Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Friday, October 3, 2014

charlotte mae's new born pictures

When Charlotte was 9 days old, we drove to our friend and photographer’s house to have her newborn photos taken. Leeann has never let us down, and it’s always a pleasure getting to work with her! We usually have our photos taken on location, like at a park or in a studio, but since this was informal and we’re friends, we took these in Leeann’s house.

Newborn photos are best taken when baby is sleepy, and of course Charlotte slept the entire way to Leeann’s home and then was wide awake. It took me a while to nurse her and calm her down. Chloe was patient the entire time, thankfully, because these photos took longer than we expected! We got to play with Leeann’s daughter, too, which was great!

all photos by Leeann Marie Photography 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

hello, baby

This is a bit of a late introduction since Charlotte is now a month old!   Time seems to be moving at warm speed this time around, but I am still excited to announce the birth of our second daughter and share our birth story with you.

Early in my pregnancy, I decided that I wanted a repeat c-section.  Charlotte was born 5 days before her due date, on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 9:16am.

The morning of my c-section was bittersweet. I had a hard time saying goodnight to Chloe the night before. She had been my sidekick for nearly three years, and I was having a hard time imagining her not being my only anymore. Just like last time, the biggest advantage of a planned c-section was the calmness that surrounded it.  Ben and I were able to get up and shower the morning of surgery, and weren’t in any real rush. I was in minimal pain, (I’d been having prodromal labor for weeks!), but excited and anxious to meet our sweet pea.

My c-section was scheduled for 9am and we had to be checked in at the hospital by 7am. We live about 45 minutes away without traffic, so we had to leave by 6am. It was a very early start to our day and we hardly got any sleep the night before, partly due to nerves but mostly because of excitement. My mom got to our house by 5:45am to watch Chloe. We gave her a quick run-down of how we expected the day to go. Chloe woke up at 5:30am, which came as a huge surprise to us. She slept through both of us showering and me drying my hair, but it’s kind of like she knew something was going on and needed to see us. I was secretly okay with this, since it meant I got in a few more hugs and snuggles before we left the house.

The hospital was eerily quiet, unlike the last time I gave birth. I checked in at triage and got my ID bracelets, and then we sat and waited, and waited, and waited. I was fidgeting and getting increasingly nervous. There were other women there that morning for inductions, and they were all called back before me even though I’d been waiting the longest. My husband encouraged me to ask what was going on, and while I was at the desk pre-op called to see where I was. I had checked in during a shift change and the person checking me in didn’t put my papers through! Pre-op had no idea that we’d been waiting for 45 minutes. I was worried this meant my surgery wouldn’t start on time.

P R E – O P
Pre-op was very different than it was the first time. We were shown back to a much larger pre-op/PACU area. I met my nurse and she had us sign a release form before having me get undressed. She let me use the bathroom then shaved me. An IV was started and she drew some blood. I was shocked at how quickly everything was moving! My last pre-op was much slower paced and I had so much more time to sit and think — close to three hours from the time I was taken to pre-op to the OR. Before I knew it, my nurse Sarah was in my pre-op room going over the c-section consent form. She read it out loud to me, explained everything in detail, and was patient while I asked silly questions. Even though I’d been through this before and it was my preferred birth experience, I was still sick to the stomach nervous.  But here I was, minutes away from meeting our sweet girl. There was no turning back now!

Each respective team came to meet with us.  The anesthesiology team, the pediatric team, my OR nurses and finally, my OB. My pre-op room was small to begin with, and I was starting to feel a little crowded.  Around 8:40am, my OB said, “Since the gang’s all here, why don’t we get this party started!?”

Hoooold up! I was mentally prepared for a 9am start time and figured I’d be pushed back since I didn’t get to pre-op on time. Was she trying to give me a heart attack?! It was only twenty minutes, but it threw me for a loop. In hindsight, I had very little time to think or react, which actually helped calm my nerves. I wanted to take a picture of the two of us before I was taken back, but forgot to ask someone to take one for us. Everything was happening so fast!

T H E  O R
We kissed, gave each other a high five, and then I was wheeled down the hall and into OR 2, where they asked me to climb onto the operating table myself. I kept my eyes down. I could see the instruments on a tray and I knew I didn’t want to see them or even have a vague idea of what they’d be using. My OB helped me up on the table and anesthesiology got to work. Boy, they weren’t wasting any time!  I didn’t get back to pre-op until almost 8am, and here it was barely 8:45am and they were ready to roll. I was still scared to get the spinal, but also knew I was minutes away from meeting our baby.

First, the male anesthesiologist put a blood pressure cuff on my right arm. It tightened so much it popped off. I told him if he can’t put a blood pressure cuff on correctly, then he sure wasn’t putting a needle in my back! The entire OR laughed while my OB and Sarah let me squeeze their hands. He had me sit hunched over with my chin on my chest then gave me a quick shot of lidocaine. It pinched just like I remembered, but didn’t hurt. Then he put in the spinal, and I felt my bum get warm and heavy. They had me scoot forward a bit (which was hard since I was getting numb!) then helped me lay back.

The rest is a blur. Someone put a wedge under my right hip while someone else attached monitors to my chest. I was given oxygen and my left arm was strapped down. My right arm remained free. A blue curtain went up and the anesthesiologist showed me a sharp object. He poked my shoulder, which I could feel, to give me an idea of what this should (or shouldn’t!) feel like. Then he poked my belly. I could tell he poked me there, which alarmed me, but he said it was a very sharp object and he really poked me hard with it. I wasn’t feeling any pain, which was a good sign. My husband was shown into the room and gave a pediatric nurse our camera. It was time to get started!

T H E  C – S E C T I O N
My husband and I held hands the entire time. We talked and we wondered out loud who Charlotte would look like. What color would he hair be? Her eyes? How big would she be? My OB guessed 8 or 9lbs based on feeling my belly. Would she be correct?  We could hardly stand the wait. We were filled to the brim with excitement!

Unlike my surgery with Chloe, I could feel all the tugging and pulling this time. I also knew that my chest would feel heavy from the spinal, making it feel like I couldn’t breathe. I felt better breathing through my nose than my mouth so I concentrated on that. I didn’t feel anything with Chloe — I was completely numb — so it was weird feeling the tugging and pulling. It wasn’t in the least bit painful, but it’s so hard to describe the sensation. A lot of women had told me about this tugging and pulling sensation, and I didn’t fully understand what they meant until I experienced it myself.

T H E  B I R T H
It felt like ages, but at 9:16am Charlotte was born. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing down my face and cried in joy. We could hear her crying before she was even pulled out. My OB held her up for us to see. Charlotte was here and we were officially a family of four!

Immediately after birth, Charlotte was taken to be weighed and cleaned. My husband was able to hold her the remainder of the surgery, and since I had my right hand free I could easily touch her. My husband held her on my chest so we got skin to skin time in the OR. It was absolutely amazing and another incredible birth experience.

While it felt like ages for her to be born, it felt like seconds before they were finished with my surgery. In no time at all, my husband was shown back to the PACU while Charlotte was put in a bassinet. She and I were both wheeled back to our PACU room, where I stayed for close to four hours. Unlike my surgery with Chloe, it took a very long time for the spinal to wear off. I had Chloe at 11:33am and was in my post postpartum room by 1pm. I had Charlotte at 9:16am, was back in the PACU by 10:13am, and didn’t get to my post postpartum room until after 4pm.

When it became obvious that I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, my husband asked my mom to bring Chloe to the hospital to meet her sister. We wanted at least an hour alone as a family of four before having anyone else meet Charlotte, and we didn’t announce her birth on social media until Chloe and all the grandparents had met her. It would have been ideal to have the girls meet in my postpartum room because my post-op room was rather small. But we filmed Chloe meeting her little sister for the first time and I am so glad to have this memory on tape.  It brought tears to our eyes! There is nothing sweeter than seeing your two girls meet for the first time.

The hospital staff did a great job at making Chloe feel special and letting her help. Chloe helped push the bassinet to my postpartum room and helped give Charlotte her first bath. It made Chloe feel so special and like she was such a big girl, and I am so thankful for their patience and letting Chloe participate! We invited our families to meet Charlotte once I was in my postpartum room, and you could see how excited and proud everyone was! Chloe was very protective of her little sister and would tell everyone to be careful. She told Daddy and me that she loved Baby Charlotte so very much and she would like to keep her foreverly. I hope I never forget that — foreverly. It’s my new favorite word.

It was a wonderful experience — far better than the one I had with Chloe and hers was great too! My nurse had me up and walking by 6pm the night I had surgery, and my catheter was removed by 1am the following morning. My IVs were removed by 8am, and I was up and walking around on my own that morning. In fact, I felt incredible. I never felt like I had just given birth. I was taking percocet and ibuprofen the morning after surgery and never felt like I needed something stronger.  I was able to shower the afternoon after surgery and felt so wonderful that my OB discharged me a day early which I loved.  My recovery has been going well, though I feel so great that I’ve been pushing myself.

 I am so thrilled to share this with all of you!  Thank you for reading along & sharing in this exciting time with us!

Friday, August 29, 2014

coral + gold + mint nursery

I love Pinterest and how easy it makes collecting inspiration.  I started pinning ideas for the nursery weeks before we knew what we were having.  I was really fixated on two prints that I found, one for a girl’s room and one for a boy’s.  Both gave me inspiration on the direction I wanted to take the nursery.  The first print, by Joni Lay, had flaminogs… and I decided I had to make a flamingo themed nursery. For a boy, I found a vintage race car print on Etsy and just knew that if we had a son, his room had to be vintage car themed.  But, that’s the funny thing about inspiration… once you start putting ideas together, they inspire others, and so on and so on. In the end, we designed a watercolor nursery in our original color scheme for a girl: coral, mint, navy and gold.

We reused and re-purposed as much as possible in this room.  We had it painted when we bought the house in 2009 and I love the color so much.  I didn’t want to change the paint color (it’s Benjamin Moore Stone Castle color matched by Sherwin Williams), but we did put new laminate flooring in all our bedrooms this summer.  The carpet was old and gross, and it had to go.  This room is very small – maybe 10×10 – and we knew we had to maximize space.  Since this room is so small we bought new furniture in white to make the room look larger.  The laminate flooring helped make the room look bigger and brighter, too.

I had previously used this room as my home studio, so some of the wall decor was already drilled into the wall.  It ended up being a great focal point for the room.  Instead of buying a mobile, I had a custom tassel garland made in the nursery colors to hang underneath the wall shelf above the crib.

I designed this print and knew it had to be framed for our little girl’s nursery.

Lindsay Letters was having a huge sale, so I snagged a bunch of prints that I’ve had my eye on.  I was able to get four prints for $30.  This one reads “Life is But a Dream” and looks great above the crib.

These wall shelves are from Target, and were also a part of the room before it became a nursery. The candle and lantern are from our wedding reception, and so are the picture frames. I got them all from TJ Maxx in 2007.  My friend Jacin showed me the Be Still print that she had Julie Song Ink comission for her a few years ago, and I’ve always loved it.  I was so excited when I saw that it was a desktop download, available on DesignLoveFest, and had it printed as a 4×6 print at Target. The glider and vintage pillow (found on Etsy) were both a part of Chloe’s nursery, so these items were re-used.  The diaper genie is being re-used as well.  The LOVE vase was my late aunt’s, and the books are mine and Chloe’s favorites.  The two crown wood prints were something I found on clearance at Marshalls years ago, and have always had hanging in the room.

There is one large window in the bedroom, and it’s slightly off center.  The air vent for the room is directly below it, so we didn’t have a lot of wiggle room when it came to placing furniture in the bedroom.  Our crib had to go on one wall, and the dresser had to go on the opposite side. We bought a dresser from IKEA for Chloe and loved it so much that we wanted the same one, in white, for Charlotte’s room.  It’s a six drawer MALM dresser and fits all of her clothes, blankets, towels, and sheets, and I still have two drawers to spare!

 I made a gallery wall above the dresser.  We decided not to use a changing table this time around.  In Chloe’s room, we had a changing pad on top of the dresser and never used it, so we decided not to use one this time either.  I had two large glass jars from IKEA in my closet, so I used one for baby hats and another for baby hair bows.  The smallest jar is from Michaels and I filled it with confetti from my best friend Phebe, who sent me some confetti poppers when we found out we were having a girl!  The lamp was a gift from my mom when we got married in 2008.

I framed an 8×10 print in a 11×14 frame, two 5×7 prints in an 8×10 frame, hung an 8×10 print (my Sparkle print) from a sequin hanger & made a 12″x12″ canvas for this wall (based on my favorite Maya Angelou quote).

The Gold Sequin C is a gift from my darling friend Phebe. She sent it to me after we had chosen a name for our sweet girl, and was kind enough to send one for both Chloe and me!
Most of the frames we had laying around the house. I know, I have an obsession with framing things!  I also re-used a white metal bucket that I bought at TJ Maxx years ago to hold her stuffed animals, though she doesn’t have many yet.  We also installed a small closet system (we got it for $80 at Home Depot) to maximize the teeny tiny closet space in the bedroom.

I love the way our nursery turned out!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

For the Guys: DIY Groomsmen Gifts

We've got a little Wedding Wednesday DIY for you -- and this one has extra yumminess because it has Jelly Belly Draft Beer Jelly Beans in it! We've noticed that our couples are fun and on the hunt for the next up-and-coming trend so we put together a fantastic gift box idea for the groomsmen! Groomsmen gifts can be tough, particularly when you're on a budget and looking for something original. Our solution is a simple gift box full of things most guys like: candy and alcohol.

We filled our box with an 16oz Pilsner Glass (this one is from Things Remembered), a bottle of craft beer, and a sweet little treat - Jelly Belly Draft Beer Jelly Beans.

The jelly beans are delicious - their crisp flavor is packed in a golden jelly bean with an iridescent finish. While Draft Beer Jelly Beans packs a flavor punch, it is alcohol free.

We packaged them in a small glass jar with a cork, but you can also buy individual packages through Jelly Belly. We added a custom tag to the bottle of draft beer and the glass jar of jelly jeans, and labeled the top of the gift box with a custom box label. All of these DIY touches are optional, of course, but really bring everything together and package the present nicely. And, they're all available for a free download!

Each label is a finished size of 4"x3" and comes in three unique designs, perfect for branding your gift!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

family maternity photos

I don't know how to put into words how much these photos mean to me. I wanted to contact our photographer, Leeann, last summer; we wanted another child, and I really wanted photos of the three of us before we became a family of four, but it was a difficult summer for us. We had two pregnancy losses... and later, in the fall, we were hesitant to spend 'extra' money. My husband is a federal employee and was affected by the shutdown. We were knee deep in fertility treatments, and suffered a third loss. The idea of family photos was put on the back burner. And then, somehow, we got our miracle baby. We found out on Christmas -- what a gift! But this has been a complicated pregnancy from the start. I've been on pelvic rest and modified bed rest nearly the entire time. There were times I wasn't sure we'd even get to take these pictures... and yet, here we are. She's healthy, but I'm not a very good baby home so this is likely our last child. I wanted photos of us so badly, to show Chloe how much she is loved and to document our last summer as a family of three. I cried when I opened this gallery... Leeann blew my mind away, and I cannot thank her enough. They're incredible. She made me feel comfortable and beautiful when I've been feeling pretty down the last few months. I'm counting down the days until this little princess is in my arms and we're finally a family of four.

We scheduled our family shoot for my 29th week of pregnancy. Leeann suggested Mellon Park, the same park we took Chloe's 1 year photos at nearly two years prior. Mellon Park gave us a wonderful backdrop for our photos. It reminds me of a secret garden. There are so many fun places to explore within the park, and Chloe had a blast finding the animal statues and smelling the different flowers. I admit that I was worried about taking the photos. I tried on so many outfits in the weeks leading up to the shoot before finding this dress, which is unbelievably comfortable and flattering. I'm very self-conscious about my pregnant body. I lost a lot of weight last spring and summer, then gained a lot back while doing fertility treatments. And, there's something about pregnancy that makes my arms and face swell. At 'only' 29 weeks I feel like a waddling whale. Even still, Leeann made me feel like a model in front of the camera and I truly felt at ease.