Thursday, December 29, 2011

Natalie Grace

Natalie Grace arrived on Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 4:58 p.m. weighing 7 lbs 4 oz and was 20 in long.

God is faithful. He got me through 21 hours of labor and natural childbirth and blessed us with this amazing little life! I find myself crying tears of joy and gratitude as I think about good He is to have chosen to give us this gift. I am overjoyed to spend my days as her mama and can't get enough snuggles and kisses from this precious little bundle. Praise the Lord, our daughter is here! Thank you, God for Natalie Grace!

We came home late Friday night and have been going, going, going ever since. Christmas Eve was spent going back to the hospital for a repeat bilirubin test, which came back with a good report. Then we went to my in-laws' to open gifts with Alex's side of the family. Natalie managed to sleep through the excited banter of her four older cousins and received an adorable rocking horse 1st Christmas ornament from her Memere and Pepere.

Christmas Day was spent at home with my parents, brother, sister, brother-in-law and niece. Bella was more than a little excited to hold her baby cousin!

We plan to stay home and relax tomorrow, which sounds amazing. I'm loving every minute of Alex being home on vacation and do not look forward to him returning to work in a few weeks. He took to being a daddy so naturally. He even sneaked Natalie out of her bassinet at the hospital (she stayed in the room with us, just to clarify. He didn't break her out of the nursery!) and cuddled with her in bed for a few hours the first night. He calms her down when she cries and has even succeeded at changing a couple dirty diapers. Nursing has been our greatest challenge, but Alex has been an amazing source of support. I wouldn't have survived the first three days of nursing without him. This has been the most fantastic adventure of my life thus far, but is already so rewarding. I can't imagine life without Natalie in it. Here's a couple more pictures for good measure! This is one of my favorites:

Layla has been really great with her. She lays at my feet when I feed the baby and looks for her when she comes in the nursery or when she's in her pack-n-play.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Waiting Game

Today I'm so ready to meet my baby girl. I get asked at least 10 times a day how I'm feeling, if I'm ready, am I having contractions yet, etc. I'm feeling great and am having probably one mild contraction a day. Nothing exciting. Three days ago I would have answered that I wasn't quite ready, but now that my due date is just 12 days away, I'm just excited to see what Natalie looks like, to cuddle her close, to watch Alex hold his daughter in his arms and see his expression as she steals his heart. It's so surreal to think that this life-long dream of becoming a mother is about to come true. I can't help but hope that she comes sooner rather than later, even though I don't want to wish away these last moments as a family of two. With my sister and niece arriving for Christmas next Thursday, it would be really cool if Natalie chose to make her appearance in time to be back home on Christmas Day. My prayer is for her to be healthy and born with no complications, so whenever the nerves set in and fear and worry try to take over, I just pray and give it to the Lord because He is in control. Thank you, Lord, for this miracle of life!

Monday, December 5, 2011

37 Weeks, Wherein the Pregnancy Hormones Kick In

Today begins my 37th week of pregnancy. Gosh, that sounds like an eternity, but it has kind of flown by in a way. Until this past weekend, I'd pretty much felt like my same old self in the emotions department. No crazy mood swings, no crying fits, not even a craving (well, one day I craved nachos and french bread pizza, but other than that one day, I haven't craved anything!). Then on Saturday I started feeling overwhelmed about my pending motherhood. I tried to cross a few things off my "to-do before the baby comes" list and didn't get very far. Our hospital bags needed to be packed, but when I tried to pack Natalie's bag, I didn't know what to put in it for her. What if I left out something important? How many outfits did she need? Would the hospital supply diapers? So, feeling overwhelmed and like a horrible parent, I gave up and moved on to pack my bag.

Things didn't go any better there. So much laundry needed to be washed that I decided it would be better to wait to pack. In the middle of watching tv later that night, I looked at my growing belly and thought, "There's a baby in there, and she's getting ready to come out and I don't know what I'm going to do when she's here and I have to take care of her! I can't do this! It's too late to turn back now, but WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH A BABY!? I'M NOT READY FOR THIS!!!" I'd had my longest bout of Braxton Hicks earlier that afternoon after Christmas and grocery shopping for 3 hours. I think that experience kind of scared me a little because of the fear of the unknowns of labor.

Today, the emotions ran high again as I worried over a situation that I have no control over and stressed out about how and why I'd committed myself to so many crafting projects for other people that needed to be done before Christmas. After a few crying spells, lots of prayer, talks with friends and un-committing myself to one project, the day got better and now here I am. Layla is cuddled up with me on the couch and I'm relaxing to the sound of the dryer running. Alex was kind enough to play photographer for me once again so that we could capture this week's baby bump shot:

Our doula, Mattie, measured me at 33 weeks at my 36 week appointment, but she said that was nothing to worry about. Natalie's heart rate was 144 bpm, which is a little slower than average for a girl, but maybe that means she has her daddy's laid back personality. She's moving around a lot still and likes to kick her feet out against my right side. Maybe she'll enjoy playing soccer like I did. I'm not at all anxious to get this over with. I want her to stay in there and grow healthy and strong for a few more weeks, but hopefully no longer than three! I couldn't have asked for a better pregnancy. God has blessed us so abundantly; I refuse to take His blessings for granted by wishing this time away. Before I know it, my life will never be the same and there will be no going back to being a family of two. I want to enjoy these last few weeks and put aside the worries that tried to bog me down the past couple of days. God is bigger than all of that stuff anyway.