33 weeks and growing

The last few weeks of this pregnancy have been somewhat crazy. I was hoping to make it through this one without all the trips back and forth to the hospital but my body just doesn't want to cooperate.

It started with the trip to L&D at 29 weeks. My contractions were 3-4 minutes apart for a few hours, but luckily were knocked out with a couple bags of IV fluid.

Two weeks later I was monitored again (after my Office Max trip) with contractions every 15 minutes or so. More IV fluids and some testing, then I was sent on my way.

Then this past Sunday I woke up at 4am with some pretty painful contractions coming every 10 minutes. I counted them for over an hour then quietly whispered to Ricky that I was going to drive myself up to the hospital just to be safe. When I got there, they were 8 minutes apart. So...more fluids.

My doctor has not wanted to check for any cervical dilation since it's still a bit early and doing so can actually cause things to happen, but because of my history and the fact that my body just "likes to contract", he went ahead and ordered steroid shots. I received one on Sunday and went back for the 2nd on Monday. These shots help develop and protect the baby's lungs should he decide to make an early debut.

The good news is I had my last appointment with my high-risk doctor yesterday and all looks great. Baby is just over 4 lbs., head down and fluid levels look good. We didn't get many good ultrasound pictures because he is so squished up in there!

I will continue to get my weekly progesterone shots until 36 weeks. Hoping I make it that far! Although I am also hoping Hudson comes prior to 39 weeks before my OB goes on vacation...

Either way - I'm in the final stretch and soooo looking forward to the big day...whenever it may be!

Dear Ethan and Aiden:

Wow! I am so proud to be your mommy and of the little men you are becoming. You have handled the past few stressful weeks of me being on bed rest with such great ease - taking it all in stride.

You see, I worried that our summer - the last as a family of 4 - was going to be ruined by my inability to get around. I felt guilty that my absence from fun outings would leave you upset or cause you to resent me being pregnant.

So far, that has not been the case. And this, boys, has helped me keep it all together.

Although the days at home with mommy resting in the other room are sometimes boring, you keep yourselves occupied with little assistance from me. Coloring books, tape, accessible snacks and knowing how to use the remote control...all of these things have been my saving graces. Sure you might have too much sugar and too much tv. But this summer? I'll let it slide. You deserve it.

During this time, you have also bonded in a way that has surprised me. I sometimes mute the tv in my room just to listen to your imaginations collaborating - the superhero skits, the singing and dancing, the tender moments where you are behaving like every mother hopes and prays that brothers will.

And Ethan, my sweet and compassionate oldest boy - your maturity even at 5 fills my heart to the brim. You are a born nurturer, always asking what you can do to help. 

"Can I get you some water? 
How are you feeling? 
How about I snuggle with you for a bit?"

You're mommy's big helper. My sure smile on the days I'm feeling down. My bright spot.

Aiden, the excitement you have for the impending arrival of the baby that will make you a big brother is what has brought so much joy this time around. You and Ethan were so close in age that I didn't get to experience the sibling anticipation in the way one imagines. Sure, Ethan was excited, but still a baby himself, he didn't really know. The way you both know now.

You kiss my tummy countless times throughout the day and say the sweetest things to Hudson. 

"I can't wait to see you Hudson.
I love you baby brother.
I hope you are okay in there."

You are anxious to start your new role as big brother, already taking it very seriously. When I ask you how you are going to help when Hudson is here you eagerly respond with the many big brother tasks once would expect - feeding him, playing with him, sharing your toys. 

I melt.

So even though I haven't been able to do as much as I'd like to, perhaps I have underestimated the gift that doing a little less can sometimes be. A little more freedom, a little less structure...you are finding your way just fine and growing up so quickly.

While I often get weepy thinking about just how much our family dynamic is going to change in a few short weeks, I am so excited to start this next chapter as a family. Some days it seems the pages turn a little slower than others but I'm careful not to wish this time away.

Just daddy, me, the two of you. It's been an amazing 5 years and if it's any indication of what's ahead I am incredibly blessed. There will just be one more little boy along for the ride :)

Love always,

Our Austin staycation

When we lived back in Indiana, Ricky and I used to make it a priority to take a "stay-cation" at least once a year - usually around our anniversary. Since moving to Texas, those stay-cations have not been as easy to arrange because we don't have the extended family nearby who can watch the boys for an evening or two. 

However, the stars recently aligned. Perhaps the big man upstairs knew that with all the craziness of the past few months (or year if you count the stress of the infertility and miscarriages), we were due for a night "off-duty".

Kind of out of the blue, I was contacted by the Omni Hotel Downtown Austin about attending a preview party for the grand opening of their newly renovated suites. Although I was unable to make it for the soiree, they followed up afterwards asking if I'd be interested in staying in one of the suites to check it out...free of charge! They said they were reaching out to "Influential Austin bloggers" for this promotion. I felt so very important ;)

I told Ricky and we were trying to figure out how we could make this work - in other words, who would watch the boys. Asking someone to take both boys overnight is a pretty big favor and paying a babysitter to come to us just wasn't in the budget.

The next afternoon as I sat checking email on my computer, I got a message from a dear friend of ours who we've gotten to know through her son who is in Aiden's class at school. As if she knew we were contemplating a much needed night out, she out of the blue offered to watch the boys so that Ricky and I could have some time to ourselves. We had been going non-stop since Aiden's surgery and she just knew it would help us out to have the boys come play with their kids to give us a bit of a break.

Can you say coincidence?

Now I knew she probably didn't mean an overnight offer but when I explained the timing of the Omni deal, she actually said she was thinking of asking to have them overnight but wasn't sure if we'd be okay with it. Perfect!

So we scheduled our stay-cation for the following weekend.

The hotel was gorgeous. It is in a great location downtown - within walking distance to 6th street - although because I was already technically on bed rest, we opted to stay in and relax in our beautifully appointed room. We were welcomed with a Texas-shaped treat and chocolate covered strawberries.

Our suite was on the top floor and there were 2 balconies providing amazing views. At just over 1000 sq. ft., it felt more like a swanky condo than a hotel room. We learned later that the suites did in fact used to be privately owned living spaces until Omni purchased them in 1999 transforming them into hotel suites. 

The kitchenette - which featured granite counter tops, a small sink, refrigerator, plenty of counter space and bar stools - opened up to the main living area with a sectional sofa, flatscreen tv, and a separate 4 person dining table.

The half bath in the entryway foyer with very unique decor and barn style pocket doors between the living area and master bedroom for privacy definitely added a bit of chic Texas flair. And the master bathroom was beautifully decorated as well.

My only complaint? Being so close to 6th Street did have its drawbacks. As the bars got more crowded, the noise grew louder. Add in the fact that Austin is the live music capital of the world and the many bands reverberated through the thick summer heat.

We were both able to fall asleep despite it all, however the sounds escalated when the bars closed and people were heading home in droves. There were police sirens, rowdy bar-goers starting fights, ambulances, etc.

At 2 am, during one of my many trips to pee, I decided to step out onto the balcony and people watch from high above. It was quite entertaining!

All in all we had a very relaxing night. We really liked the hotel and will definitely consider it as a place for stay-cations in the future.

 Here are some facts about the Omni Hotel Downtown Austin:
  • There are 45 suites that make up the top 5 floors - 42 one-bedroom and 3 two-bedroom
  • The renovations to the suites began in 1999 and cost roughly $5.8 million
  • The per night rate for the suites starts at $359 and goes up to $1500
  • They have a few "fit suites" which include in-room treadmills, resistance bands, exercise balls and a personal training session from Golds Gym
  • Omni is a privately owned company with 50 hotels nationwide, 1 in Canada and 2 in Mexico
  • The Downtown Austin location has 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and a 3,400 sq. ft. ballroom available for weddings and events
  • They have a "select guest program" which provides complimentary pressing, morning beverage, and wifi - and with every 10 nights stayed at any Omni location you will earn a free night

To learn more or schedule your stay-cation,
visit their website: Omni Hotel Downtown Austin

Disclosure - I was given a complimentary weekend night stay from the Omni, however all opinions (and photographs) are my own.

The Control Freak's Guide to Surviving Bed Rest

Bed rest in any form is frustrating. Especially if you're like me and tend to be on the move pretty much all the time. If I'm not multi-tasking at home (laundry, cleaning, writing, playing with the boys, etc.) we are out and about running errands or attempting fun activities to keep the boys little minds stimulated.

Luckily, my situation so far has been more of a precautionary one calling for "modified bed rest". Nothing too stringent but just annoying enough that I can't tend to my ever-growing to-do list. But I've experienced bed rest with each of my pregnancies and being the list maker and control freak that I am, I had to take a deep breath and go to plan B. Enter the...
Surviving Pregnancy Bed Rest
Let's face it, you are going to need to consolidate and re-prioritize. Plant flowers outside? Steam clean the carpets? Scrub the toilets? In the grand scheme of things, these just aren't important. Add them to the "after the baby is here" list or maybe even the "ask a friend or family member to do" list. Only focus on the things that NEED to be done.
Once you've narrowed down your to-do list, you need to then learn to hand over the reigns to your spouse. Sometimes giving up that control is difficult. I know I have a particular way of doing things and very rarely ask for help. But when on bed rest, you'll NEED the help. There is no getting around it. While Ricky may not do things how I would do them, I have got to trust that his way is more than good enough. Who knows, he may actually enjoy doing his own laundry and you can hold him to it after baby :)
Sitting in bed all day sounds relaxing, right? Unfortunately it is usually anything but. Your hips get sore. Your butt goes numb. Your muscles get tight from not being used. That is why it is so important to move your body as much as you can (while of course adhering to your doctors orders). Stretch your legs. Flex and point your feet. Roll your neck. If you can manage to get up on all fours to stretch your back, do it. While being on bed rest is sometimes medically necessary to prolong the pregnancy, it can also cause some complications if you're not careful (blood clots, bed sores, etc.) so even a small amount of "exercise" is very important.

 Typically, when we fall into bed at night it is natural to fall asleep. When you're forced to be in bed for hours at a time, somehow sleep becomes the last thing your body wants to do. In order to fall asleep, you'll need to make a conscious effort to do so. Put away the laptop, turn off the tv and draw the blinds. If you already have children, arrange for them to spend a couple hours at a neighbors house or with friends. Try to cherish the time you are able to curl up for a bit of uninterrupted snooze time. Because we all know that those days will soon be a thing of the past!
If this isn't your first baby, you probably haven't devoted nearly as much time to getting things prepared as you did the first time around. Life just gets away from you and things are put off sometimes until the last minute. Throw bed rest into the plan and then suddenly any time you did have left becomes completely unproductive. Luckily I had gotten the nesting urge quite early on so I sorted and freshly laundered the boys old baby clothes in Dreft weeks ago. But we still have to put the finishing touches on the nursery and dust off the baby swing (all things added to the "must do" list for Ricky). Things I've also done while laying in bed? Created my first ever birth plan, made a list of items to pack in my hospital bag, and ordered a cute little maternity hospital gown.
When my husband gets off work and then is buzzing around the house working on that to-do list, taking care of the kids and tending to me in bed, I start to feel guilty. Like I should be doing more. Like somehow it's my fault that I'm unable to pitch in and help. I feel like such a burden for making someone else do the things I normally would be doing. I feel guilty that I'm not able to spend more quality time with my kids - especially considering these last few weeks with just the boys should be time that is cherished. But then I remind myself that staying in bed and following doctors orders is the LEAST selfish thing I can do. I'm doing it to keep this little life inside of me safe. And that is what a mom is supposed to do. My kids will get it. My husband will step up and be fine. Everyone can handle it...so throw the guilt out the window!
Obviously this is straight from the doctor. Water is so important while you are pregnant. It ensures you AND your baby stay hydrated which can keep contractions at bay. It can be tempting to drink soda or sugary drinks while being trapped in bed all day - even if just to add some zing to the day. However without drinking the recommended amount of water (which my doctor has said is close to 1 gallon/day) you may find yourself on hospital bed rest before you know it. And THAT is 100x worse!
If a certain condition or ailment has landed you in bed for the duration of your pregnancy, it is almost impossible not to check in with "Dr. Google" daily. There you will most likely find worst case scenarios and outcomes that will only add stress to your situation. I'm totally guilty of this...but I've learned it is best to quit Googling! In addition, if you weren't already addicted to Facebook/Pinterest/Etsy/etc. you probably will be once on bed rest. This can be bad for several reasons...you may begin to lose touch with reality, add too many things to your to-do list (um, hello Pinterest) and/or end up spending too much money. Try to limit the time spent online throughout the day. Your wallet (and your husband) will thank you.
This goes back to the exercise and drinking water rule. Convenience foods seem easiest when you can only make short trips to the kitchen. My vice is those "family size" bags of Twizzlers. If you have an amazing husband like me, you will be lucky enough to have someone cook at least one good meal a day :) Just watch the amount of calories you are taking in since you are no longer burning them with everyday activity.

Keep your eye on the prize. Your doctor didn't put you on bed rest to be mean. It is to ensure the health of you and your unborn baby. Is it hard? Sure. But in the end it will all be worth it!


* DISCLAIMER: This list is meant to encourage those who are on medical bed rest during pregnancy. Please consult your doctor for specific recommendations related to your particular medical needs.

The one where Aiden gets attacked by a file cabinet and I end up at the hospital...

Because of my earlier bout with some preterm labor contractions, my doctor put me on "modified" bed rest. What exactly does that mean? Well, I am just supposed to "take it easy" and avoid activities that would keep me on my feet for any period of time (like grocery shopping, trips to Target, etc.) and unnecessary trips outside of home. I have been able to go to the pool a few times - and sitting waist deep in the pool feels amazing as it relieves my back of holding the excess weight.

However, after yesterday's turn of events, I've been unable to do very little so I've literally been confined to my bed.

After picking up the boys from Vacation Bible School (which was adorable by the way), we grabbed a quick lunch at our favorite place, Sandella's, and decided to stop into Office Max to get some art supplies for the boys...something to keep them busy while I'm "taking it easy" in bed.

As we were perusing the aisles, I heard a blood-curdling scream from Aiden just a few feet away from me. I looked to my right and I see him standing holding the weight of a 3-drawer file cabinet that had tipped off the edge of a shelf. My motherly instincts kicked in, and ignoring the fact that I am 8 months pregnant, I pivoted and took off running towards him. That's when I heard and felt a SNAP down below.

Putting the pain aside, I intercepted the weight of the file cabinet and moved Aiden out of the way. Quick-thinking Ethan had run to the front of the store to get an employee to help. As I stood there holding the cabinet, I attempted to push it back onto the shelf but the pain in my groin area was too severe. Two employees came running and lifted it up.

Aiden wasn't hurt - just scared. The cabinet was a good 30-40 lbs. so I have no idea how he was able to stand there holding it but I'm certainly glad he did because if he had moved, I know it would have crushed his little feet or legs. And let me tell you, Office Max would have been hearing from my attorney (not that I have one, but I would have needed one!)

I fought back tears as I wobbled to pay for our purchases and we made our way to the car. Lifting my leg to get in our SUV was pure torture and the whole way home, the tears flowed. I explained to the boys that mommy needed to lay down and asked them to play nicely in the family room. When Ricky got home from work, I attempted to get out of bed with a few loud screams and he decided I needed to call the doctor. Off to the hospital I went.

While we aren't 100% sure what the snapping noise was, I was told it was most likely some kind of ligament. And because I can barely put weight on one leg at a time the symptoms seem to align with SPD - or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. NOT FUN!!!

To top it off, I began having contractions every 15-20 minutes while hooked up to the monitors (baby looked great the entire time though) so I was given a bolis of IV fluids to calm them down before I was finally able to go home late last night.

So now? I'm currently back in bed. Which I guess is where I should be while on "bed rest"...

In an instant

I started to write a post getting caught up on the last 2 weeks including my relaxing stay-cation night at the Omni Hotel downtown Austin followed by my family coming into town for a week...and then life took over.

In an instant, the lives of our very good friends and neighbors, the Pickels, were turned upside down.

When we moved to Texas, we worried we wouldn't meet people quickly. We were excited to learn that there were a ton of kids on our street and, even more, most were boys. A couple weeks after moving in we felt at ease in our new surroundings. Neighbors brought over freshly baked cookies and 'welcome to the neighborhood' goodies. The kids began playing outside together as if they'd known one another for ages - which in turn, brought the adults together to chat on a regular basis. Before long, we were swapping babysitting duty and having each other over for dinner.

A month or so after moving in, we had purchased a new piece of furniture and while I like to give myself credit for being strong, Ricky needed a bit more muscle to help him get the piece upstairs so he called our neighbor Jeff. Even though they were on their way to get family photos taken for their church directory, Jeff and his wife Kelly and their two boys - Braden and Dustin - came down to lend a hand.

While the guys effortlessly carried the furniture upstairs, Kelly and I chatted and got to know each other a bit more. Braden is Ethan's age - in fact, their birthdays are just 2 days apart - so they of course became fast friends. And Dustin, who Aiden lovingly dubbed "baby Dustin" from the time he met him, was just 6 months old at the time. Aiden just adores him.

Fast forward almost 2 years and numerous bbqs, birthday parties and new babies later, the family who has become part of our close-knit neighborhood group of friends was hit with some devastating news.

Last week, the Pickels found out that "baby Dustin", who turned 2 in April, has stage 3 neuroblastoma, a solid tumor cancer that arises in immature nerve cells primarily in infants and children.

The diagnosis came as a huge surprise when a simple visit to the pediatrician turned into a week-long battery of blood tests and appointments. 

Kelly had noticed Dustin seemed a little sluggish, wasn't eating very much and that combined with a long string of low-grade fever prompted her to take him in for a check up. At the appointment, the doctor determined Dustin was severely anemic and referred them to a hematologist. 

Still not too worried at this point, Kelly figured he would be put on an iron supplement and they'd be on their way.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. One test led to another and they were given the news...every parents worst nightmare. 

Their baby boy has cancer.

They are still waiting on some answers that will determine how his treatment will unfold over the course of the next year or so, however a small port has already been surgically implanted in his chest to begin chemotherapy. The tumor is attached to his kidney and is the size of a grapefruit. Both the tumor and his kidney will need to be removed but because of its size, the tumor first needs to be shrunk with chemo.

Our hearts are breaking for them.

In many ways, Ricky and I can empathize with our friends as they begin this difficult journey, and even though having Aiden changed our life in an instant too, we will never know the exact pain they are feeling. We just have to remain positive that through the power of prayer, God will heal Dustin of this disease and allow them to move on with their life without the fear and worry they are experiencing now. 

Please keep the Pickel family in your hearts and prayers as they continue to learn more about Dustin's particular type of cancer and his prognosis.

30 weeks down, ? weeks to go

There is something about finally being in the month of June and reaching the 30 week mark that makes the light at the end of the tunnel seem a bit closer.

If my 2nd trimester left me feeling like I *might* want to have a 4th child, the 3rd trimester smacked some sense into me with two little words that I was hoping to avoid this time around...BED REST.

The good news is that after last week's quick trip to the hospital I haven't had anymore lengthy periods of regular contractions. I went to my 30 week visit yesterday and they were able to tell me that the contractions that I am having are not causing any change (in other words, no increase in restrictions or immediate fear of early labor).

When I was pregnant with Ethan and put on bed rest, it was actually kinda nice. I worked from home in a quiet house. I didn't have loads of laundry to do or a messy house to keep up with because it was just the two of us. Other than it being a little boring at times, I couldn't really complain.

When I got pregnant right away with Aiden, the idea of bed rest seemed a little less desirable. I was still working (albeit part-time) and the house upkeep with a baby somehow multiplied astronomically. Not to mention the dependence of an infant - needing to be carried, fed, played with, etc. However when I went into preterm labor at 32 weeks and spent 3 nights at the hospital trying to stop labor, I was once again sent home on strict bed rest. I hated having to rely so heavily on others (although was very thankful to have the help!)

I'm the type of person who is always on the go. I like to keep busy. I try to keep my house tidy and the laundry done (I did say "try"). So when I'm told I need to sit in bed all day, it's not appealing. While some might think "why not, sounds relaxing to me!" it has the exact opposite effect on me. My head starts spinning with all of the things I should be doing. The dishes and dirty clothes piling up taunt me. I start to notice the dust on the ceiling fans and tops of picture frames. And I kick myself for not getting more done beforehand. Suddenly I'm more motivated than ever to do all the busy work I had previously been putting off.

Okay, so I'm a little type-a. What can I say, I'm a Virgo!

Last week, when the nurse told me the doctor was letting me go home...on bed rest...I burst into tears. Being on bed rest in Texas, away from family, with a 4 and 5 year old in the middle of summer is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination. However - there is a silver lining in a lot of ways - my boys go to school all day on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they are at an age where they are much more independent and can do things for themselves like get dressed or make their breakfast, AND my husband has a flexible job where he is at home some of the time.

So...while I'm feeling huge and uncomfortable and definitely not thrilled about bed rest, I am trying to remain positive. Besides, I would do anything to ensure that Hudson makes it as long as possible so he is strong, healthy and ready to come home with us after birth.

But I am also confident in our decision that baby #3 will complete our family :)

Hey good lookin'...keep on cookin'!

Dearest Hudson,

I know I've been complaining a lot lately about how uncomfortable I am.
And I know you can hear all the fun things your big brothers do throughout the day.
But all that aside, you need to stay put for a few more weeks, you hear me?

Love, Mommy


On Wednesday, just after turning 29 weeks, I was sitting at my computer when I began feeling contractions. This wasn't the first time - I've been experiencing Braxton Hicks for a few weeks now - but as they came and went in succession I started to jot down the times on my notepad next to me.


This went on for almost an hour. Ricky called at one point to let me know he was on his way home from doing business in San Antonio. I didn't want to worry him so I didn't mention the contractions.


Hmmm...I decided I better call the doctor, knowing they were going to advise me to head to the hospital to be monitored.

The boys were home with me and with Ricky still 30-45 minutes away, I laid down in bed and guzzled some water, hoping the pesky contractions would subside. 

No such luck.

I hesitantly called the neighbor, interrupting her work-from-home schedule mid-day and asked if she'd be so kind to let me drop the boys with her so I could drive myself to the hospital. She of course, was ready and willing.

Finally, I called Ricky to tell him what was going on. He remained calm and continued towards home.

Once at the hospital, and hooked up to various monitors, it was evident with the rise and fall of the squiggly line on the screen that I was indeed experiencing pretty good contractions. Three to four minutes apart. 

*This isn't my actual monitoring. I got the image here.

Two bags of IV fluid later with only slight calming of my uterus, it was decided that I would need a fetal fibernectin test. This swab would determine if there was a presence of a glue-like substance that may indicate early labor is imminent. Because the results would take up to 24 hours, they sent me on my way with an order for bed rest. Fun!

Luckily, the fetal fibernectin test came back negative (phew!) and I was able to stay in bed all day Thursday while the boys were at school. 

While I am still having some contractions, they are quite sporadic. Nothing like the regular intervals on Wednesday. So the plan for now is to go to my 30 week appointment on Tuesday and discuss a plan for going forward. 

Having experienced preterm labor with both other pregnancies, I am not surprised this happened. However I am hopeful this was an isolated incident and I can make it to at least 36 weeks without any further medical intervention or continued bed rest.