Month 5

I’ve had such lofty goals for myself with blogging Liam’s development and I just haven’t been able to keep up! Imagine that…not being able to keep up while working and being a new mom!

Rollin’ Rollin: The boy can roll! He doesn’t roll back to front consistently, but he definitely has figured out that if he doesn’t want to be on his belly, he just needs to flip himself and he’s happy as a clam again! That includes flipping himself off of us if we’re doing a combo snuggle and tummy time.

Raspberries: He figured out how to blow raspberries! This was the best Monday ever. I came home from work and he was both blowing raspberries and using different inflections in his voice to  make different sounds! I’ve been saying since birth that he likes to use his voice and I clearly was not exaggerating. Once he figured out this skill, he did not stop! He recently (last night) figured out that it’s also pretty funny to blow raspberries so when he should be eating or sleeping, he’s blowing away and giggling at himself. Even at 1:00am, it’s hilarious and just so amazing.

Chatterbox: As I said, he loves his voice! When he’s supposed to be eating, he’ll often break the latch, and look up at me, and say “gahhhhhhh!” in the most amazingly sweet voice and I just can’t. He’s got that slight baby shriek going on and it just…man. Can’t even describe!

Belly Laughs: On the day that he blew raspberries and started making other noises, he also started to belly laugh! He has been giggling for a long while, but he didn’t start to LAUGH until this month. He loves when we blow our own raspberries on his belly or when we tickle him..and sometimes even just laugh at him. I’m convinced that means he has quite the sense of humor!

Visit from Grammy Trixie: Shane’s Southern mama, Trixie, came to visit us for a long weekend and we had such a great time. She’s been so special to Shane – and to me – over the years…she and her family were absolutely his support system when he lived in Georgia. Her family gave her a plane ticket to come meet Liam for Christmas – turns out it was a gift to all four of us! I’ve always appreciated her love and affection for Shane but man – I am just obsessed with how much other people love my kid.

4 Month Checkup: My takeaway from this appointment (sorry Kristy, you said a lot and it was wonderful…this is just what stuck in my mind) is that he is a social baby! She mentioned, because dropped some percentiles in weight, that sometimes social babies get too distracted to eat and I said to myself OMG THAT’S IT. He is SUCH a social baby. He likes to look around, listen to us talk – all while he’s supposed to be eating! We’ve tried some tricks to keep him focused and we’ve pretty much figured it out but it does make us laugh! (Except when we are in a hurry or on a schedule…then it’s a pain!)

Eczema: This is definitely the most frustrating thing we’ve dealt with so far. This poor baby has had raging eczema off and on for weeks. The patches, rashes, raised hot skin…it’s so upsetting for us. It doesn’t seem to bother him much – except when he’s having a flare up. We’re keeping him greased up with both coconut oil and Beautycounter baby soothing oil and it seems to finally be working.

4 Month Sleep Regression: this is no. freakin. joke. He hasn’t slept through the night since my spring break. Ugh….. Thankfully I’ve figured out how to function on interrupted sleep but I would be SUPER happy to forget that skill and go back to…even 6 hours. I’m hopeful that this is a regression and not a pattern.

And I think that’s about it! This kid is a blast – he just keeps getting more and more and more fun, interactive, strong, adorable… He is blessed to spend half of his time with Grammy and half with Daddy – what a lucky little boy! He also gets lots of #AuntieSnuggles whenever he can.

Summer is a mere month away and I cannot wait to spend everyday watching him learn and grow – and EAT! Right around the time that I am done with school is the time that he will start to eat food – how fun! And messy! I can’t wait!


Weeks 13 and 14

First, I absolutely cannot believe that I’m writing about my three month old son. He is such a miracle, our miracle, and I’m just amazed by him every day. More to come about that after I gush about his accomplishments this week:

Standing Tall: He’s been kind of balancing on us while he practices “standing” for a while, but during these two weeks, we really noticed a difference in how he pushes down with his legs. It’s truly amazing how much strength he has! (Well, it’s amazing for me, anyway. If you’ve seen his daddy, you probably wouldn’t be terribly shocked!) He’s no where near ready to do it on his own, obviously, but he sure thinks he’s ready!

Sitting/Pulling Up: He’s not doing this for real yet either but if given the chance (aka, a sturdy looking toy on his playmat, our fingers/hands) he’s not interested in laying – he wants to SIT UP. He makes the most ridiculous faces if he’s forced lay back because he wants to sit up SO BADLY and is straining to do so with muscles that aren’t quite ready. But man – gotta give him his due for trying!

Grammy Days: We are full on into our baby-care routine! Grammy Ronda is here with him three to four days a week, depending on our schedules. She loves it, he loves it, and we especially love it. We wouldn’t have chosen to have him in the middle of a school year like this, but it’s worked out nicely. We were hoping to not send him to daycare right away, and with this arrangement, he will be about ten months old before he goes. One of the other beautiful things about Grammy being home is that Nana and Pappap, Shane’s grandparents, get to see Liam on a more regular basis. It’s good for all four of them to be together!

Celebrating: Within a day of each other, Liam turned three months and Aunt Tonia had a big birthday too so we had a birthday lunch to celebrate (baby bedtime puts a damper on nighttime celebrations!). (Hopefully over the next nine months, Liam will appreciate birthday candles more than he did that day! 😂) The next time he shares a “birthday” it’ll be his half birthday, right in between Pappap and Grandpa John. I’m sure that will be a special day. 🎉

Bye Bye Baby Acne: Poor baby has had some super rough skin for a few weeks…between cradle cap, dry winter air, and actual baby acne, his skin has been so rough. Super Dad has been at it with the coconut oil and cradle cap brush and finally, after adding traditional baby lotion to the routine, we have nice baby skin again! For his diaper area, we use coconut oil or Beautycounter baby protective balm. For the rest of him, we use Aveno Lavender Baby Lotion or Honest Company Face & Body Lotion, depending on what floor we are on when he needs greased up. (I thought I had a lot of product…this little man puts me to shame! We have lots of brands so we can see what we like and then stick with that.)

Babble, babble, babble!: This kid is CHATTY! (Can’t imagine where that comes from…) I love it! It’s so much fun. He’s not quite ready to completely mimic (though I swear he does) but we mimic him and he is just amazed that we speak the same language! 😂 Lots of laughs and smiles and more chatter. (That’s what he’s doing in the picture above!)

Fans and Grabs: New these weeks he’s more intentional about grabbing things and hanging on once he has them. Again, like everything else, I’m not sure if he’s just flailing and catches and holds on, or if he’s grabbing, but regardless, he’s got stuff in his hands that we didn’t put there and he likes it! Shockingly (not really), his favorite seems to be his moose! It’s the first toy I bought for him when I was pregnant so I think that’s pretty awesome. It’s got lots of textures – some he likes and puts in his mouth and some he definitely doesn’t but it’s pretty awesome to watch him experiment with them all. And fans…these are his jam. I don’t know if it’s the movement, what it does to the light, a combination…who knows but he is completely entertained by the fan. He laughs at it, talks to it – it’s highly entertaining for all of us.

And in other news, we are devastated for our infertility family affected by the equipment malfunction at UH. If you’ve been following along with us, you know that Liam is truly a miracle. We were unsuccessful in our attempts to conceive and we sought help, like so many other couples, from a fertility clinic. We chose RGI, a private clinic in Akron, and thank God we did. Friends have used the UH clinic with varying success and despite some early concerns we had with RGI, felt we were in good hands and thankfully, that instinct paid off. We went through one IVF cycle with two different embryo transfers (one embryo each time, one fresh and one frozen). The first, a three day embryo, didn’t take and the second, a beautiful five day frozen blastocyst became our incredible little man.

Despite the amount of developed science and medicine involved with IVF, there is still a large amount of chance. For one, there’s a good chance it won’t even work. A 60+ percent chance, in fact. Considering the cost…$30k for us…the chances just aren’t good. That said, when you pay to cryopreserve your embryos or eggs, the chance that they won’t be properly stored isn’t on anyone’s mind. Again with the chance – there’s a chance that they won’t survive the thaw (though it is a very very small chance) but that they won’t be properly kept frozen? No. In fact, IVF families pay $600 per year to eliminate that chance. I say all of this in such frustration because my heart is broken for these families that put their trust into UH, into the IVF process, and were devastated. They had hope in a can and now that hope is lost. I pray that they are able to find peace – and hope – in whatever way they can.

Weeks 11 and 12

  • Wonder Week #3: We are coming out of Wonder Week #3, “Smooth Transitons.” A lot happens then, from tracking us or objects all around, to moving his head smoothly as he does so, to noticing things – like ceiling fans – and laughing when he likes these new objects, to grabbing more deliberately. Unfortunately, with it came forgetting how to sleep through the night. He started waking up once around a week ago, then the amount of times increased until he woke up three times on Saturday night! Nooooo sir! Thankfully he was back to “normal” on Sunday night with nine hours. Who knew Shane’s habit of sleeping forever when I met him would become a trait I would appreciate in someone else? 😂

  • Rollin’ Front to Back: on February 28, he rolled from front to back! Ok so that’s basically falling, but he did it and we were so excited! I had just been lamenting that I know I’m going to miss something while I’m at work and that nothing good happens in the evening when he’s had enough of being fun and cute and is grouchy and looks like Winston Churchill instead of my cute little boy… And then he did it. And then he did it again! We had him do it three times in a row to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. Part of me is excited for the next milestone but part of me is really loving how immobile he is! 😂

  • Back to Work: This sucked, to be blunt. I’m adjusting but it’s hard! I really want to avoid bringing any work home (GOOD LUCK) so I’ve been going in extra early each day when Liam is still asleep but that isn’t my productive time. I also have a ton to catch up on, so right now it’s hard to get ahead. I may not for the rest of the school year and I’m just going to have to be ok with that! Shane has been home with him since I went back and has been amazing. Before Liam started sleeping through, he got up with every single feeding (except one night that he was sick – and I had to be mean to him and shut the nursery door in his face to get him to go to bed!), he changes diapers without flinching (as well he should, right? He was pretty convinced that he would be disgusted but it was he who jumped right in at the hospital and hasn’t slowed down!), he plays with the baby for hours on end…I knew he’d be good, but he amazes me in ways I didn’t expect.

  • Aunts and Uncles: He also has, as I’ve said so many times, a plethora of aunts and uncles (in addition to his own personal aunties) but many of them are so far away. I hope he learns the excitement of auntie and uncle visits, just like I did over the years. He got a special one – his Auntie Cindy, Dad’s sister – during these two weeks. She was always one of the “fun ones” when I was growing up (still is!!!!!) and I’m excited for him to know her in the same way. He also got to spend more time with more fun ones – his future BFFs – Great Uncle Dave and Aunt Kathy – too. I had a serious chat with my aunts and uncles after Dad passed that Liam needs them and so do Emmy and I so they better plan to be around and be important – and they absolutely are.

  • Car Show: We go every year, for better or for worse, so of course Liam had to get in on the action. It was how it always is, but it was nice to spend the time with Emily and Chris and to get more practice at taking him out. I made the mistake, however, of giving him the one bottle we brought while we were at the show – and then he melted down while we were driving and I had nothing to shove in his mouth until we got back to their house to feed him. Oops. He also slept SO MUCH throughout the day…and then woke up THREE TIMES. How do you go from nine hours of sleep a night to waking up three times?! Like we say to him a lot…good thing he’s cute!

And that’s about it! I can’t believe that we will be celebrating three months of Liam (officially, on the 12th) in just a few days. It feels like we’ve always had him – a friend told me that means he fits right in – there are no truer words!

(📸: Auntie Tonia)

Weeks 9 and 10

Baby Boy is 10 weeks today! 👶🏻

  • Sleeping Through the Night: I am so hesitant to say that and even as I write this sentence I both want to bite my figurative tongue and slap myself because before this, anyone who told me their kid (especially a younger one) was sleeping through the night needed to get kicked. I needed a reason for it – sick kid? Formula fed? What is it?! Surely it’s not the same variables as us with more success?! I wish I knew what we did go get there but I have no idea, except that we stuck to the schedule, used Babywise and Happiest Baby as much as possible, and ultimately probably just got lucky. We re-read some of Babywise tonight, looking for info about when he should start taking more than four ounces in a bottle feeding and saw that he is pretty much on track with other Babywise babies with regard to dropping the night time feeding – in fact he’s one week early. I appreciate all overachievements, especially ones that lets me sleep through the night! (Kind of – he sleeps like his father and makes a TON of racket all night! Still beats getting up to feed him!)
  • Cloth Diapers: I wrote about this at the six week mark so I guess this is more of an update… We are full cloth, as I mentioned. We have two kinds of Fuzzibunz and the bumGenius Freetime. We like the Fuzzibunz at night because we can control how much stuffing they have. I do think that’s part of the reason that Liam is sleeping through – he doesn’t seem to have a huge diaper until his second change of the day and if he does have a big diaper, it doesn’t seem to bother him as much…could be the cloth, could be a changing digestive system. Who knows? But we are loving the diapers. We have enough of the all in ones to be able to wash every third day. Our system is to rinse every diaper, wet or dirty, with the diaper sprayer, throw it in the diaper pail (a can with a lid next to the toilet) and there it waits in a wet bag until it’s time to do laundry. Tide powder with some Dawn soap, long hot cycle in the washer, then hang to dry. So far so good! It’s no more time consuming than buying diapers and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper. Two thumbs up so far! 👍👍
  • Great-Grandparents: What Liam is lacking in grandparents, he is definitely making up for it in great-grandparents. He has five people to call “great” – what a lucky little guy! I had one great grandmother in my lifetime but she lived in England and while I didn’t lack for cards and well wishes, she was not in my life. He spent some time with four of his great grandparents during these two weeks – he is loved and lucky and I could not be more grateful.
  • Finishing Up Maternity Leave: I feel so fortunate to have been able to be home for ten weeks with Liam. At first, I struggled to be home so much for a lot of reasons, the least of which is that I felt completely unprepared to keep this little man alive. As we figured each other out though, my time with him also became more and more enjoyable. When he’s on his playmat or his changing pad, he is a riot! He loves being flat on his back, looking around, batting at toys, or looking at us and cooing and laughing. How do you leave that?! To be continued, I guess!

Weeks 7 and 8

  • First Cold: Sometime around the end of Week 6 or so, Liam caught his first cold. Shane and I had it first, and try as we might, of course he caught it. It wasn’t a terrible first cold, but it did give us the chance to try out the NoseFrida! It sounds gross, but man does that thing work! The worst part of the cold was how stuffy he was – and how that impacted his sleep. The first time we used the NoseFrida it was like a hallelujah moment: the giant booger was gone, he was breathing, and we could all sleep! It took us a little while to figure out (again, thanks Dr. Google) that some saline solution up the nose would help. He was ok with the nose sucking the first time, but then, once the big boogers set in, I think it hurt. He still isn’t a huge fan of the process, but the saline loosens things up and he’s a happy little clam once he can breathe easy again! We also hung out in a steamy bathroom a few times (see below for the pathetic picture) to try to keep things loose in his nose and chest. Flash forward a couple of weeks and there’s still a lingering cough, but otherwise, we made it through the first cold!

  • First and Second Lunch Dates: Liam has been on two lunch dates so far, one with Grammy to First Watch and one with Daddy to Penn Station. Both were wonderful! He’s a pretty laid back baby – basically the completely opposite of his mommy! I’m still very nervous to take him in public. What if he cries? What if he won’t stop? He did really well at First Watch – got a little fussy but was easily soothed by Grammy. We also went at the end of lunch so we wouldn’t have disturbed anyone even if he did get a little sassy. As we ate, I noticed three other mommies with babies and figured they didn’t look any more capable than me, so why couldn’t I handle it? (That’s my strategy in so many different scenarios: I think to myself that people who are far less capable than me can handle whatever it is – why can’t I?) On our second date, he got hungry at lunch and I had to nurse him. Admittedly, this is my fear – not because I am afraid to nurse in public, but because we haven’t practiced the logistics of it enough for me to be comfortable with the maneuvers – or with nursing without my pillows (we have both a Boppy and a Brest Friend). We figured out that a wadded up blanket works well to get him in position and restaurant booths are not really the business – we both don’t fit without squishing against the table. Next time – chairs instead!

  • First #TargetRun: Speaking of “what if he cries?”, I got the sweats as we were checking out after his first #TargetRun because he started to fuss. I have so much anxiety over taking him into a store, especially a store that involves lingering. Auntie Emmy and I took him in his Target onesie…apparently one of their new marketing techniques is to send onesies to new moms who have used them for their registries. Smart – who doesn’t want an excuse to show off the new baby in the favorite store? We didn’t linger much, and like I said, he did well as we cruised around. He did get antsy at the end, but Auntie to the rescue – she entertained him while I checked out and we made it out the door before the full meltdown happened! I also got to experience nursing in the car for the first time once the meltdown set in. What a day of firsts! 🤦‍♀️

  • Groovebook: A few years ago, I saw an episode of Shark Tank that featured a product called Groovebook. The concept is pretty simple – download an app, upload your pictures, get a bound book of pictures every month for a really cheap price ($2.99 for 40-100 pictures). The “groove” cut out of the spine of the book allows the company to mail the book via media mail (aka, CHEAP). My grandparents have all remarked on various occasions that they miss out on pictures now because of how we share – if you don’t have a smart phone, you’re pretty much SOL. When it became baby time for us, I remembered the product and the conversation and downloaded the app. Now for something like $6.50 per month, each set of grandparents (the baby’s great grandparents) gets a bound book of pictures that they can either tear out or keep bound to share and store. The quality isn’t great, but it fulfills its purpose of keeping them in the loop!
  • Laying and Playing on His Back: This is definitely his jam! Sometime in the last couple of weeks we figured out that he absolutely loves his changing table(s). There’s something (for him) about how close he is to us, being flat on his back, free to wiggle…I really don’t know what it is, but I know he likes it! He comes to life – lots of cooing, laughing, chatting – when he’s on his changer – so much that when I’m not sure what else to do with him, that’s pretty much a sure fire way to get a happy baby (except when he’s hangry!). We also discovered that he loves his play mats. We used them for tummy time and didn’t really put him on his back on them – until we did one day and figured out – duh – that he really loves that too! So we’ve been having lots of fun with a happy, funny baby.

  • Wonder Week #2: I was super hesitant to tell Shane that this Wonder Week that we’re coming out of is two weeks long…a bit of a misnomer…This Wonder Week was about patterns…which I’m not sure I fully understand, but it’s like he has woken up. He has always (ok, not ALWAYS, but for a while!) been a lovely kid, but this brain growth spurt has given us a super fun baby! Like I mentioned before, he laughs, he coos, he smiles, he bats at toys, and, most importantly for the two sleep deprived parents: he seems to know us! (Thank you, God!) He also seems to look for Sadie, though that may just be my imagination. He does know what she’s all about though and preps himself for her affection when she comes around. (She is LOVING his mat time – he’s in the perfection position for her unfailing love!) One of my sister’s friends said that this is when babies start to be fun – and I couldn’t agree more! Even better, at the end of this Wonder Week, we’re finally getting some sleep! Today was the fifth night in a row of only one night time feeding. He’s been sleeping for 4.5 hours, eats for a few minutes, and then sleeps for 3.5 hours. If we go to bed right when he does, we’re almost human!

OK, I think that’s about it! He had two sports-related parties for the Super Bowl and the Olympics Opening Ceremony – we’re clearly trying to indoctrinate him early!

Six Weeks In…

And the State of the Nursery:

  • Sleep: I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting but the lack of sleep from Day 1 is amazing. I’m amazed that I’m functioning as well as I am with no sleep! In the hospital, we thought he was just fussy because we were trying to figure out feeding and he was new – that he didn’t get it, but certainly would. When we got him home the first night, we went to bed, put him in his pack and play and thought that was it! Haha poor new parents – not so! I even tried singing the lullabies my mom sang to me (specifically “In the Bleak Midwinter” which is certainly not a lullaby but is a song she sang and I thought it was super appropriate for my winter baby). He didn’t agree with my plan. We spent the first month of Liam’s life getting sleep wherever and however we could. When we went to his two week appointment, his lovely pediatrician (who is also one of my oldest friends!) told us in a super nice way that we needed to get ourselves together and find a way to get some safe sleep. We experimented with lots of methods, including safer co-sleeping, for the next two weeks until we had a TERRIBLE night of three hours of interrupted sleep and decided that enough was enough and we were no longer going to let him drive the ship. There’s lots of approaches to baby schedules – or a lack thereof – of course, but we couldn’t have that – we needed SLEEP. We busted out The Happiest Baby on the Block and Babywise and got studying, and put that boy on a schedule. And we haven’t looked back. We’re two weeks into the schedule and it’s such a work in progress, but it’s so much better. We essentially function in 2.5 to 3 hour blocks…he feeds for 30 minutes, hangs out or plays or has tummy time (or changing table time – that’s his absolute favorite!) for 30 minutes, and then goes to sleep for 1.5 hours. Or some variation in time. Usually we can get the longer naps earlier in the day but every day is different. We’ve also been getting longer stretches of sleep at night. Our best nights have at least one 4 hour stretch. Those are golden.

We also resorted to a co-sleeper pillow thing (see picture above) for him to share our bed safely. Within two nights of us having it, we put him down on it in his crib to get some things done upstairs and…he fell asleep. We decided that if he could sleep in his crib, who were we to argue and since then he’s been on the co-sleeper in the crib and we’ve been in the Queen/daybed in his room. It doesn’t completely comply with the ABC rule of sleeping but it is considered “safER” and he likes it so…it’s a win for us!

  • Bonding Time: I’ll tell you what: I am very thankful for baby smiles. I’ve loved my baby boy from the moment I saw him (and before…but in a different way) but I love him so much more (who knew that was possible?) now that we can connect with him. Thankfully, we were able to do some shuffling in the budget and I’ve been able to take four additional weeks of maternity leave (unpaid). We felt like it was really important for me to be here with him figuring things out. I miss Shane when he isn’t here, and to be honest it still freaks me out to be solely responsible for keeping a tiny person alive, but we manage and everyday is easier.

  • Technology: In the beginning, the nurses at the hospital asked us to keep track of feedings and diapers on a log. Shane did that with a vengeance. When we went to our first lactation consultant appointment and discovered that he was eating and gaining like a champ, we no longer needed the log. Only we liked it! I found an app called Baby Tracker and we are religious about it. We track his sleep, diapers, feedings, etc. Our favorite thing is his sleep because that effectively tracks ours as well. Are we human today? Yep! Got four hours! (Ugh.) We are also fans of the Wonder Weeks app. A friend shared it with me and I’m so thankful she did – it’s so nice to have a heads up about what’s coming with him developmentally. It’s also helpful to get ideas about appropriate activities for that particular stage and how to help comfort him as his brain is growing and developing.

  • Feeding: Breastfeeding is a blessing. In the beginning, because he was jaundiced, and because we weren’t sure how my milk would be impacted by the issues I had during labor and after, we had to supplement with some formula and finger feed. We did that through the first weekend after his birth. We saw a lactation consultant at our pediatrician’s office on the Monday after we were release and she was amazing. Issues that the LCs at the hospital thought I’d have were complete non-issues for her. Since that day, we’ve been 100% breast milk. We exclusively breastfed for the first four weeks but then added a bottle of expressed milk once a day at bedtime. That’s Shane’s time with him…they do bath time, talk about their days, have a bottle, read some books, listen to music, and go to bed. We were concerned that he wouldn’t be willing to take a bottle when I return to work but he takes it like a champ! Despite the struggles at the very beginning, I am very thankful to have a good supply and the ability to sustain my baby myself – talk about a miracle!

  • Sadie: I knew my girl would be ok with the baby because she’s such a good protector once she accepts someone as part of her pack – we just had to make sure that Liam was accepted. Now she spends lots of time cleaning him (which he doesn’t seem to mind at all!) and loving him and ignoring it when he pulls her hair. (As you’ll notice below, she’s a HUGE fan of his time on the floor – tummy or otherwise!) I’m excited for when he’s bigger and they can actually play. For now, he just gets lots and lots of her insatiable affection. (If you know Sadie, you know what I mean!)

  • Cloth Diapers: I decided years and years ago that I wanted to give cloth diapers a shot. Thankfully my husband didn’t think I was completely insane and gave in after some research of his own to see that it would save us a ton of money and wouldn’t fill up landfills. (You can see one of the diapers peeking out from under his nightgown in one of the Sadie pictures.) Shane gave in when he saw that the all in one diapers are essentially as easy as disposable so that’s the route we took (specifically with the bumgenius Freetime). We also have a few pocket diapers (you stuff a pocket in the diaper with a soaker of your choosing) for nighttime because he has quite the bladder and the nature of the pocket diaper allows us to control the absorbency – and therefore, the length of our sleep!
  • Sizing Him Up: He’s almost 13 pounds! 😳 At birth, he was 20.5″ long and 8 pounds, 2 ounces. The last estimated measurements from Week 39 of my pregnancy were 21.8″ and 7.9 pounds. Close!
  • Family: Truly, we would not be able to do this without our family. I spend a lot of time being insanely sad that I am doing this without my parents but even without those four very important hands, we have had tremendous help from our sisters and Grammy Ronda. They have been amazing with meals, with laundry, with cleaning, and with lots of moral support. We definitely would NOT be able to do this, and do it as well as we have, without so much support. We pay them in baby snuggles.

So six weeks in and we are coming out of the newborn fog. Our schedule is paying off and us giving us a sense of normalcy – thank God! Onward and upward – hopefully with more sleep! 😂😴


Liam’s Birth Story

I was induced on Monday morning, December 11. I didn’t give birth until 12:42 PM on December 12, 2017. If you’re keeping track that’s approximately 28 hours in labor with approximately three and a half hours of pushing.

I suppose that’s probably where the story begins: with the birth of the most perfect little baby boy.

It was decided that I would be induced during a conversation at our last prenatal doctor’s appointment. We hadn’t talked a ton about it before then – and on that day, it was just a question: “what happens if he’s not here by the 9th?” Dr. Fisher suggested that we consider induction and we said rather quickly:  “Monday?!” I was so ready for my maternity leave to begin and to have some semblance of a schedule (which is pretty hilarious in hindsight as I wrote most of this during middle of the night feedings and haven’t had an actual full night’s sleep since October!). We then had the weekend to finalize arrangements and pack our things (and repack and recheck!) before our appointment in Labor and Delivery.

December 11: Things were pretty easy at first – just blood work, blood pressure, etc., as I was hooked up to machines and had an IV inserted in preparation for my Pitocin drip. It didn’t go as easily as all that though because my blood pressure was unstable. The drugs began around then to regulate my BP but the drug that worked the best was crazy – it dropped my pressures in about five seconds and gave me a scary feeling in my brain – like I had cold rain spreading across it. I was glad the meds worked to lower the pressure but did not enjoy the scary drop. Anyway, because the pressures were not easily controlled, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. So much for being the anomaly.

When you’re diagnosed with preeclampsia, you take magnesium to prevent seizures. Magnesium has a very strange effect on the body…making you SO hot, disoriented, and, in my case, desperate for ice chips. The fabulous Nurse Melissa told me – and was right on – that the first thirty minutes on it are the worst and they were. It also causes nausea so I had to take it easy on anything going in…which was awful because I hadn’t eaten anything since 7:00 on Sunday night and all I wanted to do was guzzle a big huge glass of water. When I did finally get some water in the form of melted ice chips, we had to find the vomit bag and peppermint oil in a hurry. Thankfully, the oil did its job (many times that day)!

In the meantime, we had a cheering section waiting for us in the waiting room all day and all night. Our sisters took the day off of work, Shane’s mom and grandparents made the trek from Madison, his stepdad Hank Ubered in from the airport (talk about timing), and Dave and Kathy joined us after work. We definitely felt the love!

While the cheering section settled in, my job was just to hang out and get dilated! I progressed fairly slowly, but I did progress, which was great – the alternative is a c-section! (Speaking of, I was certain I would have a c-section, pretty much all through my pregnancy, and especially when the pressures were so irregular. On this end of a vaginal delivery though, I am so thankful that my recovery didn’t also include major surgery!) The doctors checked me every four hours or so, which was NOT ok with Shane, who wanted to know on a constant basis how things were moving along. Even when I got to 9.5 centimeters, they still didn’t return to check for another four hours. (Shane was freaking out at this point…pacing…sweating…you’d have thought he was in labor!)

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I also got my epidural. I told my nurse really early on that I wanted one and she suggested another IV drug that just took the edge off and would allow me to make a decision about when I actually wanted the epidural, if at all. That sounded pretty great but apparently the drug conflicted with my allergies so I went right for the good stuff. Maybe I had the nurse of the century and a rockin anesthesiologist but the epidural procedure was not a big deal at all. Hardly any discomfort! My only complaint was that Shane had to step out – through every other procedure – except my surgery – I was able to convince the doctors and nurses that I needed him but this was a “hard no” from the team. I’m sure ultimately it was good for him to get a break – and some food without torturing me with it!

The night went on like that: me dilating, attempting sleep, Shane in and out, the cheering section in and out and attempting sleep in the waiting room. Our overnight nurse, Karen, was also wonderful. These Labor and Delivery teams are amazing. We were nothing short of impressed with each of them.

December 12: That brings us to 9:00am on Tuesday, December 12, when I was told that it was finally time to push! Sometime between the waiting around through contractions and go time, Emily went home to shower, change, etc., Grandma and Grandad and Hank went to their hotel rooms, and everyone (except Shane and me!) became a bit more human. Emily arrived back at the hospital just in time for the pushing to begin and our Dream Team of Shane and me, Emily, and Grammy Ronda got busy preparing to welcome the baby. We did some practice pushes with our nurses (whatever that means…) and then the doctors came in and confirmed that I was pushing correctly. The OB resident on my case explained the process of pushing the baby under the pelvic bone, which sounded nearly freakin impossible, and I spent the next nearly three and a half hours pushing with (nearly) every contraction attempting to accomplish that task. (Full disclosure: I definitely skipped a couple!) The nurses, physicians, Coach Emily, and Coach Daddy were fantastic: we’ve seen enough movies to know that Daddy would likely hold one of my legs but Auntie Emmy made up her own job of holding up my head for the pushes – who knew that was just as important?! When we got closer and closer to delivery, all of the coaching and all of the voices became more and more important and more and more essential to my success! (Corny…and true!!)

I was hoping he would be born at 12:12 on 12/12 but with each contraction, I watched the clock and I knew there was no way I’d have him out by then. I did, however, know that it would be soon when the room began to fill up with medical professionals. I focused on the visual of rocking him under my pelvic bone until they announced that his head was RIGHT THERE.

Until that point, I had been pushing three times through (most of) the contractions… when they told me he was RIGHT THERE and I could feel him RIGHT THERE, I gave up on the conservative three pushes and went for it. Two contractions and eight pushes later it was 12:42 and I was holding my baby boy! What a feeling! For me it was the biggest relief – physically and emotionally – combined with the strongest emotions all at once. The first thought I had clearly was that he looked exactly like my mom – and that he definitely has his daddy’s lips. 🙂 My other “first thought” that I immediately shared with Shane was that it was all worth it. Our fertility journey flashed before my eyes, including the money it took to get there, and when I held Liam, held Shane, and cried, my heart felt so complete and so assured that everything that happened along the way, though so difficult, was exactly as it should be.

Right after delivery, Daddy cut the cord and Liam was with me for just a moment as they needed to take him for some assessments and to clean him up. Auntie Emmy and Grammy Ronda stayed with him and took lots of pictures while Daddy went to the waiting room to announce the baby’s birth to our cheering section. The placenta delivery process was more involved than I was expecting…because they took Liam away, I could concentrate on what was happening, which I hear is not normal – usually people don’t even remember delivering the placenta. They had me push a few times and it wasn’t budging…in my post-delivery, magnesium induced haze, I was very concerned that I had “what Kim Kardashian had” – the doctors and midwife assured me that I was not headed for stardom with my placental complications…and that I didn’t even have any – just a stubborn placenta! I told them…again, in a haze…that I felt it when it implanted – it only made sense that I would feel it detach! (Insert facepalm/oversharing Alison emoji here…)

Meanwhile, Auntie Emmy and Grammy Ronda worked on welcoming the baby to the world. I asked Emily to be in charge of the essential oil diffuser and taking pictures and she did both beautifully. I have so many pictures of the birth event and I’m so thankful for that. They stayed with us and soaked up as much Liam Love as possible. While they were with us, we got to reveal the name (FINALLY). We loved calling him Eugene throughout the pregnancy, but it never did feel right once he was with us – he is definitely Liam!

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur for me, unfortunately. We were able to introduce him to everyone who came to see us, which was completely magical. Seeing our family members meet the newest member was, simply, life changing. He met grandparents, great-grandparents, his aunt, his great uncle (who is certain to become his best friend), and, of course, Mom and Dad. I was still very unsteady through the afternoon from the magnesium so he spent much of the afternoon in his family members’ arms. Because I was admitted as a high risk patient, I had a one-on-one nurse for the entire labor and delivery process, which was AWESOME. Generally, pre-eclampsia patients who require magnesium need extra monitoring, so they stay in their labor room for more one-on-one care. (Our delivery nurses were amazing. One even came to find me the next day when she came back to work – and came in early for it! – to give me a hug and tell me she was proud of me. Talk about care!) I was taken off of the magnesium earlier than usual because it was having an adverse effect on my kidney levels. They usually keep people who are on magnesium in the delivery room for another 24 hours, but because I came off sooner than normal, they weren’t sure where to put me after delivery. Shane advocated hard for me to stay with extra monitoring, so they compromised and moved me to an antepartum room (for the moms who need special care before delivery) for more specialized care than could be provided in the postpartum rooms. The good news about the move is that we could have as many guests as we wanted at any given time, instead of the two we were allowed in Labor and Delivery. The better news is that I also FINALLY got a shower and FINALLY got some real food.

One of the more hilarious things that happened was Shane’s adventure with the reclining chair. After spending months in hospitals with Dad, we became very familiar with hospital furniture, so when we were getting settled in our Labor and Delivery room, Shane asked for a recliner. We were told that there was one for the ward (which, if that’s true, is absolutely ridiculous) and was being used. We went along with that for a while, until it was truly time for us to get some sleep, and Shane decided to push it a little. A chair materialized and then, for the next four days, it became his. We commandeered the chair and used it to move our things from L&D, then later to another room in postpartum, and certainly for sleeping when the couch/bed thing wasn’t cutting it.

December 13: On Day 2, December 13, we started with a pretty crazy diagnosis from one of the doctors on my case: I experienced fairly significant blood loss…enough so that I needed a transfusion of two units of blood. The irony of that, of course, is that I’m the blood drive coordinator at school, so I spend a lot of time trying to convince teenagers to donate blood…I’m thinking the conversation will be much easier now that I have my own personal story to share.

Anyway, there was lots of conversation about how to tackle my dropping red blood cell levels, including just iron supplements, but as a team, we decided that our best bet was the transfusion. It was as easy as any other IV drip but it took forever. Our nurse changed the settings so that it would go faster, however it still took most of the day to get both units of blood. I didn’t realize how crappy I was feeling until after I got the first bag and got up to use the restroom. I felt like a completely different person. Shane remarked that I still looked yellow…yellow?! Apparently my coloring was off and had been since delivery day. I didn’t notice, but who can really get a good gauge of their looks in a hospital bathroom? In the end, the transfusion helped to bring my blood levels back up, and, at least from my perspective, helped to counteract the negative effects of the magnesium, and I was back to feeling somewhat human again.

Good thing, because that afternoon, they let us know that Liam was jaundiced. It’s super common, something like 60% of babies are jaundiced at birth and need special treatment (at least according to Dr. Google!) but it is still a bit disarming when your new baby needs special attention and can’t be held as readily. Once he was under the portable bili light it was far easier, but until then, we had to suffer through his need to be comforted and our inability to do so. In fact, we sent him to the nursery at one point, simply because there was nothing we could do for him and we were destroyed. Speaking of, when we toured Hillcrest, the guide made it very clear that the hospital’s preference is that parents don’t use the nursery. In fact, that’s spelled out on the intake paperwork with registration. Thank GOD for mommy friends who said SCREW THAT and SEND HIM TO THE NURSERY!!! The first time we felt SO guilty – and then we got over that and learned to ignore any judge-y looks from nurses and sent him straight there. Bring him back for food, we said, and we got some sleep. We didn’t know it then, but thus began our three to four hour sleep stretches that would become our new normal.

That night, we moved to a postpartum room, which we were glad of, but we also had more to tackle. Because Liam was jaundiced, we had to supplement his feedings with formula – via tube and finger. The lactation consultant who told me this (Shane had stepped out) talked so fast and shared so much information that I was completely overwhelmed and had no idea what was happening. Thankfully Aunt Tonia was there with me and caught a lot of it. Once we figured things out, finger feeding was super easy and we were super thankful to be able to get him the nutrition he needed while I was healing and he was under the lights.

Also that night, the head of our pediatrician’s  practice called us to explain the jaundice and the office’s plan for us. We chose Senders’ Pediatrics because one of my oldest friends is a nurse practitioner there. I don’t know any other pediatricians and it seemed foolish to look for recommendations when I knew I had one that I trust wholeheartedly. She is a brilliant mind and I would never wonder if Liam was getting the best care. Easy decision! The best part though is that, turns out, the practice is amazing. We were impressed that Dr. Senders called us at night (around 9:00pm) to explain to two scared new parents about what this jaundice is all about – and have continued to be completely impressed with the practice ever since.

December 14

On Thursday the 14th, we met another pediatrician from Senders. She was amazing. My doctors were ready to discharge me but Liam wasn’t quite ready. As we were getting that news – and thinking OMG what does THAT look like?! – she told us that her plan was to keep me on as a boarding mother/the food source.

Backing up, one of the frustrating things about that day was that the doctors in charge of my care decided to discharge me despite my low red blood count and unstable blood pressure. I’m hyper aware of the potential for error in care because of what we’ve experienced with our parents and other family members, so when the same team that wanted to take me off of my blood pressure meds (the meds I’ve been on since I was in my early twenties) wanted to send me home still anemic and with irregular pressures, I was not happy. When the pediatrician recommended that we stay another night to get our bearings (and inadvertently get a little extra monitoring for me) we were SO happy.

Per the doctor’s advice, we spent the day trying to get our bearings with Liam. Easier said than done of course! We also had even more visitors that night, some of the most special in the world, my Uncle Dave and Aunt Kathy, and my Grandma Cox and my Grandma Elaine. Sharing in our joy (and terror!) was one of the greatest blessings of our hospital stay – and in our lives in general! Despite what we’ve lost and what we don’t have, we do have tremendous joy in the people who surround us.

December 15

On Friday the 15th, we were discharged – finally! A third pediatrician saw us that day and reported that Liam’s levels looked great and we were good to go!

The funniest thing about the discharge process was that a nurse came in to go over our instructions, paperwork, etc., and then asked if we were ready to go. We said yep, just need to finish packing and get the baby dressed (it was 12 degrees outside – he needed bundled!), so she said she would call transport. Well, apparently transport is overstaffed or just really really efficient because they arrived really fast – long before we were ready. No big deal at all – except the transport told on us! We were laughing at ourselves as we tried to dress this baby in a ton of layers – especially when he peed through his first layer – and the transport decided that we didn’t know what we were doing and needed the nurse to assist. Insert eyeroll here. We sent him away as we finished up getting Liam together, and another transport arrived (who happened to be one of my former students) and we were on our way! The drive home was uneventful, thank God. When we arrived, we found a house decorated in welcome home banners and signs (thanks Aunt Tonia) and attempted to become parents (and are still trying to do so!).

Overall, we really did love Liam’s birth experience. It was stressful and beautiful and scary and exciting and overwhelming and the most amazing undertaking of our lives. It was – and is – the most incredible juxtaposition. Away we go…