Thursday, October 31, 2013

Some pictures! Lots more to come, but here are just a few. None of these are edited, so sorry about that...

The soon-to-be proud father of our new son. If you are wondering about the beard, Jeff calls it his sympathy beard. He hasn't shaved since we came out to Utah, and wasn't going to until the baby was born. Start your razors, Jeff!

 Baby station all ready to go. I was very nervous and surprised when we first walked in here and saw this, because they hadn't even checked to see if I was dilated or anything. I thought we would just be monitored in triage. They assumed correctly, obviously.
 Huge labor and delivery rooms! Our recovery room is about a quarter of this size.
 Jeff and I wrote down all our thoughts and feelings before the baby was born.
 And then he came out! Pretty much looks exactly like my baby pictures.

 The next morning we picked up the VERY proud big sister (when I called to see where they were, I could hear Pen in the background singing, "LINK link link LINK LINK LINK link LINK link" etc.) She is determined to be the best helper possible, even if it means taking over mommy's job, which she firmly believes she can do just as well if not better.
 She brought her favorite panda toy just to share! Aww.
 She said over and over, "He's just SO cute! Dad, you go home and I'll stay here with the baby."

 I wanted a picture with all my children. So strange to say that... Penny and I have been buddies for almost 4 years, and now this little guy is in the picture. I think we will both appreciate the company.

 Thanks for the monster blanket Julie and Drew!

 This is definitely my child.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Little Link's arrival!

Well, at long last little Link is here! What a crazy year this has been. This pregnancy was vastly different from Penny's, especially with all the pre-labor business starting at 32 weeks. I wanted to record Link's birth story while it is still fresh in my mind before the little details start to slip away. Plus I am certainly not getting any sleep tonight...

But first, a few pictures to start us out!

Since I have been dealing with preterm labor for the past month or so, I was extremely nervous about how everything was going to play out with this birth. Since I had already started dilating at 32 weeks, we knew whenever he came, he was going to come fast. With the help of some Procardia and bedrest, we managed to hold off his arrival until I was considered full term. What a blessing that was, because we were not excited about having a preemie. The Lord heard our prayers and held this birth off until we were all ready :)

I had my regular weekly appointment with my doctor yesterday, who informed me that I had dilated to a four. She told me the baby was definitely coming this week and to make sure I had a solid go-plan because the baby was going to come FAST. (He was already super crazy far down, which caused excruciating pain quite often). She told me if I felt any strong contractions again to high-tail it to the hospital asap, especially since we live about 25 minutes from the hospital, and that is without beltway or parkway traffic.

So, Pen and I went home and took a little nap. I started timing my contractions around 3:45 (a horrible chore at this point, as I had been doing it constantly for the last 5 weeks) and they were coming 5 minutes apart and growing in intensity. I called up Jeff and told him he had better make his way home just in case. I had told our dear friend Kira earlier that day that I wasn't going to have the baby any time too soon, and so she went off to run some errands in VA. Unfortunately, she was our drop off point for Penny! (I must definitely mention that Kira offered to cancel all her plans that day on the slight chance I could deliver. I reassured her and told her definitely not to. She has been so awesome and sweet to us, especially during these last few weeks!) Fortunately, our basement friends the Thoerigs were around, and just simply came up and watched Pen until Kira graciously came and picked her up for a sleep over. It was such a wonderful relief to know that Penny was in good hands all around. I was a little upset that we had to drive to the hospital during rush hour, which is exactly what I was afraid of this whole pregnancy. But that was yet another blessing from the Lord, as there was no traffic at all on the outer belt loop or the BW parkway. That is extremely rare, especially at this time of day.

And so, when Jeff got home and Pen was happily playing with David, I decided to play it safe and just go in to the hospital. The whole ride there, I was doubting myself, telling Jeff this was probably a waste of time since my contractions weren't even painful. But the promptings were strong, and I fortunately listened to them.

We arrived at the hospital at around 5:50, got checked in, and Dr. DeQuattro checked me and discovered I was at a 5! Thank you Heavenly Father for urging me to go in!!! She said the baby was super, super low and coming fast! I requested an epidural, although I still was not feeling any kind of painful contractions. The epidural went in quick and painless, and less than 30 minutes later, they broke my water and I was at a 6.

The doctor came in about 15 minutes after that, and said I was 7+, and the baby was going to come within the hour! At this point, I was REALLY glad we had decided to come to the hospital.

It was about 8:45 when I suddenly felt a HUGE contraction, and in came the doctor and took a peek and said, "WHOA, the baby is RIGHT here! Don't push, whatever you do!" and they started frantically getting everything set up. Then 3 big contractions later, out popped little Link! I was just going nuts because everything happened so quickly and he was so perfect. It was all very surreal. Jeff cut the cord, and they laid him down on me. I just sat there, crying tears of happiness at the sight of our little son. He was 6 lbs 12 oz (almost exactly what Pen was) and 20 inches long. Not nearly as loud as Penny, but had a solid cry. I was also quite surprised to find that he looks exactly like me. SO weird. Some of the pictures Jeff snapped could have been my baby pictures... All along I pictured this baby as another Penny, or a little copy of Jeff! Although, he does have some black hair and an extremely funny forehead, which is definitely a Jeff thing... He also had a massive blow out about 20 minutes after he was born. I was certainly not expecting that!

And that's pretty much it! Just about 3 hours after arriving, we had a baby! I really enjoyed the whole experience. it completely exceeded my expectations, and Dr. Dequattro did an awesome job. Everything was totally my style, just very low key and painless. We were laughing and chatting in between pushes and contractions, I could still very much so feel everything going on, minus the pain. It was completely different that Penny's birth with so many vast improvements. Everything just we so well, I am thanking God every chance I get. And once again, I am nervous about the next pregnancy, because I still have yet to feel any serious labor pains.

So we now have a perfect little baby! He latched on pretty quickly and is doing MUCH better at feeding than his sister did. Speaking of which, I cannot WAIT for Penny to meet this little guy. She is going to absolutely love him. She was beside herself with excitement when I told her the baby was coming. She tells me every day all the ways she is going to help out. She is insistent he sleeps with her in her room so she can feed him and soothe him in the night. She says, "I'm a good calmer-downer, mom! I can do it!" and when trying to explain the concept of breast feeding, and how we won't use a bottle very often, she very matter of fact told me, "Mom, that won't work. How can milk get through your skin??" She is about to get quite the education.

Anyway, that is about it! It is so strange to be holding a newborn again after nearly 4 years. It feels very natural and right. We love him so, and I can't stop staring at him. I just want to snuggle his guts out. Now to get some sunlight in here to snap some decent pics of our little Link!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

July 2013

July started out awesome! We took the fourth of July weekend to head down to Castleton, VA to see Lacie! She was doing a 2 month internship type thing at a prestigious music festival in the middle of nowhere. While we were down there, we thought we'd take advantage of a good deal we found on a hotel in Winchester and do a little camping in Shenandoah.

We left pretty early and headed straight to Castleton to pick up Lacie. We drove through windy roads and rolling hills until we finally found the place. This place was seriously tucked away in the middle of nowhere. It reminded me of the Moab Music Festival, tucked away from civilization in the middle of nature.

 We stopped by this little diner right outside the entrance to Shenandoah, and it turned out to be the most delicious food of the whole trip! I love me some biscuits and gravy.
 The views were lovely along the drive. I always think it is so strange that some of these mountain ranges in the East are small enough to drive through in an hour or two. Not quite as grandiose as the Rockies, but they are majestic in their own way.

 Jeff pulled another "this hike is not that hard and is only a few miles long..." which he has a bad habit of doing. We ended up hiking nearly 5 hilly miles in absolutely pouring rain. But everyone was very good sports and we made it back safe and sound. Plus, think of all the calories we burned :)

Here's Jeff and Pen stretching after the long hike.
 Lacie ended up spending the night with us at our hotel, and we enjoyed swimming and good food and a little site seeing. We sadly said goodbye when we took her back in the morning, and made our way over to Lurray to check out the caverns.

While a little on the pricier side, I really enjoyed these caves. They were so beautiful and cool, and they didn't make us feel guilty for destroying the caves by merely existing.
 Penny thought it was pretty awesome too.

 The cool reflecting "lakes." It is like a mirror!

 TOUCHING!!!! Heeheeeeehehehe. Ok, we were allowed to touch these ones, like the salt and pepper shakers in Timp Caves (although, I guess you can't touch those any more. Lame.)
 After our last night in our hotel, we thought we'd enjoy downtown Winchester before we headed to our campsite. We found this splash pad which kept Pen happy for quite some time. I'm telling you, if we don't get a splash pad in Cheverly soon, I am going to kick someone in the face. It is the most perfect summer activity for kids. I would be there every single day...

 There was also this super high-tech bathroom by the splash pad. At first I was mad that I was going to be charged 25 cents to use the toilet, but that was before I saw the inside. Everything, starting with the door, was completely automatic. The toilet paper unrolled itself, the toilet flushed when you activated the water and soap, and then the whole thing sanitized itself when you were done. It was like the future.

We once again drove to Shenandoah and headed toward our campground. On the way we stopped and plenty of visitors' centers and a hike or two. Pen, as always, was cooperative and such a good girl. I probably would be too if I got to ride in a cushy backpack.

 Unfortunately I didn't really get a great picture of our campsite. It was a nicely maintained site with a soft, grassy ground. My only complaint was the fire pit, or lack there of. A slab of concrete is not a fire pit.

There was a very cool camp store with lots of essentials that we left behind, and for a great price too! The flushing toilets were also much appreciated. I only saw one tiny snake, which I thought was dead at first but he was gone after I came out of the restrooms.  Eeeeeeeeeeewwwww.

 We borrowed a huge tent from the Barkers. I have to get one of these. It was SO nice to have so much space, and so nicely ventilated.
 Jeff and Penny went on a little walk close to our site, and discovered a gorgeous view down the way from our site. We sat there and watched the sun set and made friends with some deer.

And that was our trip! We only camped one sleepless night (does anyone EVER sleep while camping?) and drove the few hours back home. We hope to go back sometime soon since we bought a annual pass to Shenandoah.

Other events for July include the baby shower we threw for our good friend Rachael Howell. She has since given birth to a very healthy, adorable little boy whom is called Bruce. The Howells had sort of an Owl theme going on (I illustrated a little birth announcement for them, seen in the picture frame on the table) and I had lots of great help from friends in the ward to pull together this owl themed shower. A special shout out to Hilary for really bringing the theme together with her chocolate log shaped cake with candy rocks sprinkled over it, her "dirt" puddings, and impressive owl cupcakes. Yolanda was very helpful putting together some fun activities to play through out the shower.

 And here are a few other little gems from July:

Jeff "painting" Penny's nails.

 We also found this giant butterfly in our patio. He was about the side of my hand! We gently caught him and set him free.

And that was July! Almost done catching up.......