Thursday, August 23, 2012

day one

despite waking up a bit late and having to hurry out the door, the first preschool drop off went off without a hitch.  within four minutes of getting in line, noah was on his way into the building and i was off to target to get him some new shoes and a first day of school present (two matchbox cars and new sunglasses).  noah was a rock star.  i sensed the slightest bit of nervous hesitation, but with a hug and kiss from his mama, he was on his way.  i had to choke back tears.  my baby.  he's not a baby anymore.  he is officially a preschooler.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The night before preschool

Dear Noah,

Tomorrow marks the official beginning of your educational career.  I have such mixed emotions.  I am so proud of you and the boy you are becoming.  So witty and funny and smart and loving.  Everyday you do something or say something or come up with some creative idea or story that blows my mind.  I look at you and I am absolutely amazed at how remarkable you are and feel so lucky that you are MY son.

I am also feeling a little bit sad.  My baby, my first born, my first little miracle is growing up.  You will be four in a few months- a few weeks really - and yet, it still feels like just yesterday I held you in my arms for the first time. 

I hope someday when you are older, and you read these silly blog posts of mom's, that you can understand my emotions and truly feel my love and adoration for you (and your sister).  Someday, you will have children of your own and I know you will feel the same way I do.

But until then, I want you to know how proud of I am of you, and how proud I am to be your mommy.  There are times that I get angry and frustrated with you, and I sometimes forget to take a step back, breathe, and remember that you are just a three year old.  I love that I have taught you to "take a deep breath", and that you will remind me to do the same.

Tomorrow, nothing changes and everything changes.  For you, it will be a fun experience, of playing with friends, going to the gym, finding a new book in the library.  It will be a place to expand your knowledge of so many things (though I know you will blow them away with how smart you already are, since you already know all your letters and numbers and can even read when you're in the mood).  It will be a place to meet new people and learn that even though some people might be a little bit different, deep down, we are all the same.  At the same time, I feel like this is a whole new world for us.  Preschool is school.  This is the plan for the next 15 years, and then it's off to college.  I worry that maybe I'm pushing you too much.  After all, this is really your THIRD year in a preschool type program (the last two being a loosely structured, two day per week parents morning out program). 

But I know you can handle it, and not just that, you will thrive.  You will grow socially and emotionally, as well as intellectually.  I can't wait to hear about everything you do on every day.  I will hang on every word, and try to remember that this time of our lives only happens once.  I have a hard time with that, and then I feel sad when I forgot to embrace that way of thinking.  I know this is the "last time" my first born will have his first day of preschool, and I don't want to let anything distract me from this experience.  I want to remember it the way I remember the first time I saw you and the first time I held you in the recovery room.  I want to remember it like your first steps and cuddling with you in that big uncomfortable chair we had in your nursery, where I rocked you to sleep for so many nights.

Noah Taylor, I love you and I am so proud of you.  You and Emily are my heart, and I know that you will both be whatever you want to be and do whatever you want to do.  My wish for you both is just that.  To succeed in whatever it is you aim to achieve, and to have health and happiness every step of the way.

I love you with my whole heart, Boo Boo.  You are my best boy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

summer of 2012

holy crap, the summer is nearly over, and i have major mommy guilt that i suck at blogging. if facebook statuses could be converted to a baby book, i'd be golden, but otherwise, i hope my kids never ask me about their firsts because i'm terrible at documenting these sorts of things. *sigh* i need to get over it, because emily's almost 8 months old now, and life's too short to worry about writing stuff down.

the long and short of our summer... we have kept busy as we always so in the summers with play dates, parties, cubs games, concerts, etc. emily currently has six teeth. two top middle, two bottom middle, and one top/one bottom on her left. it's cute/weird/annoying to me that her teeth aren't coming in evenly. whatev. as long as they all show up eventually, right? she started sitting totally independently somewhere between six and seven months, and ON seven months, she started doing babbling "dadadada" and "wawawa". in the last few days, we are pretty sure she is trying to say kitty (though she generally squeals when she sees the cats), my mother-in-law thinks she's saying hi, and i think she might have waved at some kids at the doctors office today... she's not crawling yet, but it's close. put her on her tummy or butt, and she either pivots or scoots, and can DEFINITELY get to what she wants. she will rock on hands and knees, and it's about time to lower the crib cuz if we sit her in there, she grabs onto the side of the crib and you can see those muscles tightening, as she tries to pull herself up. she eats like a freaking rockstar, so unlike her bro. every kind of baby food, but also puffs and crackers, i've given her bits of chicken and pasta. she loves food. she is still nursing like a champ. my goal of nursing to a year (or beyond) is in sight, and i'm so proud of both of us. her sleep is still somewhat inconsistent. she is very recently (like the last month or so) FINALLY getting more normal naps during the day, and her nighttime sleep is day to day. last night she slept 10:30 to 7:30, but other nights she's up at 3, 4, or 5 (for example). i'm pretty used to it after 8 months of NOT sleeping through the night, but i would like to get my consistent 8 hour stretches back, no doubt.

noah is growing like a weed. 41 lbs and 41 inches at our hemotology appt the other day! he did two different tee ball programs this summer. the first was a six week, 2 and 3 year old class that worked on the basics, kind of an intro class.  the second was another six weeks, but for 3 to 6 years olds and met two days a week.  they broke into teams, got shirts and hats and PICTURES, and played legit games.  noah's skills came a long way during these sessions.  his hitting, throwing and running have drastically improved.  he also took a saturday morning group swim class, and it helped him better enjoy the water, though he is still pretty timid in the water and has a long way to go.  (though he DID go down the water slide at my friend's pool a few weeks ago, which blew my mind!)

he is loving the london olympics and loves pretending to do every sport that comes on.  he is very excited about piatt lake and has been sharing with us his memories of the cabin and the lake, and tell us the things he is looking forward to (playing in the sand and water, sleeping in the cabin, and driving therenokay. right.)  he is loving being a big brother, though he sometimes forgets his own sttrength, but he adores emily and he is her world.  it is quite evident that NO one trumps noah in emily's eyes.

hopefully i can blog again soon.  noah is starting preschool on the 23rd so i'm SURE i'll have something to share.  :)

<3 br="br">

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Little victories

Food is still a challenge with Noah, but we have had some little victories lately. About a week ago, we got him to eat some small pieces of peach. Then two nights ago, he ate a hot dog on a bun (the bun was a first) and he ate two cherries. Last night, he ate a whole piece of Orange pretzel jello. Progress people!

Emily on the other hand is loving solids and I've even let her play with trying to get some banana and avocado to her mouth by herself! She also loved cherries when I put them in the mesh feeder! Six months yesterday, she is getting so big! Not quite sitting on her own, but with a big head like Noah, it will come....

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Naperville Fertility Clinic and Pump-Gate 2012

Aside from taking care of the kids, and the occasional play date or night out, there have been a couple issues that I've gotten myself mixed up in...

I'm a passionate person, if you hadn't noticed. When things come up that I care about, I fight for them.

In late March, I learned via the Facebook page for Resolve, the National Infertility Association, that there was some controversy surrounding a proposed fertility clinic in Naperville. (Article here) Thirty some people showed up at a city council meeting in opposition of the clinic. Some of the reasons these wackos gave was that the clinic was close to the church/school, and kids would walk by the clinic... The clinic was close to North Central College, and would target college students as egg donors... The clinic would destroy embryos, which they equate with abortion.

Reading about these wack-a-doos, I was livid! I could not believe that something that started as a zoning issue had been tabled because of the dissent of a handful of crazies. Word spread on the internet community and articles ran in the paper. A week later, close to 300 people showed up, the vast majority in support of the clinic. I took Emily, and joined the dozens of other IVF mommies, daddies, kids, and friends (including my friend Stephanie and her sister Melissa, and my friend Melissa from an IVF message board - that night was the first time we met in person!) in support of the doctor and proposed clinic. Now bear in mind, not my doctor, not my clinic, but IVF gave me my family, and I'm going to stand up for something that I believe in, and something that can help give other couples the families they wish for.

I was one of 50 some people who spoke before the council. I wrote an impassioned account of my IVF experience and somehow kept it together as I read it in front of the crowd, with Emily asleep on my shoulder. As I walked back to my seat, several people told me I had done a good job. I thanked them, and I knew I had. I had done something that not many people in this world do. I stood up for something I believe in. This is what I said:

"My name is Mindy Koechling and while I am not a patient of Dr Morris, I am proud to say that I am the mother of two IVF miracles. Noah and Emily were both conceived in love, despite the fact that my eggs were fertilized in a dish by doctors to whom I owe my world.

The fact that the purposed fertility clinic here in Naperville is being opposed by so many is an outrage to me, and frankly a slap in the face to my family and the families of so many amazing IVF children.

I do not wish infertility on anyone. The months and years of trying to conceive my children were the hardest of my life. Countless nights I cried myself to sleep, and my emotions ate away at my heart each day that I was not pregnant. It was not just the pain of the sadness of not being able to conceive a child that we so desperately wanted, but the self-blame and guilt that my body, one that was meant to conceive and carry a baby, was failing me, and with that, I felt I was failing my husband and our families.

After months of trying on our own and with the fertility drug Clomid, we decided to pursue IVF. On my third cycle, my son Noah was conceived. I was in awe of the entire process, and even to this day, I cannot forgot seeing the beautiful embryo that would become my boy, being transferred into my uterus on the ultrasound. I watched that image with sheer amazement and gratitude to science and the doctors and staff who finally helped me reach my goal.

IVF children are unique in that they are born out of a special kind of love. IVF is *not* for the light of heart, and unfortunately, I feel that the process is downplayed in the media. These people who are opposing the clinic *think* they know what the process entails and how and why embryos are chosen for use or for freezing. The fact of the matter is, this is not something that any right minded person would choose to do if they did not need to. The months of preparation- pills, shots, doctor visits, blood work, ultrasounds, and a wide range of emotions – all leading up to *surgery* to retrieve eggs and then back a few days later to transfer the embryos in hopes that THIS TIME it will work. And when it doesn’t, those who have the opportunity of having embryos to freeze (which very sadly, I do not), can go back to the drawing board, this time though, without having to do so many shots, visits to the doctors office, or surgery, not to mention the significantly lesser cost of a frozen IVF cycle. Frozen embryos not only allow a woman to have multiple attempts at conceiving a child in the first place, but also offer hope of conceiving a sibling, which is something that many couples without infertility take for granted. Furthermore, embryos (frozen or fresh) are just that – embryos. Not babies. Not people. They are clusters of cells. There is no brain, no heartbeat or face. If these were babies, as some claim, does that make me the mother of 12, because that’s the number of embryos I’ve produced in my four IVF cycles…

Through my infertility and IVF journey, which I am very proud to speak publicly about, I have met dozens of amazing people who have changed my life for the better because I did not have to walk this path alone. Each one of them and their children are like family to me, because we have been able to support each other through the lowest of lows, and the greatest joys a parent can know.

Infertility is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with, but it is also my greatest triumph. I would honestly do it all over again, because of the two amazing children it gave me. They are not manufactured. They are not lesser people. They are in fact the opposite. They are children who were fought for, and who were wanted with such great desire, and who have changed my life in a way that I cannot put into words.

In summary, I strongly urge the council to vote to allow the Naperville Fertility Clinic to be built. As infertility affects 1 in 8 people, these services will benefit many in Naperville , as well as the surrounding suburbs. Thank you for your time."

The council voted 7-2 to approve the clinic. The article is here and yes - that's a picture of yours truly and my beauty girl making it on the web AND in the Tribune the next day! :)

A few weeks later came Pump-Gate 2012...

I've been documenting the situation as it's occurred. Here's what I have thus far:

I returned to work in early March 2012. I began pumping in my cubicle twice per day upon returning to work, and the ladies who sit immediately surrounding me were supportive of my pumping. After being back to work for about a month, my supervisor called me into her office on Monday, April 9th and told me that HR had asked her to ask me to not pump at my desk because someone had notified HR that it made them uncomfortable. I was initially caught off guard as I had been doing it for four weeks, and was not the first in office to do so (only the first to be "caught" by the complainant). It is important to note that my office is 90+% female and the two men who i work directly with are also supportive of my pumping at my desk.

The agency IS in compliance with the state and federal requirements to provide a clean, private place to pump, however it is my belief that my job is not one that can be done productively away from my own personal workspace.

I spoke to my supervisor again on Wednesday April 11th, and expressed my frustration and disappointment with the situation, and let her know that I was fearful that my work was going to suffer by having to leave my desk to pump. She encouraged me to ask HR if I could have a conversation with the complainant to try to reach a compromise.

I emailed HR, and later sat down to talk with her on Tuesday April 17th. She informed me that the complainant would be happy to have a conversation with me, and let me know that it was a male, and the associate director of the agency, with whom I do no have daily contact, nor does he have any need to walk past my cubicle for any reason. I expressed my concerns and frustration, and HR stated that she would bring my concerns to the management meeting a few days later. After meeting with HR, I emailed my supervisor to let her know who the complainant was and to ask her to go to bat for me in the management meeting.

The next day (Wed April 18), I spoke with my supervisor again, and she told me that she asked HR to NOT bring the issue to the management meeting because she did not want it to become a matter of policy before I had the opportunity to have a conversation with the complainant. I agreed, and told her that I would try to schedule a meeting as soon as possible, though the rest of the week was very busy and I would not have time to contact him or have a meeting. (I was out of the office both April 19 and 20th.)

My work is suffering. My milk output and let down while I'm at the office have decreased. I am stressed out and it is affecting my family. I can understand why most working moms don't breast feed back 6 months. I am not feeling supported by the place I have worked for the last eight years, and I am fearful that this matter will either cause me to decrease my pumping and therefore affect my supply, or continue to negatively affect my work productivity, neither of which I am okay with.

Well, I get in Monday morning April 23rd, and what's in my email, but a new nursing mothers in the workplace policy, that basically states the law (they are required by state & federal law to provide a clean, private space to pump), but then the last line is the kicker. To paraphrase, says pumping anywhere other than designated areas is PROHIBITED.

I went straight to my supervisor and was like WHAT THE HELL? I said was this policy and not being enforced, or new. She said it was new and could barely talk about it. I could practically see the steam coming out of her ears. She was so frustrated that they made a policy before I even talked with them. She told me that I needed to talk with them before she could address it. So I emailed HR and complainant asking for a meeting to discuss the issue ASAP. Had an email back that they could meet the next morning.

Tuesday morning, I go in to meet with HR and complainant armed with an AMAZING letter from my co-worker, who is the other girl who "got away with" pumping in her cube for 4mo, merely because her row is no a high traffic area and upper management never "caught" her. (my supervisor knew and didn't care.) The letter was great because it spelled out everything I hoped to be able to convey about the challenge of having to gather my stuff, go to the other room, pump for 40min, move all my stuff again, and get re-situated at my desk, and the effect that that all has on productivity, as well as the importance of breastfeeding and maintaining supply, etc.

I say my piece. I'm frustrated that this has become a policy when I had made an effect to be discrete (wore a hooter hider, facing inward toward the wall/desk) and that the pumping room, while appreciated (and required by law), is not functional for the work we do. I did not do a good job of expressing myself and could not keep myself together. I HATE that I'm a crier in these situations.

The complainant went on to say that he understands where I'm coming from. His wife BF and pumped (20+yrs ago), blah, blah blah, but they are within the guidelines of the law and it's not about one or a few people feeling uncomfortable, but making sure everyone in the office is comfortable, including clients and other visitors.

I straight out told him that I am sorry if people are uncomfortable by it, but that is their issue to deal with, not mine. I said I know the law is gray and doesn't say anything about pumping in public.

He says he knows the law protects nursing in public, but pumping in public isn't the same thing. I said that is a matter of opinion, and it is my belief that they are the same thing.

They said they they felt like this was a good policy and was best for the office. That was that.

I went straight to my supervisor, and told her what happened. I told her I did my best to stay professional but that I did stand my ground. She seemed disappointed with the outcome, but said she would follow up with them. I said to her, thinking ahead, what if nothing changes? I'm really struggling, and cannot see leaving my desk to pump working long term. I ask, what happens if I break policy and pump at my desk? She doesn't say anything and kind of shrugs. She says not to do anything until she has a chance to talk to them.

Crazy week, whatever, I email her on Thursday, and she hadn't had a chance to talk to them yet.

Through out the week, I've talked to a few people about it, all of whom seem supportive, and say hell yeah, break policy, pump at your desk, have Ben/MIL brings baby into the office to nurse, etc.

Friday, chatting about something else with supervisor, she asks if I have a minute to talk. Sure, thinking she just wants to debrief before she meets with them.

Apparently I've been blissfully fu*king naive this whole time. Turns out three people have gone to her in the last few days with concerns about the route this going. Apparently people are fearful of what could happen if I test it and break policy. They're afraid that management will crack down on other things, like our flexible schedules, how much time people spend on email/FB/etc... They've commented that I'm so concerned about not getting my work done, but I keep wasting time talking about the issue. I told her, yeah, I've talked with people about it but generally only to debrief after conversations with her or when I met with the other two. I totally broke down and said I was so frustrated that this was even an issue and that I'm sad that people won't come to me with their concerns. She told me she's not sure now how to move forward because she needs to make sure to keep the group in mind. She said she doesn't want me to think that she's dropping the ball on the issue, but just asked me to think about what she said, and we can chat again next week.

I'm basically beside myself that a) this is becoming such a big issue, b) the staff that I apparently naively thought supported me is now more concerned about themselves than supporting me and the cause...

My next step is to either contact a lawyer/advocacy group, consider either pumping or nursing at my desk, or just straight up quitting. i'm honestly leaning toward the latter at this point. i have been thinking for a long time about leaving, and i feel like maybe this is a sign from the universe........

After all of that, I get a message from one of the girls in my IVF group with this:

From: John Novack, Communications Director, Inspire Hi members, A reporter with contacted us last night seeking to interview a woman for an article about breast feeding and workplace issues. Here's what she wrote: "I’m working on a story on breast feeding – a new study found that women who breast feed beyond six months actually end up earning less money than women who breast feed for six months as well as women who favor bottle feeding. One of the biggest reasons is because women may have to work less or stop working entirely, and contributing to that is the fact that many workplaces are not conducive to pumping, etc. I’m interested in talking to a woman who perhaps has run into this sort of challenge. Maybe she has had problems at work with pumping or stigma related to lactation, etc. Maybe there’s a woman who decided to no longer work because of obstacles – something like that." If you fit the profile of what the reporter is seeking, and you'd be willing to be interviewed by phone, please email me at today, April 27, by 4 p.m. EST. I'll put you in contact with the reporter. Please include a phone number when responding and include "ABC" in the subject line of your email.

How timely! It was after the deadline, but I emailed him, he forwarded my info, and the next morning, I heard from the reporter. I did a phone interview with her on Sunday, and Tuesday morning, my story was out. now this isn't really public knowledge (well, it is now, i suppose) because of the shit show at work. There is already enough drama being created by people who are either too selfish or ignorant to give a shit about something that is important to me and is something I'm fighting for to help the group as a whole in the long term.

I'm exhausted and frustrated and sad about all of this. I really just wish I could stay home with my kids and not have to stress about all of this. But in the meantime, I have to fight for what I believe in, even if it doesn't change anything. I'm hopefully at least showing people that it is important to stand up for your beliefs and not just follow along like lemmings, always doing as told. Question authority when they're making bad decisions. Fight for things that matter to you, things you believe in. Care about SOMETHING. Don't just follow the pack. I won't apologize for who I am or for standing up for my beliefs just because it makes others feel uncomfortable. Grow the fuck up.

I'm still holding on to about a 1% chance my boss will convince upper management to compromise with me, but realistically, I have to come to terms with pumping in the "pump room" as long as I continue to pump or until I find a new job... :/ I don't want to have to leave because of this, but honestly, my family needs to be my priority and if that's what it comes to, so be it.

I think because I won't have more kids, I am savoring breastfeeding. Emily is so good at it, and I love that she and I are able to share that time. I hate pumping, but I do it because I have to work and so that I can continue to nurse her. I want to be with her and Noah all day, every day but can't so it is what it is. For coworkers to question why I am pushing the issue so hard frustrates me. Why is it so hard to see why this is worth fighting for? How do people go through life without fighting for anything, without believing in anything? I could go on a political tangent here too, but I won't. I think this all just proves my theory that the majority of Americans are mindless idiots. You've got the 99% that I am a part of economically, but then you've got the 1% that I am a part of in terms of having a brain, using it, and giving a shit.

Emily nursing. Does it get much sweeter?

Update on the kids and fam

I can't believe it's been almost two months since I last posted, and I *STILL* have yet to finish the birth story. UGH.

Emily is now 4 1/2 months old! (I've lost count of the number of weeks!) She is doing amazingly! She is talking non-stop, all kinds of sounds, big cheesy smiles, coos, giggles, chuckles... She is IN LOVE with Noah (and vice versa) and she watches his every move.

She is growing well, and we've developed a pretty consistent feeding routine, with her usually waking around 6am to eat, and then I try to feed her before I leave for work (between 8 and 9), and then she'll eat at 12, 3, 6, 9 and then she's out for the night! At her 4 month appt, she was in the 80's (percentile) for height, 60's for length, and her head was at 99, just like her brother. We will be seeing our neurosurgeon, Dr Tomita at Children's with Emily after we get an ultrasound of her head at CDH. I haven't moved on that yet, because honestly, I've yet to have my follow up with my OB (went to the two week post-op, but the 6 week got cancelled by him and then by me when I had the flu) and I cancelled my rheumatologist appt last month. And that's not to mention the fact that we have piles of medical bills, and I don't really feel like adding to them right now when the fact of the matter is I feel incredibly confident that Emily's large nog is genetics, and nothing more.

Anywho, we did go back to Children's for follow up with our hemotologist, Dr Liem. Everything is looking good. Her hemoglobin has continued to go up - was in the 8's in January, 9's in March, and over 10 in April. They want us back in 3 months and then they will do the osmotic fragility test to confirm the hereditary spherocytosis (HS) diagnosis, which we are assuming she has given her jaundice at birth and lowish hemoglobin since birth.

Emily is really inconsistent with rolling, but I've seen her roll both ways. She's a rock star on her tummy, and really does great in tummy time especially when she has Noah to watch.

She has two teeth already! I'm pretty sure Noah didn't have his first tooth until 6 months. They came through in just about a two week period. I first noticed them that there was clearly something just under the surface on a Saturday. By the following Wednesday (April 25th), the bottom left one popped through, followed by the bottom right on Saturday (April 28th).

Emily started rice cereal a few nights ago. She seems to be enjoying it, but hasn't quite figured out to open her mouth for the spoon. She tries to suck on it like she's nursing! Occasionally, her mouth opens wide, I pop the spoon in, and she gets a big bite. When that happens, the look on her face says "oh my, this stuff is GOOD!"

Noah has continued to do so well with using the potty. A few weeks ago, we finally convinced him to stand up to pee, and there's not a lot cuter than Noah, pants around his ankles, hands on his hips, leaning back just a bit, peeing in the toilet. And then there's the little pelvic thrust to "shake it off". Cracks me up everytime!!

Just today, Noah went to the Dentist for the second time. The first time (back in January), the hygienist basically just counted his teeth and the dentist took a look to make sure we were brushing well enough. THIS time, he got a full on cleaning, polish and floss. Wish I would have been there, but Ben said he did amazingly. So proud of him!

We took the kids to Cubs opening day. It was cold and they lost, but it was fun nonetheless. Noah actually sat in his seat and was relaxed for most of the game. Toward the end, both kids were kind of over it, so we left a little early.... on our way back to the car, a random guy gave Noah a baseball which he though was awesome. Great souvenir for the day!

Ben and I went to the Bulls playoff game two night ago. They lost. :( Noah is *very* into the Bulls this year, and we've agreed that we need to take him to a game next year! We did get tickets to see "The Fresh Beat Band" in October with the kids. Ha, we're officially those parents!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Today's milestone

Emily is now blowing raspberries! It is so funny to watch her play with her lips. She is making so many.sounds with her mouth open and closed, and she has mastered the slobbery vibration of the raspberry. She was.doing them during her bath tonight and it wad cracking me up and I could tell she was hamming it up for me. She has quite.the.little personality.

She has also been rolling to her sides a lot. On her back, she puts her.feet straight up in the air and rocks... She's so on the verge of rolling. Tonight she  successfully kicked over her blocks, after I nudged them closer when she clearly was becoming frustrated. It's so incredible that at three months old (13 wks), she is already such a little.person. :). She's pretty rad.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Some Emily milestones (and other stuff)

Miss Emily is pretty awesome. She's 11, almost 12 weeks old now. She started smiling and sleeping through the night (6ish hours) at 6 weeks. Around 7-8 weeks, she started talking a lot. Lots and lots of babbling that we don't really remember with Noah. Lots of Goooo, gaaaa, and a gaaaa with a gurgle in it. She sticks her tongue out lizard baby style and in a way that makes it poke out really pointy. So cute. She's thrown off by the camera and phone, so I've yet to get really good smiles on camera, but we can get her smiling and talking so easily. Still not really laughing. I've gotten a little huh-huh here and there, but not much more than that. The sleeping at night has gotten back to normal after our trip out west (more on that...) She was sleeping well before vacation, but then on vacation and for a couple weeks after, she was waking in the middle of the night (4am-ish) to nurse. Fortunately in the last few days, she's back to sleeping all night. The last several nights she was up at 7:00 or 7:30. This morning I woke her up at 8:30!! She slept a solid 10 hours last night! Woot! Usually, she'll nurse for a short time (10 min) and then go back to sleep for about 3 hrs. **** I go back to work on Thursday, five days from now. Everyone has commented on how fast it went, and it sure did. I think it was because of the holidays and because I kept myself pretty busy. She was born just before Christmas, so there was that and New Years, planning Julie's baby shower, getting the house ready for the shower, and getting all of us ready for vacation. Since we've been back from vacation, I've been trying to slow down, but also working really hard to keep the house in good shape. I want to try to keep it cleaner and less cluttered now, so that we can hopefully get in a good habit when I'm back to work. I've been staying on top of dishes and laundry, but recently told Ben he is going to have to start doing his own laundry. May have to reiterate that one... not that I mind terribly doing it, but with mine, Noah's, Emily's, sheets and towels, the least he can do is wash, fold, and put away his laundry. I'm so sick of doing laundry. I'm ready to go back to work insomuch as I really do like so many of the people I work with and in reality, there are a lot of good things about my job. I have such flexibility and I am good at what I do. But my heart is aching about leaving my sweet Emily. It feels different this time and I think there's two reasons why. One is that I was actually off a little over 14 weeks with Noah, and this will be about 12.5 weeks. Two, and the main difference, is that I'm exclusively nursing Emily and have not left her for longer than an hour or two with Ben. She's only gotten bottles once really (I had the flu at the beginning of the month, and could barely walk, let alone feed the baby.) I'm nervous about how she will do without me, and how I will do without her. I realize we WILL both be fine, but I hate the thought of having to be away from her. I think it was easier with Noah because I was in an established pumping routine and I had left him a few times with sitters... I don't know if being a stay at home mom would work for me, but I genuinely adore my kids and I wish I could have the ability to at least be home with them part-time, and not just evenings and weekends. So much more to write about - vacation, the flu (Noah AND Ben were sick last weekend...) and still the 2nd half of the damn birth story... I'll make it a goal to get that damn birth story down before going back to work.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday photo dump

More Sh*t my kid says

Watching the Bulls game: That's me! That's me when I was in the Bulls game! (In reference to his fave player, Joakim Noah.) - I bust up laughing and poor Emily who's nursing and half asleep, starts wailing like I just stabbed her in the eye.

Fighting about eating his dinner: I want baby Emily to feed me.

Yelling at him about not playing with the door at the top if the basement stairs (for the hundredth time this week): Settle down mommy.

Sh*t my kid says

Noah says the greatest things and in the moment, they are hysterical and I tell myself I need to remember that and write it down but I never do. Until now. I'm a shitty Blogger but maybe if I make an effort to write down what Noah says, I'll be more inclined to write about other things too. So here goes my first attempt...

To Emily for no reason: I like your arms. (Usually it's something logical like I like your shirt or your eyes...)

To me while driving down the road: I like your Altima. (As in, Nissan...)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday photo dump

New phone equals new abilities! I'll post more soon but for now, some photos!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Emily's Birth Announcement

First Words Pink Birth Announcement
To see Shutterfly's birth announcement designs, click here.
View the entire collection of cards.


still need to finish the damn birth story. i don't know why it's so daunting. perhaps it's because in the moments of "down time" i do laundry, or shower, or go on facebook or pinterest instead... yes. i've become addicted to pinterest, and hope to attempt my first craft project tomorrow.

anyways, just some random thoughts.

the first few weeks with em were especially stressful for me. new baby and lack of sleep aside, not to mention adjusting to life with a energetic three year old plus a needy baby, the holidays (christmas and new years) were just not fun. i did the very best i could, but i apologize for being crabby and just plain bitchy. i had a hard time getting in the christmas spirit, but at the 11th hour, i was able to get it together, get gifts wrapped, and get excited about watching noah's joy when he saw that, yes, santa did come and DID bring him the "big truck" he asked for. (a bruder brand snow plow.) while the noise and number of people overwhelmed and stressed me out, i survived and told myself that next christmas will be fun and i'll be in the spirit 100%.

noah says and does the funniest things. lately, he's been using words that i just don't know where they come from. tonight he said "grandpa, where are you headed to?" what three year old says that? he's lately been telling me that he likes my socks. granted, they're socks i got for christmas, so they're colorful and festive compared to my normal boring, white ones. the way he talks to emily though is the best. his voice goes up an octave when he says "hi baby sister emily". it's never just "emily". it's "baby", "baby sister", or "baby sister emily". it's funny too when he tells people "that's emily", very matter of factly.

emily was 7 weeks yesterday, and the smiles keep getting bigger. i need to try again to get them on camera. i got one half smile on my phone last week, but everytime i try to snap a pic, either with my phone or camera, she stops smiling. i think the camera is distracting or confusing to her. but man, when she smiles, the room lights up. her eyes always smile first, and both her eyes and mouth get so big. her little noises are great too. they're goos and gurgles, and i really think she wants to laugh.

last night was a great sleep night. six hours straight. of course that was coming off the night before when she didn't fall asleep til about 1:30, was up again at 3:30 and 5:00, and then was up most of the day. the 5+ hr stretches are more the norm.

as for nursing, she's still doing great in terms of eating and growing, but it's driving me nuts that there's not a lot of consistency. i wish she would get on an eating schedule, but sometimes she'll go 3 hours between feedings and sometimes it's non-stop (well, every hour, hour and a half). yesterday i wondered if she was having another growth spurt. sometimes i give her the boob just to calm her down and help her fall asleep. honestly, i can't complain. there's not a lot that i got to do the "normal" way - conception, no. vaginal delivery, no. nursing noah, no. so nursing emily is really special, as exhausting as it can be and as sore as my nips are by days end. (sorry TMI)

speaking of... it's about that time again! :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

early milestones

my girl is amazing. and beautiful. though i wonder, everyone says she looks just like me, so is it vane of me to say that she is beautiful? if it is, i don't care. :) she looks like emily to me, just the way noah looks like noah. i see the similar features between the two of them, and features that resemble ben or i, but when i look at them, i just see my beautiful babies.

emily was six weeks old this week, and right at the six week mark, she started giving me big cheesy smiles. of course, they're still somewhat inconsistent. she has to be alert, content, and willing. i usually have to open my eyes really wide and raise the pitch of my voice, and with a little prompting, she'll get wide eyed, smiley eyes, start poking her tongue out of her mouth, and ultimately give a wide, open mouthed grin. i've yet to catch the toothless grin on camera, but ben and i know these are no longer gas smiles.

this week was also big because emily started consistently "sleeping through the night". i put that in quotes because sleeping through the night at this stage is pretty subjective. she is started to get on a more regular sleep schedule where she wakes around 7 or 8, eats, "naps" for an hour or two, eats, is up for awhile, naps mid-day (2ish), is up for awhile, naps early pm (6ish), and then falls asleep around 10pm, but wakes to eat around midnight. now there are good nights and bad nights. the good nights, she eats once at 12 or 1 and sleeps til 6 or 7. the bad nights, she wants to eat like 3 times around 12, 1, 2 ish and might sleep til 5 or 6. still, not bad.

we also booked our trip this week to the west coast! emily's first airplane trip will be to southern california in just under two weeks! we fly february 11th to california where we'll spend a few days with ben's sister sarah, before driving to phoenix to spend a few days with my college roommate, amanda, who just had her second baby, a little boy named jett, two weeks ago!

another big milestone is that noah is practically potty trained! it's been probably three weeks now since i decided one saturday that noah was going to wear underpants and pee on the potty. now, we've had several false starts on this. noah's been sitting on the potty for a looooong time. he's been pooping on the toilet every night for ages, but to get him to acknowlege when he has to pee and actually sit on the potty was another story. we tried underpants when we were on vacation at piatt lake this summer, but stopped for fear of giving noah a complex, since he would scream everytime we tried to put him on the toilet. we tried again around thanksgiving, but he didn't care that his undies would get wet when he peed. finally, we decided to try pull ups. that last a few days before i basically became frustrated that they were just expensive diapers since noah didn't care that he was wet, and developed a rash from wearing them for a few days.

the first day in undies, i bribed noah. i gave him choices of snacks, chocolate or candy corn. he chose candy corn. i told him he could have one candy corn for sitting on the potty and trying to go, or two if he actually went potty. bribery is an amazing thing! there were a few minor accidents in the first couple days and fewer big accidents, and the big accidents weren't even that big. whenever he would have an accident, we'd rush him to the potty. he probably got sick of it, but part of our routine became - "noah, remember to tell mommy when you have to go potty. do you have to go potty? what are you going to say when you have to go potty? always tell someone when you have to go potty."

we're at a point now where noah wears undies 100% of the time he's awake. we've never had a major mess outside of the house, and this past monday, even went to the museum of science and industry with no issues. though, on the drive home, noah was acting like he had to go, saying he was uncomfortable and his butt hurt (??) so we stopped at a burger king to use the bathroom. it was a false alarm. he still wears pull ups at nap and bedtime, but in the last day or two, he's woken up almost completely dry. he knows wearing undies is a big deal, and we praise him big time every time he goes and every time he remembers to tell us without being prompted.

still need to finish up the birth/hospital story, but trying to enjoy each moment with my little one. the weeks are flying by. i can hardly believe it's almost february and my maternity leave ends in five weeks.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

six weeks into the life of emily

first things first. emily is six weeks old today. :)

anyway - it has been a loooooong time, and i do apologize. i started writing emily's birth story and it has turned into her birth story slash the story of our hospital stay. needless to say, it's not done, though i need to finish it soon before all the details leave my brain forever.

but i decided i needed to start up blogging again and not wait to finish the birth story because the weeks are slipping by, and my memory again is making me angry. i am so sad that i have SUCH a bad memory. last night laying in bed, i got a little teary thinking about how much emily has already changed - 6lb 7oz at birth, up to 10lb 1oz as of today, receding hairline (the hair on top is gone, but in the back is going strong), her cheeks are probably four times the size they were at birth (though her chicken legs are still chicken-y)...

anyway, the early weeks were as one would expect. ben was home through the 27th. noah was a immediately smitten and was so sweet and gentle with emily from day one. he had a minor regressing right around the four week mark, but remarkably a week or so later, i successfully potty trained noah. (more on that later.) the holidays were rough. too much, too soon. i was still physically recovering from my c-section and emotionally dealing with all the changes in my life, my lack of sleep, and raw nipples. (sorry TMI)

the hardest thing early on was nursing. i recalled that with noah, he was lazy and never nursed well, but as things progressed with emily, i remembered that i ultimately stopped with noah because of the painful effects of an apparently poor latch. from probably week two to week four with emily, i questioned my ability to nurse her long term. i had to take a break on one side around christmas and pump it for a few days because it was so sore and in such bad shape. and then came the growth spurts. there have been days and weeks that i've felt like all she does round the clock is nurse.

in the last couple days, she seems to be developing more of a schedule. she's sleeping up to five hour stretches at night and has been for several days. she's awake for longer stretches during the day, and seems to have a good 2-3 "naps" throughout the day. there have been glimspes here and there of a questionable smile, but today, despite her being especially pitiful because of having gotten her shots, i'm pretty sure she and i exchanged some real deal cheesers, with wide eyes and gurgly "goo"s thrown in.

all in all, she's a pretty easy kid. laid back and calm. only crying and fussing when she's poopy or hungry. or bored. i think sometimes she just wants to be held and talked to. there have been a handful of times that she has been inconsolable. we briefly had her on Axid as the ped suspected reflux. we also briefly gave her gas drops. now, the gas is still sometimes an issue. i really think she sometimes does have tummy discomfort, but i feel pretty confident it's not reflux. our biggest "issue" is that she often chokes when she's nursing, presumably due to difficulty dealing with my "let down". hoping she'll learn to deal with it soon, because it sounds horrible when she does it.

it's late but i will be better at updating. more to come!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Birth story - part one

After starting this post, and then failing to finish, I'm going to post it in increments. Here's the first part of Emily's birth story:

We went to the hospital around 6:30 that morning. The sun wasn't even up yet. We checked in at labor and delivery, and I was taken to my room and immediately asked to change into my gown. The nurse, Amanda, was lovely. Young and fresh faced, and clearly loved her job. Another nurse, who thought her sh*t didn't stink, was around too, but I didn't care to get her name. It took three people and three sticks to get my IV in (ugh), but shortly after it was finally in, my OB stopped in, answered a few questions, and was called into surgery, assuring me that we were right on schedule. The nurses asked a battery of questions while I was being prepped, and I was happy to be asked if I was planning on breastfeeding (yes), if I was open to bottle/formula supplementation (no), if I was open to pacifier use (no)... When Noah was born, a nurse popped a bottle of formula in his mouth either the first night or next morning, and as a new mom, didn't know that I could say no or just didn't have the energy or wherewithall to say no, and was adamant that I wanted things to be different this time.

My surgery was scheduled for 9:15, and it probably wasn't too much later that they walked me to the OR. It was a different experience this time. Going in of my own devices, mentally alert and aware of what was about to happen. Looking back, I'm not sure I even hugged Ben or said anything to him before walking down the hall. It was about at this point that the nerves and emotions set in.

The OR was bright and cold. They always area. I sat on the table and the anesthesiologist prepared me for the "bee sting" that would proceed the actual procedure to place the spinal. As he started, I completely lost it. My emotions took over, and reality hit me. It finally hit me that I was about to deliver my baby girl and meet my miracle daughter for the first time. The young nurse, Amanda, was amazing. Last time, I got my epidural in my L&D room, leaning on Ben while the anesthesiologist did his thing. This time, I was alone, but Amanda made sure that I didn't feel so much so. She grasped both my hands while I literally cried on her shoulder. She was so lovely.

The spinal was a different experience from an epidural. It took effect very quickly, and by the time they were laying me down and positioning my legs, I was feeling very tingly, and I remember it being a very gross sensation. The anesthesiologist warned me that the spinal would effect me all the way up to my chest, and that I may feel at times like I was having difficulty breathing. This sensation did occur a few times during surgery, but the doctor assured me my breathing was fine and reminded me to take a few deep breaths.

Surgery itself was fine, and seemed quicker than my c-section with Noah. I think a lot of it had to do with my being mentally and emotionally prepared for the c-section, being significantly more coherent having not gone through induction and several hours of labor, and also not needing other drugs during the surgery. With Noah I think I got some narcotics because I had the shakes so bad and was really feeling weird during surgery. This time, the worst side-effect was that I vomited/dry heaved on several occasions. The anesthesiologist took care of me though, holding the barf bucket, sucking up the liquid with one of those things they use at the dentist, and wiping the dribble off the side of my face....

And then the moment we'd waiting 40 long weeks for (and then some)!!

Emily Reese Koechling was born on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 10:24am by scheduled c-section. She weighed 6lbs, 7oz and was 19in long. When I heard her first cry, I burst into tears, and when I first saw her, ever so briefly, I was amazed at how different she looked from Noah!

It seemed like an eternity before they brought her back so I could see her close up - probably not more than five minutes - and I later learned her APGARs were 7, 9, & 9. The first was lower because she wasn't breathing as quickly as they wanted and they wanted to give her a little oxygen. I barely even remember seeing her up close, but it was at that point that they took Emily and Ben to recovery and the doctors finished closing me up. Again, it may have just been because I was mentally in a different state this time, but surgery seemed to go much more quickly this time, and the time between Ben leaving and me going to recovery seemed much shorter.

When I got to recovery, Emily was under the heat lamp because she was having difficulty regulating her body temperature. It wasn't long though before they asked if I wanted to try to nurse her, and it brought tears to my eyes when she easily latched and nursed.

Once we were in recovery, Ben contacted our family to let them know we were out of surgery, and would hopefully be in a room in a few hours. We wound up being in recovery for probably and hour and a half. They kept telling me I could go to my room when I could wiggle my toes. I tried desparately on several occasions to wiggle my toes, and when it finally happened, they said we could head to my room and Emily would go to the nursery to get a bath before joining us in the room.

More to come, because my story could not be THAT simple...