Our Whirlwind

The last four months have been crazy busy and we’ve decided we may never have a boring year ever again. When Kenny and I got married we just bought our first home, I was starting my first teaching job, and Kenny was starting back at school to finish his degree in business. Now, fast forward almost five years later, we sold our condo and bought our first home {stay tuned for a before and after post in mid-August—we should finally be done by then!}, we have a busy young toddler, I am continuing my work as an 8th grade Social Studies teacher, and Kenny will be graduating with a degree in HR and business leadership in December. We thought at some point (even hoped) we would have a boring year. Pretty sure that will never happen now.

In January we decided to put our condo on the market. In about a week after putting it on the market we sold. Shortly after we were able to place our own offer on our first single family home, a place we could grow in, make our own, and spend many years as a family. It was a home built in 1980, large, nice lot, full of potential, but it needed some work.

Last weekend in March we moved from the condo into my parents house for a month while a wall was taken down, dry wall put up, new floors were installed, paint was applied in all interior areas, new counters and tile work in kitchen and bathrooms, all while we were continuing work and school. Whew! Even that long sentence has me tired.

The last four months were busy and exhausting, with moving twice (out and in to my parents, and then out of my parents’ house and into our new house once the interior was complete), finishing my fifth school year, going through the sudden loss of Kenny’s best friend, Kenny finishing his third to last term of school and starting a new job in his line of work, and the stomach flu wrecking havoc on all of us soon after we moved into the new house. We needed a break or a vacation from life following those crazy, hectic months.

In fact, we were starting to talk about either a couple’s vacation or a family vacation, just so we could hit “refresh.” The other topic between Kenny and I, now that we had the living space, was to start planning for a second baby. Now, we didn’t know when it was going to happen, but we thought this summer was a good time to start trying because it would be great to have the kids two to three years apart. When we got pregnant with K.C. it happened almost right away, so we thought that could happen or it may not. We were not going to stress about it and just go with the flow and see what happens.

So it was the first of July and I was about to go to the store. A pregnancy test was on my grocery list, just to have available in the house for when the time arose. I had a box of two remaining pregnancy tests from awhile ago when we thought we had a “false alarm,” so I just decided to take it, since I was going to buy more. We just started actively trying so I didn’t think anything of it. Kenny and I were both surprised to see “pregnant” show up on the test. “Whoa! That happened fast!” was our thought.

Processed with VSCO with m5 presetOn Monday the 3rd, I called to make a doctor’s appointment. Tuesday the 4th I went in for a blood test. Results, positive. Friday, July 7th, I had my first OB appointment. The doctor and myself were thinking I was in the early stages, maybe six or eight weeks pregnant. We were both surprised when I had my ultrasound and we did not see a little bean, but a full baby with limbs, a body, and a profile. I was 14 or 15 weeks pregnant!!!! How in the world did that happen?! That means over the last four months of all that craziness I was pregnant!

I had to think back over those months. Yes, I had some symptoms, but I equated it to stress. I was tired, I occasionally had a queasy stomach, I had some spotting, I had a couple evenings were I puked, but all of it I thought was stress, anxiety, life, something I ate. I was even thinking at the start of summer I needed a cleanse so I could feel better after the last crazy months. I had no idea that during that time I was pregnant!

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Left: 13 weeks pregnant with K.C. this time two years ago; Right: 15 weeks pregnant with baby #2

As soon as we found out I was pregnant my baby bump started to show, and show fast! Over the last couple weeks I’ve had ultrasounds to measure and date my pregnancy, blood tests (so many! to play catch up since the first trimester was already done), and just last night we had our gender reveal.Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

IMG_0483The next five months are only about to get crazier as we prepare for baby #2, finish up the last projects on the house, and just as baby is due, Kenny will be completing his final term. Hopefully we will have some normalcy in our future, but I doubt it. I think we are bound to have a life that is never dull. There will always be something going on with the Strands.IMG_0486

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An Adventure Themed Nursery

I assumed my first born would be late, as so many people told me that your first born is rarely on time—sometimes two weeks late. I never expected K.C. to be three weeks early. We planned to finish the nursery over Winter Break, but of course our little one had other plans and came three weeks early. We didn’t have a crib mattress, diaper pale, or changing pad. We were missing so many pieces of the nursery. With a lot of help from my mom & husband we slowly were able to piece the nursery together. Life is an adventure & now three months later we finally have completed the nursery. Just in time to transition K.C. from his bassinet in our room to his crib. Our hope for K.C. inspired the theme. We hope he explores the world with an inquisitive mind & is brave to adventure through life.

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The most valued/priceless piece in the nursery gifted to me by my grandma (K.C.’s great grandma. A very special pray by my mother (grandma) to my late, beloved uncle (her little brother; K.C.’s great uncle—Uncle Mike would have loved & doted on our little man) when he was born.

K.C.’s Birth Story 12.21.15

Winter Break just began & I was so looking forward to spending break finishing the nursery, enjoying Christmas with the family, & having some romantic couple time with Kenny before we became a party of three. The last day of work I spent time closing up my classroom just in case I decided not to come back the last five days before my maternity leave began on January 11th. I cleaned, I organized, I put together sub lessons, & made trips to my car with the student & staff Christmas & baby gifts I received. My pregnant belly was starting to be too big to maneuver & my feet were swollen as I waddled back & forth in my classroom & out to my car. I was probably the last one at school on that Friday break began. I was so uncomfortable by that point I was wishing for my last trimester to be done & praying for strength to get through my last month as I knew I was only going to get bigger.

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Last bump picture. 36 Weeks.

Sunday, December 20th, marked the beginning of my 37th week; three weeks away from my due date. Kenny was getting ready for work & I remained in bed, tired & uncomfortable. As Kenny headed out the bedroom door he asked me, “Are you doing ok?” “I just feel uncomfortable,” I told him. He kissed me goodbye & I told him to have a good day at work. Not wanting to get out of bed quite yet I picked up my phone to read about what to expect in the 37th week on the three different pregnancy apps I had on my phone. I was reading about how the baby will be gaining a half pound each remaining week & how I will only get bigger as the time went on. In three days Kenny & I would have our last ultrasound to see baby’s position & size. I was looking forward to seeing him in utero one last time & was hoping he would not be too big. As I was looking through the apps, I heard & felt a little bubble pop, almost like a gas bubble, but it was not coming from my gut. Slowly I could feel fluid leaking. Did my water just break? No, it couldn’t be. Maybe I just have to go to the bathroom. I got up out of bed & as soon as I reached the restroom, more fluid leaked onto the floor. Is that my water? I guess I’ll just wait and see. I decided to go downstairs & make breakfast just as I began to feel cramps.

As I made breakfast I timed my cramps, which were roughly six to eight minutes apart. I continued heading to the restroom as more fluid continued to leak. My birth plan was to labor at home as long as possible & head to the hospital when contractions were three minutes apart. By this point it was 10:30 a.m. My water broke thirty minutes ago & I decided to call Kenny at work. “You’re going to want to come home, babe,” I told him over the phone. “I think we’re going to have a baby.” I explained to him how my water broke & I was experiencing cramping. I could hear his excitement over the phone when he told me he was leaving right away.

While waiting for Kenny to arrive home I called the advice nurse, since I was three weeks early & not sure if I should come in to get checked out. They wanted me to come in. I was still somewhat in denial. We had nothing ready. The nursery wasn’t done. The carseat wasn’t installed. Our hospital bags weren’t packed. There were still several essentials I needed to purchase, like a diaper pale, crib mattress, & changing pad. Kenny arrived home shortly after 11 a.m. All I could do was smile at him standing at the top of the stairs as he took off his coat. I told him the hospital wanted to do an exam, but I assumed they would just send us home. We both seemed rather calm despite our excitement, but also had a sudden urge to be productive. Kenny went out to the fire station, which ended up being closed that Sunday & scrambled over to his cousins’—parents of three boys—to get help installing the carseat. In the meantime, I took a shower & put myself together. By the time Kenny got home we decided to put a hospital bag together just in case, even though we probably would be sent home. Contractions were still mild, but started to come a little bit more regularly. I could still talk & smile through them. In packing the hospital bag I realized I had nothing I had hoped to have. No special hospital pajamas. No special hospital robe. No nursing tops. I had asked for those items for Christmas.

It was about 1 p.m. by this point & Kenny sat me down by the Christmas tree, handing me several gifts to open (he had forgotten which one was which), until I opened my special hospital outfit. I couldn’t believe this was happening! Were we really about to have this baby?! We quickly finished packing & started to head for the hospital, but it was lunch time & neither one of us had ate yet. I insisted we stop for sub sandwiches on our way. Of course the sub sandwich people were shocked Kenny had his pregnant wife in labor in the car while he was ordering food. 🙂 On our way to the hospital I gave my mom a call to let her know what was going on & I told her I’d call her back if they were going to admit me.

By the time we reached the hospital I was becoming a bit more uncomfortable, causing me to stand with each contraction. I could still talk & smile, so I knew they were not too bad. As soon as the nurse escorted us to Labor & Delivery, she was taking us straight to a delivery room, but then we all second guessed this decision. My contractions were very mild & I still questioned whether my water was truly broken. However, as soon as I dressed down in triage more water leaked. “Yep,” the nurse confirmed, “it is your bag of water. Let’s take you back to the delivery room.”

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Once settled into the delivery room, my contractions came & went, & although they were starting to come more often, they only hurt like bad menstrual cramps. Our nurse, Amanda, who was the sweetest nurse & also had had a baby three weeks early (who was now two), was so calm & on-the-ball. Since it had been six hours since my water broke & I was slowly progressing, I was given progesterone to move things along. And boy did it work! I could feel the contractions coming closer together & gradually becoming more painful. I had to stand, leaning over something, to get relief. I was beginning to be unable to talk during the contractions. My parents showed up by this time to support us. Sunday Night football played silently on the TV (Broncos v. Steelers) & my mom brought my jambox so I could play music from my favorite Christmas pandora station.

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Hoping to progress my labor & because I was really starting to feel pain, Kenny & I took a lap around the Labor & Delivery floor, stopping every few feet so I could lean against the wall & breath through the contraction. I wanted to labor as long as I could, but my plan had always been to get an epidural. It was after dinnertime by this point. I thought about using the tub, but I thought that may be a hassle, so instead Kenny & I hopped in the shower. I was unaware of time once we were in there. I went from embracing Kenny between contractions to leaning over the shower chair allowing the water to hit my back during contractions. I didn’t realize we were in the shower for two hours, but by the time we came out of the shower I was feeling nauseas during contractions & I knew it was time for an epidural.

By 9:30 p.m. I had my epidural & I was finally getting some relief & resting. My dad went home & my mom went to rest in the waiting room while Kenny & I tried to sleep. From here on it started to go by quickly, the nurse helped me move from one side to another with a birthing ball between my knees. By midnight I was 7 centimeters dilated. By 2 o’clock I was beginning to feel pressure. I knew I was going to push very soon & I suddenly felt very anxious. Amanda, our nurse, was amazing in helping my anxiety, telling me what to expect & lending me words of encouragement. Dr. Murphy, my OB (it was serendipitous that he happened to be on-call that night) examined me & said I was 10 centimeters & 100% effaced. We would be starting to push soon. I woke up Kenny & had him go get my mom from the waiting room. I began pushing at 3 a.m. with little progress. His head was stuck on my pelvic bone & I could barely feel myself pushing. Dr. Moses, our OBGYN resident, came in to coach me & it was decided my epidural should be turned down. Finally, exhausted after an hour of pushing, I began to make progress & I could feel myself pushing. Dr. Murphy came in to deliver. K.C. was coming &  I couldn’t hold back anymore. Dr. Murphy was just putting on his gloves & his smock when K.C.’s head was being delivered. Dr. Murphy had to catch him in his half-on smock & his gloved hand, totally catching him off guard.

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At 4:34 a.m. on December 21st, Kenneth Charles Strand IV was born, weighing 6 pounds & measuring 19 1/2 inches long. Tired, but so in love, we were given a precious two hours of skin-to-skin family time after Kenny cut the cord, the placenta was delivered, & I was all stitched up. My labor was surprisingly easy & not as bad as I thought it was going to be, little did I know what risks came with a three week early baby.

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I had in my mind that I’d spend 24 hours in postpartum & then we would be going home, happy & in love with our new baby. I did not know what was in store for us. We then spent four days in the hospital, battling jaundice & a 9% weight loss. K.C. needed to learn to eat & we had to suck train him & use donor milk with a bottle. That time was harder than anything I have experienced in my life. Kenny fed him a bottle, while I pumped. I dreamed of nursing my baby. Instead I felt tired, discouraged, & struggling to bond with my son. I wanted to go home. It was Christmas time & I loved Christmas. I didn’t want to be in the hospital for Christmas, but I also wanted K.C. to be healthy. It felt as though every day the pediatrician gave us a new target to reach in order to go home. I felt like they kept moving it, making us stay there. The frustration we felt as new parents added to our fatigue, but people were praying for us.

Through prayers across the country via family & friends, we were able to come home on Christmas Eve. We brought a bili blanket home to continue light therapy & it took an additional two weeks until we were exclusively breast feeding. Everyone tells you how hard it is to be a new parent, but you really don’t know until you go through it. I felt unprepared & sad that Kenny & I did not have our last moments of just him & I. But now, it feels as though K.C. has always been in our lives. It is as if he was always meant for us. I couldn’t imagine life without him. He is such a good baby; easy going, sleeping & eating better all the time, & surprising us with his abilities. My little Christmas miracle is now coming on two months old & continuing to put on weight. We just started graduating from our newborn clothes & as I was folding the last of his newborn laundry this afternoon I felt nostalgic. I could barely believe he was once swimming in those newborn pajamas.

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Half Way There

This week we had our 20 week ultrasound. This would have been the time when we would have found out the gender, but we were fortunate enough to find out early (Gender Reveal). It really started to hit me this week that we are already to the half-way point. It went by so fast! The first trimester seemed to drag endlessly & I didn’t know when I would ever start feeling better. But now I am feeling great, beside the occasional hip, back, & pelvic aches, & my constant hunger, & now I can actually ENJOY pregnancy. The second trimester is going by fast, which makes me realize K.C. will be here before we know it!

My bump is really starting to show this week. I am definitely feeling pregnant and love feeling all the activity: all of his wiggles, rolls, and kicks. I haven’t had any weird cravings yet, but the occasional craving for ice cream, fruits & fruit juices, Oreo’s & milk, & salt & vinegar chips.

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Baby K.C. is about 13.5 cm from head to rump & about 10 oz. The little guy loves to stretch & kick, gulp amniotic fluid, & show-off his muscles. We’re falling in love with this cute little face already! I can’t wait to see what he looks like & hold him in my arms. In the meantime, I am loving all his little movements & sharing this time with Kenny.

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Love to the moon & back. Jennifer.

Gender Revealed

Kenny & I had the opportunity to find out the sex relatively early. By week 16 sexual organs are developed & can be viewed in a high-tech medical ultrasound. Not only were we able to find out the gender of baby, but we were also able to view the little one in 3D/4D. Before we spill the beans, I thought I would share some fetal photos. Look at that little face! And as you can see with the different positions, babes was moving like crazy. It was so exciting seeing the baby so active in there.

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After we found out the gender our plan was to call our immediate family over for a little reveal. We stopped at the Dollar Store on the way home to purchase colored (either pink or blue—you’ll have to wait to find out) silly string. Our family showed up at our place anxious to find out, but they had to wait until after we ate pizza & salad. The wait was killing them! And it was kind of fun keeping it a secret between Kenny & I for a short time.

Later we gathered everyone out to our driveway to spray the silly string in order to find out the gender. It was so fun watching everyone’s reaction as we all spraying one another.

Check out the video to find out if Baby Strand is a boy or a girl…

 

Yay! We are so excited & can’t wait for the adventures to come. More updates to come.

Love to the moon & back. Jennifer.