Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Conception to Birth to Baptism - remembering a crazy year!

No sooner had we announced we were pregnant than my friend Jessica started speculating about the conception date - it seems it's a hobby of hers to figure this out - and at least for us, she was right on the money :) As for the rest of you who never did the math, Carter was conceived one year ago this month. Stephen and I constantly remark on how life 'BC' (before Carter) seems like it was a zillion years ago. It's hard to remember a time when he wasn't the center of our tiny universe. The range of emotions we have felt and the growing he's done, not to mention the growing we've done, is just phenomenal and indescribable. To imagine one year ago today not a cell in his body existed is mind boggling. If we didn't firmly believe in God's awesome power and depth before this experience, we certainly do now.

Pregnancy was a wild and crazy journey - The entire first trimester, we were so scared our little bean wouldn't "stick." I must have taken about 20 pregnancy tests and I know my amazing mother spent many a precious moment in the St. Michael's chapel praying for us and the little life inside me. Despite all my worries and fears, he was busy growing and making his momma sick as a dog!

It got pretty ugly there for a while, and I do mean ugly. I lost a ton of weight, my hair was falling out, the toilet was constantly getting cleaned, and to this day I have a strange aversion to anything mint flavored. It got so bad at one point that I had to cut back to part time at work (thank goodness for an understanding boss!).

Just when I didn't think I could take it anymore and was questioning if it was all worth it, I remember laying in bed one night after a particularly bad 'episode' and feeling the faintest of flutters. My heart stopped and I held my breath - and then to my astonishment, I felt it again! My life changed in that instant, and I knew I could take whatever was to come.

Of course by the time the second trimester rolled around I was feeling MUCH better, and before long, we were ready to tell the world. Many of you may remember this photo f/ our Christmas card :)

I was exactly 14 weeks here and just starting to get my energy back. Boy was I skinny! But not in a good way - 14 weeks on a B.R.A.T. (bananas, rice, apples, toast) diet will make anyone a little slimmer, but I was more than ready to have some real food and start making up for lost nutrition!

At 20 weeks, we were blessed with another incredible joy - the anatomy ultrasound. Going into it, I was so eager to see our little baby and receive some reassurance he was ok, and of course find out if we were having a boy or a girl! Once I got over the initial shock that we were having a boy (I just knew it was a girl - so much for mother's intuition!), the experience was amazing - we saw the four tiny chambers of his heart beating in perfect harmony. The ultrasound tech pointed out the two halves of his perfectly formed brain, kidneys, a liver, bladder, stomach, and other indecipherable organs. And of course we saw his perfect little hands and feet, not to mention his precious face, but more than anything we saw a tiny miracle. Stephen and I were both bawling and we practically floated out of radiology on cloud 9 - we were so thankful our little 'sea monkey' (couldn't call him 'the bean' anymore) was healthy.

The third trimester brought new challenges. Work was getting more stressful by the minute as the home building industry took one hit after another. I managed to survive several rounds of layoffs only to have my workload increase three-fold. But despite the demands of work, I found time to get involved with an amazing program called 'fit for two' through our local YMCA. Prenatal yoga and water aerobics were only part of the fun - connecting with a whole group of young first-time moms-to-be was the best part of the program. In fact, we still get together weekly with all of our babies! Having these woman to share this journey with has been a highlight of the past year. Here's a shot of a few of us at one of our recent lunches (it's not a complete picture, though - babies Caroline, Callie and John were either absent our hadn't make their debut yet!)

As the third trimester came to a close, Stephen and I took some time out from our busy work schedules and paused between items of our lengthy 'to-do-before-Carter-comes' checklist to capture the moment. Here we are at 32 weeks. I look at these pictures and just think "suckers - enjoy your sleep now because you have NO idea what your are in for!" :)

The last eight weeks seemed to drag on worse that this post! We had a ton to do, but I was so ready to be done with work and to meet our son, not to mention the heart-burn, discomfort of hauling another human around, braxton hicks contractions, and difficulty sleeping were starting to wear on me.

As I went into hyper-nesting mode, Stephen was fantastic about putting up with all my grumpiness and neurotic "we're not going to get everything done in time!" melt-downs. He had a handy-man over to finish some lingering honey-do's. My mom and sister came up to help me clean. Stephen's parent's helped us put the finishing touches on the nursery, and my cousin Sarah even came up to help me clean some more!

Thanks to my incredible husband and family, we got it all done. In fact we were so efficient, I ended up with a whole week off of work with no job, no baby and not much left to do. I almost went crazy that week - at one point I actually caught myself lint-rolling the cats.

I decided I needed to get out of the house so I scheduled a pedicure for the Saturday before my Monday due-date. Of course that would do it - I started having contractions the morning my pedicure was scheduled, but by God, I wasn't going into labor with unpolished toes, so I kept my appointment. :)

Once I got home from my appointment, we had dinner and watched some TV, and then I got in the shower, still not 100% convinced this was it. After a few knee-buckling contractions mid-shower I figured it was time to start timing them. Sure enough they were about 7-10 minutes apart. I called the on-call Dr. and she told us to come on in!

Poor Stephen had been spread out on the dining room table trying to get some last-minute work done so he could take two full days off to be with me in the hospital, and when he heard me make the call, he packed up his stuff. We got checked in and I continued to labor while he finished up his work (thank goodness for Wi-fi).

I initially wanted to try with no drugs so I toughed it out to 7cm, before I cried 'uncle' and got the epidural. Holy cow that is a wonderful invention! I went from blinding pain to asking the L&D nurse "am I still having contractions??" It wasn't much longer and it was time to push. Still pretty numb, it was a very surreal experience, but after thirty minutes, he was out!

Cater Stephen Childress was born May 18th, 2008 (the day before his due date) at 6:58am. I wouldn't say it was love at first sight so much as shock - he was huge! Not gargantuan or anything, but at 8lbs 7.9oz, he was a lot heftier than the 7lbs my Ob-gyn kept estimating.

The next two days in the hospital were a blur - nights and days blended together as we rested, recovered, and saw visitors (including my sister in law who drove all the way from Austin!). One moment will forever stick out in my mind, though - it was late, all the visitors had left and Stephen was sleeping. Carter was all bundled up in the plastic bassinet next to my bed in true baby-burrito fashion (as only a hospital nurse can do). I peered over at him in awe and laid my hand on his chest to feel him breath. Just at that moment he got the hiccups - something he had done dozens of times in the womb. As I felt the familiar rhythm under my palm, I closed my eyes and cried. I realized at that moment that he would never be inside me and a part of me again - that chapter of our lives had ended, and a very new and exciting one was beginning.

We left the hospital and Stephen carefully navigated nail-biting Houston traffic to get our little family home safe and sound on May 20th. My mom was there to help us get settled in. It was a rough few days - Carter had his days and nights backward and even though sleep had been difficult during that last trimester, it had at least been possible. That was no longer the case and the transition took some getting used to. In no time, though, we hit our stride and really started to feel like a family.

These past few months have had their ups and downs and have truly flown by. We've been blessed with many visitors, including one very wonderful lactation consultant that has helped me through the adventures of breast-feeding (worthy of a whole post all its own). But more than anything else, we're just enjoying being a family.

Carter's baptism provided the perfect book-end to this unbelievable year. Last weekend we celebrated the sacrament with his aunt and uncle (his sponsors), friends and family. It was so touching to see so many people gather to show their love and support that it deserves a post all its own, so stay tuned for that.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and since it's late and I've already written a novella, I'll let our pictures do the rest of the typing.

Note: If the slide show has ended, select "View All Images" to see it in a new window.

Day 1-3: Birth, Hospital and Home

May 21-31, 2008

Carter's 2 week portraits

June 2008

July 2008

1 comment:

Erika said...

Gina! It all seems so familiar to me...I know exactly what you're saying. It's wonderful.
I love the blog. I can keep up with you now!