Monday, September 28, 2015

Our Precious Monica: A Birth Story

After nine months of waiting, it is my privilege and honor to introduce you all to our newest addition,

Monica Jane Rauch!



Monica officially joined our family this past Friday and we could not be happier to finally have her here. The Lord has blessed us abundantly and our hearts grow more and more full each day with our little girls.

I'd love to share with you the story of her arrival:


Joel and I were thrilled when we found out we would be welcoming another little Rauch into the world. Celine was born via c-section, so we assumed subsequent babies would be as well, especially given the calculated due date being 13 months after Celine was born. However, the doctor let us know that we fit into a small group of eligible families to attempt a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarian), so we kept open minds about the possibility and waited for things to progress before we seriously considered it, knowing that conditions had to be just right.

In the meantime, we (mostly I) spent plenty of time coming up with baby names. Celine's was changed a few weeks before she was born, but we had come up with a short list and quickly had our boy and girl names picked out. Because I'm a planner (who waited impatiently last time to find out the gender) and the babies would be so close together, we decided this time around to find out...


We are nerds.
Hooray! A girl! We immediately started calling her by the name we had chosen and secretly informed a few close friends and family members, who also referred to her by name. It was so fun to feel a bond and connection with her in that way as we anxiously awaited her arrival.

And by anxiously, I mean begged and pleaded for her arrival. I had a significantly tougher pregnancy than the last, with what seemed like one painful complication mounting on top of another. By the last couple of months, I was in pretty constant pain and begging God for mercy, strength, and for the gift of patience as we waited. To distract myself from the pain, my focus went back to the debate of VBAC or not.

My emotions matched C's in this picture. I literally can't even.
I am a pro/con list person and a philosopher at heart, meaning I like to talk things out, look at every possible situation, weigh all of the different factors, and when I think I've made a decision, play devil's advocate with myself and challenge it to no end. Joel of course loved this for months on end (he is so patient!!) and we continued to take it to prayer.

Because of our specific circumstances, we would either induce labor for a VBAC attempt at 39 weeks or schedule a repeat c-section, also at 39 weeks. Let the countdown to baby day begin!


Me: So excited! The end is near!
Celine: Can I play with your phone now Mom?
Remember how I said I like to play devil's advocate and challenge every decision I make? Well, you guessed it, a couple of weeks before our new due date, I decided I didn't want our baby name. It's not that I hated it or anything, I just didn't love it enough to name our own daughter that. We made a new short list, but for one reason or another none of the three names really stuck out to us. One didn't fit well with our last name, one would have her correcting the spelling AND pronunciation of her name for the rest of her life, and the other was kind of just a fallback. The indecisiveness dragged on, and we ultimately said we would wait until she was born to see what came to us naturally.

Around 37 weeks, the doctor started checking me more specifically to see if a VBAC attempt would actually be an option. I had to be dilated at least 2 cm, however much effaced (I forgot), and she had to be positioned correctly. She was head down (atta girl!) but all I heard was I needed one more centimeter to get the go ahead. I was OH SO READY to be done (and so was everyone else around me, especially Joel... Have I mentioned how patient he is? He is my amazing rock star five star husband whom I could not live without) so I started trying all of the Google/Pinterest/old-wives tested ways to induce labor. I didn't need to actually go into labor, I just needed things to move along enough. Pedicure (for the pressure point massage), spicy food, long walks, squats, you name it.


Long walk around the Clay County Fair, begging the baby to come out on her own. She didn't.
So here we go 38 week 6 day appointment, the long awaited day where we can make the plan and set the date officially to induce and get this girl out! My trusty doctor checks and survey saaayyyysssss....

one centimeter.

Poor guy could tell I wanted to cry. He sat me down and after I got a chance to cool it, we went over options. 1. Wait a week and check again to see if we've made progress. 2. Wait less than a week and see if we've made progress. 3. Schedule a repeat cesarian for the next day. He gave me until lunch to go home and talk to Joel and decide.

We talked and prayed and debated. I begged God again for mercy, patience, and wisdom in making the decision that was best for our family in our situation. We invited friends and family to storm heaven with us, and in the end decided to schedule the surgery. 

We still didn't have a name, but at that point I just told Joel to go with his gut. Whatever came naturally when he looked at her, that's what we'd pick. Friday morning, we still had a little doubt, but trusted that we were being led by the Spirit and went with it. As I was prepped for surgery, Joel looked up the patron saint of patience, just for kicks (given the pregnancy that felt like an eternity). As he sat by my head and I was on the table, he told me about St. Monica. We said something along the lines of "Oh, how about that."



At 12:28 PM on Friday, September 25th, baby girl was officially born. I got a quick peek at her and then a proud Daddy went to go cut the cord. I believe his conversation with the staff went something like:

Doctor: "What is her name?"
Joel: "...I'm not sure!" 

He looked at her and went through our names and nothing fit. Name 1? Nope. Name 2? Not that either. Name 3? ...what was that one again? I guess that's a no. He left with her to wait for me in recovery. I waited for the surgery to finish and thought about the name Monica, and the more I thought about it, the more it fit. Little did I know, Joel kept thinking about the name Monica, hoping that I was thinking it was the name for her. And it was.





She knew just what to do when it came to nursing, I was in quite a bit less pain than after Celine's surgery (and frankly a lot less pain than my pregnancy caused). Little Monica mouse and I were loving the time to finally relish each other's company while Joel and Celine spent their nights at home.


Monica loves all the snuggles. For real. This girl wants to be cuddled constantly. I'm all like, YES.
Sunday morning the doctor came in to check on us. I had only been awake about a minute and a half when she came in, and it seemed like she waited about 0.583 seconds before informing me of a complication they neglected to mention earlier. When they opened me up and started the surgery, the doctors found that my scar tissue from my previous c-section had reopened and there was a large hole in my uterus. The only thing blocking said hole was Monica's amniotic sac. Long story short, if we had attempted a VBAC, the hole would not have been discovered and according to the docs, "It would have been VERY BAD. You both would have been in a lot of danger." She finished my exam and left the room in minutes, allowing hormonal post-partum me to burst into tears. That's a big bomb to drop before I even got the chance to say the word "coffee." The family headed to mass, so I turned on EWTN to calm down... and I was greeted by a program on St. Augustine and St. Monica.

God is good.

We are home now and excited to figure out our new normal. Celine is absolutely nuts about her baby sister and I can't wait to sleep in my own bed tonight, even though I'll have this little angel waking me up shortly:



Thank you so much again for all of your love an support, but most especially your prayers. Please remember us as we transition to a family of four, and rest assured I will be providing plenty more updates and pictures soon.

Just for some flashback fun, here's Celine's birth story.

God bless you all!

Love,

Joel, Justine, Celine, and Monica

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tips for a Happy C-Section

Just in case I do end up having another c-section this time, I'd like to share a few tips from a friend of mine who had her son a few months before Celine was born and was kind enough to pass these wise words off to me. So, without further ado:


9 tips to a happy C-section! (With bonus husband tips!)

Tip 1:  Anesthesia made me shake like a leaf.  I thought I was going crazy - but if it happens to you, know that this is actually normal! 

Tip 2:  After your first dose or so, the nurses will not automatically deliver your pain meds.  You have to ask for them.  No one told me this!  I mean, really, who would not want to take them??

Tip 3:  Enjoy not cleaning gross meconium diapers!  Best part of C-section = all diaper changes will be done by Joel.  Even the 3am ones. :)

Tip 4:  The baby's second night will probably be a little crazy.  Baby slept well the first night, but he wanted to nurse veryveryvery often on night number 2.  The nurses told me that it's common for babies to be really finicky the second night.  I'd suggest just letting baby sleep on your chest if all else fails.

Tip 5:  I needed to buy granny panties (like the super-duper high waisted ones) because my scar was sore for several weeks afterward.  It'd be a good idea to get some now!

Tip 6:  Bring a comfy maternity dress or sweatpants to wear for your ride home, because there's no way in heck you'll want any seams rubbing against your stomach (see tip 4).

Tip 7: Tell Joel to bring the camera into the OR and ask a nurse to take pictures of the kiddo once it arrives.  Some of my favorite pics are in those first few seconds of life!

Tip 8:  If you're having trouble nursing, ask for a lactation consultant immediately.  Mine told me that the key to not getting into a cracked/blistered situation is a proper latch, and she was right.  

Tip 9:  Don't let anyone make you feel guilty about having a c-section. It doesn't matter how the baby gets here, as long as it gets here safely.  You're no less of a champ than women who labor med-free for 48 hours with a doula and and midwife and essential oils andandand...  Seriously.

Bonus husband tip:  

Have Joel bring fun snacks for himself...lots of snacks!  My husband subsisted off of goldfish and fruit snacks for about 36 hours in the hospital.  There's a lot going on in the first day or so and it's way easier to have food on-hand than getting something delivered.  Or better yet, have the some family deliver something for both of you. :)


While I'm in the hospital and spending time with new baby, I'll schedule a few posts to go up and then take a small break to adjust to motherhood. Please pray for my family as we welcome our newest addition oh-so-very soon. Don't forget to cheer on the Denver Broncos this weekend!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

My Post-partum Wish List

In honor of my upcoming due date (12 days, but who's counting??) I'm reading back over my must-have lists from last time around. As some of you already know, Celine was breech and therefore has to be born via cesarian. We are attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarian), but there is only a 50/50 chance I will be able to pull it off, in which case this baby will also be a c-section baby. Meaning, I need to be prepared for anything.

No matter how this baby comes, I have a short little wish list of my own for after she gets here. this is NOT my postpartum or new baby essentials list, which are recommendations for other mommas. This one is just for fun. :D I'm thinking about products and "experiences" (for lack of better terms). So here we go, in no particular order:

1. A Lily Jade diaper bag - I am usually pretty budget conscious, or as Joel would say, stingy. But I'd happily splurge on one of these beauties as a loooong term investment, especially given the durability and how easily they go from super-stylish diaper bag to work/date appropriate handbag. All it takes is a removable insert with--count em--16 pockets to stay with the sitter and momma is good to go. After all, this is a wish list, right?


Photo cred @ralee3kiddos via @lilyjadeco

2. Sushi - I am by no means a sushi snob or even the least bit obsessed with it. I just crave it once in a while, and the craving doesn't go away until I have it again. Then I'm good for another 6 months or so. Given Joel is NOT a fan, I'm usually on my own. Let the record show, though, that ASAP I'm buying myself a spicy shrimp tempura roll and a dragon roll. YUM.



3. A shot of tequila - I'm not a huge drinker in general, let alone tequila. I'm one of those I-like-my-drinks-sweet-with-the-tiniest-hint-of-alcohol-if-any kind of drinks. White Zinfandel, a weak vodka cranberry, a gin and seven with lime and probably watered down. However, once in a while I'll go for a good shot of tequila, only if it is complete with lime and salt. And after this pregnancy, I could definitely go for one sooner rather than later.



4. Cool tunics that would NOT make the wearer look like a giant blob - Apparently, these are harder to find than you'd think. Always try something on before you take the tags off! I have a few things in my wardrobe that will fit now, but when I'm chasing a toddler and nursing a newborn, I'm going to want to not feel like a shlub. Getting rid of the old pre-baby clothes and bringing in the new will help with that, right? Let's just keep telling ourselves that ;)


Found on metromela.com

Found on Piace Boutique

Image via Tiny Toes, Little Nose
5. Community - I have absolutely LOVED being a part of my MOPS group, especially here in a small town. It is a wonderful reason to get out of the house twice a month, get a little breather from at least one of the littles, and spend some time with other adults. Joel and I are also blessed to have an AWESOME parish that we belong to and we feel like we are constantly making new friends and connections through our faith. And of course, having family nearby is always a plus :)

I guess this technically isn't a wish list item, I'm just very blessed to enjoy community, especially with a new baby in the house. 

Enjoy your Sunday everyone!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mom Uniform Love

Little kids always have some kind of an idea of what they want to be when they grow up. Some change every week, some stick with it. They'll want to be an astronaut, princess, computer (my brother in law), fire fighter, ballerina, etc. Me? I've always, always, wanted to be three things: a wife, a teacher, and a mom.


Photo cred: Cstarr Phtotography. She is so talented!

Check, check, check.

I used to dream about being the new Mrs. Cleaver, doing chores in heels and pearls, and baking pies for new neighbors to welcome them to the neighborhood. I wanted to bring snacks to school, drive a minivan or SUV, and be a super cool soccer mom.



Found on jodimckee.com

Well, my kid is too young for soccer (or walking, for that matter), I'm pretty sure I haven't worn heels since the first half of my first pregnancy, and so far WE are the new neighbors in town, but I can work on the cool mom clothes!


A quick Pinterest search of "mom uniform" immediately references [helpful!] posts about upping the ante from shabby, stained, boring, mom-jean-esque clothes. Hence, my inspiration. I absolutely LOVE the t-shirt and jeans combo, but adding a completer piece (scarf, hat, jacket, cardigan), with some kid-friendly jewelry (if you find anything other than stud earrings, let me know... until then I'm still battling grabby hands), and swapping the old sneakers for Toms, Keds, Sperrys, scrappy sandals, or my favorites of all time, flats and tall boots (depending on the weather). Here are some of my most favorite looks:



SECRET: I wear black exercise pants as capris (because I have to) and paired with the right pieces, they work!
Pinned from stitchfix.com


Button-downs an loose tunics are nursing friendly, peeps! Holla!
Original post from willscasa.com


If I learned anything from Stacey London and Clinton Kelly, it's that style and comfort CAN coexist :)
Outfit found on polyvore.com

Ladies, there's no need to sacrifice style for function. There are tons of nursing friendly, post-partum body friendly, machine-washable options for women in awkward body phases and beyond. Don't hate on the "mom uniform" for being casual, cliche, or whatever. Make it your own, own that ponytail, work that updo, and embrace the momhood. Yes, I'm a mom, and I'm not afraid to dress like it. Haters gonna hate, mamas gonna chase little children around, clean spitup, poopy diapers, and messy floors 594759323 times a day, but dayum, am I going to look good doing it!





How do you make the "mom uniform" your own? What's your go-to outfit? Do you have a tried and true formula? Any tips for dressing as a mom? Feel free to share by commenting below or messaging me! Don't forget check out other outfit ideas on my Pinterest boards. :D

Monday, September 14, 2015

How to Get Better Sleep

This is a follow-up of sorts to my earlier post about getting up in the morning. I guess if I were to post these in order this should have come first, but whatever. You're reading it now so it still counts!

Especially late in pregnancy, it's hard to sleep at night. Like, HARD. So many people told me before Celine was born "Get tons of sleep while you can!" but I ended up with a decent sleeper and I got way more sleep, even when I was nursing at night, than when I was in my last couple of months pre-baby. Granted, that will most likely be different this time around having Celine to wrangle, so I'm doing my best to be prepared.

This, of course, means lots of Pinterest searches. Here are a few of the tips that are tried and true by yours truly, pregnancy and all:

1. Make your bed in the morning - It's a good habit to build anyways, but how great does it feel to peel back crisp, smooth, cool covers to snuggle into at night? It's a little touch in the morning that feels soon good when you're ready to hit the hay. Bonus points for sheets that are freshly laundered!

2. Quit the caffeine... after noon - I would never advise you to give it up in the morning. I'm not that mean. However, caffeine stays in your bloodstream for HOURS, and can still be coursing through your veins when your body is ready to start winding down. Give your body the rest it needs and see if you can find another afternoon pick-me-up (future post idea??).

3. Try not to nap - This is pretty much impossible for me right now (I'll fall asleep anywhere if I'm tired enough), but this could be your body's cry for rest. Answering that call is great, but you'll become more dependent on them as your body adjusts to a schedule with a long nap during the day and a shorter nights sleep in bed. New parents are an exception to this one.

4. Don't go to bed on a full stomach - Going to bed shortly after a huge meal can make you feel uncomfortable and bloated, let alone the possibility of indigestion, acid reflux, and poor "food processing" (for lack of better terms) by your body that should be laying down and resting, but instead is fighting the weird angle and working on your food. Kind of a gross thing to think about it, but it's real, guys.

5. Wind yourself down - Just like little kiddos need a bedtime routine to help them prepare for bedtime, adults benefit from giving your body little cues that it's almost time to power down for the night. Dim the lights, turn on a sound machine or fan, put on comfy jammies, use some soothing/aromatic lotion (I have mine from our local salon & day spa and its AMAZING). Keep up with the routine and you'll feel the results in no time.

6. Stretch it out - Stretching helps get that last bit of energy out, while at the same time relaxing any stiffness that might make you uncomfortable as the night goes on. Why do you think people always yawn with their whole bodies or stretch after a nap? Because it feels good, yo.

7. Avoid electronics - I mentioned this in the morning post as well. Your body needs a chance to adjust to the change in the time of day, and the light from electronics can trick your brain into thinking it's not actually bedtime. Let the lack of sunshine do the work. TV, tablets, computers, and phones have tons of stimuli on them with all of the games, apps, social networking, emails, etc. that can just get your mind fired up, proving to be more of a hinderance than a help when you're needing to wind down.

8. Read something, preferably on paper - Kindles are all the rage, but they're still electronic. I stay away from electronics before bed, but if you want to make this an exception, be my guest. Reading has almost always put me to sleep (sorry my former college professors), and it still helps me decompress after a long day. Audiobooks are a great alternative to paper pages, and they double as canceling any extra noise (or stark silence, which bothers hubby). Words from the wise (not me): you should probably try and avoid super gripping suspenseful novels that you wouldn't be able to put down (*cough cough, Hunger Games*) because they might end up just keeping you up all hours of the night to hear what happens.

What do you do to get a good night's sleep? Anything I'm missing from the list? I love to hear your questions and thoughts!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Blog makeover day!!

New name, new face, face coffee-addicted Rauch family you know and love!

I decided it was time I gave the blog a little bit of a facelift. My taste has changed quite a bit since I started this blog, and when Joel looked over my shoulder at it a week ago he just said, "...that's a lot of pink." And it was. Don't get me wrong, I love pink, but I like the new look so much better!


Jammin' with Daddy

"Get off me, Mom, I'm trying to watch Sesame Street"
So here are some things that have been going on around here...

We are now less than two weeks away from Baby Girl's arrival. Technically I'm due in October, but my small window and just-okay odds for a successful VBAC are throwing us for a loop, we have an induction scheduled for September 25th. So soon!! It's weird to think that Celine and I won't be the only ones holding down the fort during the day, but I know that as soon as the baby is born we'll barely remember life before her (as it always goes, doesn't it?).

We had Celine's name picked out for the first 8 months of my pregnancy with her, and then all of a sudden I woke up at 4 AM and just decided I didn't like the name anymore. Joel and I went back to the drawing board, flipping through Saint books, ancestry records, baby name books, and whatever else we could find. I'm a pro/con list kind of woman, so we made a list of our top names and passed it back and forth for a while, circling and crossing off names until we got to our top 4 of each gender, then we individually rated them by preference of 1-3... it was quite the system. THIS time, we had our names picked out the week we took the positive test. Aaaaand big surprise  a week or two ago I changed my mind again. We have our top names again (different from the last ones), so we'll see what we end up with when she arrives!


We're VERY excited for baby <3
I'm determined to shed the baby weight BEFORE I get pregnant again, so this time I'm making a plan to get healthy, active, and back to myself sooner rather than later. I have the trusty help of Farm Mom Fitness, my dear friend and new Beachbody coach. As soon as I'm cleared by the trusty doctor, I'm starting PiYo (a combo of Pilates and yoga... yes please) and Shakeology. I'll make sure to post progress pics as I go, or at the very least a review of the program when I'm done. I can't wait!

We're still chipping away at our house projects, but we at least have plans of what to hang on what walls in each room, so we're getting there. I will say it's finally starting to feel like our home now, verses a place we're staying in for a while or just a new-to-us house. I have no idea how we're going to fit baby gear and toddler toys in our living room WITH furniture, but that's part of the fun, right?

I've been watching Food Network on Netflix waaaay too much recently, so I fall asleep with words flying around my head like "poblano peppers," "arugula," "risotto," and "creme fresh," while I dream of extravagant breakfasts and fancy date night dinners with Joel. I have no idea what half of their ingredients are (or finished products), but it's definitely making cookery more fun! Be sure to check out my Pinterest food boards for inspirations and recipes; I'm hoping to slowly but surely cook through them ALL. Yum!

And just in case you haven't seen this yet, you should. Happy weekend!!



Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hospital Bag Essentials

Happy (belated) Labor Day all! In honor of labor day, I'm packing my hospital bag for Baby girl #2's arrival, hopefully soon! I definitely over packed last time, but then again I packed before I knew we'd need a Cesarean, so this time I'm going to be a little more prepared, no matter what happens.

We have a super awesome OB wing in our town, and the nurses are incredibly generous and sent us home with quite a bit of "starter kit" items. Anticipating the same (worst case, I've got stuff at home from Celine), I'm leaving a few things off the list that you might find on other lists. For example, I did not bring a robe of my own or clothes to wear while I was in the hospital. I had compression socks on the whole time (no need for slippers) and I didn't want to bring EXTRA clothes for myself because... why would I want the extra laundry first thing home?! Same thing goes for baby clothes... I brought 2 season-appropriate onesies for baby just for the trip home.

As far as what actually went in my bag... here we go!

1. Use a big bag - Make sure there's tons of room for stuff to bring home from the hospital. We were given extra diapers, hats, nursing pads, spare disposable undies for mama, pacifiers, little toiletries and creams, a water bottle also for mama, baby thermometer, and probably a couple of other little things I don't remember. If all else fails and you don't get extra goodies, it's a lot lighter to carry than a smaller overstuffed bag!

2. Phone/camera and charger - I'm sure you and baby daddy will be wanting to document the first few moments of your little lovie's life! Make sure you have what you need to let the family know, your new arrival came, take way too many squishy newborn pics, and break in your baby scheduling app if you have one (they have a billion of those that track sleeping, eating, diapers, etc).

3. Boredom busters - There will be down time, whether it's between contractions, when there's nothing on TV (if there's one in the room), or when nurses are poking and prodding and whatnot. I packed a few girly magazines I hadn't read yet, a puzzle book, and a lighter novel (the last thing I wanted to do at that point was read a dense book I'd have to study for class). I might take my zentangle tiles this time, and I guess a phone or tablet counts as a last one if you have games on there too. And of course, a computer for blogging!


I can't wait to start this goodie!
Save The Date by Jenny B Jones

4. Snacks - My food was taken care of (when I actually could eat), but Joel really appreciated having some of his favorites on hand. I stuffed a big pocket of our backpack with gummies, granola bars, goldfish, club crackers, and cheese sticks. I'm pretty sure he went through most of it day one!

5. Toiletries - It felt SO GOOD to have a chance to shower and wash my hair (and put on a minimal amount of makeup) before we allowed well-wishers into our room. The hospital provided shampoo, but it was nice to have my own travel bottle from home, along with my own conditioner, face wash, and body wash. And don't forget a toothbrush and toothpaste!


Fresh hair and makeup, but I tried my best to go for the "effortless new mom glow" look :D

6. Heading home outfit - I cannot stress enough how glad I was to have brought a nursing tank, thin jacket (summer baby), and LOOSE sweat shorts for the trip home. It was nice to be out of the hospital gown (Tip from some veterans: in case there's any bleeding or whatnot, make sure its dark or not something you're too attached to). Although there are no pictures of me leaving the hospital this time around, here's one of our first little gem.



I'll probably add more pictures when I have everything together and going in the bag (obviously not the phone and computer yet). Only a few weeks to go! Have a great week folks!