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.

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.

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.

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). 

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 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 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! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Our Fall Trip to Disney World

Quinn got an awesome birthday present this year...Disney World! This is NOT the type of present she should always expect, it just happened to fall around her birthday. We decided we wanted Q to have the Disney experience by herself before another sibling came along. Plus, she is at the perfect age and if you know her, she is OBSESSED with Disney princess stuff. I'm not sure if I created this monster or if it just happened naturally, but if I never read another princess story again, I'll be okay. :)

I should preface this post by saying I will NEVER go to Disney World in the first trimester of pregnancy again. I was about eight weeks pregnant and not feeling great. I was so nauseated and incredibly tired. All the smells in the park made me want to hurl and walking around/standing around in lines made me want to lie down in front of Cinderella's castle and take a nap all day. BUT, I made the most of it and tried to be a good sport. It made everything better to see Q's sweet face when she got to see all the magic of Disney.

We decided to be crazy and leave on the earliest flight out on the day after Q's birthday party. We were all pretty tired (I was super preggo tired) but we got to Florida and hit the ground running all day.

I think Q's favorite thing from the first day was the parade. We happened to be walking out of a restaurant right before it started, so we sat down and waited for the big show. We had great seats and Q was completely mesmerized by the floats and characters.

After the parade, we made our way through the park meeting characters and doing some of the smaller rides. Apparently, a big thing for kids is to meet characters and get their autograph. Since Q has two perfectionist parents, we sort of made it a point to try to get lots of autographs and corresponding photos. We even got a little photo/autograph book and Q still loves to look at it and tell stories about meeting all the Disney friends.

Our one big splurge for the trip was dinner with the princesses at the castle. We knew Q was at the perfect age for this and it gave her a chance to meet all the princesses in one sitting. She wore her Belle dress and fit right in! The food wasn't stellar (let's be honest, I could hardly eat anything at the time without feeling sick), but it was a fun night and Q even got a birthday cupcake.

Day two was more of a lot of the same stuff. We saw some fun shows (Q's favorite was at the castle), met some great characters and rode some of the timeless Disneyworld rides. Some of the characters got Q a little freaked out but for the most part she loved them. She wasn't her normal chatty self, but she at least took photos with them. She still looks at her autograph/photo book and tells the "story of Disneyworld". Gaston was my favorite character. He played up the role of male chauvinist really well, and even wanted to make sure I got a pic with him to hang above our mantle as the new family photo.

Another favorite character was the Fairy Godmother. She was so sweet and patient and spent some time getting to know each child. She found out it was Q's bday weekend and she gave us the inside scoop on where to get "fairy dusted" and get a special button. Q was so proud of her glittery hair! 

We ended our day meeting Tiana and Naveen (and Q was not impressed) and then finally, MICKEY MOUSE! Not gonna lie, he was a little creepy. His mouth moved when he talked and I couldn't figure out how he did that. Q was a little scared but she did okay all taking a pic together.

Day three was full of fun at Animal Kingdom. It was nice being there because I think we were all so tired and it was a little more laid back (for Q's age). When she's older, I think she'll love all the rides, but this time was about seeing animals and meeting a couple of characters. We got to meet Pocahontas and go on a safari. One of our favorite things there was the Finding Nemo was really good for a theme park musical. Q was NOT a fan of the Bug's Life show which included some 4D stuff like smells and the feeling that little bugs were crawling under your seat. It wasn't my favorite, but it was cute. 

Notice every day ends with a pic of Q sleeping...I'd say that's a successful trip! Although I will NEVER go again in the first trimester of pregnancy, I can't wait to go back! Q talks about it all the time and I know she'll love it even more when she's older...with a little sister in tow.