Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Birth Story of Lily Faith

I don't put much stock into "due dates", so when asked when I was due, I would always answer, "End of November/beginning of December sometime ... " and leave it at that. Considering I had Ella three weeks 'early' I really didn't know what to expect this time around. My midwife kept commenting that she thought I would make it to my "due date" but not much beyond. I'm not sure I was convinced, but I prepared myself, mentally, to be pregnant through the middle of December - just in case. 

The evening of November 29th rolled around and Mr. Lukie and I kind of joked about the next day being my "due date". I didn't give it much thought, really, since I wasn't having any tell tale signs that labor was imminent. For several weeks leading up to that point, a few times per week, I was having legitimate contractions that always fizzled out by the time morning came. Prodromal labor, they call it. I knew my body was preparing, but it really just seemed to be doing only that. Most days, I was totally fine with this, since I was feeling anxious about bringing another baby into our little family and how it would shape things moving forward. Other days, I was just ready to meet this little being and start doing life with him/her.

At 12:15am (on November 30th, my "due date"), I woke up for what I initially thought was no reason at all. I assumed it was probably to use the restroom, considering that I did so every 2 hours or so those last few weeks, but I realized that wasn't why. I laid there for a few minutes and then felt a slight POP! and then the warm gush of fluids. I woke Mr. Lukie up, "Babe!" For being in the line of work where it is expected to be woken from a dead sleep, several times per night, he sure doesn't handle it well at home. All groggy-like, he said, "Huh?" I told him my water had just broken and he just laid there. I said, "Do you think you could get me a towel?" He popped out of bed and went to the linen closet, just outside our bedroom. "What do you want me to get?" "A towel, babe" (seriously?) "Which one?" "Umm ... it really doesn't matter, I'd just like to get cleaned up." It's probably a really good thing I love him (and already know that he doesn't do the whole woken up in the middle of the night thing very well when he's at home).

With Ella, as soon as my water broke, my contractions started. So, I sent a text message to my midwife, Karen, and her student midwife, Christina: "My water just broke, fluids are clear!" Christina sent me a text back almost immediately, "Awesome! Try and get some rest." Mr. Lukie and I laughed at the notion of getting rest. I mean, really? Rest after my water broke and contractions were to start at any time? Ha!

I crawled back in bed around 12:45am, wearing an adult diaper (I kept leaking and was tired of getting out of bed and changing my pajama pants), still laughing at the idea of getting some rest. Sure enough, we both ended up sleeping from about 1am until 7am, when Ella woke up. We told her that her baby was coming today and went about our normal morning routine. Around 7:30am, I felt my first contraction and I decided right then to start timing them. I know I didn't start timing them right away with Ella, but something told me to this time. I sent another text message to Karen and Christina: "Contractions have started. I'm timing them and will let you know where we're at." They are both a little over an hour away from me (Karen is the same midwife we used for Ella's birth, but that is when we were living in Temecula ... and after finding out I was pregnant with Lily, we moved to San Diego ... )

Christina called me around 8am and we chatted for awhile. I know that she wanted to talk to me through a contraction or two, to sort of triage where I was in my birthing time. When we got on the phone, my contractions were 5-6 minutes apart, lasting 45-60 seconds. We chatted for 10 minutes. By the end of our conversation, I was no longer able to talk, let alone concentrate or time my contractions. It was determined that they would leave Temecula around 9am, unless noted otherwise. After I got off the phone with Christina, I told Mr. Lukie that I wanted the tub set up in our bedroom and filled with water, because I felt like I might be ready to get in it soon. I knew this because I had started my morning off in cozy slippers, pajama pants, a tank top, and a sweatshirt ... but by this point, I was in boxer shorts and a sports bra. A good rule of thumb is that the more layers of clothing that come off, the closer you are to having a baby ;) 

Karen called me at some point during all of this, to let me know that she was at another birth, about 2.5 hours away from San Diego. She wouldn't make it to my birth, but Christina would be there, and she was sending a back up midwife, Coley, since Christina is a student and wouldn't get credit for attending my birth without a licensed midwife there. (I would have been fine with just Christina, but understood her need to have it documented for her licensure).

During this time, I was laboring by myself, which, I discovered, is not something I am a fan of, because Mr. Lukie was tending to Ella. I don't think he had any idea how quickly things were progressing until I asked told him to set up the tub because I wanted in it. Ella had snuck into our bedroom and was saying, "Mama? Mama? Mama? You okay, mama?" while I was on my knees, elbows on the bed, moaning and swaying and "ahhhhing" my baby down. I could handle that part just fine, but then she started touching me, while saying over and over, "Mama? Mama? Mama? You okay, mama?" I thought I was going to lose it. That is when I asked (told) Mr. Lukie to get the nanny to our house ASAP and to send her and Ella to the market to pick up the food on the list we had compiled earlier that morning. I had originally planned on having Ella be present for as much of the laboring/birthing process as she wanted to be present for, but soon realized that it was just not going to work for me. I couldn't concentrate the way I needed to concentrate to get through these contractions. I couldn't focus on this baby, because I was focusing on my first baby. It just wasn't working well for me. It was also at this time that I asked Mr. Lukie to time a few contractions for me. 3-4 minutes apart, lasting 60-90 seconds. 

I heard the nanny arrive and Mr. Lukie give her the quick run down of things. While he was doing that, I called Christina. "I want in the tub. It's being filled with water, then I'm getting in. Contractions are 3-4 minutes apart, lasting 60-90 seconds." (By this time, I was down to just my sports bra). I could hear the sense of anxiety/excitement in Christina's voice when she said, "The tub? Already? I'm on my way!" I got in the tub a few minutes later.

A bit later, my friend and doula (who isn't really a doula, but she acted as one for me), Alyssa, arrived. Our hot water had run out and the tub was only 1/4 of the way full, so Mr. Lukie had all of our pots filled with water on the stove, boiling it to add to the tub. I was in transition at this point, and back to laboring alone. Alyssa noticed that I needed support and immediately grabbed my hand while I labored on my knees, arms and chest draped over the edge of the birthing tub. She was with me for several contractions until I called for Mr. Lukie. I know many women who swear that they just wanted their mom/sister/girlfriend to be their labor support, but through both of my babies births, all I wanted was my husband. He truly has a gift and I know it isn't something that many men are gifted with.

Awhile later (I lost track of time at this point), Christina arrived. Since I choose not to do internal checks, we didn't know where I was, exactly, but it was evident by my contractions, being in the tub, and my physical state, that it was go-time. I told Christina that I was feeling pushy and she asked me to give a practice push. That practice push brought Lily's head into view. Christina told me she saw a ton of dark hair. Just then, Coley rushed in.

Without so much as saying a word, with the next contraction, my body pushed. I really didn't do much work when it came to pushing Lily out, because my body just took over. With Ella's birth, I had to do a lot of physical work to push her out, but I felt like this time, my body was just doing it all on its own. Christina announced, "Head is out!" I remember saying, "Huh?" And Christina reiterated, "The baby's head is out!" I couldn't believe it - I didn't feel the burning ring of fire that everyone talks about (I didn't feel it with Ella, either, but probably because she was so tiny) - and I was in total shock. Christina then said, "Hold off on pushing again until I tell you so that the baby has time to rotate." Craziest thing ever - I could feel Lily rotating inside of me and I knew that it was okay to let my body push again before Christina even told me. "Shoulders are out! With the next push, your baby will be here!"

11:19am, I pushed my baby out into the birthing tub, where Christina caught her and handed her up to me through my legs. I opened my eyes (I labored this time, again, with my eyes closed, as I did with Ella), looked down at my baby and said, "What?!? A GIRL?!" and remember laughing and saying "A girl?! Another girl?!" over and over again with Mr. Lukie. In fact, Alyssa captured the whole birth on video and then edited the following clip to be suitable for others to view ;)

Ella and her nanny arrived home from the market in perfect time. It truly couldn't have been planned any better! We had just gotten Lily to cry and she and I were still in the tub, when I saw the two of them walking down the hallway toward my bedroom. I said to Ella, "Guess what? You have a baby SISTER!" and Ella's face lit up and she came running over to the tub to check things out.  

Although Lily's birth was not considered to be precipitous by textbook definition (3 hours or less, start to finish), it was still very fast (3 hours, 45 minutes, start to finish), both she and I were in a physical state of shock. With fast births, sometimes Mom and Baby will experience a state of physical shock, and it takes both of them a few hours to recover from that. Because of this, two things happened that most likely would not have happened, had my birthing time been longer: 

One - Lily didn't scream/cry right away and her APGAR in the first minute was a 6. We were rubbing her and talking to her and trying to get her to let out a good wail, but she wasn't having it. So, Coley grabbed an oxygen mask and placed it over Lily's mouth and nose, which helped to encourage her to start taking some big, deep breaths, which in turn, produced one very loud cry about 9 minutes post birth. In the moment, I wasn't worried that something was truly wrong, or that she wasn't going to be okay, but I was also in that labor time warp, where it only felt like she had the mask on for 2 minutes. While recounting the birth later, with Christina, she informed me that it was 9 minutes and that was the first time that I felt any anxiety about the situation.

Two - I did hemorrhage slightly, so I was given a shot of an herbal tincture that Coley made up for me. Coley and Christina weren't feeling super comfortable with the amount of blood I was continuing to lose after the tincture, so Coley gave me a shot of pitocin. Within minutes, the bleeding stopped and the placenta was delivered and all was well. I never felt dizzy or lightheaded or not well, because I didn't lose that much blood, but it was obviously enough for both of them to be a bit concerned. 

Lily's birth was incredibly healing for me, from Ella's birth. While I have only shared how traumatic and depressing Ella's birth was with few people close to me, I never went into that on the blog here. It took me awhile to realize and understand that I was sad by having her birth go the way that it did. There was nothing majorly traumatizing or terrible about her birth to the outside viewer, but there certainly was for me. It's unexplainable, I think, unless you've been there yourself.

All that to say, Lily's birth was amazing, awesome, sacred, and beautiful. I couldn't have planned or envisioned a more beautiful birth. I'm pretty sure that our family is complete, but if we decided, one day down the road, that it wasn't? I would absolutely go the home birth route all over again. There is something so magical about pushing your baby out of your body, where it has been growing for the past 10 months and then climbing into your bed, with your husband and other child(ren) and snuggling down to get acquainted with one another. 

The Cliff's Notes version:

12:15am - water broke
7:36am - first contraction
11:19am - Lily is born!

Lily Faith, 7lbs15oz, 19.75" long

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Introducing ... Baby Lukie 2!

Lily Faith
Born 11.30.13 at 11:19am
7lbs 15oz
19 3/4"

SURPRISE ... Another girl!

Lily decided to be one of the 5% of babies who are born on their due date! I was in labor for just under 4 hours, so it was a crazy fast, but totally smooth ride. Dare I say that bringing Lily earthside was easy

Ella is just head over heels about Lily, most of the time. She has only told us once so far that she wants Lily to go back in Mama's tummy. Ella says her "L's" as "Y's", so she calls Lily "Yiyi" - it's adorable! They've become quick friends and Ella just kisses and loves on her baby every chance she gets.

I'm slowly working on Lily's birth story, in between settling in as a family of four. It's been quite an adjustment thus far, but we're slowly finding our groove and will continue to do so, I'm sure. I'll be back soon with Lily's {short, compared to Ella's} birth story!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Lukie's 3 ... Almost 4!

I can't believe that I forgot to post some of the gorgeous photos from our Maternity/Family/Ella's 2nd Birthday shoot that was just over a month and a half ago now. ::sigh:: 

These were taken when I was about 32/33 weeks pregnant and Ella had just turned 2 a few weeks prior. We figured it was a good time to do a dual session.

Without further ado ...

There are so, so many more ... but I figured I would just choose a few of our favorites to share. Of course, this is all the absolutely gorgeous work of our photographer and friend, Hillary Craft, of Arc Imagery. If you're in the San Diego area, you've GOT to give her a call. She photographed our engagement session, our wedding, our maternity pictures when I was pregnant with Ella, Ella's newborn pictures/Family pictures, Ella's 6 month pictures/Family pictures, Ella's 1 year pictures/Family pictures, and now these. She will also be doing birth photography for Baby Lukie 2's homebirth (eeeeek!!!), and newborn/Family pictures of the four of us. We kinda love her - a lot!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Update on Baby #2 - 38ish Weeks!

How far along?  38 weeks, but really almost 39 weeks (36 weeks with Ella - this is the last documented picture and update before her birth announcement on the blog!)

Total weight gain/loss? +28-29 pounds

Maternity clothes?  Mixing and matching, still. I've only got 3 tops that cover my belly all the way, which makes going to social outings and church pretty interesting.

Stretch marks? Still nothing. And I might see a teeny, tiny bit of linea negra making an appearance, finally? But I can't really tell.

Sleep?  Hit or miss. Some nights, I don't recall waking up at all. Other nights, I'm up 3-4 times to use the restroom.
Best moment last month? Well, it's only been 2 weeks since my last update. I got what are probably my last mani/pedi, massage, and wax before baby comes.
Movement?  Still pretty constant, but the movements themselves have slowed down. Baby is definitely running out of room, and fast.
Symptoms? You know, for the most part, I'm feeling great! I have the typical "I am going to have a baby any day now" discomforts to deal with, but really, I feel like if I am pregnant for another 2-3 weeks, I can handle it and will be totally fine with that.

Ella climbed in my lap with her baby doll and said, "Mama, I packtiss feeding my baby a boddel, yike I do when baby budder come soon." Melt. My. Heart.

Food cravings? Nada.

Gender? We'll all know soon enough!

Labor signs? Wednesday night, I had contractions from 9pm-3am that were 10-15 minutes apart, lasting 30-60 seconds. I stopped timing them around 11pm, when I realized nothing about them was changing (intensity, intervals, duration, etc) and went to sleep. I was up every hour, on the dot, to pee. When I woke up for the day around 6am, I realized that I was no longer contracting and all signs of labor had diminished. Thank you, Jesus! 
My midwife called me last week to let me know that she was having to fly out to Ohio, completely unexpectedly, because her elderly mother was having an unplanned surgery. She told me she would be gone from November 20th-25th. We both cried and talked about what to do in the event I go into labor while she is gone. And I'd be lying if I said that I didn't get off the phone with her and just lose it completely. My midwife HAS to be at the birth of this baby. I also know that I am not in control of when this happens. On the other hand, I know that babies and mamas have a special connection. So, we had a chat, BL2 and I. I informed him/her that they needed to hang out in mama's belly for at least another week, until Karen got back to town. We've only had a few other times where I've thought, "Oh, great, here we go ... " but nothing that has stuck. As I write this, it is the evening of November 24th. Karen gets back to California tomorrow at midnight. Baby just needs to hang out for another 24 hours, minimum. I'm holding on to that and praying it happens. And if by doing so, that means I end up pregnant for another 2 or 3 weeks, so be it!

Belly button in/out? Out. No other words to describe it. Ella tells me, "Mama don't have no belly button. Baby make mama's belly button all gone!"

What I miss: Not a whole lot, to be honest. Well, okay. I miss not wearing the same 3 outfits over and over and over ...

What I am looking forward to: Giving birth. Meeting my baby. Finally knowing boy or girl! Mr. Lukie being home for 6 weeks with us, on paternity leave. Completing our family.
Mr. Lukie and E. Sunday morning tickle/snuggle sesh before getting up for church. I can't believe that there will be one more precious little being to add to our tickle/snuggle sessions in bed soon!
Milestones: Being more pregnant than I've ever been (or will ever be again)! I was hoping and praying this pregnancy to make it longer than I did with Ella. Having a baby just barely at "full term" may sound ideal to those of you who struggle with difficult pregnancies, who just don't enjoy pregnancy to begin with, or who are just flat out miserable being pregnant. But having a tiny baby, who has reflux and colic, and needs to nurse every 45-90 minutes, round the clock, for the first 3 months in order to stay nourished? It's exhausting and difficult and emotional and makes you go a little bit crazy. I'm hoping that by this baby staying in longer than his/her sister, we might skip a tiny bit of the extra craziness that comes with a term baby.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Update on Baby #2 - 36 Weeks!

How far along?  36 weeks (36 weeks with Ella - this is the last documented picture and update before her birth announcement on the blog!)

Total weight gain/loss? +25-26 pounds

Maternity clothes?  Mixing and matching, still. I returned the maternity jeans I bought. I caved last week and bought two maternity sweaters from Target to get me through these next few weeks, as it is finally starting to feel like fall in San Diego. Well, at least in the mornings and evenings.

Stretch marks? Still nothing. And still no linea negra.

Sleep?  No bueno. I'm even starting to get the, "Are you feeling okay? You look tired ... " comments. Awesome.
Best moment last month? Having two ladies come and deep clean my entire house (baseboards, ceiling fans, windows, etc.). Getting clothes, hats, blankets, and baby carriers washed and folded. HAVING A FULLY (day time) POTTY TRAINED 25 MONTH OLD!!!!!

Movement?  Constant. And getting painful.
Symptoms? Your typical third trimester woes: pelvic pressure, stretching belly pain, The Waddle, heartburn/indigestion (new one for me this time around!), frequent urination, and really painful Braxton Hicks. Also, the sharp pain/stabbing sensations to the cervix that take my breath away. I was never this uncomfortable or in as much with Ella as I am this time. I'm ready to be done being pregnant and I'm sure that has a lot to do with having a toddler to chase around this time. Oh, and my emotions are all over the place. I can cry at the drop of a hat. BUT! The horrible back pain has disappeared since I stopped working out!

Food cravings? Bagels. Blueberry bagel, toasted, with strawberry cream cheese. And I'm not a carb person. So weird.

Gender? Finding out on birth day, but still feeling boy. And for the record - we are both 100% game for another girl! I felt it necessary to throw that out there, since there are some folks out there who think I'll be disappointed with another girl (??)

Labor signs? Nothing like, "Ohmygoodness, I'm in labor!" signs, but the pelvic pressure, stabbing pains in the cervix, and super painful Braxton Hicks are keeping me on my toes. This baby needs to stay in for at least another week.

Belly button in/out? Out, out, out.

What I miss: Sleep. Being comfortable. Working out :( I decided last week that walking isn't even an option anymore. After a trip to Target, where I was in there for 40 minutes, caused severe lower back pain, Braxton Hicks, and pelvic pain that I couldn't even bear, I realized that any sort of exertion is just ... out of the picture until this baby comes. I'm pretty depressed about this and am having a really hard time coping. Ugh.

What I am looking forward to: Meeting this baby. Seeing how Ella interacts with her new baby. A legitimate maternity leave this time (I was back to working full time when Ella was about 9 days old last time).

Milestones: 9 months. One more week until "full term". One more week until I'm more pregnant than I've ever been before. And one more week closer to meeting my baby!

And just for fun - a photo of my belly straight on:


Sunday, November 3, 2013

On Potty Training

The morning that Ella turned 25 months old, she woke up and told me "No more diapers, mama!" Dream words to most parents, I'm sure. But being nearly 9 months pregnant, that was a nightmare sentence to my ears. I was perfectly content having two in diapers. Diapers are easy. Sure, they're kind of a pain and, I would imagine they get expensive if you're using disposable diapers 24/7. But potty training - cleaning up accidents (down on hands and knees), literally running to the bathroom every 20-30 minutes, being holed up at home for days on end - torture for a mama in full blown nesting mode and ready to give birth S-O-O-N.

If you know my daughter, you know that when she makes up her mind to do something, she does it. I have no idea where she gets that from, you guys. Except that when I relay stories to my mom about things Ella says or does, she laughs this almost evil laugh and says, "Gee, I've never known a little girl who was just like that when she was a toddler ... " Anyway, as soon as Ella said she wasn't going to wear diapers anymore, I kind of panicked. 

The good news:
  • She already had a potty that we purchased when she was about 15 months old and first started showing interest in our toilet habits
  • She had already pottied in her potty several times over the previous 10 months or so
  • She had pooped in her potty once in the previous 6 months
  • We already had big girl panties on hand
  • Mr. Lukie would be off for 6 days straight - I would just have to get through the first day on my own
The bad news:
  • Mr. Lukie would be off for 6 days straight - I just had to get through the first day on my own
  • Mr. Lukie would be off for 6 days straight - during which time I had a nice little "Honey Do Before Baby Gets Here" list for him to start on ... and knew that none of it was going to get done
  • I had ZERO desire to do this potty training thing
The first three days were the toughest. Then, it got progressively easier and easier. By day five, we were down to no accidents at all (including poop). We're on day 13 today and we have only had a few accidents - all of which have been our (mine and/or Mr. Lukie's) faults. Usually it's that we've lost track of time and/or find ourselves ill-prepared for when she says, "Uh oh! Need go potty, mama!"

Several of you have asked me how we did it. We certainly didn't reinvent the wheel, but I did read about 1,293 different blog posts and articles on how to potty train your toddler. I mostly followed Ella's lead, but I also took several ideas from everything I read and just made up something that worked for us. So, here is what we did:

  1. Waited until our child was ready. Honestly? I think this was the biggest factor in our success. I have friends who've tried to 'force' their child to potty train at 18 months old, for one reason or another. Most kids aren't able to control their bladders or even determine what the urge to go feels like at that age. Ella had been showing signs of being interested since she was 15 months old, but nothing I ever felt the need to act on. I knew that when she was ready, she would let us know.
  2. Hyped up pottying and pooping. We would all gather around the toilet when Mama or Dada were going potty. We made a big deal out of Mama or Dada successfully going potty in the toilet - clapping, cheering, high fives, and the potty dance (make one up and be as crazy as you want to with it - it's fun!) I know it sounds weird to do this, but Ella really fed off of this and it worked for us.
  3. Gave rewards for successful potty and poop. Days 1 and 2, she received one M&M for trying to go potty on her potty chair, 3 M&M's for successfully going potty on her potty chair, plus the "potty dance", and 5 M&M's for successfully going poop on her potty chair, plus the "poo poo dance." Day 3, she no longer received M&M's for trying, she still received 3 M&M's and the "potty dance" for successful potty, and 5 M&M's and the "poo poo dance" for successful poop. She hadn't pooped for the first 2 days, though, so we upped the ante for poop to 5 M&M's, the "poo poo dance", and a tractor (we bought a 5 pack of little yellow CAT tractors at Target - find what motivates your kid). Day 4, she no longer received M&M's for successful potty unless she asked. Most of the time, high fives and the "potty dance" were enough motivation for her. Successful poops still received 5 M&M's, the "poo poo dance", and a tractor. By Day 5, she wasn't asking for M&M's anymore, and we had given out all of the tractors. High fives and dancing/cheering were enough, and by day 6, just high fives and "I'm so proud of you!"'s were adequate.
  4. Didn't force her to sit on the potty. I read a lot of things about setting a timer for every 20 or 30 minutes and then forcing your kid to sit on the potty for 2-5 minutes. If your kid is like mine, that will just force them to be done with potty training, or hold it until they get off the potty and then stare at you while they purposefully soil themselves. I knew this method would not work for us, so we skipped it. 
  5. Didn't ask her if she needed to go potty. That's like asking an adult if they want to pay double on their mortgage this month, just for fun. You're always going to be met with a big, fat "NO!" Instead, we said, "Mama has to go potty! Ella is going to try while mama goes, too!" So, we'd both sit on our respective potties and then do the potty dance for one another when we were done. 
  6. Holed up in the house for the entire first 3 days. Well, that's a lie. It was the entire first 2 days. The third day, I had a midwife appointment that had already been rescheduled once and I really couldn't reschedule. An hour away. Going by myself wasn't an option, either. So, we loaded the car with the potty chair, extra undies and pants, and lined the carseat with towels. We also stopped halfway there on an off-ramp and had her try to go on the potty in the trunk of the car. You do what you gotta do, people. But other than that, we didn't go anywhere or do anything. And we didn't let her out of our sight. You start to learn their potty and poop faces (if you didn't know them already) and can usually catch an accident before it becomes one.
  7. Let her run around bottomless (no undies, no pants) for the first 3 days. It is so much less-likely for an accident to occur when they don't feel like they have a "security blanket" AND it's so much easier to run to the bathroom and sit on the potty chair without trying to finagle undies and or pants off.
  8. Be positive. Be patient. Be forgiving. There will be accidents. We never, ever got mad at Ella for having an accident. She is learning and is bound to make mistakes along the way. We gently remind her, "Ella, we don't go potty/poop in our undies, do we? Where do we go potty/poop?" and then let her tell us "In the potty/toilet." The first few accidents she had, she cried and was so upset with herself for. She's my little perfectionist and if she doesn't get something on the first try, she is just beside herself. I would constantly reassure her, "Honey, it's okay! Mommy isn't mad and Daddy isn't mad! You just had a little accident and accidents happen. We can get you all cleaned up and next time, we'll make it to the potty on time!" 
  9. Took turns watching her like a hawk. Potty training is exhausting. Seriously. So, we took turns watching her like a hawk (truly, never letting her out of our sight for the first three days or so), so that the other person could work out, run to the market, run an errand, or just get out of the darn house, for crying out loud! If you have someone who is willing and able to help you out, take them up on it!
  10. Take the potty chair with you wherever you go. Now that we're two weeks in, we don't do this, unless we are unsure of our destination or are worried about getting stuck in traffic, etc.. But that first week, the potty chair went in the car with us everywhere we went. You just don't know what a public restroom is going to be like, or how long you're going to be on the road, or if you're going to get stuck in traffic. It saved us a few times during that first week, but now, she's totally okay with going in the big toilet at Target, Starbucks, and a few other places.
So, that's pretty much it. That's what worked for us and I'm sure what has worked for tons of other parents out there. But I thought I'd compile it all here, either for future reference with Baby #2 or for any of you who are about to embark on this lovely journey soon.

Oh, and one other thing - she's still in diapers at nap time and bed time. Many articles out there say to go cold turkey and say no more diapers at all, ever. I think it's silly to expect a 2 year old to be able to hold it while they're sleeping. She'll get to the point, one day, where she'll start waking up from nap and bed time dry. But until then, I'm fine with her wearing diapers so that I don't have to change the sheets multiple times per night. She won't wear diapers to sleep in forever :)

Happy Potty Training, Mamas!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Update on Baby #2 - 32 Weeks!

How far along?  32 weeks (32 weeks with Ella)

Total weight gain/loss? +21-23 pounds

Maternity clothes?  Mixing and matching. I haven't worn the maternity jeans I bought and now I'm wondering if it's too late to take them back? With only 5-8 weeks left, I don't think I'll wear them. ALL of my tops are too short, though, which is frustrating/annoying. But at this point, I refuse to buy any maternity clothes because I'll get so little use out of them!

Stretch marks? Still nothing. And still no linea negra.

Sleep?  It's been a bummer lately. I seem to toss and turn and the baby seems to move and keep me awake until about 11:30 or midnight every night. And this sweet little toddler of mine has decided to stop sleeping until 8 or 8:30am and has decided to start waking around 6:45am. Ouch.

Best moment last month? The two massages I got ... ahhh! Ordering my new iPhone. Ella's 2nd birthday. Attending a Red Tent Event put on by my midwife, her assistant, and a few other "birth" friends. My girlfriend did henna on my belly - the Tree of Life - it was so fun!

Movement?  Constant!
Symptoms? Your typical third trimester woes: back pain, pelvic pressure, stretching belly pain, The Waddle, heartburn/indigestion (new one for me this time around!), frequent urination, and Braxton Hicks.

Food cravings? None. In fact, I'm back to having trouble finding anything that sounds appealing to eat at all.

Gender? Finding out on birth day, but still feeling boy. 100%.

Labor signs? Nothing like, "Ohmygoodness, I'm in labor!" signs, but the pelvic pressure and Braxton Hicks are keeping me on my toes. Mr. Lukie calls for another 5-6 weeks, max, before baby makes an appearance. He just doesn't think my body is going to hold this baby in for much longer than that. We'll see!

Belly button in/out? Out, out, out.

What I miss: Sleeping :) Being comfortable.

What I am looking forward to: My Baby Sprinkle being thrown by a sweet friend later this month. Meeting this baby!
Milestones: We're at 8 months, folks. Ca-razy. Also, my belly is officially bigger than it has ever been (even bigger than it was when I went into labor with Ella). It's a completely different shape, so from the side, it looks smaller (at least, that's what everyone keeps saying. It sure doesn't feel or look smaller to me!) This time, I'm carrying straight out - it's difficult to tell I'm pregnant from straight on, or from the back - but then I turn to the side and people's eyes get really wide. Like this girl at Panera yesterday, when I stood up from the table and turned sideways to get Ella out of her high chair. She audibly gasped and when I looked at her, she smiled and said, "Ohmygoodness! You just surprised me! I had no idea you were pregnant, I couldn't tell, and then you turned to the side and you're, like, REALLY pregnant!"

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Birth Story {Told by a 2 Year Old}

At our last appointment with the midwife, she asked how I was feeling about my impending birthing time. I told her that I was excited and really looking forward to giving birth and my birthing time with baby number 2. That I'm not nervous or anxious about it at all - I just have a sense of peace and calm about it all and can't wait to see what the second time brings with it. The only thing I'm anxious/nervous about it Ella. I'm worried about how she will react to me being in pain and making those primal moans and sounds that just naturally happen, without force or warning, when bringing a baby earthside. She nearly cries herself when I stub my toe, being the empathetic little love that she is, so I worry about her little feelings and emotions when baby is on the way.

My midwife suggested that I ask Ella if she remembers being in my tummy and if she remembers when she came out of my tummy. I know. It was a little far-fetched for me, too. But the opportunity presented itself so perfectly when Ella awoke from her nap the other day, that I figured, "What the heck - I'll ask her and just see what she has to say!" So ... here's the story:

Me: "Hi sweet pea! Did you have a good nappy?"
Ella: "Ella seep good, mama!"
Ella: "Baby seep wif Ella in Ella's crib? Ella nuggle baby. Baby come? Baby come out mama's tummy."
Me: "Awww, we'll see about the baby sleeping in your crib, sweet girl. But you can snuggle the baby all you want once it comes!"
::Ella smiles and gets shy/bashful::
Me: "Ella, do you remember being in Mama's tummy?"
Ella: "Yes!"
Me: "You do?! What was it like in there?"
Ella: "Dark. And water. Youd - boom boom, boom boom."
{Youd=loud. "Boom boom" is what she says the baby's heart sounds like when she listens via the fetoscope and/or doppler at my midwife appointments)
Me: "Oh, wow! Do you remember coming out of mama's tummy?"
Ella: "Yes!"
Me: "What was that like?"
Ella: "Youd. And a box, Mama! Den, water allllll gone!" (while signing "all gone" with her hands)
Me: "Ella, did Mama make any noises when you were coming out of her tummy?"
Ella: "Yes! Youd! Grrrrrrr!" (while clenching her fists and gritting her teeth)
Me: "Ohhhh! What did you see when you came out of Mama's tummy?"
Ella: "Dada and Miss Karen."

So, we haven't discussed any of this stuff with or in front of Ella. Ever. In fact, we've never even discussed/told Ella that her Daddy caught her when she was born. Nor that Miss Karen (my midwife) had anything to do with her birth. And the fact that she said her daddy and Miss Karen were what she saw when she arrived? She was spot on. Mr. Lukie caught her and Karen was right behind him, looking over his shoulder. Those are the first two people, the first things at all, that she saw upon making it earthside.

You can think I'm a nut (it's okay, I might, too, if I were reading a blog and someone put this out there, prior to my experience). But I believe every word of Ella's birth story, as told by herself. And I still get the chills when I read it or retell it. I just had to document it all here, before I forget the details and the words she used to describe her experience.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What My Second Pregnancy Has Taught Me

I was showering last night when this post popped into my head. (I get some of my best ideas/thoughts while I shower - anyone else?) Really, what initially started the dialogue in my brain was a futile attempt at shaving my legs. See, I don't recall ever having trouble shaving my legs while I was pregnant with Ella. Maybe if I had carried her to 40+ weeks, I would have? But at 37 weeks, when she joined us earthside, I wasn't all that big (I can say now, looking back - I certainly didn't feel that way then).

So, having some major trouble reaching some key spots got me thinking about the differences between my pregnancies, and what this pregnancy has taught me.

  1. Every pregnancy is different. Duh, you say. Except that I just didn't expect for mine to be so completely opposite one another! It's like I'm pregnant for the first time all over again. Except this time I KNOW what labor feels like.
  2. Surprises are fun! Although we choose not to find out the sex of our babies in utero, we both really are planners. Super Type-A people, Mr. Lukie and I are. Our label maker gets used regularly and we can't live without our synched (and color coded) iCal's. That being said, my first pregnancy was very much planned. I charted and temped and used Ovulation Predictor Kits. When we got the BFP, it wasn't a surprise as in, "OMG, I'm pregnant! HOW did that happen?!?" as much as it was a surprise in that we had been waiting for three months for one and just didn't know for sure-for sure that we would get the positive at that exact moment. This pregnancy, however, was very much a surprise. At first, we were overwhelmed with the thought of adding to our family, but now? We are so thankful for this surprise! It took every bit of the weight of decision-making off of our shoulders. And since we believe that God's plan is greater than any plan we could ever have for ourselves, we just know what a blessing this is.
  3. Second-child syndrome begins in the womb. I do feel kind of guilty about this one. But from everything I've read and everyone I've talked to - it's normal. It happens. You no longer have all the time in the world to stare at your buddah belly, rub it, talk to it, and daydream about becoming a mama all day long. There is this other little creature, bouncing off the walls, demanding your attention every.single.second until bedtime, In all honesty, it wasn't until I could feel this baby moving around inside of me that I gave it a second thought during the day. I simply didn't have time, between working 50 hours per week, taking care of a toddler, doing this solo parenting thing while Mr. Lukie is at the fire station, and trying to maintain some semblance of cleanliness in the house. But, just like everything I've read and everyone I've talked to says - I'm pretty certain that our love for this baby will be out of this world crazy, just like it is for big sister.
  4. Time goes by at warp speed x2. I used to roll my eyes when people would tell me that having a baby speeds up time. And then I used to stifle laughter when people would tell me to "soak it all up" and "savor this time" with a brand new baby (had they honestly forgotten what it was like to survive on no sleep, smelling like spit up, and eating cold food?) I hate to admit it, but they were all correct. (Except I would still never tell a brand new mom to enjoy those early days - it's hard to do when you're in the thick of it). And then, add in a toddler and a pregnancy, along with your every day life activities and responsibilities? One week=one day in this new life. No wonder I feel like I should still have another 9 months left in this pregnancy ...
  5. Having a toddler is tiring. Having a toddler AND being pregnant? Exhausting. Juuuuuust as Ella started sleeping through the night (at 17 months old - yes, we were some of the lucky ones who have a child who decided to torture us for that long), I got pregnant. Apparently, child who sleeps through the night + parents who are finally getting some sleep = new found appreciation for one another. Sure, I had bouts of being tired when I was pregnant with Ella (first trimester just about wiped me out, second trimester was smooth sailing, and third trimester was pretty decent, up until the last few weeks). Chasing after a very busy, very curious, very fast toddler while growing another baby is crazy exhausting. And again, add in every day life and I'm ready for bed by 4pm most days.
  6. So, shaving your legs is hard. I will admit. I kinda laughed a little bit when friends joked about just giving up on shaving anything below their bellies while pregnant. I didn't understand - I had no issues with shaving my legs during my first pregnancy. Or putting shoes on. Or doing much of anything, really. There wasn't much that could slow me down. I was still CrossFitting fast and furiously up until about five days before I went into labor with Ella. I didn't see what the big deal was. And here we are - 30 weeks pregnant - and I was sweating in the shower, trying to shave my legs. While I was getting dressed to go out for a date night a few weeks ago, I had to call Mr. Lukie into the bedroom to buckle the ankle strap on my wedges. Mopping and scrubbing the tubs/showers is something that happens only when absolutely necessary (like when the toddler poops in the tub during bath time). Otherwise, I figure they get a decent cleaning when we're in there showering. No? And as for exercise this time around, I aim for three times per week and I do what feels good that day. Sometimes, it's CrossFit. Other times, it's what would normally be considered my warm up. And yet other times, it's a rest day, even if I've had three consecutive rest days in a row.
  7. People still give you unsolicited advice. That part doesn't change the second time around. Except this time, it's about how to make your toddler feel involved. Or how you should get your toddler potty trained before baby gets here. Or out of their crib before baby gets here. Or how maybe breastfeeding isn't the best choice the second time around because of how much time it takes away from spending with your first born. But then, you'll get the few and far between tidbits about how amazing it is to see your first born interact with their new sibling. Or how they're built in playmates and how wonderful it is (after about the first year or so). And that it seems you're doing a great job with baby #1, so they're just certain that baby #2 will be just as wonderful a human being.
All of that to say - pregnancy is a crazy ride, no matter how many times you experience it. I can say with nearly 100% certainty that this will be my last pregnancy. I love being pregnant and I will miss it almost immediately after giving birth. I'll miss feeling the baby moving around inside of me. I'll miss my belly. I'll miss wearing a bikini without having to constantly suck my tummy in ever again. But I'm excited to meet this little one and I can't wait to see how s/he and Ella interact with one another. I'm pretty sure that will trump any complaint there ever was about being pregnant. Ever.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


At 2 years old, Ella is:

-30 inches (ish)
-wearing 18-24 month (bottoms), 24 month, and 2T tops
-cloth diapered exclusively (though when we travel, we use disposables, and she's in a size 4)
-running, jumping with both feet off the ground
-talking in 9-10 word sentences
-has all of her teeth, except for her 2 year molars
-sleeping from 8pm-8am
-napping once per day, from 1pm-2 or 3pm
-a champion eater!
-building a vocabulary of 300+ words
-can count to 10

Ella's favorite toys are:

-playhouse in the backyard (still)
-fire house, fire engines, fire guys ... you get the drift
-coloring book and crayons (still)
-plastic dinosaur, elephant, and giraffe
-Little People sets
-our dog, Bunker
-sand toys
-anything water related (pool, beach, hose)

-magnetic letters/numbers
-baby dolls/stuffed animals

Ella's favorite shows are:

-Dora the Explorer (gag!)
-Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
-Thomas the Train
-Firefighter Sam 

Ella Bean,

You are the apple of my eye and I'm pretty certain that the sun rises and sets with you. You are one of the most empathetic toddlers I know. If you hear a baby crying, even if you can't see where it is, you furrow your brow and start looking around frantically, saying, "Baby crying. Need Ella and Mama make it feel better." I remind you that all babies have their own mamas and that they will make the baby feel better. If you see a kid fall down, you want to go over and offer them lovies. Oh, sweet, sweet girl! I hope this is something that stays with you forever and you don't allow the world to change that sweet heart of yours.

Your sense of humor is out of this world. There are times when you will say or do something that is so unbelievably funny that we just roll with laughter - often times to the point of tears! We marvel at your ability, at just two years old, to know how to be intentionally funny and witty. 

You are also super into my belly/the baby right now and have been for quite awhile. Without prompting you, you lift up my shirt, pat my belly and say, "Hi baby!" then lean over and give my belly snuggles and kisses. Every night, after I read you your bedtime stories, you lift up my shirt, kiss my belly and say, "Ni ni, baby! Seep well, baby!" And just yesterday, you told me, "Baby seep wif Ella in Ella's bed? Ella want to 'nuggle baby!" I told you that you could snuggle the baby in your bed when the baby gets here, but I have a feeling you are going to think that the baby should sleep with you and not with us ... I hope you will love your new sibling as much as you do right now, with them still inside of me. I know there will be some difficult times ahead because you are used to having our undivided attention at all times, but I promise you, my girl, that our love for you will never divide.

You are such a great helper with chores right now. You love to help me unload the dishwasher, take laundry out of the dryer, put clean laundry away, feed Bunker, wash the floors/walls/whatever I happen to be scrubbing at the time, and you love to help Daddy cook. I can't believe how grown up you are and how you really do help us out - even if it takes us an extra 20 minutes to get out the door because you want to dress yourself, put your shoes on by yourself, climb in the car yourself, and get into and then buckle your car seat by yourself. "Ella do it yike a big guhl!" is a commonly heard phrase in our house these days!

Bunker is your best friend and your worst enemy. The two of you fight like human siblings and it is pretty hysterical. 

You are your Daddy's Girl, for sure, but you still need Mama when you're really hurt or when you don't feel well.

Ella Grace, my life before you was good, but my life since you is beyond explanation. You bring a whole new meaning to life and you bring everyone around you such joy. Your Daddy and I know that you are destined for amazing things. We just hope that we can provide the encouragement, support, love, and environment necessary for you to flourish and become whoever you are meant to be.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Ella G. We love you to the moon and back ...

Love, Mama



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