Saturday, October 16, 2010

Our Beautiful, Insane Life

The last month has been absolutely insane. Reid was high-maintenance as a baby--always wanted to be held, fought sleep, fussy in the evenings, not a great sleeper at night, etc... I was so very hopeful that Camille was going to be the "easy" baby. You know...the one who is always content, rarely cries, sleeps in their bassinet angelically.

Lets just say that Reid and Camille may not look a whole lot alike right now, but they share similar personalities. Sweet Jesus, help me! Camille is not a bad baby. She's not colicky. She does not cry for hours on end. She simply thinks that she needs to be in my arms ALL THE TIME. She can be sound asleep in my arms but as soon as I put her down she wakes up. Crying. She sleeps for 3-4 hours at a time at long as I hold her or snuggle her next to me in bed. She would also like to eat 24-7. She will ride in the Ergo carrier strapped to the front of me which is how I prepare Reid's food, clean the kitchen, do laundry, etc... And the last week or so she is finally letting me put her on her play mat or in her swing for brief intervals.

Add to the newborn insanity Hurricane Reid. That child never stops. He is such a great kid. He is smart, he's adorable, and he plays well by himself and with others. However, he is throwing some horrendous tantrums lately. I'm talking tantrums with every diaper change, almost every time he goes in his car seat, sometimes when he goes in his booster seat to eat and frequently when he is told "no". And these tantrums are kicking, screaming, back-arching, body-throwing, bang-your-head-into-the-back-of-the-chair performances every blasted time. This is easily my least favorite part of parenting thus far.

So, yes, life is insane. Yet there are so many precious moments during each day: Camille snuggled on my tiny and innocent, Reid's adorable little voice chattering away, Reid bringing Camille a pacifier or covering her with a blanket, Camille smiling at me, Reid learning to do something new. The list goes on and on. It always seems that when I've reached the absolute end of my patience, one of them does something to soften my heart and remind me that this is such a sweet and fleeting time in our lives. As crazy as it seems now, I know that one day I will miss this craziness.

And now, pictures!

Reid and BeBe playing with is new police car. (Have a mentioned that the help of both sides of our family has been a lifesaver?!)

Camille at one week old.

Such a big boy!

Snuggling with my sweetie.

Reid loving on his baby sister. He's such a great brother!

Playing on her play mat.

First real bath. Her cord stump took 4 weeks to fall off!

My pretty girl.

And the official one month old chair picture. Reid let her borrow his teddy bear.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Professional Picture Gallery

Here is the link for the online photo gallery of Camille's newborn photo shoot. The password is "reid". Enjoy!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pictures of Camille

This picture was taken about 10 minutes after my water broke. We are walking out the door to go to the hospital. I may be having a contraction which would explain the forced smile. Our last picture as a family of three...

And poof! Ten hours later, the baby magically appears.

This picture was taken around 2:30 a.m. when my parents could finally come back and see us. I'm impressed they hung in there--they are NOT middle-of-the-night party people. Come to think of it, neither am I.

When Reid was born and taken to the nursery for his first bath both sets of grandparents and my sister stayed outside the window to watch his first bath. When we dropped off Camille at the nursery for her bath it was 3:30 a.m. No one was at the hospital with us. We were exhausted. This is the one picture that was taken before Brian and I left our sweet girl in the nursery. Let the younger sibling complex begin! (She was back in my arms within an hour--I'm not a horrible mother!)

Reid seeing Camille for the first time around 10:00 a.m. on her birthday.

Our family of four! Can you see Camille's face? Nope. Did we buy Reid's happiness with a Matchbox firetruck? Absolutely.

Happy Birthday, sweet Camille!

Reid assisting with the spit-up suction. Such a big helper already!

A little mother-daughter chat before leaving the hospital

All dressed up and ready for the ride home.

As you can see, Reid is thrilled to be taking his little sister home for the first time.

My sweet parents adorned our house with pink balloons to welcome Camille home.

First picture at home

The morning after our first night at home--also Daddy's 31st birthday. Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

One Week Old-A letter to Camille

My precious Camille Geneva,

Today you are one week old, and you are our miracle. Everything about you has surprised us so far! Daddy and I were surprised to learn we were pregnant with you a couple of days after Christmas in 2009. It took us quite awhile to get pregnant with your brother, and we were amazed that it was so easy this time.

We were so surprised to learn that you were a little girl! I wanted to have a little girl so badly, but given Daddy's family tree, it seemed likely that we would have a houseful of boys. There haven't been any girls born on the McFarland side of the family for 85 years! In late March 2010, Daddy and I went to the big ultrasound and doctor's appointment. Even before the ultrasound tech said anything, I could see that you were a girl. Daddy said he knew by the huge smile on my face that we were having a girl.

A couple of weeks later, in mid-April, we were surprised to learn that our doctor was already worried about our pregnancy with you. You weren't even halfway to your due date! I cried in the doctor's office and asked what we could do to make sure you would be born big and safe and healthy. I was so worried for my precious little girl. I spent the next 3 1/2 months on bed rest trying to keep you safe. Those early weeks of bed rest, I was often paralyzed with fear for you. You kept right on wiggling and kicking all day, every day as if to reassure me that you were okay. I treasured every ultrasound that we had, and I loved seeing you grow bigger and stronger with every passing week.

We were surprised that we made it to our "goal" of 34 weeks pregnant with you. We felt so blessed to have gotten you to a point where you would likely be just fine even if you were born a little early. And then you really surprised everyone as you continued growing and seemed very happy to stay inside Mommy week after week after week.

Our precious little girl, we worried about you so much, but you showed us how resilient and amazing you are as you grew inside of mommy even past your due date! And then, very early on the morning of September 9, 2010, you made your arrival.

You are big and healthy and strong--all the things that we prayed for. You weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces and were perfect in every way. I was so very tired after you were born. They finally wheeled us up to our room at 3:30 in the morning. We had to drop you off at the nursery for a bath, but I knew you'd be back in our room soon. I was exhausted, but the moment the nurses brought you back to me, I was energized! We spent those early morning hours cuddled together in my bed. You were snuggled against my chest to stay warm, and I just kept kissing your sweet head which was full of dark brown hair.

Your daddy loves you more than you can imagine. I remember in the delivery room hearing him tell you about the book Daddy Hugs. He said he was giving you "teeny-tiny finger hugs" while you were on the warming table, and you have had him wrapped around your little finger ever since.

Later on the morning you were born, you met your brother for the first time. At first he just stared at you, but over the last week he has shown us repeatedly how much he loves you. He covers you with his blanket when you're in your glider, and he always wants to make sure you have your pacifier in your mouth. He brings his favorite toys and puts them next to you in the glider and looks at you lovingly.

And your grandparents--well, they all adore you. BeBe, Grandad, Mimi and Grandpa all spent special time with you in the hospital, and they've loved holding you and telling us how beautiful and perfect you are over the last week.

Sweet Camille, you are our tiny, precious miracle. We are so proud of you for being born so healthy and strong. We know God has big things in store for your life, and we can't wait to see what each day brings. But for today, you are one week old, and we couldn't love you more.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night... (part II)

So, I get out of the wheelchair in the labor and delivery room and have the worst contraction yet. I was standing leaning over the bed trying to catch my breath, relax and breathe. The next 30 minutes to an hour are a blur so I'm not sure of the exact timing. What I do remember is wanting things to slow down so I could get in control of the pain and practice relaxation techniques.

The reality was that in a short span of time my contractions started coming fast and hard. I believe they were two minutes apart. At some point the labor and delivery nurse, Devin, checked me, and I think I was 4-5 cm. I tried to relax and and find a comfortable position, but I literally wanted to crawl out of my skin and run away. I became very hot and sweaty and extremely nauseous. The next thing I remember is being in the bathroom, throwing up repeatedly and contracting like crazy (oh yeah...and that amniotic fluid was still flowing and still stressing me out).

At that point, I felt panicked. I knew I needed to relax because tension was causing the pain to be so much worse. I just couldn't. Things were moving way too fast, and I felt as if I had completely lost control of the situation. The nurse was telling me I had to come get in bed and get the monitoring and IV started. (Because I was a VBAC things were "high risk" and my doctor wanted continuous fetal monitoring and IV access). The combination of nausea and intense pain was too much. So, in the bathroom of the labor and delivery room, I made a decision. I was having an epidural. The only issue was that Brian and Elizabeth (per my birth plan instructions) gently tried to convince to ride out a few more contractions and reconsider. I'm not sure what I actually said. I remember thinking, "I know what you're going to tell me. I know that's what I told you to tell me. But I was wrong. Dead wrong. I want that epidural and I want it yesterday."

The nurse hadn't overheard all of this, and popped her head in the bathroom and said something about seeing in my chart that I wanted as natural a childbirth as possible, but she still needed to discuss my options. I stopped her, told her that I had totally changed my mind and I wanted an epidural immediately. She reminded me that I still wasn't hooked up to monitors and that I did not have an IV started. These things needed to happen before the anesthesiologist could come in.

The next hour or so I spent sitting in bed, trying to calm down and breathing through contractions. The contractions were so powerful. I held Brian's hand and continued to sweat profusely. Dr. Fogwell came in checked me and I was at 6 cm. I remember feeling such intense pain and trying to relax between contractions. This was probably the calmest I was during the active labor stage because I just kept telling myself that if I could survive a few more contractions then I would have the epidural. I think I kept asking how long it was going to take to get the bag of IV fluid in so that the anesthesiologist could get his rear in the room and get the job done. I looked at the slow drip a few times and contemplated grabbing the IV bag and giving it a few good squeezes.

The contractions continued to intensify, but the bag was almost empty. Then I heard the nurse call for the anesthesiologist, and I heard the reply over her little radio--"He's just gone into room 7". I was in room 9. This was not good. Internally, I panicked--I could NOT wait any longer. I wanted to run into room 7 and drag the good doctor back to my room. I think externally I stayed fairly calm and zen simply because it was taking all of my energy to survive the contractions. Finally the doctor came in. He said Brian and Elizabeth had to leave while I got the epidural. I didn't want Brian to leave. I was scared and in pain, but I knew that the faster he left the faster I would have sweet relief.

I had a contraction as the epidural went in, and I held onto nurse Devin for dear life. Her little radio kept paging her saying her husband was on the phone saying it was urgent. She seemed a little concerned, but replied that she was busy at the moment (helping a pregnant lady regain her sanity.) Finally the epidural was in--the anesthesiologist said I would probably notice relief after a couple of more contractions. Good grief! Now I was alone in labor and delivery and I had to survive two more contractions. The doctor asked me if I wanted a "light" epidural where I still had some sensation or a "heavy" epidural where I'd be pretty much totally numb. I sucked it up and said "light". Eventually, I started to notice some relief.

Brian and Elizabeth returned and I was starting to relax. Brian's phone kept ringing, and I noticed that he left the room before talking. The next time he came in I asked what was going on. He looked a little concerned, and told me that there was a little "weather situation". I was concerned--my parents were still on the road and Reid was with Brian's mom. What was this weather situation and where was it happening? Brian said, "There's a tornado, and it's on the ground." Again, I feared the worst--like it was heading for our house in Allen and Reid was in its path. So when Brian said, "It actually looks like it's headed for the hospital", I was strangely relieved. Labor and delivery is in the basement of this particular hospital. Brian told me that they had just called a "Code Grey" and that nurses were scurrying around talking about moving patients. Nurse Devin popped her head back in (that urgent phone call from her husband--it was about the weather). She said that with a Code Grey we were safe in L&D. In fact, they were going to start moving other patients into the hallways of L&D.

Once I talked to Brian some more and verified that my parents and Reid were out of harm's way, I thought the situation was sort of humorous. I even asked Elizabeth to turn on the TV so we could watch the coverage. Clearly, the epidural was helping at this point! The tornado broke apart and changed course before reaching the hospital, and I don't think all they did was move patients away from windows upstairs. My parents arrived safely around 6:30, and the nurse checked me again. I was still at a 6.

The hours between 7 and 10 pm were fairly relaxed. I put on my make-up and tried to make the most of my "I-didn't-shower-today" hair. My sister came and stayed awhile. I chatted with Brian, Elizabeth, my parents, sister and our new nurse Julia who had come on at the 7pm shift change. I felt pressure with each contraction and started becoming nauseated again. I threw up some more, and even with the epidural, I sensed that the contractions were fast and strong and that things were changing rapidly with my body.

The nurse checked me around 10 pm, and she looked somewhat surprised and said "Well....". I was so afraid she was going to say that there had been no change in the last 4 hours since I got the epidural. (Side note, I do think that had I not had the epidural, my labor would have continued to progress rapidly, and I would have had the baby in a matter of 2-3 hours, but who knows!) I was excited/terrified when she said I was at 10 cm, and I was ready to start pushing.

I remember the first 30-60 minutes of pushing pretty clearly. I pushed and pushed and was making "a little" progress. My epidural was becoming less effective and I felt so much pressure and some pain. I'm not sure what happened to me mentally during that period of time, but for some reason I started becoming convinced that I could not push this baby out. I was so uncomfortable--not the worst pain, but definitely the worst discomfort of my life. I didn't feel like being on my back was effective so I turned over on my hands and knees (with an epidural--somewhat stressing nurse Julia out) and started pushing.

This is what I remember: I was very tired. I was getting frustrated and feeling desperate. I did not want to be told to push, and I certainly didn't want our perky nurse (who really was wonderful--I just didn't appreciate her at this point in time) counting to 10 repeatedly. I was sort of in my own little world--I could hear everyone else talking, but I just wanted to be left alone. Another weird thing was that, at some point, I got very concerned about Brian being by my side while I was pushing. I never thought I'd be like this, but there was part of me that was self-conscious, and I just started thinking, "this is too much-I cannot let him see me like this, and I can't fully concentrate on pushing for thinking about this". So, Brian ended up spending some time sitting on the other side of the room. I think this helped me slightly from a psychological perspective.

Eventually, after a long time of pushing with not-so-much progress, the nurse told me she had spoken to my doctor and he was coming in to discuss options. When Dr. Fogwell walked in and said, "Let's talk." I was in the middle of a contraction and feeling desperate. I told him I did not want to talk at the moment. The nurse sweetly told me that the doctor had come in just to talk to me, and I needed to talk to him. Luckily, my doctor knows me pretty well by this time, and he said, "no, don't worry, she'll talk to me when she's ready". With that, he sat at the computer and hung out for about 15 minutes (I think-my concept of time at this point is very hazy) until I told him I was ready to talk. He told me my options were:
1. Have a repeat C-section. Which he said, "would be stupid since you're fully dilated, and the baby is fully engaged in your pelvis"
2. Turn your epidural all the off and see if that helps with pushing.
3. Use forceps to assist with delivery.
4. Have the anesthesiologist come in and make your epidural much stronger to see if we can get you comfortable enough to push.

I chose option 4. I was already pushing pretty hard by the time the nurse anesthetist came in. He was an older gentleman named Jack. In the midst of all my crankiness and desperation, Jack walks in and starts cheering me on with all he's got. "Come on sweetheart, just push that baby out!" I almost hit him. I don't know how much longer I pushed after that. I was definitely in the zone with my eyes closed and totally focused. I do have recollections of yelling "please help me", and I'm fairly sure I yelled "get her out" at least once. All in all, I was not the serene laboring goddess that I had hoped to be.

With the last few pushes I heard the nurse and doctor saying that she was moving her head around trying to get herself into position to come out. Just when I thought I couldn't push any harder or take any more, she was out at 12:56 am on Thursday, September 9, 2010. It was the sweetest feeling of relief I have ever experienced! She came out with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice--apparently it was a long cord! They got it unwrapped, and she started crying. Brian cut the cord, and the placed our sweet baby on my chest. She was so purple at first that it scared me, but the nurses assured me that she was okay. I rubbed her face and head and stared at her in amazement.

After a few minutes, the nurses took her to the little warming bed in the room--they were a little concerned that her lungs sounded a little "crackly" and her oxygen saturation was a little low. Eventually they called the NICU team down to do an assessment in our room but kept assuring us that it was nothing too serious. After some deep suctioning and a once over by the NICU team, she was declared perfect and allowed to come back and snuggle with me some more.

I experienced exhaustion like I've never felt before. I pushed for 2 1/2 hours before little Miss Camille made her appearance!

All in all, it wasn't exactly the labor experience I had envisioned. I am thrilled that I accomplished a VBAC. I have a few regrets about getting the epidural, but I also know that with the way things unfolded, it was the best option for me at the time. We want to have more kid(s), and I would definitely opt for a VBAC over a cesarean given the choice. I would even consider attempting a future birth without an epidural. Maybe. Or not. I found the experience empowering and the recovery easier in many ways than with the c-section. We were admitted to labor and delivery around 4:00 on Wednesday, had the baby at 12:56 am on Thursday and went home at 4:00 on Friday. And all my hard work was rewarded with the best prize imaginable!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night... (part 1)

The story of my labor and delivery--according to how I remember it.

*I'm sure it's a fairly accurate account, but since I had my eyes closed and was willing myself into a state of unconsciousness for the last two hours of the experience, I may have missed a few things.
**This story will be very lengthy and contain mindless details, but its my blog and I'll ramble if I want to.

Anyway. Last Tuesday night was a dark and stormy night. The Dallas area was being inundated with rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine. I was awake for much of the night with some cramping off and on, and every time I woke up it was pouring down rain. I was also awake because my mind was racing--was I in the very early stages of labor? Was I ever going to have this baby? Was she okay in there?

Let me back up a few hours. Tuesday morning I went to the doctor again. I was 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant. If you are reading my blog then you know that this constitutes a miracle in and of itself. We were amazed. My doctor was amazed! I had been planning from the first time I saw the doctor for this pregnancy in January to attempt a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). VBACs carry an increased risk of uterine rupture and the medications used in inductions further increase that risk. Therefore, my doctor was adamant that he was not inducing me. I either needed to go into labor on my own or have a repeat c-section.

At Tuesday's appointment, my doctor said I was 3 cm dilated and 100% effaced. He offered to schedule a "pseudo-induction" where he would have me check into the hospital Thursday morning and he would rupture my amniotic sac. In theory, this should cause labor to start and I would have the baby without the extra risk of induction meds. I was so excited to have a plan and at the prospect of no longer being pregnant that I immediately agreed. Of course, when I talked things over with Brian I started to analyze all the "what ifs". I knew that if the doctor broke my water and I didn't start contracting after a certain number of hours, then I would have to have a c-section anyway. So, after scheduling my induction for 6 am Thursday and calling my parents and telling them to head up sometime Wednesday, I changed my mind. I know. How annoying. Of course I changed my mind after my doctor's office was already closed Tuesday so I planned to call Wednesday morning to cancel the induction.

So after my long, restless and crampy Tuesday night, I woke up fairly early on Wednesday morning and told Brian I felt like I might be having contractions, but they didn't seem too regular. Brian kept getting ready for work, and I stayed in bed and started timing the contractions. They seemed to be 5-7 minutes apart and lasting for about 30 seconds. Around 7:30 Brian decided to try to work from home instead of going in to the office. He had a couple of meetings he needed to call in for, and he had a 4:00 meeting at a building near our house that he was going to try to attend.

Throughout the morning my contractions came and went. It continued raining, and much of central and north Texas were experiencing flooding. My parents debated about coming up--I was worried that my dad would take off of work and leave and it would turn out to be a false alarm, but I was also worried that they wouldn't make it up if things moved too quickly. They decided to leave around 5 pm. Brian called and asked his mom to come hang out with me and Reid while he was on a 2:00 teleconference and went to his 4:00 meeting.

I had contacted our doula and birth photographer, Elizabeth, Wednesday morning, and she predicted that I'd probably continue to have intermittent contractions throughout the day, and my labor would probably intensify once I went to bed that night. Things seemed to be following this pattern so I had decided to wait until late that afternoon to take a shower and fix my hair. I wanted to be "ready" when I went into labor. After Brian's mom arrived, I decided to try to nap. I was on our bed resting but not sleeping. I couldn't get comfortable so I decided to roll over onto my other side (no small feat when you are that pregnant!). As I rolled over I felt a "pop", thought my water was breaking and jumped out of bed to try to get over the bathroom tile (you can thank me later, Brian--our bed actually stayed completely dry). I made it to the bathroom before the rush of fluid started. I briefly wondered if my water had really broken or if I was just completely losing bladder control, but seconds later my first real contraction hit and I actually fell down to the floor on my hands and knees. The intensity of it surprised and scared me.

I was about to yell for Brian, but just then he walked into our bedroom to check on me before leaving for his meeting. I believe it was just after 3 pm at this point. I told him I thought my water had broken, and he could tell by my expression that I wasn't messing around. I told him to call our doctor's office and Elizabeth, and I quickly changed clothes while cursing myself for not having taken a shower earlier. I thought about taking the time to shower quickly, but when the next contraction hit that thought quickly vanished! I was so thankful that Brian's mom was already there taking care of Reid. I tried very hard to act completely normal and not get overly emotional when telling Reid goodbye. He definitely sensed that something was going on, and he was crying and very upset when we left (which of course broke my heart!). We had actually just picked up our new Chevy Traverse at the dealership on Tuesday night. We planned on getting leather interior, but they had exactly what we were looking for with cloth interior. We planned to take the car back in later in the week to get leather seats installed so we weren't overly worried about my riding in the brand new car :)

Brian and I drove from Allen to Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, and I was so thankful that it was not rush hour. As soon as we got in the car, I called my parents to let them know what had happened. They had actually seen a break in the weather and decided to leave early. Turns out they were pulling out of the driveway when I called! We tuned into Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket for a little taste of our normal lives. I continued having fairly strong contractions in the car, and I remember telling Brian that I just wanted to get checked into the hospital and regroup. I was planning on natural, drug-free childbirth, and I felt like I just needed to get to a labor and delivery room and try to relax and focus.

Once we arrived at the hospital, I asked Brian to go in and get a wheelchair. In case you didn't know (and I had heard this but never appreciated the full extent of it), when your water breaks it is not a one-time event. The supply continues to replenish thus it continues to flow...and flow...and flow. Next to the pain of contractions, the continual gushing of fluid probably stressed me out the most. I just felt so out of control! All that to say, there was no way I was walking in to the hospital admitting area with fluid leaking out of me. Eww.

Brian pushed me into the hospital in a wheelchair, and I sat through all the stupid questions and paperwork while leaking fluid and breathing through contractions. The charge nurse asked me if I was sure my water had broken. When she wheeled me into the L&D room and I got out of the wheelchair she got her answer. The moment I got out of the wheelchair and tried to change into the hospital gown was also the moment that things started to move very quickly...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Nursery and Reid's room

I was so excited to decorate a nursery when I found out I was having a girl. I like pink, but I can only take so much. So we painted our little girl's nursery blue. Of course! We did use lots of very girly pink accents though. My very talented friend Angela helped me come up with an idea for a paint treatment on the nursery wall, and she helped with the tedious taping of the wall too. (The contrast of the lattice pattern is a little hard to see in these pictures, but it's more obvious when you're actually in the room). Brian got to do all the grunt work with the paint. He also made the shelving unit under the window and the floating shelves above the dresser. I have such talented friends and family! The prints on the wall above the crib are from Etsy, and my parents had them matted and framed for our baby shower gift. It definitely still needs a few finishing touches, but we'll get there soon enough. Here are a few pictures:

When we first moved to our new house in April, we tried to put Reid's furniture in his new room in the exact same arrangement that it was in our old house. The walls in his new room were a light beige and not nearly as warm and inviting as his old "pumpkin spice" walls. The final straw for me was the day we finished the nursery and took the rocking chair out of Reid's room to put in the nursery. The whole concept made me sad anyway, and it left Reid's room looking so barren and pitiful. We haven't rocked Reid to sleep for a long while, but he still sat in our laps to read books and such. Suddenly, there was nowhere to sit and snuggle with my baby! So fixing up Reid's room become a priority. We had already purchased the twin bed to match his furniture, but we had planned on storing it in the attic until he was ready for his "big boy bed". Instead, we went ahead and set it up in his room as a place to read books and snuggle. I've been wanting to do some kind of mural/wall decal for awhile, and we custom ordered the "forest friends" scene from a shop on Etsy. We used the same pumpkin spice paint color on all walls except the mural wall, and voila!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reid's First Day of Preschool

Yesterday was Reid's first day at his new preschool. He is going to the Child Development Center at our church two days a week. I wasn't sure how he would do, but other than a few tears at drop off, he had a great day! I know I keep saying this, but I just cannot believe how grown up he is looking these days.

Monday, August 16, 2010

98 Days and Thankful

Sorry, friends and family. This post is long overdue. It's just that since I got off of bed rest I have stayed busy trying to bring some order back to our lives.

I officially started bed rest on April 16 following what should have been a routine appointment with our OB at 19.5 weeks. You all know what happened--my cervix had suddenly and dramatically shortened, and the doctor was quite concerned about the future of my pregnancy. I officially ended bed rest on July 23 at 34 weeks. While 34 weeks is not full-term, my doctor uses it as the benchmark for when he would no longer aggressively try to stop labor. It was explained to me that babies born at 34 weeks will likely spend time in the NICU, but very rarely will they have any long-term side effects of prematurity.

When I first started my bed resting journey, I had to think week-by-week. Thinking about 3 1/2 months was just too overwhelming. I remember calculating that I needed to make it to almost August before I'd be allowed to be "free", and I couldn't even wrap my brain around what that would be like. I couldn't imagine what that would look like for us as a family.

I really dislike exposing my true emotions--makes me feel way too vulnerable. However, I also want to have a record of how I have truly been feeling this summer, so here goes...

The beginning of this journey was very dark for me emotionally. I was so scared of losing this baby. I hated feeling that things were beyond my control. I would spend my nights thinking about what might happen. I wondered in those first weeks if the baby would live for even a few minutes if she was born that early. I tried to mentally prepare myself for what it would be like if she did--or didn't. I tried to prepare myself for what she would look like. I wondered if we would have a funeral, and if so, where we would have our daughter buried. When Brian had to travel for work, I was a nervous wreck. What if I went into labor, and they couldn't stop it? What if our daughter only survived for moments, and he wasn't there?

And of course, the pregnant body is a crazy thing--constant twinges, aches and pains. I analyzed everything--sure that everything I felt meant that pre-term labor was inevitable.

At the appointment where I was placed on bed rest, I remember surprising my OB when I said, "Okay, so we have to make it to 24 weeks--that's just over 4 weeks from now." My OB looked at me like I had grown two heads, and said something about needing to make it much longer than 24 weeks. For me, however, knowing that our baby had a fighting chance at survival meant everything. Once we hit the all-important 24 week mark, I started to relax somewhat. (Of course, prior to that, I had scoured the internet for stories of babies born between 22-24 weeks who had survived). Each week after that was a bonus. I knew making it to 28 weeks was another big milestone. After that, the weeks seemed to fly by in a way.

Yesterday I hit the 37 week mark. That is officially full-term. And I am thankful. This process has definitely changed me, though. I am so thankful to God that we have made it to this point, and that I will most likely deliver a healthy baby in the near future. Yet, I wonder why we are the lucky ones when so many others have devastating outcomes. I am so thankful for our families and friends who made it possible for me to obey the doctor's orders (that is a whole other post!). Yet, I have spent time thinking about women who simply cannot obey a doctor's orders to be on complete bed rest because they have to work to support their family or they have no one to help with other children. I don't know why we were chosen for this particular journey. But I am thankful.

On a less serious note, I have to use all of these deep thoughts to keep myself grounded and thankful because reaching the 37 week mark has brought the bad with the good. I'm exhausted as a result of bed rest + being really pregnant. My muscles and joints are completely out of whack again due to the combination of being on bed rest for so long + being really pregnant. My back hurts so badly when I get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night (at least 4 times, mind you), that I usually limp the first several steps until things loosen up a little. And last, I ITCH ALL OVER. A dangerous condition called cholestasis of pregnancy has been ruled out. And I am thankful. However, I'm fairly sure I have PUPP. Look it up at your own risk. It's icky--and itchy. And there's not a darn thing to be done except delivering the baby. I'm going to ask my doctor to confirm at my next appointment on Tuesday, but all the symptoms are a match. All the itching has led to very little sleeping. Itching + sleepless nights + trying to get back in the swing of being the primary care provider for a very active toddler + being really pregnant + being in the midst of 16 days of 100+ degree temperatures with no end in sight...

I can honestly say that I am so thankful to be at this point in this pregnancy, but a girl can only take so much. I'm ready to have this baby. Of course, after all the drama, who wants to bet I'll carry her past my due date? Sigh.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Water safety. It's important people! Drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death in children 14 years and younger in the United States. (Car accidents are the leading cause, if you must know.) However, in states that have an abundance of residential pools (Arizona, Florida, and Texas), drowning is often the number one cause of accidental death in children.

Children aged 1-4 are most likely to drown in a residential pool, owned by a family member or close acquaintance, while being supervised by one or both parents. (Statistics courtesy of the Center for Disease Control-Division of Injury Prevention).

I personally like to think that I am immune to things like this. I like to believe that I am a responsible, careful parent, and therefore, bad things can't happen to my child. However, I have seen enough stories on the news to know that drowning doesn't just happen to irresponsible or careless parents. It happens to responsible parents all the time, and it only takes a moment for the unthinkable to happen!

Our new house does not have a pool, but Brian's parents bought our old house, and thus, inherited our pool. Reid spends a lot of time over at their house, and for our family, it was essential that Reid learn how to swim early. In mid-June, we enrolled Reid in infant swim survival lessons. The goal of this type of lesson is not to merely acclimate infants/toddlers/preschoolers to the water, but to teach them how to survive should they ever fall in. These lessons are typically for kids between 6 months and 6 years of age. My understanding is that the skill set acquired varies depending upon age (i.e., babies and toddlers learn how to float and breathe, and the older kiddos learn more actual swimming skills in addition to the floating.)

As a parent, is it very difficult to watch your child go through these lessons. Mom and dad are not in the pool for the lesson-just the child and the instructor. Also, your child is allowed to struggle in the water for a few seconds at a time as a part of the learning process. I'll be honest---I almost couldn't take Reid back after the first couple of days. We were BOTH so traumatized. We stuck with it, and after 4 1/2 weeks of lessons, Reid has officially graduated from swim school! His final exam consisted of going in the pool in a regular diaper, clothes and shoes. The instructor set him on the edge of the pool and gently pushed him in. He demonstrated the ability to get back up to the water's surface, roll over on his back and float. He would then turn over and "swim" a short distance before floating/breathing some more. He was able to find the steps and get out on his own at the end.

I must take a moment to brag like the proud mom that I am--Reid was a natural. He impressed the instructor and other parents with his swimming/floating skills from day one. At 16 months of age, he was actually able to move beyond learning to turn over on his back to breathe, and he learned to swim a little and to find the step and get out on his own. We'll definitely chalk his athletic prowess up to the McFarland side of the family. As a child, Brian held multiple swim records at the YMCA in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. (I'm actually informed by certain sources that Brian STILL holds certain swim records in Oklahoma. Apparently records are kept online so people can go back and check these things 20 years later. I digress.) Brian's brother Mark swam in college and he currently coaches high school swimming in New York.

I have included pictures and video clips of our little Aqua Baby below. I'd just like to hop back on my soap box to say a couple of more things:

1) These lessons do not "drown-proof" your child. They are merely one layer of protection and should be used in conjunction with adult supervision and barriers to pool access.
2) This type of training is so important for little kiddos who regularly spend time around the water. You can find more information at the following websites:

This is Reid's "help me, mommy" face--made frequently during the course of our lessons.

Reid learning to float on his back with Cindy.

Reid floating on his own like a pro.

Reid with Cindy on graduation day--so proud!

Video #1: Reid during his second or third week of lessons working on floating and swimming to the step.

Video #2: Last day of lessons I was asked to join Reid in the pool so Cindy could teach me how to continue working with him. (Disclaimers: I am 8 months pregnant. I am a whale. Also, I'm allowed to be in the pool while on bedrest--Reid is pretty darn near weightless while under water. No enormous pregnant women nor unborn children were harmed during the making of this video.)

Video #3: Reid floats over to steps, turns over and gets out of the pool on his own.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

All About Reid

I haven't done a post about just Reid in a long time. While my adorable 15 month old son has enough personality to fill up many, many blog entries, I will try to condense this into one post.

Reid is a vibrant and happy little boy. There are two distinct sides to his personality. He is quiet and ultra-focused for big chunks of time while reading books to himself and playing with toys. It is not an exaggeration to say that he could be mistaken for being profoundly deaf at times. No amount of calling his name or making funny noises will distract him. It's kind of scary. He gets it from his dad. Really, though, he is obsessed with reading and books these days. He points to the pictures and reads aloud. He also brings books to me to read to him.

Here is Reid in "focus mode" with his absolute favorite toy truck

The other Reid can be summed up in two words: "perpetual motion". Other applicable terminology for this side of Reid would be "wild child", "hellion", "crazy baby" and "turbo". He runs, jumps, climbs, screams, and wallers. I believe this last term is the southern version of "wallows". For Reid, wallering entails rolling around like a crazed monkey on his soft gym mats, the floor, the baby pool or his parents. He also loves to throw balls. The kid has quite an arm on him! He can even catch balls that are thrown to him occasionally. Unfortunately, Reid also loves to throw food, wooden blocks, my iPhone, books...anything he can pick up. He has learned to stack blocks, and I saw him stack 5 wooden blocks the other day.

Here is a collage of Reid wallering in the baby pool

"Hellion" (meant in the most affectionate way possible)

Climbing with wet feet. I'll let you envision the end result.

Throwing his ball with determination (and wearing a stylin' swim diaper)

Our child is a social butterfly! He craves social interaction and attention. I am pretty sure he has already met everyone on our block. My mom was out in the front yard with him one day, and he saw a neighbor a couple of houses down. He started running down the sidewalk babbling and waving her down. A few days later my dad had him in Borders and was standing in line for several minutes waiting to check out. He said that Reid was trying his hardest to get the attention of people standing in line without success. Reid was getting very frustrated until finally someone looked and said hi. Apparently, he thinks that public adoration is his birthright.

Reid wanting to be held by Daddy

Running man

Reid is saying some words that we understand, and I know that he says plenty more that we have yet to pick up on. Right now he uses "bah" for many, many things: "ball", "bird", "airplane", "dog". It is always accompanied by emphatic pointing. Reid also says "mama" and "dada", "woof-woof", "up" and "bye". He signs "more" (for which he also says "bah") and "all done".

He is a good eater, but definitely likes to exert control over what he eats and when. He is quite fickle--one day he'll scarf something down and the next he acts offended that you have besmirched his high chair tray with the same food. I have learned not to say that Reid loves or hates certain foods. It really just depends on his mood. Reid does eat the food that we eat, but he also has his "toddler" foods that he loves.

Reid's food staples these days:

Fruits: blueberries, strawberries, apples, pears, mango, banana, oranges/tangerines
Vegetables: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, zucchini and green peas (lately, he rejects green vegetables unless they are lightly tossed with ginger-soy sauce)
Other: chicken salad sandwiches, diced ham (we buy a small ham, dice it into baby-sized pieces, glaze it with an orange spice sauce, bake in the oven, and freeze for future use), yogurt, waffles, veggie burger patties, cheddar cheese, grilled cheese, PB&J, and eggs

He is learning to use utensils, and he can feed himself a container of yogurt with about 2/3 ending up in his mouth.

Reid is engaging in much more functional play. He offers his milk cup to his stuffed animals and baby doll/sister-in-training. He gives the doll a pacifier and tries to take off and put on its hat. He likes to brush his hair with my hairbrush and pretend to put his lotion on himself.

He is obsessed with being outside. He plays outside in his water table and new baby pool. He plays in the dirt. He plays on his little slide climber. He loves to go on walks. Whoever is lucky enough to walk him in the 100 degree heat often gets home and takes him out of his stroller only for him to climb right back in and point at the door and grunt.

But the thing Reid is the best at? Melting hearts with his smile!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Good News / Annoying News

This definitely isn't a good news/ bad news post. So instead of bad news, we'll call it annoying news.

First, the good news! I went to the doctor on Thursday, and my cervix was actually LONGER (2.3 cm to be precise). Who knew 3mm of change could be so exciting? The whole time I was on bed rest with Reid things never improved. They didn't get worse, which was a victory, but we never saw a reversal of the initial condition. The first six weeks of this bed rest journey looked to be the same. Things were either getting worse or staying stable. I never dared hope for improvement.

We're not sure why things have gotten better. Perhaps the experimental progesterone injections are working? I have made it to 26 weeks, and I know that with every day that passes, our baby girl is growing and developing by leaps and bounds.

The annoying news: I have been on bed rest for 6 weeks. That's 42 days. I think. This happens to be the length of my entire bed resting journey with Reid, and I'm STILL not as far along this time as I was when I started bed rest the last time. In short, I'm slowly losing my mind. I'm getting cranky and horribly Vitamin D deficient. My muscles have atrophied and my energy levels have plummeted. And I still have 8 more weeks before I am far enough along that my doctor will let me off of bed rest.

The real tragedy of this situation--the thing that keeps me up at night--my hair. That's right, folks. I'm that shallow. You see, the day the doctor put me on bed rest (April 16, for those who are keeping track), I had planned to call and schedule an appointment to get my hair cut and highlighted. I was already at a Level Yellow hair emergency, but we had been so busy that I had not had time to see the lovely Dana. We have now surpassed Level Red. DEFCON 5. All-out hair crisis. My head is an unruly, frizzy mop. What's worse? R-O-O-T-S. I'm seeing my natural hair color for the first time since I was 15, and it is NOT pretty. The pasty-white-soft-and-jiggly-bodied, frizzy-two-toned-headed reflection that greets me in the mirror is the stuff nightmares are made of. Seriously. I'm pretty sure that after this hair experiment, Brian will never again complain about me spending money on my hair. (Okay, okay, if you know Brian you know that this is not true. He will always complain about the amount of money I spend on hair maintenance.)

Prior to my appointment on Thursday, I made the executive decision that my strict bed rest had lasted long enough. I was still going to be very, very good and cautious, but I was going to go see Dana so she could take a weed whacker to my head. I just needed to run this by my doctor, but I was sure he would agree. After all, I've been SO GOOD the last 6 weeks. I may have gotten a tad carried away and also started planning an outing with Brian, Reid, my parents, and my sister and her family. The big outing was going to be today. I was going to go for a wheelchair ride in the Arboretum.

Then came Thursday. The day of reckoning. I ran my list of requests past the nurse before the doctor came in. I guess she ran them by the good doctor. He walks in the exam room and says:

"I hear you have a couple of requests, and the answer to both of them is...YES! 8 more weeks you are welcome to get your hair done and go to the Arboretum."

Evil, evil man. I'm seriously considering firing him and finding another (more permissive) doctor. When I told him that I was pretty sure I would lose my mind if I wasn't allowed to leave the house soon he said:

"Allison, this is probably politically incorrect, but I don't really care about your mind right now."

Alrighty then.

And so this beautiful, holiday summer morning, I am blogging from the couch. Again. I'm not sure how I'm going to make it for 8 more weeks. I will persevere, and I will succeed. And of course I know that it will be worth it in the end. Meanwhile, if you have the misfortune of visiting me in the near future, avert your eyes and spare yourself the agony of seeing me in all bed resting glory.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reid's 1st Birthday (3 months later...)

Here is my VERY belated post on Reid's first birthday party. Go ahead and judge.

February 20, 2010:

I'm normally not overly sentimental, but the night before Reid's first birthday, I sat in our room holding the little knit soccer hat he wore the day he was born and crying over how small it was. I could not believe how big our baby was getting. The last year has been filled with such joy, excitement and learning, and we are so proud of our precious son.

Reid: one day old

Reid: One year old

Reid's party was train-themed. He loves to play in boxes, so Daddy constructed a train out of cardboard as the centerpiece of our fancy party. I decided to make Reid's birthday cake, and it may be the last kids cake I ever make. Good heavens, what a stressful mess!

When time for the party arrived, wouldn't you know that Reid "I'm-Not-A-Great-Napper" McFarland was sound asleep in his crib as guest after guest arrived. Brian and I finally woke up him over an hour into the party. He loved seeing all his guests and playing in his cardboard train. He enjoyed his cake and actually didn't make too big of a mess while eating it. It was a great day, and we are so thankful for all of our family and friends that came out to celebrate our sweet boy.

Reid's friends partying without him while he naps.

Reid playing in the train with Daddy.

Playing in the train with Auntie Sarah.

Reid's friends Rylin, Avery and Carson

Singing Happy Birthday!

Reid just woke up and is trying to figure out why all these people are in his house.

Very excited about the balloons before the party started.

Eating yummy cake.

The finished masterpiece (sort least it didn't collapse before the party started)

And one last funny picture. The train engine being held up by a tequila bottle the night before Reid's party. This pretty much sums up the cake-baking experience.