Monday, January 18, 2016

Happy 1/2 Birthday Noelle


Dear Sweet Noelle,

How are you already six months old!?! I'm sitting at the kitchen table writing this while you bounce and chat it up in a bouncy toy. Aaaaannnnd I think you just pooped. Probably a blowout.

Yup, it was a blowout. I may or may not have just wiped the poop off your pjs and put them back on you. It wasn't a lot. (Mom of the year.)

Anyway, the last six months have flown by and I'm sorry I haven't been able to blog more about your life. Daddy and I have started a "Noelleisms" note in our phones, so we have that, but I did want to sit down and capture what the first part of your life was like.

Newborn Stuff
I want to remember this stage because this time it was much more enjoyable than it was with Q. I think the first baby is such a shock, we didn't take time to enjoy it. We were in panic mode. This time, I loved every moment. Even getting up in the middle of the night wasn't so bad because you went right back to sleep. We kept you in our room for about six weeks and then moved you to your room...the transition was great! I was sad when we moved you because I really enjoyed the time we had together just Mama, Daddy and Noelle in the trenches of the newborn season. We had the glider in our room and the pack-and-play next to the bed. That will always be a special time in my mind. At night, Daddy normally got up and changed your diaper and then I nursed you. I had a lot of milk so for a while (before you slept through the night at about 8 weeks) I would only feed you on one side and pump the other side so I could keep up my supply and give myself a little relief.


 This was the day we got home from the hospital...we napped on the couch

 Daddy loved being home for 3 weeks with his girls.

 My view for a week...I loved being in bed with this sweet girl! 


Breastfeeding
I thought going into the second kid that I would be a pro! I nursed Q for 12 months and I just knew it would all go smoothly. I forgot that every baby is different and every baby has to learn how to breastfeed. I fed you for the first time in the recovery room and you did great. But, you were a very aggressive eater and you were still trying to figure out your little tongue. By about two weeks, I was hurting...pretty badly. I cried and sort of dreaded feedings because of the pain. I finally went to a lactation consultant who basically gave me permission to pump and give you a bottle sometimes to relieve my pain (you took the bottle the first time and never looked back...unlike your diva sister). The LC also helped me by giving me a nipple shield and providing moral support. Things started to get better about 6-7 weeks and now you are a pro. I love nursing and I'm so glad we get to have that special bonding time together. I am less modest than I was with Q so I take the cover everywhere and we have nursed at the park, in the car, at restaurants and on playdates. I am blessed with a really big supply (just like with Q) and you helped me donate 500oz. to the Mother's Milk Bank so far! Way to go sweet girl!


Magical Baby
You are seriously the sweetest baby ever. You are the kind of baby that will make me want a third (not so sure about that). You don't cry a lot, you sleep well, you let me put you down for more than five seconds, you are a good eater and you love to snuggle. The only time you make us crazy is in the car or when you won't nap...I'll touch on that later. You smile easily and you've started squealing and laughing more. Early on I could bounce you for a few minutes and lay you down and you would go to sleep. We put you in the Rock and Play Sleeper downstairs a lot and the vibration would send you into dreamland. I remember one day, I vacuumed while you slept in that thing and I literally vacuumed under and around you while you snoozed away. People tell us all the time what a wonderful baby you are. I wish I could say we did something and take the credit for it, but the Good Lord just blessed us with your sweet nature. I'm blessed to be able to take you to work with me one day each week. One of the volunteers told me one day "I will forever be in awe of how you put that baby in her car seat and she just went to sleep." Here's the thing...I'm a little worried you are tricking us. Please don't. Please stay sweet and don't turn into a crazy toddler, k, thanks.

Funny Quirks and Some Other Baby Stuff
There are some really cute things you do that make us smile.
-When you cry sometimes it sounds like you are saying "Gahhhh". Like you are trying to say "come on y'all...figure it out."
-Pretty early on you would be chatting and then a sneeze would come on suddenly. We called it the yell-sneeze because you would sneeze mid-chat and sort of yell before you sneezed. It would make Daddy, Q and me laugh so hard.
-Your sweet little cowlick on the top/back of your head is the sweetest thing. Q and I always sing to you "crazy hair, don't care".
-You are a kicker. Your little legs are constantly moving and I'm pretty sure your goal in life is to kick off your socks and shoes.
-You started sleeping about 11 hours at night around 8 weeks.
-You slept in a swaddle until about 4 months.
-When you are tired you dig your head into our shoulder and rub your eyes.

That sweet cow-lick...this was before you had rubbed your bald spot on the back of your head.

Social Girl
We got you out of the house early...much earlier than Q. Here are some of the things you got to do before you were even six months old!
-We went to Jill's baby shower 10 days after you were born. You snuggled with Mama the whole time!
-You went to church pretty early too...I think it was about 6 weeks old.
-You went on your first family vacation to the beach at 7 weeks old.
-You got go to go a Baylor game at 2.5 months old. It was so fun and we were lucky that our seats were right in front of the mother's room so we could nurse mid-game.
-Q started playing soccer when you were about 8 weeks old so you got dragged to several soccer games...of course you were perfectly fine being outside.





So Alert and Observant
You are the most alert and observant baby I've ever seen, and a lot of other people say the same thing. From very early on (like 2 weeks) you were constantly moving your little neck around to see and hear things around you. Mama even had a crazy moment where I thought something was wrong with you because you wouldn't make eye contact with me. My mind was put at ease when the pediatrician that lives across the street said "She's just nosy...she's fine." Well, I have to say you come by it honestly (or at least Daddy would say that). I have so many memories of you almost falling asleep and then popping your little head up to see something. You also LOVED being outside (and still do). It was so funny how you would just whip your neck back and forth to look around...like it just blew your mind to see so many things. One of the funniest things you notice is the theme song to Gilmore Girls. I started watching this when you were born and now any time the theme song comes on you stop nursing and even wake from a deep sleep to look at the tv. It's hilarious! This will always be one of my favorite memories of you as a newborn...little bright-eyed, nosy girl.

The Car
Oh. My. Goodness. You were worse than your sister. We DREADED even driving across town. I don't know what it was, but you hated getting in the car more than anything. Once you were out of that seat, you were perfectly fine. I decided at some point to just laugh rather than lose my sanity, so I have multiple voice recordings and videos on my phone of you screaming while Q is obliviously singing songs. Those recordings capture your early car days perfectly...and show why Daddy is getting gray hair and Mama is losing her mind. :)

No Naps, No Naps, La, La, La, La, La
You are just like your sister...you won't nap. I have no idea how you function or how your brain is developing but you won't nap more than about 20 min. Mama might go crazy. BUT, you aren't super fussy when you are awake AND you've slept at night since you were 8 weeks old. So, it's hard to complain too much. I've tried everything to try to get you to sleep and you just aren't having it. I don't get much done during the day and it's so exhausting having a baby that won't sleep, but I'll have the rest of my life to sleep, do laundry, clean, cook, etc. Right? But, I'm not gonna lie...I envy the moms whose kids sleep for two or three hours. I have no idea what I would even do with that time. But for now, no breaks for this mama.

Loved
Mama was so thankful to have so many helpful people around when you were a baby. Daddy got to be home for three weeks and he and sister took good care of us. They brought me breakfast and lunch in bed for a week (stairs after a c-section weren't easy), and Daddy did a great job entertaining your busy big sister. Then Auntie Em came and stayed with us for a week. What a fun week! Mama loved having her sister around and you got spoiled. I'm so glad you and Q will always have a special relationship just like I do with my sister. THEN, Nannie Mae took a week off to help. You got to cuddle some more, and one day Mama even got to take a nap with sister while Nannie Mae took care of you. Granny and Ahwo/Ahpo made it in town for a visit after that so you were just surrounded by people who love you. There's nothing more important than family and you are a lucky girl to have so many people who love you!


Your Fave
Your favorite person in the whole world is your sister. You smile and laugh at her the most. Many times, when you cry, I ask sister to come talk to you. It always calms you down and you even start laughing. I hope your sister is always your favorite person...what a special relationship!



This is one day when sister was making me crazy while I was nursing you. Haha!

Your first trip to the park with sister...many more to come!


Your Nursery
For posterity...here's your nursery before we actually used it. These photos make it look white, but it's light gray. Now there are toys and baby stuff everywhere and we love that it's your safe place. The print that hangs above your changing table is in honor of your great-grandfather Clayton Sylestine who was the chief of your tribe. His middle name is your middle name.







Happy 1/2 Birthday sweet girl! We love you so much! I know it's cliche, but we really can't imagine our family without you. What a blessing you are!

Love,
Mama

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Sylestine Family Recap


"A happy family is but an earlier heaven." - George Bernard Shaw

2015 was very kind to this little family of ours. Neither of us have been as efficient as we'd like in terms of documenting this for posterity's sake, but the memories we've created this year are strong and deep. Here are some of the highlights.

Ella
Our little dog daughter is trying her hardest. She doesn't understand why we keep adding humans to our household, nor why they grow up to torture her with "love" and "affection". Ella continues to be obsessed with food/eating and protecting the family homestead. Ella's goals for 2016 are to shed as much fur as possible downstairs and to eventually jump high enough to get some food off of the kitchen island.

Noelle
We're so fortunate to have been able to welcome our sweet little girl to the ranks six months ago. Noelle is one of the happiest babies we've ever known. She has a calm, watchful disposition and will typically greet you with a smile if you happen to catch her eye. She's the type that will trick you into having a third baby...not so sure about that! She's growing so fast and is likely to be tall like her big sister. She absolutely adores her big sister and has the best laugh ever. Nannie Mae thinks N will look more like Molly Ann but will have Jeremy's personality, while it's pretty clear at this point that Q is the opposite. N's goals for 2016 are to learn to eat real food, to sit up on her own, and to crawl and walk.

Quinn
There's too much to say about Q's year here, but moving from toddler to preschooler is no joke, y'all. Q still thrives in preschool and loves being part of the Squirrel class, where she learns alongside some of her best friends. At home, she lives her life in song and imagination. You'll rarely catch her sitting quietly. Q is always playing, dancing or running, typically while singing or humming a song (actual or made-up). She adores her baby sister and loves making her laugh. We're so excited to watch that relationship grow over time. Q enjoyed her dance class and soccer team in 2015, as well as a couple of summer camps (which helped keep Mama sane during those long summer weeks). Q's goals for 2016 are to learn to ride her "big girl" bike without training wheels, to tie her shoes by herself, and to start reading on her own.

Molly Ann
MA has the best job ever...being a mama and a wife. It's hard and there are days that seem to last forever, but she can't imagine being anywhere else in this season. The joys definitely outweigh the tough moments. Being on the front row to watch her little angels develop their relationship is the most magical thing in the world! When she's not nursing, toting Q around, cleaning the house, cooking, playing Little People or reading to her girls, MA somehow finds time to work part-time with her consulting business. She also started doing a little work for Riverbend Centre for the Arts (the performing arts business that grew out of the church). With the time she has leftover, MA still helps J lead Couple Vision, serves with the Junior League of Austin in the Playhouse Singers (singing at nursing homes), serves alongside the board and volunteers of Hopefully Sow, attempts to work out, reads, watches Gilmore Girls and tries to do fun things with Jeremy. MA's goals for 2016 are to make more time for J despite the demands of parenthood, figure out how to grow relationships with her girlfriends despite our crazy lives and schedules, lose the rest of her baby weight, focus on enjoying this season of young motherhood without complaining and get back to blogging (in her spare time...haha). 

Jeremy
J loves being MA's husband and daddy to his two girls. There's seriously nothing better. Professionally, J became a court chief in October after receiving a promotion at the Travis County District Attorney's Office. After over seven years trying child abuse and domestic violence cases, he's happy to be managing a team of ADAs and handling some of the most serious felony cases in the county. In addition to that, he is in his fifth year as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law, where he is a co-instructor of the Prosecution Internship. J began serving this year as a board member for ACT Holdings, the economic development corporation for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe. He continues to serve on the board of Hopefully Sow, a non-profit focused on serving children in foster care in the Austin area. And he and Molly Ann both help oversee Couple Vision, a growing community group of young couples at Riverbend Church. J's goals for 2016 are to run another couple of half marathons, to become a stronger leader at home and at work, and to be more intentional about his relationship with MA as parent-life becomes more demanding.

God has blessed us in more ways than we can count. We are truly thankful for our life and our little family...what a fun adventure we have every day!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pregnancy #2 and Noelle's Birth


It's funny...when you don't have any kids and you are pregnant w/ your first you have hours and hours to write about your pregnancy, how you feel, how the baby is growing (i.e. what fruit it is during a certain week), what you eat/don't eat, etc. BUT, when you have a kid and you are a work-at-home Mama and you are pregnant with your second, those hours and hours get filled up w/ more important things like work and spending quality time with the other kid. I guess all this is to say, with Q's pregnancy, I was an over-sharer...with N's pregnancy, this single post will have to suffice. I just wanted to make sure I documented some of it so I could remember and N would know she's just as special as big sister Q!

The News
We tried for a lot longer for N than we did with Q. I think that happens a lot...people assume the first was easy so the second will be a piece of cake. We tried for about seven to nine months (Jeremy and I disagree, but I'm pretty sure I'm right here). Regardless, it wasn't the two we tried for Q and it got a bit frustrating and I was a roller coaster of emotions. I knew God had everything under control in His timing, but each month I didn't get preggo was torturous. I know a lot of women go through years of doing this and I shouldn't complain, but I do know the pain and I can sympathize.

After trying ovulation kits a few months, I finally gave up and just left it alone for God to do His thing. Of course, that's when we got preggo! I took the test one day while Jeremy was at work and I got to share the news with him when he got home right before a date night. We have a message board in our bedroom that says "I love you...". We write things to each other on that board every once in a while and I surprised him by writing "I love you...for knocking me up!". He didn't see it for a few minutes and when he did, it was a double take with "Are you serious?!". We had a great date night celebrating after that and thus the journey to two began.


SO Tired
Early on I had a lot of cramping. People said this was normal as the baby attached itself, but I was worried enough to call the doc. They had me do some blood work and it turns out my progesterone levels were low. I ended up taking progesterone for 10 weeks and the side effect was drowsiness. Thank goodness for my gut instinct but I was seriously so tired.

Speaking of gut, the nausea kicked in this time around week six. Yay. Q's birthday party was on her birthday and I remember thinking I was going to hurl. We hadn't told anyone about the pregnancy except for my mom and Dennis (we wanted them to know early just in case something happened) and I felt like crap at the party. I put on a smiley face, but I was not in the mood for cake or screaming kids. I got some new medicine for the nausea this time around. During Q's pregnancy, I took Zofran and I HATED the way it made me feel. This time, I got Diclegis. It worked, but the unfortunate side effect was drowsiness. So, the combination of progesterone and anti-nausea meds made me a complete zombie. I just wanted to sleep all the time! Poor Q got used to me saying "You can watch Curious George for a while...I'm just going to rest my eyes." An hour and a half later, my poor 3-year old was still watching George. Thank the Lord for a sweet toddler who plays well by herself and doesn't get into trouble! Probably one of the memories that sticks with me the most is falling asleep on Christmas morning. We got up with Q, opened gifts, played with Santa gifts and I passed out on the couch. Merry Christmas family.


Gender Reveal
We have such awesome friends (extended family really). They wanted to have a gender reveal party for us after the 10-week genetic test. It's crazy how early you can find out the gender these days. It was SO HARD to hand over the envelope to my girlfriends after I got it at the doctor. But, I was glad I held out because our party was so fun! We opened a box with PINK balloons! I really didn't have any feelings about the gender. When I was preggo with Q, I just knew it was a girl, but this time around I wasn't sure. Jeremy on the other hand was sure it was another girl. He had come to terms with the fact he would be surrounded by beautiful women the rest of his life...lucky him!




Weight Gain
This time around I didn't gain as much weight as I did with Q. I pretty much expected this since I was busy chasing Q around and I did a lot more walking this time. I continued to walk Q to school even up to 30 weeks (3 miles round trip in our really hilly neighborhood). Plus, we always took long family walks in the evening since it wasn't too hot. The weather during N's pregnancy was SO different than Q's. During the summer of 2011, we had record-breaking heat...like over 100 basically all summer and into the fall. It was miserable to be pregnant during that time and impossible to get out and walk. Plus I was sitting at a desk all day eating whatever I could get my hands on. This time around, we had record-breaking rainfall (even some really devastating flooding) and it was so mild. Walking in the evening with a breeze felt amazing and I wasn't sitting at a desk all day...I was up and about playing with Q (which I much prefer). :) I think overall I gained about 40-45lbs. as opposed to the 65lb. with Q. I'm praying I lose that weight just as fast with breastfeeding and chasing two sweet girls.



40 Weeks


Q's Reaction
She did a great job the whole pregnancy. She understood that I had limits (bending over, running, etc.) and seemed very concerned about me. She would ask "Can you not do that because of that baby in your tummy?" She put things under her shirt and pretended to be pregnant sometimes and even breastfed some of her dolls. One time she told me "You can feed my baby, you just have to put her mouth by your boobie." :) Toward the end of the pregnancy, I borrowed a birthing ball and Q always made sure I had my ball to do puzzles with her, color or watch TV. She regularly walked up to me and kissed my belly saying "Hi baby sister!" I could tell throughout the whole pregnancy that Q was going to be an awesome big sister.



Mom Friend Support
When I was pregnant with Q, I didn't have a lot of mom friends. This time around, I was surrounded by mom friends who were so supportive, helpful and generally let me vent about pregnancy. Several friends let me have/borrow maternity clothes and passed on lots of baby stuff to use when N arrived. I was overwhelmed by how kind people were. Several friends offered to get Q and give me a break, some of them made food for our family and I always had friends help me with physically hard things when we were at play dates. Lots of people say moms are judgy and mean to each other, but I have seen the opposite. I am so blessed by my community of mom friends...I don't know how I could do this whole mom thing without them!

Wishful Thinking
There were a lot of things to be anxious about having another baby but the thing I dreaded most was having another c-section. The last one wasn't horrible, but healing from that while caring for a newborn, breastfeeding, not sleeping, etc. was not fun. I know there's no fun way to get a baby out of your body, but I REALLY wanted to have a VBAC. My doc was totally fine with it but it's dangerous to induce a VBAC so you have to go into labor naturally. I tried everything under the moon to induce labor but nothing worked. I wasn't dilating or anything! My doc swept my membranes twice (OUCH!!) and nothing was happening. Finally at 40 weeks and three days, we decided N was getting pretty big and opted for the repeat c-section to be safe. I would have loved the vaginal birth experience (not for some emotional, prideful reason...mostly for the healing time) but N and I are healthy and happy. Plus, I won't pee every time I cough!

Noelle's Birth
We were scheduled for 10:30am on Tuesday, July 7 and we ended up going in about an hour late. Jeremy decided going through hours and hours of labor would not have been fun since waiting for a few hours for the c-section was torturous for us! :) I knew what to expect since I'd done it before, but I was still nervous about the spinal. I had a spinal headache after Q's birth and sticking a needle in my back just sounds awful no matter how many times you've had it done. Despite my nerves, I made it through and they brought Jeremy in just in time. This time around, he didn't get a stool to sit on so he watched over the curtain the whole time (I can't imagine seeing my spouse cut open on a table). It seemed like it all happened so fast this time. My doc told me I'd feel pressure and then he said "She has dark hair!" Jeremy looked at me and smiled really big...I knew he'd won the gene war again! :) Our sweet angel was 8lb 12oz and 20 inches long. She didn't look as chubby as Q when she was born but she definitely looked like Q in every other way. Jeremy makes beautiful girls!






Recovery Craziness
After I was all stitched up, I was taken to recovery. I rested there with my incredibly sweet nurse taking great care of me. After a while (I honestly don't know how long...maybe 30 minutes) Jeremy got to bring Noelle to me so I could nurse and love on her. Nursing my second kid seemed so much more natural than it did with Q. I remember the nurse having to show me what to do and shoving Q's mouth on my boob. Such a bizarre feeling for a first-time mom! This time, I took her and threw her right on. (That's not to say I didn't have INCREDIBLE pain and soreness later...just physically easier to manage breastfeeding this time.) Anyway, after I fed Noelle, the nurse laid me back down to push on my tummy to help my uterus contract. This was another thing I dreaded about the c-section...it hurts like CRAZY! Well, when she did it this time, a lot of blood clots came out (sorry TMI). She immediately acted concerned but told me maybe it was because I was sitting up a little feeding Noelle. She waited a bit and then tried again. Still lots of blood clots...apparently they call this hemorrhaging. At that point the torture started and my mom got really worried. She and Jeremy's mom were the only ones who were allowed to come back and I think seeing me like that worried her. She is such a wonderful mom...she immediately texted and emailed our prayer warriors to pray for me. God is good! The nurse called the doc who had already left for the day so the on call doc came and put me on Pitocin to get my uterus to contract. There was a lot more tummy pushing and torture. They tried another drug and that wasn't working either. Long story short, they finally got a mix of drugs to start working and thankfully gave me some awesome pain meds to deal with the torture.




Quinn Meets Noelle
Our nurse for the day was so awesome! She let us sneak Q back to the recovery room even though no kids were allowed. She had a son about the same age and she empathized with us wanting Q to meet Noelle. Jeremy went and got her and the first thing she asked when she came back was "Why did the doctor have to cut your tummy?" She asked a lot more questions about my tummy and all the wires, tubes and "band-aids" and it was so sweet to hear her concern. After that, she was ready to hold little sister. She told us she wanted to sit in a chair and hold her. It was really sweet and I knew in that moment she would be great! Every time she was at the hospital after that, she demanded to hold Noelle...little maternal girl.








What a blessing this sweet baby girl has been. She's such a good baby and it's hard to imagine our family without her now. I always loved having a sister and I hope Q and N grow up to be the best of friends!