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Encouragement from the big sis

Eleanor holding Molly’s hand, “walk Molly walk. I got you. Good job. I’m holding your hand. I got you.”

Pumping

From the beginning Molly and I have had a great nursing relationship. She latched immediately, we had no troubles, and I had a strong supply. But here lately I’ve noticed every time I go to pump I get anxiety. Shallow breaths, twitchy eyes…it’s weird. I pump 4 times a day! That’s a lot of anxiety. I don’t want to stop pumping, but I don’t know what to do. Any thoughts?

Sitting up

Molly woke up last night sometime around 1 am. For the most part she sleeps through but at least twice a week she wakes up for a midnight cuddle. I got out of bed to get her (she sleeps in our room in her crib), and when I looked down my little baby girl was sitting up! She somehow moved from a laying down position to sitting at night nonetheless! It was pretty darn cute. I cuddled her a bit longer after that. She’s growing up too fast.

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Getting dirty and clean

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Yesterday was a fun day trying to balance getting things done with keeping babies happy. Eleanor was soooo dirty by the end of the day that instead of putting a new diaper on her at 5, I stuck her in the sink to get clean. She loved it, and it kept her occupied while I finished up dinner.

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Pool!

It’s that time! We pulled out the kiddie pool yesterday. Eleanor’s favorite things are being outside and water. She’s in heaven.

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Just Loving Her

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This little lady is growing up so fast. Everything is clicking. In a little over a week she will be two! Two! We spent most of the entire weekend together, and it was extra special. Even though I’m still juggling the how to give each child appropriate attention I’m trying to really listen to Eleanor when she asks me to hold her, “sit sit sit” to play blocks, or watch her as she’s mesmerized by birds and being outside. I just have this feeling this time is going to fly by – this small window between toddler and child. She’s as special as the day she was born.

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Molly Francis, A Birth Story

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Foreward: I started writing Molly’s birth story months ago. Maybe she was 4 weeks old, and then never got to finish it. So you will see I’m very detailed and lengthy in the beginning and then well, I push a baby out! So here ya go.

Molly was due on Labor Day. I never put two and two together until someone pointed it out to me one day. I laughed at the irony, and shrugged it off knowing that if this pregnancy was going to be similar to my first in any way I would be late in delivering. But of course this pregnancy was nothing like Eleanor’s and so I spent the entire Labor Day weekend in labor. At home. It was exactly what I had always wanted though it felt entirely surreal. Let’s start at the beginning.

Sunday the 27th I strained my back terribly picking up Eleanor. I could hardly walk or sit or stand. It was awful. I had one week of work left until I started my leave on August the 31st, but I wasn’t sure if I could make it and be prepared for labor. We really didn’t do anything to prepare for Molly’s labor. No class, no meditating, no sitting in a bedroom talking to her as a couple. I had plans for some of this, but with the house and the move taking up most of our summer there was no time. My main concern was that she would be too big (every week the midwives would comment on how much bigger she was/how much I was measuring). And, that my SPD (acute pelvic pain) would somehow inhibit me from laboring and delivering naturally, but I tried to trust my gut and my knowledge from Eleanor’s birth. And, of course I wanted to GO INTO LABOR naturally. No induction this time. That was my goal.

I decided to take a few days off that week to rest so that my back would heal. I wasn’t sure when Molly would come but I knew that I could not labor with the pain that my strained muscle was also creating. Thankfully it helped. By Friday I was feeling a lot better, and could function as normal as possible at 9 months pregnant. On Thursday I went to my 39 week checkup. I was measuring 40 weeks at this point (not 42 as a previous midwife had mentioned), and was 2 cm dilated and 60% effaced. I had been taking Evening Primrose Oil, drinking Raspberry Leaf tea with Blue Cohosh tincture for at least two weeks to ready my uterus and cervix for labor.

I was a bit discouraged that my dilation had not changed since 36 weeks, but knew that these things can move fast. My midwife asked me if I wanted my membranes swept. I really wasn’t considering it at all up until that point. But without hesitation I said yes. It was painful. More painful than I remember it being when we tried it with Eleanor. It’s a kind of pain I can’t really describe though I actually think it hurts worse than delivery. Mary Ellen (the midwife) said that my labor should start within 1 to 4 days. I laughed, “Thanks Mary Ellen but I had my membranes swept multiple times with my first pregnancy and nothing happened! So no false hope, please.” She gave me a smirk like she knew better.

On my drive home that day it hit me. One to 4 days?! That was possible. A baby. Another baby. Labor. Love. I could meet my baby. I could walk without pain. I could have my ankles back. And my vericose veins would subside. I felt a knot in my throat and my eyes began to tear up. This was really going to happen. As soon as I got home I told Nathan we had to put the car seat in the car today. I remember his face – the Oh-My-God-Why look in his eyes – “Why? Are you in labor?” He asked. I think it’s so funny now looking back how naive we were. We were ready for Molly to arrive in that she had clothes and a place to sleep, but it really didn’t hit us that we were going to be made parents once more. That evening he put the car seat in, and I mentally prepared myself to get through one more day of work with the possibility I might be going in to labor.

At about noon on Friday I started to have consistent more powerful braxton hicks. Nothing that was painful, but definitely straining. By the time I got home from work they were about 6 minutes apart. I was supposed to go to the grocery store after work because we had no food in the house, but I was so exhausted I couldn’t. I texted Nathan that I didn’t feel good, and was coming straight home. Once home I decided to take a nap to see if the contractions would subside, but they were still coming 6 minutes apart without pain. I went to bed that night hoping something might happen. I never slept. I was anxious and excited, and so was my bladder.

Saturday we got up around 7 am with Eleanor and went about our day. I was still tired. I remember we had breakfast and afterwards I was cleaning up when the first wave hit me. A small but steady wave with pain around my lower abdomen and back. Six minutes later again. And, again. Was this it? I had no idea. It was so slight. Nothing like I had experienced with my first labor. But it continued. This went on for a few hours until I decided that we should go grocery shopping so that we would have food and to see if walking around would help to move things along.

I can’t tell you how many people told me second labors go so much faster than first labors. Everyone mentioned this. Since my first labor was 12 hours (from the beginning of induction) I was expecting this to move fast. Six hours tops was my expectation. We were going to have my mother-in-law drive up from Charlotte to be with Eleanor when I went into labor, and I stressed about when to call for them to come so much. We had to time it just right so that she would be here before we headed to the hospital. But I also didn’t want to call them too early and ruin their holiday plans.

At the grocery store the contractions became more intense but I could still breathe and talk through them. And they were still 6 minutes apart. This continued for a few hours. Nathan and I decided to put a call out to his parents. At about 3 pm I told Nathan I didn’t think they were going to slow down. But then again they still weren’t moving along. I took a nap. We went about our day. I was expecting a climax at some point. There were a few contractions that I actually had to breathe through. But it wasn’t regular or steady. I’d have one intense one and then three smaller ones. Nathan’s parents arrived at about 6 pm – we ordered pizza. I was sure I would wake up in active labor that night and wondered if pizza was the best “last meal” choice. We went to bed early anticipating a long night ahead of us. And, then morning came and I was still in our house in my bed and pregnant. I’d been laboring for 24 hours at that point with contractions 6 minutes apart.

I started to worry. Was this labor? What was I supposed to do? I started to doubt my body. This was nothing like the fast, intense labor that I experienced the first go-round. And, that was all I had to compare it to. I felt bad that I had called up Nathan’s parents. I felt bad that there was no baby to show yet. I felt bad that I didn’t know. And then contractions were 4 and a half minutes apart!

Progress!

We called the midwife on-call to let them know. She said to stay home and rest until they were two minutes apart which was my plan. But I was tired, moreso mentally. She told me to get in the bath to lessen the pain, but I wasn’t in enough pain for that comfort measure yet. I wanted someone to reassure me that I was in labor. Looking back I wish I could have just trusted myself more in the moment. I labored all day with contractions ranging from three minutes to five minutes apart. Some intense. Some not. My sister-in-law and family arrived (they had made previous plans to visit on Sunday), and I chatted for a while. Everyone was drinking wine on the porch. The kids were running around the house though every open door.

I was alone in the bedroom sitting upright in one of our dining chairs breathing and resting. The most intense contractions were felt in my right lower back and hip a result of the SPD. I would hold my lower back when one would come, and press trying to alleviate some of the intensity. I was worried that maybe the baby was sunny side up and that was why my labor was progressing faster. I couldn’t find my ball, so I would squat and bounce trying to push her down. As the day continued I could feel her moving lower and lower. But where were these two minute contractions? I emerged from the bedroom at one point and my mother-in-law commented that my belly had changed shape. The baby had definitely moved in to position. I decided to take a nap. It was about 4 pm when I woke, and I was sure the contractions had stopped. How had I slept through them? The last two days were for nothing. I stepped outside in tears to tell Nathan that I thought my labor had stalled.

Everyone thought we should go to the hospital. Contractions came back still ranging three to five minutes apart once I was awake, and we called the midwife. I was in tears at this point. What to do? I wanted to go in and get checked, but I didn’t want to go in too early. The midwife reassured me, but said if I should stay home. That I would know. So we stayed home. I tried to sleep more. At about 7 pm I emerged from my room – the same. Nathan was making dinner – spaghetti is for Eleanor and Ramen for us. I fed Eleanor her dinner, ate mine, and talked to my mom on the phone. Contractions were about 4 minutes apart.

My mom thought I should go in, check on the baby. And suddenly I thought so, too. It had been 30 + hours with no significant change. I told Nathan we should go, and we got in this ridiculous argument. Why didn’t we go earlier? We are supposed to sleep now. Everyone was tired. I started crying excessively. Sobbing. I was exhausted. Nathan assured me if I wanted to go we would go, and packed the car. We arrived at 9 pm. I wanted to walk to my room but they pushed me in a wheel chair.

We got settled in our room. I put on a gown, they hooked me up to the monitor. I couldn’t rub my belly during contractions anymore. It itched so bad. I wanted to go back home. I kept reassuring Nathan (and myself) as soon as I get checked we will go back home. My midwife was delivering a baby next door, and we heard her cries. The nurse asked what my pain levels were and i said 5/10. Then of course i had a contraction that felt about an 8/10. My midwife arrived, and checked me.

I was at 9 cm.

hallelujah!!! You’re kidding, right?
Nope. Checks again. 9 cm.

And she broke my bag of waters upon my request.
It was 10:30 pm
Then hell broke loose.
Suddenly the contractions were so hard and fast and long. I couldn’t breathe. I wanted the gown off. I felt out of control for a minute, and my reaction was to scream higher than I wanted to. After a few I asked my midwife when I should push. You’ll know, she said. And two more later I pushed, and it felt so good.

She’s coming. I said. I can feel her head.

I pushed for real this time. I don’t think the midwife or nurse were even ready. I remember feeling the ring of fire that everyone talked about but didn’t have with Eleanor.

I want her out of me!! I told Nathan.

Two more pushes and there she was.
I didn’t see anything. I don’t remember if she cried.
She was laid on my chest, so warm. So full of life. The best moment in my life has been that instant connection of skin on skin with my babies after delivery. We laid like that for so long. And then Nathan cut the cord. And we laid there some more. She nursed immediately.

It was perfect.

It was such a long labor, but in the end it happened so fast. She was born at 11:51 pm 9 minutes shy of her due date. I was a mama again, and Nathan a daddy, and Eleanor a sister. We were a family.

She’s here!

Molly Francis Griffin is here!
She arrived on September 2 at 11:51 pm. We made it to the hospital about an hour before she was born! I labored at home for nearly 36 hours, and thought it had stalled. What an experience! She came out beautiful, healthy, and chubby – 8lbs 12 oz.

We just love her!

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Time is Flying

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It’s just flying. It’s June. This is the month I will turn 30. I will start the third trimester of this pregnancy with our sweet little girl. I will have a 14 month old daughter. I may officially become a home owner. This is the month. I don’t do well with change. I tend to shut off. Retreat. Then after I’ve let it all sink in and boil over for too long I break down. Cry. Cry a lot. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the changes that are coming my way in the next few months. How can I avoid my typical reaction? I’m not sure. The good news is that they are all exciting changes. As hard as this pregnancy is becoming on my body and mental state I can’t wait to meet this little lady who has been turning somersaults and high kicks in my belly the past few weeks. Smell her. Hold her. Relish in her being. It’s an amazing thing, carrying a child.

Things are busy here. Nathan is the most amazing husband taking care of so much since I am practically incapacitated when I come home. Okay well that’s a stretch but I’ve been suffering from SPD (symphisis pubis dysfunction) which is really painful on my pelvic bone and my legs. There isn’t much relief though I have made a commitment to wear a belt every day and focus on posture and some yoga stretches to help. I really have no idea how I will get any bigger. But little bean is happy and healthy in there, and that’s what counts.

The house is moving along, too. It’s a lot of work purchasing an older home without a real estate agent. But we are hoping to close by the end of June. It would be nice to get some things squared away with the new place and moved in with enough time before I go in to labor!

Oh, and yesterday I had a milkshake for dinner.
That’s all.

The truth

I have to admit something.
I’m having a really hard time adjusting to living in North Carolina. I have my good days. But I’ve only had two of them. At least that’s how it seems. It’s been tough. I screamed really loudly a little bit ago “I hate it here I hate it here I hate it here!” As if that would do anything. Maybe if I had a fairy godmother. Or maybe if I had clicked my heels together.

It’s only been a month, and I know these things take time but everything seems so compounded. Exaggerated. Bigger. More intense. Nathan always seems grumpy. Eleanor is always whiny. The dog is barking at everything. There is no quiet.

Maybe we made the wrong decision. With every move I’ve made there has been something to look forward to. And right now I feel like we are just getting by. But when does that stop? What are we looking forward to?

I’m tired.