Monday, October 28, 2013

I Wanna Be a Toys R Us Kid!

On July 29th my mom and I took Gia to a photo shoot for the Toys R Us Big Book Holiday catalog. On Friday the 26th (the day before her 3rd birthday) we got the call that Gia was "on hold" for a shoot and then later in the day we got the email that she was booked! 
I was so excited! I told Gia that we were going to go to back to the big building (we'd gone there for the casting call a few months earlier) and the lady with the big camera was going to take pictures of her and she breathed in excitedly and said "Ok Mommy!"
Toys R Us and Babies R Us frequently shoot in Union City, NJ and that's where we went. Gia was given wardrobe (cute yellow skinny jeans and a peach & yellow top both from Gap Kids).

 She also got hair and makeup! They put a cute little peach dragonfly clip in her to keep that 1 little curl off her forehead. The makeup lady also put a little powder foundation and blush on her and then a bit of chapstick, which she thought was lipstick. She sat in the makeup chair like such a little lady. It was so adorable. 

Then she and a little boy were led onto the set. The set director put them in a Power Wheels Range Rover! The little boy was "driving," which Gia was totally fine with. The kid wrangler was hilarious and had some pop up bunny and totally got Gia to laugh hysterically. The other mom and I stood in the back & watched the pictures they were taking pop up on monitor. We were told to stay out of view. If I ducked my head a tiny bit I could see Gia's face under the reflector and at a one point she peeked under and saw me and gave me a huge smile.
Gia was belly laughing the whole time and listening to direction really well. She was clearly having so much fun. At one point the set director positioned her arm to sort of hang out of the car and she left it there, just like she was supposed to. The photographer and graphic designers got a huge kick out how hard she was laughing and how cute she was. 
They took a bunch of shots and then she was done! We changed her out of her "wardrobe" and waitted to get our voucher. As she was getting dressed Gia kept asking if she "should go back and play with the car". It was so cute. I had to tell her we were done. (She was ok with it because I'd promised her ice cream if she was good. On the way home we stopped at Sonic and got her a vanilla ice cream, which she was thrilled about.)
We were told the ad would run in the Toys R Us Big Book, set to come out on November 3rd. But then, on Saturday my grandma called me to tell me one of her friends found Gia's ad through some coupon website. I went straight to the Toys R Us website and typed in 'Range Rover' and found Gia right away.
One of the best parts of all this was her reaction to the ad. I called her over to the "concuter" and told her I wanted to show her something. She took one look at the screen and says, somewhat surprised, "Hey! That's me!"
 I haven't yet seen the print ad in person, but I'm looking forward to showing that to her, too. It's a visual reminder (one for the whole world to see, too) of really fun day with my girl and it will make an awesome memory and keepsake for her when she's older.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Birth Story {Nicholas}

There are so many things I want to remember about Nicholas's birth day, so forgive me if this post is all over the place!

On October 22, Jon & I were up at 4:30 am so that I could shower dry my hair and put on makeup (call me vain, but I wanted to look nice because I know these pictures are going to be around forever!). We left the house at 5:30 to be at the hospital by 6.  From 6-8:30 we did all the admittance things like answering a bunch of questions and getting prepped for surgery. They had us in a Labor & Delivery room and there was plenty of down time for Jon and me to relax as much as we could. At that point he was pretty nervous and I was pretty calm, but excited to meet my baby.  

My doctor (Dr. Z) stopped by to say hello and I met the anesthesiologist, Dr. M.  At 8:30 we walked to the OR. 
The minute we entered the OR I silently started to panic a little. It's kind of scary to be awake while someone is doing major surgery on your body and it all hit me at once. Looking back I realize that, up until that point, I had pushed the whole surgery thing out of my mind because I was so focused on getting to meet Nicholas. Being in the bright and sterile OR was a wake up call though. Before I met Nicholas I had to have surgery.
Dr. M did the spinal (which was not bad at all--getting the hep lock in my wrist was much worse) and layed me down on the table.  I remember looking up the huge lights and thinking that I should have tried to give birth the other way. No matter that I was NOT a good candidate for a VBAC and had high blood pressure and needed him out. Sometimes fear just takes over. I kept thinking "Stop the ride. I want to get off".  Bizarre, right? The anesthesiologist and nurses were great though and kept me very comfortable. 
At 8:58 they started & brought Jon in. He was nothing short of amazing. He talked to me and held my hand and was so sweet and calming. He kept telling me I was doing great. At 9:03 they told me to brace myself for lots of pressure (and there was a TON--so much that I couldn't breathe for a second) and they pulled out Nicholas Robert. They told Jon to look and he was able to see them pull his head out. Nicholas cried immediately and it was the most beautiful sound.
It took them about 25 more minutes to put me back together, during which time Jon went with the baby to take pictures. He came back and showed me a few on the camera & I got all teary eyed. He also came to tell me that Nicholas was 7 lbs 5 oz. (When Gia was born, we knew she was going to be big and I think I asked about 10 times how much she weighed. I didn't end up finding out till we were in recovery. This time I didn't even have to ask!) Soon Nicholas was ready and I was able to kiss him before they headed to recovery. I joined them about 10 minutes later. 
When they wheeled me in, this is what I saw, and it made my heart so happy.

We were in recovery for about an hour. I did skin to skin and tried to breastfeed Nicholas but he just wanted to cuddle and moan. He wasn't crying but he was making lots of noise. It was so so sweet.  
We were brought to our {awesome, huge, corner} room around 11. My mom and Gia came about 15 minutes later and Gia met her brother for the first time. She was just beyond sweet. She uses this tiny little voice when she talks to him and about him. She loves to see him move and make noises.

We gave her a present from Nicholas (the Barbie & Barbie horsie she saw a commercial for and has been wanting SO badly.) She loved it. She gave Nicholas an elephant lovie that she picked out for him. Jon held her and let her touch him and she was sort of petting him. It was adorable and made me so happy to see.
  My mom and Gia only stayed for a little while and then it was quiet time in the Mother/Baby unit (2 hours in the middle of each day when no visitors are allowed). Jon and I relaxed and cuddled with Nicholas.

Later that afternoon we had a bunch of other visitors. My mom and Gia came back for a while, Jon's parents, his brother and wife, my dad, my aunt & uncle and 2 of my cousins all met Nicholas.  It was a perfect birth day.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Welcome Nicholas Robert!

Welcome Nicholas Robert! Born October 22 at 9:03 am. 

He is 7 lbs 5 oz and 20 3/4 inches long. We're all doing well! Full birth story coming soon!

Monday, October 21, 2013

On Being Pregnant

I'll be the first to admit that being pregnant isn't my most favorite thing in the world. I miss sleeping on my stomach, walking sans waddle, eating sushi and a bunch of other, small things that go out the window when you're pregnant. But, before I got pregnant with Bobby, I magically forgot that I'm not the greatest pregnant lady. I couldn't wait to do it all over again, and I just remembered all of the fun things about being pregnant.
I like the attention. I've been so lucky and people have been really kind both times I was pregnant. Sure, I've gotten a few "wow you're HUGE" comments, but they were few and far between. Mostly people hold doors for me and smile and take guesses about what I'm having. For the record, both times strangers thought I was carrying like it was a boy. As we know from the side-by-side pictures, this time I'm definitely more "boy" than last time. 
I love feeling the baby moving. Right now, I'm typing this on my last night of pregnancy and Bobby is going crazy in there, as he usually does at this time of night. He's big and his movements are abrupt and rough. My whole belly jumps around. And then he gets the hiccups and it's like my stomach is twitching. I'm really enjoying this last bout of gymnastics before I have an outside baby.
I love the dreaminess of wondering who this little person is. I can't wait to see his face and learn who has been in there all these months. I wonder who he'll look like. Will he look like Gia? How big will he be? Will he have dark hair? A lot or a little? Light eyes like his Daddy? Or dark like the rest of us?

And lastly, a little side note about Gia. I've been worrying about this day for a while. I knew I'd be a mess on the last day of her as my only child. And, last night, when I was putting her to bed I cried a little. She was so confused. She said, "Mommy, what's that water?"  I told her it was a tear, that I was crying just a little. She asked why and I told her I was crying because I loved her so much.  Her response: "Sometimes I cry because I love you so much." And then I cried A LOT because she's just so sweet.
Today she and I had a fun girls day together. We went to Old McDonald's for lunch (her choice...her name for it too) and we were there for an entire hour. That's how long it took her to eat 1 cheeseburger, 3 chicken nuggets, a small fry, a thing of apples and a juice box. (Not the healthiest lunch, but hey, you have to splurge once in a while.) And later we watched her favorite movie du jour -- Monsters Inc--before we sent her to my mom's house for 2 nights (which she was SO excited about. She loves sleeping over there.)
So that's it. It's my last night as a mommy of one and I'm so excitednervoushappyblessedloved. I'm bringing my laptop to the hospital and hope to blog about the birth very soon!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

38 Weeks! {Pregnancy Update}

Yesterday marked the beginning of my 38th week of pregnancy! My c-section is less than a week away! OMG!
Yesterday I went for my 38 week check up. I go to an awesome group of doctors and as soon as we set the date for the c-section and I knew which doctor would be doing it, I started to just see her exclusively. (Usually they enocurage you to see everyone because you never know who will be on call when you deliver.) I saw Dr. Z 3 times last week (check out this post) so when I showed up to this appointment she waved and joked with the nurse not to stress me out before she took my blood pressure.
Turns out my blood pressure has gone down (yay!) but the bottom number is still higher than she'd like. Soooo, today I went in for a biophysical profile to check on the baby's heart rate, muscle tone, movement, breathing, and to check the levels of amniotic fluid. They want to make sure he's dealing with the high blood pressure ok in there.
I'm overjoyed because he's doing great! He was moving around like a champ and the ultrasound tech even commented on how active he is. (Seems like everyone notices how crazy he is in my belly!) My amniotic fluid is normal and so far, we think he'll be just fine in there until Tuesday. I go back to see Dr. Z on Friday and she'll have the final say in when he'll be here.
He was also not shy for the camera, at all. He was waving his little hand all around and turned to face us. I could see his little face so clearly. He looks a little like Gia, and I definitely saw that he has my forehead (poor kid).
The tech did mention that, partly because of the blood pressure issues, he's measuring medium sized. He's just under 7 lbs right now. She also said that if I didn't have a c-section scheduled, they'd likely take him early and not let me attempt a VBAC anyway. In her experience doing biophysical profiles, babies can only tolerate the high blood pressure for so long and then it's just better for both mom and baby to get them out.
So, till I hear otherwise...we're still on track for Tuesday morning!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Uncle Bobby

So, as you know, we aren't sharing the name of baby boy till he's here. We know he's a boy and when he's coming, so we wanted to keep something a surprise.

Well, Gia nearly ruined that for us the past few weeks. 
If you recall, when I first got pregnant, we told Gia right away. She was barely 2.5 and didn't really get it, but she immediately thought the baby was a boy and wanted to name him Bobby.  Well, she was right--it IS a boy. And we've been referring to him as Bobby ever since.

Part of the reason Bobby stuck with us is because it has family significance for me. I have a deceased uncle with whom I was very very close and his name was Uncle Bobby (my mom's brother). He passed away when I was seven, and every time I think of him, I think about how much he'd love Gia and how much I wish he'd been around for so many more years. Gia is so much like him--she loves flowers and animals and is such a happy, loving soul.  My mom and I think Gia is connected to him and that, through her,  he's letting us know he's here with us.
Uncle Bobby & Me (about a year old)

A month ago we finally decided what to really name this baby, and -- silly me -- I told my very smart, never-forgets-a-thing, 3 year old. I figured she'd forget and still call him Bobby. A few days later we were visiting my mom at work and one of my mom's colleagues asked what the baby's name was going to be. Gia blurted out the real name and then followed it with "But we can still call him Bobby." Which is exactly what I said to her when I told her his real name, just a few days earlier. I almost passed out. Jon didn't know I'd told her the real name so it was quite a shock for him too. My own mom didn't even know we had definitely decided on a name, let alone know what it was! There was quite a few "ohmigods" on my part and quite a few giggles too. And there was little Gia, looking around like, "What? That's his name, isn't it?".

After that very funny incident, I had a little talk Gia and told her the real name was a secret. 
"A secret, mommy?"
 I said, "Yes Gia, a secret. We aren't telling anyone the name. So if someone asks you, just tell them it's Bobby."
She was tested again yesterday---we bumped into an old friend of mine who asked her what her brother's name was going to be. She looked at me, paused and then said "Bobby!"  Smart girl, G. Smart girl.
The only small glitch in this? I think the nickname Bobby is going to be hard to shake. Yesterday superstitious me broke down and bought Gia and the baby matching shirts for his newborn photos. I usually don't like anything personalized before the baby is here (this is just about the only old-school Italian notion I subscribe to), but I needed to order these shirts soon or they wouldn't be here in time. And of course, I kind of can't stop thinking of him as Bobby.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Hello, L&D! {37 week Pregnancy Update}

Weight Gain: 26 lbs

Maternity Clothes: Barely fit. Pants are ok but most of my shirts are not long enough! There's always about an inch of my belly sticking out. Luckily I'm short and no one can tell, except me. And that's only because I usually feel a cool breeze.
Sleep: Sporadic. One night I barely sleep and then the next night I make up for it and get into that awesome deep sleep.

Gender: Boy!

Feelings/Mood: A little bit blah. I've hit that point where I'm just sort of done being pregnant. I'm huge and everything is a challenge these days. I'm completely ready to meet this little guy and have an outside baby.

Symptoms/Health: I had a few issues this week. Wednesday I went for my 37-week check up and my blood pressure was very high (138/90) and there was a protein in my urine. I immediately knew what was on my doctor's mind: preeclampsia.  Before I left they checked my BP again and it was exactly the same. My doctor was concerned, so she scheduled me for a 24-hour urine collection to keep an eye on the protein. I also was told to come back Thursday for another BP check.

Thursday afternoon I went back for a BP check. It  was still pretty high and I had a splitting headache, so they sent me to Labor & Delivery.  Luckily Jon was off, so I went home to get him and did some quick packing in case I had to stay.  My awesome sister-in-law offered to take Gia for a few hours (until my mom and stepdad could get there an take her home for the night if need be), and Jon and I headed to the hospital.

While at the hospital I was hooked up to 2 fetal monitors and a blood pressure cuff. Luckily while I was there my BP slowly dropped to normal range and the headache subsided. Baby boy was doing wonderfully the entire time, so that was a huge relief as well. My bloodwork all came back normal (liver enzymes and platelets are ok) so it looks like we're dealing with gestational hypertension rather than preeclampsia, which is much less scary and much more easily managed--especially given the fact that baby boy will be here in about 12 days anyway. The doctor sent me home around 7pm and told me to stay off my feet as much as possible so that we can keep baby boy inside a little longer.
Food Cravings/Aversions: There's not much room in there for food anymore. I'm still eating a lot of little meals/snacks. And I still want salads a lot!

What I Miss: Pretty much everything about not being pregnant. The only thing I'll actually miss about being pregnant is feeling him move.

Movement: Still tons. He moves so much it hurts sometimes. His knobby little knees poke me and stick out of my belly.

Belly: Low, low, low and totally out front! Oh, and huge.

Best Moment this week (pregnancy-related): Gia asking to feel the baby kick. It only took 37 weeks!

What I look forward to: D-day! It's FAST approaching!!
Please excuse the horrible iPhone picture on the left and the horrible hair I'm sporting in the one on the right!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Little Fisher Girl

Last week, kind of out of the blue, Gia asked to go fishing. One day, while driving around doing some errands, she told me she wanted to go fishing and said "maybe I can go tomorrow."  It only took me a second to realize she'd watched a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode that morning where Mickey was fishing for "gooey fish," which is what sparked her interest in fishing.
I told her sure, she could go tomorrow. I was ok with this "promise" because Jon loves to fish. I had a feeing he'd be more than happy to take her. And I was right--he was thrilled with Gia's request. (I think he always though he'd need to have a son to do some of his favorite things with, like fishing and playing in the ocean. I know it makes him so happy when his daughter shows genuine interest in the things he loves.)
So, one day last week, during our hot spell, aka Aug-tober, Jon took Gia to a nearby pond and they fished. 
She loved every part of it--even the mealworms they used as bait.  

  She wore Jon's polarized sunglasses so that she could better see the fish swimming around in the pond.

Luckily it didn't take them long to catch one! She was SO proud!

 She had to get right in there and check him out.

 She touched him and then they threw him back in & tried again.

A few minutes later they caught another one and Gia reeled him in.

Since that day they've gone fishing 2 more times. Jon even got Gia her own kid-sized Dora the Explorer fishing pole, which she loves. Unfortunately she hasn't caught a fish with the new rod yet. But that's probably because she really enjoys the casting and reeling in so much. You can't catch a fish if the hook & bait aren't in the water!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Decorating for Fall

Over the summer I started writing for an online magazine called Daily Mom. It's an awesome website with amazing articles about everything mom-related (also also many thing just generally for women) from breastfeeding to recipes to makeup tips. 
It's been a great experience so far. I know I've mentioned how much I love blogging and this is kind of an extension of it. Any form of writing is really fulfilling for me, and I love that I get to research and write about topics that are important to me and I know are important to other women--moms or not.
You're probably wondering what this has to do with decorating for fall. Jon and I are still new-ish homeowners. We've been in our house for a little over a year and we're still knee-deep in projects. Last year we tackled the kitchen and totally renovated it. This year we focused on upstairs and outside. We completely reorganized our office and decorated Bobby's room. (Pictures to come, I promise!) 
We (ok, Jon) also did lots of landscaping work outside. We cleared out a huge part of our backyard that was previously blocked off by some random bushes. Out went the bushes and we opened up our already-big backyard. 
The swing set is in the "new" part of the backyard. Prior to Gia's party there was a row of random bushes totally hiding that part of the backyard, for no apparent reason.
And we also totally redid the bushes in the front of the house. 
So now that it's fall and the landscaping looks the way we want it to, Jon was very excited to decorate the front of the house. After countless trips to Christmas Tree Shoppe, Michael's, HomeGoods, and the local farm, we finally brought our fall vision to life!
And, I wrote a post over at Daily Mom all about how to decorate your house for fall! I'm super excited about it--because the front of our house looks awesome. Normally I'd post the pictures here for you, but, head over to here to see how it all turned out!
And while you're there, check out THIS POST. It was one of the most popular on the site when it went live.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

One Kid, Two Kid, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Baby boy's due date is fast approaching. Three weeks from today I'll be a mommy of 2. It's kind of incredible. I've been waiting for this moment for so long. It seems likes the past 9 months simultaneously flew by and crawled by.

Photo Credits: Noelle Soroka Photography
My mom said something to me the other day that really struck me. She noticed that I've been really happy lately. Even through the pregnancy discomforts, I've been pretty relaxed and upbeat. (Which isn't always like me. I can be a stressed crazy lady sometimes.) And she's right. I've been really content, way down deep in my soul. I feel blessed, and like I'm right where I'm should be. And, the truth is,  I'm not really worried about having a second child in the house. Maybe that sounds really naive to those of you with more than one kid. Maybe I'm in for the shock of my life when this little bundle of joy arrives and I'll be tearing my hair out on a daily basis.  Only time will tell.
But, I'm pretty realistic about what the baby will bring. This time, I not only know there will be sleepless nights and rough days when no one eats or listens or does anything other than cry, including mommy, I understand exactly what that means. And, I'm so much more prepared. 
You can't really understand exhaustion before you have kids. And, pre-children, you can't really understand the fact that, after you have a baby, there is always something you should be doing. Sure you can sit on the couch and watch tv, but there's probably a mountain of laundry or dirty bottles or something (or even someone) waiting for your attention. Your time isn't really your own anymore. 
There is one teeny tiny thing on my mind, though: Gia and her transition to big sister.  She's this amazing little person who just gets better and better each day. I  know I've said it before but she's a really well-behaved, smart, agreeable, loveable child. Sure, she has her moments, like last week when she was sick of listening to me give her directions and told me "get out Mommy. Please just get out of my room."  And, we've had our share of epic tantrums (mostly when she's tired or I won't let her do something herself). But mostly, we have so much fun together. And I'm worried all that's going to go away when baby brother gets here. I'm worried I won't have enough time with her. I'm worried she'll get pushed aside and that her lovely little life will change so much that she'll hate us forever. 

In my heart I know we'll be fine--all four of us. I guess that's how I can continue to feel contentedness, even while I think about the unknown and Gia. I know Gia's heart will grow to include her brother, and all the love she showers on me and her dad and the cat will expand and she'll constantly tell her brother how much she loves him in the same way she does with us. I know some of my attention will be taken away from her, but certainly not all of it. I know we'll have plenty of girl time together. It's still just a little scary. But, I'm pretty hopeful that this crazy ride called Motherhood is only going to get better. (Yes, Motherhood deserves a capital "M"!)