Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Speechless.

My sister just got off the phone with a customer and, apparently, I was the topic of conversation. Christina mentioned I was going to be induced, rather than schedule an elective c-section. The rest of the conversation went like this...

So, she was like "Oh, so she's going to try to have the natural?" and I said yes, that you'd strongly prefer to avoid a c-section - and she goes "Oh, well, you know, babies born via c-section are SO much healthier. They come out all pink, and whole (?!) and just much healthier. I mean, I've done STUDIES on it. I mean, I am friends with people who have friends who have STUDIED it. It's really amazing. And did you know that you can also schedule a tummy tuck to be performed WHILE you're having a c-section? So it's really a much better option."

Mmhmm.

Sorry this is a short post...I need to go call the doc! I don't want to be piecing together my babies after they're born!!!

(BTW, I make no judgement on c-section vs. natural - that's a totally personal decision. But, seriously, c-sections babies are born WHOLE? Hahahahahaha!)

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Dream Job

In my previous life...
I spent my lunch hour sipping Chardonnay and nibbling on seared Ahi while I schmoozed customers and charged said Ahi to my beloved "green card" (aka my corporate American Express).


In my new life...
I spend my lunch hour trying to convince a one-year-old why it's a good idea to eat her chicken/veggie/fruit/yogurt/anything-I-can-get-in-her-mouth-without-a-fight. And then I crawl around on my hands and knees picking up all the bits she tossed to the floor before she can eat them (why she likes things off the floor but not off her plate, I have no idea).


In my previous life...
I spent so much time and money at J.Crew that my husband bought me J. Crew stock for our fifth wedding anniversary. I thought it was the most romantic gift I'd ever received (I mean, it was pretty thoughtful!).


In my new life...
My personal shopper has long since stopped calling and J.Crew's stock has lost 50% of it's value (that can't be ALL my fault - can it?!). I now wish/pray/hope that Target gets in on the act of personal shoppers so I can stop stalking the lingerie department for new shipments of nursing bras.


In my previous life...
I worked out, tanned, got pedicures every two weeks and never left the house without "my face" on. I wore freshly dry-cleaned clothes and cute shoes.

In my new life...
I shower. Almost every day.

In my previous life...
Our house was the party house. We threw fun, themed parties and were known for our raucous Christmas parties. Even game night drew knocks on the door from security.


In my new life...
Our house is still the social center for our friends, but only because Branden and I can't leave the house after 6pm (unless we care to pay $12 an hour for our babysitter to watch TV while Mia sleeps). Everyone is still welcome, but now it's always potluck, paper plates and lights out by nine. Oh, and don't forget to take off your shoes at the door.

In my previous life...
I got paid in American dollars and my boss was a smooth-talking Jersey boy. I turned in my admin on time, hit my sales goals and came prepared for meetings, so he pretty much left me alone.

In my new life...
I get paid in slobbery kisses and my boss is a two-foot-tall mini me with a feisty temper and a mischievous smile. She sets my hours and my day starts and ends when she says it does. It's her world and I'm just livin' in it.



To quote my friend, Jill...
"I have never worked harder, made less money, or been more exhausted than I have over the past year. BUT, I have never felt more love, learned more, or been HAPPIER either."

It's amazing, really. I know it sounds bad when I lay it all out like I have, but in reality, I can't imagine my life before kids. I always thought I had a dream job, but now I really do.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Baby and Belly Updates!

I guess I owe you a lot of information, seeing as how I haven't posted since July! Once I catch you up, I think you'll understand.

First and foremost, the love of our lives turned 11 months old yesterday. Oh. My. Gosh. Where is the time going? I'm working on a photo book of her first year and, as I look back at all of the photos, I can't believe it's been nearly a year since her arrival. Amelia is such a special little girl and Branden and I feel so lucky to be her parents. She is still as curious as ever and has developed a fun personality. She's sassy and mischievous when she wants to be, but spends most of her time exploring, dancing and making us laugh with her funny faces and antics. She LOVES to people watch and laughs hysterically around other kids.

Here is a brief rundown of her accomplishments and new skills:
8 months
* 2 more teeth (I think I mistakenly said she got three at seven months...it was only two, as the last one actually popped through at eight months)
* Cruising (walking holding on to things)

Such a happy girl!
Like mother, like daughter!
Midwest summer fun

9 months

* Crawling
* Pulling up to stand
* 2 more teeth (that's eight now if you're counting)
* saying "Dada"

Funny faces!

10 months

* Climbing stairs
So big!
Cheering on our team!
Still a little fashionista


She has decided she's pretty much done with baby food, so she eats what we eat. Right now, her favorite foods are Greek yogurt, soup (especially veggie or minestrone), mangoes, orange wedges and any kind of meat. She's anemic so we think that might be why she loves meat so much; her body is craving the iron. Either way, it's quite funny to watch this petite little girl dig in to an Italian Beef sandwich!

Last week we had an early birthday party for her. It was six weeks before her actual first birthday, but back when we were planning it, we decided to have it early in case I ended up and bed rest with the twins. Thankfully, other than for a few weeks, that hasn't happened, but it was nice to celebrate while I still have some energy. We planned a Dr. Seuss themed party and Mia seemed to love it. The best part was having my parents, Branden's parents and my sister and brother-in-law there to celebrate with us.




Of course, as we enjoy and celebrate each day with Amelia, we are also eagerly awaiting the arrival of our twins. It's been a roller coaster few months, but I'm very thankful to report that all is well now and we expect them the week after Thanksgiving! Here's the back story to get you caught up...

As I said in my last post, Amelia and I were in the Midwest until the end of July. After two months away, Branden was coming home the first weekend in August, so we wanted to make sure we were back in time to see him. He was only supposed to be home for a few days and his visit coincided perfectly with my 20-week ultrasound. While Branden was content to keep the twins' genders a surprise until delivery day, I decided that I was good on surprises for the year (hi, TWINS?!) and so we agreed to find out the gender of the babies at the ultrasound. These days, the 20-week ultrasound is pretty much standard procedure and it enables the doctors to look for any potentially serious problems with the baby. Because it is such an in-depth look at the baby, it is also a chance to find out the baby's gender. Fortunately, most parents leave this ultrasound knowing their baby is perfectly healthy and if they are welcoming a little boy or a little girl.

You can probably guess where this is going, but like I said, all is well now! So, as you read, keep in mind that our story has a happy ending. We arrived at Balboa (our hospital) for the ultrasound, dropped Mia off at the the daycare there and headed over to radiology. A very nice and professional tech warmly greeted us and we settled in for the two-hour scan. Right away, she asked us if the twins were identical or fraternal and we said we really didn't know. She said she thought they were identical, based on what she could see. She continued scanning for about an hour and then asked us if we wanted to know the babies' gender. YES, I said! She turned the computer towards us and showed us a very proud little BOY. We were shocked! Our last guess was two boys (it's the most uncommon combination), but there was one and, since they're identical, one penis means two!

Over the next hour, she continued to scan, this time focusing on Baby B. After she was done, she said she wanted to show the doctor the photos and make sure she hadn't missed anything. I knew immediately something was up because I've had both good and bad ultrasounds and that's only something they do in a "bad" ultrasound. Unfortunately, Branden had to leave to pick-up Mia before the day care closed, so I was on my own, waiting for the tech to return. She did, with a doctor in tow. They asked if my husband was coming back and I asked if he needed to. They said yes. We couldn't get a hold of him (dumb cell phones!), so I asked them to give me the news anyways. The doctor was very kind and explained that our identical twins had an uncommon syndrome called Twin-to-Twin Transfusion. She briefly explained it and told me to expect a call from the perinatologist (high-risk obstetrician) within 24 hours.

TTTS, as Twin-to-Twin is known, affects about 10% of identical twin pregnancies. It's a little complicated, so below is a link to explain it. In a nutshell, we met with the high-risk team at Balboa and they told us there was a 95% chance we would lose both twins if we didn't get treatment right away. Thankfully, there is a relatively new surgery to treat this and one of the nation's top surgeons is in Los Angeles. Within 24 hours of our diagnosis, we had an appointment for surgery in LA. This link explains both the syndrome and the surgery, and the doctor and nurses featured are the same wonderful team that treated us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-9bfjAm2ro

It's go time! As nurse Terry likes to say, "it's time to save some babies!"

When we were diagnosed, our TTTS was a level 1-2. Six days later, when we had our pre-op ultrasound, it had progressed to a level 2-3. This meant our donor baby's bladder was no longer functioning, his blood flow was becoming irregular and he had no fluid in his amniotic sac. He was also severly growth restricted. Our recipient baby's heart was showing some thickening and his amniotic sac was 15-16cm deep (normal is 3-8). Due to the excess fluid, my belly was measuring 37 weeks, even though I was only 21 weeks pregnant at this point. During surgery, Dr. Chmait removed two liters of fluid from the recipient's sac and successfully laser ablated all of the blood vessels connecting the two boys. 24 hours after surgery, both boys had strong heartbeats, so we headed home to wait and see how the next month would go (the most critical period).

For a month after surgery, I was on modified bed rest and Branden was home to watch Mia. We had weekly ultrasounds to check on the boys and each week they looked better and better. Four weeks after surgery, we had another in-depth ultrasound and fetal echo cardiogram (an ultrasound of their hearts). To everyone's relief, our boys looked GREAT. Our doctor was so pleased and said, if she didn't know our history, she would think she was looking at the ultrasound of a normal twin pregnancy. We are SO incredibly thankful and blessed by this outcome.

We continue to have bi-weekly ultrasounds and other monitoring, but as of last week, the boys are still making a remarkable recovery. Henry, our donor baby, weighs about three pounds and Miles, our recipient, is almost three and a half pounds. They are both in the 25-35th percentile for size, which is amazing considering Henry was in the second percentile at the time of surgery. Unless the boys decide they're ready sooner, it looks like I will deliver six+ pound babies the week after Thanksgiving!

My belly is getting bigger, but compared to how it was before surgery, I feel great! I'm starting to get more tired and uncomfortable, but most days are pretty good and, of course, Amelia keeps my mind off how I'm feeling. I think my belly will get really big in the coming weeks (or, as Branden so kindly put it, "you're going to be HUGE!"), but I'm so happy the boys are healthy, I don't care! It's all worth it.


Sorry the photos aren't all the same direction - my brain isn't working so efficiently these days!

Well, you're probably tired of reading by now and I'm tired of writing, so this is probably a good time to call it a night. Before I go, I do want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers over the last two months. Through the worst of days, we were encouraged by the kind phone calls, emails and cards we received. You brought us meals, watched Amelia and accompanied me to doctor's appointments when Branden had to go back to work. We will never be able to convey the depth of our gratitude, but please know we are so thankful to have such a loving, supportive group of family and friends to lean on. We love you all very much and can't wait to introduce you to our little miracles!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Where to begin?

If you're reading this, thanks for not giving up on me! I know it's been a loooong time since I've updated, but I promise you lots of photos and updates here and now. On the advice of Julie Andrews, I'll start at the very beginning (or at least back up to where we left off)...

Since our life is now measured in monthly birthdays, I'll update you month-by-month.

Mia - Four Months
At four months, our sweet girl accomplished many things. Among the highlights were:

* started laughing
* got two teeth!
* rolled back to belly (thus making her mobile, since she already knew how to roll belly to back!)

As I mentioned in my last post, I went back to work during this time and Branden left on a month-long "deployment" (I use the term deployment loosely here - not really sure what to call it - a month-long "business trip"?). Things were going very smoothly until our full-time babysitter left us! She got a wonderful opportunity teaching special education children and we couldn't blame her for taking the job. Thankfully, Grandma Deal and Grandma Marty came to the rescue, flying in and taking two-week shifts until I could find another childcare solution. Mia loved her time with her Grandmas and I was happy to know she was in good hands. After much thought and discussion, Branden and I finally settled on a childcare solution...ME. Yes, after eight wonderful years at Gallo, leaving my beautiful daughter behind everyday proved too much for me. As much as I loved my job, I loved being with her more and I decided to give my notice. My bosses were extremely supportive and I knew I was making the right decision. Now, four months later, I am thankful for every minute I get to spend with her!

So, after what was a VERY hectic month of juggling work, baby and home, Branden returned back to San Diego and the Grandmas said their good-byes. Of course, life in the military is never dull so our time as a family once again proved short-lived!


Enjoying the flower fields with Mommy and Daddy, touring Daddy's ship, swimming with Daddy, celebrating her first Easter

Always ready with a smile for the camera!

Welcome home, Daddy! The second photo makes me laugh - do you think she's already grossed out by our PDAs??

Mia - Five Months
Mia didn't really develop any new skills at five months, but she spent a lot of time practicing. She mastered grabbing for toys, objects (always things she wasn't supposed to have, of course) and started sitting up (albeit very timidly).

I wrapped up work this month and Branden was back in San Diego, so we enjoyed lots of family time.
Celebrating our first Mother's Day!


New favorite activities - "brushing" her new teeth, eating fruits and veggies, being mischievous (in this photo she seems to be saying, "Ha ha, Mommy, I'm not napping like you want me to!!")


Still entertaining us with her many expressions

Starting to eat baby foods - some days it goes well, some days not so much


Mia - Six Months
At six months, Mia finally mastered sitting up and is having a ball! Now she can reach for toys, interact with other babies and be more involved in the world around her. It's so much fun to watch!

Branden left on a three and a half month "business trip" this month (June), so Mia and I headed to the Midwest to visit family and friends. We spent time in both Michigan and Wisconsin and Mia got to meet many family members and friends for the first time. Everyone (especially my parents and Branden's parents) went out of their way to welcome us and we appreciate it so much!!

As always, Mommy's little fashionista


Practicing sitting up


Such a smiley girl!


Still not sure about the baby food

Mia - Seven Months
Mia celebrated her seven month "birthday" in the Midwest, trying to beat the heat! It was well into the 90s nearly the entire time we were there. Despite the oppressive heat, Miss Mia has been working on several new skills and tricks. Some of the highlights include:

*getting herself up on all fours (knees and hands)
*clapping
*playing fetch (not nearly as fun for us as it is for her!)
*growing three new teeth (and learning not to bite!)
*making a piggy face
*dancing (whether or not there is music playing)

She is also becoming quite talkative, babbling to anyone and anything that will listen!

Branden is still gone, so Mia and I have decided to extend our Midwest trip by another few weeks. We'll be back in San Diego at the end of July, in time to welcome Branden home for a three day visit.
Happy, happy girl!

Still acting like we're torturing her when we feed her! Such a drama queen!

Amazingly, her attitude changes when she gets to eat treats!

Beating the heat with her favorite activity, swimming

Talking to Daddy via Skype

Practicing safe sun protection with a new hat, enjoying her own seat on the plane, loving her new toy "Rody", reading and relaxing in the bath

Sending our love to Daddy on Father's Day!

Meeting new friends and family members!


One last thing...
Maybe you've heard a little rumor, maybe you haven't. Either way, I guess it's about time to set the record straight. Yes, our little family is growing! TWO new Martys will be joining our family in November or early December. Although we were SHOCKED to discover we were having twins, we are overjoyed and can't wait to welcome them into our family.

We've been asked lots of questions, so here are a few FAQs and answers:
*Are they fraternal or identical?
We aren't positive but one doctor said fraternal (the other couldn't tell), so we're going with that for now.

*Do twins run in your family?
Yes, but on Branden's side, meaning it didn't influence our luck! The only time that matters is if there are twins on the mom's side.

*
Were you taking fertility drugs?
Nope.

*
When are you due?
The twins are due December 20, but our doctor/hospital won't allow twin pregnancies to go beyond 38 weeks. Given that, they will be here by December 6.

*
Were you trying to get pregnant?
I mean, really, I think is a private matter, but whatev. Given our pregnancy history, the number of children we wanted and my age, we decided to let nature take it's course after Mia was born. We knew we wanted three or four kids and we haven't had the best luck with pregnancy. So, we weren't trying but we were very pleasantly surprised when we found out we were going to be blessed with two more healthy kiddos.

*
Are you nervous? What are you going to do?
This question makes me laugh! Of course we're nervous, but we're also very excited! As for what we're going to do, well, we're going to love them and raise them and take it all one day at a time!

So, that's a peek into our life! It seems there's never a dull moment around here. I'll post some belly pics and 4th of July pics soon. Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Four Months Old!

Mia officially hit four months this week, so I guess it's time to catch you up on her third and fourth months. As I imagine is the case for all families with a baby in the house, time flies and you're never quite sure where it all goes. Our sweet girl makes us smile each and every day...she is so much fun and her personality develops more and more each day.

As a reminder, you can always click on a photo collage and it will open up larger.

Right now, she loves swimming, playing airplane, bouncing in her Baby Bjorn seat (she just figured out how to spin the toys and she is very serious when doing so) and reading books. She also loves to examine her hands, play with her ears and suck her thumb.

She started rolling from her front to her back in her third month and now she is very close to rolling from her back to front. She is also quite the "creeper", sort of a pre-crawling move in which she digs her feet into the ground and scoots herself around. I can still leave her for a few moments, but not for much longer!

She loves to smile and just started laughing. Her giggles are music to our ears!

We love to smooch her and she is happy to oblige.


She is very patient and lets me dress her up nearly every day. Branden says "she's not a doll, Stephanie," but I disagree!

Occasionally, I push my luck and I get an "Are you kidding me, Mom?" look...

She loves to "talk" and chat! She also just figured out how to scream and screech, so she does that quite often, even when she's happy. It's pretty funny but I'm sure the neighbors wonder what's going on over here.

Most everyone notices her BIG blue eyes!



She finally got to meet Uncle Colin, Aunt Ellen and Uncle Ryan last month!

In addition to watching our baby girl grow, Branden and I recently had some changes at work. For starters, I went back to work after 18 weeks off. Branden took a new job that keeps us in San Diego for another two years. He is still an aide to the same admiral, but the admiral is now in charge of a different command, so they are now stationed aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier. The admiral's new tour (and therefore, Branden's) started at the beginning of March. Because the Nimitz was out on deployment, Branden and the admiral flew out to meet the ship and join the deployment. Lucky for us, the ship was already on it's way home, so they'll be home soon. They'll do a couple more months at sea this summer and then, if all goes as planned, Branden will be home for the next year and a half, thank goodness! We were both getting pretty tired of his constant deployment/travel schedule over the last three years.

Unfortunately, my timing was a bit off and I planned to go back to work the very same day that Branden left. So, Miss Mia and I have been on our own this month, adjusting to me going back to work and Branden being gone. Thankfully, we have an awesome babysitter and both Grandmas have been out to help, so the transition has been as smooth as possible. I'm not getting much sleep, but I plan to catch up once B gets home. Speaking of sleep, my bed is calling my name, so I'll stop here. Thanks for checking in with us!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Our Little Mermaid

Tonight was Mia's first swim class! Ever since her cord fell off and she could take real baths (i.e., not sponge baths), she has loved "swimming" in the tub. We let her float around in the bath tub each night (we hold her head above water) and she loves it. So, we decided to start her in swim lessons as soon as possible and found a school that would let her start at two months. Branden and I were so excited for her to start and we've been eagerly awaiting today! To be honest, we were a little nervous that a) the half hour would be too long for her and she would get crabby before the class was over and b) that she would poop in the pool. Gross, I know, but we just weren't that confident in the swim diaper and we didn't want to be those parents! Thankfully, I'm happy to report that she loved the class and they did not have to drain the pool afterwards. We signed up for a month of classes on the way out, so let's hope tonight wasn't a fluke!

video

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Amelia is two months old!

It's hard to believe but our little Munchkin is two months old! She continues to amaze us everyday and she is a joy to be around. It's been a big month, with lots of changes. She is growing and changing so much every day. She had her two-month well baby check-up yesterday and she weighed in at TEN pounds! She hit a little growth spurt around week seven and she gained 20 ounces in just 21 days. As you can imagine, she is eating all the time to achieve a weight gain like that!

With her two-month "birthday", our little one decided she was a big girl and started sleeping in her crib, in her own room. If you've talked to me in the last few weeks, you know this is a HUGE accomplishment, as she was still sleeping in our bed just last week! We had been putting her down for naps in her crib to make the eventual transition easier for her and then, last weekend, she just decided she was done sleeping with us. She wouldn't fall asleep in our room no matter how hard we tried, so we eventually decided to give the crib a try. Sure enough, she fell right asleep and slept for five hours! Since then, she has slept in her crib every night and has only woken up once to feed each night. I was really sad the first night, as I wasn't quite ready for Mia to move out of our room yet, but since then I'm just enjoying the extra sleep (we also have a video monitor so I can check on her anytime I need to)!

As her body grows, so does her personality! Mia is a happy baby (when she gets her naps!) and loves to chat and smile with us. She loves when we sing to her and dance with her - her favorite songs are currently "So Long, Farewell" from the Sound of Music and "Tik Tok" by Ke$ha (yes, I know, it's not a very age-appropriate song for her, but she loves to dance to it!!). She's very active and loves to look around and see what everyone is up to. She's trying very hard to crawl (poor thing, she has no idea that milestone is still months away) and roll over. She has actually rolled over twice, but both times she was on a couch, so it was slightly slanted and gave her a little help. Given that, we're not ready to call her a baby genius quite yet. :)

As for B and I, we're quickly settling into life as a threesome. Now that the holidays are over and the visitors are gone, we're getting into a routine and figuring out how to make it all work. I'm still on maternity leave, until March 1, so that's helped ease the transition for us. We're starting to look for childcare for when I go back to work and that has us pretty stressed. It's going to be so hard to leave our sweet girl each day! Beyond that, we're just waiting on B's next set of orders so we can begin to make plans for our move. He should be taking a new job in the next six months or so, and most likely that job won't be here in San Diego. There's also a possibility he may deploy again, so we're trying not to worry too much about the future and just enjoy each day - of course, that's always easier said than done.

I can hear Miss Mia waking from her nap, so I'll leave you with some highlights from her second month...

A visit from Aunt Kayla

A visit from Aunt Christina and Uncle Daniel


Getting better at (and starting to enjoy) tummy time
If you want to see a collage up close, simply click on it and it will open up, bigger, in another window.



Melting us with her smiles!

Enjoying the boat parade with Summer, Gregg and Baby Tay

Mia's first Christmas! She was spoiled, of course!

Morning chats with Daddy


First trip to the Birch Aquarium

First plane ride! I flew back to Michigan while Branden was on a business trip. Mia was a champ, both coming and going. She slept through take off and landing and woke up once to eat and play. She cried for about five minutes on each flight. It's such a relief to know she is a good little passenger (at least until she gets mobile!).