Thursday, May 31, 2012

dinner club

I was lucky enough to be part of a dinner club this year - a group of fun, funny, beautiful and simply wonderful women who got together once a month to taste one another's culinary creations. There was a theme each month and, although I joined late in the year, I tasted some delicious Mediterranean, Mexican and breakfast dishes. As some of the women were moving on to bigger and better places {read: there will be a paycheck in their future!}, we decided to go big for our last meeting and go out to dinner. 
back: Heather, Eliza, Chandra, Maren, Kelly, Cassandra
front: Sarah, Tasnime, Emily, Liz
not pictured: Stephanie, Marina, Jenny

We chose a Japanese Hibachi grill and had a great time. We watched our chef toss and twirl sharp knives, light an onion tower on fire {and put it out with a plastic peeing doll} and launch zucchini at our faces. I was one of the few who actually caught the zucchini in my mouth, but there is no picture to prove it. Just my good word. And believe me, it's good.

I will definitely miss the women who are moving on and hope to continue to dine every month with the ones who are staying.

photo a day may

I took an Instagram photo a day challenge during the month of May. I kind of loved it. A reason to take a picture every day. And not always the one you'd expect to take. 

I joined on day 3, so the first two are missing. Day 16 was "what you're reading" - and I think at that moment I was reading the user manual for my pump...and didn't manage to get a picture. Bummer, I know. 

Also, I'm pleased that I only misread one day {not bad for the lack of sleep I got last month!} and did day 24 twice rather than doing day 25 which should have been "unusual". Although, I will say that babies loving tummy time is unusual...and Kate loves it! So, she's new and unusual. It works.

3. something you wore today
4. fun!
5. bird
6. you {there are two of these}
7. someone that inspires you
8. a smell you adore
9. something you do every day
10. a favorite word
11. kitchen
12. something that makes you happy
13. mum
14. grass
15. love
17. snack
18. something you made
19. a favorite place
20. something you can't live without
21. where you stand
22. pink
23. technology
24. something new
25. unusual something new
26. 12 o'clock
27. something sweet
28. the weather today
29. a number
30. your personality
31. something beautiful

ktg: zero weeks

I just made an executive decision that "Kate the Great" can also be written as "ktg" in case I ever get lazy while typing. 

Now that that's settled, onto documenting her first year of growth just like we did her big sister's. 

Here is zero months. {Except it's really 0.5 months because I just kept NOT doing the mini photo shoot until the month was half way over and she had gained a pound and grown an inch.}

She was a rock star at her one week checkup. I was worried about her getting enough to eat since she is always falling asleep while nursing. At her two week checkup, I found that she now weighs 9 lbs. 4 oz. and is 20 inches long.
I'm not worried anymore. 

Three cheers for chubby babies!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

grandma and grandpa layton

Grandma and Grandma Layton came to meet Kate!! While they were here we gave them a tour of all the Upper Valley has to offer {Tuck, parks, museums, cheese/maple tasting, church sites and more were obviously included} and in return they simply spoiled us all. It's always fun when grandma and grandpa come! 

After not being able to meet Leah until she was 9 months old, I think this was a special treat for them.

The group pics must be on their camera because I can't find them on mine! But, most of our time was spent doing this anyway:

They helped Leah pot some plants. Our porch is definitely a more beautiful place. 

Grandpa even got to help me get some prints of Kate's feet. She didn't like it. But I'm pretty sure grandpa didn't mind the cuddling involved in helping her calm down.

When they left, our bellies were full, our house was clean and Leah was simply worn out. That pretty much means Grandma and Grandpa are welcome back any time!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kate: at the hospital

I can, without hesitation, say our stay at DHMC was a million times better than our stay at Stanford five years ago. This is probably due to a number of factors all mixing together. But no matter the reason, I'll take it!

For starters, I think Ryan would agree that sleeping on a pull-out bed in a private room is much better than sleeping on a chair in a shared room. He would also say that he was just fine skipping the whole getting-a-catheter-bag-spilled-all-over-him as he tried to sleep this time 'round. 

For me, hours 1-23 were a little rocky because I was hooked up to so many monitors. I had a blood pressure cuff going off at predetermined intervals {which scared me to death a few times as it woke me from sleep}. I had a cuff on each leg to keep my blood circulation flowing. I had a catheter, an IV liquid drip and magnesium. Oh, the magnesium. Worst medication ever. If I remember right, it was because of my preeclampsia, but it was the living worst. It made me feel like I got hit by a semi truck. I couldn't keep my eyes open but I wasn't tired. I felt like I was in a constant haze with my eyes spinning in my head. I think my visitors that first night thought I was a little crazy!

The second two days of the stay were much better. I was unhooked from everything, released from the bonds of magnesium and was allowed to get up and move around a bit {um, shower!}. 

We had visitors throughout, which was a lot of fun. I loved chatting with friends and introducing Kate to each of them. 

For Kate, she was obviously the woman of the hour. She thoroughly enjoyed her first bath. 

She had visitors from med students, residents, doctors, midwives, lactation consultants and more {this trio visited us every day to check on Kate and they were my favorites}. 

We filled out paperwork for birth certificates. She got her heels poked and blood drawn. She passed her hearing test {and other tests} with flying colors. 

I heard the words, "perfect" and "normal" more times than I can count. And each time I did, I wanted to cry tears of joy. Here's to hoping we continue to hear those words for years and years to come. Two thumbs up for nurses Kim, Kate, Kathy, Kathleen, Molly, Tristan and Liz and everyone else who made our stay in room #14 in the Birthing Pavillion such a great experience.

But more than anything, I loved cuddling, swaddling, snuggling and adoring my sweet and tiny Kate {and her head of hair!}. Those first few, quiet days just the two of us will not soon be forgotten.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Kate: meeting the big sister

Leah came to meet Kate on Monday right after school. Her visit can be summed up in one word: unimpressed. 

To give her some credit, Leah was completely exhausted. She had slept in a strange place the night before, went to school and then was rushed off to the hospital to meet a strange new human being. Plus, mom was in a weird bed, hooked up to tons of machines {and on crazy medications} and couldn't get out and play.

She took a few peeks at Kate and just wasn't all that interested. Ryan took her on a date to the cafeteria to get dinner. When they came back, Kate gifted Leah with a brand new backpack for school 
and then Ryan took Leah to sleep at a neighbor's house. 

Tuesday, Ryan let Leah take a nap after school. When she woke up from her nap, she was crying crocodile tears. Ryan asked a bunch of yes/no questions to try and figure out what was wrong and he determined that Leah was upset. Because she had a little sister. 

Oh my. 

It's understandable, but it just broke my heart! He had a little discussion with her, basically validating everything that she was feeling and then they headed back to the hospital. Day #2's visit was so much better. She cuddled with me in my strange bed, gave Kate lots of kisses and was much happier all around. 

We're still working on being gentle and constantly have our guards up, 

but overall Leah really adores Kate. She will often walk over to where she is sitting or sleeping and just look at her, or cuddle up right next to me when I'm feeding her. She greets her in the morning with a mouth-wide-open kiss and she immediately tries to find her whenever she hears her cry. I can't wait to watch their relationship grow. Leah really is the best of the best when it comes to big sisters.

Monday, May 14, 2012

kate: delivery day

After church on Sunday, we took a family nap, as per our usual Sunday routine. When we woke up, Ryan made me a delicious Mother's Day dinner - salmon, cous cous and asparagus. It was all sorts of delicious and I gobbled it up. 

We ate around 4:30 {which is early for us} because Ryan had a group meeting up on campus at 5:30. When he left, he made me promise to not do the dishes, so I sat down on the couch with Leah to read some books. We were about 15 minutes in when I heard an audible pop and literally jumped off the couch and ran to the bathroom. My fears and excitement were confirmed - my water broke! And, of course, I took a picture to document {isn't is appropriate that Leah had checked out The Berenstain Bears' New Baby from the library!?}. 

I called Ryan and he didn't answer thanks to the cell phone abyss that is Tuck. I texted him and hoped he'd respond quickly. I also texted my neighbor to see if she was home. I then took Leah upstairs to get some things together. Ryan called back and said he was on his way home and my neighbor showed up at my door because I hadn't texted her back {I was on the phone with Ryan} and she was worried! She stayed until Ryan got home and we were ready to head to the hospital. This entire time, I was incredibly calm. I wasn't having contractions and I was actually just really excited that our new little one might be coming tonight! 

As my friend walked away with Leah in tow, I snapped a picture and tears welled up in my eyes. I knew Leah would be well cared for; but I was immediately overwhelmed with my love for her and hoped she'd be okay with all that was going to change in her life in the next few days. She looked so grown up to me as she walked away.

As soon as Ryan gathered his things, we were off. We called our parents on the way to the hospital {and wished our moms a Happy Mother's Day!} and entered through the emergency room. I had never entered the hospital this way before, so we stopped at the desk to ask which way we should go. The desk attendant called for someone to get a wheelchair. A bit embarrassed, I asked if I could just walk and he looked at me, completely bewildered, and said, "I've never seen anyone in labor walk themselves up to labor and delivery before!". But honestly, there was no pain, no contractions and I figured I should be up and walking while I could! 

A nurse led us to Labor and Delivery where they hooked me up to be monitored. 

I was dilated to a 1.75 they said {just not quite a 2} and baby was still breech {boo}. When they learned I had just eaten a full meal {you're supposed to fast for 12 hours before surgery}, my progress - or lack thereof - was actually a good thing since they wanted to hold me off for as long as possible for my food to digest. Contractions began, but they weren't painful or strong or really close together. They checked my blood pressure and it was sky high. Seriously, everyone was so nervous. I was calm as could be, but my levels were so elevated. I was a little swollen around my feet, so they took some platelet levels to see if I had preeclampsia. And I did. Kind of strange because at my checkup 2 days earlier, everything was fine. So, they wanted to get some other medication in my system and said they'd probably start prepping me for surgery in about 4 hours. 

They moved me from the intake room to my actual room (#14). Within an hour or so, my contractions began to increase in intensity a lot. Honestly, I feel like I have a very high tolerance for pain, but the pain increased so much so quickly, it was almost unbearable - and they were coming every 2 or 3 minutes. At one point, Ryan looked at me, saw fear in my eyes and said, "Are you okay?" Tears spilled out of my eyes and I replied, "No." I think had I known I would be giving birth naturally, I could have handled it, but because I knew I was having a c-section and they weren't going to start it for a few more hours, I just didn't know how much longer I could handle the contractions. Immediately after Ryan noticed, the nurse noticed. She must have told the doctor, because he came in, took one look at me and said, "Let's just get started now."*

They immediately wheeled me into the operating room where I was given a spinal by our good friend Andrew {love living in an area where so many of our friends are medical students, residents, doctors and nurses!}. And can I just put a plug in for Andrew's work? I didn't feel a thing. Honestly. It was amazing. Plus, he was able to sit at my head with Ryan and explain so many things that were going on. I felt like I had such a wealth of information and wasn't left out of anything, which was a completely opposite experience from Leah's delivery. I numbed up beautifully, and was aware of everything going on. The only discomfort I felt the entire surgery was being completely freezing cold and having a really itchy face. 

Ryan wasn't allowed in the operating room during my spinal, so he patiently waited in the hallway where he took great pictures. 

After I was situated on the operating table, he was invited back in. In no time at all, at 10:07pm to be precise, they lifted our beautiful baby girl over the curtain for us to see. She was Leah's twin but with a full head of dark hair! The doctors and nurses kept commenting on how big she was so I was imagining this giant baby. I guess they just thought she was big based on the size of my belly? 

Our little girl weighed in at 7 lbs. 13 oz. and measured 19.5 inches long. This did seem huge to us as it was nearly 2 lbs. heavier and 2.5 inches longer than Leah, but she still seemed so tiny! I peered over and around the sheets as they weighed her, cleaned her off and bundled her up to place in Ryan's arms while they stitched me up. They even cut out my old, jumbled scar from Leah's surgery {that's a story for another day} and I have a beautifully straight scar in its place now. 

After they finished and they wheeled me back to my recovery room, they placed her in my arms. It was an incredible experience to hold her and talk to her right after she was born. Definitely a moment I won't soon forget. I remember feeling so distanced from Leah as she was whisked off to the NICU. I didn't get to see or hold her for a full 24 hours and here was our new little one, right in my arms. It was amazing. 

I asked Ryan beforehand if he would take some pictures and he said he would! Is that weird that I wanted pictures of my c-section? I just think it's so fascinating. They allowed him to take these pictures, but he couldn't put the camera over the curtain so he had to lift it up and just kind of shoot blindly. But he got some amazing shots of the first moments of her life. So, so incredible. 

*Just so you know, I wasn't crazy and I wasn't a wuss. After she was born, they told me I had quickly dilated to at least a 7 {hence the increase in contraction pain!} and had they not taken me right then, my body would have tried to have a breech baby naturally. Ouch. 

Quick timeline:
4:30 - dinner
5:55 - water breaks
6:45 - arrive at hospital
7:00 - hooked up to monitors
7:30 - started to feel contractions
7:45 - switched rooms
10:07 - kate is here!

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center staff:
Dr. Spence - anesthesiology attending
Andrew Curtis - anesthesiology resident
Ellen Martin - midwife
Dr. Karen George - attending
Shailen Mhapsekar - resident
Kim and Kate - nurses

kate the great - sneak preview

She's here! 

I was hoping to get a little more done along the blogging front tonight {which is, by the way, Kate's due date}. Instead I just looked at a bunch of pictures - and I'm okay with that. 

Kate Jensen Layton arrived last Sunday, May 13th at 10:07pm via c-section. She weighed 7 lbs. 13 oz. and was 19.5 inches long. She is Leah's twin, but with a head of dark hair!

Much, much more to come. For now, it's snuggling time.

*originally posted Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

mother's day

{i understand this post is being back-posted so it can show up in my blog for mother's day. but, the thoughts i've recorded were, actually, recorded on mother's day so they are true to the moment...not changed over the course of the past two weeks and my experiences since that day.}

mother's day 2012 didn't get off to a great start. and it had nothing to do with the lovely card ryan and leah created for me or the incredible new ninja blender they gifted me. or the delicious meal they prepared for me {more on that later...}. in fact, it sadly happened in spite of those things and the wonderful way they treated me. 

mother's day always falls on a sunday, which i hate because i don't really like going to church on mother's day. when i was younger, i felt my mom and my family were being judged because we weren't a "typical" family - whatever that means. my mom worked full time and couldn't spend all the time she wanted at home with us. and the only time i ever felt the negative effects of that was at church on mother's day - never from my actual mother. as i grew an had my own life experiences i had some mother's days that were great and some that were not so great. so this year, after being completely and utterly emotionally exhausted with the week's experiences and disappointment with billy turning breech and fear for the summer, i just wasn't in the mood to go to church and hear about how wonderful being a mother is and how perfect we should be and we should always be happy and grateful, etc., etc. i wasn't all that happy. i wasn't grateful at the moment. and i was most definitely not in a mood to answer endless questions about my sure excitement for the coming week. 

in the end, ryan and leah won out and i decided to go. and i'm really glad i did. 

before i left, i had succumbed to the fact that baby #2 was breech and i would be having a c-section. i wasn't happy. but i moved on. and knew i'd have to answer the same questions countless times in the next three hours. but it was in sunday school that the perfect lesson was given for me, for this particular day. it was given by a young, single male and had nothing to do with mother's day or my situation specifically, but the lessons i learned were gleaned from what was on my mind. 

he started out his lesson by asking in what or in who do we place our trust? he then climbed onto a chair and fell backward into the arms of four strong men he had hand-chosen before the class began. they, obviously, caught him and he was saved from harm. the discussion then ensued about placing our trust in people we are certain will catch us - or who can help us after we fall if it's impossible for someone to catch us. 

as i sat and thought about my upcoming week and the challenges it was sure to bring, i thought about who i would place my trust in. the teacher had picked four strong men on purpose. why not a child? or why not me and the other expecting woman sitting nearby? i think the answers are obvious. he chose individuals he was certain could catch and help him. 

and i realized at that point, i just need to be okay with accepting help. i don't have to go through it all on my own. i'm surrounded by amazing people who are willing and able to help me out this summer and maybe i need to give them the chance to serve? it can be physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting to continually fight your own battles with no help. but when we allow others to help, some {if not all or most} of that burden is lifted. 

my fear for my recovery is based on the known {my past experience with a c-section is all i know and it is truth to me} AND the unknown {will my experience this time be any different? better? worse?}.

but in the end, i need to ultimately place my trust in a Higher Power. in my Heavenly Father. i need to trust that He knows what is best for me {even if i see what seems to be a ridiculously easier and more sensible way}. and, when i submit my will to His, i am promised His help. if i insist on doing things my way, He might just let it happen, but then His help is not promised. 

and that, in a nutshell, is why i needed to go to church on mother's day. and i'm recording this for my own selfish reasons because i know i'll need to look back on it multiple times this summer when i need a subtle {or not-so-subtle} reminder. 

we got home from church and ryan took some pictures of me and leah on the porch. then our neighbor offered to take a family picture for us. little did we know it couldn't have come at a better time because we'd only be a family of three for a few more hours!
 nice, leah.

more on mother's day 2012 to come...