Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Three Weeks Old

Somehow Little Beatrice is already three weeks old. Every day she gets more alert and more active. Every day she makes all of us melt a little more. Every day seems she seems less like a new addition and feels more like she's just always been here. I've still got A LOT of catching up to do here on the blog - it's been an exciting three weeks of many "firsts," a whole week with Grandma, another epic battle against the dreaded Infant Reflux Monster and our official newborn photo shoot (start practicing your "awwww" now because I hope to post at least a sneak preview of the images tomorrow or Friday). And I haven't even started writing her full birth story. All in all, things are great! Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bea's Birthmark

As if there haven't already been enough signs that little Bea is one special little girl, check out her birthmark.  Seriously.  She has a perfect little red heart right on her chest. 

The strange thing is that it gets darker every day.  I hope it never goes away. It's the sweetest little thing.

Beatrice also has a little red birthmark on her left eyelid and a "stork bite" on the back of her neck that is identical to Josie's. Those little suckers come in handy. They're like temperature gauges. We can always tell when Josie is too hot or has a fever because it glows bright red.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Speaking of Sleep

We heart co-sleeping. Don't get me wrong; I will be the FIRST to admit that we thought the idea of co-sleeping was a little wacky before we actually had kids. I think Josie knew all along that we were destined to be an "attachment parenting" family and just helped encourage that by demanding to be by our sides from the day she came home from the hospital. (Thank you Josie. I'm sorry we doubted you in the beginning.  Thanks for being so persistent because we'd have it no other way now.)

Now that I have my phone in bed at night (because it has revolutionized night-nursing and because the "Baby ESP" app has revolutionized parenting) I get to capture some of these overnight co-sleeping moments on "film" (well technically on my memory card but you know what I mean).

There really is nothing better than cuddling with sweet Josie.  Most nights she still winds up right in the middle of us at some point, and because we only have a queen sized-bed, there are a lot of sleeping scenes like this one:

And because Josie likes to stretch out, she usually ends up with more room than Louie & I combined:

And now that Roly is here, it's fun to surprise Josie in the morning by sticking a sleeping baby next to her in bed. This morning was priceless! She reached over, eyes closed to cuddle up with the closest warm body which she assumed would be me. She wrapped herself all around Beatrice (I had the camera down at this point to prevent any three yr-old elbows from coming in contact with three week-old cheeks) and it took her a minute to realize who she was cuddling.  She popped her eyes open and let out this big surprised "WHOA!"  then closed her eyes again and cuddled up saying "Awww...Roly" and went right back to sleep.

Here's the actual overnight set-up. Bea is in the co-sleeper (which is the best invention known to parenting if you ask us) and Lou and I share what's leftover once Josie is comfortable.
As I said, we wouldn't trade all the overnight cuddles & kisses (and yes kicks) for anything in the world! However, I would GLADLY in fact GLEEFULLY trade in the queen-sized bed for a king (hint, hint Louie).

Life is good for your Four Schneiders.  In fact, I would share with the world that a certain shiny new baby sleeps like a dream but that would be unwise. A certain mama declared the same thing about a certain big sister and it totally jinxed her.  So, mum is the word on the topic of Bea's sleep habits.  I will leave it at this (and likely expand on this in a later post when we're out of the jinxing woods), I owe an apology to all of you parents who swore your babies ever exhibited any of the following behaviors: getting themselves back to sleep without crying, falling asleep without nursing, sleeping more than two hours at a time, putting themselves on their own routine/schedule.  I have to apologize because I thought you were all either a) lying through your teeth or b) somehow training (dare I say torturing?) your child into learning these behaviors.  And I have to thank the two mamas who spoke the truth to me when they had their second children and apologized to me for assuming I was doing something wrong because Josie wasn't a "good sleeper." These two moms were sweet enough to admit that they really thought they had done something right until they got second children who did not sleep well.  Three cheers for a tight circle of mama-friends!

And with that...good night.

Sleeping beauties

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Quick Quotes

I think it's safe to say two things as a result of these first two quick quotes: 1) Josie has been learning about units of measurement at school. 2) The girl is obsessed with her Tia.

Josie, last night after eating an adult portion of the pork tenderloin that Uncle Robert and cousins Morgan and Katrina brought over for dinner: "I love pork! I ate two whole gallons I think!"

Josie, last night at bedtime, "Mommy...I love you one hundred billion sixty hundred and I love Tia infinity seven."

And in case you were wondering her thoughts on big sisterhood...

When asked what her favorite thing was about being a big sister by the barista in our local neighborhood coffee shop, Josie answered: "The best thing is my big sister t-shirt!"  When asked if there's anything that's not fun about being a big sister, she replied "Uhhhh...the diapers and the boo-boo milk!"

And, here's your "Awwww, how sweet is that?" quote of the day...

Whenever Roly is a little fussy and needs some attention (i.e. when she's waking up from a nap or not thrilled with her carseat), Josie rushes to her side and always says some version of this same thing:  "Oh, don't worry Roly. It's okay. Your big sister is here."  To hear these words from her little mouth just about melts me!  Between that and the way I catch her just sitting and staring at Beatrice, watching her sleep and gently rubbing her hair or cheek...well, those are the moments I always daydreamed about that are now a reality.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Patiently waiting...

...for her turn with the photographer during Bea's newborn photoshoot. Playing dress-up works wonders for passing the time.
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Big girl...

...and a big boy
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Friday, March 25, 2011

tuckered out

It has been quite a ful week and we are all exhausted. Grandma was here all week to help out, and I made the most of having an extra pair of adult hands around by making trips to the mall, downtown, hair salon, etc.
Obviously I am way behind on the blog but plan to catch up next week. In the meantime, hope you enjoy the photo of tuckered out little Roly after her bath tonight.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

First Week as a Family

The first week at home as a family of four was pretty special. 

There was a whole lot of just sitting and staring in awe of our new addition...

And a really great walk around the neighborhood on a gorgeous day...

Some family photos...

...And a whole lot of conversations that were variations on the same theme: we are so lucky, so grateful, so amazed, so in shock and just so happy.  *Thank you*

owls nest afternoon

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love her madly

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Two weeks old

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Quick quote

Me: "Guess what Josie. Grandbms is coming on Sunday to stay the week to help us out with Roly...that way we can spend some extra time together."

Josie: "Yay!!! Does Grandma make milk?"
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The first 48...what we'll always remember

So, the previous post laid out the drama of the first 48 hours and now we can put that all behind us and focus on all the beautiful moments of the first 48 hours that we will never forget. Like these...

The first hug

The first touch


The first kiss

The second hug

A "big sister" gift from Roly

Awesome Big Sister - indeed!

Dreamland II


Proud (and Exhausted) Grandparents

Dreamland III

Oh when did she get this big?!

Going Home!

On our way...

by the way, I have a video on my phone of the moment Josephine and Beatrice first met. But, it will require some editing, because right now it's too long for youtube. Home to get it up this weekend! 

The first 48...what we'd like to forget

The first 48 hours of Beatrice's life are not exactly something any of us will ever remember too fondly.  All we wanted to do was cuddle and stare and smile and cry tears of joy. But instead it was a lot of anxiety, fear,  frustration and worry over two issues that created a whole lot of drama.

Basically, it all comes down to this.  Since she was born inside the amniotic sac and since the pushing phase of labor was so quick (literally 3 pushes inside one contraction - bag, head, shoulders) that meant that all the "goo" that normally gets pushed out of a baby as she makes her entrance into the world didn't happen for Baby Bea. Translation: she nursed like a champ straight out of the gate in the delivery room but once she got a good shake-up from her first bath by Nurse Ratched, she start vomiting up all that stuff that was stuck in her tummy. For the first 24 hours of her life, someone had to stay awake by her side with a suction bulb in hand so she wouldn't choke on the fluid, mucus, dried blood, etc that kept coming up and out of her (poor little thing).  It was awful to see such a little thing struggling so much and a couple of times we had to push the nurse button to get someone in there right away because she was gagging and choking.  The nurses "deep suctioned" her with a tube twice to try to get it all out, but it didn't help much. The consensus was to wait for 24 hours to pass before intervening in the hopes that it would all work itself out.  But it didn't.

We hit the 24 hour mark with little to no improvement and she was very, very uninterested in nursing. (The dang nurses didn't believe that she had latched at birth but I had a room full of people to prove that she had.)  I persisted at getting her at least awake and on the breast every 2 hours to stimulate production, but she was not hungry (and who would be with a belly full of goo and a very sore throat).  Once the 24 hour mark came on Wednesday afternoon, we decided with the pediatrician to "pump and wash" her little stomach, despite the fact that the nurse referred to it as "traumatic to the babies". Basically, they ran a tube down to her stomach and sucked out everything then flushed it out twice with water. Louie watched our poor little girl get emptied out, which I can only imagine was pretty awful but the good news is that IT WORKED! 

Almost instantly, the vomiting and choking stopped and it was just replaced by a pretty strong gag reflux that was the result of 24 hours of her body being trained for things to work the wrong way.  We kept plugging away with nursing but noticed another problem pretty was NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE to keep the little darling awake. She was very lethargic and even when woken up wouldn't stay awake very long (not ideal for breastfeeding obviously).  The nurses taught us all kinds of tricks to try to keep her up long enough to eat and we started to have some success as Wednesday pressed on. (Knowing what I know about breastfeeding, I knew she was fine with just the colostrum and that she wasn't starving but the nurses definitely pushed that I should supplement with formula. This will likely be the topic of a later post, but I'll just say now that we were heartbroken by this - not because they were contradicting what we know to be true and what we knew to be right for us and for Bea but because it was so easy to see how a mother who didn't have the support and knowledge about breastfeeding would be compelled to very easily give up if presented with the same situation.)

Anyway... Josie was jaundiced when she was born and Lou has a liver condition that causes jaundice as well, so we knew we wanted Bea checked for jaundice as early as possible. (They didn't catch Josie's until we were literally getting discharged and it was a chaotic mess that we didn't want to repeat with Bea.)  Not surprisingly, her jaundice screening came back positive and the warnings from the pediatrician came that we might not be able to take her home with us on Thursday as we had planned. We good news was that we did have an explanation now for the lethargy but the bad news was that we knew the quickest way to get rid of the jaundice was for her to eat! It really was a complicated problem - she won't wake up because she's jaundiced but she needs to eat to get rid of the jaundice. And all of this was made worse by the stomach problems from the first 24 hours and the gagging that was still occurring whenever she did try to eat. 

I'm not gonna lie folks, I sort of started to panic!  After all we had been through...all the drama of the pregnancy and all of the complications along the way and now all of this.  We didn't know what to do. I guess, looking back, we just sort of muddled through it minute by minute. 

Beatrice was hooked up to the bili-blanket for the jaundice by 5pm Wednesday night. They gave her 12 hours on the blanket with the plan to retest at 5am to determine if she'd need to stay at the hospital (while we went home!) or get to come home with us.  Overnight Wednesday became "Mission: Feed Bea!"  Needless to say, it was a looooong night and we ended up having some success with feeding her my pumped milk with a syringe in addition to keeping her on the breast as much as possible.  Thank goodness the test results came back low enough that we didn't have to leave her there but we did have to rent the goofy bili-blanket to take home.  (Little Bea already trying to be just like her big sister!)

And then, finally on Thursday afternoon...we got to come home!  
And boy oh boy we could not wait to get home!!!  

Fortunately, the bili-blanket worked its magic in the first 24 hours (her case was not as bad as Josie's - who needed it almost 3 days).  Here is Bea with the blanket next to her. The lit-up part goes up through the baby's clothes against the skin and must remain on at all times (through feedings but not diaper changes). It's a really stiff piece of plastic that can't possibly be comfortable for the baby. The most annoying part is the tube and the cord which makes holding and nursing difficult. But you do what you gotta do, right?  (I should mention that we were so sure Bea would probably require this thing that Lou made a special point to show Josie the other "glow-worm babies" in the nursery so that this wouldn't freak her out. Don't get me wrong, Josie was as glad to see this thing go as we were, but Lou did an awesome job of preparing her for it.)
Glow-worm Bea

Fast forward to today: Beatrice is back up to her discharge weight and doing just fine.  My milk came in very quickly once I was home and she's nursing like a champ!  She's sleeping well and a very content and relaxed baby (one extreme difference from her sister).  She is showing some early signs of reflux which we recognize having gone through that with Josie as well.  We are hoping that this is just a lingering side effect of those first 24 hours and that it's not the beginning of a chronic reflux problem like Josie had.

One last thing... I want to just say that we feel extremely lucky for a healthy child.  Beatrice's issues those first two days, while stressful and hard, absolutely pale in comparison to some of the things newborns and their families face every day in that same hospital.  Twice I have had to leave that hospital without a baby that I walked in there with (my first miscarriage sent me to the ER there and my third was the D&C there on year earlier) and it made it all the more special to put Beatrice into our car and take her home with us. Trust me, we are grateful.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

And then there were FOUR...

Beatrice Starling Schneider,3/8/11, 1:08pm, 9 lbs. 5 oz. 

It will take me a few more days to put together Bea's full birth story for the tab up at the top. The details of her amazing birth keep coming back to me in snippets and memories in the strangest of ways. As I've said, we used the Hypnobirthing method for both Josephine & Beatrice. This method teaches the birthing mom how to enter a deep state of self-hypnosis as a way to move through labor without the use of drugs or medication. Accordingly, "laborland" becomes a pretty primal, deep place and things get a little murky when it comes to recalling the details. So, as things come back and as Lou answers my questions (did I really...?), I am slowly putting the story and the details back together.

In the meantime, here's the synopsis of how little Beatrice came into the world. On Monday afternoon I had my membranes stripped as the first step in my 41-week induction. By midnight I was having pretty regular contractions at home and we headed to Good Sam for our 1am pitocin induction appointment (yep 1am). Our doula Shakira met us there. Soon I was hooked up to all the junk and had the pitocin flowing through me by about 3-4am. (This sucked because my movement was really limited due to the IV, monitors, etc but we made it work!) Lou slept, I tried to rest, Shakira & I laughed, the nurses came in and out, I worried about Josie being without us and then morning came. By about 6am things started picking up. My sister and Dad came while my mom stayed home with Josie to get her ready for school. The pitocin went up and so did the contractions. My mom got Josie to school and soon everyone was at the hospital and labor was picking up in intensity. I'll save the details for the longer birth story that I'm still piecing together but suffice it to say here that things got MUCH easier when my doctor arrived and took me off the stupid pitocin since my body had taken over (much to the nurse's surprise btw but I digress).

Things got A LOT more manageable at that point. I was liberated from all the machines and hit the shower. The bulk of my active labor and transition occurred on the birthing ball and in the shower. And things got pretty darn primal in there. (And for the record I think everyone should birth in the water!) When I came out of the shower, I was totally unaware of how close I was to her birth. I was super confused that my OBGYN was there. Apparently everyone but me knew it was almost time. Scott checked me and I was almost complete!

Then, in just a few more super intense contractions I started panicking because something felt really different and not right. As it turns out, something was different - the baby was coming - ALREADY! I had pushed for over two hours with Josie so I expected something similar this time. So, when I felt her coming only a minute or two after being declared ten centimeters, I didn't know what the heck was going on. Then - there was all this hub-bub because (brace yourself)... she was coming out still inside the amniotic sac. That's right folks, Beatrice was "born in the caul" (more on this in a minute) so the bag of water is what we saw first. It was insanely incredible. My water never broke (and she came so quickly that they never broke it for me, not that there was a need to). Three quick pushes and there she was!!!! It was total love at first sight and all of the emotions of our journey came pouring out of us! Sweet Bea has finally arrived...
love at first sight
Born in the Caul:

We all know that little Bea herself is a miracle. She fought through so many hardships in what was a very complicated pregnancy after coming to us as an enormous surprise in the first place. And the incredible circumstances surrounding her birth on the one year anniversary of the loss of her sister Camille still has us questioning/searching/wondering!  Then, to top all of this off - she was born "in the caul" - meaning that the bag of water never broke and she came into the world with her amniotic sac!   If you'd like to see a picture of what this looks like, check out this website (note: I love sharing my life with all of you, but I'm not quite ready to put my own vagina online anytime soon, although we have some great pictures thanks to Tia!).

Now, here's the cool part. Being born in the bag of unbroken water is very rare - estimates are about 1 in every 80,000 to 100,000 births.  And, dating back to medieval times, being born this way has been heralded as a sign of good luck and great fortune. Children born in the caul are said to be a great blessing since they are  "destined for greatness...born with intuitive powers...and messengers sent by a higher force to guide mankind in matters both physical and of a higher spiritual nature." To this day, people of the Buddhist faith seek out these children to be brought up to become Dalia Lamas.   Many believe these children are also destined to become midwives. You can read more about "caulbearers" and the legends surrounding them here.  Whatever you believe or don't believe, we think it's pretty special. 

In other fun trivia, Beatrice was also born on Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras and International Women's Day!

BIG Thank yous!

Make no mistake, natural childbirth requires lots of support. Every woman is different about what she needs to feel this support, but for me I really needed my family around me.  (And have no doubt this is why things worked out the way that they did. Everyone I wanted to be there was there.) 

To my sister...
I cannot tell you how much it means to me that you all rearranged everything to be there for Josie and to be there for Bea's birth.  You were so incredible during the labor that I felt like I had a second doula! When you played the video of Josie singing "Three Little Birds" in one of the toughest points of the labor and we all stood in that room and swayed and cried, I have never felt closer to you.  And as you read aloud to me the emails and messages from my friends, exactly when I needed them, it was further proof that we are deeply connected.  During the labor and since, I just keep thinking how lucky Josie and Bea are to have sisters in one another. I hope one day they can each feel the support that you have showed to me. Thank you sissy! (And please pass on our genuine appreciation to Michael for making the trip, taking the time off, keeping the kids entertained and for helping make the house spotless for our return!)

To my mom...
There for awhile, it was a real possibility that watching Josie would prevent you from being there for Bea's birth. I can't tell you how grateful I am that it didn't turn out that way.  I know how hard it is for you to see me in pain and the fact that you were so strong made me feel even stronger when I was feeling weak.  Thank you for your quiet strength and for making me feel supported. Thanks for the keeping the cold washcloths coming and for being such a good Grandma to Josie and now to Bea.

To my dad...
Daddy-O, I will never forget the image of your shoes at my feet. Something about looking down and knowing you were standing right there made me feel like I could get through anything.  (And thanks to Tia for capturing my viewpoint here...)

It means so much to me to have the kind of father who is awed by birth and not grossed out by it. Thanks for always encouraging me to stick to my principles and to be myself.  It was that sense of confidence and trust in who I am that got me through both labors and through so much else in life.

To Shakira...
Readers, please hear me...if you want to have an unmedicated childbirth then please please hire a doula.  Shakira came to us through our dear Kelly who she supported in Teddy's natural hypnobirth. Since Carrie sadly moved to Seattle (who was there for Josie's birth and saved us from what could've easily turned into a c-section had she not helped figure out how to get Josie to turn after being stuck for several hours), we were excited to have a solid recommendation from someone we really trusted.  When we met Shakira, we knew she was just right.
Thank you Shakira for never leaving my side. Thank you for the gentle, often silent reminders to relax and surrender to the birth. Thank you for advocating for me with the nurses. Thank you for the SHOWER!  Thank you for the essential oils, massages and for knowing exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.  Thank you for not letting me doubt myself in the hardest moments and for encouraging everyone in the room.

To Lou...
There simply aren't the words to thank you for everything you have endured by my side on this insane journey - moving through the pregnancy and the labor itself.  Thank you for not giving up on me, for not showing the fear on your own face, for staying strong, for holding me up when I lost the strength to stand, for speaking volumes without saying a single word and for speaking the truth when I needed to hear it most.  I am enormously blessed to have such an amazing husband and every day I smile with the thought of you being the father of our dear sweet little girls.

And To Sweet Josephine...
Your smiling little face hung just in my sight in the birthing room and I turned to that sweet smile whenever I needed a loving reminder of everything I had to work so hard for. And I thought about the moment you were born and how happy I was when I gave birth to you bright, shining face - so alert and eyes wide open ready to meet the world (a real perk of no medication) and I wanted to same thing for your little sister. And I wanted to one day be able to tell you both that your mama is strong and that you are both strong too. And that motherhood and birth are rare opportunities to prove this strength to ourselves. And your loving smile made me keep this important promise to myself and to you.

To Scott...
And a special shout-out to my OBGYN Dr. Scott Firestein who I believe is the one most responsible for protecting our vision for a natural birth.  He trusted us, followed our lead and supported us in every way. He went outside of his own comfort zone, bent his own "rules" on inductions and helped us bring Beatrice into the world without compromising what was most important to us.  We are so grateful for his help in making us a family of four. He was been with us in our darkest and brightest moments and remained a source of strong, steady calm every step of the way. And for that, we are eternally grateful.

And to you...
Finally...thanks to all of you!   I tapped into the energy of all of you (literally across the globe!) that I knew were at home burning candles, sending love, saying prayers and holding us in your hearts as we brought little Beatrice into the world.  As you've heard me say, she was brought into this world out of the wishes of so many people and we are so grateful to have shared this journey with all of you.

Welcome to the spinning world Baby Beatrice...
we are so glad you are here!