Monday, November 30, 2015

Archer Benedict: The birth story

We're getting admitted!  I'm a lot more excited than I appear to be.

The waiting begins.

My hospital gown glam shot.

Almost time!

Ella, meet Archer.

One of my sweet nephews meeting his new cousin!

Gotta love a good birth story, am I right?  All that talk about epidurals and dilation and hospital turkey dinners.  I've thought long about whether or not I wanted to share my birth story this time around.  The setting is an intimate one and people have all those opinions that are sometimes hard to take when it comes to birthing experiences.  During my last weeks of pregnancy though, I found myself going back and reading Ella's birth story, and hence, I decided to go ahead and share how our little Archer entered the world.

I went into labor just shy of November 23rd around 10:30 PM.  I was convinced it was a false alarm, because I had been feeling like I was going into labor for weeks prior.  Starting at 37 weeks, I had a number of nights full of timing contractions.  This made the middle of November feel like a complete blur and left me anxious to go into labor.  So when I was watching Harry Styles get wild on the AMA stage and I began another round of timing, I thought the evening wouldn't turn into anything (except maybe me eating another box of Oreos while watching JLo's many outfit changes).

Wrong I was.

I timed.  They fluctuated.  Five, three, ten minutes apart.  The rule of thumb is head to the hospital when you reach the 5-1-1 rule -- when you've been contracting for a minute or longer five minutes apart for one hour.  To my surprise, I arrived at the 5-1-1 and we began to gather our bags - our bags that had been packed, unpacked, and packed again.  We woke up Ella, texted my sister-in-law and to the birthing center we went.

In triage, the contractions started to space out and discouragement set in.  It is official.  I'm going to be pregnant forever.  But it wasn't long before they were back in full swing and rising in intensity.  They did some tests and check ups.  It was almost 1AM and I was close to 5 cm dilated.  5?!  Amen.  I had to labor for almost 17 hours last time just to get to a 3.5.  (Insert raise the roof emoji.)  We were admitted, hospital gown and all, and we had a little time to kill. I Instagrammed and perused Facebook, texted my best friends.  I felt completely different during this labor experience than my last.  When I got to the hospital with my first, I was already in the birthing zone.  The back labor was so painful, I didn't have the energy to talk or think to text my best friend.  This time?  Tim and I were taking selfies and getting pictures to remember the night.  For the most part, I felt the contractions in my stomach so the pain was much much more manageable.

I opted to get an epidural around 5:30AM and the decision to do so was a bit harder this time around.  I knew I wanted to wait until I was at least 6 cm along, but I found the pain to still be manageable when I reached 6 cm.  So I let my energy be my deciding factor.  I hadn't progressed much since being admitted and going off my first labor experience I was prepared to be in labor from anywhere up to 24 hours.  I got the epidural, was able to relax, and proceeded to find a position that brought on the contractions.  After, things started to progress quickly and around 10AM the doctor was brought in and we all geared up for little guy's big debut.  And less than 10 minutes of active pushing, our little guy was here!

Archer Benedict Lochner.  Born on November 23rd at 10:18AM weighing in at 7lb 10 oz 20 inches long.

And for the hours following, Tim and I just bonded with our sweet boy.  We discovered his blue eyes, took in his newborn smell, and debated who he looked like.  I already can't remember or imagine what life was like or would be like without him.  The little bundle is simply perfect;  I'm beyond grateful he's our's and I'm honored to be his mom.

Welcome, Archie!  Get ready to be dressed in a whole lot of cute little dude flannel.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mixed feelings Friday

The day has arrived - the due date.  So we're all basically sitting around waiting.  I mean, not really. Tim's working.  I'm trying to get as much done around here as I can while avoiding the cookies in the cupboard and the Reese's on the counter (seriously, why do I buy these things?)

I'm trying to stay busy, because this cloud of mixed feelings has decided to follow me around all of sudden.  I'm nervous.  I'm excited.  For some reason I feel bad my attention will soon be even more divided and the for the fact that the TV's been on more than I'd like lately.  Really all kinds of weird feelings happening today -- like, what if I'm pregnant forever?

I know one thing, if I spend Thanksgiving in the hospital, I'll be purchasing (or sending my husband to purchase) some sort of gluten-free pie that I will not be sharing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A look back

When I made a more serious commitment to blogging, I was six days away from having Ella. Unfortunately, I had lost much, if not all, of the work I did documenting my first pregnancy journey for my job (this is where I learned to always back up your work - duh).  So I decided to take this post, 3 days away from another due date, to reflect on the last nine months.

If you've been following my pregnancy updates, you know this pregnancy has been so different from my last.  Morning sickness seemed to never leave with my first and never seemed to truly hit me during this pregnancy.  During my first pregnancy, I worked throughout.  The second?  A desk job wasn't in the picture.  With my first, I had a deep sense of loneliness and isolation and craved to be back in my home state of Michigan.  And, while this time around, I've experienced a twinge of hurt here and there of not being able to share this journey with some of the people I love most, I've felt stronger, more equipped, and energized by the love and support of the family that surrounds me. Everything seems different, down to our current zip code.

This pregnancy hasn't gone by without struggle, and I suppose that's to be expected with every pregnancy.  Having a baby is such an accomplishment and a great blessing, but I can't help but to feel deeply for the woman nestling a water bottle and pack of saltines while clearly struggling to fill out her paperwork at the doctor's office or the woman who is struggling to walk and looking like she's seconds away from breaking down.  The sacrificial aspect of parenting begins while our babies are in the womb, and I think it often times takes us off guard.  It goes far beyond the simple realities of not being able to eat salami (damn) and kick back with a hard cider, it means getting up in the morning with a smile on your face even though within seconds you'll be greeted by pain when you get out of bed.  It means thanking God for the ability to carry a child despite how many sleepless, heartburn-filled nights you have.  

I've tried to make that my focus over the past nine months.  God (and my husband) knows I've struggled.  I've complained, I've cried, I've claimed I'm not having another child for at least 5 years, but at the end of the day I head to the fridge where my 3D image of my little guy resides and am overcome with gratitude.

I've always wanted a boy in the vague wouldn't-it-be-cool-to-dress-a-little-guy-in-flannel sort of way. Now I'm excited my husband will have a son, Ella will have a sibling, and I'll have a little guy to call "bud" (and dress in cute flannel).  I'm not looking forward to lengthy burps or getting excited over spiders or making mud angels, but I'm sure I'll grow to love those things as I experience them through the eyes of a curious little boy.

So hurry on up, little dude, 'cause mama's impatient (I'm working on it) and we're all over eager to meet you and snuggle you and gift you stuffed animals and all things cute baby boy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What I've Learned: On confidence and true beauty

When I feel most beautiful and most free -- during a gut-breaking laugh with people I love.
I've always been categorized into the stereotypical attractive box.  I say this after years of being inappropriately hit on or approached, receiving comments made by female peers, and engaging in shallow relationships.  I had a certain hair color, a certain build, a chest, and a bum which left me as the girl who guys wanted to get with, but never wanted to be with and girls labeling me as "that girl", the one who didn't have problems, or feelings because I had, excuse my french, a rack.

I was sub par in school.  I performed average on standardized tests, I often fell in the middle of the class ranking, and always fiercely fighting anxiety, my participation grades consistently suffered.

I was sub par in sports.  I liked sports.  I enjoyed playing them, but I was cut from the basketball team, struggled to complete a 100 free-style and always finished near the bottom when having to run that damn mile in gym class.

I was not outgoing.  Usually when you encounter someone with long blonde hair, they're outgoing, right?  Those girls are always portrayed as the Regina Georges and it's the girls with the untamed bouncing curls that are portrayed as the shy ones.  If you happen to have long blonde hair and boobs but are not fond of striking up conversation with anyone and everyone, you're labeled as rude, bitchy, and standoffish.

I was always a little "weird".  I liked country music, I liked ABC news specials, I was friends with those who were friends with the "popular" group, but never really floated in it myself.  I had my chair pulled out from underneath me and was laughed at on more than one occasion.  I had a wardrobe from Meijers, Mervyn's and JC Penny, not Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch.

But as I got older, I quickly came to learn I did excel in one area though and that was my appearance. People would stare and construction workers would whistle and I received comments about my features.  And after a while, a long while trying to discover passions and strengths but consistently falling under the average bracket, I thought bring it.  I bought the American Eagle cut off's, I'd go for the skimpy bikini and then take those awful selfies and make them my MySpace profile picture (insert countless cringing faces).  I relied on my appearance for confidence, acceptance, and validation.  I guess it worked for a little while, as a long as something like that can "work".  But eventually, inevitably, my confidence was pulled out from underneath me and I found myself flat on my ass looking for my worth, self-esteem and what the hell it was I actually stood for.  And when that happened I began to hate my appearance. When I'd receive a perfectly friendly compliment on my outfit or hair, I'd resent it.  I'd find myself jealous of the very girls who claimed to be jealous of me.  At least they're valued for their smarts, interests, and intelligence, something substantial I thought.

It wasn't until in college, in a PR class, when I started to gain perspective and understand what beauty, confidence and self-worth truly meant.  During one particular class, we had to give presentations for a mock company.  As everyone, I gave mine and waited for the feedback.  I got my well-rounded, full feedback, but all I clung to was one line:  you're fun to look at.  There it was.  I was so hurt by the remark, I nearly needed to leave the class to mask my welling eyes.  It was that same professor who ultimately brought me back down to earth and explained what should have been explained to me years prior - what true beauty is, what self-worth is, and what a comment such as that one encompasses.

Slowly but surely, my outlook shifted.  I began to understand that the outward really doesn't matter as much as the inward, that we shape our confidence, and choose how we want to be seen. This has led me to not caring if people know that I enjoy watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians, that I don't fully understand the game of football but enjoy watching it, that I like Nick Jonas and Justin Bieber, and near religiously watch Live with Kelly and Michael and sometimes shop in the men's section.  I do what I love and I do it unapologetic-ally.

It's also led me to second guess ever saying, he's driving a BMW so he can't have problems,  or she's a celebrity, so she asked to be bashed on the front of tabloids.  It's taught me no matter who you are, where you live, what your bank statements say that none of us are immune to being human and dealing with hurtful comments or insecurities or anything of the sort.  I've learned anything less than embracing who we are and drawing confidence from the inside out is a recipe for unhappiness and continual dissatisfaction.

At 25, my confidence can still be shaken.  Having such an emphasis on my appearance for a long time, gaining weight during pregnancy has been one the recent confidence-shakers I've dealt with. But I know what it means to love and be myself.  It's a whole type of free that I never knew.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

37 week update

T-minus 2 weeks and 3 days to go!  Although if I'm being honest at all, he can come whenever he is ready even if it's a few days early...

The last update I posted was my 30 week update, so I thought I'd post a little bit of what's been going on.  This will (hopefully) be the last one before his arrival.

So what's been going on?

We toured the birth center a few weeks back.  I'm happy we ended up going for a tour and I'm happy with what we saw.  The place gave off a relaxed vibe, the people were extremely friendly, and the staff seemed accommodating.  This center is near opposite to the hospital I had Ella in.  The hospital, which no longer exists, was older, like...had a waiting room labeled "Husband Waiting Room" older. They operated a bit on the old school side.  The staff was great, but the overall atmosphere was a bit uncomfortable.  I'm thankful and excited for the upgrade!

At 35 weeks, I had my last ultrasound to rule out any potential problems they were following during recent months, and all is well.  It was a little unreal to see a 3D ultrasound that late in the game. We could see a bit of what he actually looks like.

Halloween candy and Oreos are the only things that sound appealing.  I've had a bit of first trimester like morning sickness lately and the texture of many foods have turned me off.  As for symptoms? I've had a lot of early labor like symptoms: pressure, back pain, stronger Braxton Hicks, loss of appetite, nausea.

Overall, I'm really, really excited to meet this little man.  Thankfully, lately when I've thought about going into labor the excitement has outweighed the nerves.  I know that will change a bit once I start having contractions, but I've been grateful for calmed nerves this time around.  I had such high anxiety during the last weeks of my first pregnancy, it's a relief to be able to soak in this excitement.

Stay tuned!  I haven't yet decided how I'm going to document the birth story and all that, but I'll be undoubtedly sharing newborn pictures and all the changes that come with going from a family of three to four.  Thanks for your support along the way.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Tricks, treats, and lessons learned

This Halloween was full of lessons.  The first being learned in the crazed, picked-over Halloween section at Target.  Getting ready for baby, Halloween preparations were a bit neglected this year, so we had to pick up a couple (very) last minute things from the store for our evening out.    It was insane.  People trying on costumes in the middle of the aisles, people on cell phones trying to pass the people trying on costumes, me attempting to bend over and get something off the bottom shelf.  Ella was hungry and therefore, cranky.  I was waddling in pain.  And poor Tim was trying to keep it together for all of us.  We walked out saying never again.  Just like the next person, I tend to scoff at the Christmas floor sets bleeding into the Halloween floor sets.  But, admittedly after that trip I appreciated our anticipation for Christmas a little more.  I'll now be shopping early for the rest of my life.

We surprisingly made it to my brother-in-law's parents' house relatively on time, all in costume, tears dry, and treat held in a festive container in hand.  Food and beverage were served and then the real event of the evening began, trick-or-treating.  I wasn't sure how Ella was going to handle trick-or-treating.  Between it being dark, the rain, and foreign faces, I thought she might not be that into it.  If you know this little one, you know she's a shy one.  But you can't take a kid away from Halloween, right?  This kid was all about it!  By the end of the evening she was yelling in excitement and running from house to house.  This mom couldn't stop smiling.  I was so overjoyed to see her having so much fun.  I quickly realized there's nothing quite like celebrating the holidays through the eye's of our little ones, and I immediately became overwhelmingly excited for all our future holidays as a family.

I hope you had fun-filled night.  We overcame the curve balls and worries and it turned into a Halloween to remember.