#aliandzay

06/15/2015

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I was sitting in the hospital bed holding Isaiah as Alianna and Nana (Jason’s mom) came into my room, with Aunt Ginger and cousin Eliza right behind them. Ali was quietly grinning as she came right up to say hi to her new brother and get a hug from me. “Do you want to hold him?” She nodded. She climbed up onto the bed and nestled in next to me so I could help her. “Look, Mommy, his bones aren’t too soft!” she said has she touched his forehead. I had explained before about being very careful holding little babies, especially being gentle with and supporting their heads and necks. The first picture of them together captured that moment.

I grew up with an older sister and brother. I can’t imagine growing up without siblings. While Ali has five biological half-siblings, we don’t see them often. I really wanted her to have a sibling to grow up with, under the same roof, with the same parents. Zay was the answer to that prayer. Since getting pregnant, I’ve prayed many times for their relationship and I continue to do so. I hope they grow up to be the best of friends. I pray for a strong, loving bond between them. Seeing it come to life fills my heart with so much joy. She adores him. He adores her. She reads books to him. She rushes to comfort him when he’s upset. She sings him songs and gives him his pacifier. She helps with baths and diaper changes. She hugs and kisses him and rubs her soft cheeks against his face. He turns his face toward her and smiles. He watches her. He reaches out toward her. She’s quick to tell anyone we meet, “I’m a big sister. He’s my little brother. His name is Isaiah.” She’s so proud of him and her role. Jason and I are so proud of her!

 

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Hello Again

06/11/2015

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My six weeks of maternity leave ended yesterday and I returned to work full time (from home, thankfully). As much as I was dreading that day—the weeks seemed to fly by and I would have loved to have more time to just rest and enjoy my family—it feels surprisingly good to be back. I had some frustrating setbacks to my physical recovery and hearing my doctor say on Tuesday that I’m almost all healed and I can return to all of my pre-pregnancy and pre-birth activity now was a great relief. Our bodies are capable of some pretty amazing things! Returning to work feels a lot like returning to real life. I’m ready to return to my regular activities now… going to church, meal planning and grocery shopping, taking care of household responsibilities, freelance work, blogging. I’m sure it will still be a bit rocky as I’m transitioning back into these activities but I’m happy to be finally writing a blog post again.

My next post will be about Ali meeting Zay and the budding of their sibling relationship.

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Birth Story: Isaiah Jason

05/18/2015

Saturday April 25 was a restful family day. We had a big breakfast together, followed by a dance party in an attempt to shake the baby out. (Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” are our go-to dance songs.) Ali and I played together, had a picnic lunch outside and then went to the playground while Jason visited with a friend. Then we all went shopping and out for an afternoon treat at Chick Fil A. (Frozen lemonade and waffle fries with ranch for me—hello pregnancy craving!)  When we got back home we visited with some neighbors for a little while.

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That evening we went for a long walk in Shelby Park as we had done several times that week—the week of my due date. I was having some contractions while we walked but I wasn’t timing them because they often happen while I’m walking. When we got in the car I had a pretty long one and we decided we should start making a note of the time and intervals. It was 8:05 pm. We went to pick up a pizza and came home to eat it, all the while timing contractions that were coming predictably and getting closer together. We put Ali to bed but then decided we should have Jason’s parents come get her. They arrived around 10 or 10:30 pm. We finished packing up our things for the hospital and I took a shower and did my make-up.

We left for the hospital around 1:00 am but when the nurse checked me I was still just 1 cm dilated. She gave us the option to get admitted, wait/walk until I was 3 cm or go back home to rest and come back when the contractions got more intense. We went back home to try to sleep since it was getting so late. We got home at 2:30 am. Jason was able to sleep a little bit (maybe 45 min?) before I woke him up and said it was time to go back. We got back around 4:00 am and I was not quite 2 cm. They don’t like to admit before 3 cm generally. So we walked laps around the hall for about an hour, stopping every 5 min or so to get through a contraction. We were admitted around 5:00 am. I got settled into my labor and delivery room and the first thing I did was get in the gigantic tub for a hot bath and put on some relaxing music from my iPod. The water helped so much! Jason brought in the rest of our things from the van and rested on the sofa bed.

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The on-call doctor arrived around 9:00 am and offered to break my water to get things going faster, and we agreed. We had one scary moment about an hour later when Isaiah’s heart rate dropped and the nurses came rushing in as the alarm on the monitor went off. In a matter of seconds, they rolled me onto my side, plugged in my IV and strapped an oxygen mask on my face. It’s amazing how much more a contraction hurt when I was scared! Thankfully, it was no big deal—just by changing my position his heart rate returned to normal. They said the umbilical cord sometimes gets pinched by his/my position and just moving is enough to fix it. By noon I was 6 cm dilated. (10 cm is the goal – that’s when you can push.) But I got stuck at 6 cm. The contractions were getting so intense and painful that I was having trouble not pushing, which is not helpful because it made my cervix swell at the top instead of dilate. Even with the help of nitrous oxide to relax and Jason’s coaching to breathe and relax through the contractions, I was in a lot of pain and getting exhausted. After being stuck at 6 cm for 4 hours I asked for an epidural.

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I like to say I did 2/3 natural childbirth and 1/3 with an epidural. The epidural was amazing! Instant relief and ability to rest. My sister is an OB/gyn and my brother is an anesthesiologist so I asked Jason to send them the above picture. It was wonderful to go back to looking forward to seeing and holding our son, rather than just thinking about making it through the next contraction. I could watch the contractions on the monitor but I didn’t have any pain. I went from 6 cm to 10 cm and ready to push in 2 hours. Then, I ended up pushing for another 2 hours. It’s an interesting thing to push when you can’t feel your whole bottom half. At right about the 2 hour mark, which the doctor warned was about the max he would let me push without looking into other intervention (like foreceps or suction), I used every last bit of strength in my body and pushed that boy out. Jason was instantly in tears, just totally in awe with our son, with what I was capable of doing, with the whole process of childbirth. (It looks like he’s crying in the picture below but he never actually cried the whole time we were at the hospital, just little squeaks when he was upset.)

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The nurses took Isaiah to the corner to check him out. Typically they hand the baby straight to the mother to do immediate skin-to-skin but he had passed a little meconium during pushing and they just wanted to make sure he hadn’t ingested any. Jason watched as they checked him out, weighed him, cleaned him off and wrapped him up. Meanwhile I got stitched up. (I had a little tearing and an episiotomy.)

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When they put him against my chest a couple minutes later, I was overcome with tears of joy, finally getting to see his precious face and hold him in my arms. I cry every time I look at this photo. It was such a sacred moment. Isaiah was born almost exactly 24 hours after my contractions started. We missed an entire night of sleep so we were exhausted and starving. As soon as things were stable Jason ran out to get some carry out dinner from Five Guys because they were minutes from closing and the hospital cafeteria was already closed. The sweet server saw his hospital band and gave him one meal free. He was back before it was time to move up to our postpartum room.

We got settled up in our postpartum recovery room around 1:00 am. I can’t remember all the details of the first night since I was so tired but I know we did get several good chunks of sleep that first night. At one point I think I had asked the nurse a breastfeeding question (we were having a hard time getting him to go to sleep) and she offered to take him to the nursery for a little bit so we could rest. She said he fell right to sleep once he got down there. She brought him back as soon as he woke up. The nurses at St. Thomas Midtown were absolutely amazing! So kind and helpful, with humble, servant hearts. They took really good care of the three of us. I am so glad we decided to deliver there and would definitely recommend it.

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He’s Here!

04/28/2015

 Isaiah Jason Ahlbrandt was born Sunday 4/26/15 at 8:07 pm, measuring 21.5″ long and 6 lbs. 13 oz.  We are so delighted with him. Zay and I are both doing well. We’re all catching up on our sleep after a pretty long labor (we missed a whole night of sleep). He’s doing great with eating and sleeping. He’s a very sweet, easy-going, adorable little boy. Our hearts are so full. Big sister Ali got to meet him yesterday. I’m looking forward to all of us being home together later today. 
   
     


40 Week Froggie Update

04/23/2015

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40 weeks. I was hoping I wouldn’t make it to this last photo in the series before Isaiah made his appearance but alas, here we are. On my due date I was a little bummed, despite words of encouragement and funny quips from many friends. (My favorite is the friend who said, “The over ripe ones are the sweetest!”) We ended my due date with amazing Indian food for dinner, hoping I could heat him out. Didn’t work but it sure was delicious. I woke up today and did my usual morning ritual. I read my Bible and Jesus Calling while I ate breakfast. Then I prayed blessings over Zay and his delivery while I drank my tea.

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On my drive to work I had a realization that it was absurd for me to be disappointed that he wasn’t born when I expected. What about this entire process—from his conception to today—has been within the grasp of my control? I had some more thoughts about this as I was taking a walk on my lunch break and I shared them on my Instagram (@mrsallbright) with the photo below:

I’m taking a walk today because it’s gorgeous outside and I get tired of sitting on my butt in a cubicle all day, not because I’m trying to induce labor. Yesterday I was feeling a bit disappointed that my due date came and went and I didn’t get what I expected. Today I asked God to forgive me for wanting to control something that’s so far beyond my human ability. I should have learned this lesson already. Nothing about becoming a parent went as I originally planned or expected and it has turned out so much better this way. God waited until a point when I was completely content in my motherhood to our precious Alianna and as a foster mama to five other beautiful babies, and was truly content to not ever experience pregnancy to surprise us with this sweet little blessing growing in my belly. Jason and I always knew it was possible and we purposefully decided we’d stop preventing it OR pursuing it and just leave it up to the Creator. Surprises are way more fun! There is so much peace when we can fully let go in trust and go on with life.

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I had my 40 week check-up yesterday. Everything looked great, as usual, except that my belly was measuring smaller than the previous week’s appointment. My doctor requested that I get an ultrasound just to make sure fluid levels were still good. So Jason, Ali and I got to go to an unexpected ultrasound. It was hard to get a good look at him because he’s so tight in there and he moves a lot. We did get a quick glimpse of half of his face. Everything is measuring just fine with Zay, my amniotic fluid, etc. Thank you, God! He’s average size and in position to come out without any problems. We are ready and we are content. As another friend joked, “They always seem to come on their birthdays.” He’ll be here soon!

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Miss Independence

04/20/2015

Getting my three-year-old out the door in the mornings can be a slow process. Even when I think we’re on time, those last few steps of using the bathroom, putting on socks, deciding on shoes, getting into the van and carseat can take much longer than I expect. A couple months ago I realized I should start doing some big sister training exercises to help our out-the-door process get a little quicker before little Isaiah is added into the mix. (I’ve had a combined practice of 7 months of having two children to get ready in the mornings from our last four foster children so this is not all new.) With Ali approaching four years old, she’s capable of much more independence than we often expect or require of her. Undressing and dressing herself, including shoes and socks, was the biggest process I wanted to help her master before Zay’s due date. I made a sticker chart with a list of tasks, including some she was already routinely doing (staying in her bed all night, putting her dirty clothes in her laundry basket), and those that I wanted her to work on. It took her two months to fill the chart because we forgot about the stickers most of the time! Especially the ones that happen in the rush as we’re going out the door. But the great news is that she’s capable of doing everything on this list now. (Getting her to do it quickly and without requesting help is still a work in progress…) She earned the prize of her choosing: Candy Land. I’m really proud of her. She’s so excited to be a big sister to Isaiah and to do all of these “big girl” things without help.

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[Disclaimer: I typically do “hair night” every other day…this was after skipping it for two nights…4 days without detangling and moisturizing. Don’t judge me! I’m 9 months pregnant and my husband was out of town for several days! ;) ]

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39 Weeks

04/15/2015

I’m quite sure it’s God’s design that by the end of 9 months we are mentally and physically done with pregnancy. It’s been fun but I’m ready for the next chapter. Jason is too. And Isaiah is too, whether he realizes it or not. He’s been so squirmy lately and I sense that he’s feeling cramped. We’re outgrowing this present state and we’re all getting a little fidgety wondering when it’s going to end. Zay has dropped lower into my pelvic bones, which is where most of my discomfort is coming from…and perhaps his, too. Rather than complain about it, I’m trying hard to keep my perspective in check. So this is my pep talk to myself:

I’m blessed. I am blessed to be pregnant. I am blessed to be adding another child to our family—a FOREVER child. A son. I am blessed to have a wonderful, loving, handsome husband. I am blessed to have a beautiful, spunky, sweet daughter. I am thankful she will grow up with a sibling and they will always have each other. I am blessed to have a good, steady, flexible job. I am blessed to have a husband who is living his dream with his career. I am blessed to be in good health and to have a perfect, textbook pregnancy and a healthy baby in my belly. I am blessed to have a good doctor and a good hospital that’s accommodating to moms who want a natural birth experience. I am blessed to have a God who is strong when I am weak.

Jason’s done a bit of traveling in the past week and thankfully we made it through all of that without incident, including when he was 12oo miles away in Pharr, Texas. (Ironic name, huh?) He got home from his latest trip early this morning and he won’t be doing any more traveling until after Isaiah is born. God’s timing is perfect, isn’t it! So far Jason hasn’t had to miss any work and it’s quite possible he won’t have to miss any at all.

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My fingers have swelled from time to time but the other day I realized I almost could not get my rings off, even with cold water and soap. I’m now going without any rings for the first time in 13 years and my hands feel so naked!

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Enjoying a little bed rest while Jason was in Texas and a friend generously offered to keep Ali for an evening.

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The unflattering reality… Ali saw me in these pajamas and said, “Mommy! I don’t want to see your belly sticking out!”

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Can you tell he’s dropped? My doctor confirmed again this week that his head is down and he’s sitting really low. If I make it to next week still pregnant I’ll have one more official belly comparison photo.

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