Comfy Cozy Monday

It’s been snowing here in Chicago since the late afternoon! I love snow, but it was coming down so fast that the roads were horrible. It took twice as long as usual to get whenever you needed to go. It’s still coming down, but, thankfully, we are all home for the night and cuddling in our comfies.

Nordstrom geo bear

Nordstrom geo bear

Brecken definitely has the best outfit on for cozying up by the fireplace. This super adorable geo bear set is from Nordstrom Baby, and it was perfect for the cold and snowy day. (Bonus: The sweatshirt is actually a onesie!)

Chicago train station blizzard

Chicago Snow

My Snowy Backyard

Game Day Snacks

Super Bowl Sunday is a great excuse to indulge in some delicious appetizers and snacks. I don’t know about you, but I love a good spread of munchies. Most years, we head to our good friends’ house to eat lots of food, watch a (hopefully) entertaining football game and halftime show (can’t wait for JT!) and enjoy good company. Because Brecken has had a little virus, we opted to stay home this year to avoid unnecessary germs and spreading whatever he has to others. I was still craving some snacks, though, so I ventured out to the grocery store this morning to scoop some things up. I ended up making us fiesta dip, classic buffalo wings, warm spinach artichoke dip and, one of my favorite twists on a classic, bacon wrapped jalapeños with curry. If you are feeling adventurous or you already know you love curry, I highly recommend these little delights. Plus, they are so easy to make. Fiesta dip is another go-to of mine. A friend actually introduced me to it a few years ago, and I still make it often. (I LOVE a good dip!)

Check out the recipes below!

Classic Buffalo WingsGame Day Snacks

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños 

  • 8 – large jalapeños
  • 1 – package of bacon
  • 1 – 8 oz. stick of cream cheese, softened
  • yellow curry powder
  • light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400*F. Wash the jalapeños and cut them in half. Remove seeds and veins. Mix curry powder (to taste – I usually use about 2-3 tablespoons) with softened cream cheese. Fill pepper halves with cream cheese mixture. Wrap each pepper half with one piece of bacon. (Use a toothpick to hold it together if it’s not staying on well.) Sprinkle a generous amount of brown sugar over the jalapeños halves. Bake until the bacon is cooked through (approximately 30 minutes). Enjoy!

Game Day SnacksGame Day SnacksGame Day Snack RecipeBacon Wrapped Jalapenos

Fiesta Dip

  • 1 – 16 oz. sour cream
  • 1 – packet of Hidden Valley Fiesta Ranch
  • 1/2 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1/2 c. chopped scallions
  • 1 – small jar of chopped green chiles (about 4 oz.)
  • 1 – small jar of chopped black olives (about 4 oz.)
  • tortilla chips

Mix together, chill and serve with tortilla chips! So good!

Fiesta Dip RecipeGame Day Snacks

The New Mom Experience

Words simply can’t do justice to the pure bliss that I felt after bringing Brecken into this world. It was a true “pinch me” moment and experience. We had this tiny little baby to love unconditionally and care for from now through eternity. My heart grew to a size that I didn’t even know possible.

The rest of our hospital stay was uneventful, which is a good thing. We cherished those couple of days in the hospital, admiring every last detail of our sweet Brecken. I was in pain, but doing well. I showered the next day and learned what would be a new normal for me over the next week or so of initial recovery. Matt was incredible; he even changed every diaper while we were in the hospital. We made sure to ask the nurses plenty of questions, soaking in all of the information we could. Then, we were released from the hospital. Packing Brecken up in the car seat for the first time was nerve-wrecking, but we did it (and asked a nurse to double-check). We were escorted out of the hospital. I was being pushed in a wheelchair, and Brecken was in his car seat on my lap (per hospital requirements  – Matt couldn’t carry the car seat out). Matt walked next to us. We proceeded outside through the hospital doors. The hot and sticky August air touching all of our skin; it felt so good to finally be outside again.

We followed up at the pediatrician’s office soon after being released back into the wild. Brecken hadn’t gained any weight since we left the hospital, so we actually ended up needing two follow-up weight checks, which surprised us because he was such a good eater. He was eventually on the right path, though, so all was well.

The first week was a bit rough in terms of my recovery. I was in a lot of pain. I had to be careful every time I sat because the slightest wrong movement would pull on the stitches. I actually think I tore a bit again from sitting down too quickly towards the end of my first week. That made for a painful few more days. I also had some serious baby blues. I became very emotional if anyone else held Brecken for too long, even my own mom and sister. I was dreadfully sad at the thought of Matt returning to work. I just wanted to stay in our perfect little bubble forever. Thankfully, that passed on its own as my hormones balanced out again. My milk came in about three days after Brecken was born, and that was also painful. My already (extra) large boobs were the size of beach balls. It was crazy. That pain was tolerable when I had a bra on, but I cried in the shower. I did not breastfeed, so I just had to ride it out. The worst of it passed after a few days. I leaked for about eight weeks total, which meant that I wore a bra 24/7 for eight weeks, too. Not fun. Despite those “issues,” I really did feel great after about one week. My six-week postpartum check-up came up quickly. I was cleared to resume all normal activity, the most anticipated of which was the ability to take baths again. Finally!

If you don’t count his first visit at the pediatrician’s office, it was about a week before I left the house with Brecken, and I never looked back after that. My mom spent so much time with us during my leave; I really cherish all the moments we had together. She was the driving force behind me getting out of the house with him. Even though I felt pretty good, it’s a little scary going in public with a baby the first few times. You worry if he’ll have a little meltdown, have the biggest diaper explosion ever recorded, have to eat when there’s nowhere to sit down and feed him. Again, there are a lot of “what ifs” running through your mind. I think that’s why many parents don’t get out as much in the beginning. He did great, though! He had no problems in his car seat and spent most of our time out and about sleeping. We were soon out for hours at a time enjoying the extended summer we had here in Chicago. We ran a lot of errands, went out to lunch often, went to the museum and went to the zoo multiple times. We were regularly on the go. Brecken is still great in his car seat and when we are out. I think going out so much in the beginning really helped both he and I. To the extent possible, I really recommend getting out often to other new moms.

Overall, I think we all adjusted quite well to our new life together. Brecken was (and still is) an excellent baby. I think the most challenging things during this very early time were (1) thinking he was having tummy issues when, as we’d later learn, it was just a normal adjustment period, (2) having to put clothes on over his head, which I did oh-so-daintily for quite some time before I realized babies are far more solid than we think, and (3) dealing with him scratching his face with the razors (sometimes called “nails”) on his fingers nearly every time we’d let his hands out of the conveniently built-in mittens of his PJs. From the beginning, he’s been so well-natured, sweet, easygoing and happy. He was always smiling and loved his baths. If you can believe it, he even started sleeping for ten hours a night with only one feed when he was a few weeks old and truly started sleeping through the night around ten weeks old. (He definitely gets his love of sleeping from me!) I admit that we did not have a typical newborn experience, but, for that, we are grateful. We really hit the jackpot with him, and we’re just getting started!

…and then there were three!

I must say that I had a pretty great pregnancy. (Seriously, I didn’t even experience morning sickness.) That came to a crashing halt shortly after hitting thirty-four weeks, though. I ended up in the hospital for a week for what we eventually – after all kinds of exams, monitoring and tests – found out was a 2mm kidney stone stuck in my ureter that had caused trauma to the area. That’s a story for another day, but I will say that the pain from that kidney stone far exceeded that of my labor and delivery with Brecken. For the record, I had never had a kidney stone before, and I hope to never have one again.

During that hospital stay, before we knew exactly where my excruciating back pain was coming from, a routine scan indicated that I had borderline low fluid, so I was admitted and referred to an MFM during my stay. I eventually had surgery to remove the stone and was released a day later with a catheter. Talk about pure misery. Thankfully, Brecken was just fine during all of that, but from that point on, I had to see an OB in my group twice a week for monitoring and fluid scans until Brecken was ready to make his appearance. Between the low fluid issue, Brecken measuring big and the fact that IVF babies are inherently considered high risk, a decision was made to schedule an induction at 39w+2.

I was actually all for an induction. I’m a Type A planner through and through. I don’t like surprises, even if it’s the birth of my own child! The other benefit of me scheduling an induction was that I was guaranteed to be at the hospital that was, by far, my preference. I knew the risks and that many inductions, especially for first-timers, end in a c-section. I was just staying positive and hoping for the best.

Induction day was upon us in no time. In retrospect, my entire pregnancy seemed to go by in a blink. I still tell people that the days were long, but the weeks were short. One after another the weeks had passed by, hitting certain milestones along the way. The week leading up to Brecken’s big debut was filled with an enormous amount of excitement. Matt and I went to a couple of nice dinners to kind of celebrate and rejoice in our finals nights as a duo. I also thought about so many other random thoughts and “what ifs”, as I imagine most first-time soon-to-be parents do. “Do we have everything we need for him?” “How much do you even feed a baby?” “Is the house clean enough?” “Did we prep enough meals in case, you know, I can’t leave the house for months?” “Is it true that I will probably never sleep again? …but I love sleep!” “How will our girls [three dogs] react to him?” “ARE WE TRULY PREPARED?” (Too late now anyways! But, yes, we were.) Eventually, I quieted my thoughts and somehow managed to fall asleep that Sunday night before the induction.

Matt and I were up bright and early the next morning, like 5am early. It was reminiscent of all of the early mornings we had shared waking up excited to head out for a flight and kick off another vacation. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts so that we could both get a little something to eat. I knew that it could be a long time before I was able to eat anything. While we were driving to the hospital, I had this irrational fear that they wouldn’t have my information when we arrived. I was so worried about it!

We arrived around 6:45am. I am happy to report that they did have my information, a whole binder, actually, sitting front and center at the nurse’s station in the L&D unit. Phew! They showed me to my private room, and we settled in. It was around the time of the nurse’s shift change, so we just sat idle for a bit, but I was hooked up to monitoring and examined by my assigned nurse soon after. I had been sitting at about 1cm since 35w and was about 50% effaced the week or two leading up to my delivery. I went in to my induction being closer to 2cm and at least 75% effaced.

My IV was the next step. IVs and blood draws are extremely difficult for me. Truly brutal. To top it off, I have small veins, so I often have to be stuck multiple times. I always mention my issues to the tech or nurse, as most are very understanding. The nurse said she’d take a look. She saw a vein that had potential, so she proceeded. Matt stood on the other side of me and squeezed my hand. With tearful eyes, I looked the other way. The vein blew. The nurse felt horrible and immediately called an anesthesiologist because she didn’t want to have to keep poking me, as it was clearly agonizing. The anesthesiologist arrived; he stuck me in a different spot but didn’t get it. At this point, while he was trying to stick me, I felt something cool on my right hand. I glanced down and saw blood streaming down my hand as a result of the first poke. The nurse hurried over to get that under control. I was fighting hard to get through it, telling myself, “It’s almost over.” The third poke was successful. I took some deep breaths and Matt helped to calm me down.

At approximately 8:45am, my doctor arrived to break my water. Because I had lower fluid going in, there was no big gush. It was actually pretty quick and painless. They also inserted a line of constant fluid to keep Brecken safe. That was very odd because I felt like I was peeing on myself the entire time. After my doctor left, my nurse started pitocin through my IV. That’s when the action started! Within about fifteen minutes, I started having really strong contractions consistently about every minute or two. Things went from zero to sixty in almost no time. My nurse told me right away to let her know when I wanted my epidural since I knew going in that I was getting one. (I actually had an epidural during my kidney stone surgery since they couldn’t put me under because of the pregnancy. So, at least I knew it worked for me.) I was in pain immediately, but I thought I would wait it out a bit. To be honest, I didn’t really know what the “normal” epidural protocol was, but I didn’t feel like I should ask for one right away. “I can manage for a bit,” I thought. I dealt with the painful contractions for about three hours total before the epidural kicked in. I had requested one after about two hours, but it takes time to get the anesthesiologist to the room and get it going.  Matt left the room during that time to grab lunch, since he couldn’t be in there anyways.

Once the epidural kicked it, I was feeling much better. The nurse had me lie on my side with a “peanut” between my legs to help me progress. (The “peanut” is like a medicine or yoga ball, except peanut shaped.) I switched sides over the next few hours. This time was pretty uneventful. I desperately wanted water but settled for ice pellets. I asked Matt to sneak me a couple of pretzels. The nurse would periodically come in to check my progress. I was, indeed, progressing well.

Around 7pm, shortly after shift change, my new nurse was in the room. I embarrassingly told her, “Sorry this is TMI, but I really feel like I have to poop.” To which she exclaimed, “That means it’s time to push!” …Ummm…what?! Like, right now?! We’re going to start pushing right now? The nurse did another check and got a second opinion. I was ready. Brecken was ready. It was time to push.

I pushed during every contraction for about 1.5 hours total with Matt and my nurse by my side. (I had chest muscle soreness for a couple of days from pulling and holding myself up during each push.) To be honest, things became a bit of a blur towards the end. I recall that all of a sudden my doctor came in with a bunch of other people, lights came down from the ceiling and carts and tools came out of hidden storage closets in the massive TV console. My doctor immediately took over, and she meant business. She was instructing me to push and would make me start over if I took a breath. She wasn’t doing it in a mean way, rather a let’s-do-this way. At one point she yelled out, “I’m going to have to cut you because you are tearing.” That freaked me out quite a bit, but I didn’t feel anything thanks to the epidural. After a few more pushes she yelled out, “He’s coming! Here he comes! Push! Push! Push! Here he comes!” I then felt the biggest release (gush, really) of pressure and fluid as our son Brecken was pulled out. At that exact moment, I let out a loud, deep cry of relief. Matt vividly recalls me crying out because even he could sense my amazement, relief and joy all in that moment. She held Brecken up briefly and then passed him to a nurse. Brecken arrived only fifteen minutes after my doctor had entered the room. Thankfully, my placenta followed with one additional push. Shortly after Brecken’s arrival, I became very light-headed and felt like I couldn’t breath, so I was put on oxygen immediately. I think it was all just very overwhelming.

While the nurses took care of Brecken and gathered his Apgar scores, I had to be stitched up. It took about forty minutes for me to get stitched up in two different places. It felt like a lifetime. Again, I was very grateful that I could only feel the pressure and not the pain. At some point while this was happening, I asked how much he weighed. I was so curious because he kept measuring so big. A nurse also brought him over for a quick minute so that I could see him. I asked for water and Sprite immediately because I hadn’t been able to drink anything all day; I was so parched. I quickly guzzled both down.

Once my doctor was done, I was able to hold Brecken. Our son. I was going to hold our son. After finally becoming pregnant through IVF, I managed to grow this beautiful being inside of me, and now I was about to hold him. A nurse put his tiny body on my chest, and I wrapped my arms around him and kissed his sweet forehead. He was already trying to lift his little head. He looked up at me, and it was love at first sight. He was perfect. Better than anything I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. Our life as a family of three had just begun.

August 28, 2017 — 9:04pm

7 lbs. 11 oz. — 21″


Thanks for stopping by! I’m just getting started, but I hope to grow this space into a collection of my experiences and love for life and motherhood. Should you have questions, comments, suggestions or the like, please feel free to contact me!

Everyone has to start somewhere, right?

xo, Jennifer