March 27, 2012

B-Day Part 4: Introductions

This is the final installment of a four-part series:

Click here for Part 1.
Click here for Part 2.
Click here for Part 3.

I was beyond excited to get out of that OR and go hold my baby for the first time. When I’d updated my birth plan for a possible c-section, I’d written that I wanted to be skin-to-skin with Bryson as soon as possible after his birth. In our situation, as soon as possible meant an hour and a half later.

While I was being put back together, Jeremy pushed Bryson down the hall in his bassinet, beaming with pride and ready to introduce him to our family. Thanks to Courtney, who wins the Mobile Skyper of the Year Award, my parents, sisters, brothers-in-law, and nieces and nephews got to witness the action. Since I wasn't there to see Bryson's introduction to the whole crew, my brother-in-law captured this precious video for me. It goes down in history as one of my all-time favorite clips, and I smile every time I watch it. I think you’ll see why when you click "play."

Fair warning: Make sure your speakers aren't up all the way, but DO turn them up :)

video

This is why I am the luckiest girl in the world. Sure, it took a second for them to start the "How's Nikki?" chorus, but I'm old news now that Bryson's here, and I'm totally okay with that. My family – nuclear and extended – means everything to me. I am so incredibly thankful that they were able to share this day with us, even from 4,000 miles away. And the crazy techno-moments didn’t stop there...


When I was fiiiiiiinally wheeled in to the recovery room to snuggle my little booshie boo, my family was (perched on a hazardous waste box?) waiting for me. For real. It was amazing. And now it was time for what I'd been waiting so (im)patiently for! Drumroll please...

Jeremy made the handoff, and I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. Was that the pain medication, or the fact that this moment, the first time I held my baby in my arms, was something I’d been dreaming of... for my whole life?! Maybe a little bit of both.

I don’t know how to explain it, other than to say it felt like the most natural moment of my life. It felt like we were just meeting, yet we’d known each other forever. We were a matched set. He was proof that Jeremy and I were meant to be, and the fact that he was born exactly 13 years after our story began just made this moment that much more poignant.


(Cue record scratch.)

All of the sudden, this amazingly precious moment was interrupted by a swift and intense wave of nausea. Great, I thought. I made it through my entire pregnancy throwing up just once (due to a stomach flu, no less), and here I am, about to throw up all over my perfect little baby the first time I hold him in my arms? No thank you!  I alerted everyone within earshot that I thought I was about to be sick. Nobody moved.

Except for Courtney, who wasn’t about to watch me puke all over myself. She ran into the hall asking, “Ummm….can we get something? She’s gonna throw up!” (Thanks for being my advocate, C!) I passed Bryson back to Jerm, my stomach still in knots. Finally, one of the nurses arrived with the little bean-shaped pan, and I lost it. Beautiful. Did anybody catch that on video?

Apparently this was an unpleasant, yet totally normal side effect of all the helpful pain meds Bart had given me during the surgery. I don’t know how much time passed before it happened once more, but at some point I requested a cool rag for my neck. The nurse then awkwardly placed it on the front of my neck. Who does that? My sister Jenny (from my parents’ dining table in Texas), mentioned the rag should be on the back of my neck, and that mistake was quickly remedied. Let’s get it together, people.


Other things I remember about that afternoon are a bit jumbled, so I’m going to share them in no particular order.

While everyone says c-section babies have perfectly round heads, we missed that memo.

Check out that dome! (And Jerm's multi-tasking skills!)
Bryson’s head was shaped like he’d been knocking it up on the ceiling (my ribs) for a solid eight weeks. (In Part 3, I forgot to mention that his cord was wrapped around his neck one time, which the doctors said was pretty normal. I asked if that might have been why he couldn’t flip head-down, but they said he had a good amount of slack, so that probably wasn’t it. Now I was thinking he had just been stuck in the breech position!) Either way, we called him our little pterodactyl. Even his little squeaks fit the bill. (I mean, he had to have at least ONE slight imperfection so the other babies on the floor wouldn’t feel bad, right?)

Some people aren’t up for visitors in those first days, and I can understand why. You’re out of it, you may look and/or feel like poo, and you’re in and out of being tired (and exposed!), all at once. Still, I wanted company. While we don’t have all of our family here, our Hawaii friends are like family to us. It didn’t take long before they were on their way. They were eager to meet and greet the newest member of our crew, and we were eager to show him off!

Baby swap! Meeting his cousin Claire for the first time.
I already wrote about our first night as a family of three, so now I’ll just include one more introduction that happened in Bryson’s first day.

I mentioned before that my parents were originally supposed to fly in that Thursday, 10/27. While my mom was desperately trying to figure out a way to get here in time for Bryson’s arrival, it just wouldn’t be possible. My sister Stacey convinced her it would be better to wait and fly out Tuesday morning (rather than spending all day Monday in the air, not knowing what was happening), and so that’s what they did. On October 25th, Jeremy headed home for a shower, picked them up at the airport, and almost exactly 24 hours after grandbaby #7 was born, they walked in the door of our suite for their own face-to-tiny-face introduction. No Skype, iPhones, or laptops needed this time. Together, we laughed, cried, cooed, and marveled at the newest member of the family, and it was lovely.

Exciting, memorable, exhausting, and fun. That, my friends, is the tale of how our third anniversary became Bryson's birthday.






P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

March 26, 2012

I drew something. Lots of somethings.

Let me explain why I didn't write B-Day Part 4 over the past weekend:

1.

 2.
 3.
 4.

Bryson is number one on my daily priority list, naturally. (And isn't he TOO cute in his big boy rugby shirt?! SHEESH!)

However, I need to confess that while he was sleeping or otherwise occupied (entertaining himself with his newly-discovered toes), I spent an unhealthy amount of my free time playing my new favorite game, Draw Something. It is currently the top downloaded free app (I sprung for the $.99 version when I saw so many friends raving about it), and for good reason. It's cooperative, not competitive, it's creative, and it's just plain fun to laugh at what results from finger-screen painting.

If you have an iPhone or Android, you must download it. However, I recommend setting certain parameters, or else you too may find yourself behind on your birth story blog.

You've been warned.

Now. I'd love to write more, but my work is done, my baby is sound asleep, my husband's at work, and I need to go draw a corn dog.


P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

March 21, 2012

B-Day Part 3: What happens in the OR...

Click here for Part 1.
Click here for Part 2.

"Is this loud enough?" one of the doctors asked.

"Yep, that's fine! Thank you!"

I don’t remember which doctor, nurse, or intern set up the iPod, but Bryson’s birthday party had now officially begun. I was sitting on the operating table, backside helplessly exposed to the elements, listening to the “Baby Upbeat” playlist I had so thoughtfully created just weeks before. Hope they like my taste in music, I thought. The two songs I specifically remember hearing while under the knife were “Don’t Stop Believin’” by the Glee Cast and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin. I remember the former because the medical team actually started singing along at some point (!), and the latter because it was just unbelievably out of place, which to me, made it unbelievably fantastic. While physically I was in a rather intimidating, sterile, kinda scary environment, mentally, I was in my happy place.

Before the surgery and sing-a-long began, I had to get a spinal block. A spinal block is different than an epidural in two ways: 1. It’s delivered directly into the spinal fluid (as opposed to the space outside the membrane surrounding your spine), and 2. It’s a one-time injection rather than a continuous feed via catheter. It works instantly and only for a few hours. Sounds fun, right?

While it wasn’t an epidural, the gist was the same. I’d seen enough epidurals on TV to know that there’s a very large needle involved. I’d also seen enough epidurals on TV to know that the women don’t normally care about the needle because they’re so distracted by the extreme pain they’re experiencing. That’s why I was nervous. I was having what felt like Braxton Hicks contractions and/or bad cramps – but nothing majorly painful. I was scared that the spinal would hurt, and I was also scared it wouldn’t work.

Bart (my aforementioned anesthesiologist) hooked me up with the spinal and a cocktail of other pain medications that, to be honest, I don’t remember. Everything went without a hitch. Once he was finished back there, I noted (out loud) that it wasn’t any worse than what I’d experienced in a beauty spa a time or two. (You know what I’m talking about, ladies!) Now to the fear of whether or not it was working. Remember that “not-so-small tube” AKA foley catheter I’d tuned out during the childbirth class? Once I knew that had already happened and I didn’t even realize it, I knew the spinal was working just fine. (Thanks, Bart!)

I lost all track of time at that point. While they started the process, I was mostly tuning out and listening to my music. My main (albeit irrational) fear at that point was that they would forget to retrieve Jeremy in time to see Bryson’s big debut. When they finally sent someone out to get him and I heard the words, “Dad’s here,” the gravity of the situation really started to sink in, and I teared up. Dad’s here. Dad meaning the man, who exactly thirteen years earlier, was a thirteen-year-old boy asking me to be his girlfriend in the middle school gym. We were about to officially become parents.

I filled Jerm in on all the happenings he’d missed, and then I felt some pressure. To be honest, everyone said it would feel like an elephant sitting on my chest, but it didn’t seem so heavy to me. Still, I was aware enough to feel that something significant was happening down there, and Jeremy needed to get ready to peek over the curtain! (We had discussed this matter ahead of time. He insisted he wanted to look, so he volunteered for double duty as the photographer. I insisted I wanted no photos of my insides, so he better use the zoom and aim accordingly.)

Then it happened. At 12:29 pm, we heard our baby’s first cry. “Holy cow,” Jeremy said. (Except that’s not really what he said.) I always imagined I’d be a blubbering mess at this unreal moment in my life, but instead, I teared up a bit and laughed at my sweet husband. It warmed my heart to see it really sink in for him that not only had there really been a baby in there all this time, but he was ours!

Jeremy passed the camera off to a member of the medical team, who then documented all the other first moments in the OR. While Jeremy didn’t get to actually cut the cord between me and Bryson, he did get the chance to cut it once he was over on the heater. The result was a nice, neat, rather short umbilical “stump,” which I greatly appreciated. (And even though it was short, it still freaked me out in the days that followed.)

Once our baby burrito was all prepped and ready, Jeremy brought Bryson over to meet me face-to-face for the first time. I’m just gonna keep it real here. The first thought I remember having after seeing his precious face was, “You look like a tiny grumpy old man!” My own little Benjamin Button. With his furrowed brow and stern expression, he was born making me giggle. He was perfect, and I was so thankful he was healthy – warm, pink cheeks and little eyes squinting in the bright fluorescent lighting. We looked at each other and seemed to simultaneously think, “So that’s what you look like!”

We took our first family photos, and then the boys were off. It was time to put Humpty Dumpty (that’s me) together again. I thought it would be relatively quick, but as it turns out it took almost an hour and a half! Not sure why, but it was fine. I’d lost all track of time. Until my iPod died. That’s when things got quiet and I could hear surgical instruments I didn’t want to hear. That’s also when I started chatting away to get back to my distracted happy place.

“Have you ever had a spinal, Bart?” He’d been sitting by my head monitoring my pain levels the entire time.

He laughed, “No, I sure haven’t! That’s a good question. No one’s ever asked me that before.”

I was beyond fascinated by the fact that I couldn’t wiggle my toes. No matter how hard I tried to send a signal from my brain to my feet, nothing was happening. It was bizarre.

Another memorable side conversation was initiated from the other side of the curtain.

“You’re too skinny!” (Did I mention how much I loved my doctor?)

I laughed. It had been quite a few months since any part of me felt anything close to skinny.

“It’s hard to find enough fat to sew you up. You are not my typical patient!” (I mean I really, really loved my doctor.)

After going on a tangent about what my activity levels could/should be and when I could start exercising, I starting thinking out loud again.

“It must be really neat to be a part of the most important day of so many people’s lives.”

After a moment of introspection, they all agreed. I continued.

“I mean I’m sure it gets old and monotonous at times, just as any job does, but at the heart of it – how amazing is it that your job is to help bring babies into the world?”

I told them how there was a degree of that feeling in my job too. People save up their whole lives just to come to Hawaii. Many people come to Hawaii specifically to visit historic Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, where I’ve had the privilege of working for nearly two years. From the woman who flew to Hawaii all by herself to visit for her 80th birthday, to the Make-A-Wish kiddos whose love for history lands them at our visitor center, it’s an amazing honor to be part of that experience for people.

And here I was, on the most important day of my life. These were the people meant to be a part of it. I thanked each of them for that, aaand for humoring me while I talked their ears off after the music died.

Some people seem to discount Tripler, or military hospitals in general, but my overall experience in that OR was fantastic. The only thing better than seeing my baby boy for the first time would be holding my baby boy for the first time, and that's where I was headed next.

Click here for Part 4.

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

March 20, 2012

B-Day Part 2: The Countdown


Click here for Part 1.

On the way to the hospital, which looks more like a pink castle on a hill, visible from just about every spot on this island, I had a flashback. It was the day my second niece was born. There were at least fifteen of us standing outside the nursery window, taking turns peeking in on the newest member of our crew. To our left, there was a new dad quietly staring through the thick glass at his own newborn. I remember thinking how strange it was that he was alone – no grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins in sight. It’s very possible that they had already come and gone. Regardless, I remember thinking how strange it would be NOT to have the whole crew there on baby’s first day.

Nearly five years later, that’s exactly what was happening. We were in the car, just the two (three) of us, doing this on our own. I couldn’t believe it! In some ways it was scary and a bit sad, and in other ways it was empowering. It was time. We were driving to the hospital to have our baby. On our anniversary. (That last part seemed especially surreal.)

While we enjoyed having those first memorable moments to ourselves, we knew we wouldn’t really be “alone” at the hospital for long. You see, Jeremy’s twin brother Justin and our “twin” sister-in-law Courtney (along with our precious niece Claire!) are stationed in Hawaii with us. Not only are we stationed together, we’re neighbors! Talk about a blessing. We know this arrangement probably won’t last forever, but as long as the Navy keeps giving the guys “twin” orders, we are more than happy to accept them.

Knowing we had at least part of our family here made all the difference in the world. I found out later that my three older sisters had already been in contact with Courtney to make sure she would get to the hospital ASAP. They needed to know I had a sister with me (and they knew she’d be their Skype connection!). She scrambled to find a sub for her class, and Justin found someone to cover for him at work. They were coming soon.

Less than 15 minutes after leaving the house, Jeremy and I arrived at Tripler and scored a fabulous parking spot. Let me pause and explain why this is a detail worth noting. While there are rows and rows of “Expectant Mother” parking spots at this military hospital, they are almost always full. No exaggeration. That many women are 34+ weeks pregnant on this island (give or take a few cheaters who shouldn’t really be parking there). Anywhere else, you might feel special, or at least out of place, being pregnant. Not at Tripler. It seems that every other woman at this hospital is not only expecting, but she’s also further along in her pregnancy and has three other kids in tow. You must either wait your turn, or just give up, head straight to the parking garage, and hike up the rather steep sidewalk to the entrance. (Who needs an accurate blood pressure reading anyway?) This parking spot was a coup.

While the day we finally got our stork pass ranked pretty high on our list of “most exciting days at Tripler,” this Monday morning quickly topped it. We walked in to the hospital and it hit me. The next time I walked out of those big sliding doors, Bryson would on the outside, breathing air. I started to cry. I called home one more time before we lost our cell signal for a while. I cried a little more. I made Jeremy take a picture with me so I could send it to them and reassure them that we had this under control. Sort of.

We headed up to triage, checked in, and of course, the nurse asked me:

“You haven’t eaten anything today, right?”

Oh great. Somewhere deep in the heart of Texas, my mom sent me a telepathic “I told you so.” My quickie bowl of Frosted Shredded Wheat had come back to haunt me. If I was going to have a c-section (which was very likely, just had to be officially determined via quick ultrasound), I would now have to wait eight hours for my stomach to be empty. Because I ate, we had to wait. Boo.

We sat in the room, anxiously waiting for someone to tell us something about our plan for the day. While I was slightly disappointed that my voracious morning appetite was postponing our introduction to our living, breathing anniversary gift, I was also kind of glad. This way we had time to relax a bit and soak it all up. I was thankful it wasn’t a frantic emergency situation. While we were waiting, I asked Jeremy to take pictures of my contraction printout. I wanted to be able to prove I was having at least some kind of contractions, even though they weren’t very painful at all.  

This may be the only labor I get, I thought. I want evidence!

Also while in triage, they made sure I was leaking actual amniotic fluid. I knew my water had broken. Still, I felt vindicated when the test showed I was right, and not severely incontinent and embarrassingly unaware of my own bodily functions. (Sitting on what was essentially a potty pad used for puppy training was humbling enough.)

Not long after we got to the hospital, Courtney and Justin arrived with excitement, energy, and McDonald’s breakfast. Yay! I enjoyed the enthusiasm, Jerm enjoyed the breakfast. We’d always planned on sharing this day with them, we just didn’t plan on it being so soon. Courtney was tasked to be our designated photographer and my sister ambassador, and Justin was Jeremy’s official hype guy, if you will. It was fun to have them there.
 
Soon after they arrived, we moved into another room, which is where we waited for a couple hours more. There were so many different doctors coming in, it was hard to keep them straight. I just kept thinking how funny it was that weeks before, I’d scheduled at least four different pre-op appointments to meet the various doctors that would be part of my potential c-section. Now, it was all happening in a matter of hours! I liked the efficiency of it all, really. I signed my life away, asked a LOT of questions (thanks to my birth plan!), and kept in constant contact with my family in Texas.

 The doctor who would do the c-section ended up being not only extremely friendly, but young and pretty too! She made me feel so comfortable, answering all of my questions patiently and with the perfect amount of detail. If I could’ve picked a dream doctor out of a catalog, she would be the one. That was a huge blessing, since in the military you don’t really have much say in who your doctor will be. On top of that, my rockin’ anesthesiologist, Bart, told me he wasn’t too concerned with the eight-hour rule. He trusted that my stomach was empty enough (I assured him it was…growling at me…), and we could move into an OR just as soon as one opened up. Score!

While we waited, Jeremy and Justin ran a couple of errands, like buying batteries and getting an arm x-ray (long story).  When they first left the room, the word on the street was that we still had plenty of time due to the eight-hour rule. Once Bart let us know it would be sooner than expected, we frantically (and unsuccessfully) tried to reach them via cell phone. Again – there’s not much of a signal in there. We were just about ready to send a search party when they popped back in the room just in time for Jerm to don his Superdad scrubs.


If this isn't a Skype commercial waiting to happen, what is?
The countdown was coming to an end. It was time to call and talk to my family for the last time before going into surgery. We prayed, and cried, and laughed, and cried some more. As hard as it was for me to go through this without them in person, I felt their love and strength through the phone. I tried to be strong, knowing it was probably harder for my mom than it was for me. I knew it was killing her to know her baby girl was going into surgery and there was no plane fast enough to get her to my side in time. We found comfort in knowing that God’s plan is perfect, and as unexpected as this was, this day was obviously meant to be Bryson’s birthday.

I took off my jewelry (much to my dismay…I really wanted to feel fancy), put my hair in my scrub cap (also not my best look), loaded my music on my lap, and we were off. At a certain point during our trek down the hall, Jeremy had to stop in a special waiting area. They told us they would call him in when it was time, but for now I had to go in alone.

The doors swung open, and I entered the room and the hour in which my life would change forever.



P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

photo credit: cliff1066™ via photopin cc

March 19, 2012

B-Day Part 1: The Antemath

God sure has a great sense of humor. And perhaps little faith that we can remember important dates in this little family.

October 24, 1998: We became boyfriend and girlfriend.*
*I don't actually have a picture of that night, but this was 
taken at the "formal" in February of 1999 just a few months later. 
So many jokes, so little time...

October 24, 2008: We became husband and wife.

October 24, 2011: We became Bryson's parents.


The first date was up to brave 13-year-old Jeremy, who (after nearly a month of giddy note-passing) finally asked me out at the KMS carnival dance. The second date was up to both of us, since we had always loved the idea of getting married our original dating anniversary of October 24th. The third date was apparently up to Bryson, who decided he'd surprise us all and join us in time for our anniversary dinner (which, by the way, consisted of ice chips for me).

Without further ado, here's part one of the tale of how our third anniversary became Bryson's birthday.

After a great babymooniversary weekend at Turtle Bay (more about that in another post), we went to bed like it was any other Sunday. Both of us had work the next day. In fact, I'd even scheduled a dentist appointment for late that afternoon, since I knew Jeremy would be at work until at least 7:30 on our anniversary night! So romantic.

It was just before 4:15 am. I was getting up to use the bathroom for what was probably the fifth time that night (oh, the joys of pregnancy!), and let’s see…how do I tell this part of the story without getting unnecessarily detailed? My water broke. Listen. I peed my pants a time or two back in the day (no, I don't have proof of that, but still) – this was NOT that feeling! One thing I remembered from our childbirth class was the fact that once the mystical "bag of waters" has broken, the baby must be delivered within  24 hours due to the risk of infection. I also realized that unless he was no longer breech, we'd be having a c-section. At that point I wished I'd paid closer attention to the c-section portion of the class. The truth was, she had lost me at "foley catheter"...

This can't really be happening, I thought.


1) I'm not due for another two and a half weeks!
2) It's our anniversary! (Which, while pretty sweet, is not the 11-something-11 birthday I'd envisioned!)
3) What am I supposed to do with the November birthstone necklace charm we got Jerm's mom for Christmas?

I called my mom. I could tell by the way she answered the phone that she knew something was up. Given the hour of the call and the week of my pregnancy, she didn't have to  wonder what I was about to say.

“Mom, I think my water just broke….?!”

In the conversation that followed, she told me that everything would be okay, it was probably time to go to the hospital, and most importantly, (in not so many words) that I was a stinker for going into labor four days before she was scheduled to fly in from Houston. [Fun fact: When we first talked about when my parents should come in town to help prepare for Bryson's arrival, my mom suggested October 24th. I countered with, "Mo-oom, this will be our last anniversary without a kiddo. Just come a few days later. We will still have at least two weeks to get everything ready." HA! She will never let me live that one down.] I still couldn’t believe it. I called the triage nurse at Tripler and explained my situation, and she said to go ahead and come in just to be safe (and beat morning traffic!).

I went upstairs and woke up Jeremy by yelling from the hallway, “I think my water just broke! Or is breaking?! This could be baby day! Oh - and happy anniversary!" It was surreal.  Would we really have our baby on our 3rd/13th anniversary?! The symbolic answer to this question came by way of a tiny little gecko who managed to appear on our bedroom door frame that morning. You see, normally I would flip out upon seeing a gecko inside. As “harmless” as geckos are, and as much as I appreciate them eating mosquitoes or whatever they do, they gross me out. I have a fear of waking up in the middle of the night with one on my face, and hurting myself, someone I love, or something I value in the chaotic aftermath. I much prefer geckos when they’re outside. 

Still, this gecko felt like our harbinger of good (baby) news. We have sort of a history with the little fellas. In high school, there was a gecko that set up shop on the screen of my bathroom window. He was there almost all of the time. I affectionately named him Little Jerm. As a crafty, creative, and otherwise useless anniversary gift for our fourth dating anniversary (10/24/02), I painted a ceramic gecko for Jeremy. While home at my parents'  house in July 2011, I found “Lil Jerm” while going through a box of old stuff in my closet. I brought it home so we could find a spot for him in Bryson’s room. All that to say: This was kind of a weird, full-circle moment.

Okay. Back to the future…10/24/11. I wanted to shower and get things in order before we left, since I wasn’t in any pain. So much of the next 48-72 hours would be out of my control, I figured I could at least do my hair and makeup. (And the immediacy of the morning clearly solved the "straight or curly?" dilemma I'd been struggling with for weeks...) Still under the covers, Jeremy asked what he should do, and I suggested he go back to sleep while I got dressed. I don’t think he did.

In the hour that followed, we each took showers, got dressed, texted family, made the bed, straightened up the house, finished packing the hospital bags, and…I ate a bowl of cereal. You see, my sister-in-law told me that was one thing she’d do differently the next go round – eat before going to the hospital! I should’ve thought that through, however, since my chances of needing a c-section were high. 

My mom warned me not to eat, and in my head, I knew she was right. In my gut, I knew I was hungry. I also knew I’d be grumpy if I didn’t eat, and who wants to be grumpy on baby day?! I called the nurse, hoping she’d tell me what I wanted to hear, and sure enough, her response was, “Go ahead. We’re gonna starve you once you get here anyway!” Welp. That’ll do it. I poured myself some Frosted Shredded Wheat with 2% milk, and ate it while anxiously pacing, leaking, and wondering what on earth the next 24 hours had in store. I’ve eaten a lot of cereal in my life, my friends, but that bowl was undoubtedly the most significant of them all. On one hand, I was following my gut, and on the other hand (the one holding the spoon, no doubt), I was going against my mother’s advice. That has never really turned out well for me.

We snapped a quick photo to document the last time in our house before bringing our baby home, set the alarm, and left our friend Lil Jerm to housesit.



Next stop: Tripler Army Medical Center!

Click here for Part 4.

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

photo credit: Heartlover1717 via photopin cc

March 14, 2012

Birth Plan: Baby Upbeat

Yes, I'm one of those pregnant women. You shouldn't be surprised by now. After doing some considerable research, I typed up a birth plan or two (one for traditional delivery, one for c-section). I printed multiple copies of each, and I carefully loaded them into a sheet protector in my hospital bag. Standard.

While I not ONCE pulled that sheet protector out of my hospital bag, I am VERY glad I spent so much time drafting those birth plans. Why? Because they empowered me. I knew what my options were. I knew what questions I wanted to ask the doctors on that crazy morning I didn't expect to be at the hospital, and I asked them. If I'm fortunate enough to get pregnant again one day, you can bet I'll do it all over again.

You might be surprised to find out that the question that ended up having the most memorable impact on my delivery experience was:

Can I bring my music?

You see, I was hoping to be in labor for at least a little while. I came up with two iPod playlists for the occasion - "Baby Calm" and "Baby Upbeat". Self-explanatory. I filled each playlist with an eclectic mix of my favorite country, island, and worship songs that made my heart happy. These were songs I'd been playing for Bryson and myself throughout my pregnancy, songs I thought he and I would like to hear in his first minutes. I even ordered a tiny, battery-operated iPod speaker I could pack in my hospital bag for easy use!

While enjoying our babymooniversary weekend at Turtle Bay (days before Bryson was born), I gave the playlists a trial run. To be honest, I was planning to make a few deletions the next week, but (all together now...), I didn't have time!  As we were throwing together last-minute items to take to the hospital, I grabbed our Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine as a last resort. Yes, it took up considerable hospital bag real estate, but it was the best I could do. My sweet little iPod speaker wasn't due to arrive just yet. (For that matter, neither was my sweet little baby boy, but that's neither here nor there.)

Back to the question.

Can I bring my music?

As soon as the doctors gave me the okay, I realized the machine needed batteries that we did not pack (GASP! How did I forget something?!). Thankfully, Jeremy and Justin were able to locate some double As at the gift shop and we were in business. Good job, guys.

The next (big!) question was which playlist to use. Since I know myself well, this was a fairly easy answer. While it's a lovely playlist, Baby Calm was runner-up. It's filled with songs that make me think...maybe a little too much. I was already fighting back the urge to cry (mostly because I was sad my Texas family wasn't there in person), and I didn't want to go there. In an otherwise serious situation, I wanted to keep things as light as possible. Baby Upbeat would help me stay in my happy place.

Where's Graco?
I don't remember how the iPod and Graco made it into the OR with me...maybe I was holding them on the way in? I was just glad they were there. They made an otherwise sterile, impersonal environment feel more fun, personal, and relaxed. [Update: Check out this last photo taken of me before I was wheeled into the OR. Graco was definitely on my lap!] The music put my mind and heart at ease, making me feel more comfortable and optimistic about the whole process. I think it had a positive effect on the medical staff, too! At one point, some of the doctors even broke into their own rendition of "Don't Stop Believin'". I kid you not.

So let's get to it. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Baby Upbeat:

Haven't Met You Yet - Michael Buble
Dirt Road Anthem - Jason Aldean
Stronger - Mandisa
Every Little Girl's Dream - Jo Dee Messina
I'm Letting Go - Francesca Battistelli
American Honey - Lady Antebellum
Indescribable - Chris Tomlin
Happy - Natasha Bedingfield
My Old Friend - Tim McGraw
Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin
Keep Me In Mind - Zac Brown Band
Looking For You - Kirk Franklin
Happy Girl - Martina McBride
Hold Me - Jamie Grace
Brave - Nichole Nordeman
These Words - Natasha Bedingfield
Don't Stop Believin' - Glee Cast
Free to Be Me - Francesca Battistelli
Barefoot Blue Jean Night - Jake Owen
Dreamer - Bethany Dillon
Freckles - Natasha Bedingfield
God is  Real - India Arie
This Is The Stuff - Francesca Battistelli

Bryson may like some of these songs when he's older, and he may not. Even though a few of these tunes were meant to be on the chopping block that week, this exact playlist ended up being the soundtrack to his entrance into the world.

For that, I think it's worth remembering.

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

March 12, 2012

Our Little Laugh Factory

Baby's first laugh. Classic moment. Wonderful moment. PRECIOUS moment. I'd read about it from my friends who had kiddos of their own, and I wondered when Bryson would grace us with his first giggles.

It ended up happening on a random afternoon in Texas, when I was playing with him on my parents' living room floor. We had just returned from a walk (which happened to be the one and only time I "worked out" the entire three weeks we were in Texas. But I digress.) At first I wasn't even sure it really happened! Then after a few repeat giggles, I knew it was real. What a sweet, sweet sound! We've had a few sporadic giggles since then, but not many.

Until a couple of weeks ago.

I had just returned from working out (again...is this God's way of motivating me to exercise?!), and I was talking to him while he was in his (cousin Claire's) swing. The rest of the story speaks for itself:

video


I've talked about how amazing it is to have this little being breathing back at me, but laughing back at me is taking it to a whole new level. How amazing is it that this little fella, who was just the size of a poppy seed one year ago, was having such fun with me!?

He's either a thrill seeker who likes being startled, or he's like me, and laughter is one of his ways to handle being "BOO scared", as I like to call it. (Those of you who have been my roommate and/or experienced a haunted house with me are fully aware of my abnormally sensitive "BOO reflex.")

Anyway. After the first few "BOO!"s, I couldn't tell who was making who laugh anymore, and it was magical. As Charlie Chaplin once said, "A day without laughter is a day wasted." That is certainly true in this house.

And if this keeps happening every time I get home from a workout, bring on bikini season.



P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

photo credit: Express Monorail via photopin cc

March 9, 2012

Take the Power: The Secret to Getting Sleep with a Newborn

I'd like to dedicate today's post to the birthday girl, my beautiful mom. Mother of four and Nana of seven, she's earned an honorary PhD in running a home, raising good people, and throwing great parties, to say the least. I'm forever thankful for her love, support, advice, and giggles.

Sleep is overrated. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself until I start getting more of it. 

I’ve always had a hard time understanding (believing) people who say they sleep four to six hours a night and are totally fine with that. 

It doesn’t make sense to me. 

Truly, one of my biggest fears about becoming a mom was the inevitable lack of sleep. I remember asking my sister April one time, “What do you do if you’re just too tired and HAVE to fall asleep?!” I’d been sitting on her couch watching her snuggle my precious niece Leah, who was just a few months old at the time. 

Concerned for the safety of my future children, she replied, “Ummm…you just DON’T!” Great. Maybe I just wasn’t built for motherhood. How could I possibly survive on less than eight hours of continuous sleep each night?

You see, I thought I needed sleep to thrive. Lots of it. All in a row.

In the weeks following Bryson’s birth, my mom taught me otherwise. While we were sitting on my living room couch one day, she seemed to doze off while sitting straight up, for what had to be 15 seconds or less. 

Startled, she woke herself up and sighed, “Well! That was refreshing!” 

“MOM,” I said. “That was literally 15 seconds. Are you serious?” I really thought she was joking. That was the fastest micro-sleep cycle I’d ever witnessed.

No, this wasn't it. But it was a funny reenactment.
“Nikki, you don’t ask how long a power nap is. You just take the power.

This is one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned. (Add it to the never-ending list of gems this amazing woman has taught me over the years…) 

It became our catchphrase. I had spent the first few weeks of motherhood looking to the clock for everything – feeding times, diaper times, sleep times, wake times. 

What I learned that day was that when it comes to my sleep, it doesn’t matter. I will sleep when I can, and that’s all I can do. There’s no need to dwell on whether my own sleep lasted two hours, fifteen minutes, or two hours that felt like fifteen minutes.

As it turns out, I can actually function surprisingly well on what the old me would consider a series of power naps. That doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to that day when I get a full eight hours again (when I’m 80, perhaps?!), but still. 

Thanks to my mom, I’ve learned to make the best of my situation.

So to those of you currently suffering from sleep deprivation, for whatever reason: I feel you. I know where you’re coming from. We will get a full night’s rest again someday. 

In the meantime...

JUST TAKE THE POWER.


P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

March 6, 2012

What's in a name?

I may or may not have started a list of baby names years ago. I may or may not have worried that my hand-written list could someday get lost. So I may or may not have subsequently created a color-coded Excel spreadsheet on an otherwise slow day...

SO WHAT?

Funny thing is, Bryson was not even on my list. Until the the summer of 2010. We were on Maui, island-hopping with my parents, eating at a lovely oceanfront establishment called Beach Bums Bar & Grill, overlooking Ma'alaea Bay. Just for fun, we were talking about ideas for our Brownies' names. (If you haven't caught on by now, "Brownie" is the nickname I gave our yet-to-be-born children years ago.) I don't even remember what names I was throwing out there for boys, but I was quite surprised when Jeremy came out of left field with the name Bryson. I'd never met a Bryson. Never even heard the name Bryson! Interesting, I thought. And so not happening. It's not that I didn't like it, but for some reason it reminded me of names like Bentley, which reminded me of the show Teen Moms (one of the few reality shows I actually refuse to watch). Regardless, I just didn't feel like it would suit my hypothetical little man.

Back to Beach Bums. The only thing we could agree on (besides the last name, of course), was the middle name for a boy. I've always known Dean would be part of a boy's name for us. It's Jeremy's middle name (because it's his dad's middle name), and I just love it. I've always loved it. It sounds strong and handsome to me. I would've been happy with Dean as the first name, but Jeremy wasn't into that. No biggie.


Flash forward to the day we found out I was pregnant. The first name that came to me was Noah. I only knew one Noah growing up in school, I loved that he'd have my initials (I know...), and I loved Noah's symbolic connections to boats (you know...the ARK...), and rainbows. [See Genesis 9:12-13 if you're not sure what I'm talking about. And rest assured I will dedicate an entire post to rainbows one day!]

Jeremy and I didn't talk much about names for the first few months, mostly because every time I showed him THE list and ask which ones he liked, he'd say "none". The only boy name he liked was Bryson, and that was it. I wanted Noah, he wanted Bryson. Not. getting. anywhere.

The game changed when we found out that he was a he. Once we knew we had a baby boy in there, the pressure was on. I mean, I guess we could have waited until he was born, then picked a name that "suited" him, but let's be honest. We're not that patient, and personalized baby stuff is cute. So the standoff continued.

We know the ending here, so I'll cut to the chase. There are three main reasons why we named our precious little man what we did.

1. Noah B. While I didn't want a completely original name like Chimpanzee (no idea why that's the first word that came to my head just now...), I also didn't want a top 10, or even top 100, name. With our last name being the fifth most common in the country, I wasn't about to pick a first name that would be the same. I didn't want my baby to be the 2011 equivalent of David Smith. (No offense to you David Smiths out there.) I didn't want him to always have to list his full name because there were twelve other kids in his class with the same name. Once I started researching, I found that Noah, the name I thought was sooo unique, has been in the top ten boy names for a decade! Clearly I've been out of the loop.  Once I took it to the streets/social media sites, I saw that there were definitely plenty of Noah Browns on Facebook, LinkedIn, and everywhere else. Brysons were few and far between. Noah - 0, Bryson - 1.

2. I couldn't name the worm. When we went to Texas in June 2011, my sisters-in-law and I decided to go to a paint-your-own-pottery place and make my father-in-law a plate from his three grandbabies for his birthday. He likes to fish, so it would say "Paw Paw's Lil' Fishin' Buddies" and have two fish (the girls' footprints) and a worm on a hook (my pinky fingerprint, representing my little one). When it came time to name the worm, I panicked. I couldn't commit to Noah, and so I had the girl write "Baby Boy." The seed of doubt kept growing from there.

3. Jeremy. One day in July, Jeremy said that since we were using his middle name for the baby's name, I could pick the first name. We both knew the only name I wanted was Noah, and there I was, with the perfect opportunity to finalize it! I couldn't. That was a big sign. Sometime in the following days, I was texting my family from the projection room at work (yes, I was supposed to be up there), and I just decided. I knew that  I didn't "pull the trigger" on Noah because I really knew that Jeremy's (and my) son was Bryson. It just felt right. It felt more natural when I imagined Jeremy calling him by name, and I liked how it sounded with Dean.

Here's what I know, based upon some basic internet research:

Bryson literally means "son of Brice," and Brice/Bryce either means "freckled" or comes from "bri" or "brigh", meaning force, valor, or strength.

Dean originally described one living near a valley, or the presiding official of a church, university, or group.

Here's what I know, based upon the past four months of my life:

Our Bryson Dean is a precious, sweet, funny, inquisitive, thoughtful little boy. I'm willing to bet that he will be strong like his parents one day, and if he is lucky enough to collect some freckles along the way, more power to him.



P.S. If all this talk about names has you wondering, you have GOT to click here. You can find out how popular a given name is/was at a certain time, what it means, and if you're in the market for a baby name, you can put in certain parameters of what you're looking for and it will give you suggestions! 

Get busy. Bonus points for color-coded Excel sheets :)

P.P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!
 
photo credit: Randy Son Of Robert via photopin cc

March 5, 2012

Our "We're Pregnant!" Anniversary

Life as we knew it changed forever on Saturday, March 5, 2011 - exactly one year ago today.

When we decided we were ready for a baby (as ready as we could be, anyway...), I decided I wouldn't take a test unless/until I had good reason to believe it would be positive. I didn't want to take one too early, get a negative result, then get false hope, wondering if it was negative just because I took it too early. Aaand the frugal side of me also didn't want to waste a perfectly good test. (I know. Just being honest. I'm not one of those take-20-to-prove-it's-true kinda gals.)

It was almost 7:00 on this Saturday morning, and Jerm had already left for work. I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn't, so I decided to go work out. (I'd been working out a LOT over the past couple of months, trying to get in the best shape possible before round became my shape for a while.) I'd read in my books that when you're pregnant, your heart rate shouldn't get above 140 beats per minute. I wanted a good workout, but I was actually a few days late. That was one of my "good reasons to believe." Even though I felt totally normal otherwise, I decided to take a test. That way, I could rule out a pregnancy and keep workin' on my fitness without guilt.

By now we all know what happened next, but I was honestly NOT expecting it. I was hoping for it, don't get me wrong, but I didn't ever dream it would happen so soon for us. As a matter of fact, I'd just finished my first full week back at work. I was actually thinking maybe the timing of all that was God's way of keeping me busy so I wouldn't focus too much on "baby, or no baby?" each month. I was wrong.


And the test was positive! I guess technically I shouldn't have been surprised, but WOW. I was! What a weird feeling it was to know that there was a baby on board. I was alone, but I wasn't alone. Should I talk to the baby? Tell him/her, "Hi, Baby! I'm your mom. Welcome to my body!?" No turning back now. I didn't want to tell Jerm til he got home from work, and I couldn't tell anyone else until HE knew, so "Brownie" and I kept our secret all day long.

As soon as the clinic opened, I went to get a blood test to make sure it was real. Honestly, that tiny little bruise on my arm was the only evidence I had to prove to myself that I wasn't dreaming. While waiting for the results, I went to the NEX to buy supplies for the various "we're pregnant!" reveals I had in mind for the coming days. I went home and did whatever I could to stay busy. I worked out (moderately), cleaned the house, and baked some brownies in honor of the occasion. I went to a party at the visitor center for work that night, and I saw the most beautiful Pearl Harbor sunset I've seen to date.

What a special day.

In the days and weeks that followed, we shared our exciting news with our closest family and friends. Then, after we had our first peek at our Brownie, we were ready to share with everybody. The following video was our way of doing just that.



P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!


March 2, 2012

And baby made three...

Not surprisingly, the first few days of Bryson's life are kind of a blur for me.

I was getting in lots of snuggle time with my newborn baby, learning how to feed him, recovering from a c-section, and trying to sleep whenever possible.

Even though I was still a little out of it on that first night we spent as a family of three, there are a few things I never want to forget.

Once our friends and family had gone for the night, and it was just the three of us, I remember trying to sleep as much as possible. While the pain meds helped a lot, the world's loudest leg cuffs (used to prevent blood clots) made sure to wake me up every 15 minutes.

But that wasn't the only noise that kept waking me up.

The room would be dark and mostly quiet, when our new roomie would let out a piercing, high-pitched squeak. That was how he kicked off each crying spell, which usually didn't last long.

Even if I'd been in a deep sleep (as deep as you can sleep when hooked up to a gazillion monitors and other fun medical devices), I'd wake up with a giggle. That was our baby boy. (Sounding like a baby girl.)

It was the cutest sound I'd ever heard.

One of the most memorable parts of this first night with my baby boy was also one of the most amazing to me.

I don't remember when it was, whether it was right before or just after a feeding, but I remember consciously feeling his breath. I specifically remember thinking, "You just breathed on me!?"

It was (and still is!) awesome to me. And I don't mean "awesome" in the over-used, figurative sense; I mean it literally.

I was in awe of how God had used my husband and me to create a whole new person. Less than nine months prior, he didn't even exist. He was the quintessential twinkle in our eyes. Now here he was, breathing his sweet baby's breath on me.

What a miracle.

Another thing I remember thinking was how strange it was that his cry didn't stress me out. I wasn't one to be relaxed around a crying baby, but with Bryson, I knew he was mine.

It wasn't that I didn't take him seriously, but I knew it was up to me (and Jeremy) to help fix the problem, and stressing wasn't going to get us there. Thankfully, Bryson pretty much always has a reason for his cries, so he's not too tough to troubleshoot.

I also did a lot of praying.

Every time I closed my eyes to go to sleep, I thanked God for giving us such a precious miracle. That lasted for the first several days, or weeks, even.

I couldn't close my eyes to rest without taking the chance to praise God for our huge (yet oh-so-tiny!) blessing. I also thanked Him for my husband.

From the time I met him half our lifetimes ago, I knew he'd make a great dad one day. This first night was proof that I was right.




Jeremy was on watch all night long.

I'm not sure he slept more than a few minutes at a time. I think it was a mixture of his protective daddy bear instincts, the fact that people kept coming in and out all night, and the notoriously uncomfortable fold-out chair/sofa contraption he was trying to sleep on.

It wasn't until the night was almost over that a nurse kindly asked, "You know that folds out all the way, right?" (Even still, there's no way all six feet and two inches of him could fit comfortably on that thing.)

Any time a nurse or doctor came in to mess with Bryson, he'd literally jump up to be by his side, following his baby boy everywhere they would let him. Any time Bryson started crying, he was on it.

I was in and out of sleep all night, and waking up to the sight of my two guys getting to know each other was like a sweet dream.

Squeaks, prayers, and baby's breath. That, my friends, was our most memorable anniversary night yet.


P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

The Secret Club: No Morning Sickness?


I loved being pregnant. Excluding the fact that Bryson ended up being breech for his last eight weeks in the oven, every part of our pregnancy journey was pretty perfect. Since that adventure started almost exactly a year ago, I want to make sure I document my most significant preggo memories before they're gone. For this particular installment, I need to acknowledge: If I'm fortunate enough to get pregnant again one day, I may not be as lucky in this department, and that's okay.

Since two of my sisters experienced morning sickness while pregnant, I imagined that naturally, I would too. Who doesn't get sick? Morning sickness is Hollywood gold! In every movie and every television show in which an actress plays a character in her first trimester, she runs to the bathroom or nearest trash can before knowing she's pregnant. It's just part of the game.

Well, I'm here to tell you: There's a secret club of women out there who never had to experience this rite of pregnancy passage. They're just very quiet about it. Like a secret password, you don't mention it unless someone mentions it to you (for fear of being smacked...). There's no need to rub it in to those who aren't as lucky, but it's kinda fun to celebrate with the club of women who have NO problem gaining weight with gusto in trimester #1. Don't get me wrong, I felt nauseous at times. Still, it was nothing compared to what it could have been.

I think I scared my potential morning sickness away by being too prepared. When I knew a pregnancy could be on the horizon, I started doing everything I could think of to prepare for potential morning sickness. I cleaned the baseboards of our two bathrooms, because if I was going to be staring at them while leaning over the toilet, I'd want them to be clean. I put a washcloth under the sink (within reach of the potty) so that I could drench it in cold water for my neck or forehead when I was feeling blah. I even stashed some (Goldfish!) crackers in my bedside table to eat before getting out of bed, another tip I'd read in the books my sister-in-law Courtney had loaned me. While it was nice having clean baseboards, I never used the washcloth, and I stress-ate all the Goldfish the night we were expecting a tsunami. The only time I threw up during my entire pregnancy was when I came down with a mini stomach bug.

So take that, Hollywood. To those of you who experienced horrible morning sickness at all times of day, at all stages of pregnancy, God bless you. You are superheroes. I don't know how you did it.

And to those of you lucky enough to be part of the secret club: high-five!


P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

photo credit: Lawrence Whittemore via photopin cc