Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Back to School

Grace has been waiting on her first day of Pre-K since preschool ended last May.  She has talked about who her teacher might be, what her classroom might look like, what she was going to wear on her first day (and second day, and third day...), and couldn't wait for a new back pack and lunch box.  Pre-K is different she said, because it is "big school".  Pre-K is all day, 5 days a week.  At Pre-K, you eat lunch, take naps, and are in the same building as big kids.

We shopped online for a new backpack and lunchbox, but she didn't see just the right one.  Until we went to the Pottery Barn Outlet.  She spotted what was apparently the perfect set through the store window, ran in, grabbed it, and wouldn't let go.

We went to orientation and learned the ins and outs.  I was the huge, hormonal crier in the group.  I blame the tears on being 8 months pregnant.  I was thrilled to learn that Grace's teacher would be Ms. Carol, our pastor's wife.  We visited her and the super cute frog-themed classroom, shopped for the wish list items, laid out Grace's first day of school outfit, and packed her first lunch.  Grace went to bed the night before the first day with a twinkle in her eye.

Grace's First Day of School Outfit
Ok, ok, so this isn't actually Grace on her first day.  I staged this one the next time she wore the outfit.  Read the next paragraph and you'll understand why.

And that, Friends, is where the excitement ends.  Grace woke up the first day of school with a tummy ache.  She dragged her feet, she whimpered, she even threw up!  When she hugged me around the neck and told me she never wanted to go to school, my heart was nearly torn from my chest.  But, the strong daddy reassured me it was just a case of the nerves.

I had been okay - no more hormonal tears - until we walked in and the administrators greeted Grace.  Then, I saw all the children and teachers, and flashes of Grace as a baby entered my mind.  How in the world have we gone from that bright eyed, round faced baby to a girl who is old enough to be greeted by a principal?  All in a blink.  Suddenly, I felt that I was the one who needed her to hold my hand, not the other way around.  Hand in hand, needing one another, we walked to her classroom.

Once we, I mean she, got settled at her table, she chose a crayon - fuchsia thank you very much - and a smile began to form on her lips.

Apparently all it took was getting settled.  She had a fantastic first day of Pre-k, and couldn't wait to share details of how big kids walk in the hall (hips and lips), the playground, and a book that Ms. Carol read.

You learned a very important lesson that first day of Pre-k.  One more important that how to sit on the rug or opening your juice box.  One more lasting than remembering to write your name at the top of your paper.  You learned to face your fears head on.  My little big girl, I will never forget the sight of tears welling up in your eyes as you told me you just wanted to stay home with me.  I will also never forget the way you peered at your new friends, and settled in at your spot.  Nor will I forget the smile on your face that afternoon as you told me all about your first day.  New experiences are scary, but your bravery that first day helped you to realize that new experiences are also fun.  I am so proud of you, my little school girl.


Monday, September 12, 2011

A Birth Day Letter

Dear Reece,

Today is your birth day.  There are many birthday celebrations to come, but today is special because it is your official birth day - the day you were born.  We will only have one of these, and I will cherish these moments forever.  As I sit and look at you, only a few hours old, I am still in shock that you are here.  Not only because you decided you would make your debut nearly 3 weeks early, but because we have planned for you, longed for you, and prayed for you for what seems like so long.  To finally see the face we have thought so much about leaves me in awe.  To have you here safe in my arms is an answer to prayer.  You are a miracle, a wonder of God.

I'm trying oh so hard to soak in every detail of your perfect little face.  I know that even tomorrow, you will have changed, and in the days and weeks to come, you will grow, fill out, and shed the freshness that radiates from you on this day.  Taking in your little button nose, the shape of your brow, the perfection of your lips, fingers, and toes, brings tears to my eyes.  I love the picture the Bible paints of creation.  God spoke into existence the sky, waters, mountains, and animals.  All he had to do was breathe a word, and it happened.  He could have done this with man as well, but the Bible tells us that he formed man.  With His own hands, God made man in His own image.  You, precious Baby Boy, were formed by God's own hands.  I can almost see His fingerprints along your perfectly round head and trace them from your sweet full cheeks to your tiny toes.  What a good job He did creating your perfect little body and soul.

Today begins a new journey.  We have gone through the last nine months as one, you and I.  Though we shouted your impending arrival from the rooftops, only I could feel every movement, every hiccup.  But today, I get to share you with the world.  We began a brand new journey in the wee hours of this morning.  A journey I am so excited to embark on.  The journey of life with my little boy.

This journey is filled with the unknown.  We have no idea what your strengths and weaknesses will be, what your likes and dislikes will be.  We don't know what things will make you let out belly laughs, cause nervous butterflies, or incite fear, anger, joy, or delight.

But, there are some things I can promise about life's journey.  I promise that we will have wonderful times as well as disappointing times.  I promise that we will go through each of these times together.  I promise that I will make you mad, embarrass you, lecture you, and cause a few slammed doors.  I promise that I will ask you where you're going, what time you will get home, and who you will be with.  I promise that I will want to know every detail of every school day.

I promise that I will do everything I can to help you grow into a confident, compassionate, and secure boy.  I promise that I will smother you with kisses every chance I get.  I promise that I will care about you, be interested in you, and pray for you.  I promise that I will love you with every inch of my soul and every fiber of my being.  I promise that I will always be your mama, and you will always be my little boy.

Happy birth day, my delicious baby boy.  I love you more than you will ever know.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Birth Story of Reece Paul Bramlett

Baby Boy’s pregnancy was a really good one over all.  Sure, I had morning sickness, anemia, and some discomfort, but for the most part it was enjoyable.  And despite the occasional backache and feeling like I needed a crane to roll my humongous belly over in the bed, I actually felt great up until his birth.

On Friday, August 19, at my 37 week check up, the midwife said I was dilated 2 cm and 50% effaced.  However, I felt labor was no where close since with both the girls, I had dilated early as well.  I figured I still had at least a couple more weeks of being pregnant.  She and I discussed my desires for a natural birth.  After 2 successful inductions, I knew from the get go that I wanted this birth to be natural, meaning I wanted to go into labor on my own, labor at home for as long as possible, and it to be medication free.  The next day, August 20, Justin, my mom, and I worked hard finishing the nursery and I cleaned bathrooms and floors, dusted, did laundry, and some general straightening up.

Saturday night, I took a long hot bath, and Justin and I relaxed while watching tv.   At 10:15, I felt my first contraction, but it was mostly tightening of my belly with what felt like a very minor menstrual cramp. I really did not think it was labor, but it was different from the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d felt sporadically for the last couple of weeks.  Something in the back of my head wouldn't let me dismiss it which is what caused me to even look at the clock when I felt it . I had not packed our hospital bags yet, but that, along with getting the bassinet together and putting the car seat in the car was on our list of things to do on Sunday. While Justin showered, I decided to be productive and get Reece's things together and lay out the outfit I wanted the girls to wear to the hospital. I still felt sure that I was not in labor.  For the next hour, I continued having this type of contraction every 5 minutes. At that time, Justin suggested we to go to bed. It was then that I told him I had been contracting and I thought I would throw a few things in a bag. Not really thinking I was in labor, but still wanted to do it.  Just in case. He thought my nesting was continuing and I was just being as compulsive about accomplishing things as I had been all day and told me no. He said if it was the real thing then surely we could throw some things in a bag quickly. So, to bed we went.

For the next hour, I dozed, but every contraction would wake me up and I would look at the clock. A little after midnight I noticed they were now 3-4 minutes apart. But, still not believing it was true labor, I decided to drink some water and try walking around. I just did not want to go to the hospital in the middle of the night only to be told it was just pre-labor and be sent home. Plus, my due date was still 2 1/2 weeks away. I drank 2-12 ounce glasses of water and walked around the house laboring.  I completely got caught up in laboring and with each contraction, I swayed and moved with it.  I alternated between leaning on the couch or the kitchen counter during contractions.  I was so consumed with the walking, and swaying, and breathing that I didn’t realize that more than an hour and a half had gone by.  The contractions had gone from completely manageable to mind blowing without me even realizing the change was occurring. Looking back, I realize this is probably when I went from active labor to the transition stage.  

Thankfully, during all this time, Justin and the girls all slept soundly.  I went in to wake Justin up, and I got a "hmmm" and a grunt from him and he rolled over. A little perturbed, I went into the bathroom to start getting ready to leave and gather some more things. After I put on mascara and brushed my teeth, I woke Justin up and he says he realized I was leaning on the edge of the bed moaning through a contraction so he jumped up to...wait for it...shave! Seriously, I'm having contractions a minute apart and he's shaving.  I called my mom to come stay with the girls, and I will never forget the sound of my daddy’s voice telling us to be careful. 

I felt pressure on my bladder so I thought I needed to use the bathroom.  When I sat down, I felt my body pushing and quickly stood up. As I did this, I felt an immense amount pressure so I put my hand down and could feel what I thought was Reece’s head.  Realizing that my water had not broken, and I therefore could not be feeling his actual head, I then knew it was the amniotic sac that was bulging. At that point, everyone kind of went into panic mode. Justin grabbed the few things I had gathered.  My mom arrived, and she and Justin helped me to the car.  We left the house at 2:15 am with no car seat and no change of clothes for Justin. 

Because of the pressure, I couldn't sit down, so in the car, I was on my side. With each contraction, I gripped a towel and tried as hard as I could to fight my body against pushing. My hospital is 45 minutes to 1 hour away and Justin said when he heard me praying with each contraction, he knew we couldn't make it. I just did not want to have Reece in the car, so in a split second, we made the decision to not try to make it to Northside Cherokee in and pulled into Piedmont Mountainside which is 20 minutes closer.  We arrived at the hospital at about 2:40 am. 

Justin ran in the emergency entrance, said "My wife is in labor!", and "ok" was the response he got from the receptionist. He told her, "I'm going to get this wheel chair and go get her." When we came in, everyone looked like deer in headlights. No one said anything or would tell us where to go, so I said "I need to push!"  They opened the ER doors, the ER nurse stepped out and asked, "Is she pregnant?"  So again, I mustered, "I need to push!"  Bless her heart, the nurse, in a panicked tone, said, "OH, no! Get her upstairs." A nurse and security guard took me upstairs while Justin had to sign us in. Justin said after he finished signing, all the while thinking he was going to miss the birth of our baby, the receptionist told him he needed to move the car to which he promptly replied, “No.” 

Upstairs in Labor and Delivery, I was met by the most wonderful nurse ever, Kendra. I don’t think she, or any of the other nurses in L&D realized just how close I was to birthing the baby.  Kendra said in her sweet calm voice, "So you think you need to push? Let me check and see how dilated you are." At that point, she yelled out, "She's complete! Call the dr and get the table and warmer!" My thought was who cares about the doctor, where's my husband?

She asked me what my plans were as far as pain medication.  It’s funny how completely focused on the goal I was, but I remember still having sarcastic thoughts.  I recall thinking even if I did want an epidural, there’s no way an anesthesiologist would have time to get there.  She told me to try not to push until the doctor arrived. But, it really wasn't up to me at that point. Kendra was so wonderful though, I remember her talking to me through each contraction telling my what a great job I was doing and telling me that whatever I was doing to stay in such control, to keep at it. I can remember not even focusing on the pain, but being "in the zone." Once Justin got in the room, I remember thinking, it's okay, Reece can come out.

Kendra sat at the edge of the bed because she knew that as soon as my water broke, Reece was coming with it. All of a sudden, with a contraction, I heard a loud pop, saw a splash, and then my body completely took over. The nurses were telling me not to push so hard, but it wasn't even me doing it, if that makes sense. There really was no pushing stage. After the “pop and splash”, I felt excruciating pain, then I knew his head was out.  With another few seconds of that same racking pain, his shoulders and the rest of his body were out.  Within 20 seconds of my water breaking, Reece was born at 2:55 am. He was a little peanut at 6 lbs, 1 ounce and 18 inches long, but if his nursing abilities are any indication, he won't be for long.

Babies usually have the opportunity to have amniotic fluid squeezed out of their lungs in the birth canal, but because of how quickly he came out, he didn’t have the chance to clear his lungs, so he had to be placed on oxygen in the nursery for a little while.  My placenta was delivered at 3:00 am and the doctor finally arrived at 3:20 am.  She made sure I didn’t need any additional care, then as soon as I was cleaned up, I got to walk to the nursery to really see my little man.  The neonatal nurse, Hayley, and I chatted while she monitored Reece for a little while longer.  Not long after, I got to take Reece back to the room to nurse him.

 We are quite known at the hospital for our interruption to what seemed like it would have been a peaceful night for the hospital staff, and Reece's grand entrance. All the nurses, were super nice and actually spent a lot of time in our room just talking, goofing off, and having fun.  I will be forever grateful to Kendra for delivering Reece and Hayley for taking such good care of him.

When I called my doctors the next day, they got a good laugh out of Reece’s birth story, and then told me with the next baby I should go to the hospital with the first twinge I feel.

All in all, this was a wonderful birth. It was a little scary that he could have been born at home, and I didn't like it that I couldn't nurse Reece right away, but I got to go into labor on my own, labor at home, it was med free and intervention free, and we have a beautiful baby boy to show for it.

Reece's big sisters are completely in love.  They had been anticipating his arrival for months, and it was obvious that setting eyes on him for the first time did not disappoint.

Welcome to the world, Reece Paul.