Friday, March 21, 2014

Big Brother Hampton...

Life has brought big changes on our sweet boy and he now has the very important title of Big Brother!
 It's a big job, a life-changing job, but a job Hamp was born for.  I would say he loved her from the moment she became "his."
He is so intrigued by her.  After five weeks, he still loves to look at her.  He loves to hold her.  Hamp will sit on the couch, grab the boppy, and say "Ayee Kole right here."  He laughs at every little noise or movement she makes.  He loves to pet her hair and say "soft."  Most of the time he gets the concept of being gentle but sometimes he has to be reminded.  We feel fortunate that she has only been poked in the eye once and kicked in the head once…bless her.  And all of those not so gentle "love pats" she gets well our tough girl doesn't even make a peep.  But all of this is to be expected from our wild man.
He really is a sweet helper too.  He loves to get mommy a diaper, give sister her paci, or help push her stroller.
My favorite part is watching him give her love.  He runs to her cradle to give her a goodbye kiss every morning and it melts me!  I would say he's loving his new role as big brother!

This new big brother job has also been tough…for mommy and daddy that is.  
As I've mentioned before, the so called "terrible twos" hit our house before Ally Kole arrived but after she arrived well things just got a little more challenging.  In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I got emotional about having to share my attention between two children.  I wondered would Hampton understand, would he think I don't love him anymore, would he be mad at me etc.  It was a flood of emotions and a little overwhelming but Kole and I had been praying about this transition long before it ever happened and the Lord really gave me a peace about it.  Well the transition time is here and as much as I tried to prepare myself for how hard it would be, some days are simply harder than I imagined.  (I just love this picture…mismatched pi's, a sideways construction hat and his blower…perfectly adorable!) 
When you're pregnant everyone tells you "oh your life is about to change."  No one really says oh you just wait until the toddler years hit.  The toddler years are hard…really really hard.  Hamp was whiney and hard headed before Ally Kole arrived.  But after she arrived, full out meltdowns occurred and usually over the smallest things.  I just didn't understand it and some days I thought I might not survive the whining.  I'm talking meltdowns at home, meltdowns in the middle of restaurants, and yes meltdowns in the middle of the driveway...

Yes, sometimes I have to turn my head and laugh…so very dramatic!  But sometimes I want to cry.  It was really important to us to be sure we took special time with Hampton once Ally Kole arrived.  But obviously a newborn takes up a lot of attention and Hamp tries to get our full attention in ALL the wrong ways.  What has been hard for me, is that I want to play with him and love on him but some days it seems like all I do is get on to him.  And trying to figure out how to handle this phase in order to teach him it is not okay to act like that, be disrespectful or disobey well it is just exhausting.  Spank/don't spank, time-out, ignore it etc…it's all draining trying to figure out what works or doesn't.  I've come to realize there isn't any perfect solution, you just have to work through it.  

Parenting is tough.  We all want to be the BEST parents and we all want to do the RIGHT thing.  It would be great if everyday was easy and fun but the fact is that they are kids and they learn as they grow.  It is our job to teach them through these tough phases.  When I sit back and really look at it, there are far more happy and fun times together than the meltdowns and tears...

So right now we take each day and meltdown as it comes.  I would say Hamp is doing better but he is still learning.  And mommy and daddy are working closely with Jesus to take deep breaths and have patience. ; )
I'm kidding…not really.  I know this phase will pass and until then, we encourage each other on those tough days and we pray A LOT! We also really soak up the happy and fun moments…

Parenting is one of the toughest jobs but it is a job that is a gift.  I know God wouldn't have given us this job if we couldn't handle it.  As long as we continue to seek His guidance, I know we are on the right track.  It's not always going to be easy but I think it is so important to work on it together, encourage and lift each other up and most of all enjoy ALL the moments…soaking up the sweet ones and finding a way to laugh through the challenging ones. 

Most importantly, give them lots and lots of love, hugs and kisses…which is impossible not to do when they are this adorable.

So I am choosing to take on this tough job each day with a thankful heart…thankful for the blessing of this job and thankful for every moment I get to be their mommy.   

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

1 Month Old-Ally Kole

Our Ally Kole is 1 month old!
A month has come and gone so quickly but we have loved every minute with our sweet baby girl.
We adore this little angel more than we can describe and it is already hard to imagine our life before her.  
I will say the past month has been a month of adjusting for all of us.  Juggling life with two kids under two years old has been tough but it has also been fun.  
Hampton will be turning two next month and the "terrible twos" hit even before Ally Kole arrived but let's just say this phase was a bit amplified since her arrival but I'll save all of those details for another post of its own.  
Most of the adjusting has just been getting into the swing of things.  Kole's baseball season started literally the week after Ally Kole was born which means he has practice or games most nights.  You have to understand that Kole and I do everything together.  We get dinner ready together, we eat/feed Hamp together, we clean up together, we do bath and bedtime together etc.  We literally tag team on everything so when he's not here it is hard.  I am well aware that a lot of mom's do all of this on their own everyday and I commend them.  But as for me, I have been spoiled.  Our daily routines are so much easier when Kole is here so we knew, even before Ally Kole arrived, that these first few months would be hard.  Kole felt so guilty about it which made me even more determined to get in a good groove so he wouldn't worry.  I had so much help the first few weeks and I don't know what I would have done without it!  But after I felt well enough, I knew it was time for me to figure out how to do things on my own.  
So when I say it's been a month of adjusting, I mean not only feeding Ally Kole and trying to get in a good routine with her, but I also mean, picking Hamp up from school (which is interesting in itself), having some quality play time with him, cooking dinner, getting him fed, getting him bathed and down for the night all while taking care of a newborn.  That may not sound like too much but it really is a lot especially when you have a tired and whiney almost two year old on your hands.
  Bless his bones he has had his world rocked and so have we but the good news is he adores Ally Kole and is very sweet to her.  And thankfully she is the sweetest, easiest baby of all time.  So when Hamp is having a meltdown and demands Mommy's attention, sweet Ally Kole is always so quiet and just as content as can be…I think she knows she has to be.
 Hamp was such a great baby so we were anxious to see how Ally Kole would compare.  So far I would say she is somehow even more laid back than he is.  I think it's just something that happens with the second child.  It doesn't take much to please her.  She literally hardly ever cries and if she does it is for a reason and it usually isn't for long.  

 Eating:  I am breastfeeding again and I will say that I think I have it figured out this time.  I breastfed Hampton but my supply was kind of up and down and by about 4 months I had to start supplementing.  I will try to do another post later on what I've learned and what has helped me but in short the most important thing I have learned is that you have to EAT!  Not that I didn't eat with Hamp, but I know I wasn't putting in the calories my body needed to breastfeed.  The second most important thing is to drink water.  I've gotten in the habit of feeling up a very large cup of water every time I breastfeed and I make it a point to finish one with every feeding and sometimes more.  I have a freezer full of breastmilk this time around and I can hardly believe it compared to feeding Hamp!  I utilized the time I had off during my maternity leave to pump additional milk after feedings and store so now I have a great supply which will give mommy some relief when needed.  

Ally Kole got into a good three hour feeding schedule pretty early on.  Though during the first two weeks if she was hungry earlier, I did not have a problem letting her go ahead and eat.  Now we start our day at 6:00 and she feeds again at 9:00, 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00.  After her 9:00 feeding we go down for the night.  For the first few weeks it took her about 45 minutes to eat and sometimes and hour because she was such a sleepy head it was next to impossible to wake/keep her awake to eat.  Starting around week three she started eating for about 20 minutes and she was done.  

She was 7 lb. 13 oz. when we left the hospital and at her two week check up she was up to 8 lb. 13 oz. so I think it's safe to say she is a good eater!  She has been great with nursing from the beginning and it has gone so much smoother this time around.  

 Sleeping:  Thank you Lord for our good sleeping babies!  I stopped waking her up to feed during the night at 4 weeks.  Most night she sleeps until I wake her up at 6:00 but she doesn't make it every night.  We have a night here and there when she wakes up between 2:30 and 4:00 and if she does I will go ahead and feed her but still wake her for her normal 6:00 feeding.  For now, she is sleeping in her rocker next to our bed.  This is big for us because Hampton started sleeping in his room when we brought him home from the hospital.  The difference is, Hampton had laryngo malaysia which made his a very noisy breather.  Therefore, as much as I wanted him to sleep in our room, the one night we tried, neither of us could sleep even though he was sleeping…just very loudly.  Thankfully Ally Kole doesn't have it and doesn't make the slightest sound so it has been harder for me to put her in her nursery especially since she sleeps so well.  But I plan on making the transition to her room next week because I tend to jump every time she makes a peep so I know I will sleep better which I'll need since I will be going back to work soon.

Comparing Hamp and Ally Kole:  So most people ask me how Ally Kole compares to Hamp and honestly they are so similar it is just plain scary!  I don't think any of us can deny how much they look alike.  Here is Hamp at about one month
I cannot get over how much they look alike!  Their hair, eyes and mouth are so much alike!  And they both look just like their daddy…mommy doesn't get any credit!  But their cute like him so I'm not complaining!

Ally Kole is also a good sleeper like her brother!  She is also a grunter just like he was.  As much as they are alike, there is something really different about having a little girl.  I can't really describe it just yet but she already seems to have a little personality that is one all her own.  I look forward to seeing more of it as she grows.
 Firsts:  Her first bath which she loved and still does!

 Her first (of many) bows!  I mean with all that hair, it would be a crime not to put a bow in it!
 Her first trip to church!  I could hardly wait to put a bonnet on that baby and she was just a little doll!  No surprise she slept right through church and everyone loved seeing her.

We have really loved our first month as a family of four.  We've just been enjoying these days because now that we have two kiddos they are flying by even faster than before.

One of my favorite things has been watching my baby boy become a big boy before my eyes.  As hard as it's been for him to share the attention, he really loves Ally Kole and I love watching him run in the room to see her every morning.  It melts my heart every time he says "Ayee Kole right here" when he wants to hold her.  She is a lucky girl to have this sweet boy to look out for her as she grows.

Oh my sweet Ally Kole.  I can hardly believe you have already been here for a whole month.  The days are already passing so quickly.  We have all fallen head over heals in love with you!  You have added a special sweetness to our family that only a little girl can. 
I love how you cuddle up in a little ball on my chest…I look forward to it every day.  I can't stop kissing those cheeks and one look into those big eyes of yours and my hearts swells like it might explode!  I love how you melt your daddy and it is written all over his face.   It's amazing how a tiny baby girl has stolen all of our hearts so quickly.  I don't think any of us knew just how much we would love you but you are so adored little one.
 Happy 1 Month Ally Kole!  We look forward to watching you grow (very slowly please!)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ally Kole's Birth...

The day we have been waiting for finally arrived!  On Sunday, February 9th we spent the morning loving on our sweet boy, packing our bags and that afternoon, we took one last family picture with just the three of us before we left to check into the hospital.

 And one last belly picture before this baby girl is in our arms….
Since I had not dilated any further and my cervix really had not changed at all, my doctor wanted me to come in the night before the induction to start cervidil.  So we got to the hospital and checked in around 5:00 pm Sunday afternoon.  We knew I wouldn't be eating for a while so we had plans to grub out.  Kole picked us up our customary "hospital stay dinner" of Five Guys burgers and he knew I'd need something for my sweet tooth and he surprised me with Girl Scout cookies…perfect!  We ate well and we settled in for the night and tried to sleep as much as we could.  The next morning we were up early to shower before they started the pitosin around 6:00 a.m.  And the waiting began...

Not long after starting the pitosin, my doctor came in to break my water and very quickly afterwards, things got intense…and then REALLY intense.  The nurse told me I had to go through one bag of fluids before I could get an epidural.  I said okay I think I can take the pain long enough to do that.  Well as soon as I said that, things got painful…I mean oh my!  So she began to flush the fluids through me and said I should finish them before the epidural arrives.  That seemed like an eternity!  I don't know exactly how long I dealt with it but I would estimate it was from around 8:30ish to 10:30ish.  Family and friends had begun to arrive and it was taking all I had to remain composed through the pain.  All I could do is cover my face with my hands, close my eyes and pray for strength through every contraction that was coming about every 2 minutes or less by that time.  Then I couldn't hold back tears any longer.  I still covered my face, Kole held my hand and I just cried with every insanely painful contraction…praying that epidural would get there fast. 

 Finally the hero of the day arrived with the goods.  Prepping me for the epidural seemed to take forever too but finally I got it and within a couple of minutes the pain eased off…praise the Lord.  The nurse checked me right after getting the epidural and I was at 6 cm.  No wonder I was in so much pain!  Now that I wasn't in excruciating pain anymore, I could touch up my makeup and take a few pictures with friends and family…

Within 30 or 45 minutes after the epidural, I began feeling major pressure and she checked me again to find I was at 9 cm already!  It was time!  We cleared the room and pushed 3 times and when the nurse told me to stop.  I knew why…this baby was coming and my doctor wasn't there yet!  She called for my doctor three times and by the third time, I could tell by the tone in her voice and the pressure I was feeling that we couldn't wait much longer.  

My family later told us they saw him come running by and when he walked in, he said I didn't know it was going to happen that fast…neither did I!  Well after one long push with Kole's arm around me encouraging me the whole time, Ally Kole was here…

Let me just pause to say what a precious friend I have…my best friend, Jessica, came in to capture those first moments of Ally Kole's birth.  When Hampton was born, poor Kole was worried about helping me and taking pictures and I just wanted him to be able to enjoy it this time without worrying.  Plus she is an amazing photographer so I knew before hand that these pictures would be something special…and as always she gave us a priceless treasure when she captured one of the most amazing moments of our life.  And as our dear friend, I think she would tell you it was an amazing moment for her too and I loved sharing it with her just as much.  Thank you my sweet, sweet friend…thank you simply isn't enough!
 Even though we can all establish I have the "ugly cry" down pat it really is amazing to see the moment we first laid eyes on our baby girl...

 There is just nothing that compares to the moment you hold your child for the first time…I can tell you I was thanking the Lord that she was here and she was healthy and safe.  There was just an overwhelming sense of thankfulness and a joy I can't describe.
 We were all saying "look at that hair!"  Just as we did when her brother was born.  And how beautiful she was...
What a happy moment!  Our sweet baby girl was finally here….

I got to be the first to kiss those sweet cheeks before they had to take her to check and wash her…I've been kissing those cheeks ever since.

 She only cried for a few minutes and then she was so sweet and calm just taking in this new world of hers.

 She was born at 12:43 p.m. weighing 8 lbs 5 oz and was 20.5 inches long.  I guessed she would be 8 lb. 4 oz. like I was and I would say I got pretty close!
 Kole and Jess said she wasn't a fan of the bath until they ran the water over her head.
 Daddy was there with her the whole time…just as everyone said it would happen, she had him wrapped around her finger instantly.  It's true it happens just that fast

After getting all checked out, she was back in my arms and I just couldn't take my eyes off of her.  It's amazing how you fall in love all over again.  It's an indescribable feeling.  Looking at God's perfect creation right there in your arms.  He knew her before I knew she would exist, He created her from head to toe, and then His perfect little gift is right there in my arms.  I am so undeserving and so thankful for His grace and goodness.  It is such a miracle and there is nothing sweeter...

There were so many special moments during that day but this might be one of my favorites and I love that Jessica captured it.  It's like she caught a picture of everything my heart was feeling in that moment.  It's no secret I love this man, but I never knew I could love him more today, after almost eight years together and five years of marriage…yes I am more in love with him today than I ever have been.  God has given my children the most amazing father and seeing him hold his little girl and watching him fall in love with her instantly…well my face says it all
After giving Kole and I a few minutes to get to know Ally Kole, we finally let family and friends in to meet this precious angel.  They were all just as smitten as we were.  We all had a prayer of thanksgiving for this gracious gift God has given us
Another special part of the day was introducing Hampton to his new little sister.  We were all anxious to see what he would think!

He kept looking for my pregnant belly trying to figure out what was going on.
At first, he just looked at me and looked at her just trying to figure it all out.

He was so observant and just taking it all in.  

And then he wanted to get a little closer to check Ally Kole out.

And then he was ready to hold her and pretty much tried to snatch her from my arms.
Melt. My. Heart.
I think he fell in love instantly too!
I love this face.  He literally stared at her, studying every detail of her.

And then he was done holding her and would try to just throw her back to me. And then a minute later he wanted to hold her again.
Judson could hardly wait to meet his new cousin too!

He loves her too!
But Hampton let him know quickly she was his!
And he was ready to hold her again…for a minute at least.
My babies…my heart is so full!

There just isn't anything sweet than that...
He really loves his baby sister!  We just have to learn to be soft and gentle which is a hard concept for a two year old, "all boy" little boy to understand but he is getting it.

Ally Kole is already so loved by so many…she is one lucky little girl and we are so blessed for the love and support of our friends and family surrounding us.  We love sharing this special time with each and every family member and friend.  

We all just adore this sweet sweet angel of ours.

And we have hardly been able to get enough of her since the moment she arrived…

Well we are officially a family of four and we just could not be happier!

We feel so unbelievably grateful for the many ways God continues to reveal His blessings to us.  Our hearts are so thankful for another strong, healthy baby.  Being a wife and mommy is all I have ever wanted to be and I am so thankful He chose me to be the wife of an amazing man and I love being his wife and sharing the most precious things in life with him and it is the greatest feeling to be a mommy to his children.  Now we begin an exciting new journey together as parents to two precious children.  We are already so in love with our sweet Ally Kole and we look forward to all of the days ahead as a family of four!  Welcome to the family our precious Ally Kole!  You are such a gift!