Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Making of our Family Christmas Picture

Getting the perfect picture for our Christmas card this year proved to be a little more complicated than I expected.


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I started by getting the kids dressed up in their cute Christmas jammies and attempted to wrap lights around them all cute. But the lights didn’t cooperate, and neither did their expressions or limbs.


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They just didn’t look like the image I had in my head.


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So then we tried a few sitting in front of the tree. The lighting was great…


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…but even with taking a ton, this was the best I got and it just wasn’t the perfect picture I was hoping for. So then we planned a day to pick up Nolan on his lunch break and go to a park near his office and use the tripod and my remote for the camera to take the pictures. I had the kids dressed cute, liked my hair, was on time to pick up Nolan, got the camera all set up and realized I left the memory card at home.


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Between the rain and Nolan’s schedule there weren’t any other lunch breaks that would work, so we attempted an evening shoot in our living room. Without the tripod being able to be directly above us, or someone to tell us where to sit so it would look good, and a VERY cranky baby, rebellious 2 year old and exhausted Daddy, the pictures just weren’t what I was hoping for.


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A shot in front of the tree was nice, but I still had hopes of something frameable that might pass as a professional picture.


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Another attempt at cute jammies pictures turned into Jace biting Reese on the cheek. I couldn’t help but laugh when I looked through the pictures and found this one of Jace just before he bit her! From the viewfinder of the camera, I thought he was giving kisses.


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Nolan ended up having some overtime and took a [relatively] dry afternoon off work and we finally had success with our family photo! (And we triple checked to make sure the memory card was in the camera.) There was plenty of bribery going on to get Jace to cooperate!


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And now I’m so happy to have a good family picture of the four of us!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

2 Months Old!

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Our little lady is growing up way too quickly for me.


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She’s happy, gaining weight and brings us lots of joy. Especially when she smiles.


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Her favorite thing ever is to be held. Her second favorite thing is smiling at her daddy. If she’s in the right mood, I can convince her it’s fun to lay on her ladybug and play with the toys. Sometimes she’s happy swinging too.


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But sleeping in her own bed? Or at normal bedtime hours? Probably her least favorite thing. For the past few weeks her preferred bed time has been between 2 and 3 am. But last night we somehow convinced her that 1 am was ok, and then she slept for 7 hours! She’s a fan of headbands but does not like wearing hats—she does everything she can to get them off.


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She loves to nap, especially if she’s being held, and would nap all day if we let her (hence, the nighttime problems). She also loves to eat. Every 2-3 hours. She’d also love to be a thumb sucker, but has yet to figure out how to get just it in her mouth, so she settles for smacking on her fist while grabbing her blanket with the other hand.


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She got her first cold the day after Thanksgiving and wasn’t a fan of having a stuffy nose. She’s still a little on the stuffy side, so I’m just hoping she isn’t allergic to our Christmas tree or the pets.


Jace and Reese 2 months


We all love having her be a part of our family—especially Jace! He still loves to get right in her face, talk to her, check to see if her eyes are open, and needs to know where she is at all times. And she loves to watch him. It’s going to be so much fun celebrating Christmas with this little lady!

Friday, November 9, 2012

One Month!

One Month 1


Our little lady turned one month on Monday. And since then, she’s really liked being held and made it difficult for me to get anything typed up about it!


One Month 2


We’ve had a great first month with Reese. Her first two or three weeks she pretty much just slept all the time. She’d wake up to eat and then go right back to sleep. At three weeks, though, she seemed to wake up and enjoy the world around her. She likes to rotate between laying on the floor and kicking and waving her arms (she doesn’t stop moving), laying on my lap and swinging. She’s also recently decided it’s ok to enjoy time with her Daddy again and gives him the biggest smiles.


One Month 3


Her first smiles came just shy of being four weeks old, and the are adorable! She tracks well with her eyes and especially loves to watch her brother move around her. It’s pretty precious just how aware of each other they are. Jace’s love and fascination of her has not lessened since she was born. First thing he asks me in the morning is, “Where’s Reese, Mommy?” And he has to go look at her while she sleeps. I’ve found toys that he tosses in the crib with her because, obviously, she needs something to entertain her.


One Month 4


This lady loves to eat. She eats every two hours during the day (and sometimes, if she fusses enough, she gets to eat even more often!), and at night she usually sleeps a 4 or 5 hour stretch followed by a 2 or 3 hour stretch, and then a nap after that. She was refusing to go to sleep before 1 am until the time change happened and now tends to be in bed by 11 or midnight, which makes this mommy very happy.


One Month 5


She does really well with riding in her car seat and sleeps through running errands in either her seat or the Ergo baby carrier. I was pretty proud of myself the other day because I managed a trip to Joann’s with Reese in the carrier and Jace in the cart.


One Month 6


She does bore with just about anything pretty quickly and keeps us on our toes with quickly finding new ways to entertain her. But she’s just so cute and sweet we don’t mind.


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We love this little lady and are so glad she’s a part of our family!


Jace and Reese at 1 month


And just a little comparison—Jace and Reese in the same chair (just made over) at one month old. Obviously my photography skills have improved a bit, but it also shows that Jace was much more difficult to get to sit still in the chair. He definitely moved more than she does.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Celebration and Mourning


Everyday moments with my little ones—nursing Reese, helping Jace hold his sister, singing “The Wheels on the Bus” while laying next to both of my babies in Jace’s bed, a trip to Target as our family of four, holding both my children in my lap while Nolan vacuumed (one because she was eating, the other because he is scared of the vacuum)—have taken greater meaning and weight.

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A girl I went to college with, yet really didn’t know, lost her baby the other day. She was 38 weeks pregnant when they discovered there was no longer a heartbeat. Just a few months ago I was doing hair for a wedding that she was in. While she curled her own hair and I pinned up that of others, we had fun talking about our babies; we were due only a few weeks apart. She was thrilled to be having a son for her first child. I was thrilled to be having a daughter for my second. And now she is having to say goodbye to that precious boy while I get to say hello to new memories every moment with my precious girl.

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Over the past few years I have cried through the blog posts of women who either had a child be born into heaven, or a farewell was said within hours of the birth. I couldn’t help but wonder if knowing their stories was meant to prepare me for a similar one myself. This wondering bred great fear in me throughout my pregnancy with Reese. A little spotting at the beginning and I was desperately pleading with God not to let me lose this baby. Sporadic movements from her at a time when they were supposed to be increasing in frequency had me obsessing over the possibility that she was in distress. Lower abdominal pain drove me to Google. While my fear didn’t always show itself to the world around me, it was ruling my thoughts. I finally realized that by allowing this fear to rule in my mind, I wasn’t trusting God to take care of my child.

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I’ve come to understand that knowing the stories of great grief and loss for women like Molly and Angie doesn’t mean I need to assume I will share a similar experience. But it does mean I can have a greater level of understanding and empathy when people I know or know of experience a day/week/month/life-shattering sadness. And their stories have made me more grateful for the story I get to live through. A strong sounding heartbeat. Fully formed limbs in an ultrasound. Organs that function like they should. Birthing a living, breathing, screaming baby.

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And as I wince while getting up from the couch, feel sore from muscles having to change where they support and have a belly that probably won’t reduce itself as quickly as I’d like it to, I’m thankful. Thankful because I get to hold and look at my precious baby while experiencing these reminders of the life that I carried within me for nine months.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Introducing Reese!

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Reese Elizabeth Nelson joined our family at 1:03 am on Friday, October 5. We are absolutely in love with her and I love being a family of four! She was 7 pounds 13 ounces and 19 3/4 inches long. She made her appearance VERY quickly and left me and Nolan in awe of how well a birth experience can go (Jace’s long, drawn out, dramatic story can be read here).


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We had been expecting Reese at any time for a while—at my appointment the week before my doctor had told me she could come “any day now.” Wednesday the 3rd I had my regular check up only to be discouraged by the news that there wasn’t any progress from the week before. I had been having regular contractions and lots of aching and warning signs that labor was coming soon, so to have all that amount to no progress was quite the let down. Because my cervix was so soft, my doctor felt I would be a prime candidate for induction and we schedule it for Friday the 5th at 6 am. It was nice knowing we had a scheduled end. My doctor went ahead and still stripped my membranes (which proved to be ineffective the week before) and we hoped she might come on her own. I had steady, mild contractions for the rest of the day, but sleep that night put a stop to everything.


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Thursday, our due date, brought even fewer contractions and by mid afternoon I figured we’d just have to wait until the next morning to meet our baby girl. My parents headed to Salem for the evening, so Jace, Nolan and I went out to First Burger for dinner to enjoy one last special time as our family of three. On our way there I had a stronger mild contraction, and then another one shortly after we got to the restaurant. When another one came I started timing them (6:30 pm). They were coming about 12 minutes apart. While distinct, it didn’t take anything more than a pause from talking to get me through the contraction.


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We got home around 7:30 and the contractions were starting to get a little stronger but were inconsistently between 9 and 14 minutes apart. I was bracing myself for them to just go away. As they got a little stronger, all it took was laying on my side on the couch and breathing through them while Nolan rubbed my back. Jace had no idea what was going on and thought it was fun to help Daddy rub my back. My parents got to our house around 8, and at that point the only thing different was that the pain was getting stronger. By 9 we were confident this baby was coming at some point, so Nolan hopped in the shower thinking he had about a 9 minute window before the next one hit. Immediately, my contractions jumped to 2-3 minutes apart, and were lasting close to 2 minutes each. My mom and I decided I needed to go to the hospital and not wait for the hour stretch of consistent contractions. She started getting the last items we had left to pull together packed, and once Nolan got out of the shower we were moving quickly to get out of the house (all while trying to get through some very painful contractions in the process). We didn’t get a final “bump shot” since I was in too much pain and worried we might not make it to the hospital.


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We delivered Jace in Corvallis which meant we had a 25 minute drive to the hospital. Delivering in Albany this time was wonderful because we only had a 7 minute drive! I was so thankful to be completely preregistered at the hospital because they were able to get us right up to the maternity floor right away (that is, after one contraction of me on all fours on the floor in the ER waiting room). We were in our room at 10.


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The nurse checked me and I was just at 3 cm, which felt so discouraging! We were worried they might try to send us home and tell us we weren’t really in labor (what happened with Jace), but they reassured as that would not happen. And even if I wasn’t in labor, they would have admitted me since I’d be back in a few hours for the induction. At this point my contractions were one on top of the other with no more than a 30 second break in between. The doctor on call approved my epidural (music to my ears!), and then it was just a matter of waiting for the anesthesiologist to arrive. My epidural was fully working by 11:30 (LOVED it!), and a little after that my nurse checked me since it had been about 2 hours since she last had. I was so happy to hear I was at a 6! (My nurse later admitted that I was closer to a 7, but she didn’t want to get my hopes up.) We were told to settle in, get some rest and it would be a few hours before I might feel some pressure that would indicate Reese was getting ready to come out.


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Less than 15 minutes later I felt a change and some pressure in my back. I debated calling my nurse, thinking it might not be enough pressure to warrant attention. I paged anyways, and when she went to check me she was shocked and said, “Your sack is coming out!” My water hadn’t broken yet, and the water sack was on its way out. My nurse hadn’t seen this happen before, so she called the other Labor and Delivery nurses, and they kicked things into gear saying this baby was on her way! The doctor was called at home to come in (he had been monitoring me from his computer at home) and our room was prepped for the delivery. When my nurse went to check how dilated I was my water broke and Reese’s head was right there. I was told to hold tight and not do anything that might be pushing. We needed to wait for the doctor!


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The doctor got there soon after, checked me and said to go ahead and push as soon as I was ready. Nolan and I were shocked that it was already time. On the next contraction I started pushing, and with just 5 pushes on that contraction Reese was born! I got all teary and I’m pretty sure said something like, “That was amazing!” So different from the 2.5 hours of pushing followed by forceps with Jace! After unwrapping the cord from around Reese (it was wrapped 3 times around her), she was placed on my stomach skin to skin. She was screaming! And not mild newborn screams, but loud, adamant screams. She laid there for a while just screaming and I loved being able to take her in.


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After a little while they took her to clean her up and then handed her back to me to nurse. She took right to it without any problems and I loved having this special time with her. After she ate Nolan had his turn at holding her and it was so precious for me to watch him rock and talk to her. He just rocked her for about an hour while I dozed off. They bathed Reese while we were still in the delivery room (waiting for my epidural to wear off), and while she loved having her hair washed she made it clear she did NOT appreciate the rest of the bathing process. Finally, at 4 am we were moved to our room. Everyone was amazed by how quickly she came. Our nurse hadn’t even had a chance to get my chart started since there really wasn’t a moment of down time between getting me into the room and Reese coming out.


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Because she came so quickly, her little head was perfectly shaped and we couldn’t get over how beautiful she was. Her nose is very similar to Jace’s, but her eyes are different. We’re thinking she might have the same eyes as Nolan’s baby pictures, but it’s still hard to say at this point. Later in the morning my parents were able to bring Jace to meet her and he was instantly in love.


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We enjoyed our visitors and our little girl slept through everything! She is quite the sleeper and very content until she decides something is not going how she’d like and she makes her opinion very known.


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I love how much Jace loves her. Both times he visited he wanted to know exactly where “Sissy” was, and smiled so much as he’d look at all her features. Since we’ve been home (we came home early Saturday afternoon), he wants to know everything that’s happening with her, loves to look at her, and is so obvious about his love of her. At one point, he started playing with nick names for her saying, “Sissy. Sis. Reese. Reesey. Reesers. Jace and Reesers. Jacers and Reesers!” And since then, he’s either called her Sissy or Reesers.


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I love our little family! Jace doesn’t have any jealousy over the attention we give Reese, but we’ve definitely seen him struggling from the fact that we were gone for two days and that I’m just not physically able to do the same things with him as I could before giving birth (all things that I’ll be able to do again, just not until I’ve healed). Nolan is taking two weeks off which I think is the best thing possible for Jace right now—he loves having so much time to play with Daddy!


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Reese continues to sleep a lot—with only a few short spurts of alertness each day (although they are becoming longer each day). Our first night was rough as she only wanted to be screaming or eating until about 3 or 4 in the morning, but she slept after that. The second night was wonderful as she slept for 3 and 4 hour stretches with minimal fussing in between feedings. Last night we had a rough start, but she finally wore herself out and slept great between feedings!


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At her weight check yesterday she’d dropped to 7 pounds 3 ounces, an 8% weight loss, so they’d really like to see her gain some weight. Thankfully, she’s becoming more cooperative when I wake her up to eat!


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She has such an expressive face and we just crack up watching all the different looks she has. 


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She loves being swaddled at night, but loves having freedom during the day.


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Diaper changes are considered abuse in her mind, but being put in the car seat is soothing and puts her to sleep.


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I am so captivated every time I watch Jace near her. Today she was sleeping in her bouncer and he sat next to her for about 10 minutes talking to and about her, touching her head, and just loving her.


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We can’t wait to see more of her personality come out.


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And in the mean time, I’m loving dressing her in all this pink!