Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Recap

Whelp. 2015 was a big year for us. We definitely did not sit idle.

It started in January. I got a promotion to vice president of marketing. I didn't blog about it for a couple reasons. One, I haven't done much blogging lately aside from my Butternut letters. Two, I don't talk about my job much online. My Facebook post from January sums it up pretty well:

It is rare when I talk about my job on social media. This is a deliberate choice. I want to break this self-imposed rule today because I have some big news I want to share with you, my friends. I have been promoted to vice president of marketing at Insurance Technologies Corporation! A couple years post-graduate school into my career I realized where my dream was, where I wanted to be. And for the last 3+ years I have lived it and I continue to live it every day. Life is good.

Almost a year later, this hasn't changed. I love my job and the people I get to work with. 

In February, John started a new job. As a result of his new commute and the fact that we were expecting a baby, we decided to sell our house. We wanted a little more space and to move closer to both our jobs. After a crazy and stressful couple months, we managed to do just that.

We love our new neighborhood and commutes. Seriously, it now only takes me 15 minutes to get to work when traffic is bad. We love our new house. In fact, John just asked me last night if I missed anything about our old house. The answer was not much.

Then Greta came. And our lives and hearts expanded even more.

(Pictures by Sassypants Photography)

It's hard to explain how it happened. It just did. I don't love Willa any less because of Greta. I just found more capacity to love within myself.

Right before I came back to work after having Greta, we discovered John's old Jetta needed repairs that would cost more than it was worth. So we bought a minivan. 

It's still a little weird for me to think of myself as a minivan mom now. But that's what I am. It has already proved itself to be the right car for us multiple times. It certainly made getting all of us, Cooper and our bags and Christmas presents to and from Christmas celebrations much easier.

Also recently, we crossed off a huge goal for us: we got life insurance. Adulting advanced level unlocked. (More on this later.) (Hopefully.)

So in 2015, I got a promotion. John got a new job. We sold our first house. Bought a new one. Had a baby. Bought a car. Bought life insurance. (We've done our part for the economy this year.)
And this was just the big things. We also went to Hilton Head, South Carolina, on a trip with my friends from graduate school. 

We went to Hot Springs, Arkansas, for our first vacation as a family of four. (Willa had croup. It was not the best trip ever, but we still had a good time.) 

2015 was a huge success. I hope 2016 is ready. It's got to follow a really great year.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Butternut Month 5

Dear Greta,

This month you started giggling. You laugh most often at your big sister, which makes my heart grow every time I witness it. You've also found your feet. If you're not otherwise contained, your feet are going automatically in your mouth. I wish I had your flexibility.

We've tried to give you rice cereal a couple times now. The first time you were so hangry you wanted nothing to do with it. I'm not sure what your deal was the second time, but it was only slightly more successful than our first attempt. We'll try again in the next few days. Fingers crossed you take to it soon and start to get more calories from table food.

It may be silly, but I'm hoping that as you start to take in more calories, you'll start consistently sleeping through the night. Every month as I increase how much milk you drink at daycare, I have this hope. But to no avail. Yup. Those late night feedings are still happening. Sometimes you even wake up twice. Once again this month, you did sleep through the night a few times here and there, but that was it. I'm doing my best not to wish away a time I might later miss, but I'm going to be frank. I'm tired.

You've become quick to reach for and grab things. You've knocked cups of water over, pulled a full juice bottle off the counter, and will grab a fistful of hair without hesitation. Much to your sister's consternation. I've tried to tell her she either needs to let me put her hair up or stay out of your face. She hasn't really grasped that lesson yet so you keep pulling her hair, and she keeps acting surprised that you did it. I'm sure it won't be long before you do it intentionally.

We have gotten many comments lately about how you don't cry. And you don't, unless you're hungry or tired. You're such a laid back, easy going baby that we'll put you on your playmat or in your chair, and you could be fine there for at least 30 minutes. It certainly makes getting things done around the house easier.

You ran your first Turkey Trot last week. Well, to be fair, I did all the running. You slept in your stroller for the first mile or so. I was a little worried about how you would do, and if you needed to eat, that I was going to have to stop and sit on the curb to nurse you. I should have known better because I know you just go with the flow (see above paragraph). I hope you come to enjoy that Thanksgiving tradition as much as I do.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Butternut Month 4

Dear Greta,

This month you've worked on perfecting your skills rather than adding more to your collection. You're adept at rolling over preferring to sleep on your stomach than your back so you immediately roll over as soon as we lay you down. You're holding your head steady and are reaching for the toys that hang on the handle of your car seat. You're even trying to contribute to the morning conversations between me and your big sister on our way to daycare.

One thing you're still not really doing... sleeping through the night. Though you've done it sporadically through this month. When you do wake up, I'm not immediately feeding you and am instead seeing if I can get you back to sleep first. But sometimes you insist upon it, so we still have an occasional two a.m. cuddle just the two of us. And though I would really like my uninterrupted sleep back, I really do enjoy those cuddles when the house is quiet.

So quick to smile, I love to be the one that brings a smile to your face. But, I love it even more when it is your sister that makes you smile. 

You are so alert watching everything around you. Whether it's a fan, the blanket you're lying on, or your sister, you are often content sitting where you are, watching what's around you. You even sometimes forgo an afternoon nap because you insist upon watching the other babies in your classroom. (Though evenings would be a little smoother if you would just take that nap. I'm just saying.)

You're such a laid back baby who goes with the flow. Even if it involves enduring the storm that comes with a toddler's tantrums. Thank goodness you can still nap just about anywhere.

Daddy and I had tickets to the A&M vs Alabama football game a couple weeks ago so you and Willa stayed at your Aunt Lola's house. I completely forgot your milk until we pulled into their driveway. Since we didn't have the time to go back home before we left for College Station, I bought some formula. I felt like a horrible mother having to do that and was anxious how you'd do taking formula. Until that day, you had only ever had breast milk. I made Lola swear to text me after your first bottle. When I got the text that you sucked it all down, I felt a little less like a bad mother. I am glad to know that when the time comes, you shouldn't have any problem transitioning to formula.

It's hard to say whether you enjoyed your first Halloween. You were Lambie to Willa's Doc McStuffins. The lamb headdress was huge on your head. While you didn't mind it at first, I did take it off after we had been trick or treating for a little bit. Eventually, you got tired, so I carried you until you fell asleep. I'm just grateful no one was throwing up this time.

Sometimes when I'm holding you and we're having dinner or just sitting around the living room, I can't help but look at your daddy and remind both of us how blessed we are. 


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Butternut Month 3

Dear Greta,

Well, like I predicted, you stopped sleeping through the night about the same time I went back to work. It hasn't been too bad. You wake up once and nurse for about 20 minutes and then promptly go back to sleep. Then I can crawl back into my own bed. I'm making it work by trying to go to bed early and not being super strict with myself on my early morning workout schedule. A couple nights (not back to back) this week you slept through the night. I am excited but wary. There is possibly some light at the end of this tunnel, but I don't know how much farther we have to go yet. Still, I enjoy the cuddles with you when the rest of the house is quiet.

You started daycare the same day I went back to work. As a second child, it was much easier to drop you off that first day than it was for me with your big sister. I talked with your teachers about your schedule, how much you eat, etc. As I was leaving, they said I could call if I needed to check on you. But I was confident you would be fine (you were), and knew that while I would miss you terribly (I did and do), I would be fine too.

Your teachers talk about how sweet you are. And everyone says you and your big sister look like twins with different color hair. Personally, I don't think you look exactly alike but you do share similarities. 

You're still breastfeeding like a champ. Our freezers have a big supply of milk as I started pumping and storing milk when you were only a couple weeks old. I'm glad you haven't had any issues with breastfeeding. Our freezer supply is enough to last a month after you stop actively breastfeeding. I don't have a plan for how long you'll breastfeed and am instead focused on enjoying it while it lasts.

This month you started rolling over. At first it was just front to back. And then it was back to front. Now when we get you out of your crib you're more often than not lying on your stomach. Whenever you want to slow down, I am a hundred percent okay with it.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Butternut Month 2

Dear Greta,

Happy two months! Life hasn't changed that much in the last month though you are changing every day. You're starting to get chunky. You've got dimples on your elbows and knees now and one on your cheek that shows up when you smile. It's adorable. You've also started to coo at me when I talk to you. It is the sweetest sound.

You've been sleeping in your own room for the last month, and, though I don't want to brag too much in case I jinx it, you've already started sleeping through the night. I put you down about 8/8:30, and you will usually sleep until 7/7:30. There is the occasional night when you wake up once, but more often than not, you don't. I am grateful but wary. Your sister was sleeping through the night until I went back to work then she stopped for a while. I would not be surprised if you did the same.

Earlier this month we had a sip & see party for you when family, friends and neighbors dropped by to see you. The most common comment I hear about you is how much dark hair you have. The second most common is how much we look alike. 

Last week we took a little family vacation to Hot Springs, Arkansas. My plan was for a long weekend of fun just the four of us. But Willa got sick so we ended up spending most our time in the condo we rented. You didn't mind. You enjoyed hanging out with us whatever we did. When we did get to explore Hot Springs National Park a little, you rolled with it and did beautifully.  You were great in the car. Since you're rear facing, I have no idea if you slept the whole time. But even if you didn't, you were content and quiet.

I finally finished your birth story a few days ago. It took me several weeks to write it all out as it's quite a long story. As painful and as hard as it was to live through, it is one of the most beautiful memories in my life, and one I will cherish. Always.

We're almost to the end of our full time together. In 11 days, I'll go back to work, and you'll start at the same daycare as your sister. Part of me is looking forward to getting back to normal. But part of me is sad. I have enjoyed every second of my time with you on maternity leave. I'm going to miss you during the day just like I still miss your sister.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Butternut: A Birth Story

Greta was born on Friday, July 3, but her birth story actually starts two days earlier.

TL;DR - I had a successful VBAC.

I knew before I was even pregnant that I wanted to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). My doctor had already told me I was a good candidate for a VBAC because my c section was due to Willa being breech and not because my body didn't progress with labor. During my prenatal appointments for Greta, my doctor again confirmed that if I wanted, I could try for a VBAC. Even with the risks, I had to try. I wanted a vaginal birth if I could have it. It was an experience I yearned for.

It was about three o'clock in the morning on Wednesday, July 1, when I woke up because of some cramping. It took me 30 seconds or so to rise up into consciousness and realize that the pain I was feeling were contractions. And not the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been feeling for a while. These were strong and much lower than the Braxton-Hicks. Stronger than the true contractions that had been irregular for a couple weeks up until then.

The wave of the contraction passed, and I tried to go back to sleep. Twelve minutes later, another came crashing over me. About this time I realized I was alone in bed as John had sought the quiet of the guest room that night. (Apparently I snore at the end of my pregnancies. It has happened both times.)

For the next several hours, the contractions continued to come every 10-12 minutes. With the regularity and intensity, I knew these weren't practice contractions. That this was the beginning of labor. But my doctor told me not to go to the hospital until contractions were 5-7 minutes apart. So I breathed through each contraction as it came and waited. They never got closer together and eventually I managed to get out of bed and take a shower.

When the hour became more decent, I woke up John and told him I thought today might be the day. We talked about what to do and made a plan to get Willa up and to daycare and see if the contractions continued. We made calls to all our family members to let them know it would be soon. But by the time we got Willa to daycare, the contractions had slowed down and lessened in intensity. I decided to call my doctor and get her opinion. She agreed that it wasn't time to go to the hospital yet.

The bigger decision to be made... do I go into work or stay at home? Spoiler alert: I went to work. I knew if I stayed at home and labor did not progress that I would feel guilty and lazy for that decision. I also had a couple final things I wanted to get done at work before I left on maternity leave. I know. I should have stayed home to rest. I took it easy at work, and instead of going to book club that night, I went home instead.

That evening the contractions started coming harder and faster again. Still not fast enough to go to the hospital. I listened to some good advice and took a warm bubble bath before I tried to go to sleep. It was relaxing, and I was able to sleep for an hour or so before a contraction woke me up. That night the contractions were intense, but they were irregular with intervals that were 15-30 minutes. I would sit up in bed and sometimes rock back and forth while focusing on breathing to get through each one. I didn't get much sleep.

Once again, when the morning came the contractions grew even further apart. However, the intensity was still there. Since my contractions were still pretty intense, and I was exhausted from not really sleeping, I decided to stay home. I did a little bit of work in the morning and then tried to relax. I had my 39 week prenatal appointment that afternoon. Before John left for work, I told him he would need to come home at lunch so he could drive me. There was no way I wanted to drive myself. Since my contractions were strong, I didn't want to have one while driving.

Lucky for me, my mom was in Dallas that day for a work meeting. We met her for lunch before my appointment. And since she was as anxious as we were to find out if the show was really getting started, and she didn't want to be back in Fort Worth in case my doctor declared at my appointment the baby was coming that day, she came to the doctor's office with us.

The doctor confirmed I was a couple centimeters dilated and mostly effaced, further proof that this show was warming up. We talked strategy of what to do should contractions progress enough to go to the hospital over the holiday weekend. We made plans for an appointment on Monday in the (extremely unlikely) case that I didn't have her over the weekend. As we walked out, I was partly relieved that I didn't have high blood pressure or any other complication that would have resulted in induction and/or a caesarean section and partly disappointed that I had no more clues as to when this was going to happen.

On the way to our cars, my mom suggested she play hooky that afternoon, and we go get pedicures. (It's an old wives tale that getting your feet rubbed can induce labor. I must say the evidence from many women I know suggest its plausibility. It certainly couldn't hurt, and I'd have pretty toes.) We sat in the massage chairs and talked about different scenarios and plans for what we'd do with Willa when it came time. After pedicures, we picked up Willa from daycare, and my mom took us home.

That evening with just the three of us, I tried to relax. But the contractions were already getting stronger. I called my sister-in-law Jen who is a doula to ask her advice on how to deal with the pain until it was time to go to the hospital where I planned to have an epidural. She suggested several positions that were good for relieving pain in the lower back where I was feeling it mostly. She also suggested I create my own hot compress with a sock and rice. (That thing was the best.)

Once again I took a warm bath to relax before trying to go to bed. I wasn't asleep long before the contractions woke me up shortly after 10. This time I couldn't even sit up in bed. I somehow managed to slide off the side of the bed and tried several positions to see if it felt any better. What I finally found to work for me was hugging my exercise ball and rolling on it back and forth. After the contraction passed, I crawled back into bed to try to sleep only 10 minutes later to be back on the floor hugging that ball.

This happened a few more times before John made the decision to call his parents to come over to be in the house with Willa while we went to the hospital. I then called my parents to let them know we had called John's parents to come over and would likely be on the way to the hospital soon. After I hung up with my mom, I called my doctor who said she'd let the hospital know we were on our way and gave me instructions on which entrance to use since it was late in the evening.

I actually contemplated taking a shower while we waited for John's parents. But then another contraction came, and I wasn't confident in my ability to stand for the duration of a shower. I reasoned I had taken a bath right before bed so I was probably okay. We got dressed, and John got his stuff in the car as my bag had already been there for a couple weeks.

(Poor Cooper. He was confused as to what was going on. The evening started like normal and then we started turning lights back on and walking around the house and packing things. He didn't know what to think.)

My in laws arrived. We gave them some instructions and talked tentative plans for us to call when it would be a good time to bring Willa to the hospital. I did my best to be my usual gregarious self while contractions kept coming, and I couldn't help but wish I was already at the hospital with the epidural administered. After a few minutes, we were finally on our way.

The drive was uneventful. John didn't break any speed records, and we arrived within 15 minutes pulling up in front of the entrance for after hours labor and delivery arrivals. I'm amazed they let us in after John told the nurse on the intercom "We need to come in." I thought for sure they would think we were crazy or something. But when I mentioned my name and my doctor's name, they opened the doors for us.

I wasn't able to walk at my normal pace so we slowly made our way into the hospital and up to labor and delivery where I checked in and tried to remain standing while John filled out the paperwork. After walking gradually to my room, I changed into a hospital gown and crawled into bed hoping that the check in process would be quick. At this point it was about 12:30 a.m.

I got settled in bed and started answering the nurse's questions. John went to get the rest of our stuff out of the car and move it into an actual parking spot. But before he left, the nurse asked him if he wanted to wait and see if labor had really started and I would be staying. "Oh. It's started. We're not leaving." was his reply.

The nurse took my information and checked to see how much I had dilated. It was enough that the doctor confirmed I should be admitted and wouldn't be leaving. This was a relief because it meant as soon as my IV was inserted, I could get an epidural.

My contractions were coming stronger and faster. I started squeezing John's hand every time one came to help me focus on something else besides the pain. Finally. Finally, an hour and a half after arriving, the nurse anesthetist came to administer the epidural. She warned me about how it may be hard to sit still, but I wasn't worried. I was prepared to do whatever I needed to do so the pain would be numbed.

She had said it may take up to 30 minutes to be completely numb, but I started relaxing almost immediately and chatting more with the nurses. I hadn't been especially chatty up to til then. My legs felt warm and tingly. I was so happy to be at this point... Labor started and progressing naturally. I didn't have to be induced. Epidural administered. (My doctor and I had talked about the epidural a couple weeks prior and agreed that getting an epidural was the best call in case there was an emergency situation. Then the epidural would already be in place, and I wouldn't have to be completely put under and could be awake for a c section if needed.)

At some point during the admitting process, my parents had arrived. After the epidural was confirmed to be successful, they were allowed back in. This was about 2 a.m. so we were all instructed to try and get some sleep while we could. I still had several centimeters to go before it was time to push.

John and my parents slept on the pull out couch and chair in the room. I tried to sleep. Honest I did. But I had so much adrenaline flowing through me that I couldn't turn my brain off so I didn't get much sleep. I did doze a bit. It didn't help that the nurse had me in a position on my side with a leg raised to try and encourage my progress. The nurse came in a few times over the next several hours to change my position.

Sometime around 5ish I was feeling pain in my lower pelvis and even though I had pushed the button for more medicine, it wasn't helping much. I was starting to feel contractions again. So I mentioned it to my nurse and after discussing it decided to order a bolus. It felt like cool water had been poured down my back and once again, I couldn't feel the contractions.

The nurse shift change happened at 7 a.m., and my doctor arrived at the hospital. John and my dad went to get breakfast while I got checked again. I had progressed but still wasn't at the magic number of 10 centimeters. We did discover at this time that Greta was sunny side up aka face up. Luckily, this didn't mean a c section. Just meant that delivery may be a little bit tougher. So once again it was time to get into different positions to encourage not only cervical dilation but also see if Greta would flip over.

The doctor broke my water and noticed something to be concerned about... meconium came out with the amniotic fluid. It meant Greta already had her first bowel movement. The concern was that she may have breathed some of the meconium in. It meant that she would have to be looked at immediately following birth to make sure she hadn't swallowed any of it and that her breathing was clear. Once again, it didn't mean an automatic c section (thank goodness).

I was starting to feel pain in my lower pelvis again around 8ish so I rang for the nurse to ask for another bolus. My nurse was busy so the charge nurse came in to help me. While she was there, she checked to see how much I was dilated. It was about 8 centimeters. The nurse said something about pitocin. I told her I had no pitocin, that the progress was all me. She was surprised and encouraged me to keep going.

The rest of the morning was spent in various positions trying to use gravity for Greta to put more pressure on my cervix so it would finish dilating and also in the hopes that maybe she would turn on her stomach.

My sister arrived and sat with me for a while. It was during this time that my nurse had me on my hands and knees in the hospital bed. Conversation with my sister was interesting seeing as my butt was in the air. This was by far the most uncomfortable of all the positions she had me in, but I didn't care. Whatever I needed to do to deliver that baby vaginally, I was going to do.

After about 30 minutes on my hands and knees, I had had enough and asked to be repositioned. I was at 9 centimeters, and my doctor suggested we try a little bit of pitocin to get me the rest of the way. I was a little disappointed to be using pitocin at all. But considering how I got to 9 all on my own, it didn't really bother me that much.

At about noon, my doctor declared it time. Nurses started prepping, and there was a lot of activity in the room. My doctor gave me instructions for pushing. It felt so surreal. Like I was watching it instead of experiencing it.

The pain in my lower pelvis was becoming more pronounced again, so I asked if I could have a bolus. They wouldn't let me have it because they wanted me to have enough feeling to be able to push. This did not help my anxiety.

I had started trembling an hour or so before this even though I wasn't cold. It was partly my hormones and partly anxiety. I remembered how I trembled being wheeled into the operating room to have Willa. As the morning went on and my labor progressed, I got more and more nervous about the job I had to do. Even though this was my second baby, because of the c section, my body was responding to this birth as if it were my first. I had no idea what to expect, and I was scared. Scared of the pain, scared of a potential second c section after all that work I had already done. But dammit I was determined. I took strength from John and my mom who were both there with me and from the rest of my family who were in the waiting room.

My legs went into the stirrups, and as a contraction came, I pushed. I wish I could say I pushed a few times, and she was born, but this was not a movie. It did not happen that fast. Despite my epidural I felt a lot of pressure and some pain. My doctor gave me a local anesthetic, but I don't know how much it actually helped. 

I closed my eyes to try and remove myself from the pain I was experiencing. I was getting tired, and my doctor noticed. She gave me three options: 1. Continue pushing as I had been. 2. Try the vacuum to see if that would help. 3. C section. I absolutely did NOT want the c section. I had not just been through all that labor pain to end this thing in a c section. So I gave her permission to try the vacuum.

Three attempts with the vacuum didn't do much to get Greta to budge, but it was successful in another way. I realized if I wanted to avoid the c section, I was going to have to dig deep. That it didn't matter how tired I felt, I was going to have to find the energy from somewhere to get across that VBAC finish line.

My delivery nurse was a petite woman who was an obstetrician in China. During labor she knew which positions would work to get my cervix to open up and Greta to move into position. During the pushing she encouraged me to grab my legs rather than the handles on the bed. And I hate to admit it, but she was right. Grabbing behind my knees worked much better than the handles did even if it did hurt more. 

At some point my doctor needed to step out, and the nurse moved into her position so I could continue pushing. She was really good at encouraging me, but whenever the nurse touched me to try and stretch the birth canal, the pain became much worse. It was so bad that I envisioned what it would be like to kick her in the head. My legs were in a good position. I could say it just slipped  during a contraction while I was pushing. I didn't do it, but it felt good to dream about it and gave me something else to think about.

The pain and the pressure were getting more intense. I thought back to my swimming days and remembered something my coach would tell me... swim through the wall. Don't stop before you get there. Put all your energy, all your power into those final strokes, and hit the wall strong. I found the energy I needed and put all I had left into pushing. 

Finally, almost two hours since I had started, at 1:43 p.m. Greta was here. The pressure was gone, and my beautiful girl was here. It was an emotional moment. I was elated, relieved. There was so much joy. I had to wait until the doctor was done stitching me up before I got to hold her. When we finally got a chance to go skin-to-skin, I whispered to her and told her I was proud of her. Together we accomplished something beautiful and miraculous.

I knew what we had accomplished was great, but I didn't fully realize it until later when I was in my postpartum room. Every nurse we had would express surprise and admiration when she learned I had a VBAC, especially given Greta's size (8 lb 10 oz). That's when I started to understand what we had done. Not every woman can attempt a VBAC, and not every doctor does them. Even the women who try for a VBAC often have a repeat c section. I feel lucky that I had a doctor who encouraged me to try and not give up.

The lesson I took from this was not the first time I had learned it, but it was the most glorious version I've ever experienced... that I can accomplish great things when I am determined. Sure it may not be pretty and it may hurt, but the result can be beautiful... just like my sweet Greta.

Picture taken by Sassypants Photography

Monday, August 3, 2015

Butternut Month 1

Dear Greta,

It's been one month since you joined us. You have slid into your place in this family as if you've been here all along. All of us are enamored with you. Your sister runs into the house in the evening squealing, and the first thing she does is look for you. You are too young yet to react to her kisses and hugs though I look forward to the day when you are just as smitten with her as she is with you.

So far you've been an easy baby. You're easy to soothe. It usually just takes a paci and some cuddles, and you settle right down. Unless you're hangry. Then you make sure the whole neighborhood knows how mad you are.

Except for the second and third nights you spent on this earth when you were up every 1-2 hours, you've been a good sleeper at night. For a couple weeks now, you've only been waking up once to nurse, usually around 3 or 4. Though a couple times you've gone all the way til 5. You've been sleeping in our room this month. I'm planning to move you to your room this week so we'll see how that affects things.

Picture taken by Sassypants Photography

Your favorite game is Let's Poop in the Fresh Diaper Mom Just Put On Me. You're really good at it, having reached master status already.

When your sister was a baby, I was too nervous to leave the house with her by myself. So I spent the majority of those first couple months at home. With you I have had no such anxiety. We run errands a couple days a week together. Some trips are better than others, but it is always good to get out of the house. And I no longer stress if you start to fuss in a store. I pull out the sling, and you're much happier hanging out there as I finish up.

I've already called you by your sister's name more than once. I'm afraid that's something you're just going to have to get used to. If it makes you feel any better, Omy still calls me Laura on occasion.

Welcome to the world, baby girl. We are so happy you're here.


Picture taken by Sassypants Photography

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Butternut's Here!

For anyone who doesn't follow me on Twitter or Instagram and therefore hasn't seen the news... Butternut's here!

Greta Ruth Schroeder became the newest member of our little family on Friday, July 3rd at 1:43 p.m. She weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces and measured at 20.5 inches. Long and lean.

Full birth story to come soon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

38 Weeks

Ugh. 38 weeks pregnant. Nine months for all you out there who need a monthly count.

How do I feel? (I've been getting asked this question a lot in the last couple weeks.)

In no certain order...

- Hot
- Huge
- Uncomfortable
- Like I've been pregnant forever
- Hot
- Tired
- Overwhelmed
- Hot
- So incredibly blessed

But mostly I'm just hot and tired. Seriously. Mad props to all those mothers who went through third trimesters in July, August and September in Texas. It's only June, and I'm nearing the end, and I still want to climb into an ice bath every day. You made it through those hellish months. You deserve an award.

I've enjoyed this pregnancy and getting to carry Butternut with me these last nine months. But I am ready to evict this child and claim my body back as the sole occupant.


We've been talking a lot with Willa lately about her baby sister. Where baby sister will sleep. Which one is her seat in the car. Which toys are hers. As we've pulled out the baby stuff in preparation of Butternut's arrival, she would use every toddler's favorite word: Mine! After we explained to her that it was for baby sister, she seemed to accept it. Fingers crossed she'll accept her actual baby sister as quickly. And if she doesn't... well, she will eventually as I know years from now she's not going to remember her life without her baby sister in it.


Life feels a little surreal these days. We're standing at the edge of another huge life change, and we're just waiting for it to happen. A life changing event can happen any day of your life. But much of the time, you're not expecting it. Knowing how drastically our lives are about to change and just wondering which day it will be (Is it today?) is a weird feeling I'm not sure I'll ever get used to.


Mostly, I'm excited. To see this new beautiful baby of ours. I've dreamed about her so much lately. Part of me wonders if there is room for her. Intellectually I know there is. It's just hard to imagine the emotional side, how it's possible for a heart to expand that much. But that is exactly what I expect my heart to do.

Life is going to get harder. But it's also going to be more vibrant and fuller than ever.

Butternut, I hope you're packed. Moving day is coming soon, and we can't wait to meet you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The C Word

I knew eventually that I would have to watch what I say around Willa. That she would start aping every word that came out of our mouths. 

Swear words were the obvious ones on the list of what not to say around a two year old. But there was one word that I didn't expect. That four-letter, c-word... cake.

Willa loves cake. I mean LOVES cake. This became obvious one particular Saturday a few weeks ago.

I woke her up from her nap to get ready for a birthday party for a friend's two-year-old son. She was cranky and not cooperating with my requests to change her diaper and clothes. So I decided to bribe her with the promise of birthday cake.

BIG mistake.

She heard the word cake and then would not let go of it for the next couple hours.

Not while we all finished getting ready to go to the party.

Not during the drive to the party.

Not when we got to the party.

We tried to distract her with other things...

Willa, do you want to play on the playground?

No. Cake.

Willa, do you want to play with your cousin Lily?


Willa, do you want to eat a hot dog?

No. Cake. (Though Cheetos were an acceptable alternative.)

Willa, let's watch him open presents.


She was singularly focused and was not to be deterred from her goal of getting some cake. At one point as we drove to the party and she kept asking for cake, John looked at me and said he hoped there would be cake or we were going to be in trouble.

Cake can even be demanded at breakfast though at that point she usually means of the flat and pan variety.

Now if anyone mentions cake around her, they better be prepared to fulfill the promise, no matter how obscure, or they're going to find themselves with a new two-year-old member of their family.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Case Study in Pregnancy Announcements

When I was pregnant with Willa, I knew exactly how I wanted to announce it. So we did a photo session that I used in a blog post to announce the news.

With Butternut I didn't think I'd do another pregnancy announcement photo session. But, I knew I wanted to use an image of Willa. Eventually, I had my revelation... #WillaWednesday.

In an effort to be somewhat regular in sharing pictures on Instagram, I started sharing a picture every Wednesday of Willa with the hashtag #WillaWednesday. I also share the pictures on Twitter and Facebook. It was the perfect opportunity to share the news that we were having baby #2.

I looked through my album of recent photos I took and found a couple contenders. Trying to land on the wording was a little harder. But once I did, it came together.

What my inner (okay sometimes outer) marketing geek found interesting, is the difference in engagement (fancy marketing word for number of people liking and commenting) between the two announcements.

Willa's was a blog post that I shared the link on Facebook with the cryptic message "I wrote this, and I promise you don't want to miss it. So please read... Nugget"

Butternut's was a picture with the caption "So this is happening #WillaWednesday"

Willa's Facebook announcement had 34 likes and 22 comments. Butternut's had 139 likes and 56 comments.

I don't think it is because people were more excited to hear I was pregnant the second time. I think the difference comes down to what all those social media tips and tricks articles are always saying... images get better engagement. Period.

It's not something most people care about or even pay attention to. But this marketing geek found it interesting and a little validating to see the proof that what she knows to be true is actually true.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Nugget Year 2

Dear Willa,

Yesterday I got nostalgic and watched old videos of you from two years ago. It can be hard to remember the sweet baby you were when faced with the sweet, talking, running, sometimes screaming toddler you are today. 

It is so much fun to watch you discover the world around you. From recently learning what certain animals say (dogs, cats and ducks), to cautioning me when things are hot (even if they're not at the moment like how you always tell me the oven is hot even when it's not on). 

Your vocabulary continues to expand, and I delight every time I figure out a new word you're saying. It took me a while to understand when you said heart, as I kept hearing hot. And every car and truck on the road is a bus. Even your car that Santa brought you at Christmas you insist on calling bus. We had this conversation a couple weeks ago:

You: My bus
Me: No, that's a car.
You: Bus
Me: Car
You: Bus
Me: Do you hear how car sounds nothing like bus?
You: Bus

Touche, baby girl.

Your two-year wellness visit is on Monday so I don't know your stats. But we'll go with healthy and tall. You've got to be only eight inches shorter than your cousin Lily, who is two years older than you. Of course, ever since you arrived, your Aunt Lola and Omy insist that you will be the tallest of the three older girl cousins.

You love to watch "Finding Nemo" and call it turtle with an emphasis on each syllable that kills me with cuteness. One of your favorite things is the baby doll we gave you at Christmas. As soon as you opened that package, you squealed "BABY!" and then wouldn't let her go. I hope you have as much enthusiasm for your baby sister when she gets here. But a little less throwing her around.

These next couple months are going to bring about a lot of change in our family. One of which is moving to a new house. The biggest of course is your baby sister. I'm not concerned of whether or not you will adjust. Because you will. When we ask you where you baby sister is, you point to my swelling baby. One night earlier this week, I asked if you wanted to give your baby sister a hug and kiss, and you threw your arms around my belly and gave it the sweetest kiss.

You are not stingy with your affection often cuddling into my arms as I read you a bedtime story or giving me hugs first thing in the morning. But on the occasion I ask for a kiss and you refuse, all I have to do is pout and then you'll grab my face with both hands and give me a kiss. Mommy guilt is a strong force that I promise to wield only for good.

Happy 2nd birthday, my sweet Nugget, my baby girl.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Second

We knew we wanted to have more than one kid. When it took us a year to get pregnant with Willa and in the process learned that our chances of conceiving on our own are lower than most couples without any infertility issues, we had the conversation about how long to wait before we start trying for number two.

(Someone actually asked me why we decided to have another one so soon after Willa. I didn't realize two years was considered soon.)

Within the first year of having Willa was not an option. Nor did we want to wait too long and risk it taking as long (or longer) to get pregnant again and have a bigger age difference than we wanted. That's how this fall we decided to start to try again.

I was confident I would be pregnant again. What I was unsure of was how long would it take. 

Well, turns out it only took a couple months. I was shocked. I didn't think it would happen so quickly.

I remember coming out of the bathroom to tell John the good news completely stunned. I'm not even sure I actually said the words. I may have just handed him the pregnancy test.

Almost immediately I started to worry about whether we were ready. Whether Willa would be ready. Every time I did, I would have to take a deep breathe and remind myself that Willa would be nine months older by the time Butternut came. That maybe (just maybe) we'd be coming out of the terrible two stage.

I liked to think about how nice it is going to be to have Willa and Butternut be just a little more than two years apart. Hard at first while they're little. Okay probably hard when they're older too. But hey. No one said parenting is easy. (And if they did, they're lying.)

But now there is no more doubt. Butternut is already loved and a part of this family. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Six Month Recap

Six months? It's been six months since I last blogged. What happened to me? 

Well, the usual. I got busy. I lost my motivation to write. And so I neglected this space. I actually forgot about it at times. (Except for every time I read The Shape of Me and Other Stuff by Dr. Seuss to Willa. In the book there is a big animal of an unknown nature called a blogg. Without fail, every time I would feel guilty.)

Here's a quick recap of what we've been up to over the last six months:

Drove to Missouri in July for my cousin's wedding. It was Willa's first wedding.

In August we spent a few days at the Schroeder family cottage in Ephraim in Door County, Wisconsin. It rained a bit, but we had a great time. We went on a bike ride through the state park and went to The Farm where Willa had so much fun petting the cats.

September was crazy as usual for us. There were football games, and we flew up to Boston/Rhode Island for my good friend Laurel's wedding. The wedding was in Rhode Island, but we got to spend a day in Boston, which made my heart happy. Even better, we left Willa with my mom so it was a kid-free weekend. I also had a work trip to California.

October things calmed down. We got family pictures done. And there was Halloween of course.

We also got this news right before Halloween.

Yes, I'm pregnant again. Butternut is due July 8. We'll find out if it is a girl or boy in a couple weeks. (More on all this later.) Though we found out right before Halloween, we didn't tell anyone but immediate family until right before Christmas when I shared the above picture on Facebook and Twitter.

November and December were a blur of holiday fun.

At the beginning of this month I got a promotion at work (now the vice president of marketing). And, John is changing jobs in a couple weeks.

Now you're caught up.

I have more I want to talk about. Especially with Butternut. So I don't expect to be on as long a hiatus. But I may not be consistent either. I will do the best that I can.

So, how are you?