Friday, January 27, 2012

Baby Brendan Is Here!

Elated, exhausted, delirious, melting with joy and disappointed all at the same time... Baby Brendan is here- happy and healthy and cute as can be, but he came into this world by the dreaded c-section.  I'll give the full birth story next week, when I have a chance to sit down and do it right (after some much needed rest).

We're all safe and healthy, so I know that's all that matters.  It's just that it's going to be a long, rough recovery- especially when Niall wants me to pick him up all the time and I'm trying so hard to give him extra attention and love.

Anyway, I'll get into all that later.  For now, enjoy some photos...

name: Brendan Michael McCullough
birth date: Saturday, January 21
birth time: 6:06pm
weight: 6 lb 15 oz
length: 19 inches
family consensus: looks just like big bro, Niall :)

Niall was definitely a little skeptical at first, but now he loves his little bro...

More to come soon :)

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Monday, January 16, 2012

The Home Stretch

Well, this is it.  Game time.  4 days to go until my due date and I'm completely in the zone.

I'm trying to visualize every detail and hoping that my undeterred focus will help Brendan to get his little cute butt moving.  I don't want a repeat of what happened with Niall.

For those of you who don't know, I planned a natural, drug-free birth for Niall, but was forced to be induced when he was 6 days past due.  I lasted 24 hours with cytotec-induced contractions but soon found out that I had only made it to 1 cm.  That's when it was time to crank the epidural and the pitocin.  20 more hours later and I had almost made it to 2cm.  What a sick joke, I remember thinking.  It was c-section time... and let the waterfall of tears begin.

It all turned out ok, but I was not about to let that happen this time around.  I took a hypnobirthing class to help with relaxation, meditation, breathing and visualization.  I really feel ready this time, even though I did take a similar class (Bradley method) last time.  I think part of me saw the whole birth thing as so completely surreal, that I never really believed I could do it.  I knew all the methods, all the steps, all the facts, but the confidence was lacking.

I'm still not quite 100% cool, calm and collected this time, but I have really come a long way.  Of course, there is some nervousness about the risks of VBAC, but those same risks are involved with major surgery.  So it's a double edged sword, really.

I've worked hard to talk to Brendan every day over the last month, telling him what was going to happen, where to position himself, etc.  And I've been telling myself every night before bed what I need to do to achieve a successful natural birth.  I can't wait for him to come and I've decided that tomorrow is going to be the big day, so please send your prayers and good vibes my way.

So far, my attempts to visualize have been wildly successful!  I was checked at my last midwife appointment and found out that I"m 50% effaced and 1 cm dilated-- exactly what I had pictured in my mind that whole week.

Anyway, I have the whole day tomorrow planned out in my head and I'm hoping that my continued determination will manifest itself physically.  A lot is riding on the success of this birth.  I want to have 4 or 5 kids, so I can't just keep having c-sections.  This natural birth has to happen because after 2 c-sections, natural birth becomes more risky.

I know I can do this.  My fortune cookie told me so:

How much more encouraging can it get?!  This baby is coming out and it's not going to be through a gash in my stomach this time!  Wish me luck :)

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Quality Time

I realized last week that the time is really ticking for some QT with Niall before baby Brendan arrives. So yesterday, we went for a really special outing-- one that probably wasn't the best idea for a 9 months pregnant woman to take on with a couple of 2 year olds.

My friend and I took our boys to their first movie in front of the big screen... but not just a 'hop in the car and go to the nearest theater' movie. We made a full day of it and rode the metro into DC (another first).  Double whammy-- trains and movies!  Doesn't get much better than that in Niall's world.

No carseat!?  Jackpot!
I have to admit, I'm not really that motivated (or crazy) to take on a journey like this by choice.  The reason we went all the way into the city was because it was the only movie time that started before noon.  But it ended up being a really fun experience.  They were both angels the whole time- on the train and in the theater.  I guess when there's this much stimulation and entertainment, how could you throw a tantrum, right?

Yes, let it be noted, the lucky selection for Niall's first movie ever was Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.  I'm not gonna lie, it was actually pretty entertaining.  But not quite as entertaining as watching him...

His arms were tucked behind his head like this the whole time, except when he pulled one hand out to shovel popcorn into his mouth every 30 seconds-- a boy after both his mommy's and daddy's heart.  Matt and I used to go see really bad movies at the theater just to get the popcorn.  One time, all of the half-decent movies were sold out, so Matt had to convince the ticket collector to allow him to go up to the snack counter, buy a bucket of popcorn and then turn around and leave without even seeing a movie. 

A word of advice for parents attempting to take a 2 year old to the movie theater:  bring lots of jackets and maybe some medicine balls/ 5 pound dumbells.  You know how our big butts hold the folding seat down, no problem?  Well, their little tushies don't even come close.  Both boys were literally eaten by the movie seats-- totally stuck in the crevice because they weren't big enough to hold the seat down.  It was pretty hysterical.

Nothing that a little reclining and popcorn can't fix ;)

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

True Love at the Aquarium

I hope this never gets old. The whole "My kid's having so much fun that I'm having fun" thing. I was probably  more excited to be at the aquarium this weekend (as a 27 year old) than I ever was as a kid-- just by watching Niall's reactions to everything.

Like, for instance, this is pretty cool-- a sting ray that is bigger than a person.  I didn't even know they could get that big... but something about Niall yelling "WOOOAAAHHHHH" made me appreciate it that much more.

And you can imagine the "WOAH"s I got when we stepped up to the shark tank...

The reason we attended such a spectacular underwater show this weekend?  True love... I mean, Niall's little friend's birthday.

But seriously, I hope they get married one day because they are so dang cute together. 

She was a little freaked out by some of the displays, which I can't blame her for...

But Niall would excitedly try to hold her hand and run up to each window.  And when he realized that she hung back for one particular window display or another, he would get really upset and look all around for her, yelling "Pypuh?  Pypuh?" (translation: Piper)

Some of the stuff was really awesome to look at.  Niall could have stood in front of some of these glass barriers all day.

Niall was even lucky enough to make another little friend while he was there...

This guy would follow Niall's every move.  He would swim past and then immediately turn around and go right up to Niall's face.  Which I'm sure made Niall feel really special because turtles are one of his favorite animals.

The catfish was kind of fascinated with him, too.  I guess the animals got a show, themselves.  Works on both sides of the glass ;)

But this was, by far, Niall's favorite display:

This really cool (and poisonous) blue tree frog was just sitting on top of the snake (Niall's other favorite animal) and the snake didn't do anything.  I don't know if it was the amazing bright colors or just the fact that Niall is obsessed with snakes, but he cried for a little bit when we had to move on.

So we tried to make it worth his while after leaving the snake and frog exhibit and busted out the dolphins.  I think he was pretty happy with that trade.

I'd say our day at the aquarium was pretty awesome.

But I think their day was even better (get lost, mom!)...

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Friday, January 6, 2012

What happens in the chimney stays in the chimney

After sitting by such a lovely, crackling fire at my in-laws' house over the holiday, Matt just couldn't let another year go by without lighting a fire of our own.  The only problem:  our 65 year old house has never once hosted a warm winter fire.  How would we know if it was safe?

The people who lived here for 60 years before us said they were too afraid to ever light one because some neighbors down the street had a house fire caused by their fireplace.  So last year, Matt asked me to have the chimney people come out and do an assessment-- which ended in a $3,000 estimate to fix all of the damage in our chimney.  Bottom line: unsuitable for lighting fires in its current condition.

But Matt, being the chimney sweep expert that he is, decided that this evaluation was a scam to get money out of us and that our chimney was perfectly fine. 

As much as I would like to believe him and let him have his simple little dream of sitting by a warm fire come true, I have a 2 year old and an unborn child to worry about these days.  Those pipe dreams of risking our own lives are no longer a luxury we have.

So after expressing these concerns, what do I come home to one sunny Saturday afternoon?  Matt is vacuuming out the chimney.  Apparently, the obvious solution to a chimney unsuitable for holding a fire.  Just vacuum it out, right? 

Well, karma is a B--blundering experience, because as Matt was laying face up on his back, cleaning out the "twigs" and debris from in between the bricks, this fell right on his face:

The perfectly in-tact, fossilized remains of a 45 year old squirrel with some kind of stab wound to its side.  Hopefully, Matt won't need a rabies shot from this one.  But he did get his precious fire, finally.  After I installed 2 carbon monoxide monitors on each floor, replaced all smoke detector batteries and forced Matt to dump a pitcher of water over each already-dead fire after it went out.

I have to admit, it is really nice to be able to snuggle up by a nice little fire on a chilly night.  It makes you appreciate the winter a little more... and have nightmares of your house burning down, but whatevs.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday {Firestarter}

 How many dudes does it take to start a fire?

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Cookie Monster

It's been kind of tough since Christmas cookie season has officially come to an end.  I find myself wandering around the kitchen, wondering "what am I going to do after breakfast, lunch and dinner now?"  "WHERE'S MY COOKIE??"

But I know this is a good thing.  2 straight weeks of 5+ cookies per day probably doesn't bode well for avoiding gestational diabetes.  Or getting back into shape after the baby comes.  So I'm switching to tea, which tastes exactly the same as Christmas cookies ;)

But in the spirit of looking back on happy Christmas memories, here is a little glimpse of our cookie season this year...

A little tidbit of important info I learned this year:  you can spend 12 hours making, rolling and refrigerating your own sugar cookie dough, or you can get the pre-cut, ready-to-go, already decorated sugar cookie dough that tastes exactly the same (or if you're me and not very good at baking, the refrigerated dough will actually taste better). 

The exception is chocolate chip cookies-- I don't think the refrigerated dough does the trick... but the solution here is to get the bagged mix where you just add butter and an egg.  Bottom line, don't bother with homemade cookie dough.

And another perk of the pre-decorated cookies was that Niall liked looking at them so much, he ran around the house holding his prized possession for an hour and wouldn't eat it.  

Until the cookie melted into a million pieces in his clammy little hands, when he made a mad dash to shove the whole thing in his mouth as quickly as humanly possible.  He really made the most of that cookie, God bless him.

Never waste a cookie around here, that's our motto.  

Niall was just as devastated as I was when the cookie tin turned up empty.  I quickly put the empty tins in the basement in the hopes that he would forget if he didn't see them.  But I never forgot, no I don't think I ever will.  Here's looking forward to next year's cookie season.

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