Sunday, July 29, 2018

Master Bathroom: From Sailboats to Spa

A little over a year and a half ago we noticed some water damage making its mark through the wallpaper above our master bathroom shower. Ben decided to investigate. We wanted to remove the wallpaper anyway. But his discovery required removing the entirety of the shower ceiling as well as the rest of the ceiling leading up to the 12-foot peak to find the source of the water. Unfortunately, we had a hole in our roof--a hole the roofers said would cost about half as much to fix as a whole new roof would cost. So we got one of those. Then we ever so slowly worked on remodeling our unusable master bath.
Did we mention we found old termite damage behind the shower walls? Or that the a/c and heater broke earlier that year and were then struck by lightning a few months later? It was a good year for homeownership (sarcasm). Regardless, it's also one of the reasons why the project took longer than most of our others. Others included a) Ben is working towards his masters, b) I had a third baby, and c) it was a HUGE renovation that required we gut everything because it was all ugly and unsalvageable. The wallpaper was so glued to the walls in most spots that despite professional-grade steamers and chemical concoctions I felt uneasy about in my home, it would take whole pieces of drywall off with it. For us, it was easier to redo the drywall. The only parts we didn't do ourselves were the cabinets and their installation, and my wonderful dad laid the shower tile. The rest of the story I think can be told best in before and after pictures.

New roof inspired some major pruning and replanting.

Before: Sailboat wallpaper, sea shell sinks, and missing cabinet doors.

The door fell off days before we noticed the leak. I guess it was time.

Beginning the demo.

It was messy business.

Already looks better. 

After! I love it.

We switched the tub and shower to different sides. This gave us a very large shower and a perfect place for the tub.

So there it is. A year and a half of our life demoing, reconstructing, patching, mudding, sanding, priming, painting, cutting trim, nailing, measuring, painting trim, grouting, caulking, installing, and touching up complete! 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Juliette Regina

My oldest two daughters were born between 37 and 38 weeks. So when week 38 showed up and baby girl had moved to a posterior position (her spine to mine), I was feeling out of sorts. My mom had always said I was "sunny side up" and that's probably the reason my mom had a c-section after an extremely long labor. That night, Temperance (my 2-year old) woke up at 2 am and I spent about an hour crying and praying while I tried to get her to sleep again. I was tired, in pain, and now worried I wouldn’t get my very desired VBAC (Temperance was breech and required a c-section). I kept telling God that I just didn’t want to sacrifice that much. It felt selfish, but it’s where I was. 
The next day my girls were arguing in the car so I turned on a CD. The song was something about “you can have it ALL Lord. Every part of me.” I felt like that was the nudge toward peace about whatever outcome I needed. By the end of the day, I didn’t care how she came out, only that she did soon. She was causing so much sharp pain that I was immobilized on my hands and knees while my children just watched. I made it to a sitting position, but my goodness, I hurt! 
February 22 I went to bed so frustrated because I wasn't feeling anything contraction-wise, not even my usual Braxton Hicks. Well, about 1.5 hours later at 12:15 am, I woke up feeling like maybe I had a contraction. Didn’t believe it and thought maybe I dreamed it. Then another came about 10 minutes later. I prayed this was the real deal until another came 7 minutes later and really hurt. Got cold feet about labor! I got up to use the bathroom and had two more. Laid back down and had a few more. Shook Ben, my husband, awake and told him I was in labor. He said “oh good” and fell back to sleep! He has no memory of that!
Another two contractions came, and I’m starting to panic. They were intense and close. I shake him again and was like, “You need to finish packing the bag now!” That got him going. He called my mom to come over and that was about 12:50. I had a few more contractions, and at the end of one I told my mom I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the hospital. They both started freaking out. I was too because contractions were about every 3 minutes and others were right on top of each other. Ben flew to the hospital. We got there about 1:20. I was a 5 cm and 90% effaced. “You’ll probably stay,” they said. 
Ben said, "Smile fast!" while I was between a contraction haha!
I was already so tired at this point, so I decided to try the epidural, especially since she was still posterior, and I thought I had a long morning ahead of me. I’ve had a drug-free vaginal birth and a c-section. Why not try a third option? But it takes a LONG freaking time for them to get that epidural to you! I was pretty much screaming by 3 am when he came to administer it. The contractions were so intense. But I still assumed it could take a while since she was sunny side up. Finally, he gets it in at 3:15 ish. Contractions still hurt! I was hoping for that instant relief (which he tells me after doesn’t happen) except now I was dealing with contractions on my back and in my back. 
The on-call doctor came in at 3:25 and says they don’t like baby’s heart rate. They flip me twice and then she says, “we need to get the baby out now!” I push once, and the doctor yells at me to look at her. “Hear that sound?” she asks me. Honestly, I really had no idea what was good or bad at the moment. I was so tired I could barely open my eyes. But she continued saying, “That heart rate is bad. She needs to come out now or we have to try something else.” I knew that meant c-section. So I pushed as best as I could feeling off from the epidural still trying to take effect. I could feel the pressure, but I also couldn’t really believe it was happening. I was SO out of it. Then I heard her ask for a vacuum. I started panicking. But another push later and Ben said he could see her head. Two more pushes and she was out. 
I’ve never seen such a white baby. Not only was she really, really coated in that vernix, but she had no color. Every nurse that had been a flurry of motion went totally still. Doctor kept telling baby to breath. I couldn’t see her face, and I was holding my breath. Longest moments of my life as the doctor rubbed and talked to her. Finally, Ben says he saw her fingers move and she lets out a cry. Everyone starts moving again. The cord was very short apparently, but she came out the way I had hoped! I was so thankful for my VBAC even if I was overwhelmed by the 3-hour labor. It may have been fast, but it felt like more work than my 9-hour one with Cordelia.
Everyone kept saying how much happier I looked after having given birth. I feel like that would be an obvious outcome, but I did feel amazing. I wasn't pregnant and in pain anymore, the anxiety of how labor and delivery would go was behind me, and Juliette Regina (meaning young queen) was here in my arms! 7 lbs 5 oz after 3 hours and 15 mins of labor! It was the longest I'd been pregnant at 38 weeks 1 day, my shortest labor, and my heaviest baby. I guess a good plus to the epidural is that they have to let you stay in the same spot for at least 2 hours after it is administered, so I got about 1.5 hours of time with her before they did anything for vitals and such. Can’t believe she is here. Her two older sisters adore her, and Juliette is currently a pro at sleeping through their craziness! 
Under the warmer, which she loved. She was a bit cold for a while after birth.
Hi, baby!

1-day old <3
Very happy big sisters. 

Going home!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Temperance Rose

With this being our rainbow baby, I undeniably had major fears and anxieties during this pregnancy, but there were two that stood out because they were entirely unlikely and unrelated to prior issues: breech baby and cord issues. I’m not sure why I had anxieties over these situations, but I did.
Last bump picture.

I guess my first clue should have been her movement. All of her strongest movements were very low. So strong that it would often immobilize me with sudden pain. And no one else really felt her kick. At my 36-week appointment we found out that was because she was breech (head up position). About 3% of babies are breech by 37 weeks, and after several chiropractor visits and some unique yoga poses, she was still breech the Monday (37 weeks pregnant) we decided to do the ECV, which is a manipulation from the outside to get baby to turn head down. Going into the procedure, I had my doubts that she would turn. Apparently there are common underlying issues for most breech mamas, such as being a first time mom, being an avid runner, having been in an accident, having a unique shaped uterus, or having low amniotic fluid/big baby. I didn’t fit into any of those, so I felt like maybe there was a reason she was breech we couldn’t see. We tried the ECV anyway because I desperately wanted to avoid a c-section. My doctor was great. She tried, but she wasn’t going to force her. We got baby to lay transverse (sideways across my abdomen), but no farther. Within minutes of stopping, her head was right back under my right rib cage.

Little did I know I'd be back in 3 days to actually have the baby!

I may have had a total meltdown or two over the impending c-section. I was really struggling with the concept for a very long list of reasons, but mostly it boiled down to I didn’t want to. I went so far as to inquire with a doctor 5.5 hours from me who delivers breech babies vaginally. I was apparently the perfect candidate as I had delivered vaginally before, baby was a frank breech (feet up by her head though she would swing them down occasionally to really get my attention), and we were both healthy. I guess God had other plans because before I ever got any further in that process, labor started.

I had the “fake” Braxton Hicks contractions for months. Months. By the time of my ECV, the monitor was picking them up every 8 minutes. That was my normal. It was kind of funny because when I was leaving the hospital Monday after the ECV, the nurse said to come back if I was having contractions. Uummm, you’ll have to be more specific. So she added, or if they are painful. Again, more specific. If they continue longer than an hour. You could just admit me now. So we agreed on every 2-3 minutes, and I couldn’t complete full sentences through them.

Wednesday night I had more Braxton Hicks, but some were stronger than others around 11pm. We went to bed at midnight, and suddenly I felt like I should time them. Every 4 minutes and they were 1.5 minutes long. After a half hour I woke up Ben. He got up, and I tried to stop the contractions in a warm bath. We were supposed to be scheduling my c-section in the morning! We had decided February 15 was a good day. Apparently not because we were out the door and at the hospital by 2am. The contractions were strong and consistent, plus I really didn’t want to accidentally deliver a breech baby in the car! I think I’ll always wish I had spent just another moment longer saying goodnight to my oldest that night.

I had three contractions from the hospital doors to the exam room, and they were getting stronger. When they checked, I was 4cm and 90% effaced. Still breech. My doctor wouldn’t be able to perform the c-section as they were worried there wasn’t any time to wait for her, so the on-call doctor was notified.

I was pretty blown away by how fast it all went after that. I signed a whole bunch of papers, Ben got dressed in scrubs, and I was taken to the OR. There were lots of people and movement, but everyone was super kind. They kept putting warm blankets on me (OR room was cold!) and asking me questions about the baby and such. The spinal was so fast, and the surgery began before I even had time to fully comprehend that my baby was going to be born any minute.

Before, during, and after the surgery, I shook hard. Apparently that is normal, and it’s my normal in intense situations. I’m a shaker, but man did I shake hard. Ben being there helped tremendously. He couldn’t really talk me through things this time, but he kept me calm. There was no pain, but a lot of pulling and pushing sensations. I remember my doctor saying it typically only took 3 minutes from the start to get the baby out. I looked at the clock and saw it had been longer. I also noticed the time. 3:33 am on February 4. First, I guessed February 3rd or 4th as the day she would be born. I guessed my first daughter’s birthday too. (Sorry that trick only works with my own.) And because I had guessed it, I was once again positive it would not be the day. Also this was almost a year to date when we experienced our first miscarriage. What a beautiful rainbow He made from that storm! Third, my nephew had been born at 3:36 am three days earlier. If you know our back story, my sister and I like to do everything the same, but opposite. We were due about a week apart and joked we’d give birth the same day; apparently it would be the same time and by very different means. At 3:37 my husband said, “There she is!” Temperance Rose was lifted over the curtain for me to see. I loved hearing her cry. So much relief. Tears immediately.
Temperance Rose
She was swiftly taken to another spot. I was told I’d get to keep eyes on her, but they took her out of my line of sight for a minute, and Ben followed at my urging. I didn’t think much of it until a few hours later when Ben informed me that she had the cord wrapped around her neck twice. They didn’t want me to see that. Apparently a vaginal delivery for a breech baby is dangerous because the head can get stuck inside the mother. This is also a possibility during a c-section. And it happened, which is why it took longer than 3 minutes. The cord and her head were very wedged inside. A vaginal birth would probably not have had a good outcome. And I still find it pretty crazy that two things I had been unsettled about came true. It's amazing how we can know our bodies.

So thankful they let me hold her while finishing the surgery!

Otherwise, Temperance Rose was perfect. Even scored a 9 on Apgar. I did hear a nurse mention it was a very thin umbilical cord, so going to ask the doctor about that. They let me hold her skin to skin in the room as they finished the surgery, which also went by quickly. It took several hours for the spinal to wear off, but soon after, I was up and about. So thankful for one nurse in particular who seemed to really care about how I recovered. She was called in on my last day there and requested me, which I was so thankful for. She had a daughter the same age as myself and enjoyed playing grandma to Cordie.

I feel kind of silly now lamenting that Temperance might not have a birth story like Cordelia, but that is very obviously not the case. Though a c-section was not what I had pictured, I’m thankful for it. I do request prayers though as I recover and hopefully avoid my oldest (weird to say!) daughter’s coughing cold! Never a dull moment!

Kinda loved my extra day at the hospital to soak in this baby.

Big sister was SUPER excited.

Cordie has wanted to do two things since learning she'd be a big sister: sing to baby and rock baby. Check. Check.

Best daddy.

Complete heart!

She loves her small hands and feet.

Look who's a big kid now (but always my baby)!