Friday, August 16, 2013

Sweet Caroline

In case you haven't heard the news, we welcomed our precious daughter into the world outside the womb on Sunday, August 4th, at 5:38 pm.  Miss Caroline Avery Gilles weighed 6lbs 13oz and measured 20in long (and that was with a little extra incubation time -- I was due July 31st).  For those who weren't able to be with us during labor & delivery or haven't heard the details from that weekend, here is Caroline's birth story:

I started early labor on Friday (2 August) around mid-day.  We did a lot of work out in the barn installing a new stall mat system in Cora's stall (Kevin did MOST of the work) and we also vacuumed the pool by hand...I guess this was my version of some last minute nesting.  We started timing contractions and they were getting pretty consistent and close together so we made the call around 9:30pm to go ahead and make our way to the neighborhood of the hospital.  We loaded Riley and our bags up and went to my folks' house to get Riley to bed and hang out for a bit before heading in to get checked.  I could still pretty well talk through contractions at this point, but they certainly were not going to let me get any sleep.

We made it to the hospital a bit after midnight (now 3 August) and waited in triage for a relatively short amount of time before getting checked.  We really thought I'd be at least 3 or 4cm dilated at this point...I was a whopping 1 cm.  FAIL!  I was pretty dismayed at this point because I hadn't had any sleep since Thursday night and I really didn't know how I could handle going a whole lot longer without some rest and still have a chance for a successful VBAC.  We went back to my parents' house rather than making the trek home and spent most of the day there waiting for something to change.  We went for a walk, I contracted regularly the whole time.  As soon as we got back to the house, nothing.  I had almost 25 minutes between contractions at that point.  We decided to load up and go back home for the night to see if I could get some rest while the contractions seemed to have tapered off.

Saturday morning.  Waiting for something to happen, watching Cars, and building seats out of cardboard bricks.
Something must've changed on the drive home, because I had what seemed like one marathon contraction for about the last 20 minutes of the trip.  I managed to eat a little bit when we got home (I hardly ate anything the whole day) and tried to get my body to relax a bit by taking a couple warm baths.  The baths offered a little relief, but the second one was far from soothing.  From about 8pm until 5am the next morning, I tried everything possible to get comfortable and ended up spending the night in bed tossing and turning, walking around our bedroom, swaying, or sitting on an exercise ball and leaning on the bed.  At 5am, Riley woke up and came in our bed and cried every time I had a contraction (poor kid).  So, I sent my mom a text asking her to come to our house as soon as she woke up -- luckily, she was already up and made it to our house by about 6:30am to take care of Riley and the animals while Kevin and I headed back to the hospital.  We were both really nervous about going back, because the contractions were super intense, but were still pretty far apart.  In fact, I probably only had a handful of contractions on the 45 min drive to the hospital.  So, we braced ourselves for the possibility that I'd made no progress and would either have to wait it out longer or that I'd be admitted for an induction or c-section or something else (I don't really know what the next step would have been).

We made it to the hospital a little before 8am and the triage routine went much more quickly this time.  Our nurse was fantastic and brought in this poor brand spankin' new resident to check my progress.  I may have been the first OB patient he'd seen...but he had a great bedside manner and I'm sure he'll make a great doctor.  Anyhow, he checked me and looked at the nurse with some doubt and said "um, uh, I think she's a 5 or a 6?"  I was ELATED!  The nurse checked and confirmed his assessment.  We were on our way!!  I swear, the pain melted away to a certain extent after that.  I made my epidural request immediately so I could get a little rest before I needed to push.  Again, we really lucked out in the nurse department.  We had a wonderful woman named Debbie take care of us through labor and delivery -- she was determined that Caroline would be born before her shift was over at 7pm.  She was really fantastic and so supportive and POSITIVE!  The labor part was pretty uneventful except that I didn't progress for a few hours after they started my epidural and broke my bag of waters, so they started the dreaded pitocin (I was gun shy from last time) to help get the contractions more regular and efficient.  The intensity of my contractions didn't need any help, but the interval between them needed to be shorter and more consistent.  Within about 2 hours of starting the pitocin, I was 7cm dilated and received a redose of my epidural.  We had evidently found the sweet spot for the pitocin, so I tried to rest as much as I could while Debbie prepped the sterile table full of all the fun tools to aid delivery (if the need were to arise).  That was when it started getting real for me -- we were only a few centimeters from meeting our baby girl and from me having a successful VBAC.  About an hour and a half later, I asked Debbie for another redose of my epidural.  I could feel very little from just below my hips down (including the REALLY important part), but I was able to feel each very strong contraction pretty well at this point and it was getting tough to talk at all during the contractions again.  We decided together that it would be best to get checked before doing a redose in case it was time to push.  I would probably have a lot more success pushing if I could feel a little more than I wanted to than to be completely numb.  So, Dr. Payne (I know, right?) came in shortly to check me and looked up at me with a very dry manner and said "so, what would you say if I told you that you had no cervix left?" And I think I replied with something along the lines of "I would say that is AWESOME!"  He declared that I was fully effaced, fully dilated, and that Caroline was a +1 or +2 station.  It was time to push!

At that point, it was just me, Kevin, my mom, and Debbie in the room and I started pushing at 4:52pm.  Debbie coached me through a few contractions and I got the hang of it remarkably quickly.  I had a mirror, which at first made me feel completely defeated and I wondered if I could do it, but a few good pushes later and I could see the top of her head and that mirror became my focal point and a source of incredible inspiration.  Pushing was not one of the most physically grueling things I have ever done, but the emotional aspect of it made it one of the most intense experiences ever.  About three contractions into my pushing effort, Emily made it back to the hospital and joined my bedside support team.  They were absolutely wonderful and kept things light between contractions and focused during them.  I'll be forever grateful that they were all able to share that experience with me.  After 30-35minutes of pushing, Dr. Payne returned to observe my progress and after just a few contractions, Caroline was crowning.  I was able to rest through two or three contractions while the doc, nurses, and the poor newbie resident dawned their gear...then Caroline decided she was going to go ahead and come out on her own whether they liked it or not and the delivery team kicked it into high gear/catch mode.  Before I knew it, she was out, stretched out on my belly, trying to scream.  And I was crying and couldn't be more in love.

Saying hello to my sweet girl.
I was able to hold my sweet girl for a while until the umbilical cord stopped pulsing (per my request).  After it was clamped and cut (my mom did the honors), the nurses worked on sucking all the gunk out of her mouth -- she pinked up right away despite being rather congested.  She really handled that long labor exceptionally well and never had any dips in her heart rate and stayed spunky and active the whole time.  I am so excited to see the person develop and emerge from this precious little bundle.  For now, I am soaking up every sweet moment and loving each second with this sweet little girl.

Caroline is a blessed little girl to have such a fun, loving, crazy big brother.  Riley has adjusted very well to the changes that come with a new baby in the house.  He was freaked out by me in the hospital until I could get out of bed and hold him on my lap for a story.  Then it was game on, unless of course I was holding the baby -- it took a few days for him to come near me if she was in my arms.  Now, he crawls up in a chair to snuggle with us and has even given his baby sister a few sweet kisses on the top of her head -- he has also already accidentally smacked her in the face (the first of many such "accidents" I'm sure).  He is definitely amused by his little sis, especially when she has the hiccups, and I see that amusement giving way to love and protectiveness very soon.

Kevin and I are so truly blessed by our two amazing, beautiful, healthy children.  They are our everything, even during epic meltdowns in the car or lap-running marathons around the kitchen island punctuated by high-pitched squeals.  We think we couldn't possibly love them any more...and then we do.  I can't wait for you all to meet our lovely Miss Caroline.  Until then, here are some pictures.

Pretty sure that Daddy is actually the one wrapped around her finger...

Baby feet!


How's that hand taste?

Taking a well earned nap after a long few days.

So cuddly!

Going home!

Ah!  Home at last!

I love these babies (and the crazy bed head)!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

37 Weeks!

Well, we have officially made it to term! We keep thinking good thoughts that the duration of the pregnancy is smooth and we are able to safely deliver our little girl a few days after Tasha's wedding on the 27th.

I am still in a bit of disbelief that we are so close...this pregnancy has been SO different for a lot of reasons. I am way more healthy, Kevin has been gone for the majority, I am not working, and I'm fully engaged with caring for Riley. And of course the pregnancy itself has just been different as far as symptoms, how I'm carrying, and whatnot.

Please keep us in your thoughts as we draw nearer to meeting our precious daughter. We look forward to sharing her with you when she chooses to make her grand entrance. Until are some pictures of her in utero...

11 weeks

37 weeks (a little low, ya think?)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Six Wonderful Years

Just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that six years ago today I married the most wonderful man in the world. On June 2nd 2007, I never thought we'd be where we are today...and it has required a lot of sacrifice and effort...but I wouldn't have it any other way. I look forward to each and every moment of our future together. You make my dreams come true, Kevin. I love you with every ounce of my being (and you get an extra bit this year since I'm all bloated with baby)!

Monday, May 13, 2013

I know...I know...

I'm the worst blog updater EVER!

So, since it's been 10 weeks since my last post about this pregnancy, I figured I owed you all SOMETHING.  I'm just about 29 weeks along at this point.  I've got some compare and contrast photos to show our progress with our darling girl -- and also a few pics from my pregnancy with Riley so you can see how DRASTICALLY different a "paleo/primal pregnancy" is from a "standard American diet pregnancy."

Before I dive into the pictures, I'll give you a quick rundown of how things have been going symptom-wise.  As I enter the 3rd trimester, I JUST started getting a bit of heartburn.  Dizziness and light-headedness is pretty much gone (other than if I get a bit dehydrated or forget to eat).  Sleep has been OK...I remember sleep being more difficult with Riley at this point, but my belly really hasn't bothered me much.  Second trimester was probably worse because my knees and hips were aching a lot as I "expanded."  Our little girl is so low in my belly that my lung capacity hasn't suffered too much at this point.  She is head down (at the moment) and I hope she stays that way for the duration.  I can feel her movements so much more clearly than I could with Riley (probably because I'm so much smaller -- I only JUST hit the weight where I STARTED the pregnancy with Riley)'s awesome when she sticks her little bottom up against my ribs.  Of course, by awesome I mean unpleasant and slightly painful.  Anyhow, that's the rundown.  Things are going well and we certainly hope that they continue on the same trend through her successful delivery.

5 weeks

11 weeks
19 weeks with Riley (left) and Baby Girl (right)

28 weeks with Riley (top) and Baby Girl (bottom)
I know every pregnancy is inherently different, but boy do eating habits have a MASSIVE impact on things.  I wouldn't be surprised if this little girl gives Riley a run for his money right off the bat ;-)  I'll get some photos with that original outfit one of these days -- I stopped doing weekly progress shots at 11 weeks...but it'd be kind of funny to see the drastic difference at this point.  My abs held everything in until about 20 weeks and then they gave up and revealed the bump.  I'm still fitting pretty comfortably in a lot of pre-maternity clothes, but I'm usually wearing "farm clothes" anyway, so they have plenty of room in the first place and Kevin's jackets accommodate the belly very nicely.

Still tracking for a 31 July due-ish date.  I'll keep everyone posted as things continue to progress.

Friday, May 10, 2013

How did this happen?

How do we have a TWO YEAR OLD?!?! I think we are both still in a bit of denial that Riley has had our world turned upside down for two years already. What a wonderfully chaotic little blessing he is. We absolutely adore our little man and cannot wait to see him as a big brother.

Here are some pictures from the quaint gathering we had here this past weekend.

Thanks, Grandpa, for the popped collar.

Happy Birthday, big guy!

Up to surprise there.

Please excuse the weak birthday cake and candles...I assure you it was made with lots and lots of love (but no dairy).

Made with love = YUM!

Train table!!!!!

After the festivities, we had a low key day for his actual birthday.  The weather didn't exactly cooperate and let us do anything super fun outside...but it did break long enough for him to get his big gift from us.

His own John Deere Tractor.  We love you, Riley! 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Just wanted to share a few short videos of Riley going for an Easter egg hunt in the house this morning. Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

19 Weeks and Counting

We had our mid-term ultrasound yesterday morning!  Everything looks wonderful and right on target with growth and anatomy.  The baby was apparently laying on the placenta -- like a giant bean bag chair.  *Glad you're not hesitating to make yourself comfortable in there!  Just make sure you're ready to vacate the premises after 27 July (Tasha & Steve's wedding).*  Anyway, the little one just has quite a bit more growing to do over the next 20+ weeks.  At this point in the pregnancy, I have gotten over the hump (I hope, anyway) of the not-so-fun symptoms.  I haven't had any nausea or cramping like I did during the first trimester.  The only bothersome stuff I'm experiencing at this point are some normal aches and pains and light-headedness.  It's all well worth it though :-)  I'm a lot more active (thanks to ditching the 3hr round-trip commute everyday and having to single-mom it on the farm half the time) during this pregnancy, so I think that has helped me feel pretty darn good to this point.  I hope it continues!

I probably should've warned you to put on sunglasses to shield your eyes from my dreadfully pale skin...sorry.

We will certainly keep you posted (hopefully a bit better than we have been) for the duration of the pregnancy.  In the mean time, here are a few pictures of the newest addition to the Gilles Clan.

Same little nose as Riley (and the same camera shyness as well).

Quit wiggling just long enough to get a few good profile shots.

Cute little foot!
And now for one of the most highly anticipated images...

We love you and are so excited to meet you, sweet baby girl!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Life of a Backyard Chicken Farmer

Most people think we're a little nuts with the animals we've slowly added over the last 5+ years as a married couple.  Here's a recap for those who don't know: 3 dogs, 2 horses, 1 fish, 1 cat, and 6 chickens.  And we've housed and cared for others as well, they just aren't in the current tally for various reasons.  The chickens are probably among the quirkiest, yet easiest, animals we've had to care for over the years.

Now, don't get me wrong, plenty of effort went/goes into their care.  Kevin purchased a coop and built an awesome run for them prior to picking them up from "the crazy chicken lady" (seriously, imagine the crazy cat lady and then replace the cats with chickens).  He is about 90% finished with a second mobile coop as well -- built that from scratch with mostly extra materials at home.  And day to day, we have to make sure their have plenty of food and water, clean the coop as needed, let them out of the coop run in the morning to free range, and then close it up at night to keep them safe from the critters.  So, when it comes to day to day maintenance, they're really pretty easy.

Remember when I said quirky?  That's where having a backyard flock gets interesting.  Chickens are weirdos.  Here are a few of the more interesting experiences we've had so far...

1.  Right now, we have one particular hen (a lovely little black australorp) who has gone "broody" -- which means she is desperately trying to hatch an egg.  Normally, I'd just let her, especially because we do have a rooster and having little chicks would be pretty cool (much cooler than just buying some from Tractor Supply this Spring).  Problem is that our brilliant little bird is trying to hatch golf balls.  At first, she'd go sit on the other hens' eggs.  But they all lay in different nesting boxes, so she ended up being overwhelmed and just stuck to a couple nesting boxes.  She had stayed in the same spot for a couple days, so I checked under her to see if she actually had an egg under there...Nope. Just a nice warm Nike golf ball.  So, now I get to try and break the broodiness by pulling her off the nest and setting her outside.  If she snaps out of it, she should start laying again.  Though, if she ends up sitting on an ACTUAL EGG, I'll probably let her stick with it to see if she is successful.  I'll keep you all posted.

2.  Responsible pet owners know that their animals need to be de-wormed on a regular basis (or put on a preventative) to prevent a nasty infestation.  Well, same goes for chickens.  I just did the first round of worming our flock has experienced. An initial dose of wormer, wait 10 days, then a second dose.  The real bummer is that you have to wait 14 days after each dose until you can eat the eggs again.  Giving the birds the medicine is the tricky part.  The first stuff I used just went in their water and they drank it up, no big deal.  The second dose was different, I had to give them 1/2 cc orally.  The broody hen was the easiest, she had her mouth open, squawking at me and I was able to squirt the medicine in her mouth with one of Riley's old Advil droppers.  One other chicken let me hold her while I gave her the meds, but the rest had to be dosed by saturating a piece of bread with the medicine and then getting the chicken to eat the bread.  Hardest part of that process was distracting the other birds so the target bird could eat his medicated piece.  Not exactly as easy as dropping a meat flavored Heartgard chunk into their food bowl...

3.  Only one of the chickens has a name -- that's our rooster (JJ).  Another now has a nickname: The Egg Bomber.  She lays her eggs first thing in the morning (way before the sun comes up), which is odd.  Her clock is a bit off because of the winter and even though the lamp on the coop is on a timer, she still struggles in the morning.  So, either out of laziness or confusion, she doesn't go into a cozy nesting box to lay her egg. Instead, she drops her egg where she stands...on the highest roosting bar in the coop...crack....splat...And she lays the most beautiful huge brown eggs too.  It has been such a bummer to go out there and see her egg destroyed on the floor of the coop.  I was really afraid it would encourage egg eating in the chickens too, because they'd been able to taste the yolk (sounds gross, but they think it's super yummy).  So, I instituted a chicken training program.  I used some of the extra hardware cloth and stapled it over the front of one of the nesting boxes.  At night, I'd grab the hen off the roost and put her into the enclosed box.  After doing that for a few nights in a row, she got back into the habit of coming off the roost to lay in a nest.  I'm glad it ended up being that easy to retrain her.  I've only had to repeat the training once so far -- and I think she was just being a pansy and was too cold to get off the roost to lay.

I'm sure a lot of you just yawned, but I have found raising these chickens to be pretty enlightening and rewarding.  I would recommend having a backyard chicken flock to anyone interested.  It really is super easy.  You can go away for a weekend and not have to kennel them or anything :-)  Plus, you can bribe neighbors with eggs if you need to go away for longer than a few days.

We have also recently lost a member of the flock.  She is the hen who prompted the worming, but I think she was too sick to make it through treatment.  I made a hospital coop for her and she had a nice space heater blowing on her, and after rallying a few days into treatment, she took a big turn for the worse and passed away while I talked softly to her.  It was really sad.  I felt like I let her down.  We will be better backyard chicken farmers because of her, more aware, and better educated.  But I'll sure miss her.  She was lovely and gave us an abundance of beautiful blue/green eggs.  Rest in peace, little chicky.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Our Next Big Adventure

These days we find ourselves maintaining a routine to maintain our sanity -- in Riley's and my case anyway.  We are continuing to count the days until Kevin/Dada gets home (mid-February cannot come fast enough) and trying to keep busy with play dates and family time.  We've been able to manage our little farm pretty well, even with the dreaded "Blizzard of 2012."  Riley received a wonderful sled for Christmas (just in time for the snow), so I can pull him on it out to the barn with me in the mornings.  Riley loves it and I love not having to wrestle a stroller through the snow, drive the truck all 100 yards out to the barn, or carry him around the whole time (imagine carrying a really awkwardly shaped kettlebell around while you do chores).  Really the only things that are especially tough about the cold weather/snow are the horses feet getting caked with ice by the end of the day and their stupid water trough freezing into ridiculously huge slabs of ice. 

Oddly enough, while we are eager for time to pass, we are also savoring every second of this time in our lives.  Our next big family adventure is right around the corner, and I suspect it is going to turn our world upside down.  It will be a time when routines will be revised and revised and revised...and probably thrown out the window on occasion.  But we wouldn't have it any other way.

We are thrilled to announce that our family will be expanding around the end of July.  We are cautiously optimistic that the pregnancy will go well and that we will meet our little one shortly AFTER my dear friend Tasha's wedding on 27 July.  She has asked me to be a bridesmaid, so of course I went and got pregnant with a due date 4 days after her nuptials.  Best bridesmaid EVER.  Seriously though, we are excited, nervous, and filled with so much love we could burst.  We cannot wait to see Riley as a big brother.  He is such a good little helper right now, we're hoping that continues when we bring a newborn home to stay.  I have no doubt that he will have his moments, but I think his little sibling is going to absolutely ADORE him.

We will keep you all updated on our progress throughout the pregnancy.  In the meantime, take a listen to Gilles Nugget #2:


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Play dates!

Riley and I have ventured outside of our comfort zones in the past few weeks.  We needed an excuse to get out of our pajamas out of the house and socialize with other Mommas and their kiddos.  So, I got on and found a pretty awesome playgroup with a bunch of women from all over my county.  I was certain most everything would be closer to Indy, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a group geared toward folks in the suburbs West of Indy.

Other than having my good friend Emily and her son Quinn over to our house for playtime, we have only been to one play date.  It was held at a library that has a fantastic children's area.  I'm talking not just books, but tables with train sets, shopping carts, little tables and chairs, lots of stuff to climb on/in/around, and more.  It was great.  Riley spent the first 5 minutes laying face down on the ground anytime someone got close or looked at him...and then he pooped his pants (nice first impression, fella).  But after he got ALL of that out of his system, it was game on.  He did a great job.  Didn't really play WITH any of the other kids, but didn't attack any of them either.  And he was very stealthy when he stole someone else's toy -- he totally waited until they were distracted and swooped in, avoiding ALL drama.  I was proud.

We will go to another one of these group play dates on the 14th, but in the meantime we have another play date with a mom/son duo we met at the library.  Her son is just a month younger than Riley and might be just as crazy!  He was climbing on the book shelves at the library.  I think he and Riley will be best friends forever. 

Yay for not being social outcasts anymore!