Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Carter: 5 and 6 month update!

Wow!  Time really does fly.  I can't believe our little girl has been with us for 6 whole months!  I'm happy to report that the past 2 months have been much better for our sweet girl.  She is growing well and gaining weight.  She is also developing and progressing by leaps and bounds!  She has tried her first solid foods, is rolling from her tummy to her back, and is sitting up pretty well! (with the occasional toppling over...see below!)
Happy Valentine's Day!

First snow! 

Super serious during our photo shoot!
WOULD NOT give me a smile this week not matter how hard I tried!

Starting to sit up on her own....


I'd say her first time in her outdoor swing was a success!


If you follow me on Facebook, then you know that poor Carter got the flu from her daddy so we spent Easter Sunday in the Children's Hospital ER for a flu test.  Twenty four hours later we were sadly back in the ER because her temperature had gotten too low.  They ran some tests and fortunately she warmed up quickly so we did not have to be admitted.  She was pretty pitiful for 3 or 4 days (including her 6 month birthday) fluctuating between a high fever and a low fever and has a terrible cough that she is still getting over.
ER visit #1 for flu

ER visit #2

Weight: 13 lbs 6.5 oz (5th percentile)
Height: 25.5 inches (25th percentile)
Head Circumference: 42.5 cm (50th percentile) 
Clothes- 6-9 months (Just for length.  Skinny girl could still fit in 3 month for her weight!) 
Diapers- Size 2 

Eating:  Still nursing every 2-3 hours.  Most nights she wakes up once to eat, but goes right back to sleep.  She has just in the last week or so started really loving solids!  We started with rice cereal which wasn't a huge hit, but when we started doing other solids, after a few days, she really got into it.  So far she has tried carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, and bananas. I am introducing foods really slowly because of her previous feeding issues.  Speaking of which, things have gotten so much better with her eating.  She nurses so well and very quickly now. Bottle feeding is still not easy but with some coaxing, she'll take one if she has to as long as its not formula....that she won't even consider! We did take her to an allergist hoping to get skin tested to find out if we are dealing with a true allergy but he thought with her history, skin testing wouldn't be effective or tell us anything because she has what is called Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis.  Basically, she isn't having an immune reaction to milk or soy like people with a peanut allergy, but her reaction is just in her little tummy and intestines.  Good news is that she will outgrow this probably by a year.  Bad news is that I still can't eat dairy or soy.  I am positive that she has an issue with milk but I've always questioned if she has any issues with soy but I gave them both up at the same time so we may challenge her in the doctors office and give her soy and see what happens.  When we went to her GI doctor last week, she was very pleased and thought maybe we could slowly start challenging her with milk around 9 months by doing foods with a little bit of dairy in them, like mashed potatoes with butter, or a little bit of cheese or yogurt.  

Sleeping: Carter slept in her Rock n Play sleeper till about 5 months.  I was terrified to transition to the crib because of her reflux and because she did so well in it at night.  But to my surprise, she transitioned to her crib fairly well.  We only had 1 or 2 nights where she woke up more frequently.  Now that she is rolling, she is a side sleeper.  She is definitely like my husband and is all over the place when she sleeps.  I put her in her crib one way and by the time she wakes up she is at the other end of the crib facing a different direction.  Thank goodness we have a video monitor that I move the camera around to find her!  

Naps are all over the place.  Usually she does 2 longer naps and one cat nap a day. We did some sleep training and had about 2 weeks of really good naps that were 1.5-2 hrs and I thought we had finally gotten rid of the short nap problem but the past week or so they have reared their ugly head again and we are back to more like three or four 45 min naps.  Bedtime has gone from 7 or 7:30 to 6:30 or so because she is just so tired from not napping well.  She usually wakes up anywhere from 6-7 AM depending on if and when she has eaten during the night.  I would love for her to go back to sleeping through the night, but with her weight, I just hate not feeding her if she is acting hungry. I'm hoping maybe the napping issue could be teeth, growing, or just a phase, and hopefully she will start napping better soon. 

Playing:  She is rolling from belly to back constantly. So much so that I can't keep her on her stomach hardly at all these days!  She is sitting up pretty well but not to the point where I could walk away cause she will eventually topple over.  She loves playing outside, reading books, her Leap Frog puppy Violet that sings songs to her and knows her name, her cousins Ingrid and Silvia, her dog Reese, and she always lights up when her daddy gets home from work each day! 

Life with Carter is so much fun.  Don't get me wrong, there are hard moments and tough days when I am tired and would love to just be able to take a long nap, read a book, or just do nothing, but I realize every single day how blessed I am to have my sweet, precious daughter in my life.  She is my little best friend.  She is definitely a Mommy's girl and I wouldn't have it any other way!  I love watching her change and discover new things every day and am so fortunate to be able to stay home with her and witness these moments!  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Three and Four Month Updates!

The month of December was really tough. This past month has been a bit easier and we are seeing some improvements with Carter but it has taken a lot of work.  We have been to more than a dozen doctor appointments and had 3 outpatient procedures (most recently an Upper GI and a Swallow Study) done at Children's Hospital since mid- December.  Its been pretty overwhelming and exhausting for all of us.  While Carter isn't completely back to her old self, we have made progress.  For those that follow me on Facebook, you have probably seen a couple of posts of desperation asking for prayers.  Over the 2 weeks of Christmas and New Years, Carter only gained 2 ounces.  Typically, babies gain around 1/2 an ounce to 1 ounce per day so 2 ounces in 2 weeks was not good.  The GI specialist wasn't too terribly concerned and just thought that she had a bad milk allergy that had done some damage to her intestines (which was confirmed by a stool sample) and she just needed a little more time.  A week later she gained 2 ounces in one week.  While I thought this was an improvement, the Physicians Assistant we see was starting to get concerned and gave us 3 options:

1. Admit her to the hospital and do some more extensive testing like and Upper and Lower GI scope where they would sedate her and look via a camera at her digestive system to look for things like inflammation, and do a pH probe study to monitor the severity of her reflux,
2. Switch her to a completely hypoallergenic formula and add that to my breast milk to make it higher calories (we had already been doing this with another formula that is for milk intolerance but she really struggles with bottles so on top of nursing we were only supplementing 5-8 oz a day) and give her another few days or,
3. Put in an NJ tube (feeding tube that goes into her nose, past her stomach, right into her intestines) and feed her that way which meant we wouldn't have been able to nurse or even do bottles when she had this in.

I panicked.  I was at the appointment alone thinking that this would just be a weight check and follow up.  I broke down and called Harrison and my mom to discuss our options while the PA went to talk to the nutritionist about Carter.  Fortunately, the nutritionist didn't think our situation was as dire as the PA did and made the point that she was still gaining, albeit slowly, she was staying well hydrated, she is still on the growth chart, and not considered failure to thrive.  She suggested option 2 before we  do the more drastic things.  So we left the doctor's office knowing we had 72 hours to make a pretty dramatic difference or else we would have to make some difficult decisions.

We tried the new formula and were basically force feeding her bottles.  After talking to several friends and a lactation consultant, I borrowed a scale from a friend and we started weighing her before and after nursing to see how much she was getting.  We found out that while in the morning she was getting 4-5 ounces when nursing, in the late afternoon and evenings, she was
only getting 2-2.5 ounces which is pretty common for you milk supply to drop in the evenings but I didn't know it was dropping that much so I decided to start nursing much more frequently (every 2 or 2 1/2 hours vs very 3-4).  The second day was exhausting. We were trying a bottle for about 20-30 minutes before nursing.  She fights and cries with the bottles and takes in a lot of air because she cries so much.  Then she would nurse for 30-45 minutes.  Then we only had about a half hour or so before starting the process over again. After she projectile vomited up a bottle Tuesday night because she had so much air in her, I decided bottles just weren't worth it.  So on the third day, I nursed her pretty much every 2 hours like clockwork all day and didn't do any bottles.  She was a completely different baby. She was smiling and laughing, cooing and making sweet noises and was just so much happier not being forced to take the bottles which filled her with air.  I had no idea how much progress we made in those 72 hours so I was a nervous wreck going to the appointment Thursday morning but I had decided that even if she didn't have a great weight gain, that I wanted to give her a few more days of nursing more frequently in the evenings before doing anything drastic.  Well, she gained 6 ounces
in 3 days!  I was ecstatic!  I cried when I saw the number on the scale.  The GI specialist agreed that as long as she continued to gain, we could hold off on the invasive testing.  Again, she still isn't nursing perfectly and fusses and unlatches during some feedings but its so much better than it was and she isn't refusing to eat so while it can still be frustrating for me, its manageable.  I also started a medication and supplements to help increase my milk supply a little which should also help her get more per feeding and I've been really making sure I am eating and drinking enough which I admit, because of stress, I probably wasn't getting enough calories or drinking enough water.

A week later, we had another follow up and she had lost 2 ounces but they weren't concerned because we figured that the 6 ounce gain wasn't all true gain.  Because she is happy, growing in length, and meeting developmental milestones (minus tummy time which she HATES with a fiery passion), they are comfortable with being more patient with her and not forcing some of the invasion procedures and alternatives on us.  I am weighing her a few times a week at home and according to our scale, she is gaining about a half an ounce a day.

Here are some pictures from the last couple months!
Mom, when will you stop taking pictures and put me down for a nap? 
Merry Christmas!

Pretty impressive pout face! 

I've discovered my hands! 

Seriously mom, have you seen these things? They are so fun! 

Rockin' my animal print!

Love that sweet face!
I mean come on! How cute is she?!

You say I'm how old?!
We won't tell Daddy that Mommy put a big pink bow on my head, but don't I look beautiful?

Stats: 3 months- 10 lbs 1 oz
          4 months- 11 lbs 3 oz (5th percentile) Length- 24 inches (40th percentile)
                           Head circumference- 41 cm  (50th percentile).

Likes:  Still loves motion and all types of white noise!  I have an app on my phone that has a ton of different sounds.  Its very handy when we are out to just turn it on and put it in her car seat.  Its amazing how she responds to it.  Her favorite sounds seem to be "extreme rain," "running shower," "beach waves crashing," and "flowing stream."  Can you tell my child likes water?  She also like hairdryer, vacuum cleaner, and clothes dryer.

She loves playing on her play mat and batting at her toys. She also loves looking at herself in the mirror on her play mat or in the car.  She loves rattles and loves a specific rattle that has a little face on  it that lights up.  We affectionately call him Pedro, a name that was given to him when he belonged to my niece.

She is a huge fan of bath time and cries when I get her out.  I feel ya girl.  Mama loves a nice, long bath too!

Dislikes: She thinks tummy time is some rare, horrible form of torture.  I think part of the reason she doesn't like it is because it pushes on her tummy which makes her reflux worse but I also think she hates it because for those 3 or 4 weeks when things were really, really bad, I wasn't good or consistent about doing it every day so she's just not use to it anymore.  We are back to doing it a few times a day, even if for only a minute or so.  She seems to be doing a little better.  We still struggle with bottles.  I haven't been trying them really the last few weeks because I have been focused on nursing her frequently to help her gain weight, but now that I know she is, we need to step up our game.  It would be nice for mama to be able to leave the house for more than an hour or two!

We still are struggling with really short naps which makes for long days.  Sometimes I can get her back to sleep and sometimes I can't but she definitely is still tired when she wakes up after 30 or 45 minutes because if she doesn't go back to sleep, she gets fussy within about 30 minutes after waking and the next feeding is usually pretty difficult.  We are lucky that she is doing so well at night.  The past several nights she's been going to bed around 8:30 and waking at 6 AM which is a little earlier than I'd like but its nice that she makes it through the whole night.

I am trying to do a couple naps a day in her crib so she gets used to it and she is doing okay but I'm scared to try at night since she does so well in the Rock and Play.  I know we have to do it sometime though and I am just hoping that she sleeps as well at night in the crib as she does the Rock and Play. I wish they made a toddler version so I could keep her in it forever and not make the transition! I elevated the head of her crib to help with her reflux but the RNP still seems so much cozier and snugglier (not sure if thats a word).  I figure we will try it on a weekend here in the next couple weeks when Harrison can help get her back to sleep if she does wake a lot.

At her follow up for the GI clinic, she had gained 11 ounces in 2 weeks which they were very happy with.  They are letting us continue with what we are doing and we don't have to go back for 2 months!  At her 4 month check up, they were also pleased with her gaining. Even though she is still low on the growth chart, she is maintaining her statistics and no longer falling on the growth chart like she had been doing for the last couple months.  While they aren't overly concerned, they do think her tone muscle strength is a little less than what it should be because of everything that she went through.  For basically the month of December and even the first or second week of January, it was just survival mode.  We were basically just trying to get her to eat enough to stay hydrated.  Playing, tummy time, and working on developmental milestones was very hard because she was in so much pain, miserable, fussy, and had very little energy because of her struggle to eat.  So it isn't a surprise to any of us that she is a tad behind.  The pediatrician said she wouldn't even consider it a "delay."  We are working really hard on tummy time and developmental stuff at home but she thought it would be good just to be proactive and go ahead and make a referral for a few sessions of Physical Therapy. I am glad we are going to be proactive and go ahead and get her evaluated so that we can learn more exercises to work on with her at home.  Even just in the last few weeks working with her at home with the skills and exercises I know from being a nurse, I have noticed an improvement so I think she will be able to catch up.

I am so glad that the worst of her issues seem to be behind us and she is starting to thrive!  Hoping we  keep seeing more and more improvement and weight gain!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Two Months and a Bump in the Road

Carter is now 10 weeks old.  The past several weeks have been pretty rough and difficult for both of us.  When she was about 7 weeks, right around Thanksgiving, she started getting fussy when she would nurse.  She would cry, arch, and pull away. I thought it was her reflux getting worse.  The behavior gradually got worse.  After about a week of this, we had our scheduled 2 month check up so we of course talked to our Nurse Practitioner (who happens to be a friend of ours) about it and she too thought it sounded like reflux behavior and suggested that we add another reflux medication, Prevacid.  She also suggested I give up dairy for 2 weeks to see if that helped her symptoms, thinking it could be a milk allergy or intolerance.  Well that night, and for about the next 48 hours, things were awful.  She was refusing to nurse all together and would scream when I even attempted to feed her.  I was just as distraught  as she was.  The only way I could get her to eat was putting the bottle in her mouth when she was asleep or trying to nurse when she was asleep.  By the second day, I frantically called our pediatrician and demanded an appointment.  It had only been 48 hours since her 2 month check up but she was a totally different baby. She was extremely lethargic and I could tell was starting to get dehydrated. When they weighed her, she had lost 2 ounces since our appointment.  When I saw that on the scale, I lost it.  I tearfully explained everything that had transpired since 2 days earlier.  At that point, the nurse practitioner really thought that it was severe reflux and that her throat and esophagus were raw and inflammed.  She added another medicine to help soothe and coat her throat and made a referral to the pediatric GI specialist.   She also wanted to get an ultrasound to rule out something called Pyloric Stenosis, which would require surgery.  We had the ultrasound that afternoon and it was negative fortunately.  This past Monday we saw the GI doctor.  She had not gained any weight since the appointment on Wednesday the previous week which was concerning.  Their thinking also was reflux and possibly a milk allergy.  They recommended doing 2 days of hypoallergenic formula to see how she did and give my milk time to clear the milk proteins.  Apparently even though I thought I had been "dairy free" for a week, I had been consuming a couple things with dairy in them unknowingly....like my "non dairy" coffee creamer which still contained a milk protein called Casein in it. Who knew?  They also recommended I give up soy as well since a lot of babies with milk allergies or intolerances also have a problem with soy.  So as of Monday, I am off all dairy and soy.  I am reading all labels and double checking everything I put in my mouth.  We went back for a follow up on Wednesday and she had gained 3 ounces!  Thank the Lord.  I was thrilled.  As of Wednesday afternoon, we are nursing again but also supplementing with some formula.  Nursing is getting better ever so slowly.  She doesn't seem to be fighting it as much and doesn't seem as miserable after she eats.  I am hoping and praying that we are over the hump and that things will continue to get better.

I realized the past few weeks how easy of a baby Carter was the first 7 weeks.  She ate great, slept great and was generally very happy and content unless she was hungry or tired.  I hope that with these changes of medications and my dietary changes that my sweet girl will feel more like herself again.  This parenting stuff is hard, y'all.  When she would not eat and was so pitiful and lethargic, I have never felt more helpless in my life and it was an absolutely horrible feeling.  I must have cried just as much as she did and I would have given anything to take away her pain and discomfort.  I am so blessed to have so much support from Harrison and my family.  I don't know how people do this alone.

Starting to give tiny, purposeful smiles! 
Before her "Sip and See," wearing a smocked dress her grandmother made her and her first time wearing shoes! 

Carter's first Thanksgiving!

Another thing we are struggling with are naps.  We are very fortunate that she does great at night and has started sleeping through the night some or just waking up once around 3-4 AM to eat.  I feed her around 7 or so and she goes to bed right after and then I wake her up (or sometimes she wakes on her own) around 9:30 or 10 to eat and then goes right back down.  Naps on the other hand are a different story.  We have not sleep trained her yet. I tried around 6 weeks and I just don't think she was ready (or maybe I wasn't).  Then about a week later, all the reflux stuff started so there has just been too much going on.  We are still swaddling, rocking, and patting (girl likes a firm butt pat!) to go to sleep.  Once asleep, we put her in the rock and play and she sleeps 20-30 minutes but then wakes up.  She doesn't wake up crying or anything.  I've heard of the "45 minute intruder" where in a baby's sleep cycle, they arouse after about 45 minutes.  I let her lay in her rock and play without going in, but she never falls back asleep.  After about 20 minutes, she will start to fuss.  By this time, its usually pretty close to time for her to eat again.  We try to stick to the Baby Wise routine of eat, play, sleep but its hard when after she's eaten, she's usually been awake for close to 2 hours and falls asleep eating.  I'm just not sure what to do.  I don't know if she's just needing to be sleep trained so that she will learn to soothe herself back to sleep once she wakes up in the middle of a nap or what.  Any advice from moms out there?  When did you sleep train and how did you do it?  Did you let them cry it out?

Stats:  Weight- 9 lbs 8 oz on 12/8 (20th percentile), then lost 2 oz on 12/10.  Was 9lb 9oz on 12/17.
           Height- 22.1 inches (50th percentile)
           Head Circumference- 39 cm (60th percentile)

Likes:  Still likes all types of motion. We discovered in doing bottles that she likes white noise, mostly the sound of running water when she eats.  And yes, we have tried all kinds of apps. We even recorded the sound of the facet on my phone but girl knows the difference and prefers the real thing!

Dislikes:  Sadly our biggest dislike right now is eating, nursing or bottle. I wish at least one way was easy.  If she would take a bottle easily without a fight I would probably just go that route and give up breastfeeding.  Right now, both forms are a pretty frustrating, stressful and hard 30-45 minutes.  What's harder is that I'm the only one that can do it.  She hasn't taken a bottle from Harrison or my mom...just me. Its exhausting.  Its heartbreaking knowing that her most basic and essential need right now is causing her pain, discomfort, and making life pretty hard.  I can only hope and pray that this is just a phase and that it will get easier with some time.

Friends, please be praying for us that things start to get better and that we can get all this stuff with eating figured out.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

One Month Old!

* I wrote this post last week but but hadn't proof read it yet when Carter wanted to eat and I just realized I never posted it. I'll blame it on new mommy brain!

    Pardon my blogging absence the last month....I've been a little busy!  I can not believe she is a month old already.  The last month I really have tried to savor every moment with my daughter.  It is still very surreal to look at her and know she is here and she is ours.  I still have moments every few days where I just stare at her and my love for her completely overwhelms me and I start crying.  She is such a blessing and life has never been sweeter.

     The past month has been so wonderful and full of love.  Don't get me wrong, there have been hard moments when my patience has worn thin or being overly tired has gotten the best of me, but overall, it truly has been amazing.  Carter is really a great baby.

      The first couple weeks were mostly dedicated to my recovery and getting to know our sweet girl.  She got down to 6 lbs 10 oz when we were discharged from the hospital which was an 11% loss from her birth weight so we had weight checks a couple times a week to make sure she was gaining weight adequately.  I nursed every 2-3 hours the first few weeks and once we both got the hang of nursing, she started putting on weight like a champ and has been consistently gaining an ounce a day every since.  Her most recent weight as of Monday the 3rd was 8 lbs 4 oz.  We are now nursing every 2-3 hours during the day but letting her sleep and feed on demand at night.  I usually feed her around 10 or 10:30 and she'll sleep usually about 5 hours so I am getting some good stretches of sleep myself which has been great. 

     Carter has been refluxing so we went to the doctor and are now on a low dose reflux medication.  It will take about 2 weeks to see if it works or if we need to go up on the dose.  Now for what you really want to see...pictures! 

Being this cute is exhausting!

Stats: Weight 8 lbs 4 oz (25 %) Height 21.4 inches (75%) Head Circumference 36.5 cm (50%)

Likes: Motion! Good grief this girl loves to move.  Anything with movement she is a big fan of...swing, Mamaroo, car, Harrison or I walking around with her, etc.  If it moves, she loves it.  

Paci:  She didn't start really loving the paci till about a week ago.  Its not a must for her to fall asleep or for her to be content, but when she's fussy either from reflux or being tired, she really likes it.  We are using the Soothie brand, wubbanub, or we just discovered she likes the same brand my niece uses which are Born Free.  

Eating: Obviously by her ounce a day weight gain.  Like I said, after the first week or so, we both got the hang of it and now its going great.  

Being Swaddled- calms her down and definitely keeps her asleep for long stretches at night!  

Cuddles and snuggles- Loves to be held! I may or may not be completely spoiling her but I'm sorry, there is nothing better than cuddling with her and having her nuzzle her head into my neck and fall asleep on my chest.  I have waited 3 years to hold her and love on her and I am savoring every moment.  

Music/white noise- she likes being sung to or being shhh'd to when she is fussy or falling asleep.  

Dislikes:  Reflux- poor girl.  You can tell it hurts her.  She is fussy after eating and is spitting up some after she eats.  She will be completely calm, then get really upset and you can hear and see her refluxing. I really hope the medication will help soon! 

Reflux Medication- Its a catch 22.  Seriously, does it have to taste like that?  Even with some "flavoring" which I requested they add, its still pretty gross.  I don't know why they can't make all liquid medication taste like the pink bubblegum Amoxicillin.  

When the movement stops- Example: Why must I stop the motion of the car at red lights?  

Life is pretty great y'all.  My only issue I've been having has been with my neck.  Nursing is really tough on my neck. Constantly looking down is painful.  My range of motion from my 2 cervical fusions and all the hardware has always been limited and has always been more limited looking down.  I am getting by with ibuprofen a couple times a day so far but it hurts, I'm not gonna lie.  This is another area where I have tried not to put expectations on myself.  I want to nurse for as long as possible for her benefit of course, but realistically, I don't know physically how long I will be able to. I know as she gets bigger and weighs more, I will have more pain as I care for her.  If/when I start having to take pain medicine again regularly, I will have to wean her to formula.  I'm just trying to take it a day at a time.  I am going to call Vanderbilt Pain Clinic and hopefully be able to have a radio-frequency ablation on my right side (the worst side) sometime soon.  Hopefully that will help extend the amount of time I can nurse and decrease the amount of pain I am having.  

Other than that, everything is going really well.  We are so blessed. It may sound cliche, but motherhood is truly better than I ever expected.  Its amazing to me to look at her ultrasound pictures that still hang on the fridge or her little embryo picture and then look at her beautiful face as she is cradled in my arms and know where she came from and how hard we worked to have her here. My heart is so full and I'm so incredibly happy.  We certainly have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving! 

Till next time...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Carter Elizabeth

     Harrison and I are thrilled to announce the birth of our beautiful daughter Carter Elizabeth!  She was born Tuesday, October 7 at 2:25 pm and weighed 7 lbs 7.2 oz (EXACTLY what her growth ultrasound predicted on Monday!) and was 20 inches long.  She is perfect.

     About 12 hours after I posted on the blog last Monday, I went into labor on my own.  After my appointment on Monday, I was having some contractions that were a little stronger than what was typical for me and my low back was hurting.  One of very best friends (whom I shared a due date with!) had her baby girl the previous Thursday so we went over to their house to meet her and have dinner with them Monday night.  We got home Monday night and went to bed.  I woke up around 4 AM to go to the bathroom and couldn't fall back asleep, so I turned on the TV.  Around 5:30 I was getting pretty drowsy so I rolled over in bed and felt a pop...my water breaking! It was definitely a strange sensation but not a big gush of water like you see in movies.  I went to the bathroom and verified that it was indeed my water breaking.  I woke up Harrison and called the on call doctor.  She said to head on in to the hospital but that it didn't sound like we needed to be in a huge rush as my contractions were about 10 minutes apart.  I took a quick shower, we finished packing up, said goodbye to the dog and life as just the two of us and headed to the hospital.  By the time we arrived to the hospital about an hour after my water had broken, my contractions were about 4 minutes apart, and man, did they hurt.  Since we got to the hospital right around 6:30, there were 2 other pregnant women checking in for scheduled deliveries. They were nice enough to let me check in first since it was clear that I was in active labor!

     I was triaged and checked and was 4.5 cm dilated.  They got me in a room and I immediately asked for my epidural which I got around 8 AM.  (P.S.  Epidurals are completely amazing and I am convinced are a gift from God! Any woman that can do labor naturally is my hero!)  After my epidural, they checked me and I was 8cm!  By 10 AM I was completely dilated.  It was a crazy day on the Labor and Delivery floor.  There were 2 c-sections my doctor needed to do and  2 other women in labor and delivering when I was! Because of the craziness and since they knew I wanted to limit the amount of pushing, they let me "labor down" for a few hours.  Basically it was letting my body and contractions to push her lower. I had my epidural so I was completely comfortable. Till about 1pm, they let me labor down and we hung out in the room with my family.

    Around 1pm, the doctor was finally available, so they got everything all set up and ready for her big arrival.  (Crazy side note: My in laws were on their way from Nashville so my mom was texting with my mother in law and giving her updates.  My mom mentioned the doctor's name, who was another doctor in the practice on the non high risk side, but not my usual doctor.  It turns out, the doctor that was about to deliver my daughter was the same doctor that delivered my husband 30 years ago!!) I officially started pushing at 1:50pm and at 2:25pm, our sweet daughter was born!  I can't even explain the flood of emotions I had when I saw her come out and heard her cry.  Harrison and I both immediately broke down in sobs. I felt incredible joy, love, and thankfulness but also relief and the overwhelming sense of "finally!"  It was the culmination of emotions of 3 years of infertility and failures and finally overcoming all the hurdles. We waited so long and worked so hard for that moment. It was a moment that is impossible to adequately put into words.

     When my water broke, their was a slight hint of meconium (aka baby's poop) so they immediately took her to the warmer to suction her really well and assess her.  She was crying and doing well but because of the possibility of meconium aspiration, Harrison was only able to hold her for a minute. I was able to give her a few kisses, but then they took her to the nursery to be hooked up to an oxygen monitor for a little while to make sure her breathing and oxygen status were ok.

A couple hours later, we were reunited with our daughter.  Introducing Carter Elizabeth...

Meeting her Great Grandmother and Namesake, Harrison's grandmother Carter

     We were discharged Friday afternoon and began our life as a family of 3! 

Going home with our girl! 
The past week has been wonderful.  We are soaking up every moment with our sweet girl.   Harrison was able to take a full week off work so he went back yesterday for his first full day.  I've had some help during the day from my mom and mother-in-law which we are so thankful and grateful for.  We are tired but are getting some sleep between feedings.  Carter so far is a great baby and I am loving motherhood.  It still feels very surreal that she is here and in my arms, but I am so happy I sometimes just look at her and start crying.

Her newborn photo shoot. 4 days old

8 days old
     I know I say this at the end of pretty much every post but I can't thank each of you enough for all the love, support and prayers over the past 9 months of pregnancy, 3 years of infertility, or 5 years of my health issues.  We wouldn't be where we are without you.  Your prayers were heard and answered in the most amazing, incredible ways.