Saturday, March 24, 2012

Arwen's Birth Story: Telling Jay

Ok, I don't know how long it will take me to do this, but my plan is to do a series of posts telling Arwen's birth story from the BFP (Big Fat Positive!) to her much anticipated arrival.  So, here's my first installment: Telling Jay....

It really all started, thanks to Wakefield, on the day Jay and I got married, July 26, 2008.  On the way home from the reception (yes, the RECEPTION), Wakefield asked me, "So, do you have a baby in your belly now?"  Apparently someone (not us) told him that once a couple got married, they had a baby.  Well, he took that quite literally and fully believed that, once the ceremony was over, a baby would suddenly appear in my belly!  Love that kid!  Anyway, I would have been all for starting right away, but with our marriage came a lot of changes--I moved away from my house and my family, left my job of ten years, became a wife and a step mom, all basically overnight.  Plus, we were renting a house from Jay's parents and trying to sell mine in SC, so financially, there was no way for us to afford a baby.  And, to be entirely honest, Jay wasn't 100% sold on the idea of having another baby.

After what seemed like forever, we were finally able to sell my house in SC (thanks a lot, terrible housing market!), and in the summer of 2010, we bought our house.  At that point, I was ready to move on the baby front, and I drug Jay with me kicking and screaming. I went off the pill before we even closed on the house and started using ovulation tests.  I knew that getting pregnant wouldn't happen over night, but that didn't make it any less disappointing each month when nothing happened.  After trying all summer and early fall, I was getting frustrated.  I guess it was only-child syndrome kicking in, but I was getting impatient (shocking for those of you who know me, I know!).  So, around September-October, we started backing off and taking a "whatever happens, happens" approach.

When our family birthday season rolled around, I didn't think there was any way I could be pregnant. Jay's birthday was on November 6th, Mom's on November 8th, and I was feeling fine.  Completely normal.  No nausea, no nothing.  My pants seemed a bit tight, but that's not all that unusual in my world, and I figured it would be too early for me to be gaining any weight from a pregnancy.  Then my birthday rolled around on November 16th, and I was late. Never in 34 years had I been late, but I didn't want to get my hopes up.  I mean, there was VERY LITTLE chance that I was pregnant, so I figured it was just a fluke.  I decided to wait until that Saturday, the 20th, and if I hadn't started, I would take a pregnancy test. I got up early Saturday morning (Jay was still snoring away), and no period, so I took the test.  First time in my life I had ever taken one, and way before the three minutes were up, it read "pregnant."

I did a quiet little happy dance in the bathroom, got ready, and crept quietly downstairs and out the door. I had always known how I would tell Jay I was pregnant: I was going to buy a Carolina onesie and give it to him.  Not very original, I know, but I felt it would be perfect for us.  So, I headed off to Wal-Mart, hoping Jay wouldn't wake up before I got back.  He didn't. I ended up buying a little 3-6 months Carolina sweatsuit that I felt like could work for a boy or a girl, on the outside chance we had a girl (ha, ha!). I came home, put the pregnancy test in the bottom of a gift bag, the outfit on top of that, and covered it up with some tissue.  Then I started trying to get Jay up.  I thought I would never get him downstairs!  He didn't want to get up, couldn't figure out why he needed to come downstairs--man, was he cranky!  When I finally got him down to the kitchen table, he was barely awake and very confused by the gift bag on the table, as his birthday had already passed.  When he pulled out the baby outfit, he wasn't quite awake enough to put it all together and just had a puzzled look on his face.  "There's more," I said, and he reached in and pulled out the pregnancy test. When he read it, his eyes bugged out of his head, and his mouth fell open.  It was complete disbelief!  After it all sank in, I asked if he was happy, and he said yes, at which point, I promptly burst into tears!

Eventually, Jay made me take another test "just to make sure," and it was positive, too, so we made a doctor's appointment.  Jay wanted to go to the doctor and have them do a test, "just to make sure" (do you see a pattern here?), but when we went in, they pretty much said that OTC pregnancy tests today are extremely accurate, so they just proceeded on the assumption that I really was pregnant--much to Jay's dismay.  I'm not sure he was entirely convinced until we had our first ultra-sound, but at that point, there was no doubt, we had a little Perry on the way!

We told my mom first, on my insistence--Jay wanted to wait, but I was freaking out about every little twinge, so I wanted her to know so that I could ask her questions and calm myself down.  We took Wake to the beach over Christmas break and told him while we could have him one-on-one to answer any questions he might have.  The three (well, I guess, technically four) of us went out to dinner, and Jay broke the news.  We weren't sure what Wake would think about the whole thing, but I have never seen him smile so big! He was so excited, and that made us all the more excited! We told Jay's family on Christmas Eve and the rest of my family on Christmas Day.  As a matter of fact, we drove to SC in a snowstorm so that we could share the news with my family. In hindsight, not our brightest idea, by the way, but we made it.

It's hard to believe that on that day when I told Jay we had a baby on the way that Arwen was only about the size of a poppy seed.  Look at her now!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Let's Blow Something Up, Daddy!

The Wakester is in third grade, so this year was our first foray into the world of science fairs.  Individual participation for third graders this year was optional, but Jay felt that it would be a good experience for Wake, so he told him he had to at least compete at the school level.  Wake, of course, didn't want to participate at all, but Jay did a pretty good job of getting him on board by talking up all the different experiments they could do.  Wake really wanted to do a volcano (he got one for Christmas a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it), but Jay felt that wasn't original enough (quite true!) and encouraged him to do something else.  Well, Wake just wanted to "blow something up!"  Thus, our Acidic Reactions science fair project was born.

The goal of the project was to see what acid would cause the greatest reaction when combined with baking soda.  The boys looked at lemon juice, bleach, soda water, cola, and vinegar.  Wake learned what kind of acid was in each of those liquids, and his hypothesis was that the soda water would cause the greatest reaction "because it was bubbly." Then he learned that the bubbles were caused by carbonation. Jay bought him some test tubes, safety goggles, and a mask, and they got to work.  In the first round of tests, they found that lemon juice actually caused the greatest reaction.  Wake really enjoyed doing the experiments, and his daddy really enjoyed going over the top in designing his presentation board.  This is what happens when Daddy is a graphic designer....

In Jay's defense, he did ask the teacher if he could help Wake with the board (she made the mistake of saying yes), and Wake did pick out the colors and pictures for the design.  So, it was Wake's idea, Daddy just helped with the designing and printing part! :)

When Wake got to school with his project, the teachers were very disappointed that he had not chosen to compete at the county level should he place at the school level, so he and Jay decided to go for it.  Jay helped him get together the research paper he needed to turn in (most of which was already done to meet the school level requirements), and they entered.  Wake ended up placing second in his school (the only third grader to place--go Wake!!) and went on to the county competition.  He didn't place there, but he did get an awesome medal to go with his cool trophy! We were all very proud of all of his hard work, and we can't wait to try it again next year!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mommy, You've Been Holding Out on Me!

Arwen is all about some fruit, just like I knew she would be!  We started out with applesauce for breakfast with some cereal either mixed in or mixed with breast milk when I had enough extra.  Arwen liked the applesauce pretty well, but she prefers it without the rice cereal. We went for prunes next.  I personally wouldn't eat prunes if my life depended on it, but Arwen was a bit clogged up from all the new food, so I knew we had to give them a try.  Luckily, I didn't have to feed them to her--that fun job went to Daddy and Grandma! Oh, and they worked, by the way! Ha, ha!  Apparently she liked them pretty well.  (Per my earlier post on Beech-Nut vs. Gerber, I have to get Gerber prunes--Beech-Nut doesn't have them, at least not in Stage 1).

After the prunes, we went on to bananas, which were a HUGE hit, as were pears. Up next will be peaches, which I expect Arwen to go nuts over, but I tried oatmeal with her tonight because I felt like she was probably tired of the rice cereal, so we will have to try that for a few days before adding in the peaches.  I'll probably try oatmeal with applesauce in the morning and see what she thinks.

So, now Arwen is eating fruit and cereal for breakfast (or lunch, depending on when she gets up for the day--she's like her mommy and likes to sleep in!) and two veggies and cereal for dinner.  This has really affected my pumping schedule.  When I first started back to work, Arwen was taking three bottles while I was at work, so I got up at 6 and nursed her and then pumped before going to work, then pumped twice at work. I was blessed to have a dear friend, Deidre Westmoreland, agree to teach my class during her planning period for about 15 minutes EVERY DAY, so that I could pump at around 9:30.  Then I was able to do my last pumping session during my planning, so I was only disrupting one class.

Since Arwen has started solids, I've been able to drop the before-work pumping session, and I don't have to do the planning period session every day either.  Arwen quickly went from three bottles while I was gone, down to two bottles, and now to usually only one.  Basically, she's spaced herself out to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Luckily, I have an inclusion class third period this semester, so the EC teacher that helps me out watches my kiddies while I pump.  At some point, I'll have to do a post on pumping at work.  It's not fun, but it is doable, and I'm glad I've been successful with it.

Sweet Potatoes, Squash, and Carrots, Oh, My!

Well, little Arwen is moving right along on the whole solid food front. Mommy is handling it slightly better these days, but it is still tough.  I started off making homemade baby food.  We decided to try sweet potatoes first since everything I had read suggested them as a first food, as did the doctor, so I just picked up a couple of sweet potatoes at the grocery store.  When we got ready for our first sweet tatie meal, I cleaned up one of the sweet potatoes, dried it, and wrapped it in saran wrap.  Then I poked it with a fork several times and popped it in the microwave for about five minutes (time varies, of course, depending on the size of the potato).  When the potato was fully cooked, I peeled it and pureed it in my food processor (see below--just a regular food processor, not a special, high-priced baby food processor).
Image found here.

Since Arwen was just starting with the whole solid food thing, I added some breast milk to make sure the consistency was smooth enough.  Arwen loved it!  I should have known she would--I mean, a sweet potato? She is my child, you know! Ha, ha! 

I kept on with the homemade baby food for a few days, but when we were ready to move on to the next food, I realized that my lifestyle really wasn't conducive to making homemade baby food.  Jars of baby food are just too quick and easy.  Does this make me a bad mother?  Maybe, but it works for us, and Arwen seems just as happy with jars as fresh. We are using Beech-Nut Homestyle Stage 1 vegetables: sweet potatoes, squash, sweet carrots, green peas, and green beans. 

Image and more information on Beech-Nut baby food found here.

I've been getting these jars 10 for $4.50 at Bi-Lo, and if you by $15 worth, you can usually get an extra 20 cents in fuel perks. The Gerber Stage 1 vegetables are usually 10 for $10, but they come two to a pack, but I like the Beech-Nut glass jars better than the Gerber plastic packs for what is probably a stupid reason: when I peel the top off of the plastic packs, I always sling baby food all over myself!  Not a problem with the glass jars, so glass jars it is! (Well, except for prunes, but fruits will be another post.)

After three or four days of sweet potatoes, we tried squash.  Arwen wasn't a huge fan at first, but when I went back to them later after she had tried all of the the other Stage 1 veggies, she liked them just fine.  We've also been through carrots, peas, and green beans, all of which she has enjoyed.  I think carrots are probably her favorite. 

It's amazing how quickly Arwen has mastered eating.  We had zero issues from the start, which I attribute to our waiting until 6 months to start solids.  She has really gotten speedy over the last couple of weeks, too!  I usually give her two veggies for dinner along with rice cereal when I have extra milk--I don't stress about it if I don't because I figure the veggies are the most important, and she's still getting her primary nutrition from breast milk. And on that same note, I always nurse her before feeding her solids.  The veggies and cereal are just extra--not a replacement for breast milk.  Eating solids has had an effect on my pumping schedule, though, which I'll discuss in another post. 

We are on to fruits next.  I know Arwen is going to love them--I hope that she will still eat her veggies after she discovers sweet fruit!  Like I said, she is her mother's child!!