Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What's in a name?

A person's first name can have such an impact on their life. It shapes people's expectations of a person and can affect how they are treated, opportunities they are given, social standings, etc. It may not be fair, but we hold a lot of pre-conceived notions around names. Does the name go with someone artistic? someone educated? someone from an upper class family?  Does the spelling cause people to give it the side eye for the parent's attempt at being unique?

When it came to naming our children, I was a bundle of insecurities. I could find a list of faults with every name. It didn't help matters any that Jim and I have vastly different tastes in names.

Ella was reaching 24 hours old without having a name. We just referred to her as Little Miss the first day. It was quickly approaching midnight, her 23rd hour of life, and I told Jim that we could not go to sleep until we agreed on a name.

Jim's initial name choice was Erika. I vetoed that one pretty quickly. I thought it sounded too early 90's and I didn't want two children with their names starting with the same letter. (I guess I broke that rule anyway. Now, does that mean any additional children would also have to be named with the letter "E"?)

My first name choice was Brianna. Jim didn't care for this name and Ethan told me it sounded too much like banana.

We discussed names frequently, but could never agree on a favorite. I liked: Brianna, Megan, Emily, Alexis and Annabelle. Jim liked: Erika and Jessica/Jessi. Every name that either of us came up with, the other had a reason for taking it off the list.

I wasn't too concerned about the lack of name decision since we also didn't have a name for Ethan when I went into labor with him. The TV was on in the delivery room and a commercial came on for the Mission Impossible movies. Tom Cruise's character is named Ethan in those movies and that is how we chose Ethan's name during delivery. I figured we'd just name our baby girl after whatever was on TV the day of her birth. :)

When she was born, I thought she looked like a Laura. Even though I had never considered that name during pregnancy, I thought it suited her and started campaigning for Laura Colleen. (Colleen is my Mother and Sister's middle name.) Jim's favorite name had become Ella Christine and he preferred it over my new favorite, Laura.

We went back and forth between Laura and Ella. We eventually decided that we liked the middle name Christine the most and would use it with either first name. (Plus, it made our doctor, named Christine, very happy.)

I obviously eventually agreed to the name Ella. I liked that it had some family history to the name and wasn't just a random name. Jim has a Great Grandma Ella on his mother's side. He also has a Grandma Eleanor and I have a Great Grandma Estella. When I looked at all the women, on both sides of the family, with ties to the name, it just made sense to chose Ella.

Ella with her Great Grandma Eleanor

She's my little Ella-phant and I can't imagine her going by any other name now. Ethan & Ella - it has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Welcome baby Ella!

Well, I'm glad I wrote my pregnancy reflection post when I did because three days later, little Miss Knowles made her arrival.

Ella Christine Knowles
May 16, 2012
Ella Christine Knowles

Labor & Delivery
During the final weeks of my pregnancy, everyone would ask if I was ready for baby to come. While I was excited to finally meet my baby girl, I wasn't ready for her to arrive until after May 15th. Ethan's preschool graduation was the evening of May 15th and I didn't want to miss this important milestone. When I told Ethan that there was a possibility of Mommy and Daddy missing his program, he looked at me heartbroken and said: "But Mommy, I'm the puppy and it's very important." After that, how could I miss it? I think I told everyone that I talked to that I was going to make it until after the graduation program.

The morning of the 15th, I had my weekly doctor appointment. I was up 15 pounds, 3 cm dilated and 50% effaced. I had experienced a few contractions the night before, but they were more than an hour apart and then stopped completely the next morning. My doctor said it could be that day or not until next week. Without regular contractions, there was no telling.

My dad drove me back home from Beloit (he took me because driving in the car for that long was killing my upper back) and I went about my day.

Now it was time for the important Preschool Graduation program. Here's Ethan being a puppy:

Ethan's Preschool Graduation Program

During the program, I experienced my first hard contraction. I probably only had three contractions during the program. I wasn't sure if they were real or Braxton Hicks. The program ended and Ethan received his diploma. Kindergarten, here he comes! Following the program, we went to the Chicken Inn for ice cream to celebrate. I should have known something was up when I wasn't hungry for ice cream and didn't get anything. I NEVER turn down ice cream.

We went home and I tucked Ethan into bed. I decided to get on the treadmill and see if walking eased some of the pain I was having in my back. I walked two miles and experienced some painful cramps/contractions but nothing bad enough that I had to stop or even slow my pretty brisk pace. After my walk, I thought a hot shower would feel good to my back. In the shower, I had some more contractions and they were strong enough that I had to stop and lean over through them. However, they were still completely irregular and ranging about 20 minutes apart.

At 10:00 pm, I decided to go to bed. I was timing my contractions, not sure if they were real or Braxton Hicks, and they remained very irregular. I'd have a few small ones 5 minutes apart but then I'd go 20 minutes without a contraction.

Jim came to bed a few minutes later. At that point, the contractions were pretty painful but still were remaining irregular. As Jim climbed into bed, I decided that we should go to the hospital. I figured it was the most convenient time, before everyone was settled into bed and asleep. With the long drive to Beloit ahead of us, I thought we could head down there and see if labor picked up at the hospital or, if it wasn't real labor, we could just stay at the Super 8 hotel and look at induction options, like breaking my water, in the morning with my doctor. I made the call to my Mom to come over to our house and stay with Ethan. I had decided to leave him home sleeping since there was no reason to wake him up in the middle of the night to hang around the hospital for hours waiting for something to happen.

Mom came over to our house shortly after 10:30 pm. I gave her some instructions, apologizing for calling her over late at night, and then we were off. I told Jim not to drive recklessly as we had all the time in the world. I also sent a text to my doctor to let her know we were starting the 1.5 hour drive.

By the time we reached Kirwin, about 20 minutes away, I told Jim to "Drive Fast"! The contractions were now regular and less than 5 minutes apart and hurt! I was beating the car dash, spinning around in my car seat to try and find a comfortable position and in pain. Sitting in a car seat is not the optimal laboring experience.

Jim's experience driving police cars fast came into great use. We did the rest of the drive going 100+ mph. Seeing deer on the edge of the road added an extra layer of fear for myself. Jim did an amazing job remaining calm, holding my hand, rubbing my lower back, breathing with me, all while maintaining the car at a very fast speed.

We called the hospital when we reached Downs, about 30 minutes from hospital, and warned them that we were almost there and that the contractions were now only about 2 minutes apart and very intense.

When we pulled up to the hospital, the nurses met us in the parking lot. They instructed me that I wasn't allowed to have the baby in the parking lot and that we had to make it into the delivery room. It took everything I had to get out of the car and into the wheelchair. I told them that I wanted to be checked and then given drugs.

I stripped off my clothes as quickly as possible and got on the hospital gown. They checked me and I was 5 cm. At that point, my legs started shaking. They tried to start an IV but had trouble. They checked me again and I was at 8 cm dilated. They called the doctor in and went back to trying to get the IV started. They told me that they had to have a bag of fluids in me before they could contact the anesthesiologist for an epidural. They finally got the IV in after multiple attempts, which were actually a welcome distraction from the contractions, and started pumping it to try and rush the fluids so that I could get drugs.

The doctor arrived about 20 minutes after my arrival and check me for progress. I was at a 10 and ready to push. Then the bad news, there wasn't time for pain relief. I kept telling them that this wasn't my plan! Didn't they know that I'm a planner and I hate when things go off course? I had no intention of having a baby drug free!

Soon, I was pushing and holy heck did it burn! I cussed, accused the nurses of "not helping me" and was slightly panicking. (There was a student observing in the room and I made her cry. I guess she wasn't prepared for the screams of pain that I was dishing out...oops.) Jim, of course, remained calm throughout everything. He did a great job of helping me to focus and breath. The doctor reminded me that the better I pushed, the faster the pain would be over. After that, I got down to business and focused.

Ella was born, after three pushes, at 12:50 am on May 16th. I was at the hospital less than an hour when she made her appearance. Thank goodness the labor and delivery went so quickly! I can't imagine doing a natural childbirth through a long labor and delivery.

Immidiately Following Delivery @ Beloit Hospital
The student observing took this picture immediately after birth.
We look exhausted, but we were so happy!

I can't believe how quickly the pain was over after the delivery and how different the recovery was in comparison to Ethan's birth. I felt like Wonder Woman having given birth naturally. It was painful and it terrified me, but, in hindsight, it was amazing. The recovery difference was so worth the extra pain during delivery. That pain is temporary and then you feel so much better after the delivery! No spinal headache, no back pain from the epidural, no drugged out baby, etc. If we have another child, I will opt for a natural birth plan.

My parents brought Ethan to meet his little sister later that morning. One of the happiest moments of my life!

Daddy, Brother & Sister

We immediately fell in love with our little girl. She is a welcomed addition to our little family.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pregnancy Reflection

I'm currently 38.5 weeks pregnant with my second child. Before my life gets turned upside down and I can't find a second to myself, I thought I better take a moment and capture some of my thoughts and memories of this pregnancy.

Finding Out

We found out we were expecting in Sept. 2011. After dealing with Secondary Infertility, undergoing fertility treatments and being diagnosed with PCOS and Hypothyroidism, we were excited when we finally achieved that positive pregnancy test.

On Thanksgiving Day, we went public with our news. You can read the announcement blog post and more details about our fertility treatments in this post.

First Trimester

Symptoms: I had a lot more nausea with this pregnancy than I did with my first pregnancy. However, I didn't get that "I've been run over by a truck exhaustion" as badly as I experienced with Ethan.

For morning sickness relief, I found that Sea Bands worked really well for me. They are wrist bands made with pressure points that are used to treat motion sickness.

I was surprised by how quickly I started showing. It seemed to me like my belly immediately waived the white flag and didn't give any resistance at all to popping out to make room for baby. With my first, my belly button didn't pop out until the last month. With this pregnancy, my belly button popped out in the first trimester. It didn't provide any fight at all.

Cravings: Roast beef sandwiches, Pillsbury Toaster Strudels, and Greek yogurt parfaits. There was something about the cold, creamy yogurt mixed with crunchy cereal that made for an amazing taste/texture combination that I had to eat every morning.

Changes: For this pregnancy, we decided to switch doctors. For Ethan, we doctored in Hays. After all the complications I had with Pre-Eclampsia, Eclampsia and the epidural, I wanted a new experience and a doctor that could provide me with personalized care and really get to know my specific case and concerns. Since I was working in Downs, over an hour away from home, I choose a doctor in Beloit that was only 20 minutes from my place of employment so it would be convenient for appointments. She spent a lot of time going over my concerns with me during my first appointment and really put Jim and I at ease that we would be in good hands under her care.
Second Trimester

Symptoms: Still dealing with morning sickness and almost constant nausea during the beginning of the 2nd trimester. I was glad to see my energy levels start to return to normal and finally feeling up to exercising again. Before getting pregnant, I was running between 2-6 miles a couple times a week and really enjoying the activity. It took me a long time to even want to go for walks and I had to force myself to get through 30 minutes of walking.

Cravings: Our local bakery makes a lemon danish that I couldn't seem to get enough of. I tried to limit myself to one on Friday mornings but it was tough. Really, doughnuts of any kind were calling my name. With Ethan, I had a few, very specific cravings. (Sour Patch Kids, Sugar Babies, and Ketchup/Mayo mixture) With this pregnancy, I find that I'm much more hungry and cravings are constantly changing. TV commercials play a big part on what I'm craving at that exact moment.

Changes: A big change that took place was that I started a new job during my 2nd Trimester. I debated even applying for the job, since I was noticeably pregnant by that point, but it seemed like an ideal position and I couldn't get it out of my head. I decided to interview, figuring I had nothing to lose, and was offered the job that same afternoon. It was stressful changing jobs in the middle of pregnancy but it has turned out to be the right decision and I'm so thankful I took that leap.

With the job change, I stopped working in Downs and started working in Norton. It meant less of a daily commute but was in the opposite direction of my doctor in Beloit. By this point in the pregnancy, I had gotten very comfortable with my doctor and didn't want to switch practices. I decided to keep her as my doctor after weighing all the Pros and Cons.

Now, if I was to go into labor at work, I'll be 2 hours away from the hospital in Beloit. With no hospitals between here and there, we have a little bit of pressure to make sure we make the trip quickly at the first signs of labor. My work has been great around my doctor appointments and has let me work from home on my appointment days so I can shave off some of the time I would otherwise have to spend on the road. These are part of the costs of living in a rural location.

Third Trimester

Symptoms: The last month, I have really been struggling with upper back pain, located between my left shoulder blade and spine. I'm not sure what I did, but it gets worse every day and there are little options for treating the area due to my huge belly and lack of safe medications for pain relief.

Throughout this entire pregnancy, I've dealt with insomnia. I had it with Ethan, too. I'm not sure if it's anxiety, stress, the inability to get comfortable, having to constantly pee, racing brain, or a combination of all the above that causes me to be unable to get a full night's sleep. I really struggle with sleeping past 3:00 AM. So much for the advice of sleeping while you can before the newborn arrives. The combination of giving up caffeine and not being able to sleep is just cruel and unusual punishment.

The nausea has pretty much disappeared but I am still throwing up almost daily. Usually, I throw up once per evening and immediately feel better following. I threw up all 9 months with Ethan, so this was expected but not welcomed.

At my last appointment, at 38 weeks, I was up a total of 15 pounds. I gained 17 pounds with Ethan at my last regular appointment, so I'm on the same track for weight gain. I think this baby may be a little bigger than Ethan was though. We'll see...

I found my love of walking again and tried to aim to walk 10 miles per week during the last trimester. This past week, I've stopped walking though to try and avoid bringing on early labor. I'm hoping that the baby will wait until after Ethan's Preschool program and graduation in two days. I would hate to miss this event, as it is very important to him. I also feel like it would start things off between the siblings on the wrong foot. Jealousy of the baby from making him, or most of his family, miss his program would be understandable and I'm hoping we don't have to face that situation.

At my last appointment, at 38 weeks, I was almost 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced. I was induced with Ethan before I had made any progress naturally so I really have no idea what to expect from this point. It could mean labor is around the corner or I could just hang out here for another couple of weeks.

So far, I have had no signs of Pre-Eclampsia. My blood pressure is low, there is no protein in my urine and I haven't had any swelling. I'm trying to eat foods that are higher in protein, as there are some studies that suggest that protein helps flush the toxins out of the body that can contribute to Pre-E. I'm very high risk for Pre-E but my doctor is keeping an extremely close eye on me. I take my blood pressure at home every day and at the slightest sign, we will not hesitate to immediately induce. I am hoping baby comes soon after Ethan's program. The less time the baby cooks, the less time my body has time to start building up complications since I had extremely late onset Pre-E and my Eclampsia developed a couple of days post delivery with Ethan.

Cravings: The lemon danishes are still topping my list and I've continued to eat Greek yogurt parfaits throughout this entire pregnancy. Thick, dense brownies also sound really good and I've been searching for just the right one but haven't yet found it. My limited access to bakeries hinders my brownie craving fulfillment. I'm still mostly just hungry for whatever I'm influenced by on TV.

Changes: We converted our office/spare room into the nursery. It was stressful to find new homes for all the stuff that we stored in there, but we eventually got the room cleared out and turned into a little girl's nursery. There was a lot less excitement over doing a nursery this time around for me. I tried to utilize decorations that we already owned around the house and re-purpose Ethan's old baby furniture. It was fun to get out some of the old pictures that had decorated my room as a little girl and hang them in the nursery.

I still have a lot of finishing touches that I want to do to the nursery to make it a complete room but one thing I learned from my first child is that the room quickly fills up. There's no reason to fill all the walls, shelves, etc. now when they accumulate so much stuff, so quickly!

The Final Days...

Now, we just wait for little Miss Knowles to make her arrival!

(Oh, and we call her Miss Knowles because we don't have a clue on a name yet. Jim and I haven't been able to reach an agreement and don't really even have a short list yet. Hopefully, when we finally see our little girl we'll be struck with inspiration. Giving someone their name, and such a large part of their identity, is just too much pressure!)