Friday, February 29, 2008

Meeting Maggie & life at home with baby Owen

We actually came home from the hospital on Valentine's day after 2 nights there. We didn't have anything ready and our apt. was in chaos, as we had been moving the crib around trying to find a good spot where it didn't take up too much room. Brian was so awesome and went home really late Wed. night after being with us all day in the hospital and put our apt. back together so I wouldn't walk into such a mess. I know, he's amazing, and I am spoiled! :)

Here are some pics of us leaving the hospital...

Owen was not so happy about his car seat, as you can see...

His fuzzy froggy blanket made it just bearable.

We actually didn't even have a car seat- our doula Amanda was going to loan us her family's infant car seat until we could get one since they weren't using it. She went to borrow a hose from her neighbor to wash it off and their neighbor said they don't need their infant car seat anymore- their youngest child outgrew it recently, so we could just have it! Awesome (we have never met these people!). It just goes to show what great community there is here at Fuller- we have been so blessed by so many meals, calls, and offers for folks to come and do our laundry, grocery shop for us- it's been really encouraging and all of this after only living here for 5 months. :) THANKS everyone!

So, now the million dollar question- how is Maggie adjusting to Owen????

Maggie is actually doing very well with Owen! The first day was interesting- she couldn't figure out why we were so concerned with the thing in the small seat- she was very curious- especially when Owen started making noises far more extensive than "fake baby's" repertoire. :)

The first few days she wanted to be right with us anytime we were doing anything with Owen- see the nursing shot below with Maggie's head on the pillow! Now she loves him - esp. sniffing him, which we allow as long as it isn't on his face. She also will come and get our attention if he is crying, "can somebody please help him??!!" She often sleeps in front of his pack n play (although he sleeps in bed with us) and enjoys taking part in diaper changes and midnight feedings.

Overall we are all doing very well- we are slowly adjusting to the great sleep deprivation- poor Brian has to get up and go to work and class. Owen and I are marveling at how quickly my maternity leave is going- I just can't believe he'll be 3 wks. old tomorrow! He is growing very quickly and you can see the difference in pics from his first few days of life and those more recent. Here are a few of my favorites below--- for the complete Owen collection go to

As you will see we spend most of our time gazing at him and/or gazing at him and then taking his picture! We love our son!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

SURPRISE- Baby Owen makes his debut--- 4 WKS EARLY!

Well...when I last posted on Feb. 11th little did we know my back pain was not sciatica, but LABOR!! The days before Owen was born were filled with activity for the Shope's - Brian had a conference on organic church planting and I was busy here at home organizing and cleaning (nesting). We were moving things around - testing out the crib in different areas- and I had a list of things that needed to be done- cleaning out the refrigerator, etc. We spent Sunday walking Maggie, talking about Brian's conference and enjoying milkshakes from Rick's. I guess we should've known something was up when later that day I was cleaning the bathroom and began vacuuming the walls. Hmm...

Monday I went to work as usual and didn't feel well- I hadn't slept much Sunday night due to back pain. Monday I came home from work and Brian took care of getting me as comfortable as possible. I took a bath, layed on the futon, and watched old episodes of Grey's Anatomy. I was still having a lot of back pain and couldn't get comfortable, but we had no conception that this could be labor- we still had 4 wks.

My discomfort continued Monday night and after 2 more baths and countless tries with the warm heating pad I still couldn't sleep and began searching the baby books for info on pre-term labor. We know that the baby would be ok at this point- we were 36 wks., but I wasn't totally sure that I was having contractions. Then I started having more and more pain that was wrapping around my belly from my back and I woke up Brian- this is at 4am. We discussed possibilities and I eventually convinced him that this was labor- even if it was false labor and we needed to start counting the contractions. He blew up the birth ball and I rocked back and forth on all fours to try and get some relief. We called our amazing childbirth educator at 6am (if you are interested in natural childbirth in Pasadena Kathy is the way to go and we can get you her info- her classes were invaluable to us and will be so in future births as well!!!). She listened to my breathing at this point and told Brian I was in labor and gave him a quick lesson on pushing to be passed along to me- we hadn't had that class yet. :)

We labored at home until 8:30am when I called my dr. and told them we wouldn't be in for the appt. we had schedule at 9:30am because I was in labor. They told us to go ahead and get to the hospital and we also called our doula Amanda to give her the heads up.

When we arrived at the hospital (after missing the exit- Amanda had called Brian's cell right as we were coming upon the hospital exit and we missed it because we were too far over in the left lanes (we have seven lane highways here, remember) and ended up getting off the 210 further down and Brian had to try and back track without any directions. Our lives are so crazy! :)

Once we arrived at the hospital they checked me and found I was 3 cm dilated and we began the work before us. Brian and Amanda were amazing!!!!Brian was incredible- we had no pain
meds and I NEVER could have done that without him- he put almost constant counterpressure on my back which was the best relief ever! Amanda was our doula- she's a Fuller student- and she was so encouraging and helpful. She really helped Brian better care for me and offered
great advocacy for all of us and friendship in the most intimate of moments.

The hospital staff was great- esp. our L&D nurse, Nicole. Our dr. knew we wanted as few interventions as possible and they allowed me to stay in my own clothes, walk around, get on the birth ball, eat and drink, and only have intermittent monitoring for 20 min. every 1-2 hrs. I didn't have an IV and I was free to totally move around- we had music and danced and swayed and I breathed and sounded out the contractions. It was intense work and I still can't really believe I did it- but it was totally amazing- even the parts when I started to feel like I couldn't go any further. I really believe it was such a great experience because of Brian firstly, Amanda's help, and the plethora of family and friends we had praying for us as we labored throughout the day.

At noon I was 6 cm. and moving right along! Yeah! At 3pm I was 7.5/8 and I stayed there for a while. This was a bit discouraging, but we worked to break my water naturally through movement and exercise. When my water still hadn't broken at 5pm we decided to go ahead and have the dr. break it. This felt amazing, but really intensified the contractions and I had no break in between. This was the hardest hour from 5-6pm - I was totally exhausted from lack of sleep for several nights and little food (I had thrown everything up- fun. fun :)). Right about the point when I was crying to Brian and Amanda, "I just need this to be over now, ok???!!! (think of a most pathetic voice) "I just really need to meet our baby!" Amanda smiled and said- I think you're at 10 cm now and sure enough, we were!!

Pushing began around 6pm with the dr. on his dinner break. They told me to wait, wait for the dr. and I told Nicole our nurse that she could just catch the baby- I was fine with that. Brian sat behind me and supported me through the pushing and I collapsed back on him in between contractions.

Owen Benjamin entered the world at 6:21pm Tuesday February 12th at 5 lbs. 12 oz. and 18 in long. His Daddy cut the cord and gave him his first bath and changed the first diaper. : ) We were immediately in love, which continues to grow each day for Owen and each other after experiencing this miracle together! We are both so incredibly thankful to be participants in this life and have been thanking God daily for each other as partners in this work to care for our son. WOW!

Owen is very healthy - he saw the pediatrician Tues. and has alreadu surpassed his birth weight! Yea!! He was born with a cleft lip, which is purely cosmetic and will be fixed with surgery at 2mo. old. I am recovering nicely- a little sore, but feeling very well. He is latching well and so far nursing has been good-they were a bit concerned at first with his ability to solely nurse due
to his lip. We are enjoying every moment as we meet our son in this new outside the womb
environment- Brian and I are enthralled by his every movement and have spent the days since his birth giving thanks for this precious gift ( and trying to carve out as much time for sleep as possible!!!)!

Here are the first of many, many pics- we have taken over 250 pictures and he's only just over a week old!!!! Check back for frequent updates- we will also be putting several pics on flickr as soon as I get everything together in the next few days.

Thanks so much to everyone who has sent meals, packages, phone calls, and prayers!! We are so thankful for our community all across the country who have celebrated and continue to celebrate with us! Owen is a very lucky boy to have so many amazing people in his life - we love you all!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Four weeks to go- Jan. highlights, more baby prep, and Maggie's sit-in...

It has been a long time since we've posted- life has been hectic with several work projects for me and an intensive 2 wk. class for Brian as well as his normal schedule and PT work in the SIS office. It has been a difficult month for my family on the east coast as well, but everyone seems to be on the up and up now.

The time until March 13th is passing rather quickly now and still things are not ready. I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that the baby will be fine whether or not the refrigerator has been cleaned out before he/she arrives- Brian assures me this is the case! My body is tired after an 8 hr. work day and my gracious husband affords me the rest I need in the evenings and all other commitments are flexible due to the pregnancy card- and soon the infant card.

Poor "fake baby" has spent a lot of time in the crib without much attention, which is fine with Maggie. We have graciously received many beautiful baby things from friends and family across the country and are so grateful for everyone's generosity.

A few highlights of the last month include an overdue Christmas trip to Santa Barbara for Brian and I. This was our Christmas gift to one another- a night away before the baby and we were so thankful to get a night's stay at the Bath House bed & breakfast- we highly recommend it! Ask Brian about our midnight cake run. We walked on the beach, took many pictures, had dinner at an old historic stagecoach stop, and laughed and laughed together. It was a really special time of focusing on each other and reminiscing about the last year, giving thanks for the good and the difficult, and offering this new year up to God while praying together on the beach. It was holy time and we came back rejuvenated and refreshed even after just one night.

Here are some pics of our time there...(notice the belly was present too) :)

This one looks fake, but it's real...

The Bath House Inn where we stayed...
Only in CA can you sit on the beach in Jan. in short sleeves...

One of the other special surprises in Jan. was a shower for me thrown by the Fuller wives- a group of us get together each Thursday night for a book study and catching up. They have been so sweet to us throughout this pregnancy and held a shower for me on Jan. 26th. I was so touched- our friends and family have gone to great lengths to provide showers even though we're far away and I so appreciate their efforts- Traci, Cheryl, and Connie! :) Yet, it was really fun to able to participate in person! Here are a few pics...

The shower was held at Leah's house- who is also pregnant- there are actually about 7 of us in the group of 20 who are pregnant! It's contagious! Check out my nifty baby sling...

More of the girls...Leah Beth, me, Jessica, and Meredith

Opening gifts...

Leah Beth and the too cute diaper centerpiece she that's skill!

The hostesses with the mommy and the belly...

It was a really fun afternoon and Brian and I were so grateful for everyone's thoughtfulness!

We thought we had everything arranged for the baby and then decided over the last week that the crib was really too close to the heater, which we've used about 2 times since we've been here. But, who wants to take a chance. The new plan is to take down the crib temporarily and use the Pack N' Play as a crib until June when our lease is up.

This was where the crib was originally...

We told Maggie we would have to move the futon to make room for the crib (when we were still thinking we could fit the crib in this apt.). She decided she didn't want to do that and staged a sit-in...this is her "I've had enough!" face...

Stay tuned for more exploits of fake baby as we move from the crib to the Pack N' Play and set up the swing this week...Maggie just can't wait! She's trying to find her way back to WV since Brian and I won't allow her the white fluffy bear from Grandma Shope or Flopsie Bubkins from Trish. Life is oh so hard...