Emory-Month One

We survived the first month!! Every one has been telling us to enjoy this time because it goes by so fast, and we really are trying to be present, but this first month certainly brought on some challenges (as it does for any parent of a newborn).

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Before I get into our first month as first time parents; one question I've been getting a lot is how we came up with the name Emory. We first heard of the name Emory from the show Fresh Off the Boat (I was named after a soap opera actress, so I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!). John and I tossed several other names around, but none stuck quite like Emory did, and the very few people we shared our name ideas with all loved Emory the most. It's also not a very common name, which I wanted because I haven't met many other people named Cali and I wanted our child to have a fairly unique name. We chose James as his middle name because that's my father's middle name and we wanted to tie in a family name. We decided to hyphenate his last name because I didn't change my last name when we got married; I wanted my name included in his and when he's old enough, he can make the decision if he'd like to keep the double-barreled name, or change it. 

Me & my parents after getting home from the hospital, Emory was two days old

Me & my parents after getting home from the hospital, Emory was two days old

So about that first month...similar to how reading about other blogger's birth stories helped me with my pregnancy, I turned to a lot of blogger's newborn recaps during our first month with Emory. John and I never spent a lot of time around infants/babies, so we really had no idea what we were in for. We envisioned this harmonious life where we would go out for brunch or cocktails and leisurely enjoy ourselves while baby snoozed away in his stroller. I envisioned baby whimpering when they were hungry, but I eat what, 3-5 meals a day, so surely that must be how much baby will eat, too? And babies sleep a lot, so we can lay in the garden behind our walk up and enjoy the lovely late summer weather! Insert reality: our baby has colic. And cries-I mean screams-A LOT. He also hates sleeping on his own. He will cry the minute we put him down :) I'm lucky if I can get a shower, so we can just scratch the idea of eating in public for a bit. Shame on us for not doing our homework, but as challenging as this past month has been we are so thankful we have a very healthy baby boy. These challenges will soon pass and we'll be faced with new ones. 

FINALLY able to drink a mimosa with my Book Club! 

FINALLY able to drink a mimosa with my Book Club! 

Our first weekend home my book club came over to see Emory, I was exhausted and nervous how the dynamic would be considering I'm the first one of the group to have a baby. Ever the introvert, I even questioned John, 'Should we really be hosting a brunch? Shouldn't our energy that we're spending cleaning the house be used to catch up on some sleep?' But John was persistent and said we needed to see our friends. I'm so happy they came over, he was right, it was so good for the soul. The group brought some champagne and food to eat that morning, and each person brought over a homemade dish they froze that we just had to pop in the microwave to make sure we had food on hand for the next several weeks. That right there, is how you know you won the jackpot with friends. If you take away anything from this blog post--the next time one of your loved ones has a baby--bring them a home cooked meal. It will mean the world to the new parent(s). Or, be like my old roommate, Toni, and have a bottle of champs delivered to the new mommy :) Man, I'm so happy I can have bubbles again!

I was fortunate that John had two weeks of paternity leave. I remember we went for a walk as his second week was coming to an end and I was just crying the entire time--it was a mix of some baby blues, postpartum hormones, exhaustion, and being scared beyond belief; how was I going to be able to take care of Emory on my own during the day?! How can I make myself lunch, or go to the bathroom if Emory doesn't want to be put down...ever!? It was during week 3, that I called my mom and cried during our entire phone call--I needed help. I tried to do it all on my own, but I was exhausted. Fortunately, she had that week off and was able to fly in and help me that week. It was seriously such a HUGE help. She showed me some baby tricks, made sure I was getting enough to eat and drink, and honestly, even at 30 years old, sometimes you just need your mom. 

Here's some more updates and our first month experience: 

Breastfeeding

Early on in the pregnancy, I decided I wanted to breastfeed Emory; I purchased my pump and had all the tools ready--nipple cream, pads, nursing tank tops, cooling gel pads, sanitizing bags, you name it. However, I didn't get my hopes up because I know of so many moms that wanted to breastfeed and it just didn't work out. So before Emory got here, I knew my first choice was to breastfeed, second would be to pump, and if none of that worked out, he would be given formula. And I truly didn't have an issue with any of the options--I just wanted our baby fed and healthy. 

As my milk came in I was paranoid--was he getting enough milk? Was I producing enough? I was in a constant state of fear: was my baby getting enough to eat? The lactation consultants (LC) in the hospital encouraged me to use a nipple shield because I have flat nipples (nipples could be flat? who know?), but even using the nipple shield, I was experiencing so much pain when breastfeeding. The LC's checked to see if Emory was tongue tied in the hospital (which he wasn't), so I knew he had a shallow latch and that was causing the pain. Around the end of his first week my nipples started to crack and bleed.

Without question, we fed him a bottle of formula. I was devastated. And in pain. I considered quitting breastfeeding, but with the encouragement of some of my mommy friends, I decided to start pumping. This allowed Emory to continue to get my milk, keep my supply up, and let my nipples heal. Eventually they did, and the morning of our newborn photoshoot our photographer encouraged me to breastfeed Emory beforehand so he was milk drunk. I knew that was the best way to put him to sleep, so I decided to give it another go and it was much easier. Our photographer breastfed her two children and we talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly of breastfeeding. It gave me the confidence to just keep at it and from there on out I stopped pumping and he nursed. Every day it kept getting easier and easier. 

He did get some formula feedings at night so I could get some extra rest and John could be more involved with feeding him and they could have that experience, but soon his latch improved, and breastfeeding became much more comfortable and enjoyable. To any new mothers struggling, I completely understand--every one told me breastfeeding would be hard, but I never fully understood what they meant by it. I feel so incredibly fortunate Emory and I are able to have this experience, I know a lot of mothers (my mom being one of them) where breastfeeding just didn't work out even though they wanted it to--so I don't take this experience for granted.

Height:
Emory was 21.5'' when he was born, but I'm pretty sure he was measured wrong, because at his one month check up he measured 21.1" (and during his first week check up he was measuring 19"). 
  
Weight:

For a baby born past their due date, Emory was such a small nugget when he was born at 6 lbs 12 oz. He went down to 6 lbs 8 oz when we left the hospital, which is pretty normal. However, when we took him for his first pediatrician appointment 2 days later, he had lost more weight and was down to 6 lbs 4 oz, so we had to bring him back the following week to see if he was gaining any weight. We were still in a healthy window because he hadn't dipped below 10% of his birth weight. When we went back he was at 6 lbs 14 oz, above birth weight--way to go momma and way to go Emory! At his one month check up, he weighed 8 lbs 13.8 oz.

Health: 
Emory is a very healthy boy! He did have jaundice, but with the help of breastfeeding it quickly went away by the time he was about one week old. He is quite a gassy baby and has hiccups here and there. During his first month he had a hard time with his gas and it would really upset and bother him. Towards the end of the month he also started to get a little bit of baby acne, but it started to go away about 1-2 weeks later. He also has managed to keep pretty much all of the hair he was born with so far!

Our sweet little boy just two days old

Our sweet little boy just two days old

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Likes:
Mornings (that's usually when he's the happiest!), looking at the cats, laying in his Keekaroo Peanut Changer (seriously a life saver--when he pees during a nappy change, we can just wipe it up! No extra laundry with a typical changing pad!), taking baths, listening to music (specifically Ed Sheeran; Mom & Dad aren't mad about it!), going for walks, being held, and snuggling in bed with his mom and dad...he is a very cuddly little baby!
 

Dislikes:
Being hungry, having his diaper changed, sleeping in his bassinet/anywhere that isn't on Mom/Dad/Nana/Papa, and being in his carseat.
 

Wears:
I thought for sure I was going to have a big baby, so I didn't buy too many newborn clothes. I was pretty surprised when I found out how much of a little nugget he was when he was born. When my mom came to visit we went to Target and bought him some more newborn sleepers and she also picked up some cute ones in Michigan. Emory wore newborn stuff for his entire first month, they started to get a little tight on his one month birthday. He also wore newborn diapers in the beginning as well, but we switched him to size 1 diapers around 4-5 weeks. 
 

Eats:
Primarily breastmilk, with the exception of the handful of formula bottles we supplement with at night when I need a little break. 
 

John and Emory, 5 days old

John and Emory, 5 days old

Sleeps:
We're still working on this :) We were completely naive and unprepared. Being two former DINKS (Dual Income No Kids) we prized our 8+ hours of sleep each night, so when we brought Emory home and he needed to be fed every 1.5-2 hours we had a rude awakening.

Then week 3 came and the colic set in. Emory's witching hour(s) would start around 7:30pm and last until about 10:30pm. On top of it all, he wouldn't sleep on his own. If we weren't holding him while he slept--he'd wake up and cry. The first month with Emory--our hands were full. Literally. We didn't invest in a baby carrier before he was born; I had a wrap to baby wear Emory, but go figure--he hates being in the wrap. So when our tula baby carrier arrived around week 3, I did one BIG happy dance! And he loves being in his carrier! Woo Hoo!!

Emory doesn't sleep in his Rock n Play, bassinet, or Dock a Tot--he will only sleep on our chests or in his carrier. Around week 3-4 we started bringing Emory into bed with us because it was the only way we all got some sleep (I'm talking 3-4 hours stretches of sleep--which makes us feel like a million bucks). I'm not crazy about this sleeping arrangement since I'd really love to be able to put him down in his bassinet in between feedings at night, but I have to keep reminding myself that he's only a month old, and this too shall pass.

When my mom came to stay with us during week 3 she stayed up and held him during most of the night so we could get some sleep and it was such a huge help. When she came I was just so exhausted, my dad came for that weekend to spend some time with Emory and they both took shifts during the night so we could sleep, I only had to get up to feed him. It was seriously the best, and I'm so thankful for all they did for us and that we live close enough to them that they were able to come help. When my parents left I cried so much--once again, I was scared. How were we going to do be able to do this? 

John had to go to Florida for his brother's wedding around the time Emory turned one month old (I stayed behind due to Emory being so small, and it's such a good thing I did considering how colicky he is), and my parents came to Chicago again to help while John was gone. I remember just counting down the days until they came back to help. It seriously takes a village, and I think to myself every single day--how do single parents do this? There isn't enough credit in the world given to people who don't have family nearby to help/are doing this on their own. Taking care of a newborn is such hard, demanding, selfless work and I have so much respect for those of you doing this on your own. 

Favorite Things: 
Sleepers! Especially the ones with zippers, our Tula Baby wrap, Dr. Brown bottles (it really helps with his gas), and the Keekaroo Peanut Changing Pad

Sleepy Emory on Nana's lap, 2 weeks old

Sleepy Emory on Nana's lap, 2 weeks old

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Milestones:
 -His umbilical cord stump fell off when he was one week old
-Had newborn photos taken when he was 8 days old (I'll be sharing those as soon as I get them!)
-In this first month, he hasn't smiled for us yet but he does smile a lot randomly throughout the day (which is most likely gas)...I can't wait until he starts doing it on purpose! 
 

Emory, 3 weeks old

Emory, 3 weeks old

I want to thank all of the women I reached out to during this first month who shared their experiences with me, their lessons learned, and provided me helpful advice. I felt so much support and encouragement--thank you for all the help! 

Despite the challenges we faced, our hearts are so full--we love this little guy so much and it's been so much fun watching him grow! We are so thankful we have a healthy, growing, beautiful baby boy. Every one says it gets easier and honestly, I feel so much more confident at the end of his first month than I did at the end of his first week. We're learning how to meet his needs better, how to cope with this new sleeping schedule, and we look forward to all the new memories we'll be making with him. We love you, Emory James!

Emory's Birth Story

So I'm finally getting into a groove with this whole motherhood thing, and if I'm learning anything--I should savor this feeling because I'm pretty sure, soon enough, our little guy will throw a wrench into things and change it all up on me. 

Blogging has always been a bit of a challenge for me to find time to do with working full-time and running my calligraphy business; I honestly thought maternity leave would be easy breezy and I'd have all the time in the world to focus more on my calligraphy and this blog. Boy, was I wrong. But that's another topic for another day. Today I want to focus on our sweet new addition, our son, Emory. 

It's common place for us bloggers to share our birth story. And when I was inching towards being 40 weeks preggo, I turned to a lot of blogs to read about their birth experience and it was therapeutic for me in a way. I was terrified my entire pregnancy of giving birth. We went to birthing classes, read all sorts of books, everything just made me more nervous. I didn't enjoy my pregnancy because I was so afraid of giving birth and in a way I was afraid of my baby because I knew in order to meet him--I had to get him out. I'm such a Type A planner, so not knowing how my body would go into labor, what the delivery would be like, etc. freaked me out--and every birth story I read or spoke with other moms about were all different. So here's mine...

Week 40: Incredibly pregnant, swollen, (scared) and uncomfortable. 

Week 40: Incredibly pregnant, swollen, (scared) and uncomfortable. 

I was certain I was going to deliver our baby early, wrong again. (And our little man was so small when he was born it's a good thing he overcooked!) I was three days overdue when I woke up in the middle of the night to go pee (a very common practice for a preggo) when my panties were soaked! (TMI? Then you should stop here, this is a birth story--there's lots of bodily fluids). So naturally, at 2AM on a Sunday morning, I start googling. I thought it was my mucus plug and the discharge from that so I didn't think much of it. The night before I took a nice long bath (because I heard it can kick start labor), and when I woke up to start my day, I headed to the nail salon for a pedicure (another tactic I heard of to kick start labor!). When I got home John and I sat down and watched some TV and I felt another trickle of fluid. Being 40 weeks + 3 days preggo, I didn't know if it was my water breaking or if I was peeing my pants (#preggoprobs), so I put on a pad and told John I was going to take a nap, and if I was still leaking fluid by the end of my nap I was going to call the doctor. 

So as I took a nap, hubs went out to take some photos around the city and run a few errands for us. Sure enough, I woke up and was still leaking--now I was getting worried that it wasn't my mucus plug, but maybe my water did break? I called my doctor and she advised me to come into Labor & Delivery just to make sure because if my water break we would need to monitor me and work on getting labor started to ensure no bacteria would get to the baby. 

When we got to L&D triage we ran some tests to see if I was leaking amniotic fluid and sure enough--my water did break. The resident let us know we were there for the night and since I wasn't having any contractions they would start me on Cytotec that evening, the next morning I would be induced with Pitocin, and that afternoon we'd have our baby!  

So naturally, we start freaking out. It was happening! Baby was coming, and we weren't going home! We let our family, bosses, and friends know it was the final countdown. Once I started the Cytotec, I was going to be on a liquid diet until after baby got here so John went and got us dinner for our last supper as a family of two, my parents started to pack up their bags and make the drive to Chicago, and our amazing friend Stacey stopped by our apartment to gather all the things we forgot to grab when we left for the hospital and brought it over to us. Luckily, my mother-in-law had booked a flight to arrive in Chicago that Monday (perfect timing!). 

The first couple doses of Cytotec weren't too bad. I felt some very, very light cramping but I was in good spirits. We watched TV (thankfully The Devil Wears Prada was on TV that night and since I was the one going into labor, I got full power over the TV!), spent some time with Stacey and my parents when they arrived around midnight, then we decided to try to get some rest; tomorrow was going to be a big day! However, my contractions started to really kick in after my third dose and I was dreading my other doses of Cytotec--I was going to be given a total of five doses. I tried to take some Tylenol to ease the pain but it didn't help at all. I was given some stronger pain meds through my IV, but it made me super nauseous. Cue: Cali crying while throwing up in a bucket and saying "I'm sorry!" while John rubbed my back. It kind of reminded me of my college days ;-) 

I threw up a couple times that night and around 7am they checked my cervix and I was dilated to 5 centimeters. My body started to go into labor with the help of the Cytotec! But 5 centimeters--that meant it was epidural time! Woo!! It all happened pretty quickly, I mean I was expecting another dose of Cytotec and then a round of Pitocin before I could even get an epidural, so John and I were a little taken aback. 

The epidural wasn't bad at all, it felt like a little pinch on my back. I was just worried about staying still for the anesthesiologist because the contractions were coming on more quickly and they were getting stronger. John wasn't allowed in the room when they gave me the epidural, so once the medicine was kicking in they started to test spots on my legs to see if the epidural was working. In the meantime the baby's heartbeat started to dip. So they put me on oxygen and started rearranging the way I was laying down. When the nurses brought John back in from the waiting room, they were inserting the catheter and the internal monitor. So much for not wanting John to see that area during the process...

Only about 10 minutes after getting the epidural I was fully dilated. Our doctor said I'd be able to labor down for about an hour, rest and relax, then we'd start pushing. But our baby's heart rate started to dip dangerously low. It was like a scene from ER--about 15 people rushed into the room and put me into position--it was go time, we had to get the baby out. 

John had one of my legs and a nurse had another, after about 10 minutes and maybe 7 pushes, our beautiful baby boy was born. Emory James O'Rourke-Wu was born at 8:59am on August 28, 2017 weighing 6 lbs. 12 oz, measuring 21.5" long. 

Welcome to the world, Emory

Welcome to the world, Emory

Thankfully I got the epidural when I did because they were still checking to see if I was numb when I had to start pushing! Also, I didn't feel a thing. My doctor had to let me know when I was having a contraction and when to push. Getting an epidural was the only item on my birth plan--I just didn't want to feel any pain. And honestly, the birth experience was very relaxing for me. I barely said a word, I felt so at peace, so relaxed, and really enjoyed the experience (despite the very scary situation). 

Since the placenta cord was wrapped around Emory's neck and they had to use a vacuum to help get him out, I wasn't able to delay the cord cutting or do skin to skin right away. But the peds team cleared him and he did not have to go to the NICU. 

Since we weren't expecting to have the baby until that afternoon my parents decided to get to the hospital a bit early. When John met them in the waiting room he didn't tell them the baby was already here, so when they got to my room John said 'he's here' and opened the door. Emory was maybe about 10 minutes old. It was such a beautiful moment, and all of us were crying such sweet happy tears. 

Nana (my mom) with Emory

Nana (my mom) with Emory

As someone who did not enjoy being pregnant, I can't put into words how much I love being a mom. I was so scared throughout my pregnancy, I kept thinking 'if I don't love being pregnant--would I love our son?' A thousand times over, yes--it's a love that is deeper than I've ever known and it gets stronger every day. I'll take the sleepless nights, the bouts of colic, and blow out diapers all day long (this kid is giving us a run for our money!) because when I look into his eyes and see John's brown eyes, and touch his small ears during a feeding that look exactly like mine, I can't believe we created this beautiful little person who grew inside me. I love watching Emory grow every day and I look forward to all the memories we'll be making as a family. Ain't no hood like motherhood, and it's a club I'm so, so happy to be in. 

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Our Baby Shower

Happy Monday everyone!

Things have been a little quiet here on the blog as of late—sorry about that! My only excuse is life and growing this little human. Hubs and I just got back from Michigan yesterday from a wonderful weekend celebrating Baby O’Wu! I’m writing this while I’m taking a break from unpacking all the sweet gifts we received. 

I wanted to pop in today to share some photos from our beautiful baby shower! My mom basically planned the entire event and worked with John and I to ensure it was exactly what we would want. We’re both so thankful for her and all her hard work—the space looked so great!

Me and my momma

Me and my momma

The shower was held at the same restaurant where our wedding shower was, at Kruse and Meur Roadhouse in my hometown of Lake Orion, Michigan.

So, John is the mastermind being 99.9% of the photos you’ll see on my Instagram feed. Needless to say I wanted to make sure he captured the day (and any excuse to use his camera—he’s game!). We didn’t want a ‘theme’ per se, but we went along with a color scheme. Thankfully the stars aligned and Target’s dollar section matched our ideas and had a line of Baby Shower items (more details on this below)! :) 

Macarons from Vanille

Macarons from Vanille

I initially wanted the shower to be in Chicago, but logistically it just didn’t make much sense. This is the struggle of living where none of your family lives! However, there were sweet Chicago details tied into the shower make the day extra special! We gave each guest a little box of macarons from my favorite macaron shop in the city, Vanille (flavors were vanilla and pistachio), they were such a cute way to tie in our color scheme, thank everyone for coming, and give them a little treat from our 'home'.

John's aunts who traveled from Florida to celebrate with us!

John's aunts who traveled from Florida to celebrate with us!

As for the pièce de résistance: our fabulous cake made by the beyond talented, Amy Beck of Amy Beck Cake Design. I’m so so happy she designed and created this beautiful piece of art for us, and it tasted just as amazing as it looked! Of course, I tied in some of my calligraphy work with one of my cake toppers

My mom found these adorable ‘Oh Boy’ balloons and made the tassel garland to accent our gift table, it turned out so cute! 

For games, we had baby shower bingo (a personal fave of mine!) and scratch off tickets (both from Target!). We also had a Diaper Raffle where guests could bring in a pack of diapers to enter to win a prize (a fab way to stock up on some much needed diapers!). I created the tickets myself, and found this cute little pail (also from the Target dollar section) and calligraphed the front. To no surprise, I found adorable chalkboards from the Target dollar section and personalized them for the day. Life of a calligrapher: have blank space, will calligraph. 

One of the many reasons we decided to have the shower at the same restaurant as our wedding shower is the food! Guests were able to select what they wanted from a prix fixe menu (and their food is phenomenal!). Everyone had such a great lunch and it was so great to see family and friends we rarely get to see, or haven’t seen in a long time. 

Thank you to everyone who came and celebrated with us! As I sit here in the middle of organizing his nursery and putting away all of the generous gifts, I’m overwhelmed with how much love there was this weekend. It was such a lovely shower and it feels so amazing knowing how much people love our baby boy already! From the bottom of our hearts—thank you!

Me and my sorority sister, Genna

Me and my sorority sister, Genna