Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving 2014

It was really nice having Clara on the Friday before Thanksgiving.  Lots of family was already in town, Cason had some extra vacation days, etc.  Mom and Dad took Madeleine to Cypress for two nights prior to Thanksgiving to give us all some adjustment time.  It was much needed, but it was so exciting to be reunited on Thanksgiving morning!   Of course Granna had lots of activities for Madeleine - she proudly showed us all she had created, and she always has fun with her aunts too!
She quickly went back into big sister mode, wanting to help with everything Clara-related.  Clara was only six days old, but she was definitely an important part of Madeleine's world. 
It was so fun having them in their first matching outfits, and what a celebration.  Our hearts were already so full of gratitude to God, so to have a whole holiday to just soak that in with family was so special.  We were now a family of four!
Of course we enjoyed eating so much delicious food and having conversation around the table - the baby weight could wait! 
And everyone got plenty of cuddle time with Clara.
It was such a blessing to spend the holiday with so many people we love!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Hospital Stay and Sisters Meeting

The Women's Pavilion was a wonderful place to stay!!  It was the closest experience to a hotel I can imagine in a hospital, but the hospital stay can still be rough.  We got up to our room the first night, and thankfully it wasn't 2 in the morning or something (like Madeleine's birth!)  The first night was rough though - apparently the super fast delivery was a bit traumatic to Clara (you'd think the opposite, right? Thankfully the super fast delivery made for an easy recovery for me at least!)   Anyway, so because she apparently burned so many calories during her entrance to the world, her glucose levels were low.  They have to prick their heel and get readings at 1-, 2- and 6-hour increments until all three are high enough.  So, the first night I was nursing her as much as possible, and I had a lactation expert also bringing her tiny bottles of colostrum from the milk bank!  We were really trying to fill her up and get those levels up in her blood.  Poor baby and poor mommy, it took awhile, and thankfully, with it being my second, I didn't have any major issues with needing the donated milk for her to help me get her where she needed to be.  She would have a good 1-hour reading, and a good 2-hour reading, then her 6- hour reading would be just a couple points too low, so we would have to start all over again.  She got her heels pricked countless times, but after about 24 hours, we finally got her where she needed to be!

Here's Daddy changing his first of many diapers:
We loved the room service at the hospital, and the nurses took such good care of us.  I mean, I didn't love the constant checking on us in the first 24 hours, but I guess it's their job.  :)  After that first, tough night, we had some family visitors, including Madeleine!!  Oh that sweet girl never looked like such a big girl as she did when her daddy carried her into the room.
The girls "exchanged gifts."  I had read that was a fun way to celebrate the baby and big sister (peace offering maybe? haha) so Clara "gave" Madeleine a new fleece jacket and a Berenstain Bears book.  Madeleine "gave" Clara a onesie that said "best little sister."   The sweetness between the two of them was just adorable.

M2U00339 from Allison White on Vimeo.

M2U00341 from Allison White on Vimeo.

Everyone else got a little time with Clara too - Liz had actually come earlier that morning, fresh off a business trip from California!  She brought Clara some sweet souvenirs!  Dad and Granpa sat this visit out - they would see us soon, and you can only fit so many people in a hospital room at one time. ;)
While we wanted to go home, we sent M home with Nana and Pop and the rest of the family left as well.  We had a nice afternoon and then Clara got to watch her first Baylor football game.  You better believe I brought Baylor gear for her.  I think that looks like her first Sic 'Em.  I also love her in that cozy hat with all the pink pom-poms.  One of the Iraqi artisans from The Community Cloth made it for her.  She actually gave it to me while I was pregnant, before we knew the gender!  She thought it was a girl, and she said if it was a boy we could switch it out, but great guess, Ilham!!   It's amazing how little sleep you get at the hospital too.
By Sunday morning we were so ready to go home.  Discharge seems to take forever, and they wanted to make sure Clara's glucose and bilirubin levels were in good shape.   Finally we were able to go home!! Hooray!
She had lots of visitors at home too!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Debut of Clara Louise

I was ready for Miss Clara to come.  As the second child, I just knew she would come earlier than Madeleine (who was 10 days early, 9 lbs. 1 oz) and I was hoping she wouldn't be so big, but we just kept waiting and waiting!  My last nesting project involved some matching turkeys, and then I felt cursed - she definitely wouldn't come in time to wear her onesie!
Anyway, the day before Clara arrived was a school day for Madeleine - her Thanksgiving feast, on a Thursday.  After I dropped her off, I decided to go climb the stairs.  Our church has a small wing that is six stories tall.  The stairwell goes to the roof, so it was seven flights, all the way up and all the way down.  Come on, baby!  I settled down and went and got a pedicure.  I chose the color "Clara."  I also took that picture in the mirror not knowing it would be my last non-hospital pregnant picture!
Anyway at some point after my pedicure I noticed some fluid that was different, so I called the midwives.  I suspected it to be the slow beginnings of amniotic fluid, so they wanted to check things out just to see.  I had tested positive for strep B (just happens randomly sometimes, even though I didn't have it with M) so they needed to monitor things a little more closely.  I picked up Madeleine early from school (her sweet teachers packed her "Thanksgiving feast" to go!) and we went to the midwives.  Titi checked me and said it did look like it was amniotic, but just to monitor and come back in in the morning.  (I had already been 2 cm dilated and 70% effaced for a week or so.)   Home we went, and on to small group that evening.  We had a huge potluck dinner at the Owens' and enjoyed that time with some of our friends.  That night I went to bed, thinking we would be going to the hospital the next day, but still unsure.  My labors are so non-event.  :)  I got in touch with my sweet friend Sara Beth who had agreed to be Madeleine's playmate when it was time to go to the hospital.  God was in the details - SB is off on Fridays, so it worked out well for her to plan to come play fairly early in the morning.  During the night, the fluid increased a little bit, so we got ourselves ready to go Friday morning.  I should have had a bigger breakfast, but I think we were still not believing this was happening a little bit. 

It was rainy and the forecast was for a cold, stormy morning.  We let our families know we were headed to the hospital.  We went up to the midwives first (15th floor of the same hospital where I would deliver) and they confirmed it was time to go.  They sent me down to labor and delivery to get checked in.  We waited in the waiting room on the L&D floor for a bit, and I had a couple of granola bars from the vending machine (I know) while I watched the weather blow in.  Cason went down to the car to get more of our stuff, but he came back up after he forgot the car keys. :)  Y'all this was my room: 

Apparently it was the only one they had left - it's they one reserved for special situations/infectious disease circumstances.  It even had a sort of antechamber - crazy.  So we got comfy.  I even had my laptop out for awhile because NOTHING WAS HAPPENING.  When I was finally all hooked up to the penicillin (for strep B) and pitocin (since my body doesn't like to actually go into labor on it's own.) It was 11:45 a.m.  The pitocin was doing nothing that I could feel.  Cason and I did lots of laps around the room, bounced on the ball a bit, and my sweet family came to visit.  I kept apologizing that nothing was happening.
I had already been through one no-epidural labor, so while I could feel contractions, it felt like zero work was happening.  So we took some more pictures...
Meanwhile, Madeleine had a super fun day with Sara Beth.   She really looks like she's missing us so much in these pictures. 

This was taking forever.  Cason's mom arrived, so I was glad she got there before the birth (she and my mom were both in the delivery room when Madeleine was born too!) My nurse Monica and my midwife Mary kept an eye on me, and they upped my pitocin dosage from 2 to 4 to 6...anyway, in the early evening, I got emotional because I knew they were about to come in and finish breaking my water, but my sister and Ben had to leave because they did a really sacrificial thing to relieve Sara Beth (she had some plans that night) and our next door neighbors (because Madeleine had gone over there for a little bit.)  It made me so so sad to see Jul and Ben leave the hospital - not that there was something magical about them being there the second Clara was born, but I just hated to see them go.

Well, right around 6, Mary broke my water, and with my body all juiced up on the pitocin, it was pedal to the metal.  The contractions were SO hard.  I had my playlist on from when I gave birth to Madeleine, and that was helpful, but I was just in tremendous pain.  Mary stepped out at some point and told my dad it would be 6-7 hours more (thank God no one told me that, and thank God that wasn't the case.) But things kept intensifying like CRAZY.  Doesn't this picture look like so much fun?

I was also so hungry.  I hadn't really had anything in hours, so thankfully I had some jello and juice in between contractions.  Y'all they were so so so intense.  I labored on my side, I labored on all fours (the worst because you couldn't let your body go limp in between contractions.)  In the thick of everything, Mary mentioned "Hey tell me when you feel rectal pressure."  "WHAT?!"  "Tell me if it feels like you need to go number 2, it will probably be awhile." "OKAY!!!!"  Then a couple more minutes and I was going "I FEEL RECTAL PRESSURE!!! I HAVE TO PUSH!!!"  They started to get everything ready for delivery, and I started to push!!  Clara came out so fast - after only a few pushes.  I went from 3 cm to her born in about an hour!  Crazy pitocin.  As she came out, the cord was around her neck, and Cason hates watching them pull the baby out because it just looks so limp, they are blue and the midwife seems so rough with it, but it gets the job done!  Like Madeleine's delivery, I felt instant relief the second she was out.   Thank you, Jesus.  Here is Clara's first picture, still a little blue and bloody!
They wiped her off and put her on my chest immediately.  Oh I just began to talk to her and love on her and talk to her some more.  I was so happy she was here!! 

Cason got to cut the cord when it was time as well - sweet girl is still a little blue!
I was a sweaty mess, but I had my baby in my arms, and my husband was feeding me jello so....winning.
They eventually weighed her - 8 lbs. 14 oz!  Three ounces smaller than her big sis!  20 1/2 inches.  She was getting her color and crying and looking great!  She nursed really well too.  
Nana and Granna in the room with us and everyone who had been in the waiting room (Dad, Bill, Linnet) were so excited to get their first pictures with Clara Louise!!
 Thank you, Lord for our Baby Girl!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November - the waiting game!

Well, after we made it through the craziness that was October, we intentionally slowed down for November, in baby watch mode.  I wanted to be ready for Clara at any time, especially since her big sister was 10 days early and over 9 pounds, however there were several events throughout the month that we wanted to at least try to make it through!

The first weekend of November was gorgeous.  It was perfect weather to walk to HEB on Saturday morning and then spend the majority of the day outside as Cason built Madeleine's new swingset.  My dad came over later to help as well.  Success!

I also got to celebrate Baby Wynn Boutros - she was due to make her debut just a week or so after Clara.  Just look at my pretty twin friends. :)

Cason got to go to the BU vs. Oklahoma game - the last one in Floyd Casey.  I was so envious as I really wanted to be there too.  He had a great time and it was such a neat experience.  I'm glad someone from our family got to go, and Madeleine supported the black out attire (with just a little bit of pink!)

The next weekend, we really wanted to be able to go to Andrew and Irene's wedding.  Andrew is a dear friend of ours from Baylor days, and Cason did a little pre-marital mentoring with him in preparation for the big day.  Madeleine stayed in Cypress for the weekend, and we enjoyed time at the rehearsal dinner and then the wedding the following day.  The week before I had some very convincing Braxton-Hicks contractions, so I didn't know what was going to happen, but Clara stayed put!

I got my bags (and Clara's) packed, and I had my last few pre-natal adjustments and a massage at West U.  We got to have our last class lunch before baby and a dinner with our friends the Morgans.  I got very used to saying "we can probably do XYZ, but I bet Clara will be there by then!"

We kept getting to do things!  Madeleine and I had our last zoo outing pre-baby.  The weather continued to be beautiful.  Cason also got to go to his board retreat for LifeHouse, and my parents came over for the Baylor vs. Tech football game.

Once we made it this far (about a week from Clara's due date!) I really wanted to make it to her Thanksgiving program.  She had been singing these songs "Give thanks!  Give thanks, with a HAPPY heart, God has given us all we need!" and "The thank you meal, the thank you meal, come sit around our table.  Come listen to our stories of family and friends!"  We got there, she was in her turkey shirt I made (I made a matching onesie for her baby sister - last nesting project!) and of course she didn't sing ONE WORD.  She did dance though.  :)
Cason and Madeleine came to lots of appointments with me as we got closer to Clara's arrival.  Sweet, sweet family.

So much of this month I focused on Madeleine - just soaking the days up while she was my only child.  Each night we put her to sleep, I wondered if it was our last night with our bedtime routine as a family of three.  Understandably, I got emotional a few times, but we were on the brink of adding ANOTHER precious little girl...blessings abound.
Miss Clara did make her debut...three days before her due date!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Minnie Mouse for Halloween

Madeleine had a fun Halloween this year - she dressed as Minnie Mouse.  Look at that cutie!
We maximized the evening and pulled double duty!  We began the evening at First Fest up at church.  Madeleine quickly figured out how to get the most candy - she sweet-talked (no pun intended) lots of the preschool workers she knows from Sunday morning and Tuesday/Thursday class.  "Come on, Madeleine, don't be greedy!" She also loved the Chick-fil-A cows and all the special activities they had for preschoolers.
After a little while, we headed back to our neighborhood to connect with some of our neighbors and walk around a bit.  Madeleine loved seeing Dakotah and Mabel, and all the girls were enthralled by Ms. Marsha down the street - she dressed as a witch with green face paint and everything!  Some houses were a bit scary (come on, stupid high schoolers, don't mess with the three-year olds!) but all in all they had fun.  When people would try to put chocolate in Madeleine's bucket, she told them she didn't like chocolate (truth) but rather than appear rude, I told her to just say "thank you!" and that Mommy and Daddy could eat the chocolate ones later.  She somehow decided that meant that at every house following this little talk, she should ask for an extra piece of candy for her mom.  Y'all I did NOT say that, but I would hear Dakotah and Madeleine say "Trick or Treat!" then, some sweet neighbor would come to the door and put candy in their buckets.  Madeleine would then say "Um, could I have an extra one for my mom please?"  Oh goodness.  At least that only happened for the last five or so houses!!  Crazy girl.
She begged us to let her sleep in her face paint, so we obliged.  Soon after these pictures were taken, though, she decided it was too itchy.  Or maybe she just wanted an excuse to get out of her bed once more. :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October Occasions

October was REALLY busy.  Some of that had to do with just the fall calendar intensifying, and some of that was by design as we were expecting Miss Clara to arrive sometime in November.

Of course I loved getting our house decorated for fall.  I really enjoy that in October and November!  One thing I added this year was filling our frames with fun pumpkin patch and Halloween pictured of Madeleine from years past.  She also painted her very own pumpkin and covered it with jewels and feathers. :)
We began the month with the Lifehouse Gala.  Cason has been honored to serve on the Board of Directors, so we hosted a table.  We really enjoyed our time celebrating the amazing the work that the ministry is a part of, visiting with our friends over yummy food and hearing Mike Huckabee speak.  We are very passionate about ministries that help save the lives of babies, and Lifehouse provides such amazing care for mothers and their babies.
Madeleine also had her first dentist appointment.  I am the mom that is so on top of things - I knew they would ask me about a dentist visit at her three-year appointment, so I got it in just in time.  She loved it - she was fascinated by the whole process.  (Phew!)
We definitely enjoyed the bursts of cooler weather that came our way.  Walks in the neighborhood are a family favorite!

Cason and I had one of our last date nights before Clara's arrival - Kam's is one of our favorite Chinese restaurants in town, and we LOVE the Alley!
I hosted girls' night for our Sunday School class, Catalyst.  We had chili and packed homeless bags.
As the month continued on, I had more appointments with the midwives, and it was fun to meet some other new fall arrivals like Emma Gold!
We took our annual trip to the pumpkin patch to take a few photos.  It was weird to think of it as our last set of pictures with just one kiddo.  I thought Madeleine looked so cute, and she cooperated just enough to get some fun shots.
Madeleine also had a fall picnic with her class at school.  What's harder than taking pictures of your three-year old?  Taking pictures of lots of three-year olds!! :)
We also had one more shower for Julianne in Cypress - it was so much fun to celebrate the upcoming wedding again with more friends and family.

Of course other highlights of our month included Baylor Homecoming, Madeleine's birthday (and party!) as well as Halloween, but those were covered in separate entries!

The month finished with a trip to the park with the Owens, and a tasting at the Bell Tower for Julianne and Ben's wedding.  (So nice of them to invite the pregnant matron of honor!)
I told y'all October was busy!!!