Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Truth Be Told

It's hard to believe that this was already 18 days ago:
Left to right: Jon, Steph, Grandpa, Gram and Kate about 15 hours old
We haven't quite gotten back into "normal" life yet. Jon and I are both still on maternity/paternity leave, so most of our days are spent at home enjoying Katherine and getting to know her.

I wanted to take this opportunity to post the whole truth about my pregnancy experience and dispel some of the myths and old-wives tales I heard. Mostly because I think that pregnant women really only share the scary stories and I want people to know that there is such a thing as a happy pregnancy!

Myth: You are having a boy if you carry low and out in front.
Truth: I carried low the whole time and you couldn't tell I was pregnant from behind. Obviously we had a girl, and I've decided that everyone's bodies carry babies differently. Thank you, Kate for not making me look ginormous!

Myth: Girls make you more sick because you have more estrogen.
Truth: I never had morning sickness. Not once. In fact, I felt fantastic for most of my pregnancy! Just sleepy.

Myth: Your baby will have a lot of hair if you have bad heartburn.
Truth: Kate had a LOT of hair - and I never had major heartburn. I had a little indigestion a handful of times which always went away with a tums. Real heartburn I think I only had twice. I'm pretty sure it's because of what I ate and the fact that my stomach was squished to the size of a quarter, not because our baby was working on becoming Rapunzel.

Myth: You will gain a lot of weight when you're pregnant.
Truth: I ate the same way I did before being pregnant, did yoga every day, and kept working on my feet up to 37 weeks. I gained a total of 18 lbs. And my doctor said I was perfectly healthy.

Myth: You will have crazy cravings in the middle of the night.
Truth: I don't think I craved anything. Ever. I definitely liked eating fresh fruit, but I like that stuff anyway - and having a summer baby was perfect because it's right when peaches, plums and strawberries are in season! I didn't eat them any more than I normally would. But they certainly were delicious :)

Myth: You will be up peeing all night.
Truth: I slept all the way through the night even at 41 weeks.

Myth: You will have swollen ankles and fat feet.
Truth: I was really worried about this one because I already have wide feet. Small feet, yes, but there are a lot of shoes in stores that I can't even get my feet into because they are so wide HAHA embarrassing :) Luckily for me I did not get cankles OR wider feet. They stayed their perfectly normal size the whole time. I think once or twice when I was sitting for a long time my feet did get a little swollen from it being so dang hot. But that went away as soon as I got up and started walking again.

Myth: Your baby will kick you in the lungs and the ribs all the time.
Truth: I think Kate kicked me in the ribs once. When she was bigger I could definitely feel her up in my ribs when I would sit down, which would make it hard to get comfortable for a few hours, but she never took my breath away or kicked me all the time. And once she dropped I was way more comfortable and even went to see Dark Knight Rises in theaters 3 days before she was born. And I didn't have to get up and pee during the movie once.

Myth: You will drive your husband nuts with crazy mood swings!
Truth: Although I was a little more prone to crying and being silly-emotional, I always knew when it was just irrational and I never had intense mood swings. It was not like I suddenly became bi-polar and couldn't control my temper! I felt pretty much like myself the whole time.

Overall I sincerely LOVED being pregnant. I never thought I would be one of those women. I was sure I would have bad morning sickness and even worried about having to go on bed rest. I worried about having a c-section because of my small frame and I thought that Kate would be breech like Jon and I were.

But in the end everything went so well! I tried to just LOVE each day of my pregnancy and whenever I was a little too tired, got out of breath walking to class, or started to feel frustrated because I had to try on 4 outfits in the morning before finding something that fit, I would stop and remember that I am extremely blessed to be able to have children of my own, and that there is nothing in the world that I have ever wanted more than to be a mom. Maybe that's part of why my whole experience ended up being awesome.

I definitely feel like I was SUPER blessed. I understand that not everyone has this easy of a time being pregnant. And who knows, maybe the next one will be really hard :) But at least with Kate, she has been incredibly fantastic and we could not have asked for a better experience. So far we think she is the best thing ever!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Katherine Anora

Jon and I checked into the hospital at 5:15am, Friday morning, August 3rd.
We had technically gone in to be induced, which was my decision - being a week overdue. I was only at 1cm, so they were able to get my contractions started without medication and I labored on my own for a while.

The best part of this was that I could eat real food! (Until the active labor kicked in) Breanna came to help be a back-up coach for Jon as I went through labor. My other awesome friend, Tadd came in the morning to keep us company and help with anything we needed during the day. He supplied the fresh fruit salad, Crunch n Munch and Twix bars. All of mine and Jon's favorite things. Super fantastic!

Jon's sister Beth also came to hang out with us while I was in labor, and Tadd's wife Kelly was able to make it around 3:30pm. She got there right in time for the excitement!

To stay relaxed during labor I had made a playlist of chill music, including songs from Of Monsters and Men, Death Cab, Coldplay, soundtracks from Finding Neverland and Chronicles of Narnia, LOTR, etc. One of the nurses commented that our room had the best music of anyones. Right on :)

We also brought Gilmore Girls and watched a couple of my favorite episodes. Near the end of my labor Beth brought season 2 of Community. We watched the episode where Shirley has her baby. HAHA perfect!

After a few hours of early labor they put me on the smallest amount of pitocin possible to keep my contractions going. At 2:30pm my water broke!

From there, things really got moving. I labored another 2 hours on my own and was in a LOT of pain. When I got my epidural at 4:30pm it was FANTASTIC. Best thing ever.

I took a nap (which caused my right leg to go way more numb than my left leg) and at 7:30pm the midwife came in to check me. I was at 10cm! Suddenly everything felt really real.

Jon felt sick when they said I was going to start pushing at 8pm. He went for a walk, and then came back to give me a blessing with Ben and Tadd before the delivery began. He decided that he was too uncomfortable to be in the room and went out to the waiting room with the boys. We had talked about this before hand, so I knew that he may not be able to be there. Breanna, Kelly and Beth all stayed to help with the birth. Jon's sister would tell him as soon as our baby was born and he would come back in. I was ok with that.

After an hour and a half of pushing - our baby GIRL was born!
(I love this pic of her with her eyes open so big! It makes me laugh) 

I asked them not to announce if we had a boy or a girl. I wanted to see for myself. As soon as she was born they handed her to me and I saw her face first. My initial reaction was that she DEFINITELY looked like my side of the family. That really surprised me. Then they turned her body toward me so that I could see that she was a girl. I was SO overwhelmed and just started crying! Realizing that we had a baby girl and that I was able to deliver her was the most amazing feeling of my life.

Jon came in as they were still wiping her down on my chest. The nurse was about to take her to be weighed, so I told him that we had a girl and Jon went to look at her and take pictures.

She weighed 7lbs 7oz and was 20.25 inches long.

At this point I was INCREDIBLY shaky. I didn't realize that this was common after giving birth, but I was so wired my whole body was shaking for about 1/2 an hour. My teeth were chattering and I could hardly hold our sweet girl to feed her. Jon stood by my side and fed me fruit that Tadd and Kelly had brought (AMAZING!) That brought up my blood sugar and made the convulsions go away within 10 minutes. I am so grateful for that fresh fruit!

Because my repair and our baby's check-up/bath took such a long while, we didn't even really get a chance to hold her and look at her face to name her until around midnight. We both agreed that Katherine was the way to go. Her middle name was set - but we did adjust the spelling before deciding on Anora.

I have always wanted a little girl named Kate. That was one of my biggest favorite names since before Jon and I were married. Jon didn't want her to just be named a nickname. He wanted her to have a full given name and he has loved Katherine for a long time. We agreed that she would be Katherine - and go by Kate. Classic. Simple. And perfect :)

Our friends were SO great to stay up and wait to come in and see us. They had been there all day, helped with the birth, and now got to welcome our little girl into the world at just a few hours old. I cannot imagine a better group of people to be there for us. It was seriously the best! I wish I had gotten pictures of everyone, but it was so late and we were so tired that we just wanted to soak in the experience and didn't worry about cameras.

Jon got this picture of me before we went up to the recovery room. Man, I was exhausted!

Breanna did take this one picture of us, which was our picture of the day. I feel like you can really tell how tired we are! I don't even care that I looked horrible, because that day was so amazing that it was all worth it.

We had a lot of visitors in the hospital, which we really appreciated and enjoyed!

Ben and Breanna came back the next day, as well as Kelly and Tadd, Beth, Jon's parents, my sister Michelle and my parents, Jon's brother Mike with our niece AnnMarie, Summer and Riley, Breanne and David, Jeremy, my sister Carrie, Candice, Crystal and Jace, and if I'm leaving anyone else out I'm sorry!

We came home on Sunday morning. Jon's family wanted to make sure the neighborhood knew :)

4 days after being born we took Kate to her first pediatric check up. She was/is amazing! We are so so incredibly blessed to have a healthy, happy, calm baby. We could not have asked for a better start to our family.

Here is our support team!

Breanna - aka the Coach:
(She knew our birth plan and was vital to Kate's birth. She was so good about counting for me during pushes and keeping me going!)

Kelly - aka the Cheerleader:
(seriously, she was jumping up and down and crying with excitement before I even started pushing)

Beth - aka the Water Girl:
(She had my water there after every set of pushes to keep me hydrated and kept Jon updated by texting while he was in the waiting room)

And the grandparents!

Jon's mom:

Jon's dad:

My dad:
(I like to think that Kate is playing air guitar in this picture)

My mom:

Aunt Michelle with Kate:
(and yes, that is handlebar mustache duct tape on Kate's blanket. We tape down the end where her swaddling is tucked in so that she doesn't wiggle out. It makes such a huge difference in keeping her calm!)

Kate has had such a delightful first week of life with us. She is so snuggly, sleepy and sweet. She even sleeps through her sponge baths:

Now - Kate is 1 week old! I can't believe it. But I am enjoying EVERY day with our sweet baby girl.

Being a mom is absolutely the best feeling in the world.

Welcome to our family, baby Kate! We are so glad to have you in our lives.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Welcome to our World

 Jon and I recently welcomed this little spirit to our home:

She is absolutely the best thing we've ever experienced in life!

We would like to invite you all to attend Kate's blessing
Sunday - September 2, 2012 - 8:30am
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
3345 Margaret Drive
Loomis CA 95650

An open house brunch will follow at the Alston home
10am - noon
3566 Silver Ranch Avenue
Loomis CA 95650

We hope you all can make it to help us welcome Katherine home!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cooking with Jon & Steph - Rosemary Strawberry Shortcake Pizza

Yes, it is officially August and Baby Alston has still not arrived. In the meantime we have been keeping up with friends and all sorts of delicious fun.

This recipe was from the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. It is my nerdy homemaker side shining through. There are few things I like better than a good Better Homes and Gardens. I actually copied this recipe down on a napkin while we were over at the Joyner's a few weeks ago. I was THAT excited about it.

One thing I really liked is how the chef presenting this recipe suggested having everything totally ready to go and measured before starting to cook. A painter wouldn't start painting until they had all the colors they needed, a bowl of water and their brushes out, right? So it should be for less stressful cooking. Prep everything before you start putting together any food. It makes for a lot more fun and and easier baking! (I did not do this, unfortunately... and it made things much more interesting.)

I think the best part of this recipe was getting to use fresh Loomis strawberries. Man, I love those roadside stands in the summer. Best. Strawberries. Ever.

And we also used fresh rosemary from Jon's parent's garden. So awesome!

Rosemary Strawberry Shortcake Pizza

Prep: 30 minutes Bake: 22 minutes Oven: 400 degrees

1 quart (4 cups) strawberries. Rinsed and quartered.
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
1 3/4 cups whipping cream
1 egg white lightly beaten
2 T sugar
sweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In large bowl, combine strawberries and honey. Let stand, stirring occasionally while prepping shortcake.

In food processor, combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, rosemary, baking powder and salt; pulse to mix.

Add butter to flour mixture; pulse several times. While pulsing, add cream, pulsing until dough begins to come together.

Turn out dough on lightly floured surface. Knead quickly. Roll dough to 9x13 inch rectangle (1/2 inch thickness).

Transfer dough to large parchment lined baking sheet. With sharp knife, score dough in 1 1/2 inch squares. Brush dough with egg white. Sprinkle with 2 T sugar.

Bake 20-22 minutes until golden brown.

Transfer shortcake and parchment to platter. Spoon strawberries on shortcake. Drizzle with juices.

Serve in tumblers or bowls with whipped cream. (or if you're Jon - try have a little shortcake with your whipped cream...)

Makes 15 (2 square) servings - plus leftovers!

Of course we had to have our friends Kelly and Tadd over to taste test it for us. I think it was a success :)


In other adventures, we've been watching the Olympics, going on walks, trying to get out of the house and encouraging Baby Alston to come enjoy the world with us!

 We went out to Leatherby's on Monday for Breanne's birthday. (Thank goodness they have sorbet) Check out this sundae Jon had all to himself! It was so nice to be out with friends :)

Breanna came over to paint my nails on Tuesday

and drew some delightful stick figure versions of me and her as well as Margo on my big toes. We thought Baby Alston might really like the cave drawings on his/her birthday haha :)

Until then we are trying more delicious methods of bringing Baby Alston to the world. Tonight we had some Prego Pizza! Fingers crossed that I'll go into labor tonight.