maybe I'm naive, but there is one baby and two adults already...is it really necessary to have another (or more) adult around to care for one stinking infant?  I feel like that's ridiculous overkill and I realllyyyy don't understand why my mom and grandmother (Alex's mom too) are all eager-beaver about wanting to come stay with us.  It's especially weird to me as far as my mom is concerned because she is NOT a domestic person and I feel like it's totally pointless for her to plan on staying with us since she doesn't enjoy housework whatsoever.  And I won't even get started on the idea of a mother-in-law staying with us for any length of time either.  But again........maybe I'm a terrible person for feeling this way.  (Side note:  I have talked to Alex about employing Fiske's theory on How to Postpartum Like a Boss; I still don't think it requires extra adults in our house, especially since we don't have any other children to care for at the moment.)

-And if I hope for my body to bring things on naturally, then I'm open for (pleasant) suggestions on making that happen.  I keep saying I'm going to walk this thing out of me if I have to!  :)  Doc says I  made progress in one week that takes some several, so that's promising.  So walking and raspberry leaf tea (which, I know is only going to strengthen uterus and not actually bring on labor) are my mantras right now.  Yesterday, we walked 3 miles (of hills, thank you very much!) at a local park and let C.J. run around at the dog park while we were there. I was totally worn out afterwards, but no pain, no gain, they say!

I am IN LOVE with this onsie...even if baby comes after Feb. 9. 
-So if labor happens this week, we're looking at the possibility of being in the hospital for Ash Wednesday - how does that even work?  Thankfully, we're laboring at a Catholic hospital, but fasting is obviously out regardless, but can I still receive ashes?  Same for laboring over the weekend (re: communion).  And what about if it happens on a Friday (re: abstinence)?  Then there's postpartum too... I figure I can still manage meatless, but what about other Lenten observances?  Is it strange of me to even be thinking about these things?  Talk about bizarre brain functions over here....

Mmm...okay, I think that's enough for now.  There are probably several other "issues" running through my mind but I think I've unloaded enough for now.  Here's to hoping for a productive and peaceful week, on all accounts!

-Lauren

P.S.  I know for some this type of post can be uncomfortable, difficult, or just plain painful.  Please know that we recognize this and pray for those of you who may struggle with infertility (any variation thereof) and/or infant loss.  Our hearts go out to families affected by these struggles each and every day.