Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tears ... of joy?

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It's milestone time again for Riley. This morning I put her down in her crib so that I could hop in the shower real quick. When I got out of the shower she was awake and crying. I went into her room to get her and to my surprise, there were little tears rolling down her cheeks!! It broke my heart to see her look so sad! Crying up until this point - without tears - sounded sad but never really looked sad. I quickly looked up 'tears' in my "What To Expect the First Year" book and sure enough, tears start being produced somewhere around week 3, which we're smack dab in the middle of!

Riley isn't the only one crying tears today. I know rough days will come and go, so I take this with a grain of salt, but everyone who has said it before is so right - being a mom is one of the hardest jobs you'll ever have. I love, love, love my daytime time with Riley, but handling everything else PLUS a newborn is a daunting task and can get overwhelming at times. I didn't have difficulty today handling everything that I wanted to get done (tidy up the house, do a couple loads of laundry, put clean laundry away, make the bed, have dinner on the table when Kevin walked in the door ...) ... but ... I don't know ... this evening has been tough on me. Tomorrow is a new day - and will be a better day.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tummy time ... I almost forgot!!

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Oh! I can't believe I forgot to mention this in my last post, but today during tummy time, Riley held her head up the highest (and longest) that she has done so far. She held it for over a minute this time. I am telling you - she has strong neck muscles!! Check it out!

Wrapping up the weekend

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The Christmas holiday weekend is over and it is time for most people to get back to the grind. It's very easy for me to lose track of what day of the week it is without being at work. Plus, since Riley was born, Kevin has only been in the office four total days, so that makes it difficult for me to keep track as well. Tomorrow Kevin returns to work. With New Year's Day being this week, and him working from home on Fridays, that just leaves me here alone for three days, but remember ... I've only been here alone ONE day since she was born. That is hard to comprehend, seeing as how she is already 3 weeks 2 days old.

Tonight was bath night for Riley. She is now sound asleep in her crib, snug as a bug and with a belly full of milk. I am typing this very quickly so that I can get myself into bed and hopefully get a couple hours of sleep before she wakes up again.

Today another milestone was reached. One of my own, however; not one of Riley's. I went for my very first run in nearly 10 months. I was never much of a runner, but ran occasionally prior to being pregnant. I hope that I develop a love for it, though, as it would be a great way to get back into shape. My run today was very short - Kevin warned me to take it slow and not overdo it. I probably only ran a quarter-mile or so, but it felt amazing. I returned back to the house and did some squats and some abs then hit the shower. I would love to get outside for a quick jog and/or walk each evening after Kevin gets home from work if possible. My goal is to be back into my pre-pregnancy jeans by March 2nd - that is the day I return to work. Of the 40 pounds I gained while pregnant, I have lost 29 of them and have just 11 to go. I have a feeling these will be the 11 I have to really work for, though. Does this mean no more ice cream??

Lastly, my parents and my grandma came to spend the weekend with us. This was Grandma's first time to meet Riley. It was a very nice visit and I wish it could have lasted much longer. Mom is planning to come spend another week with Riley and I mid-January and I cannot wait for that time with her. I have to remember not to wish time away until then, though, because that will be the halfway point of my maternity leave.

Time to go peek in on the little nugget. It is so hard for me to just look at her without touching her cheek or kissing her head. I love her so much.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

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This post is actually coming on the 26th of December, but Merry Christmas nonetheless!

Christmas this year was obviously extra special for us, having Riley to share it with. Sure, she didn't have a clue what was going on and she slept through the Christmas Eve church service and through opening gifts on Christmas morning, but being able to hold her and look at her reminded us of the greatest present of all - our precious, precious daughter.

She was certainly spoiled by all of her family members. Auntie Rhonda and Uncle Scott bought her some gorgeous dresses and a fancy coat for this time next year, along with three great books to add to her book collection. (Remember that book rack that was supposed to get hung before she was born? It's still sitting on the floor of her room ...). Auntie Heather and Uncle Jay bought her some adorable outfits along with a musical doll. Grandma and Grandpa Nichols were very generous with providing money to start Riley's college fund, along with a "Granddaughter's First Christmas" ornament. Grandma and Grandpa Balaban bought her an adorable outfit, a teether, a musical water globe that is engraved with her name and birthdate, and a savings bond to add to that college fund. Aunt Courtney and Uncle Mark bought her an outfit, some books, and a stuffed giraffe. Mommy and Daddy bought her some toys that she isn't quite ready to play with yet, but she'll be there soon.
One gift that Riley gave us last night was the gift of sleep! It was her first night sleeping in her crib rather than the bassinette in our room. It wasn't intentional, but as I was cleaning things up around the house late last night, I had laid her in her crib and she was so fast asleep that I didn't want to wake her. The little booger slept in there from 10pm to 3am! A FIVE HOUR STRETCH! That was the greatest gift of all! And then after her 3am feeding, she and Daddy slept sound in the rocker from 4am to 7:15am this morning. Now she is back in her crib, napping away. What a great baby. What an amazing Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

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Merry Christmas Eve! We have so much to be appreciative and thankful for this Christmas. I fell asleep as I prayed last night, thanking God so much for the miracle He brought into our lives. Just like everyone says - I have no idea how we got along without her all this time. Now that she is here, I could never be without her in life.

Tonight will be Riley's very first big outing. We're going to take her to Christmas Eve services as St John Vianney's church at 6pm. The church is literally right around the corner, so the travel time will be under two minutes. Kevin's parents and his sister's family will be there as well. While we don't attend the Catholic church, it is tradition for us to go there each year on Christmas Eve with his family and we wanted this year to be no exception.

In preparation for the big evening ahead, Riley and I had a fashion show for daddy this morning in an attempt to decide which outfit to debut. Thanks to my dear friend Kim for the gorgeous Baby Gap dresses!! One outift will be for tonight, one for Christmas dinner at Kevin's parent's tomorrow night, and one for this weekend when my parents (hopefully) come to visit. One thing is for sure - she is one beautiful baby!

Merry Christmas Eve, all! Remember the reason for the season - Jesus' birth - in all that you do!

Riley's First Bottle!

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Today we reached another milestone - Riley took her first bottle. Not only did she take it, but she did so like a little champ. The pediatrician had suggested that this be the week we try the first bottle. I had been a little hesitant because I wanted to read all that I could around properly introducing a bottle for the first time, how to eliminate nipple confusion, and all of that. Yesterday I did a lot of reading, went out and bought a bottle warmer, and felt very prepared for today's task.

I wasn't sure how many ounces to expect her to take, so I filled the bottle with 3 ounces and thought we'd go from there. She ended up taking 2.5, so we weren't far off and there wasn't much milk wasted. I'll use that as my baseline going forward. I think Kevin loved giving her the bottle - it was his first time to get to be part of the feeding process. The books I had read - and advice I'd received from friends - was for him to give her the bottle and for me to be nowhere in sight. If she is able to smell me, it could cause confusion for what the bottle is. I stayed out of the room at first, but quickly came back in to snap a few pictures and video once she took the bottle. We'll continue to give her one bottle a day so that she doesn't forget what it is. I still intend to nurse most of the time, but knowing that there is milk and bottles on hand makes it less nerve-wracking, should I need to be away during a feeding.

This is just a perfect day, following up a perfect night. She had a great night, only getting up at midnight, 3:30am and 7:15am for feedings. What a little champ. Right now she is all tuckered out, napping on my chest as we lie on the couch and I write this. These are the moments I love and that I never want to end.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bath Time!

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Tonight was Riley's first bathtub bath. Up until this point we had been sponge bathing her until her umbilical cord stump fell off. Well, it finally fell off this past Thursday, but that was the same day that she was diagnosed with Thrush and put on medication, so we didn't want to put her through too much all in one day. We've decided that for now, Sundays and Thursdays will be bath nights.
The bath went better than expected, but Riley still cried. It is so sad for us to see her cry since she cries so rarely. As for the bath-givers, we learned how to do things better and more efficiently next time. I assume this will be the learning theme for so much through the next few years.

I've attached some pictures from after tonight's bath:

Also, the Thrush is getting much better. Tonight I couldn't even see a trace of anything on Riley's tongue. She is taking her medication like a champ, four times a day. I am so proud of the little booger.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Big "T"

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Dr. K confirmed at our appointment today that Riley does in fact have thrush. The good news is that Dr. K said we've caught it very early and sent us out the door with two prescriptions - one oral one for Riley and a topical one for myself. I am to take 1 cc of the liquid medicine and use a q-tip to literally 'paint' the medicine onto Riley's tongue and the inside of her cheeks four times a day.

I am going back and forth from not worrying about this too much since I've read that it is very common and nothing to be too concerned with (and the doctor didn't seem to be alerted by it) ... and then on the other hand I freak out that she "has" something. I just hope the medication works. Dr. K said to come back in if it doesn't clear up in 10-14 days. For those of you who know me well, that means I have the 10th day circled on my calendar already - no chance I'll stay out of that office a day after the 10th day if it isn't cleared up yet. He told me that the 'worst cases' are that it becomes too painful on the baby's tongue and then they don't want to nurse. That scares me.

The GOOD news is that for now she is certainly a good eater. The little chunk was 7lb 3oz at last Thursday's appointment ... and just one week later she is rocking the scales at 7lb 13oz!!!

Yes! The Stump is Gone!

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I was up with Riley for her 3:30am feeding this morning when I went to change her and was so excited to find that her umbilical cord stump had fallen off! I saw that it was gone first, then had to fish through her little sleep gown to find it. Aside from being an ugly sight, that darn stump made diaper changing and dressing her a challenge - I was so afraid of getting it caught on something. This is definitely a milestone in my book! Thankfully I realized at the next feeding that the stump had fallen off of the changing table onto the floor. I would have been disgusted if Oliver or Wendell would have eaten it. I was only keeping hold of it until I talked to Mom this morning to see whether or not it is something that I should keep. We both agreed to throw it out. I'll still have her belly button as a reminder. =)

We have an appointment with Dr. Kannensohn (pediatrician) at 3:40pm today. I was reading an article in a baby magazine last night titled "Infant Illness". The article listed out some of the "most common infant health complaints". I read about something called 'thrush' that I had never heard of before. Thrush is a yeast infection in your baby's mouth. The symptoms are elevated white patches that look like cottage cheese on the inside of your baby's cheeks or on the tongue, roof of the mouth, or gums. If you try to wipe them away, the area will look raw and red and may bleed. The treatment is to see your pediatrician who will prescribe an oral antifungal medication.

I had noticed the past few days that Riley had this white substance - that looked a bit like cottage cheese - on her tongue. I just assumed it was breastmilk remnants and never gave it any further thought. I am glad I read this article. While this may turn out to be nothing, I'd rather err on the side of caution and get it checked out. I took a washcloth to her tongue last night, but just dabbed it very lightly - I didn't want to make it raw or bleed ... I'll leave that to Dr. K if it's necessary. At least I'll get to see how much the little stinker weighs now.

Here is a link to a good article on Thrush.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Riley's Arrival ... all the dirt!

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Ahhhh. I've finally found the time to write out the details around Riley's big arrival. It isn't that I have been so overwhelming busy with her (as everyone told me I would be) - it is that I can't stand the thought of doing something that makes me take my eyes off of her beautiful face for more than a couple of minutes. Thanks to BabyBjorn, I can at least have her resting her sleepy head on my chest now as I write this all out. I'll take all I can get.

It is so hard to believe 12 days have already passed since she was born. Last Friday when the clock hit 8:14pm, Kevin and I wished her "Happy Birth-Minute". We'll probably be corny and do it again this week.

While in the hospital, I did my best to timeline out what was happening to me and when. I wanted to do this for several reasons. Several of my girlfriends are pregnant right now and getting very close to their own due dates - I thought this would help answer any questions they had about my experience. I also knew that my memory would most likely be foggy of the small details of that day and wanted to make sure I never forgot a moment of it. Sit back and enjoy - this could be long.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

- 7:00pm: Kevin and I are to arrive at Lake West Hospital for me to be admitted for my induction. We were too anxious sitting at home waiting to leave, so we left around 5:30pm, went to Target on the way, returned some movies, and still got to the hospital around 6:40pm. When we rang in to the maternity floor, they told us we were too early and we had to go sit in the waiting area until 7:00pm anyhow. That was a long 20 minutes.

- 8:30pm-ish: I am currently 0 cm dilated, 60% effaced, and at a -1 station. My IV is in and the Cervadil has been inserted. The rest of the time up to this point has been dealing with paperwork and all those formalities. Thankfully the nurse who handled my IV was willing to honor my request to insert the IV in the crook of my arm rather than my hand. Is it odd that of all things to do with labor and delivery, I was dreading the IV the most?

- 11:00pm: I finally drift off to sleep. My blood pressure cuff was set to take my BP every hour, so I didn't sleep too well. I am sure the anxiety of meeting my daughter had a little to do with that.

Friday, December 5, 2008

- 5:00am: Kevin and I both wake up. We're ready for the day to come!

- 6:00am: The Cervadil is removed. I am now 0.5 cm dilated, 60% effaced, and at a -1 station. Obviously there was little progress made through the night.

- 6:35am: The Pitocin drip is started. It is to be increased every 15-30 minutes. Nurse shift change. Our night nurse, Julie, leaves and our day nurse, Katarina, arrives. Both were incredible and we're so thankful for them!

- 7:30am: Dr. Brzozowski arrives to break my water. This was extremely painful. Dr. B promised me that it would be the most painful exam of the day. I prayed that he was telling the truth.

- 9:00am: The contractions have increased in intensity and frequency. I am not dilated enough to receive my epidural. I am told that I need to be 3-4 cm first. Instead, I am offered Nubane for the time being. Katarina tells me that it won't take away the pain of the contractions, but it will take the 'edge' off. She said it will make me a little woozy, though. I accept it. Within about 20 minutes I am talking to my mom and Kevin and all of a sudden I feel drunk. The Nubane is working.

- 10:00am: The Nubane is no longer taking the edge off and the contractions are in full swing. They're about two minutes apart and lasting around 30 seconds each. I am currently 1cm dilated and 80% effaced.

- 11:30am: The contractions are reaching their strongest peak and I am beginning to think there is no way I can continue to do this. I am currently 1.5 cm dilated and 80% effaced. At this point a c-section is definitely a possibility and I begin to think that is how it'll all end up. Katarina now tells me if we can just get to 2 cm I can get my epidural. She thinks the epidural will allow me to relax and progress. Our parents have left for lunch and I am now allowing myself to cry through the contractions. Kevin is helping me through them and being such an awesome supporter, but I am in maximum pain. The contractions are now about 1 minute apart and lasting about 45 seconds in length.

- 1:15pm: Katarina sees how hard the contractions are hitting me and makes the call to ask for the epidural. I am only 1.75cm dilated, and she is a SAINT for making this decision.

- 1:40pm: The epidural is in. Next to the IV, this was my next biggest fear. It was so much easier than I ever imagined. It really did feel like a bee sting, then a burning feeling for about 10 seconds and then pure relief from the pain of the awful contractions. It was comical looking at the monitor and seeing these monster contractions and not feeling a thing. One thing I didn't know to expect was how the epidural would give me the shakes. I felt like I was freezing, but apparently my skin was very hot to the touch. My mom is so wonderful and sits down in front of me and rubs lotion on my feet - combined with the epidural, I am completely relaxed.

- 1:40pm through 6:00pm-ish: I am completely relaxed from the epidural and even able to take a nap.

- 6:30pm: I am progressing nicely and around 7cm dilated. I begin vomiting. While it made me never, ever want another cherry or grape popsicle again in my life, the nurse was excited about it. Apparently this is a 'good sign' that you are transitioning into active labor. I had three spells of vomiting and then I was given some Zofran through my IV to keep the nausea at bay. It works wonderfully.

- 7:00pm: I am now 9.5 cm dilated. Katarina calls Dr. Brzozowski - who has gone home for the evening - to let him know I am ready to begin pushing once he arrives. A shift change occurs and we're so sad to see our day nurse, Katarina, leave. However the new nurses are just as kind and ready to get into action. They begin to transform the room, table, and setup for pushing to begin. My epidural is wearing off and I can feel the contractions as they come on, but not nearly as intense as prior to the epidural. The nurse suggests that I hold off on getting any more epidural medication so that I can feel the contractions come on and have more of an urge to push. I gladly accept her recommendation and allow myself to begin to feel the contractions. (There I am, celebrating the news that I am "9.5 cm". I should have raised half of my thumb to symbolize 0.5)

- 7:30pm: Dr. Brzozowski arrives and checks my progress. He says we're ready to go and that her head is "RIGHT there". He leaves to go get changed into scrubs.

- 7:45pm: Let's get this show on the road! We're all set to start pushing. We make it through the first contraction and my only complaint pain-wise was that my eyes felt like they would pop out of my head from pushing so hard. The nurse is very happy with how I am pushing and says they can already see the top of Riley's head. Wow. Dr. B isn't back in the room yet, but we continue to push through contractions. We get quite the system set up. I push during a contraction, then immediately after Kevin puts a cold washcloth on my forehead and feeds me exactly three ice chips. I was picky about the 'three'. Ha!

- 8:00pm-ish: Dr. B arrives in the room. I've pushed through about 4 contractions at this point and can tell that we're getting close from the pressure I can feel. Still not feeling any "pain", though. Dr. B comes in the room and says "WHOA! Stop pushing, stop pushing!". He actually tells the nurse to push the head BACK IN! He jokes quickly that he cannot catch a baby in bare hands as he hurries to get his gloves on, get the table disassembled and get into position. I push through two more contractions, just as hard as I had been from the start ...

- 8:14pm: Riley Elayne Balaban is born! She is absolutely perfect. The doctor lies her on my chest immediately and she cries and I cry along with her. She and I lock eyes and while I know a newborn's eyesight is very poor at birth, the connection made at that moment sends a shock through my body. This is my daughter. My baby. What a feeling. She weighs 7 pounds, 1.3 ounces and is 19 1/4 inches long. She scores a 9 on the APGAR. I watch in awe as the nurses clean her up and don't even realize that I am being stitched up and can even feel a little bit of it from the epidural wearing off. I realize that my life is forever changed and in the best way possible. Thank you, Jesus, for the most perfect gift I could ever be given.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Riley Has Arrived!!

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I am dying to write out all of the details of Riley's amazing arrival, but am just too tired to do so right now. I promised myself I'd really take "me time" when I came home from the hospital, so I am going to honor that promise. Very soon I will have detail by detail. Until then, I'll leave you with this information ...

Riley Elayne Balaban

7lbs 1oz

19 1/4 inches

December 5, 2008, 8:14pm

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The countdown is on ...

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One day down since learning the date I am to be induced ... two days to go. Well, a little over two days. I am obviously focusing on Thursday evening when we head to the hospital.

We were able to firm up some of our plans after talking with family last night. My grandma isn't going to be coming afterall. She is facing an eye surgery early next week and should something happen prior to the surgery, it would be best for her to be at home rather than up here. She will see Riley soon enough, although we'll miss her. My mom and dad are going to be up here late Thursday night. My dad works until 5pm, so they'll hit the road soon after that and be here between 9 and 10. They've decided to come straight to the house and get some sleep and show up at the hospital early Friday morning. They'll take care of the dogs for us that evening, through the night, and Friday morning. That helps me out more than they know, as I've been so stressed about the dogs being here alone through the night, not knowing what is going on.

My brother will most likely be heading this way on Saturday, just for the day. He'll leave the girls with Courtney for now since they couldn't come into the maternity ward anyhow. They'll meet Riley soon.

Kevin will head to the hospital with me on Thursday and after going back and forth on it, my friend Meagen has convinced us that Kevin should spend the night with me, although Thursday to Friday could be pretty uneventful. I just want him to be comfortable sleeping there and be well-rested for me on Friday. I'm going to need it.

Today we're (finally) going to get the carseat base installed. I want to go ahead and get the entire carseat in the car along with the window shades and baby mirror. I'd love to get the car all swept out and clean, too. I cannot stand a dirty car.

I went through the diaper bag this morning and laid everything out to make sure I had all that I needed. Of course, with the hospital just being 10 minutes away and my parents making daily trips back and forth, if I've forgotten something it won't be the end of the world. I think this preparation just helps the time pass.

My plan for Thursday, other than it being my last day of work, is to get the house tidied up for Mom and Dad ... plus I just want to return from the hospital to a clean home. We did a lot of cleaning this past weekend so there isn't much to do ... just some laundry and getting the guest room in order for our company. I hope these next few days pass quickly!

Monday, December 1, 2008

I'm getting induced!!

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This morning's doctor appointment felt like an episode of the Twilight Zone. Dr. B did his exam and told me the same thing I've heard the past four appointments - that there was no change to my cervix and that I wasn't dilated at all. However this time, he asked that I come to his office so we could talk about how the rest of the week would play out. Ahh - some hope! Kevin and I both excitedly whispered back and forth in the exam room before going to his office, stating that we'd take him up on a suggestion to induce if he made it.

We step into his office and Dr. B states "Well, eventually this baby has to come out one way or another ... and while I like to wait one week past your due date, if you're feeling overly anxious I am willing to induce". He asked how I was feeling and I stated "Anxious". He then responded with "How about Friday, then?". Wow - it was so casual!! Kevin and I looked at each other excitedly as Dr. B called over to Labor and Delivery. "Hi - this is Dr. Brzozowski, I need to schedule an induction for Friday". I laughed and said it was like he was ordering a pizza. I was so giddy - I couldn't stop smiling.

The plan is as follows: I am to eat a small late lunch, around 2 or 3pm on Thursday, and then arrive at the hospital at 7pm to be admitted. At that point I will receive an oral medication every 4 hours that will help soften my cervix. Around 3am, the pitocin drip will begin to help dilate me and bring on contractions. A little later in the morning, Dr. B will arrive to break my water and the games will begin. I am beside myself knowing that by this weekend, we will be holding our baby in our arms! My parents and grandma are going to come up Thursday night and stay at the house so that they can be at the hospital early Friday. This makes me feel good, too, because through all of this I've been so worried about Oliver and Wendell - our dogs -being left alone at night, wondering what is going on.

Granted, this whole plan goes out the window if Riley decides to arrive on her own prior to then, which is fine with me. At least there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I have a meeting with my manager at 1pm today, but plan to work through the end of the day on Thursday. Kevin is going to work from home the remainder of this week with me and then take off all of next week to spend with Riley and I as we all adjust as a new family.

I can barely concentrate on anything right now and Riley seems to be pretty excited, too - she is moving around SO much! Now I am just going to sit back and enjoy all the kicks and jabs, knowing that my time is limited to take it all in!

December Baby

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Seeing as how I am sitting here, 40 weeks + 1 day pregnant, it is obvious now that Riley will be a December baby and not the November baby we thought she would be. I have my 40-week appointment at 9:45am this morning and I am very excited to hear what Dr. B has to say.

I was up through the night with different movements from Riley. Every time I felt something I would sit very still, waiting to see if it would turn into a contraction or something 'new' that I haven't yet felt. It didn't, but it did cause me to have dream after dream of her arrival. One of my dreams was Dr. B at the appointment today. In this dream he asked me "You have family that you want to come in from out of town, correct? If so, you'd better call them now". That gave me hope. =)

At the suggestion of my best friend Meagen (L&D nurse in Columbus), as long as I am at least 1 cm I will ask him to strip the membranes. I have read that it can be rather painful, but lasts only a minute or so and can help labor progress on its own - in many cases in that very same day. I may have written about this already.

I will post an update following my appointment ... unless I am sitting in a delivery room at Lake West Hospital. =)