Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy Birthday John Carl Fischer!

The long awaited pictures of our little bundle of joy!

John Carl Fischer was born Saturday December 5, 2009 at 8:07pm. 9lbs 1.9oz, 20 inches long.

The following pictures give a brief story of the day of his birth!

Friday night my contractions started getting more regular and close together, between 5-10 min apart. I went out for my usual evening walk with John and we stopped by Serenity and Marlin's house to chat. Eventually we came home and went to bed. Saturday in the early morning hours my contractions continued and seemed to get stronger, but I tried to sleep through them. Then around 2:30am I felt a gush of fluid, which I thought might be my bag of waters breaking. John turned on the light and we found out actually I had bright red blood. Concerned, we called our doula for a suggestion- and when she came to our house at 3am she said we should call the hospital and probably just go on in to get checked, which we did.

From there the details get a little hazy for me, but I think I was 3cm dilated and 80-90% effaced when I was admitted, and my contractions stayed steady and strong, which was good. So we started walking to see what kind of progress we could make.

Before I continue I must give credit to my fantastic husband, John, and my absolutely amazing doula Miriam, and her partner doula Leilani who all came with me to the hospital and stayed to help manage my labor and the birth of our little boy! I could not have done it without the awesome support of each of them! I am so proud that I had a natural vaginal birth after my previous cesarean section! It was hard work, and totally worth it!

Also we were blessed with the best medical staff that day! My nurses and the doctor on call were each outstanding and supportive. Because of my previous c-section there are many standard practices the hospital informed me I'd be subjected to, but I didn't actually have to deal with most of it! I was told that I'd need to follow "textbook normal" labor progression including having my cervix dilate about 1cm each hour, or they would require some kind of intervention like pitocin, break my bag of waters, or eventually another c-section. I was told I'd have to have a Hep-loc, which gives the medical staff the ability to immediately hook me up to an IV if needed- but they never did that! They did have me hooked up to continuous electronic fetal monitoring, but I was lucky enough to be allowed to use their portable unit, which I could even wear while sitting in the bathtub or shower! And they did ask to break my bag of waters, but we put that off, and eventually my water broke on it's own anyhow.

My husband and doulas reminded me how to relax, what to visualize, and suggested many different positions and methods for managing my labor (many were ideas we learned in our Bradley Method birth class, plus many more were suggested by my doulas). They even let me take a little nap in the early part of the afternoon- and during that time the medical staff didn't bother us at all and let me get a little rest! The following pictures give you an idea of just some of the different things we did together leading up to little John's birth. All these pictures during labor and birth are courtesy of my doula Leilani, who so kindly took Daddy's camera to capture these priceless moments.

Here John and I are walking the halls of the birthing center. I went back and forth feeling cold and hot, so I had towel draped over my shoulders to keep me warm, but sometimes I took it off when I got overheated.

In the hallway while we walked, John could hold the portable electronic fetal monitor around his shoulders, which was connected by long wires to the straps and sensors on my belly. Here during a contraction, I lean into John's warm body to relax, and I'm holding onto the strap of the EFM. Usually I liked holding onto his shirt while leaning into him :)

My doula, Miriam, and I play "tug of war" with a rolled towel, while John puts pressure on my lower back with a warm heating pad.

One of my awesome nurses, Angie, is adjusting the straps on the Electronic Fetal Monitor (EFM) while John and Miriam stand close by with support.

John helps me relax while I'm leaning against the wall in the bathroom (I'm the one wearing the pink and blue EFM straps around my belly). They had the BEST tub in the bathroom, nice and deep with jets, too! I loved sitting in the tub, but didn't get to stay in it for very much of my labor because I got so relaxed it seemed to make my contractions slow and stall out. But it was a good break.

Among many different positions we tried, my doulas suggested hanging from this squatting bar which was attached to the end of my bed. It was a great way to open up -but I could feel it in my arms a day or two later :)

Back in the hallway, John puts pressure with a heating pad on my back, and Miriam reassures me and guides me through the contraction.

The OB on call, Dr. Kaaki, helps Daddy deliver our little baby while I push him out! Daddy got to say: "It's a boy!" Welcome John Carl!

We did it! While Mommy snuggles her little boy on her chest, Daddy and Mommy share an intimate moment.

One of our other amazing nurses, Tiffany, checks in on us. She told us that not only was she proud of us for achieving the natural childbirth we wanted, but even our little boy was equally amazing! She told us that his umbilical cord was very long (it was her job to measure it), had 2 knots in it, and was even wrapped around his neck when I pushed him out- but his heart rate stayed strong and steady the entire time (that's very unusual)! My big strong boy!

Here we get our first really good latch on!

Grammie and Papa Fischer have been staying with us taking care of Renee, and that night, they came over to visit after John Carl was born. Here Renee holds her little brother for the very first time. At first her reaction upon hearing that she had a baby brother was, "But I wanted it to be a girl!" A little bit later however, and every single day since then, she says "Oh Mom, isn't he so cute?"

Renee plays in Mommy's hospital bed. :)

Sunday night, just 24 hours after he was born, we prepare to go back home (really looking forward to our own bed!). This is the outfit he came home in.

Mommy snuggles her little angel boy.

One of the cute handmade hats they give the babies at the hospital.

Getting all bundled up in his carseat, with his warm hat, and a nice fleece carseat liner called a"bundle-me", like a wearable blanket. Perfect for these cold wintery days!

Our little angel boy was born with a cleft lip, and part of his gum is cleft, too, where his teeth will come in. His pallet however is totally intact, which is very good, so he doesn't have a cleft pallet. And because it is just his lip and gum that have the cleft, he is breastfeeding very well, too! We're planning to get a referral from our regular pediatrician to go see a cleft specialist down at a specialty hospital in Iowa City (suppossedly one of the best children's hospitals in the nation). We'll probably take him down there sometime next week, weather permitting, for them to get a look at him. However, surgery would not probably take place until around the time he is at least 3 months old. The pediatrician said that by the time he's 4 months old you won't be able to tell he had a cleft at all. But she did say that he will probably need a few different surgeries, as well as dental work. But in the end he could still probably even be a trumpet player if he wants to. :) We'll find out more details after we get to see the specialist in Iowa City and keep you all updated. For now he is doing just fine.

Back at home Sunday night, Apollo immediately took an interest in his newest family member! And by the way, notice little John's gorgeous red hair!

Little John gets his first kiss from Apollo! Welcome home!

Feeding time, again!

Monday morning, Renee snuck into our bed and got to hold her little brother! Just before this picture was taken, even Daddy and Apollo were all snuggled together as well- our first family snuggle with little John!

A very special thank you to Grammie and Papa Fischer, who left Monday morning to finally go back home to South Dakota before the big blizzard was expected to blow in on Tuesday (which it did). Grammie and Papa stayed with us for over 2 weeks, waiting and waiting ever so patiently for this little baby to arrive! Renee had the best time with her grandparents, watching movies, reading books, coloring, baking cookies, and being taken on fun outings to the library and even to preschool! Mommy and Daddy really appreciated the delicious meals and treats they cooked for us, and the general house keeping they took on as well! Your friendly company and boundless generosity was the most amazing gift, thank you, thank you, thank you! Plus we really enjoyed having you for Thanksgiving and Christmas tree hunting and everything else along the way!

What an amazing journey this has been! So many people have been brought together by this, and I have already learned so much through this process! I have been changed deeply, and am so excited to experience all that our little boy will continue to teach us! What a gift, we are so very thankful!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Tree Hunting!

Well this year -again while we wait for baby#2 to arrive- we had the great debate: real tree or fake tree?

I know, you each have your own opinions. Well last year we bought a fake tree. It was fine, served it's purpose, was on sale, and of course we can use it again any time we want. But John and I both decided we kind of missed the thrill of the hunt! And really the SMELL of a real tree. Ahh... living in WA sure spoiled us, we only lived 5 minutes away from a tree farm back then!

But the good news: there are a few Christmas tree farms here in IA! They don't have exactly the same kinds of trees, but it's still fun hunting, and they smell wonderful! We chose a "fir", which look most like the "Douglas fir" kind we used to always choose when we lived back in WA. Here they don't charge by the foot, they charge by the kind of tree you choose, and of course the "fir" is most expensive- but it looks the best, so we did it.

The Christmas tree farm did not disappoint at all- and actually in some ways was even nicer than our experiences in WA! For starters the weather was amazing! Over 50 degrees, sunny and dry! That's unusual for IA, or WA. They let you cut your own tree-- which had me a little worried, but there are lots of helpers wandering the grounds, and as soon as we choose the best tree, someone showed up to help us cut it and carry it. Then they shake it- yes- literally they have a special machine to shake the tree- presumably to get all the loose needles and any other unwanted things out of the tree, they wrap it up, and even tie it on your car for you! Wow -now that's service!

PLUS they had a little "shack" you could go inside an buy pretty wreaths, or ornaments, eat free fresh baked cookies, sip hot cider, and even meet Santa! Outside, they had a nice big patio with a big fire pit and fire burning in it, and Christmas music playing. All the kids there that day enjoyed dancing and running around the patio, while eating their cookies!

We've found the perfect tree!

There's a better view of our tree before we cut it. Turns out it is the perfect height for our house, too!

John's helping hold the tree while a helper does the chopping.

Renee had a blast running all around!

It was hard to catch her holding still! Notice the bright sunshine, though- and no jacket at the end of November- wow!

These are the best pictures! Renee and Santa!

Happy Holidays!

More Thanksgiving pictures!

Papa and Grammie are staying with us helping watch Renee for the arrival of baby#2. They've gotten some great pictures so far and I wanted to share those with everyone!

Marcellus is their little Corgy. Here he is taking his "rightful place" -yes on the newly vacuumed couch.

Thank goodness that's not my middle finger...

Grammie and John relaxing on the couch.

The spread! In the foreground we've got Serenity's amazing salad (you've got to try it sometime!), the superduper candied yams, mashed potatoes, dressing....

Notice the beautiful napkins! Grammie got those all set at each plate! Very festive! Oh yes, and more food, beet salad, green bean casserole, locally grown turkey, gravy... Notice I actually got Renee to agree to wear her smock over her pretty dress! We did manage to avoid most of the mess that way!

Serenity and Kelly!

Doesn't that pecan pie look like a picture out of Martha Stuart magazine? Gorgeous!

Thanksgiving in IA

While waiting for baby#2 to arrive, we went ahead and celebrated Thanksgiving! It has been a long time since we hosted a holiday at our own house, and we had a wonderful time pulling out all our decorations while hosting Grammie and Papa Fischer and our good friends Serenity and Marlin.

Renee of course wanted to dress up in her "pretty dress"! Here she's being silly, while enjoying her sparkling apple cider.

Ready for the feast! From left to right, Kelly, Grammie, Renee, Papa, Marlin, Serenity, John.

You'd think the dogs had eaten as much as we had! They crashed out (on the freshly vacuumed couch) with Marlin and Papa after meal!

Another belly shot! After the work of the day was done, Daddy and Mommy strike a pose!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wonderful Fall Fun!

Just trying to catch you all up with some recent activities we've been enjoying.

In preparation for Halloween, Renee picked out her own little pumpkin at the farmer's market. The little artist prepares to paint her own pumpkin!

Here you are witnessing -sniff- -sniff- Renee's VERY FIRST PICTURE WITH A FACE! The big creature, with the big ears, is an elephant!! :)

I can't remember what this creature is... I believe it started as a spider, then with a nose and whiskers became a kitty cat. Although Renee now says it is a bat. :)

My amazing artist! Mommy and Daddy were so proud!! The pictures on the table were far more important than the painting of the pumpkin.

We went to a pumpkin patch and had a great time enjoying the beautiful weather while Renee played. The kids had a blast climbing on on tall piles of hay bales!

Here we are on the hay ride!

Momma (and belly) and Renee strike a pose in the corn maze!

Punky proudly displays her corn stalk.

Entering the corn maze. The sign off to the side says: respect the corn, stay on the path.

One of Renee's favorite things to do is collect things- usually pretty fall leaves, or walnuts, or acorns, or - bugs! Especially ladybugs!

Yummy snacks at the pumpkin patch- shnarfing a pumpkin cookie!

There were so many huge bounce houses! Daddy and Renee had a game where Renee would run up to the wall and Daddy would push her backwards, and she'd flop onto her back- so funny!

Hmm... look carefully at this old bus- looks like someone's been using it for target practice?

And so they have been! This thing actually launched pumpkins at the bus! YES, it was VERY loud!

Can you read the name on the firing machine: PUNKINATOR, and notice the stockpile of pumpkin ammunition!

Just love these freckles!

Renee wearing Mommy's glasses! Wow, she looks just like her Momma here!

Festive Fall colors!