Annabelle Grace

Surprise! I haven't blogged in two years... so obviously a lot has happened in that time.  I'll start with some bullet points and then update with the real reason I'm back to blogging: sharing another birth story!

*I quit working at my full time job a few months after Autumn was born.
*I was able to stay home with the girls because my friend Sarah and I worked our butts off and turned our reviewing hobby into a full blown business. Real Reviews was born!
*We had another baby!!  Mike and I decided that our family wasn't yet complete and started trying for another baby as soon as I got my cycle back from breastfeeding.  Immediate success! Now, onto the birth story...

It was a textbook pregnancy, exactly like my first two. Abby and Autumn were growing up right before my eyes, so most of the pregnancy was kept busy with them. :)

Love these little ladies!
Abby started 2nd grade this year! Time is truly FLYING by... 
Our lovely little Autumn turned 2 years old last month!
The first half of the pregnancy was already over... and we found out that we were having another beautiful baby GIRL!  

Time kept going... and going... and before we knew it our due date had come and gone!

41 weeks pregnant... one week past due date
We monitored the pregnancy and set an induction date for the following Monday... then we spent a few gorgeous relaxing days trying to enjoy our last weekend as a family of 4. My mom was scheduled to come down Sunday morning and spend the day with us before we went in for the induction Monday morning. 

You know the saying about men making plans and God laughing? Well despite our induction plans, Annabelle decided to get things going on Saturday night instead! I got the girls settled and ready for bed and tried to sleep myself, but I kept waking up from the contractions. I woke up Mike and told him to be ready just in case this was it and I started timing.  They were coming pretty regularly about 10 minutes apart, so I called my doctor and asked what he thought we should do. Since I was GBS+ and needed antibiotics before delivering (and this was my third baby) he said to head to the hospital right away. It was a good thing we took his advice! We called our parents and my mom started her trip down right away and Mike's mom came over to stay with the girls until she got there.  We finished packing our bags, kissed Autumn's sleeping head and woke up Abby to tell her we were leaving.  Abby burst into tears of pure excitement after saying with disbelief: "the baby is coming??". It was beyond sweet. 

We got to the hospital and went right to triage... the contractions were coming about 5 minutes apart by that point, but were still pretty manageable. I was able to breathe through them and hold conversation between them. We put on the monitors and let things progress naturally. I was checked by the nurse while they were admitting me and I was at 6cm dilation. Mike and I got to talk and spend some time just being together while our third daughter moved ever closer to being born. I spent some of the time reflecting on why I was having so much anxiety about delivering again and started praying and meditating. I asked for the peace of mind that only God can provide and concentrated on the fact that I really didn't want to lose control. A lot of my last labor was spent screaming and the contractions came one after another, right on top of each other with no break in between. I lost myself in that labor and didn't want a repeat performance. 

Eventually we were moved from the triage room into the delivery room where everything was going beautifully according to my wishes. I was able to move around as much as I wanted and the monitors were picking up the baby beautifully, and she was doing very well.  I breathed my way through a few more contractions when things started getting VERY painful. I was approached about pain medication, but Mike knew I really didn't want any, so he encouraged me to stick it out and mentioned to the doctor that when we broke my water in my last labor it got things moving very quickly. So the doctor checked me again and I was at 9cm! I should have known that the "I can't do this anymore" feeling usually means I'm in transition, so when I heard 9cm I said a quick prayer, squeezed Mike's hand, and my strength was renewed. The doctor broke my water, mentioned the nice clear fluid and said he would be back shortly to check on us. Mike advised him not to go far... and he was right! Minutes later I told the nurse that I needed to start pushing. I could feel my body start to push on it's own and felt the baby move down as far as she could... it was a neat sensation and much more comfortable than the contractions on their own. The doctor ran back in and it was show time! The nurse and my amazing husband encouraged me to hold my legs while I pushed and after one huge push she was crowning! Amazingly, I had the presence of mind to do something I've always wanted to do... I reached down and felt her head.  Her very first second that she was entering the world and I was able to stroke her hair. One more huge push later and she was here! The doctor said "Did you see that?! A perfect internal rotation!" He later told me that he was impressed that I had the presence of mind to feel her head and that he wished that medical students had been in the room to watch because it was the first time in all his years of delivery that he had ever seen a baby be born so perfectly, turning exactly as she was supposed to, after one huge push. Annabelle was placed immediately on my chest and Mike and I both kissed her little head and welcomed her to the world.  After I delivered the placenta and was stitched up we were left alone to bond.  Anna latched on to the breast right away and nursed for 2 straight hours! She was wide awake and alert and we stared at her and loved on her for hours before being moved to our maternity room. It was, by far, my easiest and most satisfying labor and delivery experience.  It was healing, both emotionally and spiritually, and exactly what I needed to start my new journey as a mother of 3.

The girls are so in love with their baby sister... it was love at first sight.  Autumn said "I take it?" and wanted to bring her home right away.
Nursing like a champ

Our perfect family of 5! I couldn't be more blessed with this bunch.
Annabelle Grace
10/16/16 @ 4:49am
9lbs 10oz
22 inches


The Fashionably Late Arrival of Autumn Michaela

After a (thankfully) uneventful pregnancy we were approaching my due date of 9/13/14.  All along I've said that I would probably  go a day late again since these pregnancies were practically identical. This little girl must have felt like she had something to prove though, because she didn't make her arrival until TWO days after her due date.  I had been trying to prepare my body for labor by drinking red raspberry leaf tea for weeks, eating dates and pineapple, bouncing on my birthing ball... and while none of it actually STARTED labor, I do think it helped to tone my uterus and make labor more productive. Wednesday night I was up off and on having contractions and the start of my bloody show.  I told Mike that there was a chance labor was going to really start soon so he took off from work the next day. He took off again Friday and then we had a totally uneventful few days. Of course. Ha. So we embraced the idea of enjoying our last few "baby free" days and Sunday we all walked to the park around the corner from our house.  It was a gorgeous day and I loved watching Abby run around and enjoy the last days of summer.

After the park we were all starving so we decided to make a night of it and go out to dinner to a local Hibachi restaurant... Abby and I got dressed and we were on our way. 

It was Abby's first time at a Hibachi dinner/show and she was getting all kinds of special attention and loving it.  The chef also kept putting extra food on my plate and saying it was for the baby and I needed to eat for two. We had a blast and I'm so glad we went.  All during dinner I started having contractions and they were getting stronger and closer together.  I told Mike that we needed to get our dinner to go and we went home. I jumped in the shower to see if it would stop the contractions but they started coming really quick and strong instead.  We packed up the car, dropped Abby off at her grandparents and headed over to the hospital! 

The drive to the hospital wasn't bad at all... I remember thinking that it was actually really pretty being on the empty highway in the dark of night while speeding towards meeting our baby. Mike was doing a great job of staying calm and encouraging me. 

When we got to the hospital I couldn't even walk inside since the contractions were so close together.  I remember laboring with Abby and having such sweet relief between contractions where the pain left and I was able to relax.  There was none of that this time. Just when I would feel my body start to relax another wave would start. Mike got a wheelchair and we went to triage at L&D.  After checking in, the nurse (who was less than pleasant but the ONLY part of our experience that wasn't ideal) asked if my water broke yet and how I really knew I was in labor.  I told her that I had been dilated to a 4 since the previous week and my contractions were 2/3 minutes apart.  She said "why didn't you tell me?? Let's get you checked." I was dilated to a 5 and admitted to L&D. 

 I still couldn't walk very far so I was wheeled down to the delivery room and got into bed to have my monitors set up.  The contractions and pain were so intense at this point that I kind of withdrew into myself and didn't want to be touched. I squeezed Mike's hand one time but the look of pain on his face pretty much said I was breaking his bones.  I couldn't stand sitting down at the peak of contractions but I couldn't get out of bed yet because we couldn't get the babies heart rate to stay steady on the monitors, so I was pushing myself up off of the bed using my arms with every contraction. My arms were sore for days after delivery. We never were able to keep the baby on the monitor for tracking as she was moving all over the place (the girl hated being touched during ultrasounds and NST's, so I knew she wouldn't be a big fan of the pressures of labor) so we ended up using an internal monitor.  I kept my eyes closed and breathed through the contractions as much as  I could.... but I'll admit there was a lot of yelling going on. Haha. I'm apparently very vocal when I'm laboring. My husband jokes that he's now partially deaf. I really wanted to avoid getting an epidural but with my contractions right on top of each other and still only being dilated to a 6, I needed something to help me last.  We decided to break my water and give me a shot of Stadol (a short term narcotic pain reliever) to hopefully provide some relief.  It was pointless though because as soon as we broke my water things started moving really quickly. I told the nurse "I need to push! I feel like I need to push!" and thinking that I had to stop myself because there was just no way I had finished dilating that quickly.  The doctor checked me and said there was a slight lip left on my cervix but if I was needing to push she would help pull it back on the next contraction. I literally couldn't stop my body from pushing so I said let's do this! Three big pushes and a lot of screaming later... Autumn Michaela was here.  They handed her screaming slimy perfect self to me while Mike cut the cord and it was love at first sight. I remember thinking "whoa... she's big" and I was right. 8lbs 15oz and just over 21 inches long. I got to hold her skin to skin on my chest while I pushed the placenta out and the doctor stitched up the one tear that I had.  She never left my side (and still hasn't... lol).  She passed all of her tests with flying colors. Apgar 9/9 and 100% on everything else as well. I'm so proud of myself for sticking to my plan and not getting the epidural this time.  Recovery was SO MUCH easier and I was walking around right after birth. Autumn was born at 3:17am on 9/15/14.  So now without further ado... 

Big sister is so proud and we are overjoyed to start our life as a family of four!


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...

We are having another little girl! I'm due mid-September and we couldn't be more excited.  It's been a long journey for sure. We had another loss in early December and were ready to throw in the towel and accept our future as a family of three... but God had other plans. We conceived this little miracle naturally and unexpectedly right before Christmas.  I was pregnant and didn't even know it yet when I wrote that last blog post! After over two years of losses and unsuccessful fertility treatments involving pills, shots, tests, procedures and crazy side effects... this little princess was just waiting for the right time.  Feeling her moving and watching her grow is an amazing experience and it's flying by! I can't believe that in a few short days this pregnancy will already be halfway over. I want time to slow down but at the same time I can't wait to hold her in my arms. All testing and scans have been perfect so far and she's a strong little wiggle worm already. Abby is beyond excited and happy to be having a little sister. She is going to be the absolute best big sister. That's all for now... I just wanted to post a quick update since I've been neglecting my poor blog for so long. Expect many gratuitous baby pictures in a few short months! <3


2013: The Year of Love

"Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity." 
-Henry Van Dyke

2013 was a good year.  It had it's ups and downs, but this year I have chosen love above all else... and so 2013 was a good year.  We are still a family of 3 and I'm fine with that. I've embraced my fortune to have all of this extra for our daughter. Extra time, extra  money, extra love. 

2013 was a terrifying year. My dad had two MAJOR surgeries but both went well and he's here with us. Here to talk to, here to hug, here to enrich all of our lives, here to love. 

2013 was a busy year.  There wasn't much down time and it was tiring and wonderful and full of LOVE!

Here are some highlights from the second half of 2013:

Abby started school!  She attends a Performing Arts Preschool and we couldn't have found a better fit for her.  She loves going to school and is thriving there.

This picture was from her school recital. She was a snow fairy and in my (totally unbiased) opinion she stole the show. ;) 

I turned 30 this year. It has taken me some time to embrace that number, but I'm finally accepting of it. LOL. My loving husband really went all out to celebrate my birthday this year.  We took a romantic dinner cruise on the Spirit of Philadelphia.  There was champagne, flowers, fireworks, dancing, food, delicious drinks and great company. I truly felt like a queen that day and it will forever be one of my favorite memories.

Abby continues to love dance class and her teachers... so even though she's now dancing 5 days a week in her preschool, we allow her to continue Saturday morning classes as well. Our little prima ballerina!

We have taken on many projects this year... but one of Abby's favorites has been growing an avocado tree from a seed.  This was the day we brought B.A.T. (baby avocado tree) home. A big thanks to my friend Karen for passing him along to us. <3

Halloween brought with it another princess costume. It always amuses me that my rough and tumble sporty girl is such a fashion diva and so into princesses. This year she was Sofia the First. :)

2013 was the beginning of our new bathroom.  The new toilet and tub are complete, and the new sink and accessories are installed... now we just need to finish sanding and painting. It's been a work in progress for a while, but I'm pretty excited about the end result.  When you live in a house with only one bathroom, that bathroom needs to be nice!

Our furry family member turned 4 years old in November and we celebrated by making her peanut butter pancakes. Roxie loves her peanut butter and Abby sang Happy Birthday to her. :)

Abby and I found a new show to bond over (and obsess about)... Dr. Who!  We are now officially Whovians and have watched every single episode from 2005-current. We even made sure to watch the Christmas episode on Christmas day. The picture above is Abby's imitation of a weeping angel... though I doubt I would have to explain that to anyone who watches the show since it's a pretty spot on imitation. ;)

Last but not least, our one and only baby girl turned 5 years old. She had a special day of celebrating with a trip to the movies, shopping, out to dinner, and the Maiorino grandparents spent the night. Her party will be next month and should be super fun!

2013 was a good year.  I made some new friends, finally met some old friends in person, made some amazing connections with people and hopefully lived my life with love, glorifying God along the way. I cannot wait to see what 2014 has in store for us. 

TTime is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.
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