About Me

Hi! I'm Abby. My husband, Carl, and I are happily married since October 2007. Our little family of 2 (well, 3 if you count Chief, the dog) added one more in October 2011 when we welcomed Audrey Elizabeth, our first child into the world. Our life was forever changed. And to add to the joy and excitement, we added another daughter, Clara Marie, in May 2014. I wanted to create this blog originally to document all the milestones throughout my pregnancy with Audrey so we could remember that special time in our lives. And now I get to write all about Audrey and Clara and our life with these amazing "Larson Ladies", which is so much more fun!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Audrey Elizabeth Larson has arrived!

It's what we had been preparing for and waiting for the last 9 months. Audrey Elizabeth Larson came into this world on a Saturday morning, October 15, 2011, at 5:58a.m. She weighed 7lbs 6oz and was 20 inches long. She is a healthy and beautiful baby girl. To sum it up in one word... perfect. Here the story of the labor and delivery...

As you read in my 38-week update, I had a feeling that I was getting close to having Audrey. We had a really busy week, and I saw a lot of signs that it wasn't going to be much longer. Even though I wrote that I thought she might come soon and wondered if Audrey would come before my 39-week update, I was in denial about what was going to happen very soon. I was convinced throughout the whole pregnancy that I would go up to my due date, if not after. Well, Audrey had a different plan, didn't she?

Here is the whole story...

I worked all day on Friday, October 14th (9 days before me due date). We finished up the 2 remaining training sessions for our department and my boss "gave me her blessing" to have the baby since that was over. I have a feeling we will laugh about that timing for many years. Also, Carl had an important meeting/interview after work on Friday for a really good job with an engineering firm that he works alongside at O'Hare. I knew I had a little time after work before Carl got home so I went out to buy Carl an anniversary present (mind you, our anniversary was the day before on the 13th and I hadn't found what I was looking for yet). I went to a store in Orland Park, and as I was walking around, I just kept thinking "this baby is going to fall right out of me." If only it were that easy, right? ;) I really felt pressure in my pelvis, really low. She was getting heavy to carry around! I left the store very soon after getting there and just headed home. I felt "lazy" because I really wanted to show my appreciation for Carl and make sure our anniversary was "special" and not neglected this year. Especially this year because Carl has really been so supportive of me all throughout the pregnancy and as we prepared for Audrey to arrive.

So I went home and waited for Carl to get home.  I had the general feeling that I needed to go to the bathroom all the time.  I was nervous that I might be leaking amniotic fluid, even though I didn't feel like my water bag had ruptured.  When Carl got home, we he started making dinner.  It was shrimp tacos for us and black beans and rice.  Yummo!  Carl was filling me in on his interview, which went really well!  And I started to notice that my belly was getting kind tight and my back was hurting about every 10 minutes.  Time is about 6:45pm.  We commented on how much "space" I had between my boobs and my belly, which we just noticed for the first time on Friday.  Audrey had really dropped and was getting ready for her upcoming "journey".  We had talked about going to the hospital that night, even if my water hadn't broke, just to have them check me out and make sure I wasn't leaking amniotic fluid.  And then I said to Carl, "Scratch that.. let's go see Footloose". That's right, they made a remake of one of my favorite movies of all time and I really wanted to go see it.  I've heard really good things!  We laughed at that suggestion because I wouldn't make it but 20 minutes at a time before I have to go to the bathroom to pee.

Soon after that, dinner was finished and we made our plates and headed upstairs to the loft where we eat in front of the TV.  I finished one of my tacos and all of a sudden I felt a snap.  It was kind of like there was an elastic band around my uterus that snapped.  I said "Oh my God".  And Carl looked over at me and I explained what I felt and that I thought that was my water breaking.  There wasn't a huge gush of water or even a trickle, even when I stood up.  I walked over to the bathroom and sat on the toilet and all of a sudden... a huge gush of water.  I confirmed that my water had broken and Carl rushed around getting his things together for the hospital.  This was it.  Carl was excited.  I was apprehensive, and in denial still.  Time is 7:30pm.

As we were driving to the hospital, Carl was talkative, keeping my mind off of what was coming up.  We laughed and had a good time.  Once we got closer to the hospital, my contractions started to get more intense.  And they were coming about every 4 to 5 minutes.  Carl dropped me off at the main entrance to the hospital so I could head up to Labor & Delivery while he parked the car.  Time is 8:30pm.

Now, this is where everything started happening really fast and I just lost track of time.  That's good that I felt like everything happened pretty quickly, especially because I was in labor 10 and a half hours (between the time that my water broke and Audrey was born).  Apparently, there were a lot of babies born that Friday (the 14th) because they didn't even have an exam room ready where they could evaluate me before they transferred me to a birthing room.  They told me to wait in the waiting room.  I walked into the waiting room and didn't dare sit down.  My pants were soaked and I didn't want to ruin their couches (even if it was just water).  So I was pacing around the hallway and nurse's station.  We waited for an exam room to be cleaned and when it was finally ready, they told me to change into a gown and go to the bathroom before they hooked me up to the monitors and such.  I had this feeling that I just needed to have a bowel movement.  I was having some back labor, so I felt a lot of pressure in my lower back.  This was all happening and Audrey was coming that night or early the next morning.  I told Carl I didn't want to call our parents and let them know until the nurses confirmed that I was in labor.  Really?  Confirmed that I was in labor?  See, I was in denial.  While we were in the exam room, they hooked me up to a monitor that tracked Audrey's heartbeat as well as my contractions.  My contractions started coming about every 2-3 minutes while I was in the exam room.  And they were getting a lot more intense.  I remember counting the details in the wallpaper in the room to keep calm.  My body was doing what it needed to do, which is really great.  I am really thankful that I didn't have to be induced.  They talked about giving me pitocin to keep me moving along, but I really didn't want it until after I got my epidural.  In the exam room, they also confirmed that Audrey was head-down and told me I was between 2-3 centimeters dilated.  I had a ways to go yet.  Oh brother.

They transferred us to the birthing room where we were greeted by our nurse, Kathy.  She was really great.  As soon as we got to the room, she asked what my pain level was.  I told her the pain was about a 6 or 7.  She asked if I wanted the epidural now, and I quickly accepted.  She said if my pain was a 6 or 7 right now, we should get the epidural going because sometimes it can take awhile for the anesthesiologist to get there.  My contractions were intense.  I was really looking forward to the epidural.  And it was an immediate change when I got the epidural.  I was really quiet during contractions before the epidural, and I was so much more relaxed and a lot more talkative after the epidural.  They talk about feeling a poke and a burn with the epidural.  I didn't feel any of that.  I kept focusing on how much this would relieve the pain of the contractions.  They nurse told me that I must have a high tolerance for pain because I didn't even flinch when he put in the needle.  And I responded with, "Well, I thought I did until those I experienced those contractions."  We laughed.

After the epidural (I can't even tell you what time it is at this point... maybe around midnight?), Kathy told us to get some rest.  She told me I would need my strength and need to be rested when it comes time to push.  I thought I had the epidural so I would be fine!  We shut off the lights and tried to sleep.  Carl was sleeping on a little couch in the room, and I think he was able to really sleep for a couple hours.  I maybe slept on and off for about a half hour.  I was anxious and apparently intrigued by House Hunters on HGTV.  I couldn't sleep.  But I was really relaxed and didn't feel any pain.

At about 2:00am (October 15th), the resident came in to check my progress.  She looked at me and said I looked comfortable and didn't think I was very far along.  Then she checked me and said I was 7 cm dilated. She wanted to get a second opinion from a nurse because she didn't think that was possible.  The good news about the epidural was that it took away my pain, but I was still able to move my legs.  I certainly wouldn't have been able to walk, but I could at least move my legs which was good.  The nurse came in and confirmed that I was 7-8cm dilated and that my cervix was "squishy", which all means that I was ready to have a baby!  They called my doctor (Dr. Butler, who had just gone on call that night..another example of perfect timing!) to have her make her way to me.  She came in to see me about 3:30am and said that we were getting really close.  At 3:50am, Kathy and Dr. Butler had me do a couple preliminary pushes to see how the baby was moving down.  I was thinking that it was a cake walk having the epidural.  I didn't really feel much pressure, but everything was still moving along.  Yeah...

After 2 or 3 rounds of pushing, I wanted to sit up a little more in the bed so I put my hands behind me and pushed myself up.  I felt one of my cords or something pull out.  I told Kathy and she looked to see what it was.  Yup, it was the epidural.  I pulled out the epidural.  Not what I wanted to hear.  That epidural was my best friend during this process up until this point.  And I needed it.  I hadn't prepared to give birth without pain medication.  She said she couldn't insert the epidural catheter again because since it was pulled out, it wasn't sterile anymore.  She said the options were to have anesthesia redo it or not have the epidural the rest of the labor/delivery.  O.M.G.  I already was feeling some tingling in my legs and could feel a little more pressure with each contraction.  Could I really do this?  We decided we were going to push like hell and get this over with as quickly as possible and do it without the epidural.  So that's what we did.  Pushing was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  They were telling me that every time I would push, Audrey would move further down; but then between contractions, Audrey would retract back a little bit.  That was not encouraging because I felt like I was really working really hard.  At about 5:45am, I asked Dr. Butler how close we were and told her to "reach in and pull that baby out... please".  So she made a decision to use the vacuum.  It's funny because during our birthing class, I decided I was against the forcepts and vacuum.  In the moment, I was a big fan of anything they could do to just get the baby out.  Seriously.  So after just a couple more rounds of pushing, Dr. Butler said "Abby, look at this. You don't want to miss seeing your baby being born."  I looked up and saw a full head of dark hair.  My baby was being born.  It was the biggest relief and a sight I will never forget.  How incredible that Audrey was here!  Carl cut the cord, then they took her away and we heard her crying and it was all very real.  Carl and I were parents.  She was here.  This is what we had been waiting for.  I was excited and overwhelmed with emotion.  The way I expressed it?  I looked at Carl and said, "Oh my God, it's over."  Really, it was just beginning, right?  The delivery is just the beginning of the true journey of raising Audrey.

Our little angel had arrived!

I'm so lucky to have Carl to go through this experience with.  I can't wait to raise Audrey with Carl.  He was such a great support to me during the pregnancy and during the labor and delivery.  He would remind me to breathe through the contractions, comfort me, give me massages where I was really feeling the pain.  He would just look me in the eyes and let me know how strong I was and that this pain was only temporary.  Carl is such a great person... someone I truly respect and admire and love.  He is going to be a great Daddy!

Funniest quote from Carl during the delivery... Between pretty intense contractions and pushes, I looked at Carl and said I didn't know if I could do this.  He looked at me with a straight face and said, "Abs, just think how many calories you're burning."  I don't think I laughed then, but we laugh really hard about it now.  He was trying to lighten the mood and make a joke.  I was thinking "F- the calories. F- a good workour. Get me out of this pain."  I think this Carl quote was the funniest not only of the delivery, but of the entire pregnancy.  What a funny guy!

We were in this birthing room only another hour or so.  They bathed Audrey (I will post pics soon), I got up to the bathroom, and I nursed her for the first time.

Amber was our first visitor.  I think the hospital workers thought she was a resident and they let her up to see us while we were still in the birthing room.  Visiting hours weren't until 12noon, but she was able to come see us at about 7am.  She was up early and so excited to meet Audrey!  Then, when we moved to the "post-partum room" Carl's parents and my parents came to visit and meet their granddaughter.  When they arrived, Audrey was down in the nursery.  They needed to get her blood type and the darn resident threw out the placenta.  Since they couldn't draw the cord blood, they had to stick Audrey and get her blood the hard way.  And this was important since my blood type is A negative.  If Audrey's blood type was positive, I needed to get another Rhogam shot.  Audrey was down in the nursery for about 3 hours while they tried to draw her blood.  It was really hard being away from her.  So strange to have just "met" her, but really miss her not being with us.  Carl took his parents and my parents down to the nursery to see Audrey.  They came back up to the room so excited!  We all couldn't wait until Audrey was in the room with us!

They finally brought her up to be with us.  The lactation consultant helped me while I fed her this time which was really helpful.  And then after Audrey was fed, everyone was able to hold her for the first time.  Early that afternoon, Ashley arrived at the hospital.  It was so nice having our family there... so supportive and so excited.

This was one of the best and most memorable days of my life.  Really, it is only comparable to our wedding day.  But it was just all different feelings, so I guess not at all comparable.  Both really exciting and life-changing days.

We are now a family of 3!

The newest Illini fan...
Speaking of the Illini, Oct 15th was the Ohio St game in Champaign.  Carl and his friends decided to sell their tickets kind of at the last minute.  I kept telling Carl I thought he was fine to go (see, I continued to think Audrey would come after her due date), but good thing he didn't!  And that's all I'll say about the game... we won't talk about the outcome.  ;)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Baby Shower in Tinley Park

September 18, 2011

I am so fortunate to have so many generous and caring people in my life.  Carl and I both are.  And the baby showers that were thrown for us (and Audrey!) prove just how thoughtful and generous our families and friends are.  My mother-in-law, Carl's Aunt Janet, and Joyce's good friend Kathy Moran threw us a shower in Tinley Park on September 18, 2011, for family and friends up in the Chicagoland area.  It was at the cutest restaurant called Isabella Cafe in downtown Tinley.  They had the best Italian food - so delicious!  This is the invitation and the menu:

Here is a picture of me (at 35-weeks) and the hosts:  Aunt Janet, me, Joyce, and Kathy 

Just check out all the little details.  So much work went into this shower.  They are a creative bunch!
Kathy Moran made this diaper cake.  Check it out.  Illini cap (that we are taking to the hospital with us for some of Audrey's first pics), a softball glove, softball bat going through the middle, socks, onesies, headbands, toys, even a cupcake ornament:

There were about 30 people total who attended, which is quite a turnout!  Carl and I both are so thankful and appreciative of all the gifts we received.  We really did get everything we needed from our registry plus some other really cute things.
Look at all these gifts!

I have many more pictures, but I'll leave you with just one more... Carl and me, the parents-to-be:
It was a Sunday in the Fall, the Bears played the New Orleans Saints hence Carl's jersey.  Unfortunately, the Bears lost.  

38 Weeks!

How far along:  38 weeks and 2 days (only 12 more days til my due date!!)
Size of baby:  My updates say she's 7 pounds and is as long as a leek (more than 19 1/2 inches head to heel).  My mom thinks she's going to end up being over 8 1/2 pounds.  We will see!
Total weight gain:  Last week at my 37 week checkup (I know, I didn't do a 37 week update!) I had gained a total of 39 pounds.  I just had my checkup tonight and I had lost about 1/10th of a pound from last week.  That's a sign that I'm getting ready to deliver soon!  I've had a couple signs actually.  It's going to happen pretty soon!
Maternity clothes:  I've packed my bag for the hospital so I have some of my comfy clothes packed in there.  Now I really feel like I don't have any clothes.  I'm just better off wearing dresses.  They changed the dress code at work to include "dressy jeans" Monday through Thursday... that's right, jeans every day of the week (we've always had casual Fridays).  But I'm still wearing my dresses.  I don't really like jeans these days!  Plus the weather's been really nice... and for a pregnant lady that means I am always hot and constantly sweaty.  So my dresses are the best option for me!
Gender:  GIRL
Movement:  I don't feel her moving around as much these days, but I do still feel her moving periodically throughout the day.  On Friday, I was pretty busy all day and that night I was thinking that I hadn't noticed her moving, so I sat down on the couch and really focused on her movements.  Amber stayed over that night after running a practice and a private lesson near our house.  I called her over to feel Audrey moving.  Amber really felt a lot of movements and she was amazed!  It was pretty cool.  Audrey was really rubbing and kicking around up near the top of my belly near my rib cage.  It was really strange for me, though, because every time Amber would feel it up top, I was getting a sharp pain down in my bladder.  She really is long in there and covers a lot of area!  Right now, as I type this, Audrey is putting on a show... getting her daily exercise I guess.  I feel her on the left side of my belly today.  This past week, it's all been on the right side.  She must have shifted a little bit.
Sleep:  Last night we had our tour of Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, where I will be delivering.  I swear, my advice to pregnant women is not to wait until you are 38 weeks to go on a hospital tour!  We were walking around the hospital for 90 minutes straight!  Seriously, way too much activity for me.  39 extra pounds is a lot to be carrying around for that long.  I was pretty grouchy when we got home because I was just exhausted!  It's also been a really busy week at work.  I'm training our department on a new software that we are going to start implementing.  There's a lot that goes into that, and it's been pretty stressful.  So, last night I was wiped out!  I climbed into bed and my back was just killing me, so it was a "2-extra-pillows night".  I had one pillow long-ways across the front of me wedged between my belly and the mattress and kind between my legs, just like always.  Then last night, I had a pillow behind my back, too.  It really helped take some pressure off my back and I slept pretty well.    I still get up at least 3 times a night to go to the bathroom.  Even Chief is used to it now... he doesn't even lift his head when I step over him in the bathroom.  He's lucky I still have my balance, otherwise he'd be crushed.  He sleeps either right in front of the toilet or across the doorway in the bathroom.
What I miss:  I feel like I'm nervous all the time.  I just want Audrey to be healthy.  I just want to know what's going on with my body and when exactly I will know that I am in labor.  I feel like I'm going crazy with this coming up so soon!  Carl's really nice and reassuring.  Everything will go really smooth with the labor and Audrey will be healthy.  I just have to keep believing that!  I'm healthy and she's been really healthy, and I'm just hoping it will stay that way.  I have been feeling really good, but yesterday and today have kicked my butt.  I'm feeling a lot more tired and uncomfortable.  Mom said to me on Sunday that I didn't look miserable, which is good.  But I've wondered how I've looked to other people yesterday and today.  This morning when I came into work, I'm pretty sure I looked pretty miserable.  I'm getting really ready!  I know I'm going to miss being pregnant and sometimes I'm not quite sure I want to give it up yet.  But other times, I can't wait to have Audrey here and not be pregnant.  Soon enough!
Cravings:  Gosh, I've been craving cinnamon rolls again.  What the heck?  That's like the 4th time during this pregnancy that I've said I've been craving cinnamon rolls.  And if I've only said it 4 times,  you know I've craved them even more than that!  :)
Symptoms:  So I've already said that I've seen some signs that labor is fast approaching.  One big thing...  ALERT:  This is going to be TMI, so read at your own risk.  Yesterday, I lost my mucus plug.  For some people, they go into labor within 24 hours of losing their mucus plus.  For others, it's more like 2-3 weeks.  So, who knows.  But things are moving and getting ready down there.  All that means is that my cervix is "ripening" (that sounds weird).  Basically, my body is preparing for everything to take place, so that's really good!  Also, I didn't gain any weight from last week, which they say happens near the end of pregnancy.  One of my friends at work told me today that I was flushed.  She referenced the malar flush (I think that's what she called it).  Apparently it means that you are going to give birth within the next couple days.  And to top all of that off, it's a full moon tonight, October 11, 2011.  Who knows when little Audrey will make her appearance!  And just another symptom that I have to mention is that my lower back has been killing me lately.  It's not lumbar back pain either, kinda in the middle of my lower back.  It's mainly on my right side, right near my kidneys.  I especially feel the pain when I need to go to the bathroom or have gas.  I know it's not back labor because it doesn't come and go, it's just there.  The doctor said that back pain is inevitable at this stage in the game.  The baby is big and growing, I weigh the most I've ever weighed before, and my center of gravity is majorly shifting.  And my back is carrying all of that load and pressure.
Best moment this week:  Carl and I are getting really excited.  Carl probably more than me only because I'm held back a little by fear of the unknown.  ;)  It's really crazy to think that our daughter will be here in 2 weeks, if not before.  We are so excited for our family to grow.  Our 4-year wedding anniversary is this Thursday, October 13th.  It's really crazy how much has changed in the last 4 years.  Those 4 years have just flown by.  They have been the best 4 years of my life... so far.  I have a feeling the upcoming years are going to be pretty interesting.  I keep thinking of the Alan Jackson song Remember When.  He sings:  Remember when the sound of little feet was music, we danced to week to week, brought back the love, we had trust, vowed we'd never give it up, remember when.  I can't wait to have little feet pitter-pattering across our house.  This past weekend, Keely and Chloe (16 months) came up from Indy to visit.  It was really fun having a little kid in the house.  She is a riot, so easy going and so happy and so curious.  I was fun to have them stay over. Chief really took to her, too.  He couldn't quit licking her.  Ha!  And then she would give him a run for his money and start chasing him, which was hilarious.  Also my parents and Grandpa Hahn came up for a quick visit on Sunday.  Mom and I went to Ikea and bought some more things for the nursery while Dad, Carl, and Grandpa stayed at home and watched baseball and football on TV.  Grandpa hadn't been up to our house yet, so that was neat that he got to come up and see a part of our life up here.  It's always so great having family around, especially when they don't live close by.

We are getting close!  What do you think my next post will be?  Do you think I'll have a 39-week update?  Or do you think it will be a Labor & Delivery update?  Only Audrey knows when she's going to be ready.  :)