Sunday, December 13, 2015

Santa's littlest (and cutest!) helper

Hey everyone! We're only 11 days away from Ruby's first Christmas and Shane and I couldn't be more excited. 

This Christmas is going to be a little different than usual, and not just because we have another stocking to hang up. For the first year in either of our lives, we won't be spending Christmas in Knoxville with our families. Both sets of parents and my sister are planning on visiting us around Christmas, but we won't be making the rounds of Christmas parties or seeing any of our extended family.

It was a really hard but necessary choice for us to stay in Nashville this year. Ruby will be just twelve days shy of two months old, which means she won't be vaccinated yet. It sounds like tempting fate to have her in close contact with so many people at the height of cold and flu season. We're just not ready to test the limits of her little immune system yet and would rather not spend Christmas Day in the ER for a fever. It also doesn't sound like much fun to cram her, our two dogs, and our luggage plus Christmas presents into our VW Golf for a three-and-a-half hour car ride. Considering she screamed her head off on the way home from the grocery store right down the road, I don't think she's ready for long trips yet. 

In spite of the change of location this year, we're determined to have an awesome Christmas. It would be impossible not to, with such a little cutie pie to celebrate with! Check out our fun Christmas activity from last night, a photo shoot with our little elf baby in front of the Christmas tree! 
Disclaimer: I am in no way a professional photographer and was using a camera borrowed from my sister. In case you notice the lighting looks a little funny, it's because I waited until nighttime to take pictures (silly me) and was depending on lamps for assistance. 

I know all people think their baby is the cutest, but c'mon...she's adorable! 

I'm still amazed we were able to get this shot. This took a lot of patience and Shane dangling a dog treat over my head. They'd each take turns trying to come get the treat from him, so it's a Christmas miracle that both dogs were still and looking at the camera at the same time. 

If you look carefully in the background, the large white oval on the tree is her footprint ornament. Directly under it is a Santa head ornament with my fingerprint on it from my first Christmas. Didn't plan that but it's a nice coincidence :) 

Elf feetsies! The booties are from Target.

Ruby with her reindeer ornament from Little Sapling Toys, it's personalized with "Baby's First Christmas 2015" engraved on the back. 
She's getting a few of their adorable toys in her stocking but shhh, it's a surprise! 

We'd already bought her plenty of gifts but I couldn't help myself when I was shopping for the other kids in the family a few days the new presents got tagged from Santa to cover my tracks ;) 

Eventually even the best models get tired and ready for some milk. This was the one good shot I was able to get of her adorable Rudolph onesie from Hello Half Pint which we bought at an arts festival this summer. She had so many cute tie dye onesies and shirts for little ones, it was hard to pick our favorite! I'm sure we'll be visiting her booth the next time she's in town. 

To our friends and family in Knoxville...we hope you have a wonderful celebration this year, and hopefully we'll get to video chat you. We look forward to visiting you all at the next big holiday celebration when the weather and new parent stress levels are more amenable :) in the meantime, if anyone's ever in the Nashville area, be sure to stop by! 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Ruby Recap: Month 1

In case you missed Ruby's birth story, you can read it here

"Move it, peas! You're in my shot!" 


Yes, she did actually whack the peas out of her way. 

It's hard to believe that our little girl is one month old already! It's not been an easy month, but it's been the best month of our lives. Here are some of our favorite moments from the past month. 


Ruby's first... Thanksgiving! Her due date was supposed to be three days after Turkey Day, so our plans changed a bit from what we'd expected. Instead of me sitting around hugely pregnant and uncomfortable, I got to enjoy the holiday with a sweet little baby! Shane's parents, my parents, and my sister Hannah all came to celebrate with us. Shane is so awesome, he did ALL the cooking without any help from me! It was really nice to be able to relax instead of stress. Thanks Shane!

Everyone made it into these photos except Ruby...she's in her rocking chair on the floor next to me. 

We learned the importance of having a backup holiday outfit. Ruby started out the day wearing an outfit with cute little turkeys printed on it..and then she peed on it...twice. Good thing we'd bought this onesie as a backup just in case! 

As it turns out, adult size turkey hats make really good baby turkey costumes! Look at my silly little turkeys :) 


Ruby's first... visit to see Santa! Like crazy people, we took her to the mall at 2 weeks old to get her first Santa picture made. I figured it would be better to take her early before it got too cold outside and the lines got too long. We still had to wait over an hour! 

This picture is adorable and hilarious. Just check out Ruby up close. I got worried about Ruby getting big kid germs from sitting on Santa's lap after so many other kids, so I decided to hold her. I should've looked at us in a mirror before they snapped the picture. I promise she's not slumped over, it's just her outfit was a little large and bunched up right around her head. It does make her look like her shoulders are about to her ears though!   

Ruby and I also had our first public breastfeeding experience that day. Of all places, I wouldn't have imagined trying it at a Bass Pro Shop in a busy outlet mall, but when a baby's gotta eat, she's gotta eat! I was able to keep myself covered without having to cover Ruby. I felt a lot more comfortable with it than I would've thought. And thankfully I didn't even get any weird looks from others! I honestly don't know how many people really even noticed I was feeding her. 

Breastfeeding is NOT an easy thing to learn how to do, and looking at this photo makes me really proud of myself. At this point, I was still having a lot of trouble getting her to latch on. I had just gone to a breastfeeding support group two days before, and thanks to the techniques I learned there, this was also one of the first times I was able to get her to latch properly. 


Ruby loves... planking! You know, like the social media trend from a few years ago? Our little goofball loves to relax by sticking her arms and legs out stiff as a board. 

Ruby loves... her play gym! She isn't really big enough to play with toys and she can only see about 12 inches in front of her face, but she DID seem pretty interested in the hanging rattle after her hand accidentally whacked it. 

Ruby loves... her big brothers! Charlie and Sheldon alternate between ignoring Ruby and being completely entranced by her. They get really concerned when she starts to cry. If we don't get to her quick enough they'll start barking as if to say, "the baby's broken, fix her!" 

The first few days we had her home, Sheldon (on the right) would NOT let Charlie near Ruby at all! If Charlie got close, Sheldon would growl and snap at him like some sort of vicious wild animal. I had to catch and hold Sheldon so Charlie could get some Ruby snuggle time. 


 You had to be there... 
Ruby was wearing a 0-3 month size gown and it was way too big on her and at one point the neck hole was halfway down her chest. Shane took a look at her and said, "Ruby, I can see your cleavage! You need a cami secret!"

She sleeps in a cradle in our room. One night I had a hard time getting her to go to sleep; anytime I'd put her down, she'd start crying again. I finally got her down and she seemed okay, so I crept back to my bed as quietly as possible. I laid down, pulled up the covers...and farted. Really loudly. Ruby immediately woke up and started crying. 

You'll never believe it, but the other day, Ruby and Shane sneezed at the EXACT SAME TIME. Seriously. It was the weirdest thing. And today, Ruby sneezed a second after I did. I think she's got some sort of psychic / sympathetic sneeze thing going on. 


Happy one month, Ruby! 

P.S. How cute is she in that fleece vest and those jeggings? She doesn't wear "outfits" very much, we typically have her in gowns or pajamas, but when she does...she's way more stylish than I am! 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Welcome to the world, Ruby Lee!

I can't believe it, but today is Ruby's official due date and she's already over three weeks old! What better way to celebrate than with her birth story and some adorable baby pictures?? 

*** If you're squeamish or just want to see the cute pictures, I suggest you skip down to the bottom of the post ***

On Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, we went for my 36 week checkup and things started getting real. My doctor said I was already progressing (1cm dilated and 70% effaced) and that it was unlikely I'd make it past 40 weeks. He asked if I had my hospital bag packed, and I joked that we planned on taking it to our childbirth class that Saturday just in case. He said that might not be a bad idea and laughed. Little did any of us know, we wouldn't even make it that long! 

At 5:55 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 6th, I woke up to go to the bathroom for the millionth time. I got back to bed and as I sat down, I felt fluid gush onto the mattress. I panicked that I'd just peed the bed, and then I panicked realizing my water must've broken! I was only 36 weeks and 5 days pregnant, I wasn't ready for this! I woke Shane up to get ready to go. I think I made him nervous because I took my time getting out the door, checking and rechecking my packing list. 

Left: On our way to the hospital. We called our parents saying I was 99.9% sure I was in labor, but we'd let them know for sure once we got checked at the hospital.

Middle: 7:30 a.m., waiting in the emergency room to be taken to Labor and Delivery triage. The hand towel crammed in my pants was completely soaked at this point (there's a LOT more amniotic fluid than you'd think) so I started to accept that yes, I really was in labor. My contractions were really light but seemed to be coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting about 30 seconds each. 

Right: The midwife came in to check and make sure my water had broken. More fluid gushed out as she lifted the sheet, so further tests were deemed unnecessary. A cervical check put me at 3cm dilated and 80% effaced. 

We were moved to a delivery room. I wanted to use nitrous oxide as pain relief during labor, so they got that set up. It was really easy to use -- during each contraction, I would just hold the mask up to my face and breathe it in. Through trial and error, I found that 3 breaths was a decent amount, 4 breaths made me feel woozy and gross. 

Soon I was at 7cm dilated and felt the urge to push. I was told NOT push to prevent injury to myself and the baby. This is a LOT harder than it sounds because your body takes over and pushes anyways. Things were happening quickly, and at 11:00 a.m. I was 10cm dilated and 100% effaced. Time for baby! The doctor decided to let me labor for an hour to move the baby further down and that I could push starting at 12:00 noon. 

At noon, it was time to get the party started. I was born at 12:27 a.m. on January 6th, so my labor-addled brain figured it would be reasonable for my baby to be born by 12:27 p.m. on November 6th. Shane and the nurse coached me through contractions, which were coming 2 minutes apart and lasted about 30 seconds each. 12:27 came and went with no sign of baby. 

During each contraction, I'd get through three 10-second pushes. Each time, push #1 would shock me with the intensity, but would do nothing. Push #2 was actually productive, moving the baby along, but would also make me feel like my head would explode and like my body was trying to turn itself inside out. Push #3 usually went back to being really intense but doing nothing. 

The nurse reassured me that most first-time moms push for two hours, so I tried to stay positive. I could do this! Towards the end of hour two, we started trying different positions. They attached a bar to the bed so I could get on my knees and lean forward. I could barely hold myself up, so more advanced positions including squatting or leaning over the bed were out. If I got out of that bed, I knew I'd never make it back in. 

Hour three is where sh*t got real. I'd been trying my hardest to push push push, but was still only getting an average of one productive push per contraction. I was physically exhausted and napping between contractions (yes it IS possible to sleep for 2 minutes at a time). The nurse would give me breaks where I'd rest for a few contractions and didn't have to actively push, but my body would push anyways. The doctor decided my contractions weren't consistently strong enough and were too short, so they started me on pitocin to kick things up a notch. 

In hour four, Ruby's head was visible during good pushes, but would slide back afterwards. I could see the clock and kept giving myself time goals...she'd be out by 3:15...which became 3:30...and by 3:45, I knew something had to give. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I didn't think she'd ever come out and was terrified each time a contraction would start. I asked for an epidural, which they were able to come in to place quickly. Turns out that after four hours of pushing, I was REALLY swollen, so sitting on the edge of the bed while they placed it was extremely unpleasant. I hugged my pillow for dear life while they worked. Turns out I still had plenty of amniotic gushed out down my legs and onto the floor with every contraction while I was sitting up. 

The doctors came in to watch me push again and said it was time to consider alternative delivery options. I was moved to the operating room to attempt forceps delivery, with a strong chance that they'd have to perform a c-section. I was given a LOT more medicine to be numb from the waist down and pretty loopy. I'm glad for that, because Shane said there was a lot of blood and the forceps looked like giant salad tongs. Also I think there were whole hands in places you really don't want whole hands to be. 

They got the forceps in place and after one contraction, Ruby was born! The doctor said after all that trouble, she pretty much slid right out. 

Ruby Lee
5:45 p.m. - 7lbs 12oz - 20 and 3/4 inches

Unfortunately there was still the issue of Ruby being born prematurely. If she was born two days later, she would've been 37 weeks and full-term. As it was, she was considered late preterm. The NICU team had to be present in the operating room just in case. 

After she was born, they had to put her under the warming light and check her out quickly to make sure everything was okay. She was grunting when she breathed, so they had to put her on CPAP machine for a few minutes to pressurize her lungs and get things working properly. Thankfully I didn't know about this until later or I would've absolutely panicked.  

Everything seemed to be okay, so about ten minutes later, I got to hold her for the first time. And it made everything worth it. 

Ruby and I both slept a LOT those first few days.

Shane and Ruby. He's already an amazing daddy. 

Shane's parents, my sister Hannah, and my parents with Ruby. 

We had to deal with some other issues after birth which made the next few days pretty stressful. She started grunting again while laying on my chest, so Shane followed her to the nursery while I went back to my room. She had low blood sugar ( needed to be at least 50) so they had to give her a dose of glucose. They had to continue doing heel sticks and blood sugar tests every few hours for the next day. I almost passed out the first time I was allowed to walk to the bathroom by myself. Ruby's white blood cell count was too high, so we had to stay an extra day as they gave her an IV and administered a 48-hour round of antibiotics. We were moved to a family room and had to sleep on the most uncomfortable pull-out couch (felt like wooden boxes wrapped in vinyl) but at least got to stay there and not have to go home without Ruby. I had an emotional breakdown because I felt so horrible, I was so worried for our baby, and I just wanted us to be able to go home already. And then right as we were about to go home, they became concerned about her weight loss. I was shown how to hand-express milk into her mouth as she nursed so she wouldn't have to work too hard and use too many calories, and we were only allowed to go home after they set up an appointment for us to go to our doctor's office and have her weighed the next day. 

First family selfie in the family room. 

Someone was NOT happy getting in the carseat for the first time!

The good news is that we're home and we're all doing great! Shane and I feel extremely lucky to have such a wonderful little girl, and we still can't believe that she's finally here! 

Since I know this is really what you all came for, here are some more adorable pictures of Ruby: 

She makes this face a lot, we call it her kissy lips face. I would love to put some lipstick on her and have her make lip prints on everything, haha!

Life lessons: just because your baby is technically 0 months old does NOT mean she's going to fit in 0-3 month clothes. 

Testing out the props for her newborn photo shoot. Awake naked baby = crying baby...unless she's currently eating or has just finished. 

Kinda a kissy lips face, I also think she looks like a little baby turtle in this one. 

Tummy time! And a look of bewilderment. 

When she's not swaddled, she prefers to sleep with her arms straight up. 

She looks really suspicious in this one to me. 

And here's one of her today, 23 days old. Happy due date, Ruby! 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Our gender reveal shower & why I cried...

My little sister Hannah called dibs on throwing us a gender reveal party pretty much the minute I announced I was pregnant. As it got closer to the date of the party, we realized it would be much more convenient for everyone involved if we combined the gender reveal with the baby shower for the whole family. With these details set, all that was left was to wait for my anatomy scan at week 20! 

Shane and I had no preference on gender -- we'd honestly be happy either way -- but we were getting excited to find out if for no reason other than to help us pick baby name ideas. Girl names were coming easier to us, but we were having trouble picking out boy names. Plus we're both terrible at waiting for surprises. With the advancements in prenatal testing and ultrasounds, I don't know how anyone is able to hold back until the birth of the baby to find out! Some women say they "just know" what their baby's gender is, but I had no inkling whatsoever. Most old wives' tests were useless, since my baby bump was barely showing. The ones I could gave me 50-50 results of boy or girl. I did take an online "ancient Chinese" gender prediction test, which said I'd be having a boy, but considering all it asked for was my age and month of conception, I was hesitant to put stock in the results. 

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I'd been having weird pregnancy dreams for months, a common symptom, but a couple weeks before the scan I had one that felt so real. I dreamed that I was walking into my baby shower with my mom and sister. I walked through the door and saw my Granny Opal sitting on the couch. 
A little background: Granny Opal was my mom's mom. We lived near her growing up, and she took care of me and my sister every day after school, so we were close. She died of cancer in 2008 just a few months before our wedding. By the time the doctors found the cancer, it was so spread throughout her body that they weren't sure of origin but suspected it started as colorectal cancer -- what my mom's dad died of when I was a little girl. I helped drive her to chemo appointments, held her hand when she cried as they'd take blood, and towards the end, I helped take care of her at her home. She was the glue that held my mom's side of the family together, and her passing was hard on us all. While I was so glad that she'd gotten to know and love Shane over the previous six years we'd been together, I couldn't believe that she wouldn't see me get married or have children. 
Granny Opal with my sister Hannah

So back to the dream...I walk into the baby shower and see Granny Opal sitting on the couch. She didn't say a word, just sat there and smiled at me. I stared at her, confused. Even though it was a dream, I knew she shouldn't be there. I kept wondering how she'd gotten a day pass out of the afterlife to come to my baby shower. The more I stared at her, I noticed something strange. She was wearing a pink outfit. This may not seem like much, but her absolute favorite color was blue. Just about everything in her house was blue, and all her favorite clothes were blue. I knew she wouldn't wear pink unless she had a good reason. 

I started to think that maybe this wasn't just a dream...maybe it really was her, visiting to let me in on the secret that I'd be having a girl? 

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Shane and I didn't want to know boy or girl until the big reveal at the party, so my sister came along to the ultrasound with us. She got to watch the ultrasound tech reveal our baby's gender, and then she had to keep it a secret for two whole weeks until the reveal party! She did tell two friends, who she swore to secrecy, but try as they might, no one else was able to get it out of her. I still don't know how she did it! Shane and I were also dying to find out and waiting two weeks seemed like such a long time! 

The day of the shower came around and I was a ball of nerves. You'd think I would be happy since it was party day, but I was in a pretty grumpy mood. I wrote it off as pregnancy hormones and general party nervousness. I put on my pink and blue tie dye t-shirt (which we'd made special for the occasion) and a smile, ready to at least pretend to be having fun. 

Our "boy or girl, no clue!" photo. 

There's a baby bump in here somewhere, we swear! 

We decided to do the reveal first thing, as none of us could wait throughout a whole baby shower to find out boy or girl. 

It's a GIRL!

After the box opened and those balloons came out, I kinda went into shock. After a few moments of letting it sink in, I burst out into tears. 

Can you believe that in the weeks leading up to the shower, I completely FORGOT about the Granny Opal dream? All of a sudden I realized why I had been so nervous all morning...I wanted so badly for the dream to be true. Not because I wanted a girl more than a boy, but because I wanted so much to feel that she's still around and watching over me, Shane, and our baby. And I think she is! 

Now that I've cried all that my eyeballs can handle for the day, here are some other adorable pictures from our shower :) 

We had pink and blue beads and tiny glittery cowboy hats so everyone could wear their guess! And of course we had to make some tie dye onesies for baby Sweetpea while we were making our t-shirts! 

Isn't that watermelon baby the cutest thing ever? And my mouth is watering remembering those delicious macarons. The pink ones were filled with raspberry and the blue had lemon cream filling. Yum! Piggy banks and rock candy sticks made cute and tasty table decor. 

Pink and blue food is a must, right? You don't even want to know how many of the Sweetpea (that's the baby's nickname) onesie cookies I ate...we got to bring home the leftovers and there were a LOT. The delicious pink and blue chocolates and Oreo truffles were made by my Aunt Sandy, the gracious host of our shower :) 

Everywhere you looked, there was something cute and adorable to get you in the baby mood! My mom and dad spray painted a ton of flamingos for cute yard decor. We had clotheslines of tiny newborn sized onesies. And that in the middle? Just the cutest baby shower game trophies with tiny polymer clay pea pods made by my super crafty little sister (we actually all forgot to play the games, whoops! so we just handed them out at the end of the shower). 

With my parents in our photo booth. From the mom Tanya, my sister Hannah, me & Sweetpea, Shane, and my dad Paul. 

Shane with his dad Steve, his mom Debbie, and his grandpa Kelly. 

The secret keepers! The only three to know what color balloons would pop out of that box. From the left...Taylor, Christina, me, Shane, and my sister Hannah. I still don't know how you all managed to not let it slip! 

And of course a group shot with the whole gang! We felt extremely blessed to have so many family and friends who were able to come celebrate with us. Little Miss Sweetpea is one lucky lady and she can't wait to meet you all! 

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All photos are thanks to the wonderful Megan at Break the Mold Photo in Knoxville, TN. I'm so glad my mom thought to have a photographer come to our really helped us enjoy the day and not worry about having a camera ready!