Friday, April 25, 2014

Noelle update - 4 months of life!

It has been awhile since I have blogged. Needless to say, I have been so busy. I completely underestimated the amount of time it takes to take care of a newborn. It is constant. I barely have time to take a shower in the morning! Anyway, I figured I should document some of the difficulties of these first few months so that I remember them in the future.

The first two weeks of Noelle's life were not SUPER difficult. She slept a lot like a typical newborn. She also went back to sleep in the middle of the night fairly easily. I could transfer her from my arms to her cosleeper without much effort. It also was great because my parents were at my house. They helped with meals, and cleaning etc. I honestly didn't have to worry about much other than taking care of Noelle. My mom even did 90% of the diaper changes.

Around week 3, Noelle started showing signs of colic. She would cry for hours and there was no way to console her. To make matters worse, she had a frenotomy (tongue tie correction) at around 4 weeks and then had trouble latching. We still had issues with latching for weeks, and we went to speech therapy until she was almost 3 months.

At 8 weeks, Noelle had gained 5lbs since birth (she is a little chunk). She had good days and bad days. At this point she still wanted to be held throughout naps, and if she wasn't held, she would wake up.

Around the 3 month mark, we were dealing with a possible UTI. We discovered that she was crying as she was peeing. We took her to the doctor and had a pee bag done, the test came back positive so we needed to do a catheter. That was a HORRIFIC experience. It took the doctor like 3 times to get the cath in and she was screaming. I felt so bad. The culture from the cath urine came back clean. However, we had her on antibiotics anyway... just to be sure. Then we took her to a pediatric urologist to do a follow up. They did the bag pee again, and the culture came back negative again. So, we are unsure if she really had a UTI or not. I will say that around 3 months, she became a completely different baby, and she has continued to improve!

One change that we did was we switched temporarily from cloth diapers to Huggies. This way she would not feel the moisture from the pee. Although, I wanted to do cloth diapers, I will say that the convenience of Huggies was definitely addicting! We did Huggies for about a month. She really had gotten so much better. At one point she was sleeping around 9 hours and then an additional 2-3 after nursing. Then, she went through a slight 4 month sleep regression. Honestly, it wasn't that bad. She would way up at a 1am to nurse and then 5am to nurse. So instead of one nursing, she did two. However, she is already back to one nursing a night again. When she started nursing at 1am, it wasn't a huge problem because I was already waking myself up in the middle of the night to pump.

We are now back into cloth diapers and they seem to be going fine! Fingers crossed! She still doesn't nap well. Literally her naps are 45 mins long (you can set your watch to it). Around the 3 month mark we started doing a bit of sleep training. I would put her in her crib for about 1 minute and she would whine/cry. I would then go pat her back. Then I would let her cry for 5 mins, and then go pat her (and on and on). However, I never had to go to the 10 min mark because she always went to sleep after the 5 min patting. It has been a good compromise for us. Noelle rarely ever would take a nap without crying a bit (even if she is in my arms), it is as if she has to get out that last bit of energy.

She is also pretty mobile now, she rolls from back to front and front to back, although when she gets frustrated she sometimes forgets how to do it and I have to turn her haha!

Overall, I will say that I do love being a mom. It has been quite an adventure. I am very tired even with getting enough sleep at night. It is all worth it though seeing her little smiling face :) She is such a little cutie!

Ok that is enough for one blog post, I need to remember to update you all more often. Now that Noelle actually is more content, it is a bit easier for me to sit down and write.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Noelle Update: Tongue Tie and Breastfeeding

Well, if I thought finding time to blog when I was pregnant and working was tough, it has been 10 times harder to find time now. Anyway here is a little update.

Having a baby is TOUGH! Seriously, this is the toughest thing I have ever done. I know they tell you it will be difficult but it is impossible to completely imagine until you are in the middle of it. However, I will say that I have had a bit of a different experience then many moms because my baby had tongue tie.

Noelle had a bit of trouble latching on the first day and a half. It was very difficult for us at first. However, I do count myself lucky because after a bit of help from a lactation consultant (Leah Virgin- who I HIGHLY recommend) she started to latch. That first night all she wanted to do was latch but I had to use the C hold on my breast for her to do it. Therefore, I had to stay awake as she "latched and broke away" and then got frustrated when she wanted to latch again. Finally, my mom took over and they were able to get her to go to sleep while I got some sleep (I was VERY sleep deprived the second night).

After that, we had no problems really, other than a bit of nipple pain (just the normal slightly chapped type stuff). She nursed pretty well... but there were still a few issues. Here were the positives and negatives:

1) By week 2 Noelle had gained an entire lb, by 2.5 weeks she had gained almost 2 lbs on her birth weight. This was GREAT news.
2) She for the most part was sleeping pretty well
3) She was pooping a lot and having good diapers (though not perfect- see below)

1) The poopy diapers were still somewhat green which means I have too much foremilk (I have oversupply so a lot of "low fat" milk comes out at first)
2) She started to get VERY gassy, so much that we had to get Colic Calm to get her to relax a bit
3) During the day she would wake up almost every hour for food (which probably goes hand in hand with her only getting the non-fat milk)

When the lactation consultant did her first day evaluation of Noelle, she said that she MAY have a slight tongue tie do the fact that she was snapping her tongue back rather than keeping it extended over her bottom gum line. She wasn't sure if it was tongue tie at the time but thought I should get it checked out if she didn't latch.

Well she did latch but I decided to get it checked anyway because it could effect eating solids, breastfeeding long term, speech, etc. Well on Monday we took her to a pediatric dentist and sure enough she had a posterior tongue tie level 3. The dentist did recommend having the frenotomy so we went ahead and did it.

It was HORRIBLE watching her get it. She just wailed and wailed. Then the whole next day she did not want to latch at all. Ever since she has been having trouble latching. She finally got it to some extent but I know it isn't "correct". My nipples come out looking squished and it isn't exactly pleasant feeling. she cries every time we nurse and it is this whole ordeal. She also still gets major gas and colic calm doesn't seem to be working well. Also, she always seems to be hungry so I am unsure how much milk she is even getting. Poop is still green too. It has been a very traumatic ordeal for us and I am just at my wits end. I feel like I can't do anything to comfort my baby. She is just always unhappy. It is so hard and I pray that it will get better. I am constantly praying she will latch better... its all I can do at this point.

It is just so hard. Prayers are appreciated.  I am just glad she had gained weight early on.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Resolutions- and 2013 update!

Ok so figuring it is time for a new year of resolutions, let me start by seeing how well I did on last year's resolutions. Of course, the pregnancy caused some of my resolutions to be void. Haha!

2013 Resolutions

  • Get logo/branding figured out. (DONE!!!
  • Second shoot 4 weddings.  (Completed- I second shot exactly 4 weddings this year)
  • Shoot at least 4 portrait shoots. (Done)
  • Finish Beth Moore Study.  (Ya, nope, not even close)
  • Finish reading the Bible. (Nope, not even close)
  • Pray every day together before work. (We started, but then stopped. We need to start this up again)
  • Exercise 4 days a week.  (Pregnant-Didn't happen. We maybe exercised once a week.)
  • Get back to goal weight.  (Ya, definitely can't happen when pregnant. This is a goal for this year!)
  • Try to “eat” all needed vitamins rather than pop pills (So much for that, I was on a prenatal vitamin!)
Home Related
  • Get new tree (100%, yay! we got a crape myrtle, I can't wait for it to bloom)
  • Get yard remulched and maintain. (Pretty decent. I consider this complete)
  • Fix nail pops in house. (0%, this has not been a priority)
  • Get all grout cleaned and sealed. (I got the cleaner, didn't actually clean. We did decide not to seal the grout).
  • Get office completed. (This is a MESS... SERIOUSLY. This needs to happen though. )
  • Stick to the budget. (Done! Starting in June, we didn't go over at all. This was all part of the plan)
  • Pay off the Miata (Done.. and we ALSO paid off the CX5. Two cars in one year!)

Overall, I am pretty happy with how well we did this year. Figuring that I wasn't pregnant when I originally came up with the goals, I think we did pretty well. So... on to this year! 

2014 Resolutions

  • Shoot at least 4 weddings this year
  • Shoot at least 6 portrait shoots
  • Create special wedding packages for clients
  • Finish Beth Moore Study.
  • Finish reading the Bible.
  • Get involved at church (after Noelle is at least 6 months old)
  • Pray every day together before work. 
  • Exercise 4 days a week (Hoping to start back up on Insanity within a few months)
  • Get back to goal weight. 
  • Get familiar with herbs and essential oils (already started this)
Home Related
  • Get office completed
  • Get yard remulched
  • Get new rug and coffee tables
  • Fix nail pops in house.
  • Get all grout cleaned
  • Start putting more money away in savings
  • Figure out a college savings plan for Noelle

I know these aren't very exciting goals but I think they are pretty lofty figuring I will have a newborn! We are just trying to adjust to our new life!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Joke Gift - Joke's on me

This year Christmas was well... anti-climactic. After the birth of Noelle, Christmas was just not super exciting. I already had received the best gift of all time. This must be how the grinch felt when his heart grew at the end of the story. I feel like my heart has grown so much for this little girl. I just could never have imagined loving something so much.

Anyway, I figured I would share one of the "interesting" gifts that I did get. Every year it seems someone gets a super surprise gift or a joke gift of some sort. Well this year, the joke was on me! In order for you to understand this bizarre gift, you need some background information.

When I was younger (probably around 8-9 age range) I was a bit neurotic about organization. I am still pretty neurotic but this was probably the start of some serious OCD. My neurosis centered around notebooks. Yes... notebooks. Spiral bound notebooks, bound notebooks, stationary of any sort, binders etc... it all caused me stress. For some reason, EVERY notebook I received NEEDED to have a purpose. If it didn't have a purpose I would literally cry because I was so stressed about it. I even had a notebook where I would write down the purposes of each notebook. This was so bad that literally if someone gave me a notebook for a gift, I would cry privately in a corner in my parents room. My parents had NO clue that I used to do this until I told them when I was older. Haha. I used to go into this corner also to "stress" about what purposes to give the different notebooks. Literally I would spend an hour or two sitting in there trying to assign "purposes" to each of my notebooks.

Anyway, so this Christmas, my sister decided to play a joke on me. I knew something was up when I was receiving gifts from HER mother in law's dog!! This is what I received..

Luckily I don't have this OCD issue with notebooks anymore... or this may have killed me! haha! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Noelle LaRae Portugal - Birth Story

I figured I better document my birth story before I actually forget. I have written this between multiple different naps. Motherhood so far has been exhausting but it is wonderful too.

Anyway, lets back track to the whole labor experience. I am going to break this into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd stage labor so make it a little more readable. It is very long, feel free to skim!


My due date based on my temping calculation was on December 6th, 2013. However, my first ultrasound that I had, dated me at December 8th, 2013. Therefore, in my mind we kind of had two due dates. I, of course, was hoping for the 6th or earlier. Now, one thing to understand is that my sister gave birth to her son on his due date, and my mom gave birth to both me and my sister before our due dates. I was pretty sure I was going to be "on time". Although, the average for first time moms is 41 weeks and 1 day. So I knew, I could potentially go late.

The week of my due date, I went in for an appt on Tuesday (due date on Friday). I had the midwife check me and I was about 25% effaced, baby was probably around -2 position, and my cervix was still high and closed. It wasn't exactly the most positive information but honestly all of that can change so quickly.

On Friday, I was tired, and just done. I had caught a horrible cold on Thanksgiving and it had NOT let up. I was extremely afraid that I was going to go into labor and be drained and sick. Around noon on Friday, I left work to get some peppermint oil to help my nose. I was frustrated because Noelle was most likely going to be late and I was sick. Ivan's parents, aunt, and grandmother had come into town on December 5th and were flying out on Monday morning. I really wanted them to be able to meet Noelle. Anyway, Saturday passed, Sunday passed, Monday passed, Tuesday passed.... I was getting frustrated and Ivan's family had left. My sister was flying out on Wednesday morning, so since I wasn't already in labor on Tuesday night, I knew she was going to miss it too.

I had been having a REALLY hard time sleeping due to the sickness and congestion in the days leading up to Wednesday as well. I was consistently waking up every night for about 3-4 hours because of the sickness. It was exhausting. Luckily around Tuesday, I had started feeling slightly better, but the sleep was still hard to come by. I had started taking naps in the middle of the day just to regain strength for when labor DID start.

I had done a few things to try to get things going after my due date. I had a wonderful "labor" massage by Kelli Hall, was using acupressure, and on Tuesday night I decided to take an enema to see if I could get things going. Around 12:30am on Wednesday morning I was up like typical, and I ran a bath for myself (pretty common). While I was sitting in the bath, the stupid power went out!! So here I am, sitting in the bath, in pitch black dark. Luckily, I had my iphone with me so I used the flash light to get out of the bath. I walked out to my laptop that was in the kitchen, because I wanted to check the Centerpoint Energy site to see when they said the power would be back up. I got on the site and it said around 3am... ug!

Anyway, as I was standing there in kitchen in my robe, I felt like something was about to "drip". So I grabbed a papertowel and held it "under" myself. I immediately soaked the papertowel. At first I thought, well maybe that was just bath water? But then it was more like a gush. So I grabbed some more paper towels and bam, drenched them. At this point I was thinking CRAP my water just broke, its 1am, I haven't started any contractions, and the POWER IS OUT!  I freaked out. I went to the bathroom and as I was sitting there, I called my doula who was in San Antonio for her final exams, and the midwife on call for the birthing center. Both of them reassured me that since my water broke in a "gush" (meaning not a slow leak) my contractions would almost surely start within a few hours. I then woke up my family to let them know what was happening, and they quickly changed my sister's flight (which was that morning) to Friday.

1st Stage Labor

So now, let me clarify a few things. Many hospitals will put you on a time table once your water breaks (heck they do it even if your water doesn't break). However, unless you have something like group b strep, it is not necessary to have your baby within 24 hours of your water breaking. The baby is still attached to the placenta and your body is still trying to replenish the water so staying hydrated is important. Anyway, the midwives assured me that I shouldn't worry about going into labor and that as long as I went into active labor within 72 hours, all would be OK.  They consider "active" labor to be when your contractions are on average less than 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long, for about an hour (which is pretty standard). This typically is indicative that you are around 4 cm dilated.

So, after my water broke, I basically went back to bed... and sure enough my contractions did start. They weren't super strong at first but I could tell something was happening. I slept as much as I could then I got up and walked around the house for awhile (light contractions were coming around every 15 minutes or so). I then took another nap around 10am. The nap made my contractions stop and at the time this frustrated me a lot (looking back, I should have just kept sleeping KNOWING that eventually they would pick up). But, at the moment I just wanted them to pick up. Therefore, we went to the mall to go walking around. We walked around for about an hour or so. We planned on going to Lupe Tortilla for lunch, but my contractions started to get stronger and I figured it was actually best to go home. When I got home, my contractions picked up. There started being between 5-7 minutes apart and around 1 minute in length or so. I was extremely uncomfortable and because my contractions were all in my back. I had heard about back labor but I never thought I would experience it. It is seriously horrible! It actually is so painful that it overshadows the normal contraction pain. At this point I didn't even have a clue how bad it would get.

Counting contractions at the mall

Jessica french braiding my hair

By that night (Wednesday), I tried to sleep but my contractions started coming stronger. They had decreased to every 15 mins again, but they were so painful that I had to sleep on the floor in the living room to help. That night was horrible... contractions were painful and varied between 7-10 minutes apart. When they came... they were horrible. There was no sleeping through them. By the morning, I was exhausted.  In the morning,  I decided to contact Kelli again (the massage therapist) to help with my back labor. She frequently massage women who are IN labor, so I figured it would help. We took the "painful" drive over to her house and I got a great massage. Although the back labor did not stop, she was able to help release the tightness to some extent. She also showed Ivan the best place to massage and provide counter pressure.

After the massage, I contacted Nativiti (the birthing center) to see if I could get checked. I arrived and they hooked me up to the fetal monitor. Noelle was doing just great... however based on the timing of my contractions, and the fact my water had broken, they didn't want to check me (to prevent bacteria from being introduced). It was very disappointing, but I went home. It was then that I called my doula, Lisa Rutledge. The midwives at Nativiti wanted Lisa to help me with some "Spinning Babies" techniques in order to get Noelle to be in the best position to come out. Back labor often is indicative of a malposition. Lisa came over and helped with the Rebozo (a wrap that goes over your belly) and every time I had a contraction, she would pull up and Ivan would apply counter pressure on my back. Lisa also had me do this side lying release position on each side for three contractions. This hurt like CRAZY!!!! Omgosh, it was horrible but I just suffered through because I knew it could help. I continued to labor at home for a few hours longer using the rebozo, cold compresses, peppermint oil on my back, and counterpressure etc. My contractions hadn't sped up too much, they still were around 3-4 minutes apart lasting around 1-1.5 minutes, but at least I was in active labor.
Lisa with the Rebozo wrap

Lisa getting me into a different position

I knew that at some point I was going to need to go to the birthing center. The car ride would be horrible. I bent over the sofa and just started crying. I was ready to give up. The pain was so bad, and my contractions weren't getting closer, so I felt like I probably wasn't super far along. I basically wanted to go the birthing center, but I also didn't want to go. I didn't want to go there and find out that I was only at 4cm. Either way, I decided to pack it up and go to the center. The car ride was excruciating as expected. Because I was riding in the car, no one could apply counter pressure to my back. When I got to the center, Jamie (one of the midwives) checked me...moment of truth...she looked up at me with a smile and look of sheer pity she said, "oh honey... you are at 8 cm! Let's get you in the tub"... OH LORD!!! The happiness overtook me. I started crying tears of absolute joy. My mom was in the other room and thought I was crying because I received bad news. I found out even later that I was probably more at around 9cm but she didn't want to get my hopes up too high. I went to the birth room and they started running the bath water. I got in the tub and it felt awesome! Omgosh it was great. Of course, that only lasted until my next contraction. I stayed in a hands and knees position in the tub with Ivan applying counter pressure (this was pretty much my default laboring position). At this point, I was still going through transition. But I was so committed to pushing through at this point.. I was ALMOST THERE!
Contraction at Nativiti while waiting on the bath

Contractions, Ivan, Lisa, and Betty (midwife in training)

Ivan applying counterpressure

1st stage contractions are the worst!

2nd Stage Labor

I looked up at Lisa who was sitting next to the tub giving me constant encouragement and smiling. I asked her, "when will I know when the pushing contractions are?" She reminded me that they would feel different and "expulsive". The problem is that if you have never experienced an "expulsive" contraction before, you have no clue what that means. Haha! Luckily, my NEXT contraction (right after I had asked Lisa) was just that... "expulsive". The contraction started off as a normal contraction, then it like took over my body. All my muscles clenched and I felt like my body was just pushing on its own. It is hard to explain...but I will say, it felt WAY better than 1st stage contractions. At this point my contractions slowed down. But when they came, it was pushing time. I was in second stage labor (pushing stage) for about 2.5 hours. I pushed for awhile in the tub in multiple positions that the midwives suggested (changing positions helps to progress things a bit faster). I was sooooo concerned about pooping in the tub, but when the time came, I couldn't give a crap (haha no pun intended). There was no helping the pooping and honestly, I don't even care. At that point, I was just so DONE with labor, I wanted this baby girl out!
Lisa told me to give a "quick smile" for the camera, this was the best I could do

During the whole process, the midwives also were checking Noelle's heart rate constantly. She was doing fine. The midwives also checked me during my contractions to see how things were going. Katherine (the midwife on call), told me that we really needed to get me out of the tub for awhile so she could stretch my ligaments. I guess my ligaments inside were so tight that it was preventing Noelle from moving farther down. So, I got out of the tub despite not wanting to. They then put me on a birth stool to push. While I was contracting on the birth stool, Katherine reached inside and stretched my ligaments. Not gonna lie... this was NOT fun. However, I felt an immediate change, it felt like my pushing was actually DOING something. It was then though that they checked Noelle's heart rate and it had dropped. They quickly moved me over to the bed to put me on my side to see if the rate would pick up. I absolutely HATED HATED HATED contracting and pushing on my side (it isn't pleasant for back labor) but I would do anything to keep Noelle safe, so that is what I did. As soon as I laid on my side, her rate popped right back up. They then moved me back into the tub. Sadly, at this point, I had to push on my side in the tub. I remember taking my Bradley Method natural childbirth classes and thinking... that the side pushing position looked like the WORST pushing position ever. Honestly, I wanted to push in a squat in the tub. However, Noelle had a mind of her own and she liked the side position. So there I pushed, I felt her coming out. I could feel her head moving, and knew that crowning was right around the corner.
Katherine (midwife) checking the heartrate

When she did crown, I felt a bit of burning. I know that many women fear this "ring of fire" they call it when the head comes through. However, it really wasn't that bad in my opinion. It may have been because I was in the water, I am not really sure. It stung a bit, but wasn't that horrible. Then she started coming out. I reached down and I felt her hair!! I couldn't believe it. Then I had about 4 more contractions and her head came out. Then they had me push a few more times (without the contractions) to just get the rest of her body out. Then she was mine to hold! Oh she was so precious... just soooooo precious. Honestly, I still can't get over her. She is too cute and gorgeous for words.

My mom actually came in the room right before the last push, so she could see her. It honestly was such an awesome moment for us. My little girl finally in my arms. I seriously couldn't be happier.

My mom and sister
3rd Stage Labor
The next part of labor is not quite as exciting haha. The midwives waited until her cord stopped pulsing and brought Ivan over to cut it. Ivan and I had talked before and decided that we really didn't care if he did or did not cut the cord. So I asked if it would be ok for my sister (who Noelle shares a middle name with) could cut the cord. So Brittany cut the cord. Then Noelle was FREE :). I let Ivan take her while they dealt with third stage labor (delivering the placenta). We had a bit of an issue here. My contractions had slowed down before second stage labor, so they completely stopped for third stage labor. We waited about 40 minutes to see if the placenta would just come out... but it was having some trouble. Therefore, they had to give me some pitocin (a small shot of it in the butt) and then had me get on my hands and knees and basically wait. I finally delivered the placenta! Then I was free to get out of the tub.
Melanie (midwife) waiting on placenta

Because I had such a long labor, I agreed to give Noelle the Vitamin K shot just so it would help her heal a bit faster. They also wanted to give me the pitocin, not just for the placenta but because I had a long labor and they wanted to make sure I contracted up. They checked all my vitals to make sure I was ok... and then Melanie (the midwife that was now on call) stitched me up. I had a 2nd degree tear, which considering everything, was not that bad at all! Noelle and I rested, ate, had our vitals checked, tried to breastfeed (which was tough), and just relaxed. There was a whole team of nurses and midwives who were bustling around just doing everything. Noelle was weighted at 8lbs 1 oz and 20 inches long. The sweetest little girl ever. So alert! She had 8/9 agpar score which is really great!

I delivered her at 9:36pm at night (around a 44 hour labor) and we were discharge and home in bed by 1:30am.

Ok so now I am going to give shoutouts to people that made up my wonderful birth team:

First and Foremost-Ivan
Ivan was a wonderful coach during the entire birth process. He attended 12 weeks of Bradley classes with me and stayed every minute by my side. Every contraction I needed counter pressure and he was there. He practically got into the tub with me to apply counter pressure. When Noelle's heart rate decreased for a few minutes, he was there to comfort me, reminding me that nothing was wrong, and it was all going to be ok. He really was my support and there is no way I could have done it without him. He also has been a great father to Noelle, getting up early in the morning for crying sessions, diaper changes, etc. I am so grateful that God placed him in my life. I couldn't ask for a better father for Noelle.

Lisa Rutledge- My WONDERFUL doula
Lisa was our Bradley method birthing class instructor. On the last week of the class, we decided to have her be our doula. We were originally unsure if we wanted/needed a doula. Since we were having a birth at a birthing center with midwives, we didn't need anyone to help us "fight off" doctors who would try to push pitocin on us. However, we realized that it would still be beneficial to have a doula. Why? Because, a doula comes to your home. I would be able to labor as much as possible at home before going to the birthing center. The doula also is with you the entire time. The midwives come and go during the process (just like a dr) but the doula is there the entire time. Lisa was seriously one of the best decisions we made! She came over to the house and helped us with spinning babies exercises, helped relieve pain with the rebozo (as listed above), brought multiple different ice and heat packs, and brought essential oils that helped with pain. She also was an invaluable resource leading up to the birth. I texted her the entire labor before she arrived, and after the birth she has continued to be a great resource! She is the one who recommended the massage therapist, and the peppermint oil for when I was sick. She also searched for a lactation consultant that could come over immediately after the birth (at no cost even) to help when Noelle was having trouble latching. During the birth she was a constant source of encouragement too, reminding me that I was doing great, and that I could do it! She made sure I was hydrated with coconut water during the labor and even fed me crackers after the birth to help with my energy. When I was totally exhausted, I would look up and see her smiling face saying "you are doing great! you are strong!" She stayed at the birthing center until we left and helped clean up dishes for the meal we had. She was such an invaluable part of the birth team!

Midwives and
I really love Nativiti. The birthing center was an amazing place to have a baby. Seriously they have a team there to help with the birth. It was such a comfortable environment to have a baby. It is also wonderful to be able to hold your baby immediately after birth and not have him/her pulled away. I mean, how amazing is it that they would actually reach up and STRETCH my ligaments to help get Noelle out! These women at Nativiti are just so skilled in childbirth. When it comes to the natural act of having a child, they are even more knowledgeable than doctors. I would say that it was the aftermath of the birth that most impressed me about Nativiti. After giving birth, they monitored my progress, made sure Noelle was doing well, and just treated you like a human rather than a sick patient. It was just so comfortable.

My Family and Friends
It was really great to have my family here with me during the whole process. My mom and dad made sure that I was reminded to eat and drink during the labor. The night of my labor my mom and sister came and stayed up with me for a few hours when I couldn't sleep (because of the contractions). My dad went and bought coconut water for me to drink. My sister and dad also stayed out of the house with my nephew during my active labor so I could concentrate. My parents have also cooked, cleaned, and just taken care of everything around the house (especially after the birth). My mom has changed countless dirty diapers and done tons of laundry. I am so thankful for them. I also am thankful for the countless friends that I know either in person or through online sources that were constantly praying for me throughout this (and who have given me so much help after the birth). Your prayers helped get me through some of the most painful contractions.. thank you so much!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Baby Noelle Portugal: 36,37,38, and 39 Weeks

Well, I just keep getting worse and worse when it comes to blogging consistently. This may possibly be my last blog post before Noelle is here... figuring I am 39 weeks!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good:
- The nursery is complete at this point. Ivan took a video below.
- I haven't had too many awful symptoms of the third trimester. My weight is under control and I don't really have any swelling as far as I can tell. So that is all good!
- Noelle is making her way "down". I can tell. Although it isn't always the most comfortable feeling, it makes me really excited!
- I had both my baby showers, and they were both fabulous! It was great to see all my friends. 
- The baby book I ordered arrived, along with a Christmas stocking for Noelle.
- I am one week out... still feeling pretty good. Most people are like "GET THIS BABY OUT" by now and I really don't feel that, so I consider myself kind of lucky.. for now. 

The Bad
-  I do have some pains now and again from Noelle moving downward

- If I have to pee... I have to pee or it hurts. That is never a good thing in the middle of the night. 
- I look pretty huge and nothing really fits anymore
- I have quite a few stretch marks... oh well!.... I am a zebra
- I may be getting sick.. I feel a cold coming on which is NOT good at this point. 

The Ugly
- Nothing super bad lately. 

36, 37, 38, 39 Weeks
How far along: 39 weeks
Total weight gain: I have gained around 40 lbs (depending on what time I weigh). I am pretty satisfied with this number. 
Stretch marks: Yup.. all over. They look pretty bad.. ug
Sleep: Sleeping is fine.. although I turn from side to side a LOT. 
Best moment of this week : Well, within the last 4 weeks I have had both my baby showers. They were really great! It was great to get to spend time with my closest friends. Noelle also got some beautiful things!
Miss anything: Sleeping on my stomach.. and maybe walking normally. 
Food cravings: Nope!
Anything making you queasy or sick: If I eat a lot of greasy foods it will make me sick. I had a barfy moment around week 36 when I ate too many greasy foods on the weekend. Other than that I have been completely fine. 
Labor signs: Just Braxton Hicks, Noelle moving downward.
Belly button in or out: Its out now... pretty much.
Happy or moody most of the time: It has varied between weeks. I think overall I have been in a pretty good mood. I would say this week 39 has been the "moodiest" of all of them. 
Looking forward to: Noelle being here. My next midwife appt is on Dec 5th (the day before my due date). My sister is also coming into town on Tuesday. 

My registry is up at

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Baby Noelle Portugal: 32/33 AND 34/35 weeks

Wow.. this pregnancy brain this is getting bad. I can't believe how long it has been since I have updated this. I just keep forgetting every weekend. Haha! So I guess you will probably see a pretty big jump in belly size from the last pic figuring it has been a month!!

October was a CRAZY month for me. Work was just super busy, so busy that by the time I reached the weekend, I was just dead. However, that didn't stop me from shooting 2 portrait sessions, second shooting 2 weddings, and 1st shooting a wedding (all while working like crazy at my full time job). Needless to say, I am ready for November and things to just calm down a bit! 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good:
- Noelle is very active. She has been doing well. 
- The nursery is pretty much complete. We have a few small details remaining, but it is complete (pictures coming soon!)
- Our birthing classes have been going well. Although, I am probably ready for them to end. 12 weeks is a LONG time. 
- I have had no swelling (which I hear is really common at this stage). My feet look normal and so do my ankles. I actually would still be wearing heels if I hadn't been told not to (I guess it isn't good for baby positioning or something like that)
- Noelle is head down.. so yay!
- It is getting "real" since this weekend we will be packing the "go" bag.. wow!
- My weight gain has been in control... I have gained around 30lbs which I consider highly successful. 

The Bad
-  I haven't been getting enough water lately (my fault of course). When I am really busy at work I just forget to drink water. 

- Been just having overall aches and pains. The joys of the third trimester. 
- No more highheels for me (midwife orders)... my flats are so ugly!
- Sleeping has become more uncomfortable but it hasn't been super bad. 
- Oh ya.. I kind of look HUGE!

The Ugly
- Work has been well... horrendous. As I have mentioned before, I am doing my job +80% of another girl's job. It is just crazy over here. So I am busy all the time. This last week was just horrible. 
- Oh ya.. the Miata (the cursed car) got hit AGAIN. Although it isn't our fault at all (someone backed into Ivan).. we will probably end up paying our own deductible because people suck and lie.. and insurance companies will do anything to get out of it. 
- Um how about this picture below... ug! 

32, 33, 34, and 35 Weeks
How far along: 32, 33, 34, and 35 weeks
Total weight gain: I have gained a total of around 30lbs total. I have been staying around 30 though. My goal is to gain less than 40 haha! I haven't been exercising at all though. Ivan did take me walking the other day which was good. The weather has been sooooo nice that we should definitely walk more!
Stretch marks: Yup.. I have them on my butt, upper thighs, and lower belly.. fun fun fun. I think Noelle is trying to create more too haha!
Sleep: Eh.. not that great. Sleeping on my right side is easier than my left, but I still wake up a lot. 
Best moment of this week month: We got the Noelle LaRae sign for the nursery! I was so excited, I ordered it around 2 months ago. Also my midwife appt was pretty awesome! I love the midwife Melanie...! Got Noelle's first Christmas ornament too!
Miss anything: Sleeping on my stomach I guess. 
Food cravings: Nope... nothing really. 
Anything making you queasy or sick: Nope
Labor signs: Just Braxton Hicks
Belly button in or out: Flatish/out I guess. 
Happy or moody most of the time: I have gone between moody and happy the last four weeks. Honestly, as I said October was a horrible month. 
Looking forward to: My baby shower! I have a work shower on Nov 5th and then one at my home on the 23rd!

My registry is up at

Monday, October 7, 2013

Baby Noelle Portugal: 30 and 31 Weeks

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good:
- Noelle is doing well... very active
- Had another midwife appt and everything is fine... she is growing well
- We had our maternity photos taken and they are beautiful (if you haven't seen them on facebook go check it out!)
- The nursery is almost finished! I will post final pictures once it is complete (the dresser should be here next Saturday.. I can't wait!)
- I haven't had the back pain lately so that has been good.

The Bad
-  Sleeping has been ok. I keep rolling over onto my back. They always say that pregnant women shouldn't sleep on their backs but also that they won't WANT to. Clearly that is not the case with me. Ivan has to roll me over in the middle of the night.

The Ugly
- Stress.... I am so stressed. It doesn't have to do with Noelle really. It is mostly work, and house stuff. I am trying to manage it with relaxation techniques but it has been tough during the day. 

30 & 31 Weeks
How far along: 30 and 31 weeks
Total weight gain: I have gained a total of around 22lbs total. Haven't gain much at all lately. 
Stretch marks: Yup.. on my butt.. none on belly. 
Sleep: Not that great lately... I am very tired as well. 
Best moment of this week: We had our maternity photo session and got the pictures back :) They are absolutely beautiful! 
Photo by Katie Lamb Photography

Miss anything: Sleep
Food cravings: Nope.. nothing
Anything making you queasy or sick: Nope.. doing well here. 
Labor signs: Just Braxton Hicks
Belly button in or out: Flatish/out?? It really isnt out.. like only the top part has pushed out. It is kind of weird actually. 
Happy or moody most of the time: Tired...moody I guess
Looking forward to: My baby shower! 

My registry is up at

Monday, September 23, 2013

Baby Noelle Portugal: 28 and 29 weeks

Seems like this may become the pattern.. every two weeks. I may have been a bit optimistic in the beginning trying to post every week. :)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good:
- Sleep has been getting better. My birthing instructor comforted me telling me that I cannot squash Noelle by laying partially on my stomach.. Nice to know!
- Went to a La Leche League meeting. It was ok.. but now I am on a researching rampage because there is so much I don't know.
- I have been booking photography sessions like crazy (I know this doesn't have to do with Noelle but it has been good)
- Birthing classes have been going well
- I got the fairy painted on the wall and it looks great!!
- Looks like all the insurance stuff will get worked out. The birthing center is going to give me a letter confirming that I will only owe my copay! So yay! That is finally off my back. 

The Bad
-  I have had some major back pain lately. Ivan typically just gives me a good back massage but it still hurts

- Noelle has been freaking me out lately because she has been kicking inconsistently, I am sure she is just fine.. but it still freaks me out. 
- We originally weren't going to have to spend the time to PAINT the fairy. It was supposed to just be a nice decal, however it really didn't stick to the wall well. 
- Because of Houston rain, my photography session got postponed. However, we are going this week so yay!

The Ugly
- Nothing much, other than back pain which I wouldn't consider "the ugly" 

- Honestly, probably just stress. Work has been stressful, and then I have photography responsibilities, home responsibilities, baby research (there is a LOT of homework associated with my birthing class). I am just a bit burned out. 

28 & 29 Weeks
How far along: 28 and 29 weeks
Total weight gain: I have gained a total of around 22lbs total. I am still on track to meet my weight gain goals, so that is good! Honestly my weight gain goal is... less than 40. Hah! I will be happy if I can do that much. 
Stretch marks: YES!!!! so I finally got some but get this... they are NOT on my belly! What the heck! I got them on my butt and the back of my thighs.. and the amazing thing is.... my butt hasn't really grown.. there is still some loose skin there. So what gives! Whatever... guess they showed up where I wasn't putting coconut oil. Although, I have now started!
Sleep: Its been better this week. 
Best moment of this week: Getting the fairy finalized on the wall. Actually, (non-baby related) Tim Hawkins was AWESOME. We had such a great time.Seriously.. if you haven't seen him, definitely go sometime!
Miss anything: Eating normally...
Food cravings: Nope.. nothing
Anything making you queasy or sick: Nope.. doing well here. 
Labor signs: Been having some braxton hicks. Every once in awhile I will feel my belly and it will be as tight as a rock. I don't really "feel" when they are happening, I just happen to feel my belly. 
Belly button in or out: Flatish/out?? It really isnt out.. like only the top part has pushed out. It is kind of weird actually. 
Happy or moody most of the time: My stressed! That is my mood. I am typically ok... but I definitely can get moody. 
Looking forward to: My maternity shoot is today! :) Yay. Also, I am looking forward to my shower 

My registry is up at