Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Birmingham Bliss

On our way back from Pensacola for Turkey Day, we stopped in Birmingham so Noah could meet his Uncle Sean & Aunt Jen, the first of friends/family we've asked to be his godparents! Sean and Chris grew up going to camp together at Camp Weed, were college roommates at Florida State (where Chris successfully caused the break of Sean's wrist), were in each others' weddings, and in many ways are soul mates...not joking. I've never been around two guys who love each other more than these two. Regardless of how much time has passed, which is usually too much, it's as though they just saw each other yesterday, never missed a beat.  Sometimes Sean gets better embraces than me...And Jen, Sean's awesome wife, I met when Chris and I first started dating in 2006, and she was very welcoming and so comfortable to be around in the new (sometimes overwhelming) group of folks I was spending time with. I rather enjoy her sweet and gentle spirit and the laughs we've all shared. They are a lot like us in the way that they are boy/girl versions of each other, love each other with passion, are kids in adult bodies, love to have fun and laugh, value family and friends, and we know they will love Noah as he grows up. We are honored that they accepted our request to play lead roles in our little guy's life and to be a part of our crazy family (not that we didn't already consider them family). We look forward to making many more, and more frequent, memories with them. Here's to the Palmers and the joy you bring to our life, for which we are eternally grateful:

You have no idea what we went through to get these photos...

You see, Sean doesn't like to keep his eyes open...

By the way, Sean will now be further referred to as "The Godfather", hence the face in the last picture.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Little Turkey's First Turkey Day

We ventured to Pensacola for Noah's first Thanksgiving... crazy thought with a 7 week old, huh? From Tennessee to Florida, it took us only 9 hours (an hour and a half more than usual). Not too bad... he is an amazing little traveler. The only time he got restless was when we were about an hour out. Easily fixed though, Chris just sat in the back and talked with him. I would be fussy if I had to be strapped in a seat for that long when I don't even know that I can control my hands and feet yet. Along with Thanksgiving, Noah had a few other firsts on this trip:
- First time to Alabama and Florida
- First time spending the night at Mama and Papa Bo's house
- First time meeting Great-Granny Bowen and Great Great Aunt Edith
- First time meeting Uncle Paul 
- First Iron Bowl (Roll Tide)
- First FSU/UF game (Go Noles)

Hopefully we will get to meet and see a few more friends and family before we head back this weekend. For now, we will share some pictures from our trip so far:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Challenges and Triumphs

This post will be near and dear to all mama's (and daddy's) hearts. I will attempt to describe the challenges and triumphs that we have had the privilege of working through and figuring out with our little guy. We've been lucky to not have to travel this road alone, rather with the help and support of our family, friends, and Knoxville Pediatrics. I will also say that we are so, so, so thankful that our challenges have been as mild in nature as they have been... not to say we haven't experienced exhaustion and frustration, but we realize how fortunate we are to live in a place where medicines, advice, and support are freely given...a place where children can thrive, grow, love and be loved, and live freely.

Jaundice & Nursing = Not a Good Time

About 50% of all babies experience jaundice in varying levels within the first couple weeks of life. It is the result of bilirubin in the baby's blood that is typically expelled within the first few days of life; however, if it is not expelled it can cause yellowness in the baby's skin and eyes, sleepiness and sluggishness (more than usual for a newborn), and inadequate milk intake. It typically clears up on its own within a week or so. Well, when we brought Noah home his bilirubin level was at 8 which is not an alarming level. We were told if he starts resembling the color of Chris' shirt (a gold Seminoles shirt) then we needed to call the doctor. We never noticed that he was getting yellower until we were under the flourescent lights at the pediatrician's office for our first visit when he was 4 days old. The doc was concerned with the yellow and his weight decreasing, so he sent us to have his blood tested over at the hospital lab. He also wanted us feed him every two hours to add in a few more in a 24hour period and supplement with formula if necessary.

It took a while to get the amount of blood they needed, and even pricking his little foot two times, he never cried or fussed. We headed home, not too worried, we would be heading back to the doctor the next morning to have a recheck. At about 8am the next morning the office calls to say that his level jumped up to 16 in two days and we need to take Noah back to the lab before we come in for our recheck. Ugh. We get ourselves together as quickly as possible and head to Knoxville. After a way-too-long wait at the lab we met with Dr. Fogle again and he says that the level has gone down and his weight has increased a couple of ounces... we should continue what we were doing and come back on Thursday for a weight check and we also scheduled an appointment to meet with the Lactation Consultant on Saturday.

Thursday's weight check did not fare well for us... Noah had lost even more weight even though his jaundice was supposedly improving. So... the doc has me nurse him there, re-weigh him, and then offer him 2oz of formula. We nursed for about 20 minutes, weighed in at 1oz heavier, and then he drained the bottle in no time. Ugh. Defeat. Now, let me also say that I fell apart in the doctor's office, crying and feeling like a total failure, like I wasn't giving my baby what he needed. Kelly later informed me that I was hitting the emotional breakdown time period that is natural after childbirth, but man, I was a mess. Doc sent us on our way, feeding every two hours, pumping, and offering formula after nursing. Whew. And when in there am I supposed to sleep?

I was bound and determined to make this work...until about 3am Friday morning when Noah and I both cried and cried for 45 minutes straight. He was throwing his head around, screaming each time I tried to put him to breast. Chris took the baby, I continued to sob, and the three of us decided that this method was not working. We called the Dr. first thing Friday morning, I couldn't stand the thought of continuing on like that for even another day. I couldn't form sentences so Chris had to talk to them on the phone while my parents and Kelly (via phone) tried to calm my emotions. The LC suggested we skip the nursing, just pump and let him take the milk from the bottle. This is where my fate would be decided...

Now, let me put this out there that from the day we found out we were expecting I was set that I would do my best to give our baby the best possible situation in life from that day forward. I planned to nurse him from the start, not because I need him to nurse to feel validated as a mama, but so that he can get the best nutrition possible. Pumping is not a blow to my ego, just an extra step added to my day. I knew we had work to do and I knew that we needed to get our little guy back to good health. When we went in on Saturday I was nervous as can be... the nurse took him and weighed him and he has gained back 6oz! Chris and I definitely high-fived in the middle of the hallway at the office! I was so relieved and glad to know that I wasn't breaking our baby... Irrational, I know. The LC suggested we continue on the path we had been traveling and to wait at least 3 weeks before we tried to nurse again, we needed to "outlive" his memory of the frustration at the breast. I felt good about that and continued on. Noah has NOT stopped gaining weight since then... just check out his cheeks for proof.

Think the flu with really, really painful boobs. Basically, mastitis is an infection in the breast that causes clogged milk ducts which leads to engorgement (pain, hot to the touch, redness, decreased milk supply). This hit me around Noah's 1 month "birthday" and took about a week to recover from. After two doctor's visits, antibiotics, lots of hot baths, and essentially quarantine at the house I finally kicked it and pray that I don't get it again. The funny part is that during one of my baths I was kneading the knots out of my left side and all the suddent it was like the dam broke and milk came shooting out like a water fountain. I sat there and drained that sucker for 20 minutes...talk about relief. Whew.

So, as I said before, our challenges have been minor in comparison to what other young mamas and papas have had to endure. Though I felt as if my world was crumbling at the time of each challenge, I found comfort and reassurance that God would provide, whatever that meant. Noah would be fine, I would eventually feel human again, and we would figure it all out. I am ever thankful for challenges that are set before me because it just magnifies God's grace and power and what he can do. If I could just convince myself to realize this thankfulness during the time of stress and frustration...

I love him... and his little Buddha belly.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Nosey Baby

Noah may not get latching on to nurse, but he's got no problem with noses. Poor little confused fella...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Noah's Biggest Fans

In the first week of Noah's life we were blessed beyond words by family & friends who came to stay for the week or just dropped in for a minute. Whether here for 5 minutes or 5 days, we are very thankful for the continued love and support, thoughts and prayers extended to our new family.

Our first round of "fans" arrived at the hospital about 30 minutes before Noah made his grand entrance. My mom and dad left shortly after we called them Thursday morning and made the trek all the way from Pensacola... with an extra surprise in the shape of my sister, Kelly! I knew my mom and dad were making their way up, but had no idea that Kelly was coming with them until she walked in the room about an hour after Noah was born! I was so worn out and delirious but on the inside was feeling so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that the 3 of them had made it just in time, and were now getting to meet our boy for the first time. I am eternally grateful...

Because of the perfect timing of the weekend, Kelly was able to stay until Sunday...she left us with a fridge/freezer full of delicious food, a cleaner house (with one less mouse), and plenty new mama tips and tricks that have definitely come in handy. I think she was already plotting her return before she even left... and if she wasn't I know her kiddos were. While skyping with the Bullington kids, Wilson was sure to let us know that their Fall Break was only one full week of school away and then they would be coming to meet their new cousin. A little skyping action:

My mom and dad were able to stay a whole week with us! What a blessing/relief! And in Mama Bo and Papa Bo fashion, not only did Noah get a lot of lovin' but so did our house. You see, we live in camp-provided housing so there are some things that are a little rough around the edges. Well, my parents live for such projects and were busy updating, repairing, replacing, scrubbing, painting, installing, building, supplying, etc. the entire time they were here. Again, we are so thankful for their help and support. They snuck in plenty of Noah time though, too:

As I predicted, Chris' mama would not be able to stay away if Noah came on his own before the scheduled induction on the 7th. And I was right... he was born just after midnight on Thursday/Friday and she could hardly stand that it would be almost 3 weeks before she could get her hands on her first grandbaby. So, by that afternoon she had booked her flight and was on her way early Saturday morning. She arrived at the hospital just in time for us to be discharged and to meet Noah for the first time. Again, I planned the time so well that she was able to make it for a couple of days. She had to leave Booger behind, but he will meet Noah in about 2 weeks in North Carolina. We were very excited that she was able to make it to hold and love on our precious boy:

 Noah also met his first Uncle Matt and his first Aunt Heather (GiuGiu), the ones who aren't married to each other. This poor kid is going to be so confused, Heather & Matt who are married and Heather & Matt who are siblings. I promise, our family tree does fork even if we do live in east Tennessee...

We also had a very special stop-by from Noah's Grand-Godmother, Ann Thompson. She (and 4 other ladies) were on their way back to Florida from Luke Thompson's wedding in Michigan. We were sad that we couldn't make the wedding, but were very excited that Grandma Ann was able to stop for a few minutes and love on Noah for the first time. The other ladies (Mary, Sharon, Lois, and Cynthia) didn't seem to mind admiring him either.

I think those are all the photos of visitors that we have, but we had many more folks come by to offer their congratulations, drop off a plethora of food and gifts, and to get a look at our little guy. Allison brought us some delicious soup, listened to me ramble about the whole labor and delivery (thanks for that, it's good for my soul), and to hug the little munchkin. Several ladies from Bethel Presbyterian Church (Pat, Sue, Debbie) brought by lots and lots of gifts and soups from the Bethel family (thank you so much... you've really shown us what it means to be part of a Christ-centered community).  Dennis McCurry (Outdoor Ministry Team for CJK) generously supplied us with a bunch of diapers, wipes, and Noah's first (and maybe only) Volunteer outfits (thank you, you've made Chris' nights MUCH easier). And that only scratches the surface of the many cards, gifts, phone calls, and messages we've received over the past 3 weeks. I am slowly getting around to thank-you's and returning phone calls... please bear with me.

And for your viewing pleasure, one of our first family photos:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mama is Back...

There is not enough time in the day for me to write about all the things that have happened in the last 20 days, but I will do my best in providing a glimpse of our recent weeks. I will give you a few events at a time... today I will start with my account of the L&D. Here we go:

LABOR & DELIVERY: 10/02/09
We arrived at the hospital between 8-9am on Thursday, Noah's due date. I wanted to just go to the Doc's office to be checked out, but we would have had to wait another 30 minutes before even talking to a nurse about coming in, so we headed up to L&D Triage. I was the only person in there so we were seen pretty quickly. After a few "tests" to find out what was going on, the nurse quickly declared that my water had definitely broken and that we would be headed to a room shortly (which we later found out was the ONLY available room left in the unit). We got settled into the room, made phone calls to let folks know that this is definitely happening, and around 11 I was able to get up and walk around the unit. Things stayed pretty "normal" for 5-6 hours and I was able to get up and walk or shower or do the birthing ball every so often for about 30 minutes at a time. The nurse (Julie) would come in and hook me back up to the monitors and check me every couple of hours, which turned out to be one of the less enjoyable parts because 1) it made me lose my lunch every time (even though I had not eaten in over 12 hours) and 2) my contractions were consistent but I was making no progress. My contractions started to get more intense at 2-3 minutes apart around 4pm but I had stayed at 4cm since being admitted earlier in the morning. Dr. Cottam (my OB) had left at 3pm and was calling to check on me around 5pm, suggesting that we needed to change something otherwise I was going to continue to labor with little progress and wear myself out. My options were to go ahead and start pitocin or have a pressure monitor "installed" to measure what exactly my contractions were doing. Sticking with the "natural" mindset I opted for the monitor, which did NOT fair well. More lunch losing and tears in my eyes (the only time I cried during labor) and pulling the nurse's hand away... so we stopped with that option. It wasn't that my contractions weren't getting stronger, they just weren't dilating me, so I was feeling the pain and pressure with each contraction... and the weird part is that I was having what Chris called "double shots" meaning that I was having two contractions back to back with no time in between, going 2-3 min, and then having two more back to back. This was starting to get to me so I asked for Stadol (a narcotic that just takes the edge off, not a pain reducer... think 2 for 1 margaritas) before they started the pitocin so that I could relax between contractions. When they had started to get intense I was shaking and having a hard time resting between them, so the Stadol definitely helped, allowing me to relax for the 2-3 minutes b/t contractions. Once the pitocin was administered everything started moving right along... more intensity, more dilation, etc. From about 7pm on I progressed steadily, hardly opening my eyes, only talking when talked to. My focus was on breathing and relaxing, Chris rubbing my back through each contraction (also offering to play DJ with the iPod), and hoping that I could get through with only the Stadol. Also, let me mention, that Chris was a trooper... communicating with the nurses of what we wanted, holding his bladder for several hours because I wouldn't let him leave my side, rubbing my back until his arm nearly fell off, encouraging me with every contraction, among other slightly more intimate memories I will keep to ourselves. Dr. Many would be the one to deliver our baby and she was periodically checking in on us, beginning to "worry" that I would end up laboring for more than 18 hours after my water had broken, which meant I would potentially need antibiotics to reduce risk of infection for Noah. Although his heart rate remained "perfect" throughout labor, we would still have to take precautions just in case... I missed the 18hr mark by about 30 minutes. Around 10pm our nurse (Meredith) came in and checked me, finding that I was at about 8.5cm. She began to situate the room and equipment in preparation for delivery. This is when it really sank in for me... I was about to have this baby, most likely before midnight. Holy crap... Around 11pm Meredith wanted to do a "test push" to see what kind of pusher I would be, at which she quickly learned that I meant business! Dr. M was actually delivering another baby at that time, so I had to wait a few more contractions before going again to give her time to get in the room. I never understood the statement "I feel like I need to push" and what it really means, but with my contractions coming one behind the other pretty intensely, there wasn't much waiting I was able to do. I asked to continue to push, and she let me, and soon after the Dr. joined us. At this point (around 11:20pm) the nursery nurses, the Dr's assistant, and Meredith were all gearing up for delivery... one of the nursery nurses asked if he would be here before midnight so she could fill out the paperwork and Meredith indicated that she thought so. Oh man, here we go... so I will spare the details, but with Chris at my side, Dr. M running the show and the other folks offering words of encouragement and incredible support, we pushed until 12:05am when Noah Matthew entered this big new world! He came out wide-eyed and screaming at 8lbs6oz, 20 1/2inches with beautiful color and chubby cheeks (he got those from his mama). His daddy may have shed a few more tears than his mama, both proud and relieved that the "hard part" was past us. The nurses cleaned him up, the Dr. finished with me, and Noah was handed to his daddy to cuddle and love. We are now a family of three and a half...

Quirky Facts of Our L&D:
* I may never drink apple juice again.
* We heard stats ranging from 3%-10% of babies are born ON there due date... Noah missed his by 5 minutes.
* I never asked for the epidural.. I wouldn't have let them near me with a needle anyhow.
* Apparently, I apologized frequently to the nursing staff and Dr. for what was going on down yonder.
* "Hees and Hoos" of breathing are silly... just breathe slow and close your eyes to focus. I think those breathing techniques are for the entertainment of others in the room.
* Chris offered to play Mitch Hedberg during my contractions.
* You quickly lose any shred of modesty during childbirth.
* I wouldn't do anything differently... every bit of the pain was worth it.

The staff at Parkwest were above and beyond what we expected. They helped make our experience a positive and successful one... we are eternally thankful for their care and expertise that helped us bring home our healthy baby boy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

NMF:What to say? Perfection in the flesh...

Well, I'm not sure exactly what to say, you know having a new baby at home and our lives being completely changed and the lack of sleep and what not... so I am going to post a few pictures from the birth and 1st couple of days.

Noah Matthew Ford, born October 2nd, 2009 at 12:05 am. Forcing his way into the world at 8 lbs 6 oz, 20 1/2 inches long, 14 & a hair cm head. He was born 5 min past his due date and labored with his mamma for 18 hours!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And Then There Were None...

Today was our LAST prenatal Dr's appointment, measuring in at 39.5 weeks, 35lbs total weight gain, good 2cm, head dropped since last visit, carpel tunnel in my arms, puffy feet, and still hanging on for Oct. 7th. I even asked the doc if she had plans for this afternoon, we could nip this in the bud, but unfortunately she was all booked up. She seems to think that he will be one of those babies that just needs a little extra enticing... she said she has had to "evict" many of babies through induction and all have been fine. And as of right now he is still measuring of average size, which means natural birthing is still the plan.

But, with all that, I have developed a new outlook. This baby isn't stubborn, he is just a go-with-the-flow, laid back, hippie kid who isn't in a rush to venture out of his nest. Though his name literally means "peaceful wanderer", he just hasn't found his vagabond spirit yet. I was really starting to feel discouraged and exhausted, tiring of hearing people tell me that "he will come when he is ready"...but now we know that he will be here within the week at the most, what is there to fret about? My parents are coming up to help and Heather will be back and forth offering her love and support. Chris' mama will be here mid-October to stay for a week... we will have mucho help spread out throughout the month, so why be frustrated that I have to be pregnant an extra week? Maybe because I am normally a spontaneous kind of girl this whole induction thing was throwing me off my game, way too planned and organized, but it may end up working to our advantage to have folks help us out.

Heather and the boys came over for a quick visit and birthing pep rally last night. She said she wanted to "measure" for herself to get the feel for if he was coming soon or if he would wait. She seems to think he will hold out, or at least she's hoping so she can get back south before he comes! I was craving some of Granny's chicken and dumplins so she brought all the fixin's and as it should be, we Bowen girls were barefoot and pregnant standing over a hot pot of dumplins. It only took us 3 hours, but man, were they worth it! Not quite right on the nose as Gran's, but pretty darn close:

Chris and I also were given a very generous gift (thanks, my sister) to continue to stock up on our cloth diapering supplies. Like I've said before, we are super pumped about how much money and resources we will save over time by using cloth diapers, however, it is an investment to get started... so being given a gift to grow our supplies in any way is a huge blessing. Heather seemed to think that we would breeze through the first sizes of diapers and covers and doesn't want Noah's butt to go uncared for, so we went to Cutie Tooties and were able to supply most of the larger size necessities. With that being said, I also updated the registry there if anyone is interested. Thanks, Giustis, our kiddo's butt will now be covered from 15-30lbs. :)

Please continue to pray for us and our healthy pregnancy/delivery. We are loving the cooler weather and I think God knew that I needed to feel the fall friskiness... it is my favorite, you can't help but be in a good mood. If you haven't heard from us before then, October 7th at 6:30am is when we "report" to Parkwest to evict the little guy from his cozy little hiding spot. If you think about it, say a little prayer before you go to bed on the 6th... no 12lb babies.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

As If Waiting for Baby Wasn't Exciting Enough...

We moved! Yep, that's right... we have made the move down the hill to the Program Director house here at camp. Don't worry, our address is the same, so you can continue to send the baby gifts here. :) There are still a few "organizational pieces" we would like to add to our laundry room and bedroom to help store those random things you don't know what to do with, but we are mostly settled in. We decided that it would be easier to make the move sans baby than try to wait until we have a newborn... GOOD IDEA. Other than the constant downpour that fell on our heads, I essentially unpacked boxes as Chris and friends brought them down. This house is much smaller (PTL) and easier to keep clean and much more our speed. We are thankful to be here and for what our future holds here at camp.

I don't have pictures of the WHOLE house, but the nursery is the first room we made sure to get settled, so here is a glimpse. Remember, we know there are "touches of love" that this house will need over time, but we are running on low as far as time goes these days.

In other news, we are one week from Noah's due date and still pregnant. Very pregnant. At the last Dr's appt. on Tuesday she measured me at a "tight 2" and his head still pretty high up, but still it could be any time now. But, because we are slowly/not-so-slowly approaching D-Day, we decided to go ahead and schedule an induction if little dude decides he is just having way too much fun to come join the world. The Dr. gave us the option of waiting another week to see if he would cooperate, but she didn't want me going past 41 weeks. We chose to hold out another week to give me (and him) the best possible scenario for completing a natural birth. So, if he doesn't join the party by then, he will be peer-pressured into this world on October 7th at 6:30am. And being the morning person that I am NOT, I have already figured that I might as well not sleep the night before because we will have to leave the house by 5:30am to get there on time... which means up by 4:30am to shower, wake up, love the doggy, etc. If he knows what's good for him...

And Dan, you will win the privelage of a swift kick to the rear when I see you next if your date is correct. Mama don't wanna wait no more...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Losing Steam...

Alright... I am officially done being pregnant. Sort of. I guess really, officially, I'm not done until the little booger makes his arrival, but it would NOT hurt my feelings if that's today, or yesterday even. Our Dr's appt. went well, but no REAL progress. She says I am a little more thinned out than last time but still sitting at "one and a wiggle"... but then she also says that it could happen any time now. Geesh.

I am victim to sporadic bursts of energy followed by not-so-bursts of lethargy. I get real fired up to do something and then within 10 minutes, if I haven't started whatever the task, I hate the thought of doing it. I am sure I'm about to drive Chris absolutely insane.

We finished our birthing classes last week and pre-registered at the hospital yesterday. I am certainly glad we got all of that out of the way, I signed my name at least 100 times. We also were reassured by the Registration RN that the team of nurses would know from my chart that we are aiming for a natural childbirth, hence, they won't be shoving drugs in my face. We have heard mixed reviews about the nurses' support of all natural, but hearing it from a nurse herself who has worked there for 9+ years made us a little more comfortable. They have a "rule" that they won't take your answer or request DURING a contraction, they will wait and ask you if you meant what you said after the pain is over. Makes sense.

So yes, I am ready. If anyone is praying that he WAITS for a certain date, please stop. I have already threatened to break my sister's legs, with love of course, for praying that I wait until after she gets back from vacation. All I have to say to that is I have been pregnant since January, you all have had a chance to plan ahead. :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"One and a Wiggle, Almost Two"

I am not sure if it's a legit medical term, but Doc says that I am at "one and a wiggle, almost two", which for those keeping up, is progress from five days ago! Hey, every little bit counts. I have been having contractions on and off for the past week as well. They aren't strong yet, but sometimes they are seven minutes apart and then up to thirty minutes apart, and then they go away entirely. That's slightly frustrating, but I know it's just my body gearing up to do it's thing... Dr. C also said that because of my experience with cramping and such, I may not even be in pain or discomfort until I am at 6 or 7cm, but I will know by the consistency and duration when it's time to go to L&D. Our next appt. is Monday... pray for more progress! In the meantime, a picture for your entertainment of my expedition of birth:

We also had our John Knox Baby Shower yesterday which was amazing and fun. Barbara made an adorable cake. Rachel planned baby games (can't say baby, finish the nursery rhymes, etc.) for our entertainment. Bri had amazing trivia ($242,000 to raise a kid from birth-18... yikes!) that terrified and excited us all at the same time. Julie put together quite the spread of yummy-ness. Eddie provided comic relief and broke a filling. Matt and Allison came over for the morning and shared in the baby fun. EE Staff also came by to show their love and share in the celebration.
And of course, we were once again completely blessed by the generosity of our family and friends in helping us to prepare for Noah's first moments of life. We love the fact that folks are supporting us in our effort to welcome our little guy into the world as naturally and organically as we see fit for our lifestyle and means. I can't wait for him to smell like Burt's Bee's soaps and to put a little cloth diaper on his booty... and the handmade gifts have a special place in my heart as well. There's nothing like it... It's amazing, too, that we haven't receieve anything in excess or that's unnecessary. All that we've been given will be put to great use and won't have time to collect dust in the nursery...

Yummy Carrot Cake by Barbara
                           My brother (Uncle Matts RULE!)                         
Ms. Allison
Christopher and me, 36.5 Weeks

Thursday, September 3, 2009

One Down, Nine to Go...

Voicemail from Heather this morning went a little something like this: "Hello... just calling to let you know that I am headed to Pensacola so you can't have the baby this weekend. You are on hold until I get back Monday..."


Today's appointment discovered that I am 1 cm dilated (for those who aren't in the know, 10cm is the goal). Woo hoo! Now, I could stay like this for the next 4 weeks or could continue to progress, who knows? Dr. Cottam said his head is still a bit high but the more he drops the more progress will be made. Hence my new motto: Lunge, squat, birthing ball, walk, repeat. She will check again at our next appointment on Tuesday. :) Here we go folks...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'll Never Eat Corn on the Cob Again...

Before I get into the details, I will start by saying Grits is home and feeling MUCH better than she was two days ago... but not before much drama and a couple of rather emotionally draining days.

Sunday night Chris and I got home from hanging out with Matt in Etowah to find two rather foul deposits of diarrhea upstairs. No biggie, Grits has gotten into trash before that's made her sick to her stomach, and to her defense she had been in the house for about 11 hours without going out. We didn't think too much about it and got ready for bed...and to paint a picture, Grits has her bed at the foot of our bed, but normally she sleeps under our bed for the first hour or so, moves to her bed for most of the night, then jumps up on the end of our bed usually just before sunrise. Well, this night she was pacing around the room, occasionally whining, huffing, or moaning, trying to get our attention. She does this from time to time, but she was particularly persistent so Chris and I took turns getting up and letting her out four or five times. Now, we live at camp and she thinks the whole thing is her backyard, so each time she would kind of wander around, at times where we would have to go look for her with a headlamp. One time I found her behind the house eating grass like a little moo cow and she would NOT come inside. It wasn't a defiant "I am not listening to you" refusal, she just didn't want to come back inside. When we would finally coax her back in, she went in the bathroom and slept on the tile floor. This went on all night, every few hours...

So, around 8am Chris and I awoke to the horrendous sound of massive amounts of vomit being released on our bedroom floor (thank God, seriously, for hardwood floors). We both sprung up, Chris took Grits outside in case she was going to continue to be sick, I buried my head in my pillow in disbelief and exhaustion after a long night. They came back in, Chris began to clean up the mess, Grits stayed downstairs... where she continued to be sick in the kitchen. I went down to tend to her, letting her out on the back porch for some fresh air and hopefully some water that would relieve her stomach. She just got worse. She continued to be sick (sparing you the details), couldn't hold down even water, and quickly becoming withdrawn from me. After she would "get sick" she would have drool and foam on her mouth... at this sight I knew in my gut something was really wrong. I went to the kitchen to get a wet towel to clean her up and I LOST it. Absolutely fell apart. Chris came running downstairs, thinking I was now throwing up or that Grits has passed out, unresponsive, or something along those lines.

While I was losing it downstairs, Chris discovered (after bravely dissecting the specimen) not only a LOT of grass, but 2 pieces of corn on the cob (one about half, and the other about a quarter) and some waxy paper used to package meat. This was not good. We decided that we would try to keep getting her to drink water and watch her the next couple of hours before we took her into the vet, but I went ahead and called Heather to get the number to the clinic in Knoxville where she and Mike have vet school friends, just in case.

I decided I would head back upstairs and try to nap for a bit, which I did for about an hour when Chris woke me up. He said we needed to go ahead and take her, she wasn't getting better and she was becoming more lethargic as time passed. So I quickly showered, trying to wake myself up, and we loaded up the car and headed into town. It was going to take about an hour to get to the clinic so I made all the calls on the way... it was about 12:30 and I had just set our appt. with Tracy for 3:30 when Grits "got sick" all over the back of the car. We stopped at the Mom and Pop store about 10 min from the house and cleaned out the car, now contemplating if we could wait until 3:30 to take her in. We continued on, stopped for lunch, found the clinic, and shortly after decided that we couldn't wait another hour and a half, she clearly wasn't getting better and was obviously dehydrated at the least.

So we took her in to the Central Vet Hospital (highly recommend it for Knoxville locals) where they worked us in immediately. At this point, Chris is having to carry Grits in and out of the car, really having to make her walk on her own. I am still on the verge of meltdown when they call us back... I take one step into the exam room and walk right out, bursting into tears in the waiting room. I am sure the folks in the lobby were a little nervous to see the very pregnant lady sobbing in the waiting area...and it seems the first Dr. who looked at her said "Yeah, that's probably best..." when I walked out. :) They examined her, I gathered myself, went in and heard that she is in shock, her gums are cold, and she's very dehydrated. They took her downstairs immediately, hooked her up to IV fluids to try and get her stable enough for further exams and x-rays, then Tracy would be able to look at her.

They carried her back up and we followed her into Tracy's exam room. There he told us he was fairly certain he could feel the "obstruction" in her intestines, but wanted to see x-rays to make sure. If in fact she had corn cob in her intestines, she would have to have surgery to remove it. After a little while of waiting, we went back to see the pictures, and sure enough, plain as day, there was a corn cob sitting in her little intestines. Her stomach, which is supposed to be about the size of your fist, was swollen up to about the size of a large pancake. She was headed to the operating room, we were headed home, and Tracy would take her to stay at the Emergency clinic overnight where they would tend to her and watch her until morning. I was very upset, but very confident that Tracy would take good care of her and that she was in the best hands this side of the NC border. :)

So we are almost home and get a call from Heather telling us that she had just gotten off the phone with Andrea, Tracy's wife, who is also a vet. She came over to the clinic to ultrasound Grits' tummy, but before she could get there Grits took matters into her own hands and decided to pass the corn cob out on her own. So Andrea went ahead and ultrasounded her to see what she could see, and was pretty certain, along with Tracy, that she no longer had an obstruction. Now, leave it to my dog to say "Heck no, you aren't cutting me open. I will get this thing out right NOW..."

No surgery, two nights at the clinic, lots of IV rehydration, potential need for blood transfusion (because the corn cob wasn't too nice coming out on its own), lots of TLC from the Drs. and staff at the clinic, a shaved tummy and front legs, four prescriptions, a basketcase owner, and a corn cob later and she is now back home with us resting and recuperating.

I think I was given just a taste of motherhood during this adventure and ya'll better start praying now for Noah's emotional mama. Chris will have to be holding my hand and his every time we go to the pediatrician. I will conveniently blame this emotional breakdown on the pregnancy hormones...

A big thanks to Dr. Tracy Matthews and his crew at Central Vetrinarian Hospital for the support and comfort. Apparently, in Grits' fashion, she quickly stole the heart of all the staff who worked with her. We are very thankful for them all and especially for the Drs. Matthews who went above and beyond... apparently this could have been really intense and could have turned out not so good, but they never let on.

Thanks, family & friends, for praying for our Grits. You all know how much we love her and how much she is part of our family... though I never thought I would be someone to say that, they make their way into your heart and you just can't help it.

Oh yeah... we now have two big galvanized trash cans with serious lids...so hopefully there will be no more corn cob incidents in our future.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Our Bags are Packed and We're Ready to Go... Maybe

Once we got the car seat installed the last thing to check off the "prepare ahead" list was to pack our bags and load them in the car. We figured it would be smartest to just keep them in the car from now on considering we live so far out, it would be a trek back to the house to retrieve bags if we happened to be in town. Now, different resources will give you a list to go by for what to bring, but we kind of just winged it. I think we have all the important things, but in this day and age Target is only so far away that if we REALLY forgot something important it wouldn't be that big of a deal. I think the only thing that I still need to pick up is a nursing gown/robe for the hospital stay and around the house.

I also updated our Cloth Diaper registry at Cutie Tooties if anyone is interested in checking that out. As I've said before, I am not so concerned with colors of items, just no pink or purple, that might be awkward. We are really committed to doing this cloth diapering thing and are pretty excited to give it a go.

I have been subtly encouraged recently by the "band of mothers" who have offered advice, peace, love, and understanding of what Chris and I are about to experience. Not that the last 35 weeks hasn't been an experience, but we realize our world is about to change drastically. It feels like there is some secret society of young parents who want to help others however they can, even in simple ways. I have had a friend offer to share her recent natural birth experience and encouragement, a friend from high school thought of us when she found cloth diapers in her stash of baby items, our CJK family is hosting a shower to celebrate our little guy, and of course the ongoing love and support from our families. It's comforting to know that we are not alone in this adventure, though sometimes it feels like we are lightyears away in knowledge and our comfort zone. Thanks for standing behind us and letting us feel your warmth...

My dreams lately have been all sorts of random... mostly involving birthing scenarios. I did this about 3 months prior to our wedding as well, except in those it was crazy exes (not mine) sabbotaging our day, or marrying a stand-in because the real bride/groom couldn't be found. Now, I think I have given birth in my sleep a few times, in the woods a couple, and have had frequent dreams of having Noah and then going right back to Second Nature to work, carrying him in my pack like it's normal. If only labor can be so easy that I could do it in my sleep... I am not a dream decoder but I would be willing to say they must mean something. Not to mention, they disrupt my sleep, usually when I wake up laughing...

This has turned out way longer than I intended, but lastly, I picked up "Baby Wise" as recommended by my sisters and am really liking it. I underline and highlight and really feel like there is a lot of truth to the words on the pages. Only time will tell, but I think having an understanding and firm foundation of how to find the best balance for our family will be key. We shall see...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

34.5 Weeks: Place Your Bets

Alright... so here is the chance for everyone to "place your bet" of when you think Baby Ford will greet this crazy world. You can comment, email, or Facebook message your guesses to me or Chris and we will add it to the list to the right of this page. We are still playing with the calendar part, but we plan to highlight picked dates as well as list them below with who picked what. Here are the facts that may help you with your pick:
- First Due Date: 09/24/09
- Current Due Date: 10/01/09
- My measurements and his heart rate have been right on the duration of pregnancy
- I have been experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions for about 3 weeks.
- It's not confirmed yet, but I think he has "dropped", considering the newfound space between my belly and my boobs.
- Last Dr. appt. (08/11) his head was down.
- I feel great and am exercising (birthing ball, walking, riding bikes, etc.) but am quite tired at the end of the day.

I think that's about all the info that I have that may help you decide. I don't know what the "prize" will be for whoever is right/comes the closest, but we thought it would be fun. If you want to throw in guesses of time, size, weight, etc. that would be fun as well. (Please, Aunt Meg, do not wish a 12lb baby on me!)

Send us your guesses here or @ elizabethbford@gmail.com or christopherteele@hotmail.com

Thanks for playing!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Car Seat: Check

Our XTerra has now officially been turned into the Ford Family Baby Mobile. Chris lovingly cleaned out the car after a summer of camp driving (ick!) and installed the seat yesterday. We are going to get Eddie (camp's maintenance man/Volunteer Rescue Squad of Roane County Captain/engagement ring hero, etc.) to check and make sure that it's in properly, but we think it'll hold the kid safely. Our goal was to have it in by the end of August...now just to pack hospital bags and find a pediatrician.

Thanks, Chapman family, for the amazing deal on the carseat/stroller/baby backpack... we can't wait to fill them up!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bathing Suit Bliss

I swore I would NOT wear a maternity bathing suit. I lost. When the nephews come to play, you just can't say no... In fact, I have said "no" to anything flowy that ties around the back like a smock because I am proud of this little dude hanging out in my belly and I am not afraid to show it. There, I said it. But because this is the only picture that's been taken of me in a while (at 33.5 weeks) I thought I would share the growth, along with a few other photos from the boys' visit.

And for another new hobby of Chris' that I can't participate in until next year:

A boy and his dog, best friends:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jolly Green Baby

We have decided to embark on the cloth diapering adventure for our wallet's sake and for the love of the earth. Gretchen Smeltzer (friend thru my brother) graciously passed down a whole mess of cloth diapers and covers to us a few months back and the idea just expanded from there. I started researching all of the different ways we could go about taking on this challenge and finally have wrapped my head around it. We will use Chinese prefolds, Thirsties covers, snappies instead of clothespins, handmade flannel wipes, and Northern Essence wipe solution... I went to Cutie Tooties here in Knoxville the other day and purchased a few things to get us started. The owner was there and was extremely helpful, and should be, as she has cloth diapered toddler triplets! I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of laundry that family has done! I am going to set up a registry there, so if anyone is looking for gift ideas, this would be amazing!

A few fun facts about cloth diapering and why it's a great choice:
- On average, Americans throw away enough diapers per year to fill a football stadium three miles high (SICK!).
- It takes 500 years for one disposable diaper to break down in a landfill.
- From birth to potty trained at 2nd birthday, the average savings for using cloth diapers is approximately $1500. And if you use reusable wipes, add another $800 onto that.
- Once you collect the supplies for one baby, you can use them (or pass them on) to other children to use as well.

I'm convinced. Chris and I are going to need some practice, but we figure that we have to change his diaper anyway, might as well save cash and the planet while we are at it. Being good stewards of what God has given us serves more than just our needs... maybe it will teach others that they can do the same, even if it seems a small gesture.

In other recent happenings, I made a mobile of sorts to hang above Noah's crib. Though we weren't really going for a "Noah's Ark" theme, his room and bedding (thanks to the Giusti fam) has been decorated with animals...so I found these felt photo frame projects on super sale at Wal-Mart and decided to make a little mobile. Those are pictures of Chris and me throughout the past few years... the original idea was to use our baby pictures, but I got impatient and used current pictures of us together. I am no crafting pro, but I am pretty proud of the way it came out.

We started our birthing classes last night... let me just say that the videos we watched last night should be shown in every sex-ed class across America. Wow. One down, four to go... we are hoping we make it thru all five weeks. The biggest lesson I learned is that gravity works in your favor, so if being upright more often will kick this delivery into gear, I won't be sitting/laying very much in the next 7 weeks.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Best One Yet...

For anyone who has been pregnant or spent a lot of time with someone who is, you know that you get some pretty interesting comments and looks. Most of my comments so far have leaned more to the normal/acceptable, don't make you feel like crap, run-of-the-mill preggo comments. But today, the conversation and interaction I had with a 7 yr old day camper (who we will call "A") tops all others. To appreciate the hilarity I need to paint you a little picture of her: sweet southern child, a little on the pleasantly plump side, wearing a tankini that I notice she has the bottoms on backward due to the tag sticking out the front, which leads to a little plumber action in the back...extremely friendly and very precious.

It went a little something like this:

A: (with a very think southern accent) You got any kids?
Me: I am going to have my first in October!
A: You excited? ( as she pats my belly)
Me: I am! I am really excited!
A: You know if it's a girl or a boy?
Me: It's a boy.
A: (with a crumpled up face) Ew yuck! Boys are disgusting...
Me: (awkward chuckle) Oh yeah?
A: Yeah... I wanted you to say a girl.
Me: Nope, his name is Noah Matthew.
A: What if he just hauls off and kicks you in the stomach?
Me: Well, sometimes he does. I feel him move a lot...
A: Hmm... let me see your belly... (as she lifts up my shirt and pokes my belly button; I am defenseless b/c I have scissors in one hand and yarn in the other)...WHAT is that?!
Me: (laughing, slightly embarrassed) I don't know! What do you think it is?
A: I think it's his nose!!! (poking my belly button that has been sticking out since about wk 14)
Me: Yep, that must be his nose sticking out...

It may not seem as amazing as it was, but it made my day. That's all the really matters...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Baby Ford's First Shower

Aunt Krystal and her mama, Diana, put together a little Baby Shower Lunch at the Corner Kitchen in Asheville. I am thankful for the small group of family and friends who were able to gather to celebrate our soon-to-be little addition to the family. We even had several friends/family who were unable to make the shower, but sent wonderful little gifts for the baby. We are starting to feel the reality setting in that he will be here in about 2 months! Yikes... Now it's just time to make the final lists of what we still need to bring him home. It's not much, but after packing the hospital bag last night we have realized a few key items missing from our stock: diapers for one (well, the little ones).
Anyway, I like to put pictures of what's going on with us up, but considering most people probably aren't interested in us figuring out the breast pump, trying to get the car seat to fit in the stroller, or packing hospital bags, here are a few from the shower:

Cute little cupcakes with blue booties and ducks

Aunt Heather's couture burp cloth

The Papa's creation

Kristi, Krystal, and Nancy's designs

My expression, I believe, is in response to how tiny the socks and mitts are...

Tying on prayer bracelets, worn until Baby Ford is here

Updated belly-growth photo, 30 weeks

Thanks again to everyone who came or sent their love. We appreciate your thoughtfulness.