Saturday, March 31, 2012

At peace

It's been a while since I've posted anything here about my current pregnancy. Sorry about that! Good intentions, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, over the past week I began to think about what new information I could write about and, initially, I planned to share my reservations and fears about attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarian) delivery. You see, I met with a doctor last week to go over the potential risks and to sign a waiver/consent form thing. It was quite unnerving. However, after my 36-week appointment (back with the midwifes!) yesterday, I am feeling SO much more secure in my decision and most of my fears have been put to rest. And as I thought about that for a moment, I realized just how remarkably at peace I am with everything that's about to happen in the next few weeks.

If you know me at all, you know that I am a Nervous Nelly. I worry. A lot. About all kinds of things. And I often have a very bad tendency to err on the negative side of life, which is something I make a conscious attempt to correct each and every day. I don't want to be that way. But I just am. Anyway, if you really know me (which most of my readers do), you'll also recall that I struggled all the way through the first few months of Owen's life. I don't love saying that. But I am confident enough in myself today that I am able to say it. And this... In the beginning, I was not very happy with my new role as a mother. Yes, Owen was a difficult baby. But I believe now that I also may have struggled with some post-partum depression issues. Fortunately, all were resolved in time and on their own, and I have since grown to LOVE being a mother and genuinely enjoy my time with Owen! But at first, it was a very big struggle for me.

And so when we started planning for baby #2, I immediately began to worry and fret that I would go through many of those same struggles all over again. The question, "why am I doing this to myself again?" kept running through my mind. Over the past 36 weeks, I honestly haven't dwelled on it or worried about it much, but that nagging fear was always buried somewhere in the back of my mind.

And it's still there. Somewhere. Buried. But today, I feel that God has granted me a refreshing sense of calm and a peace of mind about this new baby. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I'm downright excited to do it all over again!

I'm honestly looking forward to going through the experience of labor and delivery. Some friends have told me I'm crazy. Why would I want to put myself through that pain and torture when I have an "easy out?" (It used to be said that "once a cesarean, always a cesarean," but modern medicine indicates that's just not so anymore...hence the VBAC. If you still don't know what I'm talking about, just look it up!)

Rather than worrying and feeling anxious about what might go wrong (which I was assured at my appointment yesterday is a very low risk anyway), I am instead filled with an overpowering sense of gratitude that I have this opportunity!

Having a c-section with Owen was devastating. Crushing. Very, very saddening. It was probably one contributing factor for my PPD, actually. And I've always felt like I missed out on a certain "right of passage" into motherhood. But more than that, I just felt like things were taken out of my control (which for this self-proclaimed control freak was tough). Ironically, I now have a greater sense that my life is never actually in my control (I have surrendered it all to the Lord), however, having the opportunity to physically work this baby out into the world (as opposed to the doctors doing all of "my" work for me) is so powerful. I just feel tremendously blessed that God put this baby in the proper vertex (head down) position. (Owen was in the footling breech position, therefore, the c-section.) And, although many hospitals won't even attempt VBACs (either due to staffing issues or the fear of being sued), I found myself with access to one that does and a team of midwives who are extremely supportive and encouraging about my chances.

Yes, gratitude. That is what I am feeling. Gratitude for this opportunity. Thanks to a God who is blessing me with another child...another opportunity. And I'm so excited for it!

I'm also feeling more comfortable about the challenges that lie ahead in life with a newborn baby and a busy toddler in tow. I'm not gonna lie... I'm also still anxious and worried about how well I'll handle that stress. But this feeling of being so, so, so blessed carries with it an uncharted attitude of "don't sweat it, just rejoice in it!"

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." — 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bedroom Makeovers

All three of the upstairs bedrooms in our house have been under a constant state of upgrade over the past several months. Obviously, we needed to get the former spare bedroom ready for baby girl (due in just 4 weeks!), which meant that most of the furniture pieces in Owen's room needed to be moved in there instead. And that, of course, meant that Owen's room needed some new (or, in our case, repurposed) furniture. When considering our options, we decided to pass down some of the old furniture (that wasn't in the greatest shape after several moves) from our room to O and used our tax refund money to buy ourselves a brand new, properly "grown-up" bedroom set! It's something we've wanted to do for a long time, but never seemed practical until this year. And there's nothing like getting brand spankin' new furniture for a room to make one want to finally get around to painting the walls in there and call the room "finished" (after 2 years of living in this house).

So, all this to say that I have two bedroom makeovers to reveal here today. The third (the much anticipated nursery) is nearly finished also and I vow to get pics of that up soon, too.

Let's start with Owen's room. Here is a shot of his room back when he still used a crib (which he's been out of since last September when we moved him into a toddler bed.) Would you believe I had to go back over a year and a half to get these photos? And I don't have any other angles to show than this, so you can't really get a good perspective of the room, but you get what you get.

Unfortunately, I don't have a good photo from when the toddler bed replaced the crib, but here's Owen helping to build it, last September. (I should really get better about taking photos of rooms — especially bedrooms — since they seem to change so frequently around these parts.)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but apologies for the bad quality of these photos. I really wish I were a better photographer and/or had a proper camera (these were all taken on my little Nikon Coolpix), but a trained photographer is not who I am, so this is the best I can do.

Anyway, here are the "afters" of Owen's room.

I did not want to repaint this room because I really still like the colors in here. They are kind of crazy and bold, but they totally work for Owen. And the crisp, white lines surrounding the horizontal green stripe always make me smile (I was pretty particular about that when I painted it two years ago).

Changes consist of a twin-size bed to replace the crib mattress/toddler bed (with a side rail for safety), new bedding (which I found for cheap at IKEA and loved because it actually matched the crazy color scheme in the room), one of the old white dressers from our room (to replace the changing table/dresser that went to the baby's room), a new art easel where the glider/ottoman used to sit (which also made it's way into baby's room), and some fun, bold green curtains (just because).

I still intend to hang three aqua blue picture frames above the dresser, which I plan to fill with some homemade artwork...if I ever get around to it. And the bed desperately needs a bedskirt (that blue box spring is just NOT cutting it!), but I'm not entirely sure what to do about that just yet. I'm sure this room will continue to be a work in progress, actually, since Owen's age will dictate the kinds of activities that take place in there. For example, he is not allowed to have crayons, markers, play-dough, etc. unless he is fully supervised because...well, because it would just be a total mess. But someday, when he's a bit more responsible, I would love to have a little art corner for him. Or a reading nook. Or maybe just more of his toys to play with on his own. But for now, he seems to enjoy his room, and for that, I am glad.

Now, onto our master bedroom.

Here is the ONLY "before" shot I can find of our master bedroom. This was from almost two years ago, shortly after we moved in, so it's evolved very slightly since then, but honestly, not much. And again, I only have this one angle to show, but whattaya gonna do?

It was beige, beige, beige (like the rest of the house when we first moved in), had old and broken IKEA furniture, and no headboard/footboard. Basically, blah. I've known for some time that I wanted to paint the walls a dark gray/blue color, which is one of my very favorite color schemes. And since it is a large room with white trim, light carpeting, and lots of natural light, I knew it could handle such a dark shade. There has actually been a big ol' paint swatch painted on one of the walls for quite some time (at least a year, I would guess), but finishing that room has just never been a very high priority for some reason. That is, like I said, until we got our new furniture. And then, all of a sudden, it lit a fire under me.

Since I really shouldn't be inhaling paint fumes in my condition — and because I wasn't really up to the physicality of painting a bedroom with tall ceilings at 35 weeks pregnant, my loving, awesome hubby took on the challenge all by himself this past weekend. He never complained once. Did I mention he's amazing?

So, without further ado, here is the finished room, as of today.

I still plan to hang some picture frames (probably a symmetrical line of four dark wood 5x7 frames I already own) above the bed, and possibly one more piece of art above the arm chair. Oh, and maybe some solid white curtains for the window if I can find any that are long enough. But in the meantime, I just lurrrrrve it in here! It's so sophisticated and exactly what I always dreamed it could be!

Next up, the nursery....!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Beach House Vacation

After debating for weeks (months, actually) the risks versus merits of going on a Florida vacation with Ryan's family while 34 weeks pregnant, I am SOOOOOO glad that I opted to go for it. The midwife at my last check-up gave me the green light and I've really been feeling pretty good, so there was no reason not to try. And while I didn't really expect that going into labor while there (or heaven forbid, while on the plane!) was very likely, if it happened, I knew it wouldn't be the end of the world. Florida has good health's not like we were traveling out of the country (which, incidentally, would have been completely out of the question). I guess my real reservations had more to do with the general discomfort I expected to feel — like swelling on the airplane as a result of the change in air pressure, or just the fatigue and frustration of chasing after a very active 2 1/2-year-old in an unfamiliar house with no toys or safety precautions.

Fortunately, the swelling on the plane was not an issue at all. And even more fortunately, I have an amazing husband who agreed to bear the majority of the parenting responsibilities while we were there, allowing me to truly put my feet up and relax. And, much to my surprise, he really followed through with that promise! He's the best!!! And it was a super relaxing and fun week away.

Owen did really well traveling. We drove to Chicago on Friday afternoon (he slept most of that drive) and spent the night in a hotel. Then we flew out of Midway on Saturday morning (he, again, slept most of that flight). Breaking it up like that was nice. We did the whole trip in one day on the way back and it was not quite as smooth, although still better than it could have been!

I decided not to even bring my point-and-shoot camera and took all our photos on the iPhone instead. So, some of the photos below are less than stellar quality (not that they would have been any better using the other camera). And I'm slightly obsessed with how easy Instagram makes photo editing for this completely unschooled photographer/editor, so you'll see a lot of that below. Anyway, here we go...

My sleeping beauties aboard the airplane.

The beach house we stayed in was amazing. It was actually two homes, duplex style, and there was plenty of room for all 16 of us (Ryan's parents, siblings and spouses, and nieces and nephews). In case you're interested, here's the link to the rental house. And here's a few quick shots of our digs for the week.

Pure paradise!

And when I refer to it as a "beach house," I truly mean it. It had private access to one of the most beautiful (and surprisingly uncrowded) beaches I've ever been on. This was the view from ankle deep in the gulf, looking back at our house.

Sunsets from the second-story deck were outstanding! Even Owen could appreciate the awesomeness of the sun sinking into the ocean, correctly referring to its shape when it was half-way down as a "semi-circle." (Thanks, Team Umizoomi!)

Owen LOVED playing in the sand! This was a big shift in how he reacted to sand on our Disney cruise trip last year (he hated it then!) I was relieved to see him dig and dig to his heart's content. It warmed my heart, actually. My very favorite part of the whole trip, in fact, was going out to the beach in the morning (typically before anyone else was out there), parking our butts in some chairs, and letting him loose with a few buckets and a shovel. He was in little boy heaven and I was in mommy paradise just watching him. I could seriously do that every morning for the rest of my life...

We also had lots of fun in the pool/hot tub at the house...

...and the private little mini-beach that was the back yard.

Owen had a lot of fun playing with (and just following around) his cousins. As the youngest of the bunch, he could come across as a little annoying to them, I'm sure, but they all got along just great during the week.

How cute is that little Addy tush???

Another favorite activity of mine was going for short walks along the beach with Owen at sunset. I swear that he grew up a little bit during this trip. I enjoyed watching him spend time really investigating things (as opposed to his typical behavior of jumping manically from one thing to another at warp speed.) Here his is checking out a sea shell that had washed up on shore.

Some other stuff worth noting: Owen did remarkably well with potty training...better than expected, in fact. Backing up just a bit, he finally started pooping on the potty pretty regularly only a few days before we left (halleluiah!!) He successfully stayed dry/clean in underwear the entire trip, with the exception of our travel days in the car and plane when we put him in a pull-up just to be safe. He even went pee on the airplane toilet, which I think is kind of a big deal (those things are crazy scary!)

And everyone managed to remain basically healthy on the trip (except for my poor SIL, Janan who was a little under the weather on-and-off for the first few days). However, on our last day there, Ryan had a slight accident in the pool and knocked out one of his front teeth (and chipped the other one). After I spazzed out for a good 20 minutes, I learned that the "tooth" that was knocked completely out was actually just a veneer, so he was not in any pain and it was easily repaired by his own dentist when we returned home. But this little gem of a photo op (with cutie pie Addy again) was too good to pass up in the meantime.

A great big thank you goes out to my in-laws for providing such an amazing trip (that I almost passed up!) for the whole family. You guys are awesome! These memories will certainly last a lifetime!!!