Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Hardest Afternoon as a New Parent

Justin's alarm clock upstairs has been going off for about an hour, but it feels a lot longer. 

I spent a good 20 minutes (okay, maybe only 5) this morning searching for Bandit around the house... Turns out he was locked outside. 

Cooper has terrible gas and only wants to sleep in my arms.

It's 5:15 am. I have been awake on and off since 1:42 am. Tears filled my eyes...I just don't know how I can keep going...

I rocked Cooper and let a few more tears fall down my face until I felt ready to put him back into his bassinet. 

After a power nap and a glimpse at my son's sleeping face, the hectic early morning hours seem to fade away. 

It's 9:15 am now. The house feels calmer ...maybe that's because I forced Justin to go turn off his alarm clock (he never came back down... So I am guessing that he is passed out face down on the bed). I can't blame him...he spent the midnight shift with our restless boy. 

Bandit is sleeping next to me on the couch. He seems just as exhausted as me... When he wasn't locked outside, he was by my side for every feeding and diaper change. 

And for my sweet baby boy, well- he is resting in my arms like an angel: 

There is no denying that these past few weeks have been hard. Amazing, but hard. 

The hardest day of all was last Tuesday. Cooper was only 5 days old. I think I cried the entire day. I had a blazing headache and Cooper was refusing to eat. He would literally fight me every single time I tried to nurse him. He hadn't peed in more than 12 hours and didn't have a poopy diaper in about 48 hours.

We called our pediatrician and thankfully they squeezed us in right away. Cooper was so sleepy and looked jaundice still. I knew he wasn't eating enough and my supply seemed low, but we didn't start him on formula yet.

I spent most of the day texting my close girlfriends with kids and asking them about breastfeeding tips and explaining our situation. I honestly don't know what I would have done without their kind text messages, advice, and encouragement. 

Once we got to the doctor's office, we learned that Coop had dropped 11% of his birth weight (13 ozs). He still wasn't very fussy - just extremely sleepy. At times it seemed great to have a baby who slept so much, but once I realized his sleepiness was due to sickness and a lack of food...I cried and cried and cried. I couldn't even look at him without crying and thinking I failed him. 

While waiting on the doctor to come in, Cooper peed all over Justin. I watched the pee come pouring out of his diaper. I cried happy tears that time - a positive sign! 

Once the doctor came in, she had a bottle with formula in her hand. We needed to start supplementing that moment. Our sweet baby boy needed food. To be honest, I was sad my body couldn't give him what he needed - but I was so thankful he was eating and getting what he needed to survive. 

I quickly realized that supplementing with formula does not make me a bad mom. In fact, I don't think moms who choose to only formula feed are "bad moms" ... You have to do what's best for you and your child. I was determined to not let anyone make me feel like a failure (including myself). And I made a promise to keep trying to nurse Coop as much as my body would support. 

I watched Cooper get his foot poked for lab work and he didn't cry once. Again, this broke my heart because I knew it probably hurt him... But he didn't have the energy to cry. 

When we got home, Justin went to the store to pick up some food that was supposed to help increase my supply (oatmeal, brown rice, rice cakes, whole grains, leafy greens, etc). We were desperate to do anything and everything to increase my supply and feed our boy! 

While he was gone, I tried to wake Cooper up to eat. But he wouldn't wake up. 

Tears were streaming down my face...

"Baby boy! Wake up...mommy needs you to eat. My sweet Cooper...please wake up!" 

I was flicking his feet. Rubbing his chin and belly.  He was stripped down to his diaper. And the ceiling fan was on to cool the room down. 

I picked up the phone and dialed Justin's number. I put the phone on speaker mode and once Justin answered I told him Coop was taking forever to wake up. 

I watched as tears splashed on my phone, "I am trying everything to get him awake... It's just not working and I don't know why. Hurry home please!" 

We eventually got Coop up to eat, but that was definitely the scariest afternoon in my new parenting life.  

I could cry just thinking about the emotions and memories from the day. 

Nursing Coop has improved tremendously. My supply is still low, so we are still supplementing, but it's working! We spent a few more days getting lab work and weight checks. This past Friday, we had a weight check and Coop was up to 8 lbs and 1 oz!  

"Keep up the great work!" The doctor said as we left the doctor's office. I felt proud and satisfied with our plan and hardwork. 

After talking with a few friends, I realized that my situation is normal. A lot of new moms experience exactly what I went through with nursing Cooper. Breastfeeding is hard...and you would think breastfeeding would be easier since its such a natural process and woman have been doing it forever, right!? But honestly, breastfeeding is way harder than labor. Yes, I said it. Pushing a child out your vagina is easier than the physical and emotional pain I have experienced with breastfeeding...but just like labor, once you have breastfeeding down and you have a great session with your little one- it's simply an amazing experience than no one can strip away from you. The pain is worth it. Always. 

Everyone I talked to about my issues with breastfeeding told me the same thing... Do your best. Keep trying! Don't give him! It will all be better soon!!! 

And they were right! 

It does seem to get a little easier.  Cooper nurses better than ever before! He has learned more about me just as I have learned more about him. And people are right when they say breastfeeding is an amazing bonding experience. You should honestly see Coop's little face after he gets done nursing... I think he is the happiest baby on the planet! And even though babies don't technically smile yet, I swear he is smiling!! 

We have gotten past our "hardest afternoon" so far. But I know more challenges lay ahead. The first fever. The first ear ache. The first flu. The first broken arm. The first time falling down the stairs. The first head smashing into a wall or corner. 

All of those scary moments are in my immediate future. But I've learned early on that I must stay clam, trust my instincts, and never be too shy or afraid to ask for help. And I know I have a lot more learning ahead of me. 

Being a new parent is an exciting, scary, amazing, and exhausting journey. We've had great nights and we've had long nights. Justin and I have both been tested and pushed to new limits. We have said things we don't mean and laughed really hard about other things we've said in our sleepy state of minds. 

But at the end of the night, when I get the chance to look at our resting baby boy, who is calm and happy in his own little world... My heart feels complete.


And I could live in that moment of peace and perfection forever. 

Much love, 

PS - please excuse any typos! I am sleep deprived and wrote this blog on my phone. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Baby Story: Meeting Cooper

"Babe - I think my water broke!" I whispered to Justin in my sleep on Thursday morning.

"Are you sure?" Justin asked.

No I'm not freaking sure - this is our first kid!

The doctor had stripped my membrane the day before, so I was really crampy and I had more mucus discharge.

"I have no clue!" I said. "I mean, there isn't a puddle or anything."

Everyone always told me that I would KNOW when my water breaks. But I always had this fear I'd be the woman who just had a drip of water come out and then I wouldn't know my water really broke...then I'd end up delivery my baby in an Arby's restroom. Although, I don't eat Arby's much - so let's just be real...It would be a Starbucks restroom. 

Justin and I both agreed my water probably didn't break, but I certainly felt like something was off. I couldn't sleep so I woke up and started frantically cleaning the house at 3:30 am. Laundry. Dishes. Counters. Everything needed cleaned. Evvvveerrrryyyyythhiinnngggg (said like the kid from The Sandlot).

Anyway, my cramping and pain got worse so I emailed my boss and said I'd be in just a little late. I also asked if I could work from home if I didn't end up feeling better. I took a quick a power nap around 5 am and decide I'd be better off working than sitting at home on the couch all day. In case you haven't noticed, I am not one to just sit around all day - I love being busy or active!

But I also found motivation in knowing this would be my last day before C arrived. I already had plans to take PTO get a pedicure the next day and enjoy some "me" time. If Cooper didn't come naturally, we had plans to get induced on Sunday evening.

So, I got dressed up, fancied myself up, and headed out the door to get my Pumpkin Spice Latte / go to work!

Who knew this would be my last baby bump selfie!?

When I got to work, everyone kept mentioning how much my belly dropped. I didn't feel well, so I was dragging along the office. At one point, I had to grab the door frame because I felt such a strong cramping feel (I later learned this is what a contraction feels like).

I found myself breathing at my desk through some of those painful "cramps" that I thought were simply from the membrane stripping.

Around 11 am, I went to lunch with my friend Mel -who told me she was going to give Coop a hard time for being so late! We had a wonderful lunch - sharing both laughs and tears. She gave me some final tips about labor (i.e. a good tip she mentioned was taking stool softeners with you to the hospital- you'll need them should you birth a child).

After lunch, I stopped by the liquor store to get some booze for my boss and team! I left them notes and thanked them for being SO amazing and supportive during my pregnancy. I'm sure my boss knows more about pregnancy (and me) than he EVER wanted to know- but we joked about everything. I'm not sure my boss even reads my blog so I'm not sounding like a kiss ass here when I say that I truly couldn't have asked for a more supportive and understanding boss during this pregnancy. He was great!

Anyway, I got back from lunch and was really "in the zone" with my projects. I really wanted to finish up as much as possible before I left.  My stomach starting feeling worse and worse - so the afternoon off was looking more and more promising!

Around 3 pm, I was typing away at my desk. I leaned back to get adjusted and then heard a GIANT pop! Literally I thought a shot gun fired at me...and then the Hoover Dam opened up all over my chair!

Chad and Cayla were walking back from a meeting and I said, "You guys- my water just broke!"

Everyone thought I was kidding and then I stood up.

"No, I'm serious!" I said. "It's everywhere!"

And it kept coming and coming and coming.

I really don't remember what everyone said ....people were coming up and asking how I was feeling. I felt fine. I felt calm. I just didn't know what to do.

I called Justin first and said, "Babe- my water broke!"

"Shut up!" he said. "No it didn't!"

"Yes, it really did!" I said.

At this point, I had sort of drawn a crowd. I'm not known to be quiet.

"You're kidding with me..." Justin said, still in denial.

"Babe - I swear my water broke!" I said.

"Oh wow," Justin said. "Okay ummm....let's meet at home!"

We had plans to meet at home - I had myself CONVINCED I would have time to take a shower and relax at home before we went to the hospital.

Chad drove my car and Cayla followed us so she could drive him back home.

God love Chad - he has three kids of his own so this isn't his first rodeo.

"I need to eat," I said. "But I'm not that hungry!"

I found some crackers in my purse, desperate for anything. WHO KNEW how long it'd be since I could eat again...

But nothing sounded good and I could barely eat anything when I was having those contractions.

Chad was timing them for me...and they were five minutes apart.

"Are you sure you don't want me to take you to the hospital?" Chad asked. "You guys could just meet there."

"No, I want to shower!' I said. "And I need my things."

"You might not have time to shower...." Chad said.

At this point, I started to feel the gas start. 

"Listen," I said. "If I fart - I'm sorry. Just don't say anything, roll your window down, and act like nothing happened."

We both laughed and then another contraction happened.

"That was only four minutes apart..." Chad said.

Here we freaking go....

"I'm getting the damn epidural!!!" I told Chad as I breathed through another contraction.

At home, Justin had everything on the kitchen table and ready to go! Thankfully I had a list of last minute items that I needed him to grab in an event like this...

So we got home, I went to the restroom, changed my clothes (which did no good because my water kept leaking and leaking), and I snuggled with Bandit!

My oldest son.

We got into the car and everything started to sink in.

Holy cow- I am having a baby today.

I am scared.

I don't know what I am doing.

Will this hurt?

Will I be in labor for days?

When we got into the car, I told Justin he needed him to time my contractions.

And you know what he did?!!?

He pulled out his cell phone and put on the stop watch, "Here you go!"


That was TRULY the only time I yelled at him, which was hilarious when we look back at it.

We (obviously) hit every single red light on the way to the hospital.

My water was gushing everywhere still and I just gave up caring about what I looked like.

Finally, we got to the hospital around 4:15. As I got out of the car, a pile of water fell to the ground again. My shoes were filled with water too. They were literally squeaking like legit water shoes as we walked into the hospital.

I had to stop once or twice to breath through my contractions.

They felt SO close together.

When we got into the hospital, the front office receptionist looked at me and immediately picked up the phone.

As my water leaked all over the hospital, we got to the elevator and headed up to the third floor. Thankfully, the receptionist had called them and said, "We have a woman coming up in labor!!"

After getting my weight, we went into my delivery room and I changed into the robe. I honestly didn't care who saw me naked or what bodily functions took place. I simply wanted to be comfortable.

By this time, my contractions were only two minutes apart. 

Hannah, my nurse, was a true ANGEL! She kept telling me how strong I was and how great I was doing through everything. When I got my epidural, I held onto her closely ...In fact, I even grabbed her butt and pinched her sides.

The epidural wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. When he was putting the needle in, I was fighting strong contractions. I just closed my eyes and pictured myself running a half marathon. It was the November race. I remembered exactly what I was wearing. I pictured myself at mile 5. I was running fast. Strong. And I was focusing on my breathing. In my mind, I was running a race. And in reality, I was getting a giant needle shoved up my back. 

"I'm so sorry," I said. "I promise I'm not trying to feel you up! I just grab whatever is closet to help..."

She laughed and told me not to worry about anything.

Once I got my epidural, I felt great. A few times, I started shaking and crying for no reason.

"I am happy and fine, but I just can't stop crying," I said. "I promise nothing is wrong!"

"It's okay!" Hannah said. "It's just your hormones and the medicines!"

I could still feel my contractions in terms of pressure (like you have to take a poop), but the sharp pain was gone. I could even move my legs, which I liked!

Justin's parents were the first to show up - so they chatted with us while I ate ice chips and kept repeating the story about how my water broke...and how I honestly couldn't believe how LOUD that pop was before the flood gates opened up.

My mom showed up next with my sister Cierra and then my dad, Beth, and Britt showed up.

But they didn't have time to visit for long because around 6:00 I told Hannah I had that "I'm going to poop my pants feeling" aka the baby is pushing down and might be ready to come out.

By 6:15, I was 9 CM dilated.

"I had a feeling about you!" Hannah said. "I knew you'd go fast after your first check!"

At one point, Cooper's heart rate was dropping and my shaking was getting stronger. They had to put an oxygen mask on me, which made me panic a little more.

"Nice, slow breaths for me, Ashley," Hannah said.

I was getting scared.

Is everything OK?

I tried to focus on my breathing and nothing else.

Eventually, it was time to push. My doctor had been in the room for a while now and she was amazing. She was so encouraging and kept making me smile and relax. I honestly LOVE her and I am so thankful I had her + the labor nurses to get us through Cooper's birth.

I started pushing and pictured myself in the movies. Woman are always yelling and screaming at this point. But I felt so relaxed. I was so focused on having a healthy baby and just focusing on each breathe  - each push.

I pushed for about 30 minutes. Justin was amazing the ENTIRE time and he even held my leg while I was pushing (so he watched even though he didn't know if he would or not).

I know at one point - there was a bit of a panic when Cooper's heart rate dropped and they couldn't find it. Justin said the look on everyone's faces was scary and the mood in the room changed. But I couldn't see any of this because I was on my side and the oxygen mask took up much of my face.

"I see his head!" Justin said.

I pushed a few more times and then it was time for the big one....

"One more, Ashley!" the doctor said.

I pushed with EVERYTHING I had in my body and I felt Cooper's body pass through.

Then I heard that first cry and the doctor lifted him in the air.

The first thing I remember is seeing his giant cone head and wondering if that was normal.

Because he had a bowel movement in the womb (pretty common for overdue babies), they had to bring in the NICU team to take care of Cooper right away. The doctor cut his cord quickly and I didn't get the chance to hold him or see him.

I was shaking again and I just wanted to see my boy. I just wanted him to be healthy. I just wanted him to be OK.

And thankfully, my prayers were answered.

Cooper Joseph Sieb was born on September 12, 2013 at 7:41 pm - weighing 7 lbs even and measuring 21 inches long. 

Justin walked over to look at him and turned back to me with the biggest smile in the entire world. 

"He is perfect," he said. "And you're my new hero. You did so amazing, baby. I am so proud of you!" 

He kissed me on the forehead and we both looked across the room at our baby boy.

Our world will never, ever be the same.

Making hilarious faces from hour one.

Love at first sight.

My sweet baby boy.
Our first family photo.
I honestly can't believe how AMAZING my labor experience was...I have zero complaints. I guess that's pretty easy to say considering I was only laboring at the hospital for 3.5 hours or so.

The next few hours were a blur - but they were filled with so much love and happiness that I simply can't describe in words.

We went across the wing to the recovery room and that's where I met Aunt Libby aka our recovery nurse who made my first night manageable. It was pretty painful to use the restroom and hard to walk, but she was always by my side. Taking care of me and Cooper at the same time. When he cried, she would soothe him and say, "It's okay beautiful Cooper...Aunt Libby is here."

She was very comforting. My mom and sister hung out until Justin got back with food. The only thing I wanted was a turkey sandwich from Jimmy Johns, but they were obviously closed by the time we got into my room and settled with Cooper.

"You could just walk around and show everyone here how to go this!" she said. "You're both naturals!"

Justin ended up bringing me back a grilled chicken sandwich. I wasted no time trying to start nursing Cooper...and the nurse was impressed with my dedication and effort.

So while I sat there nursing Cooper, Justin stood beside me shoving cold french fries and sips of Sprite into my mouth.

And that grilled chicken sandwich was probably one of the best chicken sandwiches of my life.

Cooper went to the nursery for an hour or so that night, so I managed to get about an hour of sleep. Little did I know this amount of sleep was "the new norm" for my life.

The following few days have been so amazing, but oh so challenging.

I've shed many tears.

I've laid in Cooper's nursery on the floor next to his crib because I was nervous to leave his side.

I've starred up at the ceiling and pondered calling the hospital simply because I didn't know why or how to get my sweet baby boy to stop crying.

I've learned that gas drops at the most amazing invention ever.

I've lived my life by two hour intervals of nursing, pumping, cleaning bottles, and trying to care for myself and the house in the meantime. 

I've looked into the eyes of my son and wished so badly I could trade places with him to take away his pain (I'll write more tomorrow about Coop's jaundice issues + breastfeeding challenges we've had).

I've cried simply because I love someone so very much.

I've spent hours and hours praying for Cooper to have good health and happiness. And thanking God for this amazing miracle in my life.

And I've fallen deeper in love with my husband than ever before. Every single time I see him look at Cooper, feed him, or fall asleep with Cooper on his stomach...I love him ten times more. He's been incredible and I honestly don't know how I could ever do this thing called "parenting" without him.

And the journey has only just begun....

PS this is a working blog post! I am making edits and adding photos when I can get some free time... But lots of people have asked about my labor and delivery so I wanted to start sharing some of our story! 

Much love,

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Best Lactation Consultant I've Had

I am sitting in the dark. 

The room is quiet. 
My tummy is growling, and my husband is softly snoring. 

Cooper is laying next to me in his crib and I keep watching his belly go up and down. 

Up and down. 

And I can't stop crying. 

So I wanted to start please excuse me if I have more typos than normal. I am on my phone, in the dark, and have wet eyes. 

We had an emotional morning. Cooper was brought to us from the nursery in a rampage. He was screaming and red in the face...did you hear him crying from your house!? I wouldn't be shocked ... Bless his heart. 

Anyway, the nurse woke me up and said he was ready to eat...we knew putting a screaming baby on your boob is no plan for success, so we tried skin to skin for a minute to calm him down. Nothing. 

I couldn't help myself and started crying too. 

"This is awful," I said. "I have no clue what to do and he won't latch on..."

We had some problems with latching earlier, but he was a champion right after birth!! 

His eating got worse after his circumcision, which they predicted...but that didn't make it easier for me emotionally. Or well physically - when I am stressed...Cooper is stressed. 

I felt so overwhelmed. And unsure of myself.  

But Justin wasted no time perking me. Standing by our side. Holding Cooper. Changing him (Justin has changed more diaper than me!!!). 

Justin always says he is a butt man, but I think he is truly a boob man. I can safely say that he is the best lactation consultant I've had. 

He literally walks and talks me through everything. He holds Cooper's head, squeezes my boob the right way, and adjusts us both when needed. He speaks closely, slowly, and softly - rubbing my back and shoulders as I sob. 

And when we latch - he gives me a high five and tells me great job! He kisses my forehead and keeps me inspired. 

He is the best cheerleader, husband, and father in my whole world. 

The last two feedings were wonderful. And instead of crying, I found myself praying. 

And when he was done nursing the last time, we just stood up and Justin held me in his arms as I cried. But this time I cried happy tears...we will get this tackle this journey called parenthood...side by side and hand in hand. 

I've been watching videos about breastfeeding, asking questions, speaking up about our challenges, and writing everything down. I am not giving up - even though I said that probably 10 times when and thought it 30 more during our meltdowns earlier. But we kept going. We will get this... We will get better day by day...and as Justin reminded me ...I've only been a mom for 1.5 days...I can't expect to be a pro yet! 

And honestly - that look on his face and his snuggly body when I am done... It somehow just makes every tear worth it. 

But our new outlook, prayers, and teamwork seems to be paying off...because I have two very sleepy boys next to me who mean the world to me. 

Thanks again for all your love and support throughout my pregnancy and now Cooper's first few days into this world. We are so blessed and loved - we feel your love in so many ways and through so many words. The comments, messages, gifts, and visitors alone just bring tears to our eyes...

The labor and birth story is longer and I don't know how much time I have left to write again. So consider this your teaser...

Stay tuned! 

Much love, 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Overdue Diaries

Did you know the only 5% of babies are born on their actual due date?

Well- that's why my Baby Bump app said anyway...

I guess Cooper didn't want to be a part of that statistic!

My ORIGINAL due date was Saturday, September 7th.

This date seemed SO far away when I wrote it down in January.

Then they bumped it to Sunday, September 8th at my 20 week ultrasound.

So while Saturday wasn't my "new" due date, I still had a feeling - deep down - that MAYBE, just maybe Saturday would be the day.

Oh you know, just our weekend "to-do" list.

I woke up early - like ridiculously early (3:45 am) and couldn't fall back asleep. I watched TV for about an hour and then played around on my iPhone (aka started pinning recipes on Pinterest that I'll never have the time or desire to cook in real life).

"Babe," Justin moaned. "Your phone is seriously bright as the sun! If you can't sleep, go somewhere else please..."

I laid in bed a while longer - just looking at ceiling and thinking.

Will this be my last Saturday without having a kid?

I pulled myself out of bed around 5:45 and started doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen. How can a family of two make such a mess sometimes?! I am in for a WORLD of change when Cooper gets here...

Bandit and I went on a walk and I did some exercises until Justin woke up.

Bandit and The Belly.

Once we got ready to go, Justin and I went to my favorite breakfast place - La Peeps (thanks to my Dad). I got my usual - The Beach Comber...a skillet mixed with diced potatoes, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, avocados, Wisconsin cheddar cheese, and topped with two basted eggs. I could literally eat that skillet of Heaven every single morning of my life.

"OMG - LOOK!" I yelled to Justin. "A cheese shop!!! We need to go explore!"

We went inside, but I was pretty disappointed. It was more of an expensive wine market with Simply Tasteful mix dips and what not....

"Well, what did you expect?" Justin asked me.

"I guess a lot more bricks of cheese...and samples! Lots of samples!" I said back.

Disappointed, we walked onward and headed over to Carter's.

Walking into Carter's was magical. I feel in LOVE with that store. So many little, tiny adorable baby outfits!!

And cute little babies bopping around all over the place. I can't count how many adorable babies smiled at if they knew I'm about to have my own little bundle of joy VERY soon.

We ended up getting four  outfits for Cooper...a fleece vest and sweatpants outfit that made my heart go pitter-patter, an adorable monster onesie (which was only $2.99), a Christmas outfit (see below), and a Turkey Day onesie!

Penguin butt! The onesie says "Cool Dude."

He will be on stylish kiddo - that's for sure!

To be honest, I am sitting here and have NO clue what we did the rest of  Saturday...I am guessing I bounced around on an AB ball and watched Prison Break.

Bandit protecting Cooper.

I went on a trip to the store for corn and $60 later, I had snacks for days.

The only thing my poor husband wanted was fresh corn.
Cooper had other plans.

On Sunday - our "real" due date - I again woke up early. I took Bandit for a walk, wrote a blog post for Jada Beauty, picked up a sweet tea from McCallisters, stopped by Bath and Body Works to get some pumpkin-inspired soaps, went to the grocery store with Justin, and I watched even more episodes of Prison Break. I simply tried to keep my mind and body busy!

Later that evening, Justin made chili for dinner - with two kinds of beef in the mix (which turned out to be a BIG mistake).

We both woke up with meat sweats that night...3 am rolled around and I was convinced my water broke!

"OMG babe," I said as I pulled covers off my soaking wet body. "Are you sweating your ass off too!?"

He moaned some jibberish and rolled over.

Well, good to know you feel the same way.

Bandit grunted and I suddenly wondered if he had gotten into the chili as well!

But alas, no baby Coops! Just meat sweats....

So by the time Monday morning rolled around, I was pulling myself out of bed and getting ready for work.

Will this be my last Monday of work for the next 12 weeks?

Possibly - but who knows! I dug around in my closet in hopes I'd find something that still fits me. I've got it narrowed down to about 4-5 outfits that I rotate each week. 

By Monday afternoon, my stomach was cramping and my body was sweating again. I felt awful!

I had the leftover chili for lunch....

I honestly thought I was about to turn into one of those people that delivered a baby on a toilet. 

Will this be my birthing story? Is this how everything will end!? 

To my surprise, Cooper was not born in my office bathroom. And I managed to make it home without my stomach ripping apart again. 

I walked in the door and saw Justin's face...he was miserable too.


At least I can still use my belly as a TV tray.

Justin felt SO miserable that he didn't even eat dinner...

"I am honestly afraid to eat anything," he said.

"Not me," I said. "I think I disposed of all my nutrients and I need to replenish myself!"

I made a sandwich for dinner and we watched five - yes five - episodes of Prison Break. 

The Cooper Creepers.

So, here we two days overdue. I'm feeling surprisingly great.  Minus the meat sweats, of course. 

(Never again will we use that recipe for Chili).

Everyone has been giving me tips on how to get Cooper out. Here is the list I gathered so far:
  • Walk (Every day- sometimes twice!)
  • Squats and jumping jacks (Check - even though those movements make me nearly pee my then I would just wonder if I peed myself OR question if my water really did break)
  • Eat pineapple (Check, although not an overwhelming amount)
  • Drink raspberry leaf tea (I haven't tried this one yet, but does sweet tea from McCalister's Deli count?) 
  • Eat spicy foods (Does that meat sweat chili count!?)
  • Bounce on an exercise ball (Check - this one is actually fun)
  •  Drink castor oil (NO THANK YOU - have you read the side effects of castor oil? I'll keep my baby inside of me for a few extra days before I go through meat sweat side effects again).
  •  Have fun with your husband (I'm going to keep this one PG because I know a lot of family - including parents and grandparents read my blog on a regular basis- so let's just leave this one as "check")
I've just come to terms with the fact Cooper will come out whenever he is ready. At least he is healthy and safe in there...and apparently extremely comfortable and loving the foods I keep feeding him. Justin said Cooper won't come until I stop feeding him Pumpkin Spice Lattes! 

But let's be real - that's just his attempt at getting me to spend less money at Starbucks.

Cooper + PSL = Love

We have a doctor's appointment tomorrow. They've already told me they don't like to go more than a week past the due date. With that mind, I am sure they will schedule me for an induction sometime soon. My preference would be Sunday night or Monday. That way I have one more weekend to myself...or Cooper can come naturally!

Either way, I'm just trying to remain calm and enjoy these final few days. I just feel extremely lucky that I've had a wonderful pregnancy. I honestly have no major complaints right now and some woman feel completely miserable at this point.

I think Cooper just enjoys all the attention he is getting by making people wait...and keeping everyone (including his parents) on their toes!

But hey - I can respect his decision to be fashionably late. 

I've never been one to show up to a party on have to make a grand appearance

He is my son- no denying it!

PS I just wanted to send a special thank you to everyone who has been sending us sweet messages and checking in on us! We're so thankful to have so many people eager to meet this little man!

Much love,

Saturday, September 7, 2013

40 weeks

And still growing strong!

Much love, 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Love of Strangers

I'm sure crying and hugging out front of a hospital is normal scene. Maybe more so inside the hospital than outside of it though...

But today - if you would have drove by the hospital would have seen me crying my eyes out and hugging an adorable old lady with cancer, who completely stole my heart.

Let's back up for a minute...

I walked into the doctor's office and found myself instantly smiling at the adorable old lady in a pink shirt. I'd say she was about 75 years old. She was a rather petite woman, and her bubbly and talkative personality reminded me of Grandma Kaye.

Grandma Kaye and me a few years ago on Labor Day weekend.
She means the absolute world to me.

She was talking to young woman who reminded me of the meth head on Orange is the New Black. Now, I mean that with all honesty and no judgment.

Even Justin asked if I noticed the woman in the waiting room that looked like Kentucky from the Orange is the New Black.

The older woman started chatting with Kentucky about her granddaughter who is a writer.

"I just hate writing," the older woman said. "I don't know why or how people do it! I never liked writing in high school and even today - I don't like writing this paper work."

Kentucky leaned over toward the older man and said, "I'm about to blow your mind."

I instantly re-positioned myself so I could hear this "mind blowing" conversation. I was so incredibly intrigued to hear what was about to come out of her mouth.

"I love writing," Kentucky said.


She looked down and started laughing then said, "In fact, I am writing a book!"

The older man said, "Oh my! That is crazy!"

And I couldn't tell if she was serious or just messing around with her.

At this point, I was making eye contact with everyone in the office...we were all thinking the same thing.

We were all ease dropping.

And we all wanted to hear more.

"And I am about to blow your mind again," Kentucky said.

OH YES! Here we go...Just then, I saw Justin walking into the office from the restroom.  But I couldn't even acknowledge him - I was WAY too interested in this conversation to give him the time of day.

"I HAVE A PET MONKEY!" Kentucky said.

Hold the phone - am I really at the OBGYN office? Seriously, what is happening with this woman and what does her pet monkey (is that even legal?) have to do with her passion of writing!?

At that moment, Kentucky got called back into the doctor's office.

The old woman yelled something like, "Tell your pet monkey I said hello" which made me almost pee my pants. Again, I couldn't tell if she was joking or serious.

A few minutes later, I leaned over to Justin and whispered, "Oh no- I think I have to poop."

Just then, the old woman looked up at me.

At first, I was nervous she heard me talking about how I had to poo.

But then she asked me, "Are you having your baby today!?"

"Maybe!" Justin said.

"But it's unlikely," I added. "I am due Sunday!"

"OH MY!" she said. "As in this Sunday?!"

I smiled and nodded my head.

"Is this your first?" she asked me.

"Yeah," I said. "Well, we have a dog that we already treat like a child though..."

She laughed, "Well this is such an exciting time for you. Congratulations!! When I had my first, I was put me under...they drugged me and I don't remember anything. But, boy times have changed!"

She went on to tell me all about her health history and relationship with her husband.

"But all of this was before The Big C entered my life - you know what I mean," she said.

At first, I didn't know what she meant and I slightly tilted my head and said, "NO?"

Then it hit me.


She has (or had) Cancer.

The Big C.

"Yeah, Cancer," she said as if she was reading my mind. "And I have heart disease and a few thing health problems...but here I am!!!"

We all paused - it was hard to know what to say next.

"Well," I said. "You really do look wonderful."

And I meant it- she looked wonderful and sounded great. She was talkative and I never would have guessed there was anything in her life that got her down...

"Well, the doctors came out with these new drugs six years ago," she said. "And those drugs...well those drugs are what kept me alive."

"I am glad," I said.

"Me too- the Good Lord kept me around me so I could do drugs!" she shouted. 

I literally almost peed my pants (again). We all knew what she meant, but couldn't stop laughing. 

She went on to share more stories and crack jokes at everyone who would walk by or listen to her. I was probably a huge distraction from getting her paper work done because I kept asking her questions and egging her on. I just wanted to know more about her life. She made me laugh so hard I had to ask to use the restroom before I peed all over myself.

As I went to the restroom, they went out to call my name.

So even more hilarious? Picture this...

Ashley Sieb gets called in the waiting room...and Justin has to stand up, pick up my purse, and walk back to the exam rooms. I'm sure everyone (minus the old lady who saw me there earlier) was wondering if he had a sex change or what was going on...

Can you imagine how uncomfortable and awkward he felt when that happened? I'm dying just picturing it...

Anyway, I went to the scale and learned I actually lost 1 lb, which sounds impossible because I am pretty sure I ate a horse over the weekend. Maybe my extra workouts and walks made a difference!!

My blood pressure was 170 / 40 - so higher than normal still, but nothing that made them worry.

And for the scoop on Coop, well I am still just 1 CM dilated and 80% effaced.

She told me those are good numbers. She made another comment about how that's a great cervical exam, and then I immediately felt less special when she told me last week I had the "best cervical exam all week" - but hey, it's better than hearing it was the worst cervical exam, right?!

I told her that I couldn't feel Cooper moving around as much...I'd been doing my kick counts, but over the last few days - it just felt harder to feel the movements. Or at least, be quiet and concentrate enough to feel even the smallest movements.

"Well, let's do a stress test," she said. "No, that doesn't mean you or the baby have to run on a treadmill. Basically, we will just hook you up to monitors to see Baby's heart rate, contractions, and movement.

I went into another room and they hooked me up to this machine and I got nervous. I had to hit a button every single time I felt a kick or movement.

Justin looked at me with a serious look on his face and just said, "Concentrate."

He knows me too well...he knows my mind is always racing a mile a minute. I have a hard time relaxing and focusing when I am stressed or worried. Or in general.

I had to be hooked up to the machine for 20 minutes. After the first 10 minutes, I was getting anxious. I had only felt him move four times. Maybe four. I was slightly guessing...kind of like you do at the eye doctor when you do that exam and have to click the button when you think you see a flash of light....And one of those times, I think it was a gas bubble.

The nurse came back into the room and looked at the report.

"I think he is sleeping," she said.

She pulled out this vibrator looking thing and I immediately wondered where she was going to put that thing...

"I'm just going to roll this over your belly," she said. "It will vibrate a little bit and should wake Baby up."

She rolled it across my belly once and sure enough, that woke (and pissed off) Sir Cooper! Almost immediately, he started kicking and moving around. His heart rate went up some too!

Finally, after 10 more minutes the doctor came in and said the report looked "beautiful" - she said we have a healthy and active baby in there.

I was relieved. She said it's always better to be safe than sorry - so it's always good to do this test if we're worried about Baby.

It was such a big weight off my shoulders. I went to the restroom before I left, so Justin left before me.

My adorable old lady friend came out from behind me and we had the chance to walk out together.

"This is your first, right?" She asked me again.

"Yeah- it sure is!" I said. "We're so excited!"

"And do you know what you're having?" she asked.

"A baby boy," I said. "Cooper Joseph."

"Ohhhhh!" she shrieked. "I just LOVE that name!!!"

"Thank you!" I said, with a big smile. "We can't wait to meet him!"

We walked on the elevator together and another woman entered the elevator with us. She had ultrasound pictures of her baby...and told us she just found out that she was having a baby girl.

"This really is the most exciting time of your life," the old woman said to us both.

I was thankful for her positivity.  
The elevator dinged open and she said, "Well, I forget where I parked!"

Seriously, is this lady related to me or what? Or am I having a glimpse into the future and seeing myself as a 75-year-old woman?

"Can I help you find your car?" I asked.

"Oh no," she said. "I think I am this way!"

"Well hey, me too," I said. "We can walk out together."

She smiled and said, "You know, I just couldn't stop thinking about you and your husband after I met you guys. You seem like such a special couple."

"Aww," I said. "Well thank you!"

"And I just kept looking at him and seeing this positive presence of God," she said. "Is he a minister?"

"Well," I said. "Funny you say that....he isn't a minster really, but he did get ordained online and  married my sister and her husband!"

"OH my!" she said. "How special- I just knew it! He seems like such a great, young man. Very humble and wise."

"He certainly is," I said. "I am very lucky to have him in my life."

"Well, he is lucky to have you too," she said. "And he knows it! You can just tell by the way he looks at you...he is proud to call you his wife."

I immediately started crying.

She put her hand on my arm and said, "You are a very special couple and you will make great parents."

I gave her a hug and didn't want to let go. I had such a tough morning...even earlier I wrote a blog (that I wasn't sure if I should publish or not - but I did anyway) about how uncertain I've felt about everything and how worried I've been about "being a good mom." I am SURE these are normal thoughts that every emotional pregnant woman encounters...

"You're wonderful," I said. "Good luck with everything."

We both had tears in our eyes and she said, "See you next year! Right here- same place and time. You'll have your baby and might be pregnant again!"

I gave her another hug and asked if she wanted me to walk her to her car.

"See you soon!" I yelled back.

My only regret is not getting her name or number so we could keep in touch.

The love of strangers is so powerful. 

Don't forget the impact that you can have on someone's life or day - simply by striking up a conversation or asking about their day. 

I will never, ever forget this adorable old woman. She put so much faith and confidence back in my heart today. And I'm so thankful for her stories all afternoon and most importantly- that moment we shared hugging and crying out front of the hospital. 

Much love,

Put Positivity First

I have to be honest...

As I sat at the kitchen table eating my Special K cereal, my mind just kept repeating all of the comments and stories people have been throwing my way these last few days.

And by the time I got to work, I just wanted to hide under my desk and cry. 

I know deep in my heart everyone has the best intentions. But it seems like the majority of the comments I get are geared toward my life being "over" and how I should "sleep (or do anything relatively fun) while I can" because "your entire world is about to turn upside down."

And while I am FULLY aware that these are true statements....

But to be honest, it's just not what you want to hear the days leading up to your big day.

It's gotten to the point where I am even questioning if I will be a good mother. Or I am even cut out for parenthood.

What if I can't make him stop crying? 

What if I never sleep again? 

What if I never shower again? 

What if I never brush my hair again? 

What if I turn into a cow - in all contexts of the word - and simply let my child nurse for hours and hours without even blinking? 

What if I never leave the house again without wearing a sweat pant suit and a scrunchy ponytail?

What if my husband and I never have sex again and we simply become roommates - living in the same house, but operating like zombies?

What if am a bad mother?

These are the types of questions I had my husband last time before bed. These questions of doubt and fear have completely consumed my thoughts these last few days....

These are the thoughts some people, movies, and books have put in my head about the perceptions of parenthood.

And the reality is- many of these thoughts are true...maybe not to the extreme examples I've included...but these situations are likely going to happen.

But these are the thoughts that I don't want to have in my head leading up to the birth of my son.

I want encouragement.

I want excitement.

I want joy.

I know people think they're doing me a favor by reminding me that being a new parent IS NOT all butterflies and ponies bringing home a baby.

It's hard.

And certainly, there will be a lot of crying (Justin, Bandit, and myself included).

There will be fights.


Horrible moments. 

But can we all take a minute to throw out some positivity and share some good stories too?

Tell me what you loved about your doctor or nurses at the hospital. How they completely made a difference in your mood or experience at the hospital.

Tell me what went through your head as you first laid eyes on your son or daughter for the first time. How you haven't ever seen a more beautiful or loving creature in your entire life.

Tell me about a trick that REALLY worked when you were trying to put your sleepless baby to bed. How you only wished someone would have told you this sooner....

Tell me about a moment where you just looked at your new child and realized that you...and your world were never the same. How you don't know how you ever truly lived  and experienced life without this little tiny person.

Tell me about something your child said or did that really touched your heart. How their thoughtful actions or words made you see them in a different way or light.

Maybe as a society we tend to over-share our negative experiences more than the positive ones. I mean, my Facebook and Twitter newsfeed is FULL of this proof. Many of the posts I come across are people complaining, leaving indirect comments toward other people, or simply feeling sorry for themselves.

I once heard for every bad experience, you'll tell 10 people about it

And for every positive one, you only tell 3.

Why only 3 people? Why not share the good? Why not switch around those numbers? 

So maybe...just maybe...we aren't programed in today's age to put positivity first....but can we all agree it's time to switch that mentality?

There is CERTAINLY time and place for the negative stories. I'm not saying you should hide all of the bad experiences and stories that come up in your life. It'll only lead to isolation, heart break, and the inability to heal or move on.

But can we all agree that now is the time to put positivity first?!

I've absolutely have friends and family in my life who have shared some remarkable stories and shared some really uplifting advice. 

And those same people, who have been super positive throughout this entire know who you are...and I am SO SO SO thankful for you...In fact, there is too many of you to name - because I really do have a great support group in my life.  

And no one person triggered this post or did / said anything awful to me that kept me up all night cying. So please, please don't take this personal if you think (or know) you said something about getting more sleep now or how my life will change. I promise you there isn't a single person I have in mind while writing this post.

It's just a combination of one liners here and there - sometimes from strangers - that just get me thinking...

But pregnancy related or not, it's just an important reminder for us focus on how we can ease someone's mind instead of worry their mind. To share positive stories that inspire hope and happiness

Just something to think about...

Much love,

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Waiting Game

"When do you think your water will break?" Justin asked me earlier tonight when we were sitting outside eating frozen yogurt.

I had to think about the question for a minute.

The waiting game is hard. Throughout the past two weeks, I've woken up each morning thinking - "What if today is the day?"

I TRY not to get caught up in that thinking. But I'd be lying if the thought didn't cross my mind at least once a day!

Sometimes, I think it will happen at work when I walking to the restroom, filling up my water, or even the middle of a meeting. One of my coworkers actually had a dream my water broke in one of our conference hey - you never know!

Other times I think it will happen when we are home....either in bed, as I'm walking down the stairs with laundry, or when I am satisfying one of Special K cravings.

Then I think about the times when I walk walking Bandit, running an errand, or even driving to my brother's football game.

But alas- I have no clue. And zero visibility into this master birthing plan that is in my immediate future.

"I don't know," I said. "I'll probably have to be induced! I mean - he just seems so comfortable in there..."

Justin laughed and gave me a hard time for thinking the way.

I mean honestly- he is living like a king in there. 

He probably wants to hang out in there all Fall so he can enjoy all these Pumpkin Spice Lattes I keep drinking. 

I've always wanted my water to break naturally and to NOT be induced - but I simply have to sit back and wait to see how everything plays out.  So I've been trying to keep myself busy!

On Friday, I went to my little brother's football game. I say little- BUT he is a senior in high school. And he will be 18 this month! Where does time go?! How did he grow up so quickly!!

Cooper and Uncle Loshe.

The boys amazed by my big belly.

On Saturday, Justin and I did picked up some final items off our registry. 

Obviously I had to pick up this ADORABLE pumpkin butt outfit.

Saturday also marked week 39 for us!

Saturday was an eventful day in terms of my body too.  

Disclaimer: Now is the time to stop reading and scroll to Sunday section if you don't want to read about pregnancy details. 

Good - you've decided to stay...

So on Saturday, I went to the bathroom and I'm 84.3% sure my "mucus plug" came out ...or at least started to. I wasn't 100% sure so I decided to go a Google search on this topic. I decided it was probably a good idea to finish my breakfast before I browsed the I ate my cereal then headed over to the computer. THANKFULLY I finished eating first because the the Google images that came back for "mucus plug" made me want to vomit. And I am having horrible flashbacks as I type this out...

Anyway, there was that...and I also thought I broke my toe a few hours later. 

The oven went off indicating my tater tots were done...I got up to run to the oven, as if there was a bomb on it and if I didn't open the oven in 30 seconds the house would blow up.

As a result of my hunger and lack of coordination, I ran straight into the wall. Not lying - right into the wall. Who does that?

So, my toe was bleeding and bruising RIGHT away.

"Well hey, you might be at the hospital soon anyway," Justin said trying to cheer me up.


Sunday morning we woke up early to finish cleaning and getting the house ready. I've missed my family so much lately and I can't really travel that far in case my water breaks (the doctor didn't want me traveling more than 2 hours from home after week 36).

My sister decided to come up for a visit - which made me SO happy. We decided to turn the day trip into a little birthday party for my nephew (because I can't make his party this coming weekend).

B and I getting ready for the par-tay!

My amazing sister brought me a Taco pizza from Decatur!
I WAS SO INCREDIBLY happy and ate a piece the moment she walked in the door.

Laden super excited about his new Pokemon trainer kit!

Yes, Bandit tried to help Landen and the other kids open up the birthday gifts.
He is hilarious.

All you need is a giant gift bag and you'll make any 2-year-old happy!

My mini me!!

I had SUCH an amazing time just catching up with everyone and laughing with my nephews - they honestly crack me up...and make me so excited to have a little boy of my own soon.

And my heart absolutely melted when they would rub my belly, get a giant smile on their face, and yell, "I  FELT HIM KICK!"

I knew they didn't feel him kick, but it was adorable to see their reaction.

And when they left, they came up and gave me a hug. Then said goodbye to Cooper.

My nephew Braxen said, "SEE YOU SOON COOPER!!"

It was the cutest thing ever.

Braxen, Landen, and Will all think Cooper will be here on Thursday. The boys were right about me being pregnant. They were right about Cooper being a boy. So who knows - they might be right about his arrival date too!

My sister and I both think it will be Wednesday.

Mom thought Coops would make his grand appearance today - while it seems unlikely now, there is still time before the clock strikes midnight!!

Justin said he is thinking Cooper will wait until his due date, but he is hoping that he at least holds out until Wednesday. Why?

Because he has a super duper important fantasy football draft tomorrow evening. Can you imagine me being in labor and Justin at the hospital with his laptop - all upset about not getting his second pick while I am screaming in labor pain / trying not to punch him?

Yeah, I think we need to video record the events leading up to Cooper's arrival. Knowing us, the trip to the hospital and conversations leading up to Cooper's arrival will be a hilarious and extraordinary event that people would only see to believe...

What do you guys think!?

Any gut feelings on when #CoopWatch will turn into a #CoopWarning!?

Much love,