Monday, July 28, 2014

Zoe Valentine: One Month

Dear Zoe,

You're officially a month old. This month sure has been a good one. Life will never be the same again. We brought you home from the hospital on a Friday evening; it was already bed time and you were already asleep. We put you down in your little baby hammock right by our bed and then put our tired selves to bed as well. With you on one side of me and dad on the other, I was so overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness that I just cried. I couldn't help it. It is probably the first time I've literally cried out of joy.

This month you have proven the doctors right about being a big baby. Tall is maybe the better word. At 22 and a quarter inches tall you are in the 99% for height for girls your age and  8lbs 14 ounces (76% for weight) as of your two week appointment.

You love to eat your hands - or at least try to.

When you are falling asleep you get a big grin on your face. You always know when we are trying to take a picture of it and stop right as we press the button. Oh those darling and elusive sleep smiles.

Sometimes when you are cuddling with me, I will kiss your forehead and that smile will spread across your face.

You've had a little bit of acid reflux, which seems painful. Mommy does not like seeing her little one in pain at all.

We took you swimming with your cousins and you looked darling in the yellow polka dot swimsuit they got you. You seemed to like the water enough. I hope that you look up to all your cousins because they are all smart and beautiful and they love you very very much.

Your blessing was beautiful. You had grandparents and great grandparents and all kinds of people who love you there to support you.

You sleep great at night but are pretty high maintenance during the day. I bet this has something to do with the reflux. Mimi got you some essential oils that we put on your feet now when you eat and it surprisingly helps a ton.

You like to be bounced, not rocked, not held still.

I don't know what it is about the carseat, but every time you get strapped in you poop.

The first time we tried to take you out of the house, you were ready to go back home in about 30 seconds.

Your bum is covered adorable cloth diapers..

You are the number one cuddler. You can tell the second we put you down, even if you are deep asleep you will wake up and want to be back in our arms.

After a month, we will definitely keep you for ever and ever. You are everything we imagined and more.

Love you,

Friday, July 11, 2014

Hi I'm Zoe and this is my birth story.

Hi my name is Zoe Valentine and this is my story of how I got here.

Let's start the story on my due date. 

Mom was getting anxious; she really wanted me here in her arms, right where I am now as I'm telling this story.  Her due date was on a Friday.  She went to work,  where they had a fun day volunteering for the afternoon at the boys and girls club.  Even though mommy thought that was a great way to spend her day,  she still couldn't think of anything but me. The day came and went, and I stayed comfortably in her tummy.

The weekend looked like it was going to come and go with no sign of me as well. Sunday night mom was sure she would be headed back to work in the morning.  She took a nice relaxing bath and finished reading her book,  the Good Luck of Today.  When mom got out she brushed her teeth and started flossing.  Then all of a sudden,  she felt this weird feeling and thought she might have peed herself.  How embarrassing! She ran to the toilet but the leak didn't stop.  It only took her a minute to realize her water just broke.

Mom knew I would be here soon.  She was so excited and yelled to daddy in the other room that I was on my way.  

Mom and dad wanted to have an intervention free birth  for me.  They wanted no pitocen, no epidural and daddy was super prepared to support mommy during my trip here.  

Mom called the doctors office to let them know what was happening and they said it was okay if they stayed at home until the morning as long as I kept moving and contractions weren't getting too strong. Mom preferred being at home, so they decided to stay there for the time.

But Mom couldn't sleep.  She was too excited.  It wasn't long before the contractions started. She stayed up until 5 in the morning just feeling them go through her body.  Somehow,  she was able to fall asleep for a couple hours at some point.  When she woke up mommy and daddy headed to the hospital.  Monday was going to be a great day,  

But once they got all checked into their room,  something strange happened.  The contractions that had been coming so regularly and getting  stronger and stronger just stopped.  Not kinda stopped,  but completely stopped.  Mom didn't like this.  She was worried about infection,  and knew that I only had so much time to get out safely.  

Her and daddy decided to wait a few hours.  After all,  mom's body was made to get me here.  Things would work out.  

But after a few hours,  nothing  happened.  And nothing happened.  And nothing  happened.  Mom and dad talked to the doctor and decided that some pitocen (the drug they use to induce labor) might be a good idea to get things moving.  The clock was ticking (without moms water to protect me, the risk of infection gets higher and higher as time goes by, it gets really high around 24 hours and they were already 12 hours in) and they didn't want to risk me getting sick.  So on came the drugs to speed things up  and with that an epidural because these contraction were different and painful.

But it wasn't long until they had more reason  to be concerned.  As mom's contractions got stronger,  my heart rate would fall.  So the pitocen had to be stopped.  But as soon as the pitocen stopped, so did the contractions.  What was going on? How was I going to get here if contractions were so hard on me?

For hours and hours they played this game.  Using pitocen to try to help me out and watching my heart rate very carefully.  You  would think mommy and daddy loved staring  at monitors because they couldn't take their eyes off the one measuring my heart rate. Only they weren't loving it, because my heart was taking longer and longer to bounce back after each contraction. They were getting scared - how much distress was I in? They really couldn't tell. But what they were seeing didn't seem good and the doctors didn't think so either.

This is when dad  gave mommy the sweetest blessing in the world.  They were both close to tears as they turned to the Lord to seek guidance for how to help me. While mom and dad were scared, they felt surrounded by love and peace that things would be okay.  

Time kept going by and things just kept looking worse and worse. The doctors wanted me out. Mom and dad wanted me out. There was just too much that could go wrong at this point. So the decision was made mom would have a c- section. Once Dad told the doctor they had the green light on the surgery, they moved fast. The anesthesiologist came right in and made it so mom couldn't feel anything at all. In fact, he gave her so much that her body just started shaking uncontrollably. 5 minutes later they were in the operating room. 15 minutes later the doctors started saying "that's a big baby" as they pulled me out of her.

Dad looked over the curtain and said I was purple, but that I was okay. I had the cord wrapped tightly around my neck. But it only took seconds for that to be removed and for me to be breathing the way a baby should. The nurses brought me over to see mom for a second. Then Dad and I went to go get cleaned up. I made it!

The amazing thing is that even though it was a really scary time for mom and dad, they felt God's love and peace the whole time and my journey here was an amazing and spiritual experience for everyone. Now we are all happy and healthy at home. A beautiful family of 3.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Awesome and Awkward: Pregnancy Edition

Baby is officially a weekend over due. I don't know if it's a real thing or not, but I swear time has almost come to a complete halt. But, part of me is glad that the little one hasn't made her appearance yet, because I have some memories that need to be captured before the new ones of her life take front and center stage and these ones begin to dissipate.

So here we go.

Pregnancy Awkward and Awesome. 

You know that this is going to be a gross combination of extra sappy and umm… pathetically embarrassing. Pregnancy is super glamorous guys (insert sarcasm and non sarcasm at the same time here).. I love it.

Lets start with the awesome.

1. Feeling my baby move. The first time I felt it, it was just like butterfly kisses, the were so soft and tiny. Now she makes giant waves across my belly and her feet and knees stick out in funny ways. It’s cute.

2. Maybe being pregnant for 9 months is a good thing because since becoming pregnant, my whole view of motherhood has become much more tender and precious. There is something unique about being a woman, about being able to grow a human body within your own that is incredibly empowering and beautiful. Not to mention the responsibility to teach this person how to love, how to learn, how to laugh and mostly how to be nothing more or less than the wonderfully and fearfully made daughter of God that she is.

3. Learning to love working out. I know that seems strange, but I’ve learned to let go of expectations, to listen to my body and work out to be healthy not only physically, but spiritually and mentally as well. It’s amazing how mind body and spirit are so connected. I hope I never go back to my love hate relationship with workouts again. I hope I stay in this zen zone of knowing that what is right for my body is right for the rest of me and vice versa.

4. Anyone and everyone who feels the need to tell a pregnant, sleep deprived woman that she looks great.

5. Women everywhere. I've felt so much love and support from the girls in my church, in my family and even friends that I haven't seen in eons. It's like I'm realizing that we are all connected, we have a miraculous way of lifting each other up, of honoring each other. I've been stunned by how much thoughtless service and love has been sent my way in supportive words, food, stuff for the baby and prayer. There is nothing more beautiful than women lifting the people around them. It is a miraculous feeling to be the one lifted.

6. My nieces. My niece who looks at my belly and asks sweetly "you have a baby there?" and my niece who has named our baby Rupunzel.This little one is going to have amazing role models and mentors in these girls.

And for the awkward.

1. I’m just going to say it. Hem orr hoid s. Already tmi. But maybe that is a little easier to hear about than uncontrolled peeing?

2. That time I dropped my straw on the ground while filling my water bottle up at work. Instead of picking it up, I just waited until someone else came to get water so they could be the one to lean over. That stuff is hard people. (I swear this only happened once....... no crossies allowed.)

3. That time that I started making dinner. Zac took over after about 5 minutes and I realized I can’t even remember the last time I cooked. I swear I do something around this house…. dishes? laundry? something. Maybe this belongs in the awesome, not awkward section.

4. Every time someone talks to my belly instead of me. Especially when they lean down and put their FACE right up to it. I don’t know what to to so I just stand there and pretend it’s normal. It’s especially awkward when this person is a stranger.

5. All the names we have been told to name our baby. Although, I am tempted to go with Rupunzel, I mean when a three year old says its supposed to be the name, maybe it is?

Soooo there you have it. What are some of your awesome or awesomely awkward pregnancy moments?

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Cheesy Baked Dinner That's Taken Over My Kitchen

My baby is due on Friday people. Friday! What do you think. Will she make it fashionably early? (fashion and time tables are backwards for babies, just in case you were confused) or will she take after me (already?) and be late to everything? I am getting so anxious just waiting. 

I'm excited to share this recipe. I've been making it and craving it all through pregnancy. I love this meal because it is full of all kinds of goodness. Like cheesy goodness and fresh basil goodness and that subtle sweetness of a cherry tomato goodness. Basically it is the perfect meal for the summer.

And....I don't know if people did this to you or not when you were pregnant,. but it seems as if every hour on the hour someone asks me if I am getting enough protein. Apparently that is the only nutrient you have to worry about getting when you are pregnant. And yes all you concerned people, I am getting lots of protein thanks to meals like this, full or protein goodness.


3/4 uncooked quinoa
1 1.2 cup water
1 cup Prego pasta sauce
1/3 cup milk (I use 1%)
1 cup Mozzarella
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 bunch basil
1/2 package cherry tomatoes
2 T garlic
Pepper to taste
2 Large chicken breasts

1. Cook chicken breast on stove top.
2. In separate pan Add the quinoa water and prego sauce. Cook about about ten minutes or until quinoa is tender.
3. While those are cooking, cut basil into ribbons and cherry tomatoes in half. Add about 3/4 of these and the milk to the quinoa as it is cooking. When it is done, add half of the cheese.
4. Pour the quinoa mixture into a 9x9 baking pan. Add chicken on top. Add the rest of the cheese, cherry tomatoes and basil on top. Bake at 350 about 10 more minutes. If you want the cheese to be extra stringy and have that mouthwatering toasted look, broil for just a couple minutes before taking it out.

I like to serve this with a side of veggies. Right now my favorite is parmesan garlic broccoli. I'll get you a recipe for that soon! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

How to Find Yourself Drowning in Gift Cards

I really only have to say one word.

Really that's the only word I have to say.  

Take a look and thank me later.  Actually.  Thank me now.  

But really,  let me tell you a little more about it if you're not already gone.  I found this site via a friend who paid for her littles entire Christmas with rewards from this place. I may have been skeptical at first,  but now that I've got some effortless rewards under my belt,  I figure it's time I share.  

You can do lots of things to get points on Swagbucks.  Basically,  one point is a penny,  unless you get the Amazon cards,  which,  who wouldn't? In which case, a point is a little more than a penny.  And really the points add up pretty fast,  even for people like me who are not trying.  Here's some examples.  

1. Install the shopping app.  Basically,  any time I buy something online,  I get points back, sometimes more than 10%.  All I did was install the little widget and whenever I go to Amazon, or any other affiliated website, which seems like every store, I get points for my purchase.  Really, we’re not big spenders. But its pretty awesome how things add up. Especially when you can get over 10% back on your big purchases like plane tickets or in our situation, cribs.

2. Searching.  I know we all love Google.  And I still often use Google.  But when I need a mental break at work and search for funny cat memes,  well,  I might as well be getting rewarded for it.  It's hard work laughing people.  I also should get rewarded when I'm stalking what Emma Watson is doing with her life.  Graduating from Yale and finding time to star in some awesome movies, if you didn't already know.  Thanks Emma to making me feel better about my need to distract myself with cat memes every now and then.  

3. Coupons.  Couponing usually goes over my head and seems like a huge waste of time,  but I make an exception for coupons that are easy to print off and help me get gift cards.  Basically you save the amount on the coupon and get ten points for every coupon you use. Double savings!
4. Watch trailers.  So not to sound like an epic time waster,  but again,  if I'm wasting time,  I like getting something  for it.  And since I started watching trailers I'm actually kinda excited for some of the movies coming out his summer. The fault in the stars people! Cannot wait! There's other stuff to watch to in lots of different categories as well,  home improvement, diy, house fixing uping. Pretty much anything you would waste time on tv with there's a mini version in swag TV.  This comes in handy while I'm waiting for an eternity at the doctors office. I mean, those people really know how to make someone wait for a checkup, and with a little one on the way, I find myself there a lot.

5. All the other stuff I don't look at.  Like surveys and special offers and games.  Basically,  if you breathe the have a way for you to earn rewards.  

So go sign up and start getting your rewards now! And yes, thank me now.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Third Trimester is Here!

That's right, we are entering the phase of ready for the baby to be in our arms rather than in my belly, of not ever being comfortable and things on the ground just staying there, unless Zac wants to pick them up. I hear that the third trimester is rough. But it hasn't been to bad yet - I can still get my shoes on buckles and everything, and that is a win for a pregnant girl.

The last few months have been thrilling and exhausting all at once. I can't even begin to say how grateful I am that Zac is so wonderful at picking up what needs to be done when I am getting tired early and working long hours. And, that he is beginning to become quite the photographer. Bump pictures are courtesy of no one other than Zac himself.

HIghlights from the past few months:

In the beginning of the second trimester, Zac and I went to see one of our good friends perform in a percussion concert. It was loud and I know that our little girl could hear it. She would squirm around as if she was dancing in my belly. At the end, she started kicking perfectly in beat with the drums. It may have been for only a measure or two, but it was crazy. I'm not much of a musician, but Zac and rhythm and drums go together like oreos and ice cream. For some reason, I can't help thinking that this girl is either going to be just like her Dad or completely crazy about him. I'm already jealous of how sweet their little two some will be.

Speaking of oreos and ice cream, cravings! and not just me. Zac too. It is so funny when my super health conscious husband speaks the words "I'm craving ice cream right now" before I do. I thought sympathy cravings were made up, but Zac has got them bad. There's nothing like watching him compare which junk food has the most or least artery clogging saturated fat in it, then throwing the info away and going for the one with the most. MMMM Digornos for dinner again? Yes please!

And for the sweetest memory ever, cuddles. I'm a touch person. I feel so loved and special when we cuddle up together. I know tmi, but it's so sweet. I love when Zac puts his arm around my belly and the baby starts to kick his hand (mini high five). It's especially sweet when Zac whispers in my ear "It's just like all three of us are cuddling". Heart melted. forever.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A little plus sign.

It's about time I share the news! There is a precious little bundle of joy (and probably poop) coming to us this June.

With work being so busy right now and my days being much longer, I really don't get much time to sit here and share. But I have wanted to so badly. Especially with all the exciting events happening. If you haven't heard yet, I am having a baby. I'm already half way through so be prepared for about 4 months worth of updates in the next week or so. I mean, it's about time I stop keeping secrets and record all these precious memories.

A few months ago I was in New Mexico with one of my best friends. We were sitting there talking about life when, my friend said "you could be pregnant right now and not even know it" to which I laughed and said "yeah okay" because I had done my best to stop counting on it.

At the time, I was tired of trying and having things not work out. I was starting to feel as if God just didn't have motherhood in the plan for me right now, even though I wanted it so badly. A year was a long time to wait, and I was having this feeling that maybe I needed to focus on something else for a little bit.

So I did. I applied for a promotion and got it. I left the position that I thought would work perfectly with the demands of doctors appointments and rest required when growing a miniature person. I started thinking about other things and focusing on what I did have instead of what I didn't have. It felt a little empty, focusing my heart on something other than what I really wanted, but I also didn't want to live in that place of emptiness and sorrow that I just couldn't seem to shake while I was focused on motherhood when I couldn't have it.

A couple weeks later, Zac had a trip for school. He was attending a conference and presenting research in beautiful San Diego. It was going to be a long weekend by myself since I already had cramps and knew my period was coming.

But part of me couldn't help but hope that maybe cramps could mean more than one thing.

So I stopped at Walmart and bought a pregnancy test anyways. I think I stared at it for half and hour when I saw the little plus sign. And then I cried a little bit. I was so happy. And then I called Zac, who didn't pick up the phone. And then I called my sister. And then I called Zac again and got to share the news. Ten I made myself stop talking about it because there was so much we didn't know and after our last experience with the molar pregnancy, I knew that I would need to be checked up on before I could count on this one being a sure thing. But that single little line had a cross. It meant that there were so many possibilities. I had hope.

Who would have guessed that my friend was right. Weeks before I even knew to hope, she called it.