Thursday, December 16

G-man is Here!!

Gabriel is here! Well.. he's been here for almost 3 weeks but this is the first I'm able to blog about it after a long recovery from being awake almost a week straight :)

After a long 76 hour labor starting on Thanksgiving, he made his appearance at 4:30 AM on Sunday, November 28 missing his Grandma Steffen's birthday by a mere 4 1/2 hours!

I've written before about using hypnobabies for the past few months and I am SO glad that I did. Although the labor and delivery was not even near pain free, having the coping skills learned and the tracks playing constantly helped me to have a natural birth despite several days of no sleep and intense back labor. Not gonna lie.. on a scale of 1 to 10 it was a 10 the ENTIRE time, so it really is a testament to hypnobabies that I wasn't admitted into the hospital earlier. (Actually, I tried on Friday night, but the midwife sent me home with an Ambien to sleep it off.. didn't help AT ALL) If so, I would have definitely been a prime candidate for interventions leading to a C-section. Most everyone who attended my birth said that was the case since his head was posterior and sideways up until the very last few hours. And after it droning on for days I totally would have taken them up on every intervention offered.

The drama didn't stop with the labor and delivery. Right after Gabriel was born, we spent about an hour in the labor and delivery room bonding as a family of three before Lee headed to the nursery with him for an exam. The three of us left the L & D room and the nurse wheeled me to a recovery room while Lee headed on. About 3o minutes later, Lee returned to the room and told me that they had to keep Gabriel in the nursery for observation because of rapid breathing and fluid in his lungs. We were both running on NO sleep for four days and had no idea what was going on. We headed to the nursery to be with our little man and try to figure out the next course of action.

The staff notified us that the pediatrician we chose was contacted and wasn't going to come to the hospital. She was going to leave all treatment up to the residents at Vandy. I was IRATE that she would ditch us like that and tried really hard not to kick her in the shins when she finally did show up for a "courtesy visit" and to tell us she was going to recommend admitting Gabriel into the NICU for antibiotic treatment and further observation. Luckily, she turned over all treatment to the doctors and residents at Vandy who ended up being FABULOUS! They overrode the pediatricians decision and instead monitored him in the nursery and did all kinds of testing and antibiotic treatments there. After one full day apart from him in the little warmer hooked up to monitors, they decided his vitals had steadied enough for him to room in with us! They still had him under close observation with nurses coming in our room to monitor his respiratory rate, etc every 2 hours around the clock and they took him quite a few times to keep running antibiotics through his IV.

Poor guy, in his first few hours of life he had gone through more testing and IV antibiotic treatments than I've had in the past 10 years. They drew five vials of blood (using a razor on his heel) each vial the size of my pinky. And his vein even burst during one of the treatments and he had to have another IV inserted to finish up. It was definitely one of the most stressful times I can remember and all I wanted to do was have my baby with me.. not in some incubator down the hall. But everything turned out fine, and after 3 days in the hospital, he was released and we could FINALLY go home!

I definitely learned that no matter how much you prepare, plan and visualize everything going perfectly that things happen and stuff hits the fan. Honestly, I was traumatized by the whole birth and hospital experience, but am really blessed that we had such great staff taking care of all of us.

All that matters now is that Gabriel is here, he is healthy and as sweet as pie :)

Monday, November 22

Four Years Ago...

Four years ago today, my baby-daddy proposed on a perfect autumn afternoon :) It was actually a day a lot like today.. unseasonably warm and sunny with a perfect breeze in the air.

Lee had been traveling the world for the better part of a year (we had already been apart for almost a year and a half) and we hadn't seen each other in person since the previous April. I was back in the states missing him like crazy and looking forward to my trip to London over Christmas to visit him. Little did I know that he had something else up his sleeve!

We had talked late the night before on Skype and I woke up super excited because he told me to be expecting a special surprise arriving in the morning! Sure enough, there was a box on the front porch that had a DVD, postcard and special note claiming November 22 as "Happy Traci Day!"

I watched the DVD of Lee in Tokyo giving me the first of many clues on a scavenger hunt! He always planned the BEST surprises, so I was super excited!

Later, he called to make sure that the box had arrived (all the while pretending to still be in South Africa where I thought he was at the time). And then I was on my way to the first clue. Each clue led to a place where Lee and I had either had a special date, or related to a special memory together and included a small gift from some place around the world.

The final clue was the best of all, as it led to my favorite little chapel on William Jewell College campus. When I walked in the aisle was lined with candles and filled with rose petals and one of our songs began playing on a sound system. One dozen perfect red roses and a small note sat on a podium illuminated by spotlights. As I walked down the aisle to the flowers and note, I assumed that the surprise was over.

But there was a knock at the side door, and I approached, expecting another friend with a gift. I never thought it would be Lee! After all, he just called from South Africa this morning! I opened the door, and there he was dressed in a suit with a huge smile! I dropped everything and screamed! He got down on one knee and said he couldn't stay away one second longer. He was home to stay and asked me if I'd marry him!

The story he told me about his journey home was unbelievable. He traveled across the globe in a week sleeping in airports in Tokyo, Helsinki, Russia (who deported him BACK to Helsinki!), Paris, London, Chicago and on to Champaign, Illinois. Staying up ALL night the night before, he prepared each clue and gift for the scavenger hunt. The next morning, he and his mom drove seven hours to Missouri. He went to each business, met with managers and planted clues. The next day, after calling "from Africa", he went to the chapel. Setting the song on repeat for over an hour, he hid in the small side room until I arrived! As if perfectly scripted, the song that was on repeat instantly started as soon as I walked in the chapel! And the fairy tale continued as we were married five weeks later on New Years Eve :)

Saturday, November 20

Still Baking a Baby!

39 weeks!

Sorry folks.. no action yet! Although my doula said that she and the rest of her doula friends are gearing up for this weekend to be crazy because of the full moon tomorrow. I've heard it said before that labor and delivery units at hospitals are hopping the few days around a full moon and some even staff up for it every month. So, we'll see!

The closest thing to anything that's happened is Wednesday I woke up in the middle of the night feeling awful with stomach cramps. I stayed in bed for a while wondering if I should do anything about it and opted to take a benadryl to try and sleep some more. I figured if it was the real thing that I'd know it soon enough and wouldn't be able to sleep through it anyway. I snoozed another 4 hours, woke up and was ok. In he morning, I asked Lee how he felt and he had a stomachache too. So turns out it was probably just something I ate.

Even though Gabriel didn't arrive on his "due date" yesterday. His stash of GroVia cloth diapers did! I'm doing all the initial washes on them today so they'll be ready to go whenever we decide to start using them. I'm guessing he'll be in disposables for a few weeks while we begin adjusting to all things baby, then switch over and add in the new laundry routine :)

Tuesday, November 16

It's Christmas at the Steffen House!

38 weeks!

Gabriel is now stuck in one position. I think he ran out of room to do anything besides occasionally stretch his arms and legs out. Lucky for us, the position he settled in is optimal.. head down and back to the left! I kept telling him the past 4 weeks or so that's where he needs to be and look how well he already listens. :) According to my last appointment he's also right on track weight-wise as far as they could guess which was about 6 1/2 pounds! That means if he's putting on 1/2 pound a week like the websites say he is, he should weigh in around 7 pounds now. That would explain why I feel like there's a bowling ball attached around my stomach.

We decorated for Christmas this past weekend! With all the excitement that's about to happen any day now, we decided to get out the tree and a few other decorations. We ended up scaling back this year and left about 4 boxes of decorations in the attic. This year we're going for the minimalistic and low maintenance clean-up vibe :)

This is our "practice lighting". The full out, everyday lighting of the Steffen tree won't happen until after Thanksgiving.

Gabriel even has his own little stocking hung already :)

Sunday, November 7

37 Weeks!

37 weeks!

The two most often asked questions lately..

1) How do you feel?

2) How much longer?

Answers are.... (drum roll please)

1) I feel great! Honestly.. I do! I'm sleeping fine, getting around just fine, feeling very comfortable, not sick, not tired, etc. Sometimes I even forget I'm pregnant until I try to shave my legs, bend over to pick something up, or roll over in bed.

2) I honestly have no idea. I don't cling closely to "due dates" because only about 5% of births actually happen on the "due date". I always just say sometime in November. There is no planned induction date and no talk of induction. The midwives rule of thumb is 2 weeks after the estimated due date. If Gabriel waits that long, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.. but I'm positive that he'll make his appearance when he's ready whether it's sooner or later.

Other than that.. just enjoying life AND I'm SUPER excited that Candy Cane Joe Joe's are BACK at Trader Joe's!!!!!!! We had a box in the freezer that Lee and I finished a few days ago so the timing is PERFECT!! We also bought a box of chewy eggnog cookies to try.. can't wait to nosh on a few with a big mug of hot chocolate!

Thursday, November 4

Gabriel's New Room!

We're so excited to have the final touches done on Gabriel's nursery!

One thing that was really important to us was to stay within a reasonable budget. We shopped around to find great deals and also found many things around the house to repurpose (dresser, cabinet, shelving, magazine/book rack, frames). We were also blessed with great gifts from family and friends!

The deal I'm most excited about is scoring a BRAND NEW $500 Dutailier glider for $99 at Essex Retail Outlet!

Lee did a fabulous job refinishing a dresser that we had which saved us a ton of money. I think the grand total with new knobs and paint was $25. I also love the star on the wall that he found a few weeks ago in Seattle.

My parents gave us the vintage toys and mobile to use in the nursery from when my sister and I were little bitty. It's really fun to have some things passed down to decorate with.

Lee surprised me by having the wall of family photos AND the whole room finished when I came home from appointments with the chiropractor and midwives yesterday!

Tuesday, November 2

Baby Shower Pictures!

My friend, Erin, at Sweet Euphoria Desserts posted a blog with FABULOUS pictures of the sweet treats she made for Gabriel's baby shower which has given me the inspiration I needed to post a couple of other pics from the prayer brunch that the ladies in our couples small group hosted a few Saturday's ago! (Follow the link to see more of the cakes and cookies!)

These ladies really know how to throw a party! The food, drinks and treats were DELISH!

I love the sweet sign that they painted for Gabriel. We took it home to use later either in his nursery or at birthday parties, etc.

This will be what Gabriel wears when he assists Lee on his first photo shoot :)

All the ladies minus those who had to leave early on! A great time was had by all. BTW.. don't I have such beautiful friends?

Niam also joined us to celebrate, then sacked out from all the excitement!