Cora’s Birth Story

Cora Ann was born on 10/2/16 at 5:19am.  9lbs 3oz and 20 in long

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My first labor was what is called a precipitous labor.  Fortunately in that case, I was already in the hospital for observation when my water broke and contractions started.  Gretchen was born 3 hours later and by the time we realized I was complete, it was too late for an epidural.  I really wanted one the second time around and hoped there’d be time for one.  Spoiler alert: hahahaha, NO.

This time around I was expecting another fast labor, possibly even faster, but the OB warned me there was no way to know until it happened.  I hoped things might be different if I went to term. Gretchen was born at almost 36 weeks and I had already passed that mark with this pregnancy with no signs of impending labor.  Growth ultrasounds in the last trimester indicated that Cora would be big but they tend to be off a pound or two in either direction, so they’re not an accurate predictor of size.  The scan I did at 37 weeks suggested she was anywhere between 7 and 9 pounds.  So not small but probably not huge just yet.

By 37 weeks her head was low down in my pelvis and causing a lot of discomfort.  I was hyper paranoid about my water leaking like it did during my last pregnancy and this paranoia led us to two trips to L&D that turned out to be false alarms.  One between 37 and 38 weeks, and one just 2 days before she was born.  From 37 weeks to the end I was 3cm dilated and 50% effaced.  They could feel her head and the bag of water when they checked me so I knew she was ready to go as soon as that bag of water broke.  For this and several other reasons we scheduled an induction for 39 weeks all while hoping she’d come on her own.

Two nights after my last false alarm I had some cramping at bedtime but this was not unusual since I’d been constipated for a couple of weeks (sorry, TMI but if you’ve been pregnant before, you know all the unpleasantries!)  I got out of bed and bounced on the yoga ball for awhile and did some stretches, trying to get some relief from the pain.  When I got in bed around 1am I noticed the cramping had started to come and go and that I was actually contracting so I started timing them.  They were anywhere from 3-6 minutes apart, sometimes with a 15 minute break if I changed positions. Usually they were about a minute long but not very painful, just annoying since I wanted to sleep.  I told Tyler about them and he asked if we should go in and I said no since they were so irregular.  Around 3:15 they stopped altogether and I fell asleep.

I woke up with a start at 4:20 when my water suddenly broke. I jumped out of bad faster than I knew possible and immediately called my sister to come over and then called my doctor to tell her we were coming in.  It wasn’t until after those calls that the first contraction hit, more water gushed, and I felt the intensity of the pain and knew it was going to happen fast again.  Tyler ran next door and woke up our neighbor to come over and wait for my sister to arrive.  Our bags were already packed and in the car from the previous trip to L&D so we hopped in and sped to the hospital.  Since it was the middle of the night we hit every green light and with every contraction I told Tyler to drive a little faster. They were about 2 minutes apart at this point and less than a minute long.  It took us 10 minutes to get to the hospital (10 miles away but we were driving on residential streets, not the highway!)  He dropped me off at the ER entrance and I went upstairs to check in.

As I climbed into bed I told them “I know there’s probably not time, but I’d really like an epidural this time around.”  When the nurse informed me that involved drawing labs first I knew there was no way it was going to happen.  They managed to get an IV in between contractions and when they checked me I was complete (this was probably 40 minutes after my water broke).  My doctor arrived shortly thereafter when I was feeling the urge to push and they quickly got me up into the stirrups.  She was out in 4 pushes, born at 5:19 am, exactly 59 minutes after my water broke and active labor began.

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Once again no time to change into a hospital gown so I delivered in a t-shirt!  More comfortable anyway.

My OB and the nurses were incredible during my delivery and after.  They knew how to keep me calm and coach and encourage me.  Tyler let me squeeze his hand so hard I thought I was going to break it.

Since she was full term (born at exactly 39 weeks, the day before my scheduled induction) she got to spend a lot of time on my chest after the birth (Gretchen was early so the NICU team had to assess her for several minutes right after she was born).  She cried quite a bit but quickly settled down once we had her warm and snuggled up.  We could not believe she was over 9lbs and I was immediately very relieved she was already out and didn’t have a chance to grow any more gigantic!

We are so SO thankful that my water broke in the middle of the night when we were both home and there was no traffic to battle with on our way to the hospital. I’m glad I followed my instincts and didn’t wait to go in.  Even though I expected a faster labor this time around, I was thinking maybe like, 2 hours this time, not 59 minutes!  I get panicky thinking about the what ifs if it had happened at a different time or place.  Gretchen didn’t even know we’d left for the hospital until she woke up the next morning and her aunt was here instead of us.  She was soooooo excited to come to the hospital and meet her baby sister later that day.

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Thanks for all the well wishes, we are settled in at home and doing really well!

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St Louis Trip

Well it only took me 3 months but I finally finished our trip write up!  We went in early May and the weather was great. Cool but not cold.  We only stayed 2 nights so there was only so much we could fit.  Next time I’d love to stay longer and do more.  Spend more time in Forest Park, at the botanical gardens, and at the Magic House.  Here’s a rundown of our trip.

 

Where We Stayed

Home2 Suites Forest Park.  This hotel is only a year old and was perfect for us.  We prefer to stay in suites whenever we travel so that we can stay up after Gretchen goes to bed.  Having a partial kitchen is great too.  This suite was huge with a fridge, sink, microwave, dishes, and a table to eat at.  Gretchen slept on her cot in the living area (pull out couch was there if we wanted it) and we had a king bed in the other room.  Huge bathroom with a nice big tub.  They offered a really great complimentary breakfast and had an indoor pool (saltwater) that we enjoyed.  Location was very central to everything we did.  Kind of steep at $250 a night but worth it!

Restaurants

  • Anthonio’s Taverna– Italian restaurant in The Hill district.  Great Italian restaurant but not too fancy for kids.  They do take reservations but we forgot to make them and walked right in and got a table around 5.  Sorry, no pictures of our delicious meal (including the St. Louis special, toasted ravioli)
  • Gelato Di Riso– this was just a couple of blogs from Anthonio’s and the gelato was FANTASTIC.  Wish we had a great gelato place like this in KC.

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  • Bailey’s Range– this restaurant is downtown near CityGarden and the arch.  They have great burgers, salads, and make their own ice cream! Very kid friendly place to eat while not sacrificing great food.
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Things We Did:

  • St. Louis Zoo– while admission to the zoo is free, parking is not and neither are the extras like the train, sea lion show, feeding the stingrays, and the children’s area.  If you have a zoo membership elsewhere you can get a discount but we opted not to get one this year. We were able to see most of the zoo in 3 hours with the help of the train.  Gretchen loved the penguins, polar bear, and the hippos.  The hippo exhibit was phenomenal.  The children’s area of the zoo was very shaded which was nice and there is a playground and splash pad there where you can stop and play.
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  • Turtle Park– this is a park right by Forest Park and next to the highway that has a bunch of turtle sculptures that kids can climb on.  Big turtles, baby turtles, turtle hatchlings.  It’s really unique and a fun stop.

 

  • Missouri Botanical Garden– This was my favorite stop on our trip and I could have spent more time here.  The gardens are beautiful and there are almost too many to see them all.  We got there late in the afternoon so didn’t get to spend as much time in the children’s garden as we probably would have liked as it closes early.  It is AMAZING though.  Treehouses, slides, a general store for pretend play, and in the summer there is a splashpad to enjoy as well.13263791_768470697971_4784912242508492926_n13255926_768470084201_9103440642436251344_n

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  • St. Louis Science Center – I was feeling pretty exhausted the morning we went since we’d walked all over the zoo the day before.  The museum is free but the extras are not.  Our Union Station/Science City membership got us a free admission to the kid’s Discovery Room which was Gretchen’s favorite part.  I wish the sessions were longer (you only get 45 minutes in there) since there was so much to do and explore.13230104_768469924521_4222101808238888441_n
  • CityGarden– Only a short walk from Bailey’s Range, CityGarden is a sculpture park right in the heart of the city.  It was a little cool for us to enjoy the fountains but it would be great in the summer.  You can also get a good view of the arch from here.13232996_768471421521_130822128540047043_n13254298_768471167031_1705166848221008063_n

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  • Magic House–  I was SO excited to take Gretchen here as I have clear memories of going as a kid.  We got there right when it opened but after about an hour it got somewhat crowded (depending on which room you were in).  This is a children’s museum for kids of all ages.  Gretchen is very into playing pretend right now so she loved the vet clinic, pizza parlour, and baby nursery.  I loved the things that made me nostalgic, like the static ball, three story slide, and the bubble room.  We spent only about 2 hours here but could have spent more, sadly it was time to head home.13260233_768471536291_2770321847287516267_n13239206_768472025311_8674125121213880493_n

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32 Weeks

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How far along: 32 weeks

Cravings/aversions: nothing really sounds good or bad right now.  Baby is taking up so much room in my tummy I can only eat a little bit before I feel full, so I mostly snack throughout the day.

Feeling: Pretty good now that my heartburn is under control (thank you zantac!)  I am usually up 2-3 times a night to pee, so good times. I struggle with some insomnia if I wake up after 5am but Gretchen has been awesome about hanging out with me in bed and looking at books so I can snooze a little longer in the mornings.  The heat has been rough but I’m hoping the worst is over and fall will be here soon!  Lots of braxton hicks contractions and lots of baby movement.  I have a doctor’s appointment and growth scan this week and my OB will be back from maternity leave.  Excited to be back under her care and discuss how thing are going.

We had maternity photos taken last weekend, something we didn’t do last time around. I’m so glad we decided to have them done this time since it’s our last baby!  The ones we’ve seen so far have been amazing!  Can’t recommend Brooke German Photography highly enough!

 

20 Weeks

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How far along: 20 weeks

Cravings/aversions: chocolate/vanilla swirl ice cream cones, pork pot stickers, California rolls, caeser salad.

Feeling: Really good, lots more energy and about 50% less puking.  Some pelvic pain that comes and goes but I’m planning to visit with a chiropractor to see if I can get some relief from that.  As it gets more hot and humid I’m more uncomfortable so we plan to spend most of the summer in the pool!

For Mother’s Day we had an elective ultrasound to learn the sex of the baby.  After our crappy experience at our NT scan we wanted a more positive one when we found out the news.  We all guessed girl and were all right 🙂  Gretchen is thrilled and talks about her baby sister all the time.

We’ve also picked a name

CoraAnnWillhite

We are at least half way there! So excited to meet baby Cora 🙂

2015 in Review

January: Not the most exciting month, but we had a couple of beautiful days that were perfect for spending time outdoors.  We made a trip to the Prairie Park Nature Center in Lawrence and a visit to the dog park, a rare treat for Boopers.

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February: Hosted a fun Valentine’s Day party and had a visit from our friends Aaron and Sarah.  We crammed a ton of fun (and food) into one day.  Roasterie, Boulevard Brewery, Q39, and Lidias.  We were stuffed!

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March: Had a sleepover in Lawrence at Gpop and GranJan’s house for my birthday.  They babysat so we could go out for lunch.  Gretchen got to help plant seeds in Gpop’s garden.

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April:  We spent a weekend in Oklahoma visiting friends and celebrating the first birthday of two of our favorite twins: Maddie and Baylor.  Also celebrated Easter with an egg hunt in Gpop’s garden.

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May: Went to Omaha for a long weekend.  Spent two days at the zoo and some time at their amazing children’s museum. Can’t wait to go back!

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June: Gretchen took her first ballet class and LOVED it.  Tyler and I celebrated our 9th anniversary with a trip to the Craft and Draft at Kaufman Stadium.  Also, potty training happened, and wasn’t nearly as terrible as I had anticipated it would be!

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July:  Had a visit from my brother’s family around the 4th.  Gretchen loved hanging out with her cousins and celebrating her 3rd birthday with a Daniel Tiger themed party.  Boopers had surgery to remove a couple of mast cell tumors, including a ping pong ball sized one on her leg.

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August: My month to have surgery!  I had an exploratory laparoscopy after months of failed infertility treatments.  I’m going to spare you the pictures of my ovaries and the endometriosis that he found. Much more exciting event: Gretchen started preschool!

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September: Tyler and I took an early 10 year anniversary trip to Oregon. It was our first time being away from Gretchen for more than a couple of nights.

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October:  Maybe the craziest month of the year.  I went to Oklahoma for a girls trip but a terrible stomach flu took us out one by one.  While I was away Gretchen broke her leg when she fell of the swings at the playground.  The high point of the month was going to a Royals/Blue Jays playoff game at the K with Tyler, and we won!  (Also we saw the blimp, and I love the blimp).

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November:  THE ROYALS WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!  I took a class at Thirsty Palette and sure enough, I lack painting skills, but it was a lot of fun anyway.

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December: Tons of fun holiday events, Gretchen really got into Christmas this year.  Attempted to go to my sister’s graduation in Arkansas but unfortunately Gretchen ended up with the stomach flu and our trip was cut short.  We celebrate Christmas Eve on the Plaza and Christmas Day at home before visiting Tyler’s family in Kentucky.

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Toby the Pug

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Exactly one year ago we lost our first baby pug, Toby.  He was only 6 years old.  It was a really short life as far as pugs go, and ultimately we don’t know why he got so sick and passed so suddenly.  He’d been sick briefly in September, but rebounded, then got much sicker in October and had extensive tests and a hospitalization.  He rebounded once again and came home and while he had lost way too much weight, he was his normal snuggly self and we just hoped whatever the mystery illness was, it would disappear as quickly as it appeared.  Ultimately Toby died of a stroke, but we strongly suspect that he had cancer as he continued to inexplicably lose weight.

I never thought I’d be a pug mom when I grew up.  I had planned, since childhood, to get an english bulldog as soon as I could.  Tyler knew this when we started dating and was in agreement.  However shortly after we got married we met a pug named Pumpkin that slept in a big papasan chair and was adorable and playful and snuggly and we knew we were meant to be pug owners.  When we moved to Kansas we started the search on petfinder.  Hoping to adopt a puppy but committed to rescuing, not purchasing, a dog of our own.  In April of 2008 we applied for and were approved to adopt a pug puppy from a rescue in St. Louis.  I rushed around town buying a crate, toys, food, collar, etc. etc. To the point my credit card was frozen because they were not used to such shopping sprees and thought it had been stolen!   I had to work that Saturday so Tyler drove the 4 hours to St. Louis to pick him up.  There were 3 puppies to choose from and he made his pick and brought “Cinnamon” home to live with us.  Terrible name for a pug, just terrible, lol.  Toby snoozed in a box on the way home Tyler kept his hand on him to keep him calm when he got fidgety.  He was only 3.3lbs.  A teeny tiny baby pug all for us.  Here’s the picture I took of my first look at him.

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He was so tiny and snuggly and all puppy.  Loved to play with toys and nip and your fingers and toes and then he’d just pass out in the middle of the floor and then wake up and pee on everything.  He was so tiny he couldn’t hop up on the furniture so he’d just sit by the couch and cry and cry until you lifted him up. Then he’d want down and cry and cry to get down.  He was too tiny to navigate the staircase to our 3rd floor apartment so we’d carry him out to potty every 20 minutes and he was like a fat potato you could hold in one hand.  Just the cutest thing ever.

The first night was horrrrrrrible. He cried all.night.long.  I cried thinking we’d made some huge mistake and just sure we could never have an actual baby if a pug baby was this hard. Tyler slept on the floor next to his crate with his hand in there to help calm him down.  We tried all the tricks, including a warm water bottle (all that wallgreens sold was a hot pink “douchebag”) but he promptly popped it with his sharp puppy claws and then he was mad because he was soaking wet.  Eventually he chilled out and came to love his crate and before he was even a year old you could say “crate” and he would run up to it and hop in and wait for you to close the door.  Our world pretty much revolved around him.

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He had (and destroyed) many many toys but his favorite was this random stuffed platypus.  He loved her more than any toy ever.

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To get exercise he would run up and down the hall of our apartment, doing his “pugtonas” and wearing himself out. Eventually he’d slide under the couch to cool down. 10400489_506800901341_402_n

About a year after we rescued him we moved into our house, and he loved the extra space and the window to observe the neighborhood.

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notice he also got kinda Chubby.  That’s when we started calling him Chubbs.
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So a few months after we moved in we got the itch to get a second pug. We figured Chubbs could use a playmate and hopefully they’d play and snuggle and be best buddies.  Enter Betty Boop, or Boopers.  We drove 4 hours down to Arkansas to get her from a pug rescue, I think you can tell from this picture how he felt about it.

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they were not instant buddies

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Eventually they came to tolerate each other and occasionally would play or snuggle but most of the time Boopers was not very nice to him.  She didn’t like sharing the spotlight and Chubbs wasn’t fond of sharing either. Our nightly routine was to separate them so they got lots of one on one attention.  Tyler took Boopers, I took Chubbs.  Sometimes I’d rock him like a little baby and tell him he would always be my little baby pug.

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Toby took MUCH more kindly to Gretchen when she entered the scene.  He took on the role of protector and was a very sweet big brother to her.  I have countless photos of him sitting right next to her during that first year of her life, especially before she got mobile.  He loved to steal her warm spot in the boppy pillow if I picked her up, and if she cried he would bring her one of his eggballs, the toy he always sucked on when he was upset.

Gretchen still talks about Toby often. She will say things like “Toby is gone.”  or “Toby was sick.” She will sometimes say “Toby is gone but he will come back.”  I think as more time passes she’s understanding that he won’t come back but it’s hard to be sure.  She loves to look at old pictures and videos of him and she will draw pictures of him too.

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Toby’s favorite things: food, snuggling, sunshine belly rubs, sleeping in the big bed behind mama’s knees, cleaning up after Gretchen ate, his platypus, his eggballs, playing fetch and occassionally tug.

Toby’s least favorite things: the period of time between 2-4 pm when it was too early for dinner and he suffered from what we called “ETS” (empty tum syndrome), other dogs in the cul de sac, esp. Sally the Weimeraner, bags of all kinds, getting his nails or ears cleaned, change.  Baby pug preferred that every day be exactly the same.

25 Books of Christmas Tradition

25 Books of Christmas!

This is our third year doing the 25 Books of Christmas and I get a lot of questions about it so I wanted to write up how we do it and share some ideas for where to buy the books and how to display them!

What it is:  Like most crafty mom ideas, this one came from Pinterest.  The general idea is this- wrap up 25 books, let your kid open one every night leading up to Christmas (so open first book on November 30th, last book on Christmas Eve).  We always read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” on the 24th but otherwise the books are in no particular order.

Where to buy the books:  Most of my books are from the local consignment sales.  Kansas City Moms, I’ve had the best luck finding holiday books at the Just Between Friends Overland Park sale.  They are in a bin marked “Christmas books.” Go to the presale for the best selection. You’ll find them at the fall sale but sometimes I see them in the spring sale too.  Other places to find books: Half Price Books, Amazon (check out the used option, you can find titles for super cheap there), and Marshalls/TJ Maxx also has a great selection of holiday books at a discounted rate.

What books to get:  This is totally up to you.  I do NOT buy a new set of 25 books a year.  Props to you if you are bout that life but I am not, lol.  I usually add one or two new books a year and retire some of the books that Gretchen has outgrown (board books, lift the flap, etc).  Our 25 books are all Christmas or winter themed.  I know some that don’t go for a theme but just 25 random books.  I keep with the theme and after the holiday season is over the books go in a bin back to the basement.  So they are “new” every year.

Here are the books I am using this year.  For a complete list of all the books we’ve used since starting the tradition check out my board on Pinterest.

  1. Twas the Night Before Christmas
  2. Olivia Helps Save Christmas
  3. Frosty the Snowman
  4. Angelina’s Christmas
  5. Llama Llama Holiday Drama
  6. Christmas Wombat
  7. The Twelve Days of Christmas
  8. How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?
  9. Little Blue Truck’s Christmas
  10. The Polar Express
  11. Snowmen at Christmas
  12. Madeline’s Christmas
  13. Bear Stays Up for Christmas
  14. If You Take a Mouse to the Movies
  15. Snowmen at Night
  16. Merry Christmas Everybody (a Grover story)
  17. Corduroy’s Christmas
  18. The Littlest Christmas Tree
  19. Merry Christmas Curious George
  20. Chick n Pug Christmas
  21. Madeline in Texas
  22. Clifford’s First Christmas
  23. A Charlie Brown Christmas
  24. Paddington Bear and the Christmas Surprise
  25. My March to the Manger

How to display your books: Pinterest is full of ideas for this, but here are the ways I’ve done it.

2013:  Wrapped each book and numbered them.  Displayed them in Gretchen’s front facing bookshelf.

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2014:  Wrapped each book but did not number them.  Placed them in a basket under the tree. Let Gretchen pick a random book each night.  (She was 2 so telling her which book to choose was not gonna happen).

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2015:  Laziness won out and I did not wrap the books this year!  Instead I put the name of each book in one of these little envelopes from an advent kit I got at Michaels on clearance last year.  She will open the envelopes from 25 down to 1 (good way for her to practice her numbers!) and we will bring her the book from wherever we decide to stash them.

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Anyone else do this tradition?  Would love to know what books you use and how you display them!