Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Family Photo

Now a family of four!

Cora's newborn photo*

We continue to relax at home and enjoy newborn life. This is Noelle's last week at daycare. Things are about to get much busier at home! Here is a summary of our schedule so far =)

Water fun

Lots of naps**

Lots of cuddles

More water fun!

* This looks remarkably similar to Noelle's newborn photo. These two are definitely sisters!

** Baby Abby does everything baby Cora does. She goes in the crib, the swing, the car seat and everywhere else Cora goes =)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Brock Grandparents' Visit

Today marks the end of our first grandparents' visit. Grandma and Grandpa Brock have had some wonderful quality time with their little granddaughters.

Meeting little Cora

Quality snuggle time

Noelle received her fair share of special grandparent time too! There were many park trips and, of course...:

Animal Farm!

Hello little bunny

No trip to Tilden Park would be complete without a carousel  ride!

I like this more and more each time!

Finally, Grandma and Grandpa of course came bearing gifts. Some were from them and others from some gracious friends. This outfit below was actually a gift for Cora. We let Noelle open it though, and as soon as she saw it she started stripping her clothes so she could put it on, she liked it so much. Fortunately, it's 24 month size, so, it would fit her. We'll still have it around when Cora is big enough to wear it =)

If it fits me then it's for me!


I'm already 1 week old!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cora's Birth Story

(Note: This post is for my few girlfriends who are genuinely interested. Everyone else, feel free to put this in the TMI category and skip over it =))

Last pregnant photo - heading into the hospital
Summary of Noelle's birth: Long-term followers of this blog may recall Noelle's birth story. With Noelle, we took Bradley Method classes (husband-coached approach to child birth), hired a doula (labor support person w/out medical training (aka not a midwife)) and set out to have a natural childbirth. It didn't quite go that way! Several days (yes, days) of terrible back labor, one partially effective* epidural, and several minor medical interventions later we finally had Noelle in our arms. We were all relieved it was over and just glad everyone came out of it in good shape!

Goals for Cora's birth: Going into Cora's birth, we wavered a bit as to what we wanted. I wasn't pleased with the epidural I got w/ Noelle. Had it completely worked, I likely would have gone that route right away this time. We decided, however, to go for a natural birth again. Our main reasons for this were**:
  • I was afraid of being 'trapped' in bed again, like w/ Noelle, but not having complete pain relief
  • Recovery time is rumored to be better w/out an epidural (no swelling from excess IV fluids, no immobility, etc. etc.)
  • It was a bucket list item for me; a challenge I wanted to take on.
How it went:  Thank goodness there appears to be a labor & delivery learning curve, because things went as well as they could have this time around =) After just 11 hours*** of natural, active labor, including 30 min of pushing, little Cora arrived with very little drama. If I've learned anything from my two labors, it's that women should be careful about 'comparing' labor stories... if my two are so different then comparisons between women must be especially useless.

Would I do a natural delivery again?: I am glad I did it with this birth and now have an example of what it's like. I was, I admit, partially just curious about the process. I'm still a little close to the event to say 'yes' sign me up again. It was, as is widely reported, very painful =) Only the last two hours, though, are in the 'I don't want to do that again any time soon' category. Everything before that was just really obnoxious, but not so bad I'd run away. An epidural is a very sane route, though, and I wouldn't be surprised to hypothetically find myself there in the future.

Since my delivery was natural and easy (key distinction) I had the benefit of a very very easy recovery. We (women) are clearly made to do this - I was showered, dressed in my own clothes and walking around more or less comfortably 2 hours after birth. The next morning I was carrying Noelle around the hospital courtyard and playing actively with her. That afternoon - less then 24 hours after delivery - I went home and have felt fine since.

So, pros and cons exist. As my experience with Noelle showed me, all that matters is that Mom and Baby make it out a-okay. The route to that end is just a combination of your luck that day and personal preference.

Meeting Mom - started out a little too blue!

Tipping the scales - 9 lbs 1.7 oz

Recovering with Dad - finally a little pink in the face

Comfortable at home =) 

***** Stop here unless you're really interested in a play-by-play. No icky (or too icky) details are included, I promise =) *****

The Story: At 7am Monday morning I woke up and informed Alex he wouldn't be going to work that day. Effectively the 'honey, it's time' line so often delivered in movies =) Contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart and uncomfortable, but not breath-taking. We went through our normal morning routine with Noelle, dropped her at daycare and called our Doula, Ellen.

Ellen arrived around 9am and we all assessed the situation. We were trying to guess where I was at and how long labor would be (basically, impossible to do). The goal was to stay home as long as possible, but get to the hospital for at least the last 4-5 hours. This is because I was GBS positive; meaning the baby had a small chance of getting a group B strep infection from a vaginal delivery unless I received two doses of antibiotics, 4 hours apart, while in labor. The antibiotics null out this risk.

Fortunately, we were laboring during the day vs. the middle of the night. We called my OB and she graciously agreed to see us in her office before we headed over to the hospital. Around 11:30 am we headed to her office and she confirmed that yes, I was in active labor and was far enough to be admitted to the hospital. I still had some time, though, so we could take another hour or two before heading over if we wanted.

Since it was around lunch time, we decided to walk a few blocks to a local Whole Foods for Alex and Ellen to grab a quick bite. I had some soup, but wasn't up for much else =) Just before 1 pm we made our way back to the hospital.

My OB (who is awesome!) called ahead for me to be admitted so we could skip the triage step at the hospital. We were taken straight to a labor & delivery room.

We delivered at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, CA. Berkeley (being Berkeley) is very pro-natural everything, including birth. Fortunately for us, this means that several of the labor & delivery rooms have jacuzzi tubs. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a very busy day at Alta Bates and almost all rooms were filled, including those with tubs. Our nurse was thoughtful, though, and got us moved to a room with a tub around 2:30 pm when it became available.

A series of delays led to my antibiotic dose not making it through until around 3:30 pm. Once that was done, I headed into the tub around 4:00 pm. Ellen had come prepared with mood lighting (electric candles) and a back-up tub stopper - good thing since our tub wouldn't fill! Alex played some Enya on his iPad and we were all set for a relaxing bath - right. =)

I have heard/read other women extol the wonderful, soothing pain relief of laboring in a tub. I call foul. A contraction is a contraction, whether or not your wet/floating/doing a handstand. They hurt. That said, it sure is easier to relax between contractions when you're in a soothing tub, and I certainly found that helpful.

After an hour and a half of really hard labor in the tub, the nurses wanted to do a round of fetal monitoring. They were getting ready to get me out when, listening to me deal with particularly bad contraction (yeah, I wasn't all that quite - sorry!) they yelled out to the hall - 'tell them we're about to have a baby in room 23!'. Man, I was glad to hear that... and kudos to the nurses for being so good at reading a laboring woman.

They got me in bed and confirmed with a quick check (my first since entering the hospital - another reason why this place was awesome for a natural delivery) that yes, I was more or less ready to push. My OB made it over quickly and she, Alex and Ellen helped to direct the pushing stage. Only 30 minutes later, little Cora had arrived. All-in-all, it went about as smooth as I think it could have gone.

Cora was a little blue in color, but good enough that the nurses let her stay with me for the first hour and a half or so as we bonded and she pinked up. Then, they did the newborn checks, including weighing, while Alex helped me take a shower and get dressed. Then, we all headed up to our room to recover and bond together.

(I never did get that second dose of antibiotics. As it turns out, though, my water never broke; little Cora came out with the bag of waters around her and it only broke right at the end, when her head was already out. So, she was never exposed to the GBS. Happy coincidence!)

* Now that I've had a natural birth, I know that the epidural I had with Noelle was about 50% effective; likely as a result of poor placement. Better than nothing =) 

** We definitely don't fall into the 'all natural all the way' mindset that's so popular now and especially here in Berkeley, CA. If you'd like the challenge, go for it. If you're wavering at all, I don't recommend it. A healthy baby is all we're after!

*** Time is relative, of course. I say 'just' because Noelle's was 58 hours, including 3 hours of pushing. No.Fun.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I won the bet

Pregnancy is long and boring; especially towards the end. So, Alex and I entertained ourselves by betting - on the baby. Good times!

Our favorite bet was about the weight - it's an easy target, being a number and all. Admittedly, I had an advantage here since I was actually carrying the child. Being the one who was pregnant, I deserved an advantage in something.

Our cutoff weight was 7.5 lbs. Alex thought Cora would be under that, I guessed over. I won, just by a bit =) Tonight I got to enjoy my prize:

Takeout Sushi - I have missed you*

There was more good food today too. Grandma Hayes sent a wonderful care package from Edibles. The fruit bouquet was favored by me. Noelle, however, preferred the chocolate covered options - shocking!
*Almost* too pretty to eat


Cora had a busy day for her part. Being 2 days old is a lot of work! We continue to enjoy our small sphere of new-baby life. We'll be rejoining the real world at some point.**

High-tech weighing device used by the home-visit nurse*** =)

Nap time with Daddy

Sleeping like an old pro (for a little while, anyway!)

*Dr.s currently tell pregnant women not to eat sushi. Japanese women everywhere must be laughing at this.

** Did I hear something about this being an election year?

*** Turns out insurance companies LOVE you if you leave the hospital early (aka save them money). They love you so much they'll agree to send a nurse to your home to check on you and your baby =)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


This morning was a big milestone for our little girls; they each 'met' their sister for the first time!

While I rested up, Alex fetched Noelle for a quick hospital visit. When she first came into the room she was very happy to see Mama:

Where were you last night?

Two seconds later, though, she let out a cry of 'Baby!' when she caught sight of Cora in the room. Some careful inspection was required:

Huh, let me see...

...I approve. She can come home with us.

Since the pediatrician hadn't visited yet, we didn't know if we could go home today or not. (Fortunately, I feel great and my Dr. approved of an early release). So, Alex took Noelle back to daycare. Once the Pediatrician came and signed off on Cora's check-out, we decided to pack it up and all head home.

When we got Noelle home again, the first thing she did upon seeing the baby was grab a blanket to help her go 'night night'. So cute.

Night night, baby

It's not all rosy of course; this will still be a hard adjustment for Noelle. She got especially upset when she wanted me and I was nursing Cora. Still, though, we seem to be off to a good start now that everyone is comfortably resting at home =)

Comfy in her co-sleeper

Introducing Cora Morgan Hayes!

DOB: August 20th, 2012 at 6:04 pm
Weight: 9.125 lbs
Height: 22"

Everyone is doing great. Look for a birth announcement as well as a more detailed post here tomorrow.

Cora meeting her parents
Baby burrito

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Aquarium Trip with Daddy

Since I'm sooo pregnant, still, Alex has been picking up some slack in the 'entertain Noelle' department =) Yesterday, they made a trip to the San Francisco Bay's Aquarium!

Unfortunately, handling Noelle alone is a bit of a challenge (that child goes everywhere!). So, the best pictures we have are some impromptu iPhone shots. When they got home it was immediately clear how much fun Noelle had, as she proudly showed me her new stuffed whale =)

Room with a view

Inside the 'bubble'

Is it a star or a fish?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Still Pregnant =)

In case you were wondering, I'm still very much pregnant. Little miss seems quite comfy where she is. As soon as she decides to move out, we'll let you all know =)

Hanging out at a furniture store... doesn't everyone do this?

In Noelle-related news; she has entered the stage where she wants to be naked as often as we'll permit. We don't fight it too much while at home. Soon enough, she'll be living in Ithaca, NY in winter and that will take care of this!
Shoes are okay, though!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Noelle has a cousin!

This morning Noelle became a cousin (and Alex & I; Uncle and Aunt) for the first time. My sister, Stacy, delivered a beautiful, perfectly healthy baby boy!

Introducing Jack Christopher McLellan

Soon, Jack will be gaining another cousin. It's a busy month in our family =)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Extra time with Mom

I started my maternity leave last Friday, three weeks before my due date. It has been so nice to have some extra time to rest, get the house ready, and, of course, spend some quality time with Noelle.

Having Mom around comes with a few perks; like new gear!

Big chair for a big girl

Letter fun

Also, we have been practicing with how to be gentle with babies. This skill will come in useful soon!

Noelle's own baby doll

The highlight of both last week and this week, though, has been the local community pool's splash park. The only time they're open is 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM on weekdays. I've never understood that schedule... but it meant that we couldn't take Noelle before. With me not working, though, we've made it over there for some quality play sessions! While I can't wait for baby girl to arrive, it sure is nice having this extra alone time with Noelle =)

First order of business; an energizing snack

 Now, time for some fun!

In the thick of things =)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wet Dog

One of the best things about the greyhounds is how little grooming they require. With super short and thin coats, they rarely need brushing or baths. Every so often, though, the are subjected to the cruel torture that is a bath. Yesterday was one of those days.

First up - Suka

Noelle thought this was great fun; a water activity! She optimistically brought her swimsuit into the bathroom, hoping there was something in it for her. Unfortunately, this was a doggie-only water activity. Suka was not so thrilled as Alex scrubbed her down in the standing shower.

While we were distracted with getting Ezra into the shower (he saw what happened to Suka and wanted none of it), Noelle opened the back door for Suka. Normally, this is just fine; one less time we have to let the dogs out. A newly washed, still wet Suka, however, headed straight for her digging hole and 2 minutes later looked like this:

Sigh, round two for Suka...

Ezra got a 5 minute reprieve from the shower while Suka was washed again =) Finally, though, his number was up:

Darn it, I'm wet!

Still wet, but now I'm clean, at least

All of the dog washing excitement made Noelle a little hyper. We unwisely tried to do a mother/daughter picture soon after. This is as close as we got =)

I'm going to get that camera!