How I do my chalkboards – PicMonkey Tutorial

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“How do you do your chalkboards this pregnancy?”

I’ve been asked by a few people how I’m doing my chalkboards.  It’s no secret that I’m a busy mom.  In my first pregnancy I used Chalk Ink markers to draw pretty handwritten chalkboards to mark each week of my pregnancy.  This time, I have a toddler, which means I don’t have time to spend 45 minutes to an hour every week drawing a chalkboard.  Instead, I found the idea to add text to my chalkboard using a photo editor, which is much simpler.  I stand next to my blank chalkboard and snap a photo.  Then I upload the photo to PicMonkey.com, which is a free site with a lot of cool fonts and shapes.  I did upgrade for a small free to the deluxe version since I get the premium fonts.  It’s super simple and it is much quicker than drawing the boards each week.  There’s the secret to my cute chalkboards…sans chalk! 🙂

1. Take a photo next to a blank chalkboard.

2. Upload the photo to http://www.picmonkey.com, a free website.

3. Add text, numbers and shapes to the chalkboard to design it in a way that appeals to you.

4. Crop photo & upload it to your blog.

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Winter’s 7 Month Update

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P.S. Sorry this is posted late–I wrote it May 10th and then never got around to uploading the pictures to go with it!

BABY WINTER’S MONTHLY UPDATE: 7 months old

Baby’s Age: 7 months old

Height: 26 inches

Weight: 17 pounds

Head: Not sure

Diaper Size: Size 2

Clothes Size: 6 months and some 9 months

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Here is a look back at the past few months:

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Here is Winter in her Bumbo:

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May 10, 2014 – Okay, I know that every month I talk about  how “quickly time is going” and how much I wish “time could slow down,” but seriously, how on earth do I have a 7 month old baby?!?!  I remember when Winter was just a few weeks old and I would see moms with “older” babies like 6-9 month olds and I couldn’t even imagine Winter being that big or that “old.”  HA!  Now, not only is my baby not a tiny little newborn, she is a full personality, spunky, silly, cute as can be, chubby 7 month old!  She sits up and plays, she attempts motions of “learning to crawl,” and she constantly wants entertainment.  Winter is so much fun!  I don’t miss those newborn days–as cute as she was back then, I love every new stage more and more!  Her personality continues to develop and she is more opinionated about likes and dislikes.  It is incredible witnessing her grow and change.

The last week of April into the first few days of May, Winter and I travelled to Texas to visit my best friend.  Travelling with a baby solo was an adventure!  The last time that I flew with her alone was when she was 5-6 weeks old when we went to Florida to attend my husband’s work project launching into space.  I knew that travelling with a 6.5 month old was going to be very different from travelling with a one month old.  Overall, the trip went well!  Since I am a more experienced mom than I was at 6 weeks, I felt a million times more confident about my ability to travel with Winter alone.  In the airport, I chose to wear her in the Ergo.  I kept my stroller and carseat with me because I actually used the stroller as a “luggage cart” to transport my carryon bag, diaper bag, and my breastpump (which is a little backpack bag).  People stared at me as I walked by, but who cares!  People probably just wished they had thought of my idea to use the stroller as a luggage cart!  On both of my flights to and from Texas, I had really nice gentlemen who helped me get on the airplane.  I had to take the carseat out and breakdown the stroller to gate check them, as well as carry my pump, diaper bag, baby (who I was wearing), and pull my carryon suitcase.  The nice men who helped me took my carryon for me and placed it in the overhead bin.  I am grateful for people who see a woman in need and volunteer their help!

Winter isn’t crawling yet, but I am in no rush for that to happen!  I know that once she begins crawling, our lives will drastically change.  My prediction is that she will master the ability to be mobile (whether it’s crawling or army crawling) within this next month.  She is really “trying” to crawl.  She gets up on her hands and pushes her belly off the floor.  She hasn’t quite gotten onto her knees yet, but she attempts getting on her knees.  I see her frustration–she really wants more independence!

Still no teeth!  That’s ok though!  Again, no rush on that.  We really thought she was for sure teething recently because she was acting differently and being more fussy than usual.  But we haven’t seen any true evidence of teeth yet.  Sometimes she will put something into her mouth, bite down hard and furiously shake her head back and forth….that must feel good on her gums?  Who knows!

At a restaurant, Winter sat in a booster seat/high chair for the first time on Easter weekend!  What a big girl!  She looks so cute and grown up in it.  🙂  We put her in one of those a couple of times since, and we have started to realize that our relaxing days of going out to eat with a baby in tow are pretty much over.  It isn’t that much fun or “relaxing” to have her along with us at restaurants anymore.  I guess it’s time to start thinking of getting a sitter every now and then so Eric and I can get a nice dinner away.

In the past month, Winter has become obsessed with her feet and toes.  She adores playing with them and putting her toes in her mouth.  It’s WAY too cute.  🙂

This little girl is needing constant entertainment!  She gets bored of things quickly!  When she sits on the floor and plays with toys, she moves so quickly from one toy to the next.  She loves shaking toys really hard (especially if they make a rattle sound).  She likes waving things around too.  Even when she is not playing with toys, we’ve noticed that she uses her arms to show emotion a lot.  When she is happy or really excited, she waves both arms out and waves them around.  She nearly claps, but not quite yet.

Winter is getting to be a bit stubborn and a “stinker” sometimes.  One example: she used to smile on command for a picture.  Now, getting her to smile for a picture is nearly impossible!  When we went to get her 6 month photos taken, we were exhausted afterward from our failed attempts to get her to smile.  Don’t get me wrong, she still laughs and smiles A LOT—just only when she wants to.  Not when we are trying to prompt her to do it!

We love this little girl.  She brings us so much joy!

Milestones: Sits by herself for long periods, while sitting she constantly rolls her toes in a clockwise or counterclockwise rotation, she isn’t crawling, but she is “wanting” to–she has started scooting backwards, she isn’t quite clapping her hands–but almost there, she is eating 2 solids meals a day in addition to 5-6 nursing sessions per day.

Sleep: Our rockstar sleeper is still going strong!  She consistently sleeps from 8pm to 8am (12 hours).  She takes 2 daytime naps, one around 9am to 11am (2 hours) and one from 2:30pm to 5:30 pm (3 hours).  After she first learned to roll over onto her tummy, she was always sleeping on her tummy, but I have noticed lately that she sleeps on her back half of the time and on her tummy the other half of the time.  What I do notice also, is that she uses every square inch of her crib!  She moves around so much throughout the night.  Often times she wakes up in the morning in the corner of the crib (sometimes with one of her legs stuck in the rails)!

Best Moment: When she and I travelled to Texas at the end of April/first week of May, on our return flight home, she slept the entire duration of the flight with her head cuddled on my chest/shoulder.  For a baby who is too independent and never wants to slow down to relax and cuddle, it was truly a special 2 hours of getting to have my daughter cuddle with me!

Worst Moment: On the flip side — while travelling, on our flight to Texas, I had a baby who slept briefly, and then cried for portions of the flight!  I nursed her 3-4 times to console her, but those moments where she was belting out loud cries felt stressful to me!

Health:  Winter has been very healthy this past month!

Eating:  After 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, we are now a full month into the addition of solid foods (ie baby food purees–all vegetables so far).  For the first week or two of introducing solids, Winter didn’t know what to think about the new tastes and textures she was experiencing.  Much, if not all of the food was spit out and ended up all over her face!  After a couple of weeks, she started catching on and getting the hang of this whole eating thing.  For the past 2 weeks, she has been doing great!  She went from eating about 1/3 of a 3.5 oz jar of baby food to either 2/3 or all of a jar!  Initially we were only adding solids to her routine around 6pm, but for the past few weeks she has been so interested in baby food that we have been doing twice per day solids in the mornings and evenings.  She is loving pureed carrots!  Those are her favorite.  So far we have tried: green beans, peas, squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, bananas, avocado, mixed vegetables and chicken/vegetable mix.

She still nurses 5 times per day.  8:00 am upon waking (then solids after), 11:30 am after her morning nap, 2:30 pm right before her long afternoon nap, 5:30/6:00 pm after her nap (then solids after), and 8:00 pm before going down for the night.

Likes: Winter loves blowing raspberries.  She absolutely loves animals!  We took her to a petting zoo and she squealed and waved her arms in delight at the cow, goats and sheep!  She really loves our dog, Koda.  She smiles and laughs when she sees him.  She likes the cat too, but the cat tends to keep a little more distance from Winter compared to our dog.  Winter really likes my phone, go figure!  When we were out of town, we would facetime (or sometimes just call) Eric and as soon as she heard the ringing, her eyes lit up and she smiled.  When she saw her daddy or even just heard his voice, she smiled and cooed out of happiness!  I try to call Eric several times per week during the day just so she can say “hi” to him — she loves it!

Dislikes: She really hates getting her face wiped off after eating solids.  HATES it!  She also hates having her nose wiped if it has been runny.

How Mommy is doing: I know that the choice to be a stay at home mom has been such a great decision for our family.  I truly love my days with my daughter!  I know that Eric struggles with the fact that on weekdays he only sees her for about 2-3 hours before she goes to bed (she wakes up from her nap around 5:30 when he gets home from work and then she goes to bed at 8pm).  That would be REALLY hard for me to be a working mom and only get to spend those few of hours each day with her.  I think I would just die!  It is truly a blessing to be able to stay home with Winter.  I know not all families have this option, but I thank God every day for the gift of all of this quality time with my little precious girl!

As I have mentioned in previous months, Winter and I are very active in our moms/babies group.  At least 2-3 days per week, we spend and hour or two with our friends at various activities….stroller runs, play dates at someone’s house, working out with babies in the carriers (like climbing the stairs at Red Rocks), walks, park days, etc.  We also have mom’s night out with no babies about once per month too.  It’s SO MUCH FUN getting to bond with other moms who are in the exact same stage that I’m in!  We talk about everything mommy related (like breastfeeding, teething, solids, crawling, etc) to birth and personal things (like sex, weight, body image, periods or lack thereof, etc).  I’m so happy that I found this group!  (If anyone reading this is interested in finding a mom’s group, the place I found my group was on http://www.meetup.com.  The group I am in is for moms of babies born in 2013 or 2014, so that way we all have really similarly aged kids!)

If you missed her previous updates, you can check out:

1 Month Update

2 Month Update

3 Month Update

4 Month Update

5 Month Update

6 Month Update

Photos of Winter and Our Family:

Winter’s 3 Month Update

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BABY WINTER’S MONTHLY UPDATE: 3 months old

Baby’s Age: 3 months old

Height: 23 inches

Weight: 12 pounds 7 ounces

Head: 41 cm

Here is a look back at the past few months:

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Here is Winter in her Bumbo:

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It’s amazing to see how much she changes in these month by month photos!

Milestones: Winter is such an incredible baby.  She has very great head control.  She loves looking around from side to side, taking her surroundings in.  Many people have commented how strong her head is.  She also laughed for the first time a couple of days after Christmas.  That was so much fun and so special!  She has laughed a few times since then, but we are always trying to do things to get her to laugh again. 🙂  She is really improving in neck strength from tummy time – she gets her head a little higher each week.

Sleep: Since she turned 9 weeks old, Winter has been sleeping through the night like a champ!  The only hiccup we have had was when she got her first cold this past week, she struggled to sleep well at night because of congestion, poor baby.  Now that she is better, she is back to sleeping normally.  Winter typically falls asleep about 10:00 or 10:30 pm after her last evening feeding and wakes up between 6:30 and 7:30 am ready to eat.  She also takes naps throughout the day.  She takes at least 2 long naps (approx. 2 hours), and many 1-1.5 hour naps throughout the daytime.

Best Moment: Hearing Winter laugh!  It was amazing, and we are always being silly to get her to laugh again 🙂

Worst Moment: Experiencing her first cold.  Though it was pretty minor — just congestion and a little cough — it was still tough to watch my baby feel sick.

Health:  Winter is growing and doing great!  I mentioned she caught her first bug, but even throughout her week of a cold, she was still very happy and pleasant.

Eating:  At this point, Winter is 100% breastfeeding.  YAY!!!!  She is doing fantastic!  She eats every 3 hours, between six and seven times per day.  I am ecstatic that our breastfeeding relationship has turned a total 180 from a couple of months ago.  It is truly amazing to be able to nurse my baby and not have to worry about pumping all of the time.

Likes: Winter loves to interact with people.  She is such a smiley girl, and she is impossible not to smile at.  She likes when you sing songs to her, read books, rock in the rocking chair.  She lovessssss to nurse!  She prefers nursing so much more than a bottle!  Winter loves her pacifier.  She loves to be either standing or sitting, never lying down.  She likes bathtime!

Dislikes: She still doesn’t like tummy time very much.  We work with her every day, but she gets fed up pretty quickly.  Hopefully she will like it eventually.  She also doesn’t like to lie down unless she is tired.  She always wants to be standing or sitting to see the world around her!  She really hates getting lotion on.  She doesn’t like using the suction bulb to remove mucous from her nose (while she had a cold).

Memories from the Past Month:

–We travelled back home for Christmas via roadtrip.  We drove 18 hours each way to Indiana.  That was a memory!  Winter did great, she slept a lot.

–Because we were home for Christmas, Winter got to spend time with her family: grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.  It was so fun to see her interact with our families.

–Our family went to an indoor water park and Winter got to go swimming for the first time!

–My brother Paul spent some time in Colorado visiting with us.  Winter really liked Uncle Paul.

How Mommy is recovering: Recovery is definitely a word I wouldn’t use anymore.  Recovery is long overwith…..  Now I am still just learning to how be a mom and adjust to my new life.  I feel like being a mom is going great.  I am feeling like I have things under control.

As far as post baby body goes, I have been (for the most part) been meeting my goals to exercise and stay within my calories.  Over the week of Christmas, exercise and calories/healthy eating were totally thrown out the window.  I’ve been back on track since, working out 5-6 days per week and eating a healthy diet.  To date, I have lost 28 pounds.  I’m still not feeling like I am in the shape I want to be in, but I know that I’m a work in progress.  I officially begin my half marathon training this week!

Photos of Winter and Our Family:

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Sleeping through the night!

Well folks, Winter is 10 weeks old and she has been officially “sleeping through the night” (8-9 hours) for an entire week!  Last Thursday, at 9 weeks old on the dot, she slept through her nighttime feeding and hasn’t woken during the middle of the night since.  Wow!  I feel so blessed to have such an amazing sleeper.  She is really the best!

At 8 weeks old, she started sleeping 7 hours in a row, waking only once during the middle of the night to eat (approximately 4:30 or 5:00 am).  A week later at 9 weeks, she extended her sleep to 8-9 hours, going approximately from 10pm to 7am (though sometimes 6:30am).

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After Christmas, we plan to move Winter into her crib in the nursery since she sleeps through the night.

There is a book out there called On Becoming Baby Wise and it promises that your baby can sleep through the night around 2 months old if you follow their advice.  We do follow Baby Wise principles, which recommends “parent directed feeding” (PDF) as opposed to “demand feeding” (aka attachment parenting) or “strict schedule feeding.”  BW tends to fall more on the scheduling end of the spectrum, but using your baby’s hunger cues to see when to feed rather than being strictly stuck to the clock.  BW says that if you follow their advice, most BW babies will sleep 8 hours through the night around 8-10 weeks old.  In our case, following BW principles work!  I know some babies have a harder time sleeping through the night until an older age, but that just means “every baby is different.”

Baby Wise recommends feeding your baby on a 2.5-3 hour routine.  I usually feed Winter every 3 hours during the day, but sometimes at the 2.5 hour mark if she signals she is hungry sooner.  Rather than being on a strict schedule, it is very crucial to watch for baby to signal hunger cues.

In addition to following the timing of the routine, it is also really important to include eat time, wake time and nap/sleep time in the schedule (and in the ORDER!).  Many people reverse the wake time and nap time, letting their baby fall asleep after eating.  It’s very important to make sure the baby has playtime (wake time) after she finishes eating and then go to sleep for a nap an hour or so later.  Then the baby wakes up hungry and is not dependent on needing to nurse in order to be able to fall asleep.  Winter can fall asleep without assistance, though I usually do rock her and sing to her for a little bit to help her get drowsy.  I enjoy that bonding time with her.

I know that different methods work well for different people, but in our case, I like having the structure of a routine.  My baby seems to be very happy and she gets the gift of good sleep.  She sleeps well, eats well, plays well, grows well and is over all very HAPPY!  Her parents are happy too because she gives us the gift of her joyful temperament and also the gift of sleeping all night long!  Well rested mommy = happier mommy!

Now that Winter has dropped her night feed, I wanted to add it back in somewhere to keep her at 7 quality feedings per day.  We were on a 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 10pm, 5(+/-)am routine, but now I’ve modified it because I don’t like having only 6 feeds per day when she is only 10 weeks old.  I want to keep her at 7 feeds until she is a little older.

Here is how our day typically looks currently (after bumping back up to 7 feeds):

6:30 am – Wake up to eat.  I pump out extra milk after she finishes nursing.  We play for a while and then she falls asleep until her next feed.

8:30 or 9:00 am – Nurse, then play, then go to sleep.

11:30 am – Nurse, play, then nap.

2:30 pm – Nurse, play, then nap.

5:00 pm – Nurse, play, then nap.

8:00 pm – Nurse (or let Daddy feed her a bottle of breast milk) then get ready for bed (no playtime).

10:30 or 11pm – Dream feed, I wake her up to get in just one more feeding since I want her at 7 feeds rather than 6.  She basically sleeps through the feed, but I usually give her a bottle at this time so I know how many ounces she ate.

I love having a great sleeper!  She rocks!  I love that Baby Wise has helped provide a good guideline for how to structure Winter’s days.  It is such a relief to be able to PREDICT when she will eat and sleep.  It allows me to be a better parent.  I am a type-A personality, and it helps me to know that I have some predictability in my life.  I love her “waketime” because we get to play and bond.  Because of her predictability of her routine, I can run errands or go places without worrying that she might need to eat at anytime.  Because of her routine, her metabolism has adjusted and it allows her to get better quality feedings (rather than snacky-type nursing sessions) as well as it allows her to get better quality sleep (rather than short cat naps where she doesn’t get into her deeper REM cycle).  Better sleep = good.  Better feedings = good. Good sleep + good feedings = a very HAPPY little baby!

CONCLUSION: One happy baby = one happy mommy! 

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Now, to end this post, here are a few photos of us with Winter this past weekend (my first few nights of getting an entire night’s rest for the first time in 2 months).  She went to her first wedding!

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Winter’s Beautiful Birth Story

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Here is the birth story that I will never forget and always cherish.  I hope that I wrote this in the best way possible.  It’s very long, but I did not want to leave anything out.  I absolutely loved Winter’s birth and would not change a thing about it.  Here is how she came into the world…

Winter’s Beautiful Birth Story 

When I hit 39 weeks on October 1st, I all of the sudden felt very “ready” to have my baby.  Something just suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks: I was ready to be done with my pregnancy and ready to meet our little girl.  I started to think that she was coming any day, and then nothing ever happened.  My Braxton Hicks contractions were becoming more frequent and much stronger, sometimes even painful!  “Surely today is the day,” I kept thinking to myself — everyday.  And then nothing would result.

My due date came and went.  As I was a runner all the way throughout my pregnancy, there was something special about the run I went on that Tuesday morning — my due date.  It felt like a momentous day.  It felt great that I could celebrate that day with a healthy run outside in the gorgeous fall weather.  I started trying all kinds of old wives tales for helping stimulate labor…with no avail.  At my O.B. appointment that afternoon on Tuesday, October 8th (baby’s due date), my doctor said her best friend always swears by eating eggplant parmesan to induce labor.  So I thought I’d give it a whirl if nothing had happened in a few days. I just wanted to meet our girl!

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Post run on my due date!

On Wednesday, October 9th I felt very emotional and depressed because I was still baby-less.  It felt as if every single day was a year long.  At that moment, it felt as if I were NEVER going to go into labor.  I was in a bad mood and I felt awful — both emotionally and physically exhausted.  My back was killing me from sciatic nerve pressure and I was just feeling defeated.  I went to the gym to workout and made myself do an “extra intense” workout just to see if that could get baby motivated to make her grand appearance.  I worked out on the stairmaster, the rowing machine and jacob’s ladder (that was probably hilarious to watch a pregnant lady use).  After over an hour of cardio, I did a full body weight lifting.  As I left the gym, the front desk person and I briefly chatted how if they saw me again I was going to be sad that I still hadn’t given birth.  Well, thankfully they wouldn’t see me again — since that night I went into labor!

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Jacob’s Ladder – I bet that was interesting to watch a pregnant lady use!

Because of my sciatic back pain, I went to see my chiropractor for an adjustment around 6pm on Wednesday evening, which was my second adjustment that week.  On the drive home, I called and talked with my dad for a half an hour.  During that drive home/phone call with Dad, I was noticing really strong Braxton Hicks contractions, but didn’t allow myself to get my hopes up.  After all, these were just more of the same.

When I got home, Eric and I decided to go out to dinner for our weekly date night early since we hoped that by Friday the baby would already be here.  The eggplant parmesan recommendation from my doctor was ringing in my head, so I suggested the Macaroni Grill.  Just before heading out to dinner, I went to the bathroom and noticed a bit of a bloody show….that got my heart racing…maybe this was the start of something?!

At dinner I found myself feeling extra excited and told Eric what had happened in the bathroom at home.  Neither of us wanted to get our hopes up yet.  As we ate dinner, I noticed my Braxton Hicks contractions started to feel painful — a different type of painful than I had previously experienced.  To be honest, I was not quite sure if I was having gas pains or contractions.  If they were gas pains, I needed to find out!  So I went to the bathroom to investigate, and no, they were not gas pains.  During the rest of dinner we both started to get more excited that we could potentially be at the beginning of something real!

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Macaroni Grill – where my contractions started.

We left the restaurant and arrived home about 9pm (we are late eaters).  Because we were now in the comfort of our home, we decided to start timing my contractions.  The way I would describe what I was feeling was a menstrual cramp/pain down low in the bottom of my belly.  It felt like a sting or a sharp pain, or almost like someone was sticking a knife in my uterus.  Ouch!  At that point in the evening, it hurt, but was still very manageable.  We decided to run a bath, so I hopped in the tub and tried to relax between contractions from 9-10pm.  We continued timing, and the pains were very regular, ranging from 5-7 minutes apart.

At around 10:30 p.m. I decided to call my mom since my parents are on Eastern time.  If this truly was labor, I wanted to inform her before things progressed too much and had to call her with a middle-of-the-night phone call.  I described my “knife stabbing into my uterus” pains to Mom, and she said I needed to stop calling them that, and call them contractions.  Haha!  I still was not really 100% convinced that I was in labor.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up just yet — but my excitement was growing.

Between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. my contractions were coming every 4-6 minutes and getting stronger and more painful.  Eric was my dutiful timer.  We used an app on his phone to time the contractions, which made things really easy!  During that period of time I bounced on my exercise ball, got on my hands and knees to allow baby to hang down, and rocked my hips constantly to encourage baby to move down.  I took a second bath, and this time the water felt SO AMAZING on my body.

At 1:00 a.m. I needed to get out of the house, so we decided to go for a walk outside.  Yes, at 1:00 a.m.!  We walked laps and laps around our neighborhood, trying to be quiet since we didn’t want to wake anyone.  We probably walked 2 miles on that crisp fall night.  I was still able to walk through the contractions, though they were getting stronger and sometimes coming every 2 1/2 minutes apart.

After our walk, I decided I wanted to take a hot shower.  I needed the pain relief as well as I wanted to look decent for birth.  Ha, of course!  After my shower, I was starving, so Eric and I sat down at the table and ate our Macaroni Grill leftovers from dinner at around 2:30 a.m.  I continued having contractions, but it felt SO GREAT to get a bit of food in my stomach.  I was starting to feel exhausted from getting no sleep combined with the pain I was feeling.  After eating, we deemed it felt necessary to go to the hospital.  I was feeling quite a lot of pain during each contraction and I knew that SURELY I was getting really fair along at this point.  So Eric loaded the car with our bags, he snapped a couple of photos of me, and we were off!

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Heading to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning, nearly 3am.

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One last look from both sides.

During that 15 minute drive to the hospital, I had at least 3 or 4 strong contractions.  Sitting down in the car, being unable to move through the contraction, was really excruciating for me.  At least when I was at home I could move around as needed or roll/bounce on my ball to help ease the pain.  Sitting in a seatbelt in a vehicle is NOT ideal for labor.

We arrived at the hospital at 3:00 a.m. and I called my mom to let her know an update of where things stood.  I still was unsure of how “far along” into labor I was, but I knew surely we were making some definite progress since I was in a lot of pain and the contractions were 2-5 minutes apart lasting for a minute or longer.  We entered the emergency entrance and notified the staff that I was in active labor.  A nurse was sent down to escort me up to the labor and delivery wing via wheelchair.  I was wheeled up to the maternity floor — my first time ever being a patient at a hospital.

From the moment I arrived in the hospital, I noticed an extreme change in my contractions.  They seemed to slow down and feel less intense.  Perhaps it was the adrenaline rush from being at the hospital, who knows???  We were brought into a room and the nurse had me change into a gown and give a urine sample.  They hooked up the two monitors to my belly to start monitoring contractions and baby’s heartrate.  For about an hour we dealt with logistics: 100 million questions that I had to answer.  My contractions continued coming, but not as close together or quite at the intensity they were before my admittance.

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Talking to my mom while at the hospital,

At the end of that hour, the nurse finally checked my cervix.  She estimated I was over 3 but less than 4 centimeters dilated.  This just about crushed my spirit!  Just on Tuesday, I had been just under 3 centimeters at my O.B. appointment.  How on earth had I not made ANY progress after all these hours of painful contractions?!  It just left me feeling so discouraged.

The nurse suggested that Eric and I get up and walk around the hospital halls for an hour to see if that caused any cervical change.  Being SO EXHAUSTED from pulling an all-nighter, that hour of walking felt like it lasted for 5 hours.  Plus, I was walking around in a hospital gown (with one over the back for extra modesty), so I felt less than comfortable.  A few times during the walk I stopped to use the rest room and noticed heavy bleeding.  Bleeding that somewhat scared me!  It was heavy like a period, and each time I used the restroom, there was lots more blood.  This is something I notified the nurses of, and they seemed to think it was normal for labor.

At 5:30 a.m. we returned to our room to see if our hour-plus walk had made any cervical change.  I was feeling extremely beat and worn down from a lack of sleep combined with the exhaustion from being in labor all night.  I did not feel hopeful because I was having hardly any contractions at that time.  The nurse, Amy (a different one because of a shift change during our time walking) came in to check me to see if there was any more progress.  After checking my cervix, she estimated that I was 3-4 cm dilated.  BIG bummer.  Again, I felt so frustrated and defeated.

This nurse, Amy, was a really pushy and opinionated gal.  She strongly suggested we could use pitocin to get labor jumpstarted and sped along.  RED FLAG!!  I did NOT want pitocin AT ALL.  No way, no how.  In my mind, my baby girl was going to come out when she was darn well ready, and I did NOT need pitocin to make her mad.  I expressed this to the nurse, and she looked at me like I was a whacko.  I told her that I wanted to leave the hospital and go home because apparently the baby wasn’t quite ready yet.  Being pushy and opinionated, she pleaded with me to stay.  It really took a lot of courage for me to stand up for myself and say no.  I wanted to go home, be in my comfort zone and labor at home as I pleased.  I did NOT want to stay strapped to a hospital bed, exhausted from an all-nighter and having some bitchy (sorry for the language) nurse push her opinions and drugs on me.  She left the room so Eric and I could talk.

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We said NO to Pitocin!

We decided to check ourselves out and go home.  The nurse returned and said, “well, I guess if your baby wants to be born today, you will probably be back by noon anyway, so go home.”  What relief.  They let us go.  At this time it was 6:00 a.m. and I was having basically no contractions.  My level of discouragement was prevalent.  But I felt we were making the right choice for us to go home rather than staying at the hospital.  I needed to do this the RIGHT way.

Upon arriving home around 6:45 a.m., we thought it would be best to try to get some sleep, since we were both extremely exhausted from getting none all night long.  We lied down in our bed and I think I was able to be restful (translation: not ACTUALLY fall asleep) for a period of time.  I did not actually sleep, but the rest gave me a nice jumpstart.  I  needed anything I could get in the way of relaxation,

Around 9:00 a.m. I was started to get extremely painful contractions again.  In fact, the pain was SO MUCH stronger now than anything from the entire night before!  Eric was still asleep in the bed and I didn’t want to disturb him yet, so I ran a hot bath.  While the bath was running, I found myself dropping on the floor to my knees in such extreme pain.  THIS WAS IT!  Things were rolling again!  I was excited but still not positive that we were having a baby that day yet.  From 9:30-10:30 a.m. I soaked in the tub, breathing through really intense painful contractions every 3-5 minutes apart.  Eric, who was awake now, was so supportive and helpful and tried to help me through each one.

Eric called my O.B. office to see if there was any way I could come in to the office to be checked for cervical change rather than going to the hospital before we truly felt ready to go again.  She apologized that the earliest they could see me was 2:00 p.m. if I could even make it that long.  So my goal was to get myself to 2:00.  At that point, it was really hard to focus on anything because I was in such extreme pain.  I remember calling my mom while lying on the floor in pain saying, “Mom, how on earth do people do this?!?” and she said, “Katy, after the baby is born, you will forget all of this pain.”

From 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. the contractions were SO INTENSE and coming 2-4 minutes apart.  I couldn’t focus on anything and I dreaded the next contraction ahead.  I bounced on my exercise ball, leaned over pieces of furniture and just tried to breathe through each one.  I found that they would come on really strong and peak and then fade out.  It helped me to close my eyes and breathe deeply throughout the peak of each contraction.  After one was finished, at least I never had to “deal with THAT contraction again!”

At 12:00 p.m. I needed to get outside and walk the neighborhood.  I was walking SO SLOWLY and had to stop to hold myself up against Eric or fences when the contractions would come.  I felt miserable that 2:00 p.m. was still so far away.  My pain was SO BAD and I was crying on an off.  We got back home from our walk and I called my sister Maggie.  I had to hand off the phone to Eric when a contraction came because I couldn’t talk.  In fact, I ran to the kitchen sink and vomited.  Eric hung up the phone and said that Maggie said to get to the hospital immediately if I was throwing up.  Throwing up means things are really progressed far.  She thought I might even be close to the transition phase of labor.

We drove to the hospital and were admitted at 1:30 p.m.  Thankfully I was assigned a new nurse, Shauna, who was the most friendly gal I’ve ever met.  I was so relieved I didn’t have my previous pushy nurse from that morning.  After getting changed and hooked up to the monitors, Shauna checked me and estimated I was 5 cm dilated and we decided to stay.  She said she was being modest with that number, so even though she said I was at a 5, it could have really been a 6 or more according to other nurses she said…but her theory is that she doesn’t like to tell someone a higher number, just in case.  She hooked up my IV to administer the standard fluids, and we found that I was extremely dehydrated as I had not eaten or drank anything at all since my 2:30 a.m. snack.

Only 20 minutes after arriving, the doctor came in to check me and I had already dilated to 7 cm!  They went ahead and broke my water and I notified them that I wanted an epidural.  I figured the worst of the pain was behind me, but I was just so READY to feel better.

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Seeing the baby station in our room was making things feel more real!

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At the hospital – ready for a bit of pain relief.

Before the epidural, my entire body started shaking violently.  The shakes were so violent and I could hear Shauna in the background telling someone that we need to get this epidural quickly since I was in transition phase.  It felt like they were in a different world — I was in a cloudy space, almost like an out of body experience.  I kept wondering “how am I going to hold still for 10 minutes for this epidural?!?” since I was shaking so uncontrollably.

Eric went to move the car (since he was parked in 2 hour parking because the garage was full), and barely made it back in time to hold my shoulders while they put the epidural needle in.   Anesthesiology moved fairly quickly.  Right before they prepped me for the epidural, they checked again and I was 8 cm!  Wow, things sure were moving along now!  At this time, it was approximately 3:30 p.m.  By this point I was having such terrible contraction pains and being trapped on a bed was MISERABLE.  Thankfully Eric walked in right in the nick of time to hold me while the needle was inserted.  My violent shakes were going on uncontrollably, but with all my might I held still.

The epidural was easy breezy and took effect quickly.  From that point on, my experience when from “chaotic and miserable-feeling” to “happy and relaxed.”  All of the sudden I began to ENJOY the experience!  My pain was now gone and I could finally relax and enjoy the ride.  I have no regrets about getting the epidural.  I could still feel my legs and was able to somewhat move them and wiggle my toes, so I was not completely numb.

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Happy to meet our daughter shortly!  I was feeling amazing now that I had the epidural.

It was about 4:00 p.m. and I was feeling absolutely wonderful.  For the next period of time, our nurse Shauna hung out in our room and we chatted lightheartedly about this and that.  She monitored the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions while we visited.  It was really fun to see that I was having regular/frequent contractions without having to feel them!  Shauna decided rather than checking my cervix, she wanted to just wait until I felt pressure to see when I’d made it to a 10.  Since I was so relaxed, Eric went to grab a quick bite to eat (as did Shauna), and this allowed me time to make a few phone calls.  Up until this point, I had notified no one (besides family) that we were in labor.  I sent out several texts to get friends up to speed.

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Post epidural when I could finally smile!

At just before 6:00 p.m. Shauna came back and took my temperature.  She became slightly concerned when she saw that I was running a bit of a fever.  She went ahead and gave me Tylenol to help bring the fever down, and suggested that she check to see if I was at 10 cm dilated yet.  She checked, and sure enough, I was 100% effaced and 10 cm dilated!  Who knows how long I had been dilated to a 10!  It had probably been for a while!!  Shauna said because of my fever, it was wise to start pushing now rather than waiting for me to feel the urge to push, so we started a few “practice pushes.”  I was nervous that I wouldn’t know how to do it correctly or that I would be too numb to push, but with her guidance, she said my pushing was perfect right from the get-go.  With the next several contractions, she continued having me push to get the baby to move further down into the birth canal.

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Shauna took our photo right before I started pushing.  Last family photo as a family of only two!

My doctor, Dr. Lewkowski, arrived to the room shortly after (this was right after 6:00 p.m.).  She was supposed to be getting off work at 5:00 p.m. but decided rather than leaving, it would be more fun to stick around and deliver a baby tonight!  I was so grateful that she did that!  It really meant a lot to have her there to deliver my baby.  My doctor and nurse then began guiding me through pushes with each contraction that came.  We would do three 10-second pushes with each contraction.  Eric held my left leg and Shauna held the right.  The pushes were very effective, but I was shocked at how much energy it took out of me!

At one point during the pushing process (perhaps 6:20 p.m.), another nurse rushed in the room in a panic to check my blood pressure reading because she saw that it was really low suddenly.  Moments later, I began feeling really light headed and the room started to fade in and out.  I don’t remember exactly what they said my blood pressure was, but I thought I heard something in the neighborhood of 70/50…scary!  It turns out that I was lying flat on my back, which was causing some sort of blockage in one of my major arteries.  After moving me onto my side, they quickly put a bag of fluid into my IV.

After a few minutes my blood pressure came back up to a healthy level.  I started feeling more normal at that point, thank the Lord.  That was a scary few minutes because the room suddenly swarmed with all kinds of medical staff.  Eric later told me that he felt really scared too.  In those few seconds where I felt like I was “fading out” I remember thinking, “what if I die today?” or “Lord help my baby be ok!” or “I hope they don’t rush us into an emergency c-section.”  Thankfully all it took to get me back into running order was giving me fluid and moving me onto my side.  Once my blood was able to get moving through the arteries again and my blood pressure came back up, I was back in great shape.

With that brief fiasco behind us, it was time to continue pushing and meet our baby!  9 months of pregnancy got us to this point, and it was time to SHINE!  I continued pushing three times for 10 seconds each with every contraction.  The doctor asked if I wanted a mirror (which the nurses all thought she asked if I wanted a beer, how funny!), and my response was a quick, “No thanks!”  As the baby started crowning, I didn’t even need a mirror because I could see her head coming out anyway!  I could see a head with tons of dark hair — that was such a crazy sight to see!  Dr. Lewkowski asked if I wanted to feel her head, so I did, and boy was that nuts.  MY BABY WAS COMING OUT!!!

Once her head was out, the doctor asked me to just keep on pushing, so quickly our baby slid out and they placed her immediately on my chest.  All I remember thinking was “how the heck did this entire human being just come out of my body?!”  I started sobbing with joy as Winter Elizabeth’s wide eyes stared into mine.  Her eyes were so bright blue and she was SO ALERT!  She didn’t really cry much, but she was more looking all around taking everything in.  She was just so perfect.  I cannot even describe the utter joy of those first few moments bonding with her skin to skin.  It was amazing how much my heart could immediately love her.  It felt like my heart could burst from happiness and love.

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Here we are just seconds after they placed her on my chest.  I cannot even describe how happy I felt in this moment.

My doctor asked me to give one good push to deliver the placenta.  After it came out, I asked to see it.  Dr. Lewkowski brought it up to where I could see it and she showed me all the different parts of it and explained how it worked.  That was so neat!

Eric said to me, “Katy, good thing you got an epidural, because you are being stitched up right now.”  I hadn’t even realized what was going on around me because I was so engrossed in my baby.  Dr. Lewkowski said I had a 2nd degree tear, the “most common type” according to what she sees in her patients.  I honestly didn’t even care a bit.  I was too happy to care about something like that.

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A few minutes after Winter’s delivery!

While bonding with Winter skin to skin on my chest, the doctor stitched me up, and Shauna did several fundal massages on my belly to encourage my uterus to shrink down.  The nurses later took Winter so they could give her shots and get her birth weight and height.  When she was away from me, her cries came and she cried and so hard!  That girl has got some lungs!!  She didn’t like her shots or being weighed (what girl does?!).  She was a healthy 7 pounds, 2.5 ounces and measured 18.5 inches long.  Just perfect.  What a fun birthday: 10/10/13!

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Crying little girl!

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After being weighed and measured!

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Waiting on her while she was weighed and measured.

After an hour, Shauna had me get up, and I could walk, though somewhat wobbly on my legs.  We were moved into our recovery room.  Shauna gave Eric and I big hugs…we just LOVED her.  She made our experience so wonderful.  It was sad to say goodbye, but we were so excited to enjoy the next few days and hours getting to know Winter.

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 Just moments after we were moved into our recovery room, so happy.  Getting to know each other.

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We stayed in the hospital until Saturday.  It was so fun getting to know our precious daughter in those first hours/days at the hospital.  It felt like we were living in a dream.  I could have never imagined how beautiful and how much love I could feel for a person.  Winter is my little angel and I love her immensely.

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Arriving home with our daughter!

Winter’s birth was SO SPECIAL.  I will never forget how she made her entrance into the world.  Eric and I love our daughter more than words could ever describe.  I hope that I didn’t leave out any details…the whole experience was simply magical.  Our Winter came on the day and the hour that God picked for her.

Psalm 139:13-16 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Pregnancy Wrap-Up

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I loved my pregnancy with Winter.  She was such a joy to carry in my belly.  Now that she is 2.5 weeks old, sometimes I miss feeling her movements inside me:)  But I wouldn’t trade her being here for anything!  We just love our little girl!  I thought it would be neat to do a little pregnancy wrap up/summary…so here it is:

How long was this pregnancy?: 40 weeks and 2 days

Total Weight Gain: 23 pounds!  I feel AWESOME that I stayed within my goal weight gain amount (I wanted to stay under 30 lbs gained).  It took a lot of work to keep my number at 23 pounds.

Stretchmarks: None, thankfully!

Best Moment of the Pregnancy:  Getting the positive test in January.  Plus I loved feeling her movements/hiccups inside my belly.  SO SWEET!  I miss it sometimes.

Movement: Winter was constantly “on the go” in my belly.  She favored my right side, so I guess she will be a right handed girl.  We will see.  Now that she is born, she is SO strong….now I know why those kicks and jabs were so strong in my belly.

Gender: Girl

Belly Button: Out, but it’s back to an innie now.

Linea Nigra: None.  Though I think while in Florida I got a bit of a pregnancy mask on my face.  It’s gone now.

Workouts/Running While Pregnant: I ran ALL THE WAY UNTIL DELIVERY!!  I feel absolutely so proud of myself for this!  My running schedule was Sun/Tue/Thur with gym days on Mon/Wed/Fri.  I ran several miles on my due date (Tue, 10/8), and then did a gym workout on Wed (10/9), and went into labor that evening.  So I literally ran all the way until I possibly could:)

What I Missed Most While Pregnant: Feeling light and not being able to do “basic things” easily (bend over, paint toe nails, harder time running/working out, shaving, etc).

Biggest Cravings: Apples with peanut butter & vanilla greek yogurt.

Pregnancy Numbers:

# of positive pregnancy tests: 4 – at the end of January 2013 when 4 weeks pregnant
# ER visits: 0 – thankfully
# outie belly buttons: 1
# of intact belly button rings: 0 – I took my belly button ring out in the 1st trimester, will probably put it back in within a few weeks/months
# of stretch marks: 0 – lucky here
# weeks running while pregnant: 40 weeks (never took off a single week during my whole pregnancy!)
# of normal (vaginal) births: 1
# of healthy babies born: 1 – Winter Elizabeth Lute
Total pounds gained: 23 lbs
Total waist measurement: Good question – I honestly don’t know!
Total hours at Swedish Hospital before Winter arrived: 5 hours (1:30 pm until 6:37 pm)
Total hours in labor (defined as time after contractions started): 22 hours (8:30 pm on October 9th until 6:37 pm on October 10th)
# of weeks pregnant when I delivered: 40 weeks, 2 days (only 2 days past due!!)
# OBGYN doctors: 3 – Dr. Lewkowski & Dr. Peters (at my regular Denver office) and Dr. Caplan (at my Florida office)
# of ultrasounds: 5 – at 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 19 weeks, 33 weeks and 36 weeks
# of hours driving across the country on a roadtrip: 58+ hours (28 hours from Denver to Florida in July and 30 hours from Florida to Denver in September)
# of movements felt: TONS!  This was the best part of pregnancy!
# of things I loved about being pregnant: 100s! – Feeling her movements, I loved my belly, hearing her heartbeat at appts, feeling her hiccups, etc
# of things I disliked about being pregnant: 3 –  1. sickness/fatigue of the 1st trimester, 2. feeling heavy/slow and 3. achy hips/back

Well, that’s a wrap!  This pregnancy is over.  I am loving motherhood so far.  I can’t wait to start writing more about my experiences as they come.  I already feel like I have so much to write about.  With family visitors/helpers here for the past 2 weeks, I haven’t had any time for blogging.  Whenever I got a chance, I have snuck away here and there to write out Winter’s birth story.  So stay tuned, because I will be posting about her birth very soon!  It took me hours and hours to write (and it’s very long!), so I hope you enjoy reading about it!

To tide you over, here are two more beautiful photos we got back from Winter’s newborn photography session: 

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Winter’s First 10 Days

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Today Winter is 10 days old.

It’s hard to believe that 10 days have already passed.  Having a newborn baby is quite the lifestyle change, let me tell ya!  Eric, Winter and I are working on getting our routine down.  Slowly but surely.  Since coming home from the hospital a week ago, we have gone to the pediatrician for her first doctor visit, had a newborn photography shoot, gone to church twice, gone to our couples Bible study, taken many walks (which is my current amount of daily exercise — walking only for the time being), and spent much time with Grandpa and Grandma!  My parents arrived on Tuesday night and it has been just wonderful having them here to help.  My parents raised all 8 kids in my family, and Winter is their 10th grandchild, so they really are experts in baby care/parenting.

Here is a look back at what Winter has been up to for the past week:

NEWBORN PHOTOS.  We had Winter’s newborn photography shoot when she was 6 days old.  It was so fun to see her in all different cute headbands, scarves, etc.  I can’t WAIT to see how the photos turned out.  Our photographer sent us these 2 photos as a short preview.

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A preview of Winter’s newborn session!  I can’t wait to see all of the photos and how they turned out!  They are seriously going to be the most adorable photos ever!

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Adorable.

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Mommy and Winter pre-photoshoot.  She was the perfect little model!

GRANDPA AND GRANDMA.  My parents are here in Colorado to help with the baby.  It is SO WONDERFUL to have them here.  Winter is my parents’ 10th grandchild, but only their 2nd granddaughter.  My mom has been cooking meals and taking care of us while here — it’s so nice!  She has also helped with breastfeeding and in general taking care of Winter.  I appreciate my mom and dad so much!

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Winter meeting Grandma in the airport.

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Grandpa and Winter.

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Winter wearing her “Nuts about Grandma” shirt!

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Getting to know each other.

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PEDIATRICIAN APPOINTMENT.  At 6 days old, Winter went to the doctor for her first appointment after the hospital.  Our pediatrician’s office has really fun decorations in the office.  We were put in the arctic room, which is perfect for our little Winter girl!  The doctor said they might just have to always reserve that room for Winter’s appointments.  Winter is doing SO GREAT that she has already gotten taller (she is now 19 inches, up from 18.5) and regained and surpassed her birth weight!!  The pediatrician thought that was just incredible considering they hope that babies reach their birthweight by 2 weeks old.  At her appointment she was already 7 lbs 7 oz, and she left the hospital just days before at 7 lbs even (birth weight was 7 lbs 2.5 oz).  This little gal is a GREAT eater.  Seriously, a champion at breastfeeding!

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My mom and Eric with Winter at the doctor appointment.

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Mommy and Winter at her first check-up at 6 days old.

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Fun wintery room!

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SNOW DAY!  In Colorado we get fluke weather days.  We woke up to snow on the ground one day this week!  Snow in October is not unheard of.  In fact, the snowfall we got this week wasn’t our first snow of the season!  It was fun to go out walking on Winter’s first snow day!

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Winter’s first snowy day!

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Family picture on our snow day walk.

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WALKING.  For any of you that have followed my pregnancy, you know just how important fitness is to me.  I decided that once the baby was born, I was going to take a short break from “formal exercise” for a few weeks to allow my body proper rest for healing.  The doctor said that walking doesn’t count and is completely fine to do, so I have been taking long walks every single day.  It’s very important for me to get out in the fresh air and get some exercise.  I’m looking forward to getting back to “real exercise” soon…but for now walking has been such a great time.  Our daily walks are a fun boding time….and plus we just love our BOB stroller!

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Walking around the lake by our house.

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Family walk.

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On our walk one evening.

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WINTER’S NURSERY. We are having Winter sleep in our bedroom in a bassinet for the first few months, but we are still getting use of the nursery.  We always change her diapers in there, and sometimes I go in the nursery to breastfeed in the glider rocking chair.

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Winter has yet to use her crib, but we placed her in the crib to snap a photo of her!

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My mom helped finish the nursery by sewing the final touches on the pillows.  I still hadn’t sewed up the stuffing holes:)  Thanks Mom!

MY HUSBAND IS NOW THE WORLD’S GREATEST DADDY.  Eric is the best.  I seriously couldn’t ask for a better husband and father.  He loves Winter so much and he is perfect with her.  I think I love him now more than I ever have:)

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Naptime on the couch.

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On a walk with Winter.

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MORE PHOTOS OF MY BABY!  And now I just have several more photos of our sweet little Winnie girl.  We just love her so much.  She is an angel baby.  She rarely cries or fusses.  She eats like clockwork every 3 hours.  She is a rockstar at breastfeeding.  And she is just so beautiful.

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Maternity Photography

Maternity photos are in! I’m so excited to share these maternity photos with you! They arrived this week, and Eric and I love them. Dueck Photography did an amazing job capturing these beautiful moments. http://www.dueckphotography.com We had these photos taken at 36 weeks. Towards the end of the photoshoot, we were battling the POURING rain! Regardless, the pictures turned out beautiful.