Saturday, April 26, 2014

Evaluating the Valuable

This past week has been a rough one.

After Kate being up almost all night last Thursday-Friday with a 103 degree fever, we took her to the pediatrician to find she had hand, foot and mouth viral infection. What we originally thought was teething pains turned out to be an actual illness.

She just seemed so miserable and we felt so helpless. I cried a lot that morning. We were really worried about what we could do for her. Her fever did come down when we gave her baby Tylenol, and Jon was really sweet with her, cooling Kate's little body with washcloths and a lukewarm bath. When her fever came back after nap time, I finally said we should just take her in to get checked out so that we would know what we were dealing with, and if it was nothing, then great! Once we saw her throat though, Jon and I both said, "whoa!"

Basically it affects children 6 and under with high fevers, sores in the mouth and itchy blisters on the hands and feet. Not everyone will get all these symptoms if they catch it, but it was still pretty miserable for our 20 month old :(

The hardest part was separating the children completely so that Edwin didn't get sick. Jon took Kate duty and I stayed with Edwin so that we could make sure everything was separated and we weren't cross contaminating. We picked up some fruit pouches and PediaSure for Kate and snuggled at home watching the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

By last Saturday she was feeling much better! Her throat still looked bad and we didn't want to take any chances with her still being contagious, so we kept the kids separated. It was so sweet though when I came around the corner one day to see Kate trying to hug baby Edwin's feet :) I felt so bad having to take her away and telling her that she couldn't touch her baby brother. She also came up to me and gave me a big hug around the waist while I was working on the computer that afternoon. I missed snuggling with her! But we couldn't risk passing the infection to Edwin.

This was the first time that Kate had been "seriously" sick. And thankfully it wasn't super horrible.

During the remaining week I caught an awful cold which had me knocked out for a couple days, I had a dear friend in the hospital due to some gall bladder surgery complications (she thankfully was able to go home to her babies yesterday), I found out that my Grandma Bailey (my dad's mother) has stage 4 lymphoma which they will start aggressively treating with chemotherapy next week, and my sweet cousin-in-law who is Jon's age with 3 young children has breast cancer. I cried.

This week has been a huge life perspective changer for me.

Of course Kate, Jon and our little family has always been a big deal. But since having Edwin I find even MORE that I'm happy slowing down and just taking time for my family. I've always wanted to put them first, but it seems every time we add on to our family a little more, my heart grows bigger :)

There are the silly moments like when I swear there's a burp cloth on my shoulder, but it turns out I'm just so used to the weight I assume it's still there. I call it "new-mommy-phantom-burp-cloth-syndrome". Jon knows what I'm talking about because he often starts spontaneously swaying side-to-side when he's lecturing at school. He has "new-daddy-phantom-baby-rocking-syndrome".

Yes, our lives have definitely changed. But it's probably the happiest I've ever been.

These days when my evenings are mostly consumed with changing diapers, wiping boogers, reading books and singing songs with the toddler while simultaneously nursing and burping the newborn, helping Kate "luh-low" (color) with crayons while trying to write letters to family, eating dinner while sharing portions with Kate and trying to keep her from dropping ham into the crying Edwin's mouth, brushing her teeth, getting into jammies, singing bedtime songs and saying prayers, all while Edwin cries in the other room, and then swaddling/snuggling him and trying to get him to sleep at almost 9pm knowing that I'll have to wake him up again at 10 to eat ... (yes, these are all ACTUALLY things that happened tonight) I like to stop and look at the baby in my arms falling into dreams and remember that although I haven't taken off my shoes since I got home 3 hours ago from running errands, and even though I'm home by myself and part of me laughs to think about how when we were married without kids I could come home, kick off my shoes, eat dinner in about 5 minutes and then spend the rest of the evening reading or doing whatever I wanted, it really was not even nearly as great as this.

What I mean is that when I am 15 years ahead and think back to these days of babies, I will probably wish I could go back and hold them just a little longer :) So I try to consider NOW what I might regret in the future, that way I can prevent making those mistakes before they even happen, and when I'm a 40-something with grown up kids I will be grateful for my life and not worry about what I might have missed.

Years ago I could not wait for when we had children and I could snuggle with our babies and hug their soft squishy wonderfulness and now I have two of the best babies in the world. I don't want to take any minute for granted, because you never really know how long it will last.

Everyone says that life is too short. But is it really about how many years are in your life? Would I rather live a long long time here on Earth to try and accomplish all the things I ever dreamt of doing? Or is it about the quality of life spent in your years, even if those years are short? When my sweet teenage cousin passed away at the end of 2013 Jon and I were blessed to be able to attend his funeral, and both of us felt like he had the most amazing, heartfelt, touching life, full of true friends and fantastic experiences. Much more wonderful in his 17 years of total life than I've accomplished, even with my 10 extra years longer that I've lived so far. How is that for perspective?

When I think of what is valuable in my life, the time I spend with the people I love will definitely always be number 1.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Sunday

We had a fantastic Easter Sunday as a new family of four!

Since baby Edwin is still so little, Jon and I took turns going to church so that we could trade off with the kids. I joined my parents for sacrament meeting at 9am and Jon went to our ward at 1pm. We spent the rest of the day at home with Jon's family and also visited my family in the afternoon. Jon's sister Beth is back for a few weeks before she starts her master's program in Arizona and we love having her around. It's so nice to have everyone close by to celebrate the holidays with our kids!

I had a lot of fun putting together Kate's first Easter basket. (Last year she was too little to really know what was going on.) I made it a non-candy basket since we knew she would get enough sweets from the grandparents. I filled Kate's basket with all sorts of things she would love :)

Bubble necklaces shaped like carrots (bubbles are one of her most favorite things in the world), color drops for bathtime (her favorite part of the day), her very own Laffy Taffy flavored chapstick (because she always borrows my Burt's Bees), a 20inch beach ball (we played with one at a friend's house and she thought it was amazing), a toddler sized garden rake (there is an old plastic one in the backyard and she loves to dig), and a mini coloring book of The Easter Story that I put together with the wonderful help of Jon (to help her learn the true meaning of Easter and why we celebrate).

The mini book has little descriptions and scriptures that talk about Palm Sunday, The Last Supper, The Resurrection after the atonement in Gethsemane and crucifixion, and then baby chicks with Easter eggs and a basket explaining the celebration of new life that we're given because of Jesus, and the symbolism of Spring.

Kate especially loved her chapstick and just wanted to eat it :)

While chewing on her new garden rake, I was able to get a picture of the kids in their Easter best :)

I made Kate's dress from scratch and Jon helped me applique Edwin's tie on a onesie with some of the scraps. Kate's dress turned out so beautiful! I was very happy. I knew right when I first saw the fabric come in at Beverly's I wanted it to be Kate's Easter dress, but the shape and design came along as I made it. Pink tulle gathers out from the bottom and the bodice has 4 front pleats with cap sleeves. The bodice ended up having somewhat of a wide boat neck as well. It was very elegant, almost "off-the-shoulder" and Jon said it reminded him of the Rory dress :) All you Gilmore Girls fans know what I mean:

Jon's parents gave Kate her very own purse for Easter, so we immediately put a book in it to complete the Rory effect ;)

Baby Edwin got a fun newsboy style cap, but since he is still so little he will wear it more this Summer.

I didn't get any other great pictures of Wynn's fancy Easter onesie because he was so sleepy the rest of the day!

Kate and I had a fun time coloring and talking about Easter while everyone was at church. I was also able to get pictures of her pink flower hair clippies which I made to match her dress.

I just loved watching Kate sit in her chair at the table in her Easter dress with Margo begging for some graham cracker nearby :)

After visiting my family (where Kate and Edwin both received Easter books, treats, adorable cards, and Kate got a soft pink bear) we had dinner with Jon's family. Lamb, ham, scalloped potatoes, grilled veggies, and jello jigglers made by AnnMarie.

That evening we played outside and hunted for Easter eggs!




It was the most magical first Easter Sunday with both kids that I could imagine.

I just want to end by sharing my faith in our Savior.

Through all the fun activities, projects, games, Saturdays, play times, dress ups, and holidays that we participate in as a family throughout the year, it ALL comes down to the real life of this extraordinary man. Jesus is not just a story. His atonement is central to our lives and our Heavenly Father's purpose. I am so thankful for my knowledge of Him and the opportunity that I have to raise amazing children and teach them of this truth.

I know that my Redeemer lives,
Triumphant Savior, Son of God,
Victorious over pain and death,
My King, my Leader, and my Lord.
Hymn 135

As Jon and I talked about yesterday, Easter is really the most important Christian holiday there is. Without Easter, Christmas would just have been the birth of another baby. What makes Christmas so special and important is that it is the birth of God's son, who sacrificed everything for us to have it all, and was resurrected on Easter to make it possible for us to have eternal life. For that, I will be forever grateful.

I know that these things are true, and I hope that you also find the peace that comes with this Easter season. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Edwin Alexander

My whole labor experience began on Wednesday March 26th in the evening. Sacramento (and specifically Lincoln and Roseville) were under a tornado warning. Despite this, we went to dinner at Olive Garden with our awesome friends Jared and Lindsey Joyner and their two children Christian and Leila. Jared and Lindsey both made their cases for how awesome they would be at coaching labor and volunteered to be back up coaches if we needed it :)

I had contractions about 10-15 minutes apart all evening. At first I didn't think much of it because I had been having false labor earlier in the week which would only last for two hours or so and then fade away. They would be braxton hicks contractions - tight but not painful - and definitely not progressive. This time my contractions lasted all through dinner and even when we went home they didn't stop.

That night I had a few contractions that woke me up. By 5am on Thursday the 27th I was wide awake and could not fall back asleep. Still my contractions were just 10 minutes apart.

Michelle O'Keefe arrived around 8am to take me to my last prenatal checkup since this was my due date! We were excited about my contractions and hoped that it meant the baby would really be born that day.

At the doctor's office my contractions continued. The physician said it definitely sounded like I was in early labor. I had her strip my membranes, which I was SURE would just quicken things along.

Michelle and I went back to the house, took a walk around the block with Jon, Kate and Margo, then after lunch I took a nap, and that afternoon Michelle and I went to the Galleria where we walked around for hours and hours hoping to get my labor going more.


After eating pineapple, a huge bowl of curly fries, bouncing up and down, browsing through 10ish stores, and thoroughly wearing myself out, it was clear that this baby was not going anywhere soon.

We went back home for dinner and then Jon and I took Kate over to the Kester's to visit with their kiddos for a couple hours and Judith insisted on having me try a peeling cucumber face mask. It was pretty awesome and made my skin moisturized and smooth! We watched some YouTube videos and had a good time relaxing while my contractions continued.

That night Jon and I stayed up until about 11pm and my contractions were still 8-10 minutes apart. But I had been advised not to come in until they were 5-7 minutes apart for at least an hour and were so painful that I couldn't walk or talk through them. That was definitely NOT how these contractions were. I was getting bummed out since Michelle and her fam had planned to go back to Washington the next day.

I woke up Friday morning the 28th with NO contractions.

I wasn't super impatient yet about having the baby, but I had really wanted Michelle to be there. She came over in the morning and we went out for some last shopping excursions before she had to head home after lunch. At this point I was really sad and was starting to feel overwhelmed about not having any plans for someone being in the hospital with me when the baby was to be born. I just tried to be happy about the extra time I had to spend with Kate and finished some sewing projects :) It really ended up being a good end to the week, even though the new baby was being frustrating!

On Friday and Saturday both I had the same false labor in the evenings that I had previous to my due date. Just a couple hours and nothing exciting. I sent a text to our Primary President to let her know we would be at church to teach our 8 year olds on Sunday after all. She told me we would be blessed for teaching and that my labor would probably start at 4:30pm the next day (we get out of church at 4). I told her that I hoped she was right!

Sunday, March 30, we woke up early to prep for a friend's baby blessing in Roseville. I decided that I wasn't going to let the day get me down, even though I KNEW I was going to have a million questions and comments from people about why the baby wasn't here yet ... *sigh* I curled my hair, tried to still dress cute, and off we went to the baby blessing for Liam Barnett.

The blessing was beautiful and it was really sweet to hear our friend's testimonies. My contractions were going all morning and during church about 8-10 minutes apart. When we got home about 11am I took a nap since our ward doesn't meet until 1pm. My contractions continued and I just felt exhausted :( I woke up for lunch, laid on the couch, and almost told Jon that if things continued this way I didn't think I could make it past sacrament meeting. I just felt gross and wanted to go back to bed. But we team teach primary and we have to be together, so I decided to tough it out.

We made it to church and thankfully got to sit with Whitney and Louis Mariner and their kids Lucy and Crew. They shared snacks with Kate and she also sat with our friends the Fahnings for a little bit and their girls made her a rainbow loom necklace. So spoiled!

Throughout primary my contractions were definitely closer. They were tight, but nothing to cry over. I timed them at 5 minutes apart all the way through sharing time. At the end of the day, our Primary President asked the kids to pray for me to have the baby soon and that it would be healthy :) I appreciated that so much!

We went home and I immediately went back to bed. I couldn't fall asleep with all my contractions and at 5:07pm I started timing them. I wrote in my journal and Jon made waffles for dinner. I continued to have contractions 5 minutes apart until around 7:30 when Jon finally convinced me to call the Labor & Delivery department at Kaiser. I had mixed feelings about going in to be monitored because I didn't want them to just send me home. I called Judith to ask her how her contractions felt with baby #2. I was definitely out of breath during my contractions, but in between I felt great! Judith agreed with Jon that this sounded like the real deal and that I should go in.

We took Kate over to the Kester's house and I stayed in the car because I was feeling really uncomfortable. Getting in and out of the car was such a hassle.

On the way to the hospital from there, Jon and I talked about how I expected the whole labor process to feel a lot more hectic and stressful. I know it's not like what you see on TV, but I still felt like I would have more of a sense of urgency. We got to the Labor triage center and they hooked me up to some monitors. My contractions started coming 2-3 minutes apart and were definitely stronger. It was nice to hear the baby's heartbeat. The nurses let us know that I was dilated to a 3. The baby was getting stressed and because my contractions were so close it wasn't giving baby enough time to recover. They wanted to admit me to a delivery room and put me on oxygen and IV fluids to stabilize the baby. At this point my pain was probably around a 3 or 4. Not horrible, but definitely not comfortable.
It turned out that the baby had great timing since I got to be checked into the hospital still in my church dress, legs shaved, hair curled and makeup done ;)

I walked with Jon and the nurse down to our room and we got settled in around 9pm. I used the bathroom and thought maybe my water broke, but after a check we found it was still in tact. After a failed attempt to have an IV put in my right hand (which got a big bump and major bruise for a few days) they got me hooked up on the left side and I got to wear a sweet oxygen mask.

Our friend Nicolette who had been planning to come hang out with us at the house that night, came to the hospital instead! Slight detour :) She was very fun and kept the mood light.

I had also asked Jon to contact the Joyner's when we were in the triage center. I felt the distinct impression that it was foolish to not take them up on their offer to be back up labor coaches, and because of the timing I thought it would work out with their kids going to bed. Besides, I wasn't sure how jazzed Nicolette would be about staying in the room to watch me have a baby when it came down to it.

Jon put on some music (my awesome hospital playlist on my ipod) and that really helped me feel better. I had something to listen to with contractions, and Jon and Nicolette were really good about keeping things quiet when I had a contraction. The nurses kept the lights in the room dimmed, which I appreciated. We found that the baby was happier when I was on my left side, so I tried to stay comfortable and turned to stabilize the heartbeat.

After about an hour my contractions were getting much stronger and I had to hold the bed rail and moan through them. I was able to concentrate and breathe, but they were definitely starting to hurt more than I was happy with. I let the nurses know that I did want an epidural, so I was ok with getting it as soon as we knew the baby was happy. At about 10:30pm the anesthesiologist came in and got me all hooked up. AMAZING. What I appreciate most is that I can still feel what's going on and I could still move my feet. I could tell when I was having contractions, but it took away the really bad cramping and aching feeling.

Lindsey came in right after my epidural and we were able to talk about my evening and visit for a little while.

The nurses checked me again around 11pm and I was at a 6/7. My water broke on its own and I continued to just labor and listen to music for about an hour.

It was pretty busy in the delivery room considering that we have nurses checking in on us and prepping a million things as well as filling out paperwork and getting everything ready for post-birth. They also wanted to keep a close monitor on baby and between shift changes and everything else we really didn't have a lot of down time and the whole process went really quickly. They were as least invasive as possible, but then again you are in a hospital with a million tubes and things strapped and taped to you, so it's not really like a day spa experience ;)

I started to feel like the baby was REALLY low. I felt a lot more aware of everything going on than I did when Kate was born. I think part of it was that this time I knew what to expect, but also my epidural was in for a much longer time with Kate and I had fallen asleep on one side for a couple hours which made my whole right leg dead when she was born. This time I was a lot more sensitive and I knew that this baby was ready to be born. I had the nurses check me at 12:30am and they confirmed I was at a 10 and that the baby was "right there". They got everything prepped quickly and when there was a moment that they were all out of the room, Jon, Nicolette, Lindsey and I said a prayer together.

Jon felt ok with staying in the room which made me feel so much more safe and comforted :) He stayed up by my head and held my left hand. Lindsey helped me on the left side, and Nicolette also decided to stay in the room with us. When I felt a contraction peak I started to push, and it took me a couple times to get the hang of it again. No one was counting - which I was sort of waiting for! So when I realized that was not going to happen I just tried to count to myself and go for 3 pushes with each contraction.

After two contractions I asked if the baby was crowning and it already was! I pushed a couple more times and Nicolette said, "Oh my gosh, there's a baby!" haha, like we didn't know what was going to happen :) It really is amazing though when you are having this surreal experience of being in the hospital and you've been pregnant for so long it doesn't really feel like it's happening and then there's actually a BABY there! I felt like I should keep pushing and so I asked if I could keep going even without waiting for the next contraction and they all said, "yes!" With a couple more pushes the baby was out.

Jon said, "I was right - it's a boy!" and when they handed him to me I immediately started crying. It was one of the best experiences of my life! Definitely love at first sight. I loved having Jon right there with me, and I looked at him and said, "we have a SON!" He smiled and kissed me. Giving birth is the most indescribably awesome feeling in the world.

After only 10/ish minutes of pushing, this fine sir was born on Monday morning, March 31, 2014 at 1:09 am

He weighed 8lb 6oz and was 21 inches long with a 14 inch head circumference.

Edwin is Jon's great-grandfather's name, and Alexander was a name we liked that just flowed perfectly with it.

We found that the name Edwin has Teutonic roots (being Old English and Scandinavian) and means "rich friend" while Alexander is Greek in origin and means "helper of men".

If you follow Jon's writing blog (which you should) you will see that he recently posted about giving titles to your work. This new little man is no exception, and I know he has a lot to live up to :) We wanted him to have an awesome unique name that he could grow up with! So far the name Edwin just fits him perfectly.


While we were in the hospital, Kate had an awesome time with the Kester family!
Of course she's always happiest with a book:

She and Gavin had a great time playing outside before it rained:

 Gavin told Kate that this is where Ninja Turtles live:


When we came home the next day, Kate got to meet her little brother! This is Kate signing "baby".

Now Edwin is almost 3 weeks old.
He is a lot more alert during the day and starts to focus on our faces sometimes. He also has little smiles and I love them!

I am super enjoying this baby time. I just love to hold him all day!

Kate has been an awesome big sister. Super helpful and a little mom already! She loves to pat Edwin's back with me when he burps and tries to give him his pacifier when he cries. Kate likes to hold her baby brother and will sign "milk" when I nurse him.

Our whole family is really enjoying the new addition!

My recovery has been going well too. I officially gained 33lbs while pregnant with Edwin. I feel like I'm bouncing back well, but not quite as fast as I did with Katherine. My recovery has been way easier and I felt better faster, but I haven't lost all my weight yet and I'm really not worried about it at all :) With Kate I had only gained 18lbs, so it made my recovery "look" like a breeze, even though I felt much worse coming home from the hospital with her and couldn't go on walks for a few weeks.

My goals these days are small and manageable. I try to accomplish one thing per day and give myself plenty of time to not feel overwhelmed (like with sending out baby announcements and prepping for Jon's birthday). Overall it's been so fun having 2 sweet kids! I love being able to spend my days at home with them just feeding them, giving baths, changing diapers and having playtime. It's so rewarding, and I really think if I could just do this every day forever and nothing else, I would be plenty happy :)

Welcome to our world, Edwin Alexander!
We're excited to have you join us on our adventures.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Littlest Alston

Monday morning 3-24-2014 (3 days before Olivander's due date)

Sunday night 3-30-2014 11:15pm (3 days after Olivander's due date)

Monday morning 3-31-2014 2am (51 minutes after our baby was born)

Edwin, Tadd, Liam and Kelly

born on a beautiful stormy day and brought home in the rain

Kate meets her "baby!"

Hugs for baby Wynn

The handsomest baby of them all.