Monday, June 26, 2017

Shutting It Down

This is officially the last post for Stephanews. 

I wrote in my last post about a new blog that I started here so it's time to shut this one down. If you followed me here, consider coming with me. 

Finally, to quote Fall Out Boy, thnks fr th mmrs. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

First, Fifth, Twenty-eighth

This weekend is pretty jam-packed.

Friday is our fifth anniversary. This year saw us through a career change, a call to consider, nine months of pregnancy, childbirth, surgery on our child's head, multiple follow-up doctor visits, and learning how to be parents. It was a crazy year but it has been my favorite year of marriage yet.

Saturday is my 28th birthday. We are getting together with great friends for one of the last times before they move. *cue tears*

Sunday we are celebrating Justin's first Father's day. I was blessed with two wonderful grandpas, an amazing dad and father-in-law, and this year I get to celebrate my husband being a great father to our son.
The day we got engaged six years ago, our wedding five years ago, and all dressed up for a wedding two weeks ago. 

In light of another year of life, I started a new blog. I've been wanting to for a while now. I started this blog years ago when I was in Florida; things have changed, I have changed, and it's time to start fresh. So here it is!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Sometimes I am up, showered, and dressed before the baby even makes a peep. And sometimes I drag myself to his room and beg him to give me just ten more minutes.

Sometimes I am so productive that I feel like I could conquer the world with a baby in one arm and a laundry basket on my hip. Sometimes I feel like it's a major success if one of us makes it through the day in the same clothes we started the day in. Bonus points if the clothes I started the day in are not the same clothes that I slept in the night before. 

Sometimes the thought of picking up that freaking pacifier that he dropped for the millionth time makes me want to pull my hair out. But sometimes he smiles at me from behind the pacifier and I feel like my heart is going to explode.

Sometimes I have eggs and toast for breakfast and sip on coffee while he sleeps. Sometimes I down a can of mountain dew and a handful of potato chips in between diaper changes, laps around the dining room, and other soothing techniques.

Sometimes I get housework done while Jackson watches from his seat, smiling and cooing. Sometimes I bounce a screaming baby in my arms while trying to stop the asshole cat from whatever idiocy he has gotten himself into.

Sometimes I talk with calmness and confidence about Jackson's surgery and helmet therapy, but sometimes I sit by myself and cry because I want to kiss my son's head and hold him without the straps on his helmet scratching my arms. Sometimes even though I know he is getting the help he needs and won't have any memory of this, I wish for a page in my planner with no doctor's appointments.

Sometimes I am determined to put him in his crib awake and letting him learn to sleep on his own. Sometimes I rock, and sing, and snuggle because I know that too soon he will be big and those moments will be gone.

Sometimes it feels silly to read a book to my two month old baby when he seems as though he couldn't care any less, but sometimes I keep reading long after he has fallen asleep because I need to know what happened to Penguin on his big adventure.

Sometimes super exciting things happen and I think "I can't wait to write a super exciting blog post about that!" and then sometimes I can't think of anything interesting and we end up with posts like this.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


Listening to: You guys. My husband directs the musical every year at his high school. Sometime in early spring he picks the musical for fall, and once it's decided it's played non stop around our house. This year it's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I've never seen this musical. I don't know the words to the songs. But I am humming them allthedamntime. I just got Hello Dolly out of my head.

Watching: Grey's Anatomy, again. I needed something different, but also that I didn't need to spend too much brain power on. If I miss some or even most of an episode, it's not hard to catch back up; outrageous emergency, twisted love triangle, tragic death. Can we please have a moment of silence for Denny Duquette?! After 8 years is this still considered a spoiler? Sorry.

Strawberry rhubarb yogurt. Did you know this existed? I love rhubarb. Even though I'm not much of a yogurt eater, I had to try this. It's. So. Good.

Drinking: Caffeine. Specifically in the form of Coca-Cola. It's bad. I also had my first post-baby alcoholic beverage--a very small, very weak Jameson and ginger ale. Hello, friends, it's good to have you back.

Reading: I wish I was reading a book. I have a few books sitting on my nightstand that I really want to read but I am positive that if I sat down to read a book my eyes would close before I finished the first paragraph.

Working on: My reyna shawl that I started like two years ago. I've ripped it out and restarted it twice, but it's knitting up really quickly. I've had lots of good car knitting time between trips to the children's hospital and trips to Justin's parents' house.

Waiting for: Yarn that I ordered from KnitPicks, and organ music I ordered for a wedding I am playing for. AND, we got some newborn/family pictures taken this past weekend and I can't wait to see them!

Loving: The fact that Jackson has been a napping rock star so far this week (knock on all the wood). Monday while he was sleeping I put away all the clothes that have been sitting in baskets for far too long. I have never been so excited about laundry.

Not loving: I packed up a box of clothes that already don't fit Jackson anymore. What?! Pass the tissues, please.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


In a previous post I mentioned some concerns that the pediatrician alerted us to about the shape of Jackson's head. Last week we met with neuro and craniofacial surgeons to learn more.

The doctors confirmed that he has something called Craniosynostosis, which is where one or more of the joints between a baby's skull bones close before they are supposed to, resulting in a misshapen appearance because the brain is still growing. Jackson has this in two places.

We were given two different surgery options and a very short time frame to decide. The surgery we opted for is not traditional, but is minimally invasive and poses a smaller risk than the other more major surgery. It will however require long-term follow up care; they will be removing a piece of bone and for several months he will be wearing a helmet to help guide his skull so that it continues to grow properly. This week we have a CT scan and meeting with doctor, and surgery is next week.

If praying is something you do, please remember us. Happy thoughts and positive vibes are also appreciated.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

One Month

Jackson is officially a month old. My days are filled with diapers, feedings, and not sleeping. It's exhausting, wonderful, and he is such a blessing.

Car rides
Fan sound when he's going to sleep
Being swaddled...once he's wrapped up
Being sung to
Walks in the stroller
Getting his hair combed after a bath

Having his diaper/clothes changed
The process of getting swaddled
Getting his picture taken (sorry, kid)

Big events:  
Since we've been home from the hospital he has been sleeping in the rock and play in our room. Between having to wake him up for feedings at night and me not being able to bend down and lift him after surgery, it was easier to have him right there. This week though he has taken a couple of naps in his crib. He looks so tiny in it! 

After much frustration, pain, and tears I've decided to switch from breastfeeding to formula. It was a hard decision for me but ultimately what I think is best for us. He has only had a couple of formula bottles so far but it seems to be going well.

Our neurosurgeon appointment is this week. A long car ride, another strange new place, and an's going to be quite a day.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The First Weeks and Stuff

Everyone says "Sleep when the baby sleeps"....seriously, everyone. You know what no one says? "Cry when the baby cries".  Maybe it was my less-than-stellar birth experience, or a surge of hormonal changes, or extreme exhaustion, but every single time Jackson cried in the first few days at home I felt like the worst person in the world and wanted to cry myself. Lots of times I did. 

You know what's hard? Breastfeeding. So many people make it sound like its the most natural thing in the world and like it will come so easily. We started struggling in the hospital but then there were nurses round the clock coming in to see how it was going; including one determined nurse who busted in at about 2:00 in the morning and wouldn't rest until she had a plan for us that involved a shield, a strict schedule, immediate pumping and syringe feeding after letting him nurse for a while. It didn't get better at home. He started to gain weight back, but is not back to his birthweight yet at two and a half weeks which is like a punch in the gut. 

I went to a breastfeeding support group this week. When we walked in, there were women with their babies (all older than Jackson by quite a bit) sitting in a circle on the floor with their shoes off. As is my luck, my kid started crying as soon as the group started. I took him out of the room and tried feeding him. Because even though it was a nursing support group, I am not yet comfortable whipping my boob out in a room full of people. Two women and the LC came out to check on us and encourage us to come back inside. I guess anything is better than sitting on the couch and crying into the boppy wondering if the baby who keeps falling asleep at your chest is getting enough to eat. 

When Jackson was born, the pediatrician noticed and pointed out to us that there was a ridge on the top of his head. He said that it was caused by two plates in his skull that were closing prematurely. This week I stood behind a glass window and watched as some ladies held my screaming infant son down for head x-rays. After that I had to call and make an appointment for him, my two-week old baby boy, with a neurosurgeon where we will discuss options like a helmet or maybe surgery. 

Justin is back at work full time now. Monday was our first day home alone and it was a 14 hour day. The concept of time is pretty much nonexistent to me right now. All I know is "how long since the last feeding?" My days vary from needing to wake him up to eat and being locked to the couch because he wants to eat all the time. If I'm energetic enough to shower at 5:30 am before Justin leaves, I toss one pair of milk-soaked pajamas onto the floor to exchange them for a clean pair that are destined to the same fate. 

Time to make a decision; the baby is finally napping. Looking at the clock, it's only an hour until he needs to eat again and despite how much I wish I didn't have to, I have been advised not to let him go more than three hours without feeding and will need to wake him up. Do I finish my breakfast (a half eaten turkey sandwich that I made over an hour ago, and a coke)? Or watch the episode of Nashville that I've been watching for three days because between diapers and crying that can only be soothed by walking laps around the dining room singing, I have no idea what's happening? I think this time I will take everyone's advice, set an alarm just in case, and sleep while the baby is sleeping. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Birth Story

 I'm sitting in my now quiet bedroom with a tiny human sleeping in the bassinet next to me. As hard as it is to keep my eyes open I can't fall asleep. Jackson's birthday was one of the most surreal days of my entire life. Here's what happened.

I was supposed to be induced Wednesday morning at 6:30 am, but while we were both lying awake with anticipation my water broke at 1:30. I started having contractions pretty much right away and when I got to the hospital was dilated to 6 cm. By the time I reached 8 I was ready for the epidural and it was sweet, sweet relief. I rested for a while until the doctor came in and said I was complete and ready to start pushing. She left me with the nurse and I pushed for three and a half hours. They had turned my epidural down so that I could feel my contractions, and boy, could I. When the doctor came in the baby had hardly moved and the only progress that was made was my exhaustion and frustration.

Finally she said "I know we were really hoping for this to work but he's just not going to come this way". They brought me consent forms for my C-section and I think I cried all the way to the operating room. Justin got gowned up, but when they started the numbing it just wasn't working in the places that it needed to so I had to be put under general anesthesia. Which meant that Justin couldn't be in the room. It's a good thing that gas worked fast because I was a wreck at this point.

After what felt like forever I woke up being wheeled to a recovery room where people were poking and prodding me and telling me that my son was healthy. Soon after that I was groggily brought into the post-partum room and Justin wheeled in the bassinet with our 8 lb. 5 oz. Jackson Henry in it. 

Thanks to new-mom euphoria and pain killers, I smiled as my parents and Justin's parents passed our baby around and welcomed company while nurses and doctors filed in and out checking my vitals and incision. The next three and a half days in the hospital though, weren't as sunshine-y. Between the hormones, exhaustion, and recovery from major surgery I cried a ridiculous amount in those few days. 

When my doctor came in to take the dressing off of my incision, the tape got caught on my IV  line and ripped it out. I had a big itchy stripe of redness from my epidural tape that ran from the back of my neck down to my butt--which was only made worse by sitting in bed against a sheet all day. Nurses were coming in on their shifts all telling me different things; walk here during the day, you can't walk down here, I can give him a pacifier if you want, he shouldn't have a pacifier, I don't know when you're going to go home, you can choose when you go was crazy. 

I was feeling really helpless and terrible. I needed help getting in and out of bed. Justin had to put my socks on for me. I couldn't lift Jackson out of the bassinet or walk around the room with him so people had to bring him to me. It killed me watching other people doing everything for my baby while I couldn't and the one thing that only I could do--feed him--has been a huge struggle for us. 

After surgery when things had calmed down a little bit, the doctor came in to talk with me about everything that happened. I still struggle with a lot of feelings of missing out. I didn't get to deliver my baby the way I always dreamed I would, I didn't get to hear his first cry or have him placed on my chest right away, and it breaks my heart that Justin couldn't be in the room. She told me that she did not regret letting me try pushing, but that the likelihood of me having that kind of delivery in the future is about 10%. It was an overwhelming day and I'm still processing quite a bit of it but in the end I know that it was what needed to happen, and even if it didn't go how I had planned I still have a healthy, beautiful baby boy who makes it all worth it.
   This might be the longest post I've ever written. If you made it all the way through, thanks for reading! 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stuff and Things: The Waiting One

I'm on official maternity leave. I anticipated this glorious week of finishing all the household chores, crafty projects, and relaxing.

In reality, it has been ridiculous amounts of Golden Girls and wandering around  the house looking for things to do so I don't sit on the couch going crazy. I've washed a thousand dishes, taken out and washed all of the shelves and drawers of the refrigerator, and folded mountains of laundry...because already the baby laundry never ends.  I've also been getting all kinds of facebook posts, texts, and questions asking if there's "Any baby news yet?!" and it's driving me nuts. I. Will. Tell. You. When. He's. Here.

Last week was hard. I ended up having a doctor's appointment on the due date anniversary of my baby in heaven, and it happened to be the only doctor's appointment that Justin missed. Sitting on the cold table by myself brought back a crazy wave of memories and I ended up crying through the appointment and talking to the doctor about how scared I am for this baby. Praise God that I have a wonderful and caring doctor who kept handing me tissues and talking me down from hysteria.

I had my last appointment yesterday (no tears were shed). Last week I was dilated to 3-4, and yesterday was 4-5. She kept joking "I can't believe you're walking around like this and nothing has're just not normal". So we she decided that if he doesn't come on his own I will be induced on Wednesday. I'm not crazy about the idea of induction and am still holding out hope that things get started naturally.

Now I'm sitting around waiting for labor signs and over-analyzing every little twinge and cramp wondering if this is "it". Over the course of about a day I have gone from wanting this kid to stay in and cook as long as he needed to (after all, he's not due until Saturday...plenty of time!), to being completely over it and ready. So I'm waiting. And trying hard to practice patience and trust; neither of which are strong points of mine, so I'm really looking forward to this path being straightened out.


Stuff, Things, etc.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Stuff and Things: A Short One

I'm pre-writing this post on Wednesday. In the middle of the day. From home. I'm halfway through the gentle ease into my maternity leave; this week I'm teaching part time and next week I am completely done. Monday afternoon I didn't know what to do with myself and I ended up napping most through most of it. Tuesday I got a little crazy and (after a nap...) folded/sorted/put away a bunch of laundry and baked two blueberry streusel cakes.

My last day at school happens to be a field trip. It has been on the calendar for weeks, emails and notes have been sent, and it's been in the school newsletter. Permission slips were due today and I still had to get in touch with parents and ask for them. When one mom replied to me "I wasn't aware of any field trip" I nearly cried.

There are ten days left before the boy is due to arrive. I've hit a stage where I'm afraid to go anywhere, especially too far from home, and I'm afraid to be alone because I have irrational fears that I'm going to spontaneously go into labor and have a baby in Wal-Mart, a la Where the Heart Is.

And as if that anxiety isn't enough, Justin recently received a job offer to teach at the high school where he grew up. We're still weighing all of the pros and cons and trying to stay calm in the midst of humongous life changes.

So until this kid has arrived safely and we have come to a decision about whether or not we're going to be moving in the fall, you can find me hiding in my nest on the couch trying to keep myself occupied with episodes of Golden Girls on Hulu and browsing baby hat patterns on ravelry.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Updates and Currentlys

Seeing the doctor once a week now. This week's quote was "Are you waddling? This kid's head is prettttttty low". So that's where we're at. 36 weeks.

Wondering how in the world did we get here already?! But also...

Feeling anxious and ready. Most days I can add "uncomfortable", "out of breath", and "over-emotional" to the list.

Watching Call the Midwife...because what else would an extremely pregnant woman who has less emotional control than an overtired toddler watch?! I've watched a few episodes of Billy on the Street too. If you're not familiar, it's Billy Eichner (who plays Craig toward the end of Parks and Rec) randomly going up to people on the streets of NYC asking pop culture questions and playing outrageous games. I'm still on the fence as to whether or not I think it's funny or just exhausting to watch. 

Listening to NeedtoBreathe

Eating all the cereal. Specifically Rice Crispies with a banana sliced up in it.

Anticipating getting the last few things set up in the baby room. Maybe then I will finally feel ready. As ready as one can feel, I guess.

Wishing that we had a recliner that I could sleep in. I just can't get comfortable in our bed these days. I thought last week when Justin was out of town that I would sleep better having the whole bed to myself. But it turns out that finding yourself in the middle of a bed that your awkward belly won't let you roll out of is not ideal.

Wearing anything that covers The Belly. Leggings as often as possible, and a rotation of dress pants that I don't have to keep hiking up. 

Reading a book on baby-led weaning. Also, I have The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah sitting on my nightstand but I haven't picked it up yet. 

Loving this card that we got at a baby shower this weekend. Justin's amazing faculty threw us a shower and one of his coworkers' daughters included this adorable card.  
The note on the back says:
"I hope you have a very good baby shower. This card is from *her name*. We can't wait to meet your new baby and see your new baby! And can you tell us your baby's name too? And your boy baby can be friends with our girl baby named *girl's name*. I bet we'll love your baby just like we love our baby. May Jesus be with you and your baby. From, *name* (five years old)"