Is it possible? Is my baby girl really 4 years old?
I look at baby Carmen and remember Gwen being that small. Where did 4 years go? Now she's this little person with whom I have long conversations. She brushes her own teeth. She gets herself dressed. She forgets to kiss me goodbye on occassion... It all happened so very fast.
Last year was the first that I asked a series of questions to Gwen on her birthday. These were her answers when she turned three:
One year later...
Like most other little girls I know, she wanted a Frozen themed birthday party. Even though I had said that I would never do a Disney theme party/room/outfit, like everything else, I did it anyway just to make my little princess happy (by the way, when she was a baby, Princess, was a bad word in our house - I lost that battle a long time ago).
The invitation, front and back:
Gwen really loved the invitations - she was thrilled when she saw the finished project because it finally explained why I had her pose like this:
On the cake table, I placed this photo (11x14 printed at local Sam's Club for under $3):
I printed free Frozen coloring book pages from sites I found via Pinterest:
Mmmmm, powdered donuts:
Backdrop with snowflakes found on Amazon made a nice background for the cake table and helped to hide our garage shelves. Minimal cleaning necessary!
Carmen was passed around from Grandma to Grandma to Aunts, etc. all afternoon:
And the thank you cards were done in no time! I just customized the photo to be relevent for the recipient, when possible - a picture of Gwen with the guest or with their gift - and added the text right on the photo, leaving room at the bottom. I had them printed at Sam's as 5x7 photos for crazy cheap. Then I just had Gwen sign her name at the bottom!
Pregnancy number two was definitely not as easy, as comfortable, or as well-documented. I had nausea with Gwen, but it was mostly in the evenings. During the days, I only needed to sleep through lunch to make it through. Carmen, however, had me feeling lousy from 9:00AM until bed. The only time I felt well was for about 30 minutes to an hour after waking up. With Gwen, I did better at eating healthy. When I was pregnant with Gwen, I wrote almost daily to her in a journal that I began at 11 weeks; Carmen's journal has 3-4 entries.
But one thing I did not do well with Gwen was writing down the story of the night she was born before some of the details were forgotten. It was 10 weeks later that I tried to write it in her journal. It has been 4 weeks since Carmen's arrival so hopefully I remember more this time.
There was one common factor with both of my pregnancies - the doctors thought that the baby was on the large side. Based on the sonogram on March 13 (37 weeks), Carmen was suspected to be over 6 pounds already, which was heavier than Gwen was when she was born. Dr. Feuille stated that this delivery will be like unchartered territory since she will be so much larger than my first - not sure if I will be able to handle a vaginal delivery.
On March 21st, I was dilated to 2 cm, 60%. Contractions were more intense and low. On Sunday, March 23rd, when I went to the bathroom first thing in the morning, I discovered that I was bleeding quite a bit. Just to be safe, I called the nurse to describe what I found that morning as well as other symptoms that had been going on for a few days prior. She suggested we go to the hospital. Drat.
So we went in and hooked me up to the machines - all was well. Water had not broken, blood was normal due to the checkup the Thursday before.
I left work early on Monday, March 24th, when I began timing contractions that were 15 minutes apart then rapidly down to 5 minutes apart. With my history of things progressing quickly, I didn't want to still be at work when I felt the urge to push! But in driving home, the contractions went back to 15 minutes apart and by evening, more sporatic than that.
At my checkup on March 26, Dr. Feuille scheduled me to be induced at 5:00AM on Wednesday, April 2nd. I was still at 2 cm and 70% efaced. Feuille was concerned about Carmen's size enough that he didn't want to wait. I was depressed! I wanted another fun birth story that began with contractions and the uncertainty of do-we-or-don't-we-go-to-the-hospital. Induction was so boring and predictable (which most would assume I would prefer given my tendency to want to plan every last detail).
I ate jalapenos. I looked for the 'spicy' symbol next to menu items when we went out to eat. I asked for the HOT salsa. I walked... a lot. I did squats and lunges. I hoped that the painful maneuver that Feuille performed at my last appointment did the trick. He claimed that labor typically starts a couple days after.
But Saturday came and went. Then Sunday. And Monday. I decided since we did have the luxury of knowing it would be Wednesday, I would begin maternity leave that Tuesday to have one last day to myself to tie up loose ends and sleep (didn't happen by the way). My mom came Tuesday evening so that she could be home with Gwen in the morning. We had to be at the hospital by 5:00AM so we didn't want to have to wake Gwen that early.
What a blessing it was that mom was already at the house! After supper, winding down and getting Gwen ready for bed was pretty typical. As long as I was still, the contractions were fairly intense and regular. But it had happened enough times that my hopes stayed low.
One thing was different though. When I took Gwen to bed, the contractions continued. They remained intense enough that standing was uncomfortable and I had to cut down our normal routine of "sweet dreams, I love you's, I miss you's" so that I could sit back down because mommy's tummy was hurting.
Mom and I stayed on the couch as I timed the contractions on my app. A strong contraction was soon followed by a more mild one so it was hard to say with certainty how far apart they were. By 10:00PM, they were 5 minutes apart when counting the more manageable ones. I was beginning to have to breathe through the harder ones and was getting sweaty. By 10:40PM, I was closer to 3 minutes apart consistently.
Andy remembered how with Gwen, my contractions started right a bedtime. He missed out on an entire night's sleep! He didn't want that to happen again so he went to bed at 10:45PM. But I pulled him out of bed by 11:00 when it was obvious that these contractions were not going away. We packed and headed out around 11:15PM.
I was about 4 minutes apart in the car ride over, unable to talk through the pain, breathing through. But when we got to the hospital, I was a bit concerned. I filled out the paperwork at the front desk for about 10 minutes and didn't have any intense contractions that whole time. Andy gave me 'the look' of "you better really be in labor - I could be asleep right now". By the time we got in the room, it was obvious that the contractions were back.
My first check from the doctor was at 12:30AM. We made it! No April Fools birthday for my little girl :) I was 4-5 cm and 100%. At 1:15AM, still at 5. 3:00AM, was at 6. I believe I had the epidural by then because they turned out the lights for us to rest a bit now that the pain was managed. Just as I dozed off, I felt a gush. My water broke at 3:10AM! No sleep for us...
Soon after my water broke, the contraction intensity escalated again with a vengence. I kept pressing the button to increase the drugs, but no relief! The nurse finally had to add a larger dose directly into my IV. Things were progressing too quickly for the epidural meds to keep up! At 4:00AM, I was fully dilated. Then things got scary.
The monitor for Carmen's heart rate went quiet.
The nurse moved the monitor on my belly to try to find her, but had no luck. I watched her face and I could see her panic. She ran over to the wall and threw Andy's cell phone charger out of the way to get to the oxygen. The young doctor came in and I heard him say that this baby needed to come out right now - no waiting for the doctor on call. My legs were in the stirrups; the oxygen mask was on; I was being told to push. In my panic, I gave it all I could.
And after 5-6 pushes, baby Carmen was out! She was perfect, beautiful, and small! We had to wait until after the hour of skin-to-skin to find out, but she weighed 6 pounds and 13 ounces. 18 1/2 inches long. She was not the huge baby that was suspected.
I cried when I heard her cry, when they told me she was perfectly fine. What an incredible relief! I don't think I have ever been so scared in my life.