Friday, August 31, 2012


It's the last day in August, and Orelia is three weeks old today.  It seems surreal to think that three weeks ago, I didn't have her in my life.

Before she was born it was hard to imagine what life would really be like with a baby around.  We were "ready," in that we had taken the classes, read the books, bought the furniture, and installed the car seat, but you can't really prepare yourself for the life change about to occur.

Once you hold your baby in your arms, though, you can't imagine going back to life without her.  So I got more sleep, watched more TV, and spent more time in the kitchen - who cares?  This is a whole lot better.

My dad was here for a week and is already back in Virginia.  While he was here he took these amazing photos of our expanded family, and I think these images truly capture how smitten John and I are with our girl.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Orelia's Birth Story

So I think it's definitely time I wrote down and shared Orelia's birth story.  It's been 18 days since her birth, and I finally have enough distance to be able to describe what happened without getting too emotional about it.

As I mentioned before, Orelia was born via emergency cesarean section, and when I think about what could have happened had we not been at a place able to take care of our baby's pretty overwhelming.

So to start at the beginning, my doctor decided to schedule an induction for me once I hit 41 weeks.  John and I slept pretty terribly the night before, since we were waiting in suspense for the call to tell us to come to the hospital.  At 9AM we still hadn't gotten a call, so John called the nurses' station and they said they were pretty busy, so we shouldn't expect to hear from them before the afternoon.

We were all sitting around watching the Olympics and eating watermelon, when at 11AM my phone rang.  It was the hospital, and it turns out they were ready for me earlier than they expected.  We had an hour to get over there to get things started.  I went upstairs, changed my clothes, and we set off for the hospital.

After a bit of sitting around waiting, they started me on some oral medication to ripen the cervix.  The medication also started some contractions, but I couldn't feel them yet, so we still had a long way to go.  When I was up for my next dose of medication, they decided to move me to pitocin to get things moving.

I was kept on the pitocin IV for hours before I even began to feel the contractions they kept telling me were happening.  Around twelve hours after we arrived in the hospital, my water broke.   Everyone hoped this would cause labor to really kick in, but it didn't happen.

The night came and went with my mom and John catching a few minutes of sleep here and there and me staying up the whole time.  When the morning came I began to get worried since I had had no sleep and still had the hard part of labor ahead of me.  One nurse suggested I take some pain medication to help me sleep, so the doctor came in to talk to me about my options.  He didn't think the pain medication would help me sleep, and it also might inhibit any of the progress we had made towards labor.

All talk of pain medication went by the wayside when the doctor was inserting a more accurate contraction detector and the baby's heart rate began to drop.   The nurses and doctor started flipping me in all kinds of positions to see if the heart rate would come back up and they started giving me oxygen so that the baby would receive more oxygen too.  Luckily, the baby's heart rate came back up to normal, and in the middle of it all they inserted an internal fetal heart rate monitor so they could be sure to get a more accurate read on how our girl was doing.  With all this activity, they had taken me off the pitocin, so we had to start back from zero to try to get labor started again.  (At this point, I was feeling contractions, and it was not a ton of fun.)

So the contractions were coming and going, but not getting stronger, more regular, or closer together.  They had to start the pitocin back from zero after taking me off of it, so it was back to the drawing board.  We hit the 24 hour mark for being in the hospital, and baby girl still wouldn't budge.  Unfortunately, soon thereafter, during contractions, our girl's heart rate started dropping again.  After a few contractions of lowered heart tones, the nurses came in to put me on oxygen again and to try to see if laying in different positions would bring her heart rate back up.  They were worried that with my amniotic sac broken there wasn't enough cushion for the umbilical cord, and it was becoming constricted during contractions.  Flipping me in every direction still wouldn't get the heart rate back up, and the nurses were calling in reinforcements.  I was given a shot to stop all contractions and the nurses started frantically trying to get a hold of the doctor on duty.  He wasn't anywhere to be found, but luckily another OB was found in the halls who had just come by for a cup of coffee.  She was rushed in my room and soon decided that the baby needed to come out, and fast.

John and my mom were left in the room and they rushed me out on the bed I was laying in.  I heard the nurses start saying that someone needed to find an anesthesiologist, and all the while everyone was still looking for the doctor who was on duty.  I eventually (30 seconds later?) made it to an operating room where about 15 people were rushing around trying to get everything ready for the surgery.  I heard the doctor who had just come for a cup of coffee tell a nurse to let her 2:30 appointment know she was going to be late, and I remember them squirting lots and lots of iodine on my belly.  The anesthesiologist showed up and started explaining to me that they were going to put me under through the IV.  They kept trying to put an oxygen mask on me, but I felt like I couldn't breathe with it on, so I kept pushing it aside.  I assume I started going into some form of shock because my body kept shaking.  I was trying my hardest to stay calm because I knew that panicking would only make things worse.  Right before they put me under they were able to tell me that our baby's heart rate had actually already come back to normal levels, so I drifted off feeling confident she would be okay.  Two hours later I reappeared from the anesthesia haze and our baby had been born.  She had apparently been handed to John almost right away and he had spent the last two hours with him and the nurses.  I remember waking up and worrying that I hadn't been able to nurse her yet and that I hoped it hadn't ruined breast feeding somehow.  Luckily, they brought her over to me soon thereafter, and some wonderful nurse helped her get the feeding for which she had been waiting for two hours.  To my left John and a nurse were giving Orelia her first bath, and I kept complaining that I needed more pain medication (the morphine was apparently delayed for some reason).  I was more tired than I ever remember being, from the drugs, surgery, and staying up for over a day, but I was so thankful that our girl was healthy and doing well despite the big scare.

In child birth class, our instructor had told us that everyone feels like they have an "emergency" c-section when the c-section is unexpected.  She told us that unplanned c-sections are just that, unplanned.  A true emergency c-section happens within 5 minutes, where the husband doesn't even get a chance to be in the room.  Well, we qualified for a true emergency c-section, which scared the hell out of me and John, but we both went into it knowing how quickly they are capable of getting babies out when they need to.  I think from the time I was put under to the time Orelia was born was a total of 2 minutes.  We thank God for her every day, and we are so grateful to have been in a place where she and I were taken care of so well.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Two Weeks Old

Our little princess is already two weeks old.  We went to the pediatrician for her two week checkup and she passed with flying colors.

I had begun to worry about our girl since she was feeding less than the week before, but I was just being a paranoid mommy.

She gained 15 ounces in 8 days (since her last appointment at the doctor), and is up to weighing 8 pounds 3.4 ounces.

She also grew an inch since her birth and is up to 21.5 inches.  Working her way up to 5 foot 7!

It has amazed me how quickly newborns change.  She recently started looking at us and seems to really see us in a new way.  She appears to get stronger all the time, kicking us with new gusto.  She is also getting more vocal with her coos and complaints.

A friend advised me to enjoy the stage we're in with Orelia, and I'm trying to take that advice to heart.  Yes, newborns are hard with their constant feedings and waking up in the middle of the night, but they are also incredibly wonderful at this stage.  One day she will sleep through the night, but it isn't going to happen anytime soon and we will just appreciate her for who she is now.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The First Bath

Don't worry folks, Orelia did not wait for her first bath until today.  She actually got her first bath in the hospital and her first at home bath last week.

It started out all well and good with her enjoying one of her only naked times of her life...

And then this happened.  Daddy poured water on her, and she didn't take too kindly to it.

John did all the work on this bath, and I just stood by and took pictures (while occasionally shushing in Orelia's ear to try to calm her cries).

Of course we had a hooded towel waiting by to dry her tears and damp body.

Once she was warmed up she seemed to forget the trauma of the previous five minutes.  That's the good thing about newborns, they don't hold grudges (and are adorable in hooded towels).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How Orelia Got Her Name

John and I have been discussing baby names - especially baby girl names - for years.  I'm very particular about name choices (and John would say about everything), and felt very strongly that our daughter should not have a trendy name.  I didn't want her stuck being the third Harper in her fifth grade class.  As a result, some of our previously top choices got nixed as they entered the top 50 names of 2011.

John and I were vacationing in Stinson Beach over a year ago and we found a woman selling vintage posters (actual vintage posters that had been transferred to canvas - not the type of "vintage" posters they sell at Bed, Bath, and Beyond).  We found the French poster, above, and immediately liked it.  We loved the name Orelia and thought it would be fun to buy the poster and hang it up in our future daughter's nursery.  We went home and did some research into the name and found out it means "golden" and is an alternate spelling to the French name, Aurelia.  The company advertised in the poster no longer exists, so we didn't have to worry about the drink coming stateside.  We went back, bought the poster, and tucked it away for future use.

Once we found out we were pregnant with a baby girl, I had high hopes that no celebrity would name their daughter Orelia (or Aurelia) and ruin the name for me.  We kept checking where the name fell on the popular name lists (nowhere, as it turns out).

People often say "hmm that name sounds familiar," and I usually remind them that Aurelia is the name of the Portuguese woman from Love Actually who falls in love with Colin Firth.  Or perhaps they knew that Aurelia was the name of Julius Caesar's mother.

So our special girl has her own unique name, but hopefully one that isn't too offbeat to make her life difficult. Her middle name is Marie, after my mom's middle name, so she hasn't lost touch with her roots.

We've been planning for Orelia Marie for a long time, and we couldn't be more thrilled that she finally arrived to claim her name.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

It Flew By

Our baby girl is now a week old - as of Friday.  It's amazing how fast that time flew by.   We are still just as smitten as we were on the first day we met her.

All of her funny faces keep us amused 24 hours a day.  Even in the middle of the night she can be charming.

My mom captured our first family walk on "film."  We've taken Orelia out about once a day for a walk around the small block near our house.  It counts as my "exercise" post-surgery.

So far my least favorite thing from the past week is having to wake Orelia up from a sound sleep if it's been 4 hours since her last feeding.  It happens maybe once a day, and every time I would much rather let her sleep - especially if it's 3AM.  At the next doctor's appointment I'm going to definitely inquire about whether we can relax that rule a bit.  In the meantime, we'll reluctantly follow the rules.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I wouldn't say things are feeling normal yet, but things are starting to feel settled around these parts.  Everyone is on the same page about the feeding, waking, and sleeping situation and works together to make sure things run smoothly.

My mom is here and has been an immense help.  She has done a load of laundry basically every day and has been getting our lunches and dinners together (while also helping take care of Orelia).  I don't know what I'm going to do when she leaves!

Orelia is starting to make use of her many fancy baby gadgets, like this mamaroo swing.  So far she has enjoyed the "car ride" setting with ocean wave sounds in the background.  (And we have enjoyed that it puts her to sleep.)

Everyone in the house spends a lot of time marveling at how beautiful Orelia is and how happy we all are to be able to witness every second of her first week on earth.

We had our first pediatrician visit this morning, and I was pretty nervous about our first adventure out of the house with the baby.  Orelia did well though, and only fussed when appropriate.

The best part was to find out from the doctor that our baby girl is thriving.  She is already back to her birth weight in less than a week.  He was really happy to hear how things were going at home, and seemed relieved that John and I didn't seem miserable, like many sleep-deprived parents.  (Luckily we had had a really great night of sleep the night before.)  There's nothing like hearing how well your newborn is doing from an authority to make you feel good.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back at Home

Well, I hope I got my fill of photos of Orelia while she slept in her hospital bassinet, because we are now back home.

Due to the harried delivery and circumstances, we were rewarded with a single room that was even larger (we think) than the other single rooms.

It had a huge window that faced a garden, and was all in all not a bad place to learn how to take care of a newborn and nurse yourself back to health after major surgery.

Orelia obviously couldn't care less what kind of room she stays in, so long as there are warm arms to hold her.

Around day 3 of life she seemed to figure out that her fingers fit in her mouth.  For right now they usually only make it there when she's hungry.

It sure is scary to place your newborn in a car seat for the first time.  Being in the hospital she was insulated from the world and all its dangers.  I guess I need to get used to this type of thing.  I hope people stop making jokes about her dating, because I cannot handle that type of danger.

We survived the car ride home as well as our first afternoon.  Tonight is the first night at home, and hopefully that will go well too.  John is an extremely heavy sleeper, so I'm looking forward to being back in the same bed as him so I can elbow him instead of screaming his name to get him to wake up.

Looking forward to sharing more photos soon.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Baby Orelia Has Arrived

Our daughter has finally arrived, and we couldn't be happier.

Her name is Orelia Marie and she made quite an entrance into the world on Friday, August 10th, weighing 7 pounds, 4 ounces, and measuring 20.5 inches long.  I promise to write more about the name and the emergency C-section at another time.

We are halfway through our four-day stay at the hospital, trying to learn as much as we can from all the amazingly helpful nurses.  John is taking to fatherhood the way anyone who knows him knew that he would (i.e. he is a natural).

We couldn't love Orelia any more.