Sunday, July 21, 2013

Juliet: 17 months

My little sweetie turned 17 months last week. We've had a wonderful weekend...after a crazy week at work, I needed time with my girlie, time with Erik, time with a big glass of wine. I got to do all the above.

Erik and I had a date night Saturday. We joked that it was "Lang date night 2013" because we don't take enough time to go on dates just the two of us, so it feels like it ends up being an annual thing. Juliet had an overnight with grandma and grandpa and Erik and I went out for drinks, went to a Twins game and went to a movie. We packed it in and had a great time.

Juliet had a few major milestones this month:

First, this is the month she turned into a full-on walking toddler. No more walking sometimes and sometimes crawling. Only walking now. And she's gotten pretty darn good at it. Her balance is great and she only stumbles a little. Granted she still walks like a little drunk baby, and part of me wishes she will always walk this way. It's the cutest little walk and I just love it so much.

Juliet's communication skills have exploded. She began understanding a lot this month. And it all seemed to happen overnight. One day we were playing in her playroom and I said "bring momma a book and I'll read to you" and she walked over to her book pile, chose one and brought it back to me. Since then I realized she understands so much and we can communicate so well now.

Juliet learned animal sounds this month. She knows what all the following animals say: cow, kitty, puppy, wolf, piggy, sheep, horse, monkey, snake and probably a few others I'm forgetting.

Juliet sings, dances and does the actions for itsy bitsy spider. She loves music, loves flailing her arms crazily around while giggling adorably. She loves to say "row row row" and then I sing the song for her.

She talks so much. All the time she is babbling and speaking, often times very clearly. She can easily repeat after us. Erik will say, "Juliet, say hi grandpa" and she'll reply "hi ba ba" (that's what she says for grandpa) and "hi kitty" and she will happily squeal "hi keeee teeeee".  We can go on and on. Just today I asked her to "say please, Juliet" and she replied "peeeeez". And of course she has just the sweetest little voice.

Juliet knows where her eyes, nose, ears, toes and fingers are. And her favorite thing of all time? Her belly button. She is obsessed.

This age is so much fun. It's also exhausting! I know, I know...I only have one child. But this is all I know and to me, chasing a toddler around is tiring! But it's exciting and fun and seeing the world through her eyes is magical.

Happy 17 months, sweet girl. I couldn't possibly love you more.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Juliet: 16 months

Juliet turned 16 months over a week ago. Things have been busy and even though it was close to her bedtime when we took these photos and the light was terrible in her nursery, I told Erik we had to do it. The result was not super smiley photos BUT these monthly updates are so important to me so we continue to do it. With these photos, between every click of the shutter my little girl is sliding off her chair and wanting to be onto bigger and better things. Like Dr. Seuss.

16 months was a BIG month.

I'll start with the biggest milestone: WALKING. Yes, my baby is a walker. If you remember, she took her first unassisted steps a couple months ago, but remained content to crawl. Just about two weeks ago was when Juliet decided to take off and start walking. She started off wobbly but is getting stronger and gaining better balance every day. Even though we are getting used to seeing her walk, Erik and I still look at each other when she's toddling around and say "did you see that?!" She's not 100% full on walking yet, she still stumbles a lot and will crawl instead. But much of the time, she walks and on her own accord. It astonishes me and fills me with so much pride...even though I know that almost all babies will eventually start walking. I get that, but it's still the most unbelievable thing in the world to me.

Juliet is a talker. She's must take after her momma. She babbles and talks all day long. She can say so many words now and her vocabulary is just exploding. She can associate words with things around her. Here are all the words (I can remember) that she is saying on a regular basis:

Hi
Bye
Down
Get down
Night Night (ni ni)
Up
Katie (doesn't sound exactly like Katie but she definitely says it)
No
Yeah
More
No way
Grandpa (ba ba)
Grandma (na na)
Bubbles (Buh buh)
Mama
Dada
Cheese (keez)

Juliet started dancing last month. She plays the music button on her kitty keyboard (loves this thing) and will rock back and forth and put her hands in the air. It's the cutest thing and sometimes Erik, Juliet and I will hang out in the playroom and have dance parties.

She is going through a big-time momma phase. So much so that she has started crying at daycare drop off. This breaks my heart more than anything in this world but I really try to not let it get to me too much. I know she loves daycare. I know she gets over it quickly and her provider tells me that the tears are gone before I even drive away. But man...the first couple times it happend I just sat in my car clenching the steering wheel, fighting the tears and mostly fighting the urge to say "screw it" to my job and run back into daycare, swoop her up and go home and cuddle. I know it's a phase. I really hope it ends soon.

Juliet got a new tooth last month. It's on the upper gums and now she has 3 on top and 2 on the bottom and I just love her little toothy smiles.

Going to bed is hard lately. I have been one lucky mom in that bedtime has NEVER been hard up until recently. We had our routine down and it was lovely; books, diaper, lotion, jammies, breastfeed, cuddle, rock in the chair and then a kiss and down in the crib she went. Every night. Without a peep. She would roll over onto her side or tummy, suck her thumb and go night night. And that was usually around 7-7:30. Now? We are lucky if we can get her to go to bed by 9. I'm not sure what happened but now she cries and stands up in her crib at bedtime and refuses to lay down and go to sleep. For a while I wondered that maybe she isn't tired so we would bring her downstairs and let her stay up longer. That was probably a big mistake because now she always points to her door and wants to go downstairs. Last night she was up until 10, eek! Anyway, hopefully this is also a phase and we'll go back to easy the easy bedtime routine soon. It's been the main reason blogging has been on the back burner. By the time we get her to sleep, I am so exhausted that opening up my computer is the last thing I want to do.

What a fun month! But I'm not going to lie, it's been a bit stressful, too. The challenging bedtime is no fun for anyone. With that aside, I am obsessed with having a toddler. Juliet is sweet, interactive, loving, adorable. Her hair is getting so long that lately she even looks much older. I am so crazy in love with this girl.

Happy 16 months sugar plum! Momma loves you so much.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Real party: Juliet's "baby love" first birthday, part 2

Thanks for stopping by part two of Juliet's "baby love" first birthday party.  Part two has all the sweet dessert details and best part of all...the cake smash!

Click here for part one.

We set up a simple and lovely little dessert table.  We displayed Juliet's smash cake along with cupcakes, macarons, cookies, cake pops and candy.  We also had two more cakes that were displayed on the brunch buffet.  

I loved the heart backdrop and it was pretty easy to make as well as low cost.  My sister-in-law cut out all the hearts by hand (this was before I figured out how to use the Cricut).  Total cost of the backdrop was probably about $15, including the foam core and paper.  I'd like to frame this and hang it in Juliet's playroom.  

Photo credits to Jessica Rose Photography, unless otherwise noted.  
I super loved Juliet's invitations.  I made them using a printable template from Onto Baby.  The glittery gold paper was so pretty and the heart design was perfect.   Rock candy is so silly, isn't it?  No one eats it.  Literally it's sole purpose is looking pretty, which it does.  Good thing I found it for only $5 at Party City.   The smash cake was so adorable.  Erik made it!!!  We had high ambitions to make a somewhat healthy, carrot cake recipe from Wholesome Baby Food but by the time I went grocery shopping for ingredients it was already 9pm the night before the party.  So we ended up with a yellow cake mix. Regardless, Erik baked it and frosted it perfectly.

My brother's girlfriend (we call her Lumbie) made the awesome heart cake toppers.
  The beautiful macarons were purchased from Cocoa and Fig on Valentines Day.  They had tiny white hearts on top.  Guess how many were eaten at the end of the party?  Only one.  What the heck?  I guess people filled up on cake.  

I made simple cupcake toppers using gold paper, a mini heart punch, toothpicks and glue.  
It's hard to tell in the photos, but the fabric on the dessert table was gold with little flecks of gold glitter.  It could have used our steam machine to get the wrinkles out but who has time for that?!!!  
I found the fabric at JoAnn Fabrics and after using a coupon and geting another discount (thank you Katie) for a black smudge on a corner, I only spent $9 on it.  The fabric was used as a tablecloth on the dessert table, drink table and as the photobooth backdrop.  
Each dessert had a pretty label.  Aren't these cakes lovely?  They're from Target Bakery.  I ordered two for $16.99 each and they were delicious. I brought a photo of rossette frosting to show the baker and they said they could easily do it.  I was really happy with how the cakes turned out.  We had a white cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and raspberry filling and a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream.  Pretty little heart-shaped sugar cookies from  Fun Sugar Cookie Etsy shop. If you are a parent, then you know the cake smash is where it's at for first birthday parties.  This is the moment I waited for all day and was super excited about.  I knew my girl would love her cake and I couldn't wait to see her adorable face covered in sugary frosting.  My heart was exploding in my chest as we sang Juliet happy birthday.

She was actually quite dainty about tasting her cake at first, and then she dug in a bit more.   Mmmmmmmmmm. Yum, yum.   Sorry for the cake smash photo overload, but seriously...her big eyes...her adorable frosting covered face.  I love these photos.   The party was lovely, right?   It was everything I dreamed it would be. The details were just perfect, the food was great and all my family and close friends were there.  But my girl?  Well, she was a bit of a crab cake during the party, as well as the entire weekend of her birthday.  

Juliet is very rarely crabby.  She is a happy girl 95% of the time.  The weekend of her birthday was the crabbiest I've ever seen her.  I think it was because she was getting over strep throat and she had been kept home from daycare for three days to recover and feel good for her party.  She was out of her routine and missing daycare.  Also, I'm sure she could feel her momma's stress from party planning as well as the fact that I was a bit emotional leading up to her birthday...and well, babies are intuitive like that.  She was probably feeding off my energy.  

Despite the fact that she was a bit fussy during the party, I am also quite sure she enjoyed it, including eating her cake, opening presents and seeing friends and family.  Oh, and she loved the heart-shaped pancakes, too!  

No, she wasn't perfectly happy during her party.  But it was still a perfect day and she's my perfect girl, crabbiness and all. 

She was also getting a bit sleepy at this point.  I was asking her to "stay awake just a bit longer my dearest, it's almost time to open presents!!!"
I set up a "photobooth" in Juliet's playroom using gold fabric and a pink heart banner.  We had some fun props like heart-shaped sunglasses, a gold frame, a love sign and a sign that said "love is sweet".

These photos were taken with a digital camera.
Above photobooth pics taken with Instagram on my iPhone.

Let's have some cake!
I know I've said I had a lot of favorite details of the day...but honestly and truly one of my absolute favorite details was this photo slideshow.  I put it together the week before Juliet's party and we played it on our big screen TV for all our guests.  It was 3 minutes of our sweet girl's first year and I made sure to include photos with beloved grandparents and other family members who helped make this year so wonderful.

You can see in the photo above that Erik and I both look a bit wistful while watching the slideshow.  I was emotional and Erik actually admitted that "he started getting a little teary and had to get up and walk around".  If you knew my husband you would realize how crazy that is for him to get that emotional and then admit it!  What can I say, becoming a mom/dad changes you.

And there you have it.  Juliet's "baby love" first birthday party.

Juliet, you are my sweet little love, my darling one year old girl.  This party was such a wonderful celebration, all for you.  You deserved each fleck of gold glitter, every sugary taste of frosting, the crazy amount of presents.  Every little heart displayed at this party was a HUGE symbol of our love for you.  We love you so, so much.  Happy birthday.

Vendor credits:

Photography: Jessica Rose Photography
Event styling: Jenna of Eat Drink Pretty
Macarons: Cocoa and Fig
Rosette cakes: Target bakery
Mini heart sugar cookies: Fun Sugar Cookie Etsy shop
Invitations and placecards: Printable template from Onto Baby

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Juliet: 12 months!

My darling girl turned 12 months last weekend. Oh my...one year!  We were very busy last weekend with a big birthday party full of love, family and friends.  It was a fun day, a bit stressful...my little girlie enjoyed the party but also had a few crabby moments, too. I think all the excitement was a bit much plus she was getting over strep.  Overall, it was a great weekend and fun birthday.  I will have a full post with lots of photos coming soon.

The night before Juliet's birthday I thought to myself, this is about the time my water broke....one year ago we were about to start an amazing journey.  I had no idea just how awesome it would be.  I had no clue...none whatsoever how much my life was going to change and how much love I would feel for this new, little person.

The evening before her birthday we did our bedtime routine which ends with rocking and breastfeeding in the glider.  Each night, this is our time, hers and mine and on that evening we took extra time and I just stared and stared at her...my sweet little girl, about to turn one.  When I laid her down I stood above her crib and whispered to her how much I love her.  Over and over.  Her first birthday was a bit emotional, to say the least.

This month brought more milestones, more growth...my little baby girl turning into a toddler girl.

  • Juliet started walking along furniture.  She pulls herself up on everything and cruises along while holding on.  She is getting more confident and strong and I imagine it will be just a month or so before she is walking all by herself.  
  • She started sleeping through the night!  Around months 5-6 Juliet was completely sleeping through the night, but it didn't last.  She went through the next 6 months waking up about once a night, sometimes more.  I got used to this and actually didn't mind it too much.  I would feed her quickly and lay her back down, and she would pretty easily fall right back to sleep.  But when she went back to fully sleeping through the night...holy crap was that nice.  It is a beautiful thing.  Of course, she has her nights when she wakes up, but for the most part, she's sleeping through the night.
  • We have been working on clapping for months and Juliet finally started clapping one day a few weeks ago.  And then she never stopped!  She claps all the time, with a big smile on her sweet face.  
  • All of the sudden one day Juliet decided she had a mommy preference.  Up until that point, Juliet was super easy going and very social, she would go to anyone.  Now she wants mommy all the time and whines a bit if daddy holds her when I am around.  Fortunately, this has eased in the past week, which is nice before it makes daddy feel really bad.  
  • Juliet has been making the sign for milk for a while now, but I don't think she really knew what it meant until this month.  One night she woke up and I was rocking her back to sleep.  She sat up in my lap, looked at me and made the sign for milk.  We aren't big signers but I do it once in a while with a few signs like eat, drink, more and milk.  In this moment I knew she was communicating with me that she wanted to breast feed.  It was really cool. 
  • This is not really a milestone, but I realized this month just how much Juliet loves/adores daycare.  I kept her home for a few days when she was getting over strep and by the time Juliet went back to daycare she couldn't wait to get there.  She just lights up at daycare...she loves the other kids (her friends!) and her daycare provider Sarah.  This makes me so happy and really helps with any traces of guilt I feel being away from her while I'm at work.  
I'm so glad I have documented Juliet's first 12 months with photos and milestones.  I posted all 12 months at her birthday party and it was crazy to see how much this precious girl has changed and grown.  She is my beautiful, sweet, loving girl and I adore her beyond words and feel so blessed and lucky that she's mine.  

Happy 12 months my sweet sugar plum.  Mommy loves you more than anything in the whole wide world.  I know the next year will be just as fun adventurous and the first.  

Juliet's 12 months:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Juliet's birth story

{The first photo Erik and I each have with our baby girl, just moments after she was born}

My sweet baby girl turns one today and in honor of her and this special day, I am posting her birth story.

I actually started writing Juliet’s birth story when she was just 7 weeks old.  I would free write for 10 minutes or so…get distracted with the baby and then come back to the story every so often. I did this for the next 9 months until I almost had the whole story documented.  I loved that I had started writing it fairly early on, when I still remembered those smaller details that so importantly help tell the story. 

Unfortunately, I was writing the birth story in a draft email in my gmail.  In November, I went to add to it and realized it was gone.  Completely gone.  Lost forever.  I must have searched for over an hour for that draft but never found it.  I never should have been saving it as a draft, but alas, it was gone. 

And so I started over.  From the beginning.  It’s still taken me since November to finish her story.  But I’m finally done, and here it is. 

First let me say, please forgive the photos.  They aren't great.  I am the one in the family who does the picture taking.  Erik is…let's just say, less than great with a camera.  So the photos are what they are.  I’m glad I got a few good ones with my phone/instagram.

Juliet arrived 4 weeks early.  To say I was shocked when I realized I was really in labor is an understatement.  I was shocked and in complete denial.  I was expecting to go over my due date, as I knew a lot of first time moms do.  Projects were unfinished at work.  My office was a disaster.  Work was the only thing I could think of when my water broke at midnight the night of February 15.  I had been getting up to go to the bathroom at least 3 times a night in my final trimester and this one particular time ended with a huge gush all over the bathroom floor.  I knew immediately that it was my water breaking.  But I negotiated with myself in the weirdest way.  I told myself that I would get back into bed, try to sleep until the morning and then head into the office and also make a quick dr. appointment to get checked out.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  But I guess I thought I could buy more time to tie up loose ends at work.  It was irrational, I know.  I never once felt worried about the baby being so early.  I had a growth ultrasound just a couple days earlier and knew that Juliet was at least 6 pounds and healthy.  Somehow, I just knew she would be fine. 

And so I got back into bed.  But of course my mind was racing.  Was I really having a baby today?  I knew all the right information.  I knew that I should deliver the baby within 24 hours of my water breaking due to risk of infection.  I got up a couple more times in the next 15 minutes and felt more gushing.  At this point I snapped myself out of the denial and faced reality.  It was time to wake up Erik, and call the dr.  I shook his arm and said, “honey, I think my water broke”.  He literally jumped out of bed and yelled “WHAT?!”  I think he was in more shock than I was.  I told him not to worry, everything was fine.  I called the after hours nurse line and left a message.  The on-call dr. returned my call immediately.  She told me to head to the hospital.  This was all really happening. 

Luckily, I was prepared and had my hospital bag nearly packed.  The only thing I hadn’t done yet was wash Juliet’s coming home outfit and blankets.  For a brief moment I felt sad that she wouldn’t come home in the adorable rose outfit I so thoughtfully picked out for her.  But it was fleeting.  Such a small detail in the scheme of things, this I knew.  I added a few pieces of comfy clothing for me to the hospital bag, told Erik to pack his own bag and then decided I wanted to take a shower.  Erik looked at me like I was crazy.  I think he expected the baby to be born that very minute.  He had a major sense of urgency, while I was moving slowly, deliberately.  I knew it could easily be another day before she was here.  I wanted to take a hot shower and breathe in and be present in this moment.  Such a huge moment.  I’m really glad I did that.

We got into the car, and I had to sit on a towel.  When you think of your water breaking, I guess I just assumed it would break and that would be the end of it.  Instead, there are constant, small gushes.  A lot of fluid.  It’s weird and every time it happened I said, “oh. my. god."  We pulled out of the driveway and started heading to the hospital, it was around 1 in the morning.  I remember driving down the street in the middle of the night, thinking the tall trees looked lonely in the dark.  I remember looking at Erik and thinking that this was the last time our family would be just him and I.  I remember being super present and trying to take in every second of what was happening.  I remember feeling very peaceful.  I wasn’t scared or nervous at all. 

Because it was in the middle of the night, we had to use the emergency room entrance (we learned this at our birth class) but we accidentally parked in the ramp furthest away.  So we had a couple blocks to walk and I can still hear the sound of my boots shuffling on the icy sidewalks while I clung to Erik’s arm.  We arrived in the birthing center and I was happy to see that the on-call dr had already called and told them we were coming.  The hospital had all my information because I pre-registered and we were put in a labor and delivery room immediately, no waiting, no signing papers.

I put on a hospital gown and met our first nurse.  I don’t remember her name but she was nice, made me feel at ease and told me she was going to test and confirm that my water did break.  A few minutes later it was confirmed.  I would be having a baby that day.  She said that they would want to deliver the baby by midnight the following night and encouraged Erik and I to lie down and get some sleep.  The dr. would be coming in to talk to me in the morning (it was around 2:30am at this point). 

Erik laid down in what seemed like the most uncomfortable chair in the world and fell right asleep.  I couldn’t sleep. I just lay there thinking of the baby, thinking of work, thinking of telling my family and my friends.  I was in a bit of disbelief that this was happening.  The nurse continued coming in each hour to check on me (I was hooked up to the monitor, but could easily move around).  At 7:30am a new nurse came on duty.  Her name was Barb and she was amazing.  Barb helped make my birthing experience awesome and peaceful.  

Around this time, Erik called his mom who lives in North Dakota and would be driving down to meet her first grandchild.  Erik made her a hotel reservation down the street and we both crossed our fingers that she would easily find the hospital despite the fact that it is in the middle of the city and she is from a very small town and gets nervous driving in Minneapolis (she made it just fine!).  I started texting and calling family and friends.  Everyone was super surprised and as I talked to each friend and family member,  I started getting more and more excited.  

Barb confirmed that I was having contractions, but they were mild and I couldn’t feel them.  She thought the doctor would most likely recommend Pitocin to get things moving along.  She said the doctor would be coming in to chat with me soon.  She also checked my progress and said I was 100% effaced and almost a centimeter dilated.  I wasn’t disappointed about this, but assumed it meant a long day ahead and a good chance of needing Pitocin.  I texted with my friend Mel whose water broke and received Pitocin and she said “I hope you don’t have to get Pitocin.  Pitocin contractions suck.”  This was the first time I felt a bit nervous all day.  I read about inductions and that they sometimes lead to C-sections.  I knew my chance of a C-section at this hospital was about 25%, based on statistics and I was very realistic about that was happening.  I didn’t have a firm birth plan by any means going into this.  I knew I was open (and pretty much certain) to having an epidural.  I wanted skin-to-skin right away.  I didn’t want to be pushed into interventions unless it was necessary.  But overall, my only plan in the birth plan was to keep an open mind. 

I’d read enough birth stories to know all the different scenarios.  At this point it had been about 8 hours after my water breaking, and I thought Pitocen might be a good idea to get things moving.  When the dr. arrived she recommended Pitocin and I agreed to the lowest dose of 2 units (at least I think this was the lowest dose?? Now I’m not certain).  I was given Pitocin and then I expected to just hang out while waiting to start having contractions.  Erik and I subscribed to Netflix (we had brought our laptop) and I assumed we would have hours to hang out, watching movies or TV shows.  Erik started watching How I Met Your Mother while I emailed my bosses and checked texts on my phone.    

{Taken at about 8:30am, I am emailing my bosses to let them know I was in labor}

Well, contractions started building very quickly after receiving Pitocin.  I started feeling them almost right away.  They weren't bad, at first.  They made me stop and focus a bit but they were very bearable.  The last thing I wanted to do was watch How I Met Your Mother though.  So I walked around the room, rolled on the birthing ball, paced, went to the bathroom, etc.  The contractions started getting painful pretty fast.  And they weren’t on any sort of pattern.  Some came on top of one another, some came minutes apart.  Erik tried to be encouraging.  He would say things like “breathe honey”, “you’re doing great”…but it was really distracting for me and I just needed him to be quiet.  He was trying to help, but it wasn’t what I needed.  So he continued to sit quietly in the corner and watch “How I Met Your Mother”.  The contractions built and got worse.  I found the most comfortable position on the rocking chair, my chin lowered to my chest and breathing as deeply as I could as the contraction built.  As the contraction rescinded, I breathed out.  I had searched on YouTube for breathing labor techniques a few weeks earlier and found a few videos that were helpful for me.  The super deep breathing helped work through the painful contractions.  These went on from about 9am until noon.  About an hour into it, I got pissed at Erik watching How I Met Your Mother and shot him a dirty look and instructed him to “TURN. IT. OFF.” Poor Erik.  But it was just something about being in pain and him watching a TV show that seemed so wrong in that moment.  He would have helped if he could, but I didn’t want coaching from him or really anything.  So he basically sat in the corner quietly, just watching me. 

My awesome nurse Barb said she would check my progress if I wanted but didn’t encourage it frequently.  I didn’t want to get discouraged so I didn’t ask to get checked very often.  Then at around noon I needed a distraction and asked her to check.  I was at a 3.  Not bad.  There was some progress. 

For the next 30 minutes the contractions hurt like hell.  I was starting to feel a little panicky with the pain but wanted to hold off on the epidural for as long as I could as I felt that laboring this way would be the best bet for progress.  Then a couple hard contractions hit and I yelled to Erik “PLEASE CALL THE NURSE AND TELL HER I NEED AN EPIDURAL”.  He pushed the button and let them know. Barb stopped in shortly and I think she could see it in my eyes that I was ready.  I needed the epidural.  She said the anesthesiologist was finishing up and would be in about 15 minutes.  Oh god.  15 minutes seemed like an eternity with these painful contractions but I got back on my rocking chair and breathed. 

As I waited for the epidural I continued having super painful contractions.  By now I was standing on the side of the bed, swaying and breathing loudly, willing the anesthesiologist to get into the room quicker.  The two nurse anesthetists arrived and well…I can’t remember what exactly they did, set up for the epidural maybe?  All I know is that I felt kind of exposed with these two new people in the room and maybe they felt my discomfort because as I had painful contractions they kept on saying “you’re doing a great job” and “good job”.  I knew they probably told everyone the same thing but at that moment it made me feel better.

The anesthesiologist came in and I signed a waiver.  I was sitting on the side of the bed looking out the window and never turned around to look at him, I never saw the guy that gave me my epidural.  As he was there and I waited for the epidural I had 2-3 more super painful contractions.  I was so nervous I wouldn’t be able to hold still but he moved quickly and gave me the epidural right after a contraction passed.  It didn’t hurt at all.  I lay down in bed and waited for relief.  It came almost immediately.  I felt amazing and calm and no pain.  I felt pressure and I was a little shaky, but overall I felt pretty good. 
My progress hadn’t been checked in a while and the nurse wanted to see where things were at and I agreed.  She checked about 30 minutes after the epidural was administered and I was at 7.5!! This was awesome news.  It was about 1pm and her shift ended at 3:30pm.  She told me she believed she would still be there to help deliver the baby.  This made me super happy.  I didn’t want another nurse coming in. 

The next hour went by fast.  I continued feeling the pressure of the contractions but no pain at all.  I listened to music on my phone and tried to relax.  The room was bright and airy and the feeling was very calm and peaceful.  By about 1:45pm, Barb checked progress again and I was fully dilated and she could feel Juliet’s head.  She said she was going to find the doctor and we would start pushing very soon. 

About 20 minutes prior to that, Erik ran downstairs to the cafeteria to get a sandwich, he was hungry and hadn’t eaten since dinner the night before.  I hadn’t either but food was the last thing on my mind and after the epidural I don’t think I was allowed to have food anyway.  He came back just as Barb was saying we should start pushing soon.  She also emptied my bladder through the catheter, all while Erik was finishing his roast beef sandwich.  He kind of looked like he was going to be sick and I worried for a moment about him getting through this ok. 

Barb came back shortly and said the doctor was finishing up with another patient and would be in the room in about 10 minutes.  So Barb said “let’s get started with some practice pushing, grab a leg Erik”.  This whole “let’s get started grab a leg and let’s go” kind of freaked me out because it happened so fast and I thought labor would take soo much longer (don’t get me wrong, I know I’m lucky it didn’t) and everything was so calm.  I was expecting clanking metal, tables being rushed in, sounds of medical equipment…you know…like the movies or TV shows.  My expectations of that moment were so different then what really happened.  But in a good way.

Erik did as he was told and grabbed a leg.  Barb grabbed the other leg and told me how to push.  I looked back and forth at Erik and Barb and noticed Erik’s facial expression was a mixture of “I’m about to vomit” and just completely freaked out sort of like he wanted to run fast as hell out the door.  I asked him “are you going to be alright?” and he mustered a smile and said “yeah”.  I knew what was bothering him.  He really didn’t want to look “down there” and always had the plan to stay up near my head and avoid all “goings on down there”.  I think he was a bit freaked out to realize how close everything is and maybe it was harder to avoid then he thought.  He did manage to make it through the birth without seeing much of the action “down there”.

So we practice pushed 3 times while we waited for the doctor and Barb said I was doing great.  She told me I had the right technique and I felt confident at that moment that I would be very soon pushing my baby girl into the world.  I was excited, a bit terrified but overall pretty calm.

The dr. arrived, sat down and we started “real” pushing.  It took about 3-4 big contractions/pushes and out Juliet came, the whole pushing part was over in about 10 minutes, maybe less.  All I felt was pressure, but it was sort of intense pressure and I didn’t need to be told when to push, my body knew when it was time. So I feel like I had the most perfect epidural I could have ever asked for.  It still allowed my body to feel some natural tendencies for labor and I could also feel and move my legs and my whole body.  But I had no real pain. 

I breathed and pushed and the dr asked “do you want to touch her head” and I didn’t know if I did or didn’t but I yelled “no!” and then “I mean no thank you”.  I later remembered saying that and thought it was funny that I felt it was important to have good manners as I was pushing a baby out.  As she came out I just breathed and said “ohmygodohmygodohmygod” and cried, feeling the hugeness of that moment. 

Juliet arrived a little after 2pm, crying a sweet little cry.  I’m not sure what the protocol at the hospital is but Barb knew I wanted Juliet immediately on my chest and as soon as she came out I heard Barb say sternly to the dr. “She wants her!” and the next thing I knew I was staring down at this tiny baby girl who I immediately could see had my nose and lots of beautiful black hair.  She was covered in vernix, which is totally normal for an early baby and as I began talking to her she calmed down, as though recognizing my voice and knowing who I was.  That is the moment I think I truly became a momma.  Holding my baby on my chest and talking to her while she calmed down, knowing me, having this instinctive, natural bond already. 

I don’t know how much time passed, maybe just a few minutes but the nurse took Juliet briefly, to wipe her face/head up a bit, weigh her, wrap her in a blanket and a hat and let Erik hold her.  She was then handed back to me and we did skin to skin on my chest for the next two hours. 

The next couple hours are sort of a blur, a beautiful blur.  I was running on adrenaline and love.  The doctor had to stich me up because I had a level two tear (I didn’t feel the tear or getting stitches thanks to the epidural). 

I stared at my baby girl on my chest, her eyes wide open and very calm.  We tried breastfeeding a couple times and she did latch, though I had no idea what I was doing and if she was actually feeding or just sucking or what was going on. 

Erik was very sweet during this time, holding his little girl, calling and texting all his friends.  He was very proud and that made me so happy.  I sent a photo to all my friends and family and talked to my best friend Kristin, who was going to stop in for a visit soon. 

Those two hours when it was just Erik, Juliet and I alone in the hospital room is one of my favorite moments of her birthday.  It was so calm and peaceful.  It was the perfect amount of time to have to ourselves before we had visitors come.  Even the nurses and doctors weren’t around.  Just us.  Our new little family.  My beautiful, sweet, small baby girl.  I was very much in love with her. 

{Our first photo as a family of three}

{Juliet's first bath, about 6 hours after she was born}

{Getting ready to head home from the hospital, I found out soon after that those car seat inserts shouldn't be used, and removed it}

The next couple of days were also a blur.  Even though I had this tiny newborn, and didn’t exactly know what I was doing, I really felt I was operating on my momma instinct and felt pretty confident and also very calm.  We dealt with low blood sugar, 10% weight loss, having to supplement with formula for a couple days, jaundice and bili-lights.

I'm going to be honest and tell you that when the nurses recommended that Juliet be fed formula, I was upset.  I was very set on breastfeeding and my perspective was too skewed by all the blogs I was reading at the time that were very pro-breastfeeding, and sort of anti-formula feeding.  Those bloggers were not experts, which I knew, but still took their opinion seriously.  Soon after, and thinking on it now, I realized I should have never thought twice about giving Juliet formula or let it upset me.  It helped her blood sugar levels and prevented her from losing more weight than she already was.  Giving her formula was no big deal and was absolutely necessary for her in those early days. We continued to supplement unti she was about 3-4 days old and my milk came in.

We saw the pediatrician every day for a week after she was born to monitor weight, blood sugar levels and jaundice.  I rented a hospital grade breast pump and was a breast pumping fool (based on advice from the lactation consultants).  Erik helped with every feeding the first 5 days, which included breastfeeding, finger feeding with a dropper and pumping every two hours.  Welcome to parenthood!

The first couple weeks were definitely not easy, but thinking back on it I believe we got through those weeks as new parents pretty gracefully.  It helped that Juliet was a dream baby, rarely cried…she was just a little love.  She enjoyed lying on our chest and breastfeeding.  She wasn't a great sleeper, but what newborn is?  The meals made by friends and family and support from them was so very appreciated in those early weeks. 

And that is our story.  The day our sweet Juliet came into the world.  I loved our birth experience and am very grateful to the hospital and nurses that helped make our experience so wonderful. 

And now that teeny baby is one year old!!  My darling Juliet, a year has gone by since that amazing day.  You have been our little sweetie, our everything each moment of every day since your birthday. 

Thank you for reading Juliet’s birth story.  When I was pregnant reading other birth stories was one of my favorite things.  Each one is so unique and special.  Such a wonderful thing, to read how a new little person is brought into this world.  

I will be doing a 12 month post to reflect more on the year and update on Juliet’s milestones.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Healthy cookies for toddlers

Not surprisingly, I read a lot of blogs, mostly mom/parenting blogs. There are a few that I read daily, and Hello Bee is one of them. It's a compilation blog from lots of moms/parents and brings a wide variety of perspectives. I especially like reading the posts about feeding your baby. Lately I've been really into healthy toddler recipes and bento box ideas.

Juliet has always been a great eater and she likes almost everything. I've been striving to feed her really healthy food since she started eating solids 6 months ago. We buy mostly organic (this is a new thing for us) and I make the majority of her food homemade.  Now that she's eating less purees and more table food, we mostly feed her what we eat, but I'm always looking for new, healthy things for her to try.

These pumpkin and oatmeal breakfast cookies looked good, and best of all I had most of the ingredients in my pantry. What I didn't have I substituted.

Pumpkin and Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies (recipe adapted from Hello Bee)
Makes approximately 2 dozen breakfast cookies
Ingredients 
1 – 15oz can of pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 t. vanilla extract
2 T. pure maple syrup (the original recipe calls for raw sugar)
1 1/2 c. old-fashioned oatmeal, dry
3/4 c. flour (I subtracted 2 tablespoons of flour and added wheat germ), this is totally optional.  The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup flax flour, which I didn't have.
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
Dash of ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. In a medium bowl combine pumpkin, egg and vanilla until blended
2. Add spices, oatmeal and flour/wheat germ and mix well to combine
3. Using a large, 2T. sized cookie scoop, place onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet about 2″ apart. Flatten cookies slightly just so they’re not rounded over and are about 1/2″ thick
5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for ~15 minutes until set and holding together well
So here's the deal with these cookies.  They don't really taste like cookies. When I think of a cookie I expect a lot of sweetness, but as you'll see in the recipe, there is no sugar at all. The only sweetness comes from pure maple syrup.  I thought these cookies tasted ok, but they were a little bland.  
The true test was Juliet, and she loved them. She ate two for breakfast this morning.  The cookies are super chewy and soft, so I broke them into pieces and she couldn't shovel them in her mouth fast enough.  I had to say "slow down honey and remember to chew!"  

So based on that, I would say these cookies were a success.  I have them frozen and plan to take out one or two a couple times a week to serve with breakfast or as a treat/snack.   

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Juliet's "Baby Love" first birthday party details

Sources {Cake, Heart toppers, Macarons, love printable, gold balloons, gold vase}

It shouldn't be a big surprise to anyone that I am really excited for Juliet's first birthday party.  It's going to be a beautiful party with lots of great brunch food, gorgeous desserts, my family and closest friends.

Juliet will love it.

She is always happy when surrounded by a lot of people and she adores my family and all the attention they give her.  Her party is going to be a wonderful celebration.  I can't wait.

I've heard the other side.  "She won't remember it".  "You're having the party for you, not her".  "She won't even know what's going on".

I don't care what anyone says.  Why wouldn't I celebrate her?  Why wouldn't I throw a party in honor of the the most amazing year of my life so far, all because of her.

She is so worth the celebration.  And she will have fun!  She'll eat lots of cake (which won't quite be her first taste of sugar) and I'll stare at her in awe and so much love when the frosting is smeared in her hair.  I'll laugh at her dad when he stresses about the mess.  It's going to be such a good day.  I can't wait.

The inspiration board contains a few of my ideas:

Baby love.
Lots of hearts.
Pink and sparkly gold.
Brunch (duh!).
Bubbly drinks,
Beautiful pink macarons,

Click here to follow my Pinterest board with lots more details.

My baby girl is almost one (in 3 weeks!).  Juliet is going to rock toddlerhood.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The grumbly face

I love this girl and I love her little grumbly face.

Erik can get her to make it on demand. It is generally followed by a big smile so the the title of this post is a bit misleading :)

I thought of writing a longer blog post about our pancake Saturdays but I'll save it for another day. The truth is I'm really tired...Juliet was up twice last night and this momma needs some sleep.

Night night!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Juliet: 11 months

My sweet girl is 11 months today!!! This past month has been so, so awesome with Juliet. She is getting so expressive, talking (jabbering), so many smiles and laughs.

Here are Juliet's milestones for the month:

  • Her second tooth came in.  It came just a few days after the first so now she has two adorable little teeth poking up from her bottom gums.  I love her gummy toothy smiles.  
  • Juliet learned to pull herself up to stand.  She does it on just about everything now.  There were a couple days where naps and nighttime sleeping was difficult because she would pull herself up and just sort of bounce and smile.  I'd watch her on the video monitor unsure if she was able to get back down.  She would eventually "fall" back down on her butt and then lay down.  Despite being able to pull up, I don't think she is close to walking.  She doesn't really get the whole one foot in front of the other notion when we hold onto her hands to help her walk.  She just sort of bounces and wobbles.  I am in no rush for her to walk.  
  • Like I mentioned in Juliet's favorite feeding things post, she started eating tons of solids this months.  Real meals.  Big meals.  She loves almost everything and meal time is always so fun.  She is pretty good at feeding herself and sometimes grabs the spoon and insists on using it all by herself.  Her favorite foods are blueberries, scrambled eggs, raspberries, pork, chicken, squash and peas.  
  • So I'm pretty sure this isn't really a milestone, but Juliet started having little tantrums in the past few weeks.  When she is done eating and wants out of her high chair or is starting to get overtired or if we take something away that she wants, she will scream and then cry.  It's a very easy to tell fake cry.  She gets mad.  Of course now I think it's cute but I know that won't last once she is a full-on toddler.  The tantrums don't last long and I can usually prevent them by reading her cues and addressing what she needs before it's too late.  Or we can easily distract her and cut the tantrum short.  
  • She started making this adorable grumbly face.  She scrunches up her nose, purses her lips and breathes super fast and heavy.  I have no idea where she got it from but it's hilarious and adorable and now it's sort of a daddy/daughter thing.  Erik will make the face at her and she'll make it back and they'll both smile and laugh. 
Breastfeeding is still going well but I can honestly say that I am very ready to be done pumping soon.  Over the holidays I had a week and a half off work and took a bunch of days off from pumping.  When I came back to work it was as though my body didn't remember how to respond to the pump.  Either that or my pump motor is starting to suck.  My output from pumping has been terrible and it is so stressful and frustrating to sit for 25 minutes pumping with not much to show for it.  Needless to say I am so thankful that I still have about 100 ounces in my freezer stash.  I plan to stop pumping around the time Juliet turns a year and hope that my supply regulates itself so I can still breastfeed her in the mornings/evenings/nights and weekends.  Actual breastfeeding is still awesome.  It's our special time together and I couldn't love it more.  Juliet eats in the morning, evening and usually once overnight.  Some nights she sleeps through the night but for the most part she is up around 3ish.  I've gotten so used to getting up at night that I feel well-rested for the most part.  

These past 11 months have been just incredible and next month is the big 1 year!  I am really trying not to feel sad about my baby girl growing up so fast and instead am embracing it.  Each month has been more amazing than the last and as she grows Erik and I have more and more fun with her.  We love our little sugar plum so much.  

I am working on Juliet's birthday party invites this week.  I will be posting about her birthday party details soon!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Juliet and momma's feeding favorite things


I've been thinking a lot lately about Juliet's eating habits now that she is really into solids so I'd thought I'd do a post on what has worked for us.

Juliet started on solids when she was just about 6 months.  A lot of sources and research will say that 6 months is an ideal time to begin solids but some say as early as 4 months.  In fact, my pediatrician said 4 months is a good time to start rice cereal.  I thought about it a lot around the time Juliet was 4 months, but she just didn't seem ready.  I decided to wait until the time felt right.

Around 5 and a half months Juliet started being really curious about everything we ate.  She would watch us move our hands to our mouth and sometimes reach out and try to grab food.  She was sitting with assistance comfortably (on the bumbo) and seemed ready.  So we had Juliet's first feeding when she was just a week or so shy of 6 months.

Though many sources will say that you don't have to start with the traditional rice cereal first, that is what felt the most comfortable for me.  When you mix the cereal with breast milk (or formula) for baby's first feeding, it is a very thin consistently (so it was really not too different from breast milk that she was used to).  Erik and I basically wanted to get her used to the spoon, a bib, sitting in her chair (which at the time was the Bumbo).  She immediately loved the rice cereal.  We gave it to her for a few more days and then started incorporating veggie and fruit purees.  She loved it all, except avocado.  She still doesn't like avocado much. We also started giving Juliet oatmeal cereal and she still loves having that for breakfast. 

Now that Juliet is almost 11 months, she is eating like a regular person!  She feeds herself awesome with her hands, and she eats almost everything we eat, and she is learning to feed herself with a spoon (it's messy and Erik always cringes when purees go flying onto the floor).  The amount she eats at times astonishes me.  I used to have the philosophy "anything before the age of one is just for fun" when it came to solids, but around 10 months Juliet showed me that she wanted to eat, and she is hungry for solids.  She still gets the same amount of breast milk she has always gotten (around 24 ounces at day, give or take) but she also gets 3 full meals of solids plus snacks.  On weekends, even if she breast feeds as often as she wants, she still wants plenty of solids. 

Above are products we have loved during this process:

1.  Dr. Sears Nibble Tray.  This is a new addition to our eating regimen.  I can't wait to start creating bento box lunches for Juliet and being creative with food for her.  This nibble tray is awesome.  It has a bunch of compartments and it looks pretty when it's packed with fruits/veggies/grains/snacks, etc.  Juliet isn't old enough to eat off it yet, it would end up on the floor.  But I pack her lunches in it sometimes and it is great for packing for daycare.  You can basically just dump the contents on a highchair and let the baby go to town.
2.  Tommee Tippee Food Pots with Lids.   I am a big fan of the Tommee Tippee brand because when Juliet was going through an awful bottle strike (right when I went back to work), Tommee Tippee bottles worked best.  We've used them since she was 13 weeks.  These little food cups are perfect for individual servings of purees and are great to pack fruit, veggies or puffs in.
3.  Tommee Tippee spoons.   I love these spoons because they are small enough for little baby mouths and also change color if food is too warm.  Juliet has always enjoyed using these spoons.
4.  Graco DuoDiner High Chair.  We were lucky that Erik's mom purchased Juliet's high chair.  These things are not cheap!  I didn't do a ton of research on high chairs but went to Target and took a look around.  I liked that this was on wheels, seemed really comfortable, the fabric could easily be removed for washing, and also converts to a booster when your baby is older.  Juliet always enjoyed being in her high chair and the wheels are a must.  I also love the two part tray because if you don't wash the top one and need to feed, you can always use the bottom half.  We got a brown and red style with a cute giraffe.
5.  Ice cube trays.  I make the  majority of Juliet's purees and freeze them in ice cube trays.  I cover them with saran wrap while they freeze and then store them in freezer, gallon-size bags.  One serving was 2 ice cubes when Juliet was younger, now she can easily eat 3-4. 
6.  Earth's Best baby food.  While I make the majority of Juliet's food, sometimes it's easiest to reach into the pantry and grab a jar of food.  It's organic and Juliet likes it.  She's tried almost every kind and you can find it on sale often at Babies R Us.
7.  Cuisinart Mini Food Processor. This food processor is awesome.  I've had it for years and it is the perfect size for pureeing veggies and fruits.  I don't think the baby bullets or special baby food makers are necessary when a mini food processor does the trick just fine.  
8.  Happy Baby Organic Puffs. These are fun snacks, they dissolve easily and are good practice for little fingers.  When it comes to snacks I prefer giving Juliet fruit but every once in a while she has Puffs and she loves them. 
9.  Tommee Tippee Sippee Cup.  These cups are great, easy for Juliet to drink out of (she still needs a bit of help from mom and dad to tilt the cup when she's sitting in her high chair).  They are relatively spill proof so even if she's playing around the sucking the bottom of the cup (which she does often), the contents don't spill out.  

Juliet's favorite foods are blueberries, raspberries, peas, toast with hummus, shredded pork, chicken, spaghetti, squash, yogurt and eggs.  She is such a good eater and we try to always make mealtime positive and fun.  I've really enjoyed the feeding/solids experience with Juliet. I can't wait to see what's in store for when she's a toddler (eek, only a month and a week away!!!). 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Our Christmas - part 2

Erik, Juliet and I spent Christmas in North Dakota.  It is 6 and a half hour away and I was a bit nervous to make the drive with Juliet, but she did great.  This was her second trip to North Dakota, the first time she was 14 weeks and slept the entire way.  This time, we left during her bedtime and she slept most of the way.  When she was awake, we read books, sang songs and had snacks.

We can pretty much always guarantee a few things in North Dakota.  Really good, comfort food.  Cold, cold weather.  Lots of relaxing.  Good family time.

This trip was no exception.  We spent 4 days lounging in Erik's mom's sunroom, eating, drinking and also some hot tub time (Juliet too!  We turned the temperature down and she "swam", she LOVED it!)
We drink a lot of tomato beer in North Dakota.  It's any beer mixed with Clamato juice, plus olives.  I used to think it was weird, but now I'm hooked.

I also asked Erik's mom to make wassail tea, it's sweet and reminds me of Christmas.  I love it. We always have big breakfasts in North Dakota.  Eggs, waffles or pancakes, potatoes and frying sausage (a combo of pork and beef, Erik could eat this every day). Juliet ate a ton in North Dakota.  She is crawling everywhere and builds up an appetite.  She likes grandma's cooking, too.  Karen (Erik's mom) always has a ton of appetizers before we eat Christmas dinner. Spinach, artichoke chicken crostini, yum.Tortilla roll-ups.

The traditional Christmas Eve dinner at Erik's mom's house includes lobster tails and prime rib. While we were there we also had chicken and dumplings and lasagna.  So much good food.  I guarantee I gained 5 pounds.
Juliet had adorable holiday outfits to wear thanks to her Aunt Chris. Grandma can make Juliet laugh and laugh and laugh.   Plenty of desserts including homemade vanilla ice cream.Juliet had a blast opening lots of gifts.  She was very spoiled by grandma with toys, clothes and more toys.  I just loved the little santa jammies she wore and how happy she was with all the wrapping paper and bows.

We still have our tree up and I am a little sad to think about putting all the Christmas decorations away.  The holidays always come and go so fast and we love the family time.

2012 was an amazing year.  Looking forward to a great 2013!

Happy New Year!