Friday, May 30, 2008

Coming Home

We were given the green light to go home today! In between our every three hour feedings, we piled everything in the car and took Larkin on her first car ride. She slept the entire time!

I was excited to put Larkin in her "coming home" outfit. It's hard to see in the pictures, but it's white with pink, etc. ribbon flowers embroidered on the front. The dainty outfit is so adorable and believe it or not, Brian is the one who picked it out and bought it! Back a few months ago, we decided that we would bring "coming home" outfits for both a boy and a girl to the hospital, since we didn't know what we were having. We quickly found a cute blue with yellow ducky footed sleeper that we liked for the boy's coming home outfit, but we couldn't find the right girl's outfit. Then, for Valentine's Day, one of my presents from Brian was the perfect coming home girl's outfit. He had taken a trip to Tampa for work, and after a long day in the power plant, Brian (in his massive work boots, etc.) went to Neiman Marcus' baby department! He got a few sideways glances from some of the mothers and sales associates, but he persevered until he found an outfit that he loved. When he gave it to me, we both knew that it was perfect outfit and we were really excited to see Larkin in it today.

When we got home, Sera got to meet Larkin. It could not have gone better. Sera leaned in to smell Larkin, but otherwise paid her no mind. I think the fact that my parents are staying with us too, there are enough different things going on that Sera doesn't relate it simply to Larkin's arrival. Sera basically follows us from room to room, smells Larkin upon occasion, lays down in a dog bed that I put under the window in Larkin's nursery when we're in there, and otherwise ignores the baby. Knowing Sera's personality, we knew she'd be great with Larkin, but she has even exceeded our expectations.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hospital Happenings - Day 1 & 2 update

Larkin is a day and a half old now and she has been doing great. Her weight is down to 5 lbs. 9.2 oz., but a slight weight drop is expected after birth. Her bilirubin level is at the medium level right now so she has slight jaundice (which is normal for preemies), so they'll continue to watch her over today to make sure that she doesn't require the blue light. Larkin is learning how to breastfeed and in the mean time is being supplemented to make sure that she gets enough food to keep her weight up and to help lower her bilirubin level. She's eating about 1 oz. at each feeding now.

Not surprisingly, baby Larkin has Brian wrapped around her little finger - he is totally smitten! I just stare at her in amazement... I can't believe she's ours!

Here are a few shots from her over the last day. Volunteers at the hospital make the baby hats so she's had a pink one and now is using a lilac one. They are precious!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Meet our May Flower, Larkin McCann Hittle!!!

Brian and I are the proud to introduce our new daughter, Larkin McCann Hittle! We were expecting a June Bug, but she wanted to come a little earlier and be our May Flower instead!

Larkin was born at 36.5 weeks on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 9:35pm. She weighed 5 lbs., 14.9 oz. and is 18 inches long. She's got luscious lips and big eyes, not to mention a decent amount of hair (that seems to come together in the middle like a faux-hawk)!

All of us are doing really well. Larkin is healthy and while I'm a little sore, everything with the birth went very smoothly. Brian cut the cord too. The grandparents are here with us now, so we're all jockeying for our time with her! She's just perfect and we are so in love with her.

For those of you curious about her name... Larkin is just a name we came across that we love. We had seen an actress in a show with that name and while the show wasn't on TV for long, the uniqueness of the name really stuck with us. Neither of us thought much about it over the next year or so (even after the show stopped running) until we came across it in an awesome baby naming book (and a corresponding website) called the Baby Name Wizard over Thanksgiving. We both just fell in love with it then and knew that was going to be our little girl's name. The origin of Larkin is Latin and it means "crowned with laurels". McCann is my paternal grandmother's maiden name and we thought the positive energy from the "McCann sisters" (of which there were many) would be fantastic for Larkin.

Above are pictures from directly after Larkin's birth. They monitored her for a few hours just to be sure she was a-okay since she was born early, but she did great! More pictures from Day 1 will come tomorrow - for now I need to get some sleep!

In Labor!

Early this morning at 6:40am, I was cuddling with Brian in bed when my water broke. There was little mistaking it, but I wasn't having any noticeable contractions. We were in so much shock and excitement that we rushed about, trying to remember all the things we needed to do... call the doctors and family, finishing packing the bags for hospital, feed the pets, calling to cancel various appointments, etc.

The doctor said that we should head into the hospital as soon as we could and we arrived at about 8:45am. The first two pictures are from when we first arrived in our hospital room #530. It's an awesome birthing suite where the birthing bed (that you can see in the background) is taken out after the birth and you can then pull down a queen bed from the wall so both Brian and I could sleep there. There is medical equipment hidden behind the pictures hanging on the walls and there's also a large jacuzzi bath tub in the bathroom.

The latter two pictures are me during labor. I used a birthing ball some of the time and liked that as a change from the bed. They eventually put me on Pitocin to spur on more regular contractions and make them effective in dilating me. I really could barely feel most of the contractions and our nurse kept telling me that she needed to get me to feel pain! Our nurse, Brandy, was so wonderful... we got along so well that she stayed an extra 4 hours after her shift ended in order to help with the delivery. We were so grateful.

It was when I was about 4.5 cm dilated that I decided it would be a good time to ask for my epidural. I had the anaesthesiologist that the nurses refer to as the "Godfather of Epidurals". He was so fast and did such a great job... I could feel that I was having contractions and I could feel/move my legs, feet, etc. just fine - I just didn't feel any pain. I dilated the last 5 cm. fairly quickly and then finally it was time to push. I pushed for 1 hour (with fantastic coaching from Brian and his mom, Peggy) and then our May Flower made her debut!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Couples Baby Shower

Brian's parents, Peggy and Jim, threw us a fantastic couples baby shower on Memorial Day evening. Above is a picture of some of our friends that were able to join us and another one of us with Brian's parents. I will post a picture of the gifts once I gather them all together and take a photo. The gifts that were bestowed upon us were generous and so thoughtful - we loved them all! Thank you to everyone who has thought of us and our baby!

During the shower, Peggy had us all play a fun little game. Everyone had to guess what the circumference measurement would be when Brian and I stood together belly to belly. The guesses ranged from 50-83 inches (Matt, really 83 inches?!?!)... the actual measurement ended up being 59 inches, which led to Tom getting a gift bottle of wine for his guess of 56 inches. We then had people guess boy vs. girl and the winning guess was that were were going to have a boy! The party was great fun and we had a blast.

Little did we know that this would be our last event before the BIG birthday!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Buddha Belly - 34 weeks

I feel as though I'm all belly right now! Doesn't it look like a buddha belly? Even though I haven't had random strangers come up and touch my belly yet, they do love to comment on it... guessing how far along I am seems to be a favorite. I'm 34 weeks along today and despite my continued growing, Little Hittle's home is starting to get a bit cramped. I'm measuring ~35.75" around at my waist and have gained about 21-22 lbs. so far. I'm feeling really good, although I find walking up hills to be a bit more tiring than I used to... after all, I've gained over 20% of my pre-pregnancy body weight!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Surprise Work Baby Shower!

Today sure was a fun day at work! After having lunch with my friend Sarah, I entered my office suite to a surprise baby shower! There were ~25 people there for the surprise party, and I was completely shocked. I really had no idea! Along with the cake, punch, and group of great friends/colleagues, there was a pile of wonderful gifts that I had a blast opening up. Above is a picture of the gifts we were so generously given. Little Hittle will get great use out of everything. To my colleagues, Brian and I are so grateful for your thoughtfulness... thank you all so much!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Welcome Sierra Dineen Hensley!

Little Hittle has a new cousin! Brian's sister, Jenny, and her husband Greg welcomed a baby daughter today. Her name is Sierra and she is such a cutie. She was born at 7lbs 12oz and 21" long and she has reddish-blonde hair. We are so happy for them and can't wait to meet our adorable niece. Congrats, Jenny and Greg!

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Basket of Hope

With Mother's Day around the corner, you're probably thinking about what to get your mom this year. Instead of spending $50+ on flowers, chocolate and a card, I hope you'll consider giving your mom a gift she'll never forget and will truly appreciate...a Basket of Hope. What mother wouldn't want a basket of hope for Mother's Day (or in my case, Mother-to-be Day)? Brian... hint... hint...

Heifer International is a non-profit organization that Brian and I enthusiastically support. The concept is wonderful… you donate an animal that Heifer gives (on your behalf) to a family in need, wherever in the world that may be…Africa, South America, Asia, U.S., etc. They teach the family to care for the animal and, in return, the animal provides the family with a means for long-term self-reliance, instead of only short-term relief like other charities. The Heifer animal provides both a source of food and income (e.g., from selling the wool, milk, eggs, etc.). And, when a family’s animal has offspring, they donate that offspring to a neighboring family in need. Thus, each donation is truly a gift that keeps on giving!

In a Basket of Hope donation ($50), a family in need will receive a basket full of rabbits and chicks. What can rabbits and chicks provide? A LOT! For families with little land and few resources, rabbits are the perfect solution. So long as they are warm and dry, rabbits thrive, and they love to eat leftover vegetables. In turn, families get nitrogen-rich manure to use on gardens or to sell as fertilizer. And since rabbits have up to 40 offspring a year, they provide families with steady sources of protein and income. Chicks are equally as valuable...starting at six months, chickens can lay up to 200 eggs a year — a reliable source of protein for children who otherwise subsist mostly on starches. Extra eggs can be sold to pay for school, clothes and medicine. And in the vegetable garden, chickens peck at bugs and weeds, scratch up the soil and enrich it with droppings. If only every $50 we spent could do so much!

If $50 is more than you want to spend, then consider giving a flock of either chicks, geese, or ducks for only $20. Or, if you want to spend more, then consider a lamb or a llama! You can find out more about all of the Heifer donation options and make your tax-deductible donation by going to our Hittle Family and Friends Gift Ark webpage by clicking here (this Heifer link is also in the right-hand column of the Little Hittle blog under Links). I thank you for donating and am confident your mom will love her basket of hope!