Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Elsie's Birth Story

     We moved into our new place on Saturday, May 9th. I immediately started working on getting as much put away as I could. We had no idea when baby girl would be coming and I wanted to take advantage of the last few days to try and unpack. Sunday was Mother's Day. We went to our new ward for the first time. I felt bad because I knew I was going to be gone for a little while after that first Sunday and nobody would have a clue who I was! Oh well! We were able to go visit both of our families that afternoon and evening. That night we went to sleep having no idea what the morning would bring.
     Around 5:30 in the morning, I woke up having some contractions. They were strong enough that I couldn't go back to sleep. Since I had been induced with Both Ryder and Easton, I had no idea what it felt like to have natural contractions. I didn't know what going into labor on my own would be like. I started timing the contractions on an app on my ipad and they were pretty regular (about five minutes apart) and lasting 1 minute. I finally woke Kevin up around 6 and told him that I was pretty sure I was in labor. We were excited and it felt so surreal. The contractions weren't really painful yet, just a bit uncomfortable. My labor with Ryder was 12 hours and with Easton 7 hours. So i thought i had plenty of time before we needed to leave for the hospital. I got up and showered and did my hair and makeup. Kevin called his parents to let them know they needed to come over to watch the boys. Kevin was also really hoping to get a haircut from his dad that morning, so he asked him to bring his hair cutting stuff.
     By the time his dad got their, I was in pain. I was pacing the house, trying to breathe through the contractions. Kevin asked if we had time for him to get a haircut and I told him it wasn't going to happen that morning. We were just waiting on Jeannine to get there so I could give her instructions on taking Ryder to preschool that morning. When she got there, I was stopping with each contraction (which were now about a minute apart!!) and focusing on breathing through the pain. I wanted to get a priesthood blessing from Kevin and Chad before we left so I sat down for them to do that. During the blessing, I had a bad contraction and was shaking and breathing so heavily that Kevin knew he had to wrap it up quickly! We said our goodbyes and left in Kevin's brand new car around 8:45 am. He was really hoping my water wouldn't break on his new seats! After we started driving, we remembered we had left the hospital bag back at home. We hurried and turned back, got the bag, and started back to the hospital. I was in so much pain at that point with each contraction.
     I called my mom to let her know what was going on. We had tickets to go to the Payson Temple open house that evening, so I called her up and said "We're not going to be able to make it tonight."She sounded a little disappointed and asked why not. I told her "I think were going to have a baby instead!" She couldn't believe it and was very excited. Over the course of our short, 2 minute phone call, I had to stop a couple times breathe through a contraction.
     After I got off the phone with my mom, I told Kevin we had forgot to pre-register at the hospital. He called them to see if there was anything we could do over the phone so we didn't have to wait when we got there. They told him they would first need to check me and confirm I was in labor (HA!) and then they could go from there. A minute later, I asked Kevin if he could call back and see if I could get an epidural right when we got there. They said the same thing, "we will have to check and see where she's at and if she is in labor." I was starting to panic. I just kept saying, "This really hurts! I really want my epidural!" As we got closer to the hospital, I remembered I needed to text our birth photographer to let her know what was happening. She said to let her know as soon as they checked me to see how far along I was. When we were about a minute or two away from the hospital, I started feeling a TON of pressure down there. I knew that was not a good sign if i wanted to have time for an epidural. I was freaking out at this point!
We got to the hospital, parked, and Kevin helped me hobble in. When we got to the labor and delivery front desk, I was bent over in pain and gripping the counter top with white knuckles. The nurse said, "OK! Let's get you right back into a room!" In the room, she handed me a gown and told me to change into it and then they could check and see where I was at. I was shaking so much and could hardly get changed into the gown. My water suddenly broke while I was changing and I could see right away that there was probably some meconium in it. I called out to Kevin that my water had just broken and a nurse came in to help me finish putting my gown on. When i finally laid down and the nurse checked me, she called out, "She's complete!" I think my face must have gone white and I asked, "What does that mean?!" She said, "You're a ten. You are ready to push!" I hurried and asked, "Can I get an epidural?!" (I already knew the answer but I had to try!) The nurse told me no, not at that point. Kevin asked, "Is there anything you can give her?" She said, "At this point, anything we give her is going to effect the baby and honestly, she's ready to push. She doesn't have time." I had a moment of panic and fear because I had never prepared for any scenario where I wouldn't have my precious epidural. The thought had never crossed my mind! However, there was nothing I could do about at that point.
     The pain got noticeably and considerably worse after my water broke. My midwife wasn't there yet but her partner was.She told me they had just called her and she was on her way in. She said that I could try and wait for her if I wanted, or I could just push. I didn't really want to wait, but at the same time, our birth photographer wasn't there either yet. I remember say to Kevin, "Our photographer isn't going to make it!!" I was just like the cliche woman in labor that you see in the movies. I was screaming at the top of my lungs and making sounds that were completely foreign to me. Kevin said the noises sounded like they were coming from the depths of Hell, ha ha! I'm usually such a quiet and reserved person, and I remember thinking somewhere in the back of my mind,"Is this really me?! Am I really screaming?"
     My midwife quickly go there and told me I was free to start pushing anytime I wanted to. I did, and oh boy did that hurt. She told me instead of screaming, try to channel that energy into pushing. As soon as I did that, it was two more pushes and she was out! Literally the second she was out, I felt complete relief! It was over I had survived! They laid her on my belly and I got to see her and say hi while Kevin cut the cord. They needed to hurry and clear out her airways, especially since she might have breathed in some meconium. Poor baby! They got her all cleared, cleaned up, and she looked great! She was born at 9:36 (36 minutes after arriving at the hospital) and was 8 lbs 1 oz, 20.5 inches long.
     As they were cleaning her up under the warmer, our birth photographer walked in. I was SO sad she wasn't able to make it for the actual birth! She immediately started snapping pictures and I was so happy with what she did end up getting.
     Even though my midwife gave me a numbing shot, I definitely still felt her stitching me up! I only needed a few stitches, so thank goodness for that!
     When I finally got to hold baby girl, I was just amazed. She was so beautiful and I was still in such shock from the events that had just taken place! Just like with the boys as newborns, she had such a heavenly presence about her. I felt such deep love, and I would have done anything for her! She didn't have much hair, but what was there was red! I was not expecting a ginger! I was thrilled though. She was able to start nursing and did great right from the start. I felt such mixed emotions at having had a natural birth. Part of me felt amazing and powerful! The other part of me felt like there was no way in Hell I ever wanted to do that again!
     Kevin and I named her Ella at first. We decided a little while later that it just didn't fit. I had been thinking of the name Elsie for a while before she was born and so we decided that Elsie fit much better (even though it was really close to Elsa from the movie Frozen. Kevin didn't want anyone to think we were just jumping on that bandwagon, ha ha!) I knew if I ever had a girl, I would give her my middle name, Dawn, which is also my Mom's middle name. So her full name is Elsie Dawn Briggs.
     I had tested positive earlier for Group B strep, but didn't have enough time to have the antibiotics during labor. So between that and Elsie having ingested some meconium, the nurses wanted to keep a close eye on her to make sure there were no signs of infection. We were hoping to leave the hospital after 24 hours, but ended up having to stay for the full two days.
     Ryder and Easton got to come meet Elsie a few hours after she was born and it was so sweet. Ryder had been so excited to have a sister and he was not disappointed. He wanted to hold her all day, and pretty much everyday since! Easton wasn't too interested in her at first, but even he warmed up and sat there cooing to her after a little while. It felt amazing to look around at our family of five! Its incredible to think that we created these three little humans. They are my greatest treasure and I felt so humbled to be their mom.
     I put together a slide show of the pictures our photographer took that day. She did an amazing job and I'm so happy I have these to look back on.

Elsie Birth Story from amybame on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Major Catch Up!

It's been almost a year and a half since I posted last. Whoops! I definitely have slacked off with blogging. So much has happened that I get a little overwhelmed thinking of trying to get caught up. I'm going to do my best to provide an overview of the past 16 months. No promises it will be interesting, but this is mostly for my own journaling purposes anyway.

So let's see... Kevin graduated in May 2014 but still had to finish up with his thesis. During that time, he also was searching for a job. He had several interviews all over the country and a few good offers, but nothing ever felt right. Nothing seemed to fit. He ended up defending his thesis in December and of course did an awesome job. It was so crazy to have him be finished! The day we had been looking forward to for 7 1/2 years, our entire marriage, was here! Very surreal! He finally accepted a job towards the end of the year and so he didn't have much time to relax after finishing his thesis. He started his job at the beginning of January. Its a company called 3D Sim. They were located in Kentucky but have since moved to Park City, UT. He spent his first week on the job out in Kentucky though. It is a start up company and he was employee #11! It's growing bigger all the time and he really enjoys it there. He works with such great people and our whole family has felt very welcomed! It was so amazing to find a job that would allow us to stay in Utah close to our families. We had just accepted the idea that we were probably going to be moving somewhere far away. Our families, especially Grandparents, are super excited that we are close too.

After starting his job, we began looking for a place to live. We initially thought we would rent for 6 months to a year while we saved up money for a down payment, and look to buy something. However, none of the rental options were very good. The size house we were looking at was going to be more expensive to rent than if we just bought a place. Also, the area we could look at was limited with Kevin's commute to Park City. So we decided to look at buying. It didn't take long to find what we wanted. After about 2 weeks of seeing houses we liked and having them snatched up before we could make a move we were getting a little discouraged. However, Shelly Tripp (our AMAZING realtor. We seriously love her) ended up taking us to look at a development where they were building brand new town homes. We had already looked online and there was nothing available. However, this particular afternoon when we went back, the woman in the sales office said two units had just opened up. One had the option for a basement, one did not. We went and looked at the one with a basement and we felt so good about it. These homes were being sold so quickly we knew we had to act quickly. We went ahead and put earnest money down that evening and started the process to buy it! FYI, the next day a couple came into the sales office asking if our unit was still available because they wanted it! It's a good thing we didn't hesitate! It was so fun to pick our all the colors, counters, tile, carpet, etc. The only thing that was stressing us was that it wasn't supposed to be finished until May with closing being on May 11th. This was stressful for two reasons. One, Kevin's parents were building a new home and wanting to put their house on the market at the beginning of May. Two, because I was PREGNANT and due on May 9th!! That's right, pregnant with baby #3! I will come back to that in a bit. So needless to say, the sooner we could get into our new home, the better! It was so fun to come every week and check on the progress of things. We ended up closing on Thursday, May 7th and moving in on Saturday, May 9th, my due date!

So going back a few months... We had been trying for another baby over the summer in and then found out I was pregnant in August 2014. I was SO sick starting about 6 weeks. I was much sicker than I had been with either of the boys. People told me the baby had to be a girl because I was so sick. It was terrible! One day it got so bad I ended up having to get IV fluids which helped so much! I had been trying to go without Zofran (because of the horrible constipation it caused me while taking it with Easton's pregnancy, sorry TMI!) but I started on that and it was a lifesaver. We went to Disneyland in September and told my family about the pregnancy while we were there. We announced it publicly in October. I was so excited to find out what we were having. I was definitely hoping for and feeling like it was a girl, but I would have been happy with another boy too. We found out at the end of November that it was a girl! When the ultrasound technician started the ultrasound, I saw something that looked like girl parts, and then she confirmed that it was definitely a girl. I started crying; I just couldn't believe it! We were thrilled! We stopped by my Dad's office and told him the news. He was so excited for us! We went back to my parents' house where my mom had been watching Ryder and Easton. We told her we wanted to tell Ryder first in private. We told him he was going to have a sister, but that we were going to trick Grandma and tell her it was a boy. She came back in and Ryder yelled out, "It's a boy!" She knew that I was hoping for a girl and so the look on her face was so concerned. She looked like she was trying to figure out what to say to me. I couldn't keep it up very long and so I told her it was actually a girl and she started bawling! She, and all our family, were very happy for us. It was very surreal to start looking at girl clothes and things for her nursery. As my pregnancy progressed, the closing date on our house was still set for two days after my due date. To say I was stressed about it is a huge understatement! As I said above, we ended up being able to close on our house on May 7th and we moved in on my due date, the 9th.The next day was Mothers Day and we went to our new ward. Everyone was super friendly so we were happy about that. We visited both our families that night and then went to bed, exhausted after a very busy weekend. I ended up having our baby girl the next morning at 9:36 am! That labor was the most crazy and intense experience I have ever had! That story deserves its own post, so I plan on going more into that then. We named her Elsie Dawn Briggs. She was 8 lbs 1 oz, and 20.5 inches which were the exact same stats as Easton! She is the sweetest thing I have ever seen. We are SO in love!!! She has red hair which we were not expecting at all! I think it will end up going lighter to more of a strawberry blond color because it has already seemed to do that over the summer. I just cant even imagine our family without her! The boys love her, especially Ryder. He was SO excited to have a sister, and he has adored her since the moment he laid eyes on her! Both boys did exceptionally well with the major changes on moving to a new house and having a new baby in one weekend! We had Kevin bless Elsie on July 5th. She looked so beautiful in her dress! It was a wonderful blessing and such a special day.
 Elsie is now 4 1/2 months old and she is almost 13 lbs and 25 inches. She is in the 75th percentile for her height and 20th for her weight. Tall and skinny! She loves to "talk" and spit. She has rolled over a few times. She loves to chew on her fingers and blankets. She has just recently started sleeping without being swaddled and seems to like to stretch out. She has been sleeping in her crib in her room for about a month now. She is such mama's girl and cries almost immediately when anyone else tries to hold her! She nurses all. the. time! She smiles and lights up every time she sees me, which I just love! Our nickname for her is "Elsie Bells" I'm not sure how that started, but it's super cute to hear the boys say it. Also, with the addition of a third child, we finally got a mini van! I was so excited! I know that sounds strange, but it really is the nicest vehicle I have ever driven and i love it!
The pregnancy announcement

My pregnancy progress pictures
Elsie's birth announcement

Elsie in her blessing dress

My beautiful girl!

Elsie's blessing dress

These shoes were the same shoes I wore on my blessing day
These boys love their sister!

That smile!

Elsie's monthly growth pictures
I have to say that Ryder has grown so much this past year! He started Pre-K in August of 2014. He went to the Newcastle School in Draper and had Miss Brynn for his teacher. I was so nervous for him when he started. He has had so many issues with anxiety and he can be so shy (he gets it all from me!) but he loved his teacher and had an amazing year there! He really changed so much and made some fun friends. I was so proud of him. I loved hearing him talk about his friends and how they played at school. Miss Brynn was perfect for him, really sweet! He sure loved her. Throughout the year, we also had Ryder doing the online preschool called UPSTART. It is such an awesome program. It's funded by the state of Utah and its completely free for the participants. From using it 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week, he learned how to read! He's a very bright kid anyway, but I was blown away with what he was able to learn! I feel very blessed that we were able to get him in that program and give him that boost with reading before even starting Kindergarten. He started Kindergarten in August at his new school, Midvalley Elementary School. Its a pretty old school, but I have been so impressed with the staff and his teacher. On the first day he came up tome and said, "Mommy, guess how excited I am?" Then he pinched his fingers together without any space between them and said, "this much. which is none." It broke my heart!He has always been so scared on changes and new things (more issues he gets from me!). However, when i picked him up after that first day, he told me it was super fun! He seems to love it now. His teacher is Mrs. Houmand. She was teacher of the year a few years back and she's really great. Ryder loves her and has made a bunch of friends in his class. The other day, when walking home from school, one of his friends called out "See ya dude! See ya tomorrow man!" Ryder replied, "See ya tomorrow!" they went back and forth like that a few times saying parting . It was really cute. I'm just so happy he has made friends and is doing well. We received a letter saying that we might want to consider having him tested for SALTA, which is basically the accelerated program. He will be taking the test for that in a few weeks, so I'm curious to see how he does. I'm so proud of him either way! He has also made some friends in our new neighborhood. He especially loves to play with a little girl named Ryan. She lives right next to our neighborhood park and is almost always there. About a month ago we started going to the park after dinner most nights and its been so fun. The boys love it and have a lot of fun playing with all the neighborhood kids there.

4th of July pictures
Ryder was a shark for Halloween
Ryder with Miss Brynn at his Christmas program

First and last day of Pre-K

First day of Kindergarten

Easton turned 2 back in March. Our easygoing, happy-go-lucky baby has turned into quite the strong willed little guy! He can be so sweet and cute one minute and then turn around and throw the biggest tantrum the next! He can be such a handful! I guess that's just part of being a two year old. He is a big talker though! He loves to talk to people. After a recent trip to Disney World (might have to talk about that in another post), he said, "Mommy, thank you for a going to Disney World" He is so good about saying thank you for things without me needing to prompt him. He decided one day that he was done with his crib and wanted to sleep in the bottom bunk of the bunk beds we got for him and Ryder. He has done great and never once gotten out of bed during the night! He has had a bit of a hard time adjusting to his new nursery at church but he is doing pretty good now. I think its hard for him because they don't play with toys in this nursery, so that took some getting used to for sure. He is such a funny boy and I love hearing the things that his brain thinks up. Ryder and him have such a love/hate relationship and are constantly fighting like cats and dogs. It drives me to the brink of insanity everyday! We are working on it...
4th of July 2014

4th of July 2014
Playing in the water down at Zions National Park, September 2014

making goofy faces

Easton was a crab for Halloween in 2014
Easton's first time on a water slide. He loved it!

Sidewalk chalk allll summer long

4th of July 2015

Love this face!

My sweet Eastie boo
In August, Kevin and I left to go to San Diego for a week, without the boys. We took Elsie with us, but this was the first time we had ever left the boys! I felt surprisingly calm about it when we dropped them off at Grandma and Grandpa Briggs' house. I left gifts for them to open each day, which Ryder was so excited about! We face timed with them every evening which was nice. While we were in San Diego, Kevin went to his super computing workshop during the days and Elsie and I hung out and relaxed. We watch TV, went to the pool, napped. It was wonderful!!! In the evenings when Kevin was available, we went to dinner, walked around La Jolla (where we were staying), and just enjoyed being able to spend so much time together. I am a ridiculously protective and over-attached mom and I feel like I overcame a huge fear of mine by leaving the boys for a week. We were able to celebrate our 8th anniversary and my birthday with that trip!
My hot hubby on our 8th anniversary!

Being on vacation looks good on me

The sunset on our last night in San Diego. So gorgeous!
Being in our own home has been amazing! After living in a basement for 6 years, having our own space is everything I dreamed of and more! We will forever be SO thankful to Kevin's parents for letting us live with them for that long and putting up with us that whole time! If we hadn't lived with them, there's no way Kevin would have been able to graduate with a master's degree and no debt! We might not have any kids yet (or if we did, I certainly wouldn't have been able to stay at home with them!) As helpful as it was for us to live there, it was definitely time to move out. I'm loving having my own home to take care of and I think sacrificing as much as we did to get to this point makes it that much sweeter. We love the neighborhood and the ward! We really feel like we are where we supposed to be right now and its such a great feeling!