Jenna’s birth story

I can’t believe it’s taken 3 1/2 months, but I finally took the time to finish typing up my birth story. Steve even sent me his version (which he sent to me a week or so after Jenna was born) so I’ll post them both before it gets ridiculously long….

Steve’s version:

On Thursday evening, I came home from work and played with Caleb for a bit while Eve made dinner. I took him to the playground but a bee scared him and he wanted to go home. After we got back, we sat down to eat and asked my routine question to Candace of how she was feeling. I had been asking this question for two weeks and expected her normal response of “normal,” but she said she was having contractions. She was timing them on her phone and they were already around 5-7 minutes apart. I was surprised because during her first labor she could never decipher when the contractions were starting or stopping.

My mom had planned to watch Caleb while Eve, Candace and I went to the hospital. I tried to text my mom a “heads up” but I accidentally texted Eve instead (they’re both in my phone as mamma XX). When I realized my mistake an hour or so later I called my mom. She had driven a friend to a hospital in DC and was on her way back to Hagerstown. She offered to pick up Caleb on the way since she was close to the house but we were already getting him into bed. We changed plans and asked Eve to watch him when we went.

Candace continued to labor at home (mostly in our bedroom) while I sat downstairs and watched the NFL draft. Around 11 Eve came down and said that we should probably leave soon. I went to ask Candace  who finally gave in after not wanting to go to the hospital too early. We got dressed and packed the car and headed to Shady Grove Hospital.

At 2335 we checked  in at the front of the L&D ward we were taken back to triage. The exam (with a nurse that had been in the Army named Heather) revealed that Candace was already 7 cm. We were shocked since it took around 30 hours to get to that point with Caleb. Candace asked me to text the birth photographer. I told her I didn’t think she’d make it in time but Candace told me it would be at least three more hours since she probably wouldn’t advance faster than 1 cm per hour.

Once we got to the labor room I mentioned to the nurses that we were storing stem cells and that  I would get the kit after we were settled. She “highly advised” that I go get it immediately since the baby was coming sooner rather than later. I ran to the car (literally) and grabbed the collection kit. I was in such a rush that I dropped it but it seemed ok.

I got back to the room and the nurses were calling for the doctor. They were having trouble locating him even though he was in the hospital. At this time Candace was having what seemed to be more painful contractions and I offered her my hand to squeeze. She was starting to yell through the contractions. I grimaced because I don’t like seeing her in pain but she thought she had hurt me and apologized. I told her my hand was fine but she keeps chiding me about it!

At about 1:00 we were laughing about Jenna being born close to the same time as Caleb. The nurse asked when he was born (1:08) and she said we might make it at the same time. I couldn’t believe it since Candace pushed for an hour with Caleb. The nurse said Jenna was REALLY low. She asked Candace if she felt the need to push but only a little bit at that time.

Finally the doctor came in and started setting up. He broke Candace’s water with a long tool and she nearly instantly screamed “I feel the need to push!”. They told Candace to hold her legs up with her hands, bring her head to her chest and push through the contractions. The nurse would count to 10, have Candace take a breath and push again.  Candace was screaming as loud as I’ve ever heard anyone as she pushed but it only took three contractions for Jenna to wriggle out. First I saw some white fluid that I didn’t notice with Caleb. On the next contractions I saw very similar patch of black hair like with Caleb. Finally her head came out with her hand on her ear. The doctor had to use a hand to assist her out in that position. She opened one eye and started screaming before her shoulders and arms were all the way out! The Dr. asked me to cut the cord which I did of course.

Once she was out the nurse started wiping her down. I was very eager for the girls to have skin to skin contact but Heather said it would be ok for them to wipe her down first. Candace got to hold Jenna for a minute before they weighed her and measured her. (The doc drew the cord blood and tissue at this time too). I asked if her head was small since Caleb and I have small heads but she just said it was normal for her size (7lbs 3 oz). Once the dr. finished stitching up Candace, they allowed her to nurse. They did all the administrative details and then we were moved to the mother baby ward around 3:00.

Friday is a blur other than trying to take Caleb to dinner but him wanting to go back to the hospital. On Saturday I drove to Ikea to get “Jenna’s” present for Caleb – a circus tent he wanted. Caleb was very happy but did not want to leave the hospital. It was obvious that he was really missing Mommy. I had to carry him crying to the car crying around 5:00. It broke my heart as he said “Daddy, I’ll be good” and I tried to explain to him that he was good and it wasn’t his fault that we had to stay another night in the hospital.

Throughout the stay Jenna cried very little – almost only when she was hungry. One night she was crying so I wheeled her around a bit and that seemed to help. Mostly she just wanted to be held so I would read with Candace’s IPAD in one hand and Jenna in the other.

Finally Sunday morning we got to go home. Pua Pua had helped Caleb make a sign that said “Welcome Jenna”. The joy on Caleb’s face when we walked in the door and he said “welcome home Mommy! welcome home daddy!” was amazing.

I’m so lucky to have my family of (gulp) four! I love each of them more than I possibly could have imagined.

My version:

On Thursday, May 8, I was 39w5d. I remember seeing something online about some a study of how a majority of second time moms delivered by then. For about two weeks leading up to that moment, I was trying out all the old wives tales on inducing labor. I was eating pineapples (core and all), eating spicy food (I had Thai food when I went into labor with Caleb), walking, having sex, using clary sage aromatherapy, massaging certain pressure points and even doing some silly yoga dance.

On that morning, I woke up and made Caleb lunch for school and then woke him up so I could get him ready to go. My mom came with me to drop him off and then we went to my doctor’s appointment.  I was 3cm dilated with a soft cervix and Jenna’s head was down low. Last week, I was 2cm dilated, 1cm the week before that and completely closed before that so it looked like my body was making some progress. I asked what their induction policies were and she said since I was over 39w, I could ask for one at any time. I declined since I really wanted to avoid any medical interventions so she said to schedule another weekly appointment though she doubted I’d make it and though I would deliver within the week. Hooray!

Afterwards, my mom and I stopped by the grocery store since my fridge was pretty bare. We also stopped by the Chinese grocery store that opened up down the street which she really liked and got ingredients for her hot & sour soup…yum! I looked at my watch and it was time to pick up Caleb so we went to go get him and he was really excited to show me some seeds he had planted for me for Mother’s Day and a painting he did. His teachers asked me when I was due and they were both surprised when I said in two days! They asked if I meant two weeks—nope, two days.

The rest of the day was pretty laid back. My mom was cooking, Caleb and I would relax in my bed while I would semi-nap (I was really sleepy these days since I would usually wake up a few times during the night) and Caleb would play on my iPad or snuggle for a bit.

The last pic I took of Caleb before he become a big brother!

The last pic I took of Caleb before he become a big brother!

Steve came home from work and right before we sat down for dinner at 7pm, I felt my first contraction. I took out my phone and started timing them with an app and the next one came 5 minutes later. And so did the next one. I started thinking, “this is early labor,” but I didn’t want to say anything in case they stopped so I just kept timing. We sat down for dinner and Steve eventually asked me what I was doing and I said, “timing my contractions.” Ha! Both him and my mother had a look of shock and asked how long they had been going on and how far apart they were. By then, it had been about 30 minutes and they ranged from 5-7 minutes.

After the first hour, the contractions averaged about 45 seconds long and started to get longer between contractions so I thought maybe they were going to stop. But, they kept coming so I decided to take a hot shower and text my birth photographer. After I was finished, the contractions were still coming so I decided to take my last pregnant photo and pack the hospital bag between contractions. By this point, they weren’t bad and I could breathe through them silently. We got Caleb ready for bed and each read him a nightly story though sometimes I’d have to stop reading during contractions.

During the third hour of contractions, they started to come sooner—every 3-4 minutes. I was still breathing through them, but would wince. My mom saw me and mentioned that I should go to the hospital. I told her that I was ok and wanted to labor at home as long as possible. She ended up telling Steve the same thing and so at the start of the fourth hour of contractions (11pm), we packed the car and headed to the hospital. I snuck into Caleb’s room to give him one last kiss since it would probably be the last time he’d be the only kiddo in the house.

Our original plan was to have Steve’s mom watch Caleb while my mom and Steve would come with me to the hospital, but since Steve’s mom had spent the bulk of the day driving a friend to a hospital in DC and with my contractions coming closer together, we decided to have my mom stay with Caleb and it’d just be me and Steve.

The good thing about leaving at 11pm was that there was no traffic! I had about 4 or 5 contractions in the car that caused me to grip the door handle and close my eyes. When we parked at the hospital and started walking to the door, I had to stop and hold onto Steve during contractions. When we got to the door, I had to stop and breathe through another one. I had quite an audience since we had to enter from the emergency room entrance and a lady asked if I needed a wheelchair. I declined and we continued over to L&D to check in. I had to fill out a few forms despite pre-registering online which sucked while having contractions, but they took us back to triage where I changed and got hooked up.

Heather was my L&D nurse and she lead me back to the area where we’d be hanging out and gave me a gown to change into. As I walked to the bathroom, I had a contraction and had to lean over to breathe through them before continuing on and changing. I went back to the bed where Steve and Nurse Heather were waiting for me and I got hooked up with monitors for Jenna’s heart rate and contractions. It was really weird because whenever a contraction would come up, I could feel the monitors on my stomach shift.

The triage “rooms” were separated by curtains and we could hear what was going on with a couple across the room—apparently it was really early in the pregnancy for one lady and her water broke. The nurse was trying to tell her that they’d try to stop the contracts. I hope everything was ok with their baby!

Nurse Heather checked me and said I was 7cm dilated already! Steve and I looked at each other in SHOCK and I told him to immediately text the birth photographer. With Caleb, it took FOREVER to dilate to 4cm even after augmenting my labor with pitocin and by then, I was crying and puking during the contractions. It was totally different this time around.

We ran through some questions and one of them was asking if I wanted an epidural. I said, “no, for now, but I might change my mind.” I didn’t want to go through the guilt I did with Caleb where I was all set on a natural birth and when things weren’t progressing, I cried when I broke down and asked for the drugs.

So with that said, I was admitted and moved to an L&D room. The nurses were calling and looking for the OB from my practice that was on call that night while my contractions were getting more and more intense. I started moaning and groaning through them with one hand gripped tightly onto the bed and the other holding onto Steve’s hand. I’d shut my eyes and tell myself, “loose lips, loose hips,” which was something we learned from our birthing class with Caleb. It helped me unclench my jaw and try to relax (maybe that’s why I was actually dilating so quickly??). I sat upright and was honestly afraid to move for fear that it’d made the contractions more intense so I stayed perfectly still.

We planned on doing cord blood and tissue banking, but Steve had left the collection box in the car. Steve asked the nurses if he had time to go to the car and get it and they said that he did, but he better hurry up. So, off he went while I powered through a few more contractions.

Nurse Heather checked me again between contractions and said I was already at 10cm and would be ready to push as soon as the doc was in. SAY WHA?! We checked into the hospital an hour ago and I was ready to go. I could have sworn that people usually dilated 1cm/hour, but holy heck, I wasn’t expecting to be ready to quickly especially since my labor with Caleb was so long.

Steve pointed out the time and made a comment that it’d be funny if Jenna was born at the same time as Caleb (1:08am) since it was 1am now. The nurse commented that it could be possible! When Dr. Simmonds arrived, he broke my water and I IMMEDIATELY felt the need to push. I even yelled it out, “I have to push!”

From that point, I was told I had to grab my thighs, put my chin down and push during the contractions. For some reason, I would either forget to push or have my chin up, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t get things together and do everything simultaneously. I kept closing my eyes, but at one point, I thought to myself that I should open them so I did and saw the lights coming down from the ceiling. I kept thinking I was on an alien space ship. It was like an out of body experience. And at some point, I thought to myself, “maybe I should have asked for an epi….”

I got my mind in gear and was finally able to focus on what I had to do…grab thighs, chin down and push during contractions. The feeling was so intense that I started SCREAMING through my contractions. The pressure between contractions was unreal. After three contractions, I felt Jenna’s head come out and a huge relief of pressure came over me. I heard her crying as she came out and when they laid her on my chest, the first thing I commented on was on her huge chubby cheeks and hair! That was totally unexpected since I had barely any heartburn! And so she was here. Jenna Mackenzie born May 9, 2014, at 1:10am weighing in at 7 lb., 3 oz., 20.5” long. Just a day shy of her due date. And completely med-free! I felt on top of the world.

Steve went with Nurse Heather as they took Jenna to get cleaned up on the other side of the room when in walked our birth photographer. She had missed the birth by just minutes, but she was able to get some family shots and candids. You can visit my photographer’s blog for more pictures.


Jenna being weighed taken by Meagan Sheffler Photography

Daddy and Jenna taken by Meagan Sheffler Photography

Daddy and Jenna taken by Meagan Sheffler Photography


staring in awe of our baby girl taken by Meagan Sheffler Photography

The nurse commented that since my labor was so fast, Jenna had a nice, round head. As they handed me my baby, we immediately did skin to skin and I started nursing her. I had forgotten how powerful their ability to suck was!

The hospital I delivered at is the first “baby friendly” hospital in MD where they encourage skin to skin, breastfeeding, and they don’t bathe the babies until the next day in order to not stress them out. A nurse came by to check Jenna out and also commented on her round head. She said it was the best one she had seen all day! Afterwards, she asked if we wanted to do more skin to skin or swaddle her. I said to swaddle since Steve hadn’t had a chance to hold her yet, but when the nurse came back to measure her body temperature, she was borderline so we said to forget the swaddle and do skin-to-skin from now on.


But first, let me take a selfie…

We moved into the recovery room at 3am and I would just nurse and hold Jenna—taking in the fact that I was now a mother of two kids! Steve slept for a bit on the pull out bed and after nursing Jenna, I finally got some rest myself, though never for very long. Jenna made all sorts of noises through the night especially grunting! A few times I caught her choking and coughing. The nurse said it was amniotic fluid and since they came out so quickly, there was probably a good amount left in her stomach that she had to work out. So because of that, I pretty much stayed up to keep an eye on her.

The next day, my mom, Steve’s mom and Caleb came to visit us at the hospital and we all had lunch together. I couldn’t wait to see how Caleb would interact with his new baby sister and he immediately wanted to hold her and give her a kiss. It was really sweet and I could tell he really missed me. I had him sit up on the hospital bed with me while we snuggled together.


Checking out his baby sister


Proud big brother


Our family of 4!

Between the hours of 1pm-3pm, the hospital has “quiet time” where they encourage not to have visitors and dim all the lights so that everyone can get some rest. My mom took Caleb home, but brought him back later when Steve said that he’d take Caleb out for some one on one time for dinner. They went to Wing Stop, but as soon as they ordered, Caleb said he wanted to go back to the hospital so they ended up packing all the food and he ate his food up on the bed with me.

Roxie stopped by that evening and got to hold Jenna for a little while and meet her new goddaughter!

The nurses come by nightly after 1:30am to weigh the babies and Jenna was losing weight, but still not quite the 10%. She was nursing every 2-3 hours, having wet diapers, the norm.

The next morning, Jenna’s pediatrician stopped by to check her out (same one Caleb goes to see). They didn’t do this in TX so it was nice having them come to us. Afterwards, Steve stopped by Ikea to pick up Jenna’s gift to Caleb. Back when I was pregnant and trying to jump start labor, I had taken Caleb to Ikea and walked all around the store where he fell in love with a circus tent. Steve ended up buying that tent and having it ready when Caleb and my mom came for lunch again. He was SO happy when he saw it that he made Steve play with him inside of it…lol.

I could tell Caleb was getting restless being stuck in a hospital room so after getting a few snuggles in with me, my mom took him back home. And we were back into the same routine of diaper changes, nursing and skin to skin time. Our friends Gloria & Tom along with their two kiddos stopped by to visit. Brian also stopped by and stayed for a while–both him and Steve got to catch up on sports on the tiny TV in our room until Roxie came by again after work to hang out and have some food.

The next morning was Mother’s Day and our pediatrician came by again to check Jenna out and talk about the next appointment when we’d bring her in. After running down a check list and getting briefed by our nurse, we were being discharged! I couldn’t wait to get out of there–I was beginning to feel stir crazy. I just wanted to be back home in my own bed with my lil’ guy who was now a big brother!

We had discussion of what Jenna’s homecoming outfit would be. I was leaning towards a pretty floral sleeper, but Steve wanted the patriotic anchor dress. We ended up going with the dress since Caleb went home dressed up in an outfit and it was also really warm that day (humid and 80’s).


Heading home in her pretty dress

We got discharged around 11am and we packed up the car and went home! Caleb was so excited to see us and brought us to the kitchen where he and my mom had made a banner that said “Welcome Jenna.” After dropping everything and everyone, I drove over to Target to pick up a few items and drop off my prescriptions for iburprofen and oxycodone. I took an oxy when I got home and oh man, I felt woozy and dizzy. I could barely stand up straight so I decided to only take only if I needed it and only before bed.

Steve’s mom drove down with lunch and we all just hung out and got used to the idea of being a family of four.

The next couple of weeks went by in a blur. I was not looking forward to waking up every couple of hours to nurse Jenna, but since my milk came in on day 2, she was chowing down, pooping like crazy and gaining weight! When we went to the pediatrician the day after we got home, Jenna had dropped to 6 lb, 10 oz. from her birth weight of 7 lb, 3 oz. By her two week check up, she was up to 7 lb. 12 oz. so she was already up to her birth weight and then some! Hooray for super milk.

I shot Jenna’s newborn photos – 9 days old

siblings watermark

my two beautiful kids – Jenna 10 days old, Caleb 3 years, 3 months old

She was a pretty good sleeper. For the first couple of weeks, I never had to set an alarm–she would wake up every three hours almost to the minute. It wasn’t until she got her shots at 2 months that she started sleeping through the night. She averages 8-10 hours before grunting and sort of waking up before I nurse her and then she’s out for another couple of hours.

As for putting her to sleep, so much easier than Caleb was! I would give her a bath, nurse, swaddle, burp and set her down in her bassinet with the Baby Shusher on. Sometimes she’d talk to herself, sometimes she’d just stare into outer space, but she would put herself to sleep. With Caleb, I always had to nurse him to sleep.


First bath at 6 days old when her umbilical cord fell out

And now that I have two, it’s funny to see how they compare. Jenna is more laid back than Caleb. She’ll actually tolerate a car seat i.e. if we’re out for dinner. Caleb would ALWAYS cry and we’d have to hold him–learning how to eat with my left hand or taking turns eating and holding him. They both love bath time, but Jenna hates getting her ears cleaned whereas Caleb would always strangely enjoy it. Caleb was always a good nurser whereas Jenna is more finicky–often only nursing one side at a time.


Caleb vs Jenna

I’m sure I’ll post more, but this entry is getting ridiculously long so I’ll just end it here and hopefully pick up soon!

my final progression photo

my final progression photo

Jenna is 1 month old!

I started typing up my birth story on my laptop. I’m already three pages into it and still need to finish it. Ugh, I hope I can finish it soon before the details fade.

But, Jenna’s already a month old! Holy cow. Time has flown by so quickly and we’re enjoying every minute of it. She’s already been on a road trip to Chicago, next week is Pennsylvania to meet her great grandma and then Austin, TX, at the end of the month.

She’s chubbing up nicely! We weighed her informally on the bathroom scale last night and she’s already at 10 lbs! She’s outgrown a few newborn sleepers, but can still fit in some outfits and we’ve ventured into the 0-3 clothing some. We’ve been cloth diapering full time since we’ve been home from the hospital and when we visited my friend, Lisa, in Chicago, I brought my entire NB stash and was able to make it through the entire trip only washing the load once with a few left to spare.

Jenna is a pretty laid back baby. She sleeps 3-4 hours stretches (sometimes 5) and grunts when she’s hungry. I wake up, nurse, and she’s back out. She poops soooooooooo much! The pediatrician reminded us that BF babies tend to poop at almost every diaper change, but I totally didn’t remember it being like this with Caleb.

It took a few tries, but Jenna is now a fan of bath time! She cries when I undress her, but as soon as she’s in the warm water, she just relaxes. She loves getting her hair washed and one time, she slept through her entire bath…eyes closed and everything!

Here are a few pictures until I can get my act together and finish my birth story.


3 weeks old


before we left for our road trip to Chicago


in Chicago for a Ragnar race


comparing Caleb vs Jenna–they look so different!


Today is officially the longest I’ve ever been pregnant.

Yesterday marked 38w5d which was when Caleb was born! It was also Steve’s birthday so he was secretly hoping that Jenna would make her appearance, but I was feeling normal with no signs of any impending labor. Everyday he asks how I feel and when I reply with, “I feel ok…normal,” there’s always a glimmer of disappointment…lol.

His birthday started off with Caleb waking up at 5am. Usually, he will fall asleep when he comes to our bed, but not that day! After 1 1/2 hours, we all decided to just get up for good. Caleb said for Daddy’s birthday, he wanted to make him coffee so we went downstairs and he helped scoop the grounds into the french press and after I poured in the hot water, he helped push it down. I made breakfast for everyone and Steve was off to work.

Since Caleb woke up so early, I kept him home from school since I knew he was tired. With that said, that meant I had to bring him with me to my weekly appointment which included a cervical check. Thankfully, he sat behind me and was occupied with the iPhone. The visit was short and I’ve been dilating about 1cm/week since my 36w check up. At least there’s some sort of progress.

We went grocery shopping afterwards and when we returned home, the power was out! So, we had sandwiches for lunch and had a much needed nap. The power kicked back on and that’s when we got ready for Steve’s birthday. Caleb wanted to make a card so I got him some card stock, crayons and markers. He drew everyone’s faces (me, Steve, himself, Jenna…even all 3 dogs) and then wrote his name all by himself!! I must say I was really impressed at everything he did being 3.

Then, he helped me make paleo-friendly pineapple upside-down cupcakes. Steve had picked an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner and thankfully they were really open to me bringing the cupcakes in and even supplied extra plates. Steve was worried that they wouldn’t want outside food brought in, but it all worked out.

My mom arrived JUST in time for dinner with her dog, Bella, in tow. I had Steve take his mom and Caleb to the restaurant since we were meeting up with 7 other people so I could get my mom and her dog settled with our dogs. She’s got a 65 lb doberman puppy and my lil’ 12 lbs doxie-huahua mix schooled her! It’s so funny :)

Dinner was great! We’ve had Ethiopian a few times in TX and MD, but this was my favorite. The injera wasn’t overly sour and the food was really good. And Steve had a great time despite having a crappy day at work so that was nice. But, still no sign of baby! I think it’s better that they don’t share a birthday anyway.

Anyway, it’s a beautiful day so we’re off to do something outside!


38 weeks

Today, I’m 38 weeks! I take my usual weekly photo and thought back when I was pregnant with Caleb. My 38 week photo with him was the last weekly photo I took for that pregnancy! It was Presidents Day weekend and we went out for Thai food. The waitress looked at me and said, “that no good for baby!” Ha. My mom flew into town and came with me to my doc appointment. I had leftover Thai food for lunch as I worked from home and that’s when contractions started. I ended up being admitted to the hospital that night (it was a Wednesday) and had Caleb on Friday. Crazy!

So, we’ll see if Jenna is anything like her brother. We are planning on Thai food tomorrow :) But knowing her, she’ll throw me in for a curveball like with everything else in this pregnancy and stay put until 42 weeks!


weekly photo – 38 weeks

Caleb vs Jenna at 38 weeks

Caleb vs Jenna at 38 weeks

belly progression weeks 4-38

belly progression weeks 4-38

Caleb and I met up with Steve for lunch on Friday since he was driving down to Roanoke, VA, after work to run a marathon the next morning. So, it was just me and my lil’ guy thay night! We had a fro-yo date and I actually fed him dinner before 6pm (never could happen with Steve’s schedule). After a bath, we played, read stories and he fell asleep in seconds after hitting the pillow.

I ended up going to bed myself at 9:30pm and watched two movies in bed. I also crocheted my first granny square so I think I’ll be working on a granny square blanket since I have a bunch of leftover yard that aren’t enough to make a newborn hat, but might be perfect for more granny squares.

Steve came back from the race this afternoon right when Caleb and I were walking home from a trip to the playground on this gorgeous day. We’re having and early birthday dinner with some friends to celebrate Steve big 3-4 (his birthday is Thursday). Will he have a baby girl for his birthday? It’s all a waiting game now, but with all the kicking and craziness going on in my belly, she definitely wants out!




Full term

As of this past weekend, I am full term at 37 weeks!

We started off the day with another cherry blossom mini session :) This time, it took place in Besthesda in the Kenwood neighborhood where the streets are lined with cherry blossoms. There was rain this week so a lot of the blossoms were lost, but there were still a few trees still with their flowers. Hopefully the photos came out ok!

The weekend before was peak bloom at the Tidal Basin. We all got up before the sun was up to try and beat the traffic into DC since it was a weekend and the last day of the cherry blossom festival. Caleb was a big GRUMP so there had to be bribing with candy. We found free parking (woot) that was close to the Tidal Basin, but was just under a mile from the meeting spot with our first photographer. So, we basically had to BOOK IT.

After our photo session, I tried to take some photos during our walk back, but Steve wanted to get home and Caleb was tired so I didn’t take very many photos. But, I did take a few because we were there. And the scaffolding is finally gone from the Washington Monument so I needed a pic of that!

Steve & Caleb at the Tidal Basin, the Washington Monument, me & Caleb at the Jefferson Memorial

Steve & Caleb at the Tidal Basin, the Washington Monument, me & Caleb at the Jefferson Memorial

We got home and attempted to nap, but Caleb’s short nap in the car left him WIRED so no one got rest. I changed into a maternity dress for my baby shower hosted by my mother-in-law, Barbara, and Roxie! I must have pushed myself too much that morning at the Tidal Basin because my back completely gave out. I had to sit and if I tried to stand up and walk, shooting pains occurred in my lower back.

The shower was lovely! Jenna got a lot of gifts even though we told people we didn’t need gifts. And there was a lot of food. We are certainly very lucky and they always go above and beyond for us.

Steve stopped to buy me some Bengay patches for my lower back. They were a godsend and I felt SO much better the next day. Which was good because I was cooking an entire Passover spread that was paleo-friendly! I made Pioneer Woman’s brisket, roasted a chicken, roasted brussel sprouts with balsamic vinegar, roasted butternut squash with sage, made chicken broth for the matzo ball soup with both traditional matzo balls and paleo one made from almond flour, and made Steve’s nana’s fruit salad. We also had gefilte fish, pickled herring and I made charoset. For dessert, I made a coconut cake with cream cheese frosting. Nom nom nom. I spent 4 1/2 hours straight on my feet in the kitchen.

Steve’s mom bought new haggadahs for us that had a lot of pictures so it made the Sedar easier to follow especially for Caleb. I couldn’t believe it was already Caleb’s 4th Sedar!

Caleb with his yarmulke, new kid-friendly Haggadahs, paleo matzo ball soup made with almond flour, Steve and our Sedar plate

Caleb with his yarmulke, new kid-friendly Haggadahs, paleo matzo ball soup made with almond flour, Steve and our Sedar plate

The next day, we went to the synagogue for their community Sedar. Steve’s mom helped cook for the 100+ people that showed up and poor thing did not get to sit down to eat a hot meal! I told her next year to sit out on the cooking and enjoy it. Caleb could not get enough matzo.

Then this past weekend was Easter! We went over to Crina and Mounir’s house for an Easter lunch and the kids did a small Easter egg hunt. Caleb was all over that! There was sooo much food and everyone ended up falling asleep (myself included) before dessert…lol.

When we got home, I got into nesting mode and decided to clean all the bathrooms with bleach and scrub everything on my hands and knees. Steve saw me and said, “this is why we hire someone!” Ah well. I feel better now that the bathrooms are clean. The next thing on my agenda is moving some of Caleb’s toys from the main family room down to the basement playroom so I can bring some more baby items up like the swing.

I already shampooed the carpets and have the bassinet set up in our room. I still need to pack the hospital bag, but I have a mental list of items I need to pack. Sometimes I feel like I have no time and that this baby could come next week (same gestation as Caleb) and other days, I feel like I have plenty of time and I should just do one thing a day. Argh!

Musings with only a few more weeks to go…

April 9, 2014. That was the due date for the baby we lost right before conceiving Jenna. The day came and went and I only spent a few minutes thinking about how things would have been different. According to the Chinese gender predictor (which has been correct 2/2 for me), the baby would have been a boy. His name probably would have been Colin. He’d most likely already be here since Caleb was an early baby. Then, I thought about the emotional rollercoaster of a week that was…finding out I was pregnant the day Steve’s father passed. The highs and lows and then super lows.

But, now here we are! I’m 36w along with a a healthy baby girl who moves all of the time to let me know she’s here! I can’t believe that next week, she’ll be full term. I have one more ultrasound next week to check my fluid levels and then I will start my weekly appointments. This pregnancy has just flown by!

These past few weeks, we’ve made good progress with Jenna’s nursery, but it still needs work. Steve helped me paint it and we finished in about 2 1/2 hours. I assembled the crib, changing table and dresser on my own (though Steve did help me for 5 minutes to hold things together for the crib). Half her closet is all set with her clothes all hung up, but the other half still has boxes that we never unpacked and some photography stuff so I have to go through those things.

I’ve been crocheting like crazy! I’ve made so many hats, bonnets, leg warmers, you name it! Just thinking ahead for her newborn photos. I also made her crib skirt and a pennant banner that hangs above her crib. I’ll probably eventually add her name to it. I have a painting I did back in 2010 that would match her room, but I have no idea where it is….probably hidden in the garage so I hope to find it soon. And I couldn’t find storage boxes that I liked for her changing table so I made my own fabric covered boxes…they fit all her cloth diapers perfectly!

new wall color, crib set up with pennant banner, quilt and crib skirt made by me :)

Caleb has been so sweet and is really excited to be a big brother. Everyday, he hugs and gives my belly a kiss. He tells Jenna that he loves her. When we go out shopping, he tells people that he’s a big brother. He wants to be involved in things that relate to Jenna. When I was putting the dresser together, he would help bring me pieces (which was a great help since I was sitting on my butt for 75% of the time screwing things together). He picked out her fuzzy pink rug and said, “I think Jenna will really like this!” And when we ask what he will do as a big brother, he always says that he will protect her from bad guys and cars (i.e. holding her hand in parking lots). And he also says he will help bring me diapers.

We met up with a co-worker and wife of Steve’s last week and they have a tiny 6 week old girl. Caleb was fascinated with her! He’d touch her feet and her hands, but was also very nervous, but he would stand by the car seat and just look at her in amazement. I kept telling him that Jenna was going to be that small, too :) I can’t wait to see how he interacts with Jenna.

Last week after a grocery trip, I was strapping Caleb into his car seat and while I was pulling his strap tight, I heard and felt my wrist pop. It was the strangest feeling and it was a little tender, but I didn’t think much of it and went on with my day. The next morning, I woke up at 5am in pain and ended up going to a walk-in clinic. The doc didn’t think it was a break–rather something with the tendons/ligaments so they wrapped me up with a split and put me in a sling. After talking with a few people, they were saying it was due to the pregnancy relaxin hormone that probably made things loose so it was one of those freak things. Oh the joys…I’ve had to do a lot of things with my left hand and some times, I need help! One time, Steve had to help pull my pants up…haha.

the hazards of being a mom

It’s been a week and it’s still tender, but it’s better. I don’t wrap it up anymore, but I have to be careful with certain things like when I turn on the car–the twisting motion still hurt. But, for the most part, I’m ok.

This morning, we went to a car seat clinic to check and make sure I had Caleb’s car seat correctly installed forward facing (made it almost 3 years and 2 months before we made the switch) and  to make sure Jenna’s bucket was good. They asked if I had installed or Steve and when I said I had, they were saying it was a good install *pats self on the back*. They took the car seats out just to check everything and had me re-install it. Then, they double checked and had me practice with a doll buckling up a newborn. One more thing to cross off the list!

Tomorrow, we have our first of two maternity sessions. I found two different photographers that were offering cherry blossom mini sessions so the one tomorrow is at the Tidal Basin in DC. The one next week is in a neighborhood in Bethesda that usually blooms a week later. I’m just looking for options :)

We also met with a birth photographer! She’s building her portfolio and I’m her first client so we’ll see how things go. I figured as long as we get some shots and family shots afterwards, I’ll be happy. I’m really looking forward to the photos of our reactions moments after Jenna arrives.

My mom called to try and figure out when to drive down and stay with us…sounds like she’s coming in about two weeks. With Caleb, I went into labor the day after she flew in so it maximized the four weeks she stayed with us. This time, she’s driving down since she’s bringing her dog so hopefully she can be here on time!

Other than that, things are going well. I’m nearing the end, but still feel pretty good! Every once in a while, I get the aches especially when I’ve been sitting down for too long, but other than that, I really can’t complain. I sleep fairly well and Jenna lets me sleep for the most part. The weather has finally warmed up so I’ve been hanging outside with Caleb more–lots of playground visits and a trip to the animal park! He had such a blast and it’s not too big of a place so I didn’t get sore walking around unlike the day we went to the zoo….oi!

pony rides, feeding animals and petting a bearded dragon named Buttercup

Tomorrow is my baby shower thrown by Roxie and my MIL! There was no talking her out of it so I’m just going to enjoy the day with friends and family. I didn’t make a formal registry other than a small list I kept on Amazon mostly for myself so I could get the 10% completion coupon (which I just got the other day!!!). A few people have asked what we needed and the honest answer has been NOTHING! We bought the crib mattress and dresser a few weeks ago which were really the only things that were “needed” since Caleb is still using those items. Everything else we have from the days of Caleb and we’ve been buying clothes and got hand-me-downs. The weather is supposed to be gorgeous and in the 80’s so I’ll be sporting a maternity dress I bought :)

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on here. The nesting kick is in full force so I’ve been cleaning and trying to catch up with laundry since we got home from our outing today. Hopefully, this momentum can keep up for the next couple of weeks! Because if Jenna’s anything like her brother, she might be here in 2 1/2 weeks *gulp*.

Counting down the weeks….

Caleb must be going through some sort of growth spurt because it doesn’t matter what time he goes to bed, he’s been waking up around 10am these days. Hey, I’ll take it! So, while he’s snoozing, I figured I’d update the good ol’ blog.

I’m 33 1/2 weeks now! The end is near and we’re hoping to FINALLY get working on the nursery. I’m hoping to paint it this week and get some furniture assembled. We went out this past weekend to buy a new dresser and crib mattress so our “big” purchases are done. The crib and changing table are still in pieces in Caleb’s closet so that’ll free up some space once we can get those out. Then, I can finally see how the bedding looks that I made for her! Next, I’ll have to figure out curtains (got 3 big windows to cover) and wall art.

belly progression weeks 4-33

Overall, I feel pretty good. Most nights, I can sleep through the night without getting up to pee, but I still have to sleep on my back because of my SPD. I have the head and foot of the bed raised (Steve calls it “sleeping like a pretzal”), but it’s the only way I can get comfortable. Most nights, he can fall asleep, but if he wakes up in the middle of the night, he usually goes to the guest room to sleep. Sometimes the SPD acts up if I overdo things, but it’s usually ok after I slap on the maternity belt.

So far, I’m up 17 lbs. I was reading up on my pregnancy with Caleb and I was up 35 lbs. by this point already! Even though I’ve gained half the weight, I still feel really heavy…moving slower, waddling, getting tired…grocery shopping takes a lot out of me! Thankfully, Caleb will sit in the cart (went through an anti-cart phase for a bit) and he helps me pick out fruits and veggies to put in the cart. He’s very much into being mommy’s little helper so I’m glad! I also have tell him my shopping list and have him recite it back to me just in case pregnancy brain sets in. Apparently, we always have to get ice cream according to him!

We went on the maternity ward tour a few weeks ago and the hospital is really nice! It’s also super busy (5k+ births a year? YIKES). They’re very pro-breastfeeding and don’t bathe the baby for at least 6-12 hours after birth. Very into skin-to-skin and family bonding time.

I’ve been doing more arts and crafts. Thanks to Pinterest, I learned how to crochet! I could never do it correctly, but the tutorial looked fairly simple so I decided to give it another go. When I went to buy a crochet hook and yard at Michael’s,  an older lady saw me staring at the yarn with my pregnant belly and asked if I was making something for my baby. I was clearly a newbie so she brought out some hooks and yard and gave me an impromptu lesson in the middle of the aisle. It helped watching someone do it because I made my blanket that night :) Since then, I’ve made another blanket and two additional mini blankets for newborn props. I had some leftover yarn so I also made a pennant banner. I’ve been on a roll!

Steve knitting, me crocheting

Steve wanted to learn how to crochet, too, so I told him I’d teach him. But, then he thought it’d always be a comparison so he went out on his own to buy knitting needles and pink yard so he could knit Jenna a hat :) He used to knit years ago and made me a scarf for Christmas one year so he’s trying to re-learn and pick it up again. How sweet! We spent the other night in bed like two old farts with him knitting and me crocheting as we watched TV…lol. I’m currently working on a big blanket for Caleb since he wanted one, too. We went to Joann’s and he picked out the colors he wanted so I’ve been slowing working on it. Goes by a lot slower when it’s twice the size!

I’ve been also working with felt. I had bought a bunch of wool blend felt from Etsy to make flowers for headbands and recently made a sweet felt food themed goodies for a friend’s 2 year old (magnetic cake with candles, donuts, cookies, macarons, cupcakes) and most recently onesies. Caleb asked for a dinosaur shirt so that’ll be next–can’t forget about my big boy!

felt food–all calorie-free :)

camera onesie for my baby girl

Speaking of my big boy, he hit a milestone at swim class yesterday–he can float independently on his back now! Whenever we did the “mommy and me” type classes, he would always want to bend his back whenever we tried to float him. Since starting classes with a swim instructor, he listens so much better to him than he ever did with us. Yesterday thanks to more snow, he was the only student in class so he got a 1:1 with his instructor and at one point, I saw the instructor with both hands in the air and Caleb on his back–proud parent moment! He did this several more times so he was able to get a ribbon, a bracelet and got his pic taken for the swim school FB page :)

Caleb and his ribbon/bracelet showing he can now float on his back!

Anyway, it’s 10:40am and the beast has finally awoken so more later!


Caleb is 3!

This week on February 25, my big boy turned 3! This day sort of snuck up on us and we had his birthday party the weekend beforehand. This year, we decided to have it at a bouncy house per his request and for once, we didn’t have to clean up afterwards :) That was a big plus being 29w pregnant!

The night before his party, I stayed up late so I could bake him a special cake from scratch…a 3 layer yellow cake (it had 8 egg yolks in it) and strawberry swiss meringue buttercream frosting. I put sprinkles on the side and wrote a simple “Happy 3rd Birthday, Caleb” on it. The entire cake had 10 sticks of butter! I also made him a shirt since the one I had ordered from Etsy didn’t arrive on time. I sent Steve scrambling for materials at Walmart at 9pm, but it all worked out in the end.

Caleb with his cake and shirt made by yours truly :)

He had so much fun at his party! We had about 12 kids there and it was nice because we had the bouncy house place to ourselves (no crazy kids plowing over the little ones) and they could run around and explore everything. After 30 minutes, we moved into a second room with more bouncy options. When the full hour was up, I tried to get a group photo, but Caleb refused to smile because he was sad the bouncing was over.

Then, it was time for food and cake! I ordered cupcakes for the kids, but Caleb didn’t want any–he wanted my strawberry cake!! It melted my heart :) We had pizza and a fruit platter for the kids and pizza, baked ziti and salad for the adults. The cake was a big hit (yay for butter) and there was nothing left at the end of the party.


birthday boy with his mom and pops

On Tuesday was his actual birthday so when he woke up, I sang “happy birthday” to him. I made him some birthday pancakes (inspired by another March mama, Rebecca, where she posts a recipe and shares pics of her cuties). I didn’t have yellow cake mix nor Bisquick on hand so I was Googling to see if there was something I could make with the items I already had at home. It was snowing so I didn’t really want to head out to the store, but I used this recipe and it was great.

Caleb and his birthday pancakes

Caleb and his birthday pancakes

So, next we got cleaned up and I set up an area for Caleb’s 3 year interview where there are 20 questions that he answers and the idea is to ask the same questions every year. I’ve watched this video so many times because it’s just so funny! His answers, his tangents, his mannerisms (how he crosses his legs, tapping his chin while thinking), I love it so much!

1. What is your favorite color? pink & green
2. What is your favorite toy? dinosaurs
3. What is your favorite fruit? cantaloupe, pineapple, bread (ha), watermelon
4. What is your favorite tv show? Team Umizoomi
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? noodles, broccoli & chicken
6. What is your favorite outfit? shirt, pants, underwear
7. What is your favorite game? hide & seek
8. What is your favorite snack? fruit leather
9. What is your favorite animal? cow & pinkfoot (from Bubble Guppies I think)
10. What is your favorite song? ABCs
11. What is your favorite book? Frederick
12. Who is your best friend? Aidan & Aaron Patrick
13. What is your favorite cereal? banana (banana Cheerios) & elephant cereal (Wegman’s organic frosted flakes)
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? play in the snow and throw snowballs at Daddy’s face
15. What is your favorite drink? water, milk & lemonade
16. What is your favorite holiday? I don’t know
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? brown doggy
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? marshmallows (?? LOL)
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? cake
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? a doctor

And then I snapped a few photos because that’s just what I do!

my 3 year old!

Caleb at 1, 2 and now 3

He’s such a little person with so much personality! I love the things that come out of his mouth now. Just the other day, I told him he talked too much and he retorted with, “No, I don’t. You talk too much. You always say ‘blah blah blah'”. It took me back and Steve just laughed his butt off.

Caleb’s currently in a parents day out program once a week, but just got accepted into their preschool program that will meet three times a week starting this fall. He’s currently taking karate and swim lessons, too. When did my lil’ guy get so big?


Almost in the 3rd trimester…where has time gone?

I’ll be 26 weeks this weekend. And then I’ll be in the third trimester the following week. It’s scary how fast this pregnancy is flying by! I always remembered my pregnancy with Caleb dragging by and feeling like it was forever before he was here. But, I guess things are different when I’m chasing around a toddler and doing things like planning his 3rd birthday party :)

Things have been slowing down and I’ve been taking some time to do some crafty things which I have missed so much. I recently made my own lip balm which has been great since they always seem to be in short supply in this house. A few simple ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax along with some essential oils and you’ve got yourself some lip balm! I bought some lip balm tubes on Amazon and made several kinds, but my fav are the chocolate mint ones I made!

At 24 weeks, we made it to viability! It’s a milestone I’m glad we made…one little step at a time. I read in my pregnancy book that the youngest micro-preemie ever to survive was 21 weeks old. That is just so amazing!


24 weeks

I also treated myself to a hair cut. First one during the pregnancy! The overgrown a-line was kind of driving me nuts so I had the stylist even it all out. I actually think one side is longer than the other which kind of annoys me and it’s at an awkward length. I just hope it grows (come on, prenatals) and then I can get one more cut before Jenna makes her arrival.


belly kisses 20 weeks difference…Caleb grew 1 1/2″

Last week, we had two snow days so Steve got to stay home with us and play! Early on during the storm, we went sledding down a small hill in front of our house. Caleb has so much fun and apparently, so did Steve. It was his second time sledding EVER!


That night we roasted marshmallows in the fire place and made s’mores…nom nom! And speaking of food, I’ve been eating a second dinner or snacking before bed almost daily. Jenna must be going through a growth spurt because I nearly doubled my weight gain (4 lb gain to an 8 lb gain in 2 weeks). We have an ultrasound on Tuesday to check her growth since she’s a bit on the small side so I can’t wait to hear if she’s gotten any bigger!

Caleb and I are in MA at the moment–just in time for Chinese New Year! Originally, Steve had planned to fly to TX and help his mom pack up the last of her house and drive back to MD during the first weekend of February so I told my mom I’d come up with Caleb. Well, Steve ended up making that trip two weeks earlier during MLK weekend so I told my mom we’d still come up. It’d give Caleb a chance to see everyone for his 3rd birthday (a few weeks early) before Jenna makes her debut. At least Steve can watch the Super Bowl in peace even if the Patriots aren’t in it.

I made the drive up here with Caleb yesterday is pretty decent time despite not one, but two accidents with overturned vehicles (one SUV and 2 semi trucks). I was able to drive 6 1/2 hours straight before stopping for gas and a small dinner and then an hour later, Caleb told me he had to poop (best timing, I was 3/4 mile from a rest area) so that added some more time, but it took 8 1/2 hours total.

My mom has already taken Caleb to Toys R Us so Caleb could pick out his birthday present and also got Miss Jenna a few outfits and her first bathing suit! I could die from the cuteness.

Anyway, off to bed soon. Hope everyone is staying warm!

DIY raw coconut milk, coconut flour and coconut butter

So, we’ve dabbled in the paleo world on and off for just over a year now. Steve’s never quite lost the baby weight he gained while I was pregnant with Caleb and with Jenna on the way, he’s determined to lose some weight before her arrival. He joined a gym a few months ago and is on the paleo bandwagon again.

He bought a couple of coconuts last week exactly for this project and then left them on the counter top while he flew to TX to help his mom move and drive back to MD so today, I finally decided to do something about them. In about an hour, I had  2 quarts of fresh coconut milk, a pint of coconut flour ready to be dehydrated and 4 oz of coconut cream that will be made into coconut oil.


Grab yourself two mature coconuts. The ones here are pre-scored for easier cracking


Whack your coconut open. I used a badass meat cleaver.


Once your coconut cracks, you can wedge it open with a butter knife. Up to you if you want to save or toss the coconut water inside. Some people will drink it like Gatorade, though when we were in Hawaii, we were told that drinking too much of it will give you the runs.


There you have yourself a beautiful coconut!


I used a spoon to wedge the coconut meat from the shell. Use a veggie peeler to remove the rest of the shell.


Add about 1/2 the coconut meat to a food processor with a cup of water. If you have a blender, you could probably do everything all at once. Add less water if you want more of a coconut cream like you’d find in a can.


Let it go to town for a bit.


Once you’re done blending, pour everything in a cheesecloth over a bowl.


SQUEEEEEEZE! The liquid will be your coconut milk.


When you’re done squeezing, save the coconut pulp.


Spread your pulp onto the tray you’d use for fruit leather on your food dehydrator. Let it go for a few hours. Alternatively, you can do this in your oven at the lowest temp. Once it’s dried, pop it back in the food processor.


In the end we had 2 quarts of coconut milk (we had already used some for our fruit smoothies earlier), a pint of coconut flour and coconut cream (which I’m currently making coconut oil).

So, there you have it! The coconut milk will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days to use it up! I already have plans for coconut infused rice and some butter chicken recipe that my friend Tina verbally told me how to make. Coconut flour can be used in all sorts of paleo baking, especially since Steve’s been on the quest on finding something sweet (he’s been making “cake in a cup”, brownies, cookies, etc).

As for the coconut oil, to make that you can skim the cream and let it ferment for 1-2 days. The oil and water will separate so then you can stick it in the fridge and scrape your oil. That is a work in progress and will be slathered all over my expanding belly :) [SEE BELOW FOR FASTER METHOD]

Oh and if you’re wondering what to do with the coconut shells, this is always fun!

A coconut bra for Caleb?

EDIT: For those who want their coconut oil faster and don’t want to wait for the fermentation process to take place, you can use this method that I saw on a YouTube video. You can heat up your cream on the stove and it will separate–the liquid is the oil so you just pour and strain that out. Voila! I got about 2 oz. in the end.

A faster way to make your coconut oil--heat it up! It will separate and then you can strain your oil.

A faster way to make your coconut oil–heat it up! It will separate and then you can strain your oil.