Monday, April 29, 2013

4 Weeks

Arlo is four weeks old today. We had his one-month checkup this morning, and he's in the 54th percentile for both height and weight. He really is perfect. (Let's not talk about his big ol' noggin, which is in the 61st percentile. He didn't get that from me. That's all I'll say.) The nurse practitioner asked us if we've seen any smiles yet, and she verified that the smile he did yesterday when Danny gave him an Eskimo kiss very well could have been a real smile, as opposed to a fart smile. More, please! (Smiles, I mean. Not gas.)

Without fail, this is what he does in his stroller (even when I fly him over a bump so hard that Danny yells, "Jesus Christ!" and Arlo's head looks like it flew off for a second).
I swear our little man looks different every day. Not better, not worse. Just different. He's looking more like me than he did before, and it's an awesome thing to look at a tiny little face and see yourself there. He still looks like Danny, too, of course, and I love that he very clearly resembles both of us.

Monday, April 22, 2013

3 Weeks

Arlo is exactly three weeks old today. We're all getting pretty used to our routine (Arlo sleeps for 3 hours, wakes up for an hour, sleeps for 3 hours... and so on, all day and all night), and life is amazing. Danny and I make a really good team. While I hold the feet, he wipes the butt; while I feed Arlo, he does the laundry. There's nobody I'd rather experience my first poop fountain with (I swear we gave Arlo enough time to finish filling that diaper. I think he was trying to be hilarious.), nobody I'd rather lie next to and stare at our son with, so fascinated that, together, we made that.

Fart smile.

Arlo's becoming more alert during his awake time, and it's so fun to watch him take in the world. I know he can't focus well yet, but he does enjoy looking at the birch trees behind his crib, the mobile on his swing, and the living room curtains. He stares and stares at these things, and we stare and stare at him. We could look at his sweet face for hours—and we do.

He also does this thing Danny and I refer to as "crazy-hand time," where he flails his arms everywhere, fist-pumping and waving, just loving life. And what's not to love, really?

Friday, April 19, 2013

He is Arlo: The Birth Story

Something tells me we're going to have our hands full with this precious boy later in life. In a good way, I mean. A fun way. Not only was he born on April Fool's Day, but he decided to begin his journey into the outside world during Easter dinner.

Last bump photo:  Easter Sunday at 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant.

That's right. My water broke during Easter dinner at our friend Joe's house. Of course it did. Earlier that morning, Danny and I had joked that I'd probably go into labor during Easter dinner, and I love that I actually did. There were 14 people at the table, and when I say my water broke, I mean it broke. No trickles here. Imagine dumping a 2 liter into your leggings and then trying to slink out of a room nonchalantly. Before I was able to take two steps, I could feel my shoes filling with water, but somehow, I made it to the bathroom without anybody noticing what was happening. Dessert is apparently a great distraction. Who doesn't love key lime pie?

Once I was safely out of the dining room, I hauled ass to the bathroom, leaving a trail, to see if I could clean myself up. Ha! I poked my head out of the bathroom and casually called for Danny. When he got to me, I said, "My water broke." He hugged me and said, "We're having a baby!" Danny told Joe what was going on. Joe was thrilled, and when I tried to clean up my trail, he said, "What are you doing? Go have a baby!"

Danny and I sneaked out of the house, towels in tow, nobody but Joe having any clue that Arlo was on his way. Joe said, "His last meal in there was my ham!" I hopped into Danny's truck and looked at my watch: 4:40 P.M.

My OB had previously told us that, due to our breech history, if I were to show any signs of labor, we were to go to the hospital. No laboring at home, because we wouldn't want Arlo to have flipped back to the breech position and get stuck somewhere. I called the on-call OB to verify this, and she told me to shower and head in. While I showered and made sure everything was packed, Danny took Scooter to doggy camp—and then, we were on our way. As we walked out our back door, Danny remarked that the next time we walked through that door, it would be as a family of three. This blew my mind.

Driveway Photoshoot:  Me with my bags. / Danny and me kissing. / Danny kissing my belly.

We laughed all the way to Lakewood Hospital. We arrived there around 6:00 P.M.

Our awesome nurse, Jen, admitted us right away—and not just because of the possibility of Arlo being in the wrong position. There was meconium in my fluid. Lots of it. Arlo must've been pooping up a storm in there, so they needed to monitor him until he was born. Also, because of the meconium, we couldn't let him hang out in there too long, and since I stalled out at 4 cm, we started a Pitocin IV at 9:15 P.M.

Jen confirmed fairly early on that Arlo was still in the head-down position. The on-call OB told her to keep me from moving around too much, so he wouldn't get any crazy ideas and flip at the last second. This didn't worry me at all. I knew he was staying put.

Contractions are no joke once they hit the 1.5-minutes-apart stage. Plus, Arlo was sunny-side up at that point, so I was having back labor. Ouch. I threw in the towel earlier than I was hoping to, and got an epidural at 12:30 A.M. Hello, bliss. Jen told me to get some rest, but I was too excited to sleep. I was so close to finally meeting my baby. I just lay awake in that uncomfortable bed all night, so happy, with my sweet, snoozing husband at my side. I spent a lot of that night just staring at him, so excited that I was just hours away from making him a daddy.

At 6 A.M., Jen did another internal exam and confirmed what Danny and I already knew—that Arlo had hair. Sadly, though, I was only 6 cm dilated, and I was bummed I wouldn't deliver before Jen's shift ended at 7—but my own OB, Dr. Ekman, would be in her office (which is right across the street from the hospital) at 8 or 9, and I was glad she'd be the one to deliver Arlo.

Things miraculously picked up, and I was fully dilated at 11:00 A.M. I started pushing at noon, and Dr. Ekman arrived around 12:25 P.M. When she walked in, she asked, "Where's your photographer?" I said, "I wanted to wait until the last second." Dr. Ekman said, "This is the last second! You'll have a baby by 1:00. Get her here now!" Danny called Brittany, the photographer—who fortunately, lives very close to the hospital—and she was in our room 10 minutes later. She's so gifted at what she does that I completely forgot she was there.

The urge to push intensified, and with the greatest man in the world standing beside me, I pushed like my life depended on it.

Brittany Graham Photography

I pushed and pushed and pushed. I'll never forget Dr. Ekman saying, "If you give this last push everything you have, you'll be a mommy." That's all I needed to hear. I gave it my all. I pushed until blood spurted out my nose. I felt it dripping down my face and rolling across my teeth—but nothing was going to stop me. I kept pushing... and then, there he was.

My baby! At 12:49 P.M. on April 1st, 2013, Dr. Ekman held my miracle up high so I could see him. She placed him way down low on my stomach while Danny cut the cord. I'll never forget touching Arlo for the first time, never forget how silky-smooth his skin felt. I couldn't see him down there, so I watched Danny's face as he studied our son for the first time. I was right when I'd previously speculated that my imagination could never do this moment justice. I was wrong when I'd previously thought that I loved my husband as much as anybody could ever love another person; somehow, seeing the emotion on his face, I fell even more in love with him.

After Danny cut the cord, the nurse, Sandy, took Arlo to the table to clear his mouth and nose. I heard him wail:  music to Mama's ears. The pediatrician looked him over and deemed him healthy as can be:  also music to Mama's ears. I remember exhaling and thinking that, for the first time since November 2011, I felt like I could breathe again. I felt a million emotions, but relief eclipsed them all.

Brittany Graham Photography

I don't even know who put my beautiful boy on my chest, but I remember so clearly having him there for the first time. He was just so perfect. And that's when it hit me:  This is Arlo. It was like somebody or something greater than us had given him that name and whispered it in our ears one night when we were sleeping. Arlo. Any other name would have seemed like a lie. For months, people have been asking Danny and me the meaning behind this name, and we never had an answer, other than that we both liked it. I know the real answer now:  We didn't choose it. He is Arlo. I'll probably never actually give anybody this answer because they'd think I'd lost my mind, but it's the truth.

Brittany Graham Photography

Lakewood Hospital encourages an hour of skin-to-skin contact immediately following delivery, assuming everybody's healthy and able. Danny and I just stared at Arlo during this time. I was so in awe of him that I barely noticed Dr. Ekman delivering my placenta and stitching me up. Fresh out of the oven, he was gorgeous. I know I'm biologically programmed to think my baby is beautiful, but what isn't subjective is that his skin was pink and flawless; his eyes were open, and he looked so alert; and Lord, that hair. Nurse Sandy remarked that he looked exceptionally good for a newborn. Danny and I stared and kissed and hugged and stared some more, studying our son's face—agreeing that he has Danny's eyes and hairline and my face shape, and trying to determine who he got those lips from.

Dr. Ekman hugged us before she left and said, "Well, you didn't poop, but you got a bloody nose!" I laughed and said, "I'm sure you guys have seen it all." Nurse Sandy chimed in with, "That was a first for me!" I smile whenever I think that everybody who witnessed my spurting nose will probably remember it for a long, long time. There are worse things to be remembered for, I suppose, than trying like hell to bring your son into the world.
Brittany Graham Photography

When that heavenly hour was up, Nurse Sandy took Arlo to bathe him, check his vitals again, and get his stats. 7lbs 14oz, 20" of perfection. I'm so glad Brittany was there to capture those moments. Best investment of my life.
Brittany Graham Photography
When Nurse Sandy brought Arlo back to our room, Danny and I hugged and kissed each other and Arlo, and stared some more, memorizing Arlo's features and falling so, so in love with every single one—and feeling blessed beyond comprehension.

Brittany Graham Photography

I'd be lying if I said that our previous suffering all makes sense to me now, that it was all part of God's plan, and I appreciate it. In reality, I'll never understand why Danny and I were dealt the hand we were dealt, and I can't even tell you what I'd give to have our other babies back. I miss them more than ever now that we have Arlo. He's such a real, tangible reminder—especially of his twin, of course—of what we lost. We lost three of those. Three babies. However, like I told Nurse Jen, in response to a sweet Facebook message she sent me, I do feel like we've been compensated for our pain.

 Not too shabby for a one-hour-old baby.

Quite handsomely, if I do say so myself.

We spent the next two nights in the hospital, enjoying living in our own happy little bubble away from the world. We kept visitors to a minimum, knowing that we'd have tons of them when we got home.

Danny and I smiled a lot. Arlo slept a lot. We took lots of pictures.

Our experience at Lakewood Hospital was better than I could have imagined. Word quickly spread that there was a miracle in room 305, and nurses and lactation consultants stopped in just to meet him. We felt a little bit famous for a few days. 

When it was finally time to head home Wednesday afternoon, Danny—err, Arlo wrote the nice hospital staff a little note.

We dressed Arlo in his too-big coming-home outfit.

He clearly adores that outfit.

And we were on our way. I obviously sat in the back seat with Arlo, and that's when I finally broke down and just let the tears roll. We were bringing our baby home with us! We made a baby, I carried him to term, and now, we were all going home together. Amazing.

Someday, hopefully many, many years from now, when my whole life is flashing before my eyes, I'll undoubtedly recall walking through our door for the first time as a family of three.

Monday, April 15, 2013

2 Weeks

Arlo is exactly two weeks old today, and I'm already wishing I could stop the clock. Danny gets eight weeks off work, and it freaks me out that 25% of this leave has already passed. Time is so precious.

My favorite photo of the week:  cuddles with Daddy.

Arlo lost a half-ounce more than the allowed 10% below birth weight, so we had to take him to the doctor for a weigh-in today. We were thrilled to learn that he gained almost a pound in one week, and he's up to a healthy 8lbs 5oz. Nice work, kid!

We've been taking this boy everywhere. We've made it out of the house most days this week for grocery shopping, lunch with friends, dinner at Grandma's... I know not everybody agrees with hauling a brand-spakin'-new baby around, but I want him to be very socialized, and we may as well start now.

Our happiest moments, though, are those spent at home, the three of us just snuggling and napping and living life according to a newborn's schedule. I'll treasure these days.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sneak Peek: Newborn Photos

We took Arlo to have his newborn photos taken yesterday, after a failed attempt four days prior, when he was angry and starving because my milk hadn't entirely come in yet.

Anyway, the wonderful photographer, Jennifer, of JenniferAnne Photography, already sent our proofs over, so I thought I'd share a couple here.

Kisses from mama.

Look at my boys! OMG.

Danny and I couldn't be more pleased with how these photos turned out. We seriously love every single proof, and we have no idea how we're going to pick our favorites. We do know that the two above are must-haves, though.

Monday, April 8, 2013

1 Week

Whirlwind. That's the word people always use to describe the birth of their babies and the days immediately following—and I can't think of a more fitting one. Has it really been a week since we brought our sweet boy into the world? 

Danny and I have basically spent these glorious days laughing because we're all just so damn in love—and then crying for the very same reason. We can't get over how lucky we are, how surreal it all is. Danny commented that our house looks good with a baby in it, and I'll never forget that statement. It's been such a blessing to be able to spend our days in this happy house together—no work, no responsibilities, nothing to do but enjoy being a little family. At last. 

Loved ones have been spoiling Arlo like crazy. Gifts and food have been rolling in like nobody's business, and if I write two thank-you notes a day, I should have them finished by the time Arlo graduates.

Speaking of Arlo. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. This kid is awesome. He obviously doesn't do a whole lot yet, aside from the 3 biggies:  eat, sleep, and mess his diaper—but he's a blast to just watch. To just look at and admire. He's here, he's perfect, and he's all ours.

We learn something new about him every day. He loathes being nude. He never gives a warning whimper before letting out a wail, but he only lets out a single wail at a time. (It's the same beautiful cry he made as soon as he entered the world to let me know he was okay.) He loves baths and shoulder rubs. He gets hiccups a lot, just like when he was in my belly, and he always sneezes two times in a row. Every single time. We can't wait to learn more.
Happy 1-Week Birthday, Arlo.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Welcome, Arlo

He's here, and he's perfect. More to come.