let's get real for a minute.

My baby doesn't sleep.
He was awake for 9 hours straight yesterday until he finally drifted off...
for 30 minutes.

Some days I can handle him being constantly fussy for hours on end
Some days I can console him while he battles hour long hiccups
Some days I can grit my teeth and bear to pump AGAIN (nursing is a whole different story)
Some days I can handle cleaning up spit up one thousand times
Some days I can handle bathing him one thousand times
Some days I can handle changing Cole's outfit one thousand times too.

But on the other days...
I fuss for hours on end too.

Last night I dedicated myself once again to helping Cole sleep.  A nice, warm, lavender bath followed by a lavender lotion massage, clean, cozy jammies, swaddled neatly, fed a nice warm bottle, bedtime songs and bedtime prayers.  He quietly slipped into a deep sleep...after only one 30 minute rest in over 12 hours.
15 minutes later, Cole was awake.  10:34 pm found me kneeling next to his crib with hot tears streaming down my face, pleading with my Father in Heaven to help me know what I was missing.  Why couldn't I comfort my own baby?  What was I doing wrong to prevent him from getting much needed rest?  I confided in Him that I was hungry, and I was exhausted...I didn't feel like I even had the strength to hold my fussy, crying baby one more time.
As I knelt there in that dark room, I began to reflect on Cole's bedtime prayers we say every night together.  Each night we pray for Cole's two little friends who are battling serious heart conditions...friends that Cole may not be able to meet for a long time.  We pray for Logan and Garrett's mommy and daddy, and ask that Heavenly Father will send angels to comfort them...we ask that he bless Logan and Garrett to be comfortable as they try desperately to heal.  We thank Him for our blessings that we are okay.

I thanked my Father in Heaven that Cole was able to get frustrated... that he could be fussy and cry...because those things are dangerous for little Garrett...his body isn't strong enough to handle those emotions, even though he feels them often.

I thanked my Heavenly Father that although Cole spits up, he can keep most all of his food down...because Logan couldn't.  He still isn't gaining weight because his heart has to work so hard to keep his body functioning correctly.
There are days where I do complain, and I do cry.  Not everything is perfect over here...especially me.  But I will forever count my blessings for these experiences, and for the example that my two friends, their husbands, and their sweet boys are to me.  I still can't imagine what heartache and exhaustion they suffer...even when I try my very hardest to put myself in their shoes.  When my days find me at my wits end, all I have to do is think of them...and all of a sudden I find the strength to go on.

So, I will continue to do my very best...even if it means that Cole ends up only wearing a diaper most days for quicker and easier spit up clean up...even if it means that although it drives me crazy, I can leave the dishes and vacuuming for another time so I can console my little boy now.  Even if it means that some days, I cry myself through it.

"If nothing else, our children provide us the opportunity to learn patience.  That may be love's most fundamental aspect of all."

I LOVE you, baby Cole.  No matter how long or how difficult some days may be.  You are my love, forever and ever.


When I look into your eyes...

It's like watching the night sky,
Or a beautiful sunrise...
There's so much they hold.
-jason mraz

A few pictures from month #1:

From top left-top right: 
1.  Cole loves to just be in his diaper, but wrapped in thick blankets.  He always has to have his arms free!
2.  First walk in the stroller.  Cole smiles SO often...when he's not fussy, that is.
3.  Mama loving up on little Coliebug
4.  For the first three weeks, Cole would only sleep for 30-60 minutes at a time, and only in his bouncer (even at night).  If we wanted to achieve the 60 minute sleep, it was best for him to have free, bare arms!

From bottom left to bottom right:
1.  "There isn't enough room for the two of us..." 
Shortly after this picture was taken, Duke began shoving Cole away with all four paws...yeah, I think it's safe to say that they're getting along well ;) (I think Cole is sporting the massive bib look well, don't you?  Maybe one of these days he'll stop spitting up everything he eats!)
2.  Showing us his cute dimples...what a love.
3.  Cole loves his Aunt Brookie...and so do I!  This picture was taken after my sister had come to my rescue one morning.  We had been up most of the night with our colicky Coliebug, and I was exhausted and frustrated, feeling like I was doing everything wrong (have any of you mothers been there too?).  Brooke quickly ran over, brought me breakfast, and took Cole AND Dundee for a few hours so I could clean my house and take a breather.  When I went to pick them up, Cole was happy as a clam, and loving listening to his Aunt Brookie talk to him.  So cute.
4.  Just another cute picture ;)

Aunt Marla also took some great photos of our little boy when he was a little over a week old.  I love how they turned out, despite how fussy he was the entire time!  She captured his moments of blissful sweetness perfectly.



Cole's birth

Since I began dilating and effacing at 34 weeks along, my doctor, along with the rest of us, were sure that Cole was coming much earlier than his expected due date.  I would experience tightening quite often, but I wouldn't notice it unless I was actually touching my belly, because I never felt any cramping or pain.  Week after week went by, and I continued to progress, but no baby!  I would normally be perfectly fine with this (after all, my first wish was to be able to labor at home as much as possible before going to the hospital) but because I was tested positive for Group B Strep at 8 weeks pregnant, that meant I needed to be on 4 hours of antibiotics during labor, before the baby arrived.  Our biggest concern was that with me being dilated to a 4+ at 38 weeks, my chances of not being in active labor long enough to be on the antibiotic were high, and I didn't want to have to send my new baby to the NICU for 2 days!  So, here was the debate...should I be induced, or not?  It seemed like everyone was telling me that I should...just set the date and get it over-with.  But my intuition told me otherwise.  I have never wanted to be induced, and I didn't feel like that was the right thing to do for my baby.  I had strong feelings that he would come when he was ready, and when it was the right time...so that meant I needed to pay very close attention to my silent contractions and practice being very patient!  My doctor was incredible through all of this, and was completely supportive of our decision which made things so much easier.
38.4 weeks
The morning of December 10th I called Shane at work to tell him that something felt different, but I wasn't sure what it was.  We decided that I should move up my appointment from the 13th to the 11th because I wasn't feeling the baby move very much.  Shane was able to be with me, and I will never forget the fun we had as we waited for my doctor to finish delivering a baby before he could see me.  He hadn't known that he would be delivering a baby until I was already undressed and waiting for my exam, so the nurses told me to just wait.  SO...I sat there, halfway undressed for 45 minutes while we waited - it was hilarious, and we laughed almost the whole time.  We didn't realize that our baby would be coming so soon, so as I look back now I feel so grateful that we had that fun time with each other without any worry or responsibility.
After my exam my doctor told us that not only was I continuing to progress, but that I had been having regular contractions during the entire appointment.  He told us that we could walk right over to labor and delivery right then if we wanted, but we decided to go home and wait things out - just in case I really wasn't in labor.  When we were leaving he said, "I am expecting to get a call from labor and delivery later on tonight!" but we doubted him!
Around 7:30 pm I noticed that I had been experiencing painless contractions, but they seemed to be happening at regular intervals.  By 8:00 they were happening consistently every 3 minutes, and lasting for one minute.  Shane and I still doubted that this could really be true labor, because everyone had told me that I would KNOW when I went into active labor.  The tightening didn't stop, so we decided to put our bags in the car, and head up to labor and delivery to be checked.
As we arrived, Shane buzzed in and said "um, I think my wife is in labor..." I'm sure the nurses thought we were crazy, because as we walked in I wasn't in any pain whatsoever.  They got our information and asked me to get changed into a gown to be checked.  It was 9:30 pm when they got me hooked up to measure my contractions, and at that time they were happening every 2 minutes apart and lasting for one and a half minutes a piece, leaving me 30 seconds in between for recovery.  I was dilated to a 5 and completely effaced.  The nurse looked at me with wide eyes and said "do you need your epidural now?!  You are in serious labor!"  Shane and I couldn't believe it...this was actually it!  I was actually in TRUE ACTIVE (painless) LABOR!
We were kept in triage for a couple hours because there weren't any delivery rooms available (I felt quite like Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ at this point...there was no room in the Inn for us!).  During our wait in triage, 6 other couples came in to be checked...all were sent home.

We are staying...I am in labor!
waiting in triage...check out those contractions!

Around midnight, room 5 became available.  It was so nice to finally get settled in our quiet, dimly lit delivery room.  Mom, Brooke, and Shane's mom were with us, and we were later joined by dad and Shane's dad.  We brought my ipod and speakers and had peaceful music playing, and we had packed treats for everyone to share while we waited.  I actually quite enjoyed snacking on the ice chips...really.  I thought they tasted so good!  At this point I was dilated to a 6+, and the only pain I felt was very bearable, (hardly noticeable most of the time) and all located in my lower back.  It took me awhile to get to a 7+, but once I got there, Patricia, my nurse, told me that if I wanted an epidural, I needed to get it now, or else I wouldn't be able to get one.  Because it had been my plan all along to get the epidural, I agreed to it.  I remember Patricia asking me before the epidural was done what I would rate my pain as on a scale of 1-10...I answered 2...my body was shocking me...I couldn't believe that my labor had been so easy.

Right before the epidural, dilated to a 7+

Dr. Madlang was the anesthesiologist that did my epidural, and he was incredible...mostly because he was dealing with an EXTREMELY wimpy and emotional woman during the whole ordeal!  Going through labor was a CINCH compared to getting that IV.  I think if I had been feeling more pain from the contractions, I would have welcomed the pressure and pain from the epidural, but I honestly could hardly handle getting it done.  I really struggle with IVs, let alone a massive one.  I completely wore myself out just through the process of getting the epidural - and looking back now, I wish I hadn't even gotten it!  I was doing perfectly fine, and know that I could have made it through the delivery.  Yes, it would have been painful, but I could have done it.  (I beg the dentist to do all my cavities without the numbing - that's how much I can't stand the needles and numbing sensation)
I was given what is called a "walking epidural", which meant I could maneuver my entire body on my own.  The numbing sensation was limited to a certain area and it only dulled the pain - it didn't remove it.  However, just feeling any sensation of numbness really bothered me, and made me nauseous.  Obviously, my labor really slowed down at this point because I wasn't able to allow my body to progress on its own.  By 3:00 am, Patricia told me that they were going to start me on pitocin (the induction drug) to speed up my labor.  I asked to not be put on any medication, because I felt strongly about letting my body, and the baby, go through this process on their own.  I instead asked for my water to be broken to help the labor progress.  About a half hour later when Patricia came to have the resident break my water, they found that it had broken on its own!  YES!  Within about 45 very exciting minutes, I was dilated to a 10.
I now had a different nurse, Sara, who was incredible.  She was so responsive to me wanting my body and the baby to progress on their own and helped me do just that through natural methods.  Instead of pushing the baby down to crowning, I was able to lie in different positions so the baby could come down on his own.  It was very relaxing, and fun to visit with my family and the nurse during that hour. Once he was crowning, Sara called my doctor.
At this point, my light epidural was very weak - just how I wanted it to be.  I could obviously feel all the pressure, but I also felt sensations of pain through the delivery, which I welcomed.  Everything felt so surreal...seeing the baby's nurse come in, getting the scale and other items ready to go, moving the bed to prepare for delivery, and seeing the table get prepped with everything needed.  It was such an exciting moment when my doctor arrived, and seeing him get ready for the delivery only heightened my thrill for what was happening.  I wasn't afraid...I was so ready!  Mom, Dad, Brooke, my mother in law, and Shane, all stood at the head of the bed during the delivery, and Shane was so helpful in helping hold up my body while I pushed.  Because I was able to feel almost everything, I was able to direct my own pushing instead of having the nurse direct...I could push when I felt like I needed to.  I began pushing, and with each push I could see concern building on my doctor's face...after my fourth push he told me that I had very high chances of having a periurethral laceration (tearing upward), and asked my permission to do an episiotomy.  I was fine with it (who in the world would want to tear upward?!).  One more push and I heard the nurse and doctor exclaim "wow, he has two cords!" which meant that the cord was wrapped around his neck twice...yes, if you remember, this baby was extremely active in my belly!  One more easy push and he was here...his warm body was placed onto mine...and I couldn't believe my eyes that he was here.  My chest could hardly contain my swelling heart as I looked at him, and listened to my family all shouting for joy "He is here!  Look at him!  I can't believe he is here!"  My sweet doctor picked up my sweet baby, whose cries were quiet, looked at him and calmly announced that after almost 4 years of waiting, he was here...we had done it...this had actually happened.  Cole was here.

He was actually born at 6:35 :)

He wouldn't stop wiggling to be weighed

Right after delivery...we did it!

Shane, Cole, me, Dr. Seale

My amazing nurse, Sara, Shane, Cole, me, Dr. Seale

Cole with Grandma and Grandpa Stratford (their 12th grandchild born on 12.12.12)

Cole with Grandma and Grandpa Ferguson (number 15 for them)

Cole being held by his Aunt Brookie (who loves him like he is her own!  Thank you sis!)
Right after the delivery I was so exhausted from being up all night (and wasting my energy on that darn epidural!).  I tried to hold my baby, but I felt like I was going to drop him because I had zero energy left!  I don't remember much after that because I was in and out of sleep, but I am so glad that Cole was able to be held and loved by everyone in that room.  What a lucky baby!

After an hour or so we were taken to our recovery room where I was able to get up and shower right away...that shower felt like a piece of heaven!  Shane and I were on cloud nine,  and enjoyed every single part of recovery.  The food was amazing, visitors were welcomed (although I missed getting pictures of most of them...), and the care and teaching I received from the postpartum nurses was so nice.  

Cole with Rachel
Cole with Aunt Brookie
Grandma Ferguson

Cole with Grandma Stratford
The reindeer hat was a tad too large!

Because Cole was jaundice, we wanted to get him in the sun as much as possible...but during our hospital stay we only had sunlight for about 10 minutes!  Shane quickly picked him up to hold him in the sun.

Going home!  
What an incredible experience it was having Cole.  If I could go through labor and delivery a thousand times, I would!  I enjoyed every single second of it, and Shane and I have completely enjoyed being parents.  It feels like we have had Cole all along...and it makes me wonder what I ever did with my life before he joined our family!