Saturday, November 19, 2016

We Survived...

Well, it was my first week at home alone with both boys (with Brandon working and without the help of my mom) and we survived! I'm not going to lie: It was rough and humbling, but I know that the day will come when Jax is getting married and Gabe is graduating from college when I will miss these crazy, sometimes stressful days with a toddler and a newborn. Anyway, here is how our week went:

Mirror selfie with my little shadow before heading out for a girl's night!
~On Saturday night, I had the opportunity to get out of the house (with baby in tow) to attend a friend's birthday at a local sip and paint parlor. It was a much needed couple of hours of adult time, laughing with friends, and painting some hideous trees (above -- I'm so not an artist and plan to give my canvas to my brother as a joke for Christmas) -- and Gabe slept like a little angel a majority of the time!

~No pictures, but on Sunday I packed up the boys and we drove into Denver proper to visit my aunt and uncle, and to do a lot of Christmas shopping!

~On Monday, the boys and I walked to the park for what is our last solo park trip for awhile... Gabe was on his last day of amoxicillin and was hating life the entire time :(

~I started telling Jax at 10 am on Monday that we were going to walk to the park and he was so excited, but we didn't actually make it out the door until about 2 pm (due to Gabey not feeling fell and just wanting to nurse)... He was SO good and patient while he waited and would ask "park?" every so often and go back to doing whatever it was he was doing in the playroom whenever I said we'll go in a bit... Anyway, we both needed out of the house that night so I took him to Safeway with me and surprised him with a cafe pop from their Starbucks, which he thought was the greatest thing ever. 

~This kid... I decided that after Monday, we would just lay low the rest of the week and stay home, so on Tuesday we wrapped and decorated some Christmas gifts, played outside, and watched A LOT of Fixer Upper, which is his new favorite thing. Here he is browsing through my very worn copy of HGTV Magazine, which he keeps asking me to read to him. 

~On Wednesday, we laid low again, watched more Fixer Upper, and had my friend Sondra and her three kids over for a bit to play that afternoon.

~Thursday was the first snow of the season (YAY!) and I took Gabe with me to mom's group at church while Jax stayed home with dad to sand down trim and watch Fixer Upper. I needed to get a bible personalized for my goddaughter's First Communion gift, so I took Jax with me to the Family Christian Bookstore that afternoon and guess what he found immediately and clutched on to the rest of the trip? (I ended up buying it so I could read it... he has already made me read the captions on the 4 pages of pictures to him about thirty different times!)

~Can you believe this little chunk STILL has an ear infection D: I took him to have his ear rechecked on Friday and lo and behold, still infected after 10 days of stomach destroying amoxicillin (but she said it did look better than it had two weeks before)... Before putting him on an even stronger and more potent antibiotic, she said we could try just keeping his nasal passage really clear, keep him elevated, and steamed up to see if that would help the ear drain on its own, but if it doesn't in a week, he has to start the new meds. Please pray this sweet Buddha baby is 100% again by next Friday!!

The good news from his appointment? Gabe isn't even a month and has already gained almost 3 lbs. (up to 9 lbs. 5 oz.) since he was born, which doesn't surprise me one bit... this kid likes to nurse! 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

I-Tee-A, Newborn Pics, and Both Babies First Election

It *only* took me a year and a half, but I think I may have finally found a balance for work and blogging! I came to the realization that other day that if I can get one day ahead on my OIYS articles, I can have a day off to dedicate to updating this blog/working on my new Catholic blog/doing museum marketing work! Genius, right? 

Anyway, as I have mentioned several times in the past, one of the reasons I do this blog is so that I can one have it printed and made into a memory book, so what I will probably do from here on out is update Annie One Can Cook with our weekly family updates, plus the boys' milestone posts. 

Come next week, I should be able to finally publicize my Catholic lifestyle blog as well (that I have been working on for over a year now), so be sure to keep your eye out for that! Living Like St. Martha will have all kinds of simple recipes, easy decor tips, fun party ideas, reflections, and other ways to simplify your life (and keep what matters at the forefront), so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the big launch! 

Without further ado, here is a look back on another week with the Sandmeiers:

~Before Gabe was born, I found these brother shirts on clearance at Target and knew I had to get them! Jax wore his "Promoted to Big Brother" shirt when he came to visit us in the hospital the day Gabe was born and I have been meaning to get pictures of both of them together... I got out the Nikon and got them posed, but as you can see, none of the pictures turned out quite like I had envisioned...
Oh well... maybe I'll try it again tomorrow!

~Last week we had Gabe's newborn pictures taken by the fabulous Brandy Caruso and I am DYING to see them! He was a little stinker for most of the shoot and wouldn't sleep (which I blame on his congestion :( ), but she still got some great shots of both him and the family. Stay tuned to see more!

~After pictures on Friday, I took Gabe to his 2-week checkup and discovered that not only was our poor guy congested, but he has an ear infection :(. His doctor said that she would normally be more concerned about such a little baby being sick, but he looks so good and has been nursing like a champ (he gained almost a pound in one week!), so she sent us home with a prescription and told us to keep a close eye on him. Luckily, we're almost finished with his 10 days of tummy destroying amoxicillin and have a follow up with her next week, so hopefully we're on the mend! 

~My mom came to stay/help with the boys Sunday-Wednesday and I didn't take any pictures, ugh! It was so nice to have an extra set of hands while Brandon was at work and we had such a fun time Christmas shopping (we made the trek to Ikea -- or I-tee-a, as Jackson calls it, Costco, and other places), visiting, and sipping wine on Tuesday night during the election.

~Jackson has his check up at the dentist on Thursday, so we made it a family outing by playing at a playground and getting some Hagen Daz after his perfect appointment!

~Happy Veterans Day to all active and retired military! We are going out to get our veteran his complimentary meal and to do a little shopping, so I better wrap this up. 

Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Party of Four

It's hard to believe that Gabe joined our family two weeks ago -- part of me feels like he's been here forever and the other part can't believe these two weeks have flown by so quickly!

Thankfully, the transition has gone extremely smooth thus far... Gabe is such a happy and easy going little guy, big brother can't get enough of him, and having Brandon around to help where needed has been a huge blessing. But alas, my maternity leave ends today (meaning I have to take the Mac to the comfy chair in Jax's playroom to write) and Brandon goes back to work on Sunday, so prayers for another somewhat easy transition would be greatly appreciated!

Here are a few lot of pictures and memories from these last two weeks:

If I am being completely honest, our first day home was a complete mess... Besides being overly tired and having crazy postpartum hormones (I lost count of the number of times I cried over nothing that day -- seriously, I cried because we were leaving the hospital that I couldn't wait to get out of; cried because my parents were going home; cried because Jax suddenly seemed so much bigger than he did 36 hours earlier; cried because my baby was already 36 hours old, etc.), Jackson was throwing tantrums and freaking out over every little thing, which we worried was because of the new baby. Fortunately, after a good nap, he was back to his sweet old self  and has been obsessed with his brother ever since. 
One of the things that Brandon and I have strived our hardest to do is to keep everything as "normal" as possible for Jax. Even though there is a new baby, we still do everything the same as before (baseball 24/7, play dates, bedtime routine, etc.) and I think it has helped him see that even though he has a new brother, our love for him hasn't changed at all and that being a family of four is even more fun!
Nap time during Finding Nemo :) I will forever treasure these sweet moments! 
We had a very busy first week home!
On Sunday (the day after our hospital release), we went to church and ran errands.
Monday we took the boys to the library to play and check out books.
Tuesday we went to Gabe's four day checkup (pictured), Christmas shopped, and had lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant.
Wednesday we took the boys to open gym at the rec center.
We played in the backyard and did yard work on Thursday.
On Friday worked around the house and had my parents and brother stay the night.

Jackson seriously dotes over his brother!! He is constantly wanting to hold him, is always giving him kisses, wants to rock him to sleep with me every night, copies everything he does (which he thinks is hilarious), and loves to cuddle and play with him. Gabe is very lucky to have such a fun older brother! 
My twins: Born (almost) three years apart! (Both are four days old in these pictures and are wearing the same jammies -- Gabe is on the right.)
While daddy and Jackson raked leaves, Gabe and I supervised. 
One of Jackson's buddies turned two last week so we went to his birthday party on Sunday! (Gabe's first ever party.)
Trying to get a group picture before trick or treating with friends -- it was like herding cats!
After arriving home from our Halloween festivities, I started getting really congested and had a sore throat... luckily, my cold only lasted a good 36 hours and I had this handsome little guy to keep me company at 4 am and watch reruns of Fixer Upper on Netflix. 
Go figure... the day after Halloween, Jax woke up with a cough and Gabe was (and still is) super congested... the three of us had a sleepover on the sofa bed on both Tuesday and Wednesday night!
My poor sick and sleepy boys :(

This morning we are having Gabe's newborn pictures taken and then my mom is coming on Sunday to stay for a few days and help with the boys! (We are so excited to not only spend more time with her, but do lots of Christmas shopping too! It'll be both baby AND grammy's first trip to Ikea -- or I-tee-a, as Jax calls it.) Here's to another fun and memorable week with our boys! 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Gabriel's Birth Story

Hello old friend! It is Saturday night and the toddler is watching the World Series and playing baseball with dad, and our newest addition is sleeping soundly on the couch.

Oh yes; I almost forgot...

Gabriel Anthony joined our family last Friday, October 21st at 2:59 am :)

Since the memories of Gabe's grand entrance are still fresh in my mind, I figured now is the time to sit down and document his birth story (just like I did with Jackson).

Our lengthy tale begins the previous week -- I had my regular weekly checkup on Wednesday, October 12th and figured that since I was just at 38 weeks, it would be fairly uneventful. WRONG. My doctor checked me, told me that I was at a 3, and that there was a pretty good chance baby was coming that weekend.

I flat out panicked.

The nursery still wasn't finished.

My parents were leaving for an out-of-state conference.

There was still so much to do!

My doctor told me to take it easy, not do any heavy lifting, and to cross my fingers (and legs) that he wouldn't come this weekend, but that the odds were leaning that way.

After frantically calling Brandon, my mom, and Aunt Nancy (who said she would come watch Jax whenever the time came), and texting a friend as another backup, I felt significantly better... however, my parents still cancelled their trip in order to watch Jax if need be (thanks, mom and dad!).

My family came down that Friday and the next day, we did a lot of walking, visiting, and spicy wing lunching (with my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Rolf), but there was still no sign of baby.

Go figure.

That evening -- as I was laying down next to Jackson -- I felt a weird trickle down my leg...

Could this be it? Did my water break?!

(Spoiler alert: It was pee.)

After calling the after hours line and being told by the doctor to come in if it would make me feel better, Brandon and I hopped in the car and made the unnecessary trek to the hospital. Long story short, my water hadn't broke, I was still at a 3, and Brandon and I walked every square inch of that hospital (for two straight hours) to see if it would help me progress any more.

It didn't and we were sent home at around 12:30 am.

Poor Brandon had to work the next morning, so Jax and I went to church with my family, made a Costco trip, walked every square inch of the warehouse, and then headed home to rest a bit. At this point, I knew that baby wasn't coming that weekend and felt a huge sense of guilt that I made my parents miss their trip.


With toddler in tow, I made my way to my 39 week checkup and discovered that this time I was at a 5...

"How am I at a 5 and not in the hospital?" I asked my doctor.

It was then we talked about induction options (I had been really stressed about when it was going to happen and what we would do with Jackson if it happened in the middle of the night) and my doctor suggested just checking in and having my water broken since I had progressed so much already. So I made my appointment for that Friday at 5:30 am, called my mom to see if she could come down Thursday evening to stay with Jackson, and we were all set to go!

Whew, what a relief! However, a feeling of guilt began sinking in at the thought of induction... I was still at just 39 weeks, so what if he wasn't ready? After weighing the pros with the cons (the pro being that we were guaranteed to have somebody here to watch Jax), I decided it was the right choice and finished prepping for baby.

Thursday was a pretty normal day... Brandon was off work and took Jackson outside to do chores with him while I worked on some articles, then we dropped a meal off to one of my good friends who had just had a baby, and we patiently awaited the arrival of my mom and brother.
This picture gives me the biggest smile -- Jackson got to play with one of his best friends when we dropped off our meal and they were both wearing Batman shirts :)
Throughout the day, I noticed painless contractions here and there and finally realized they were getting closer together... but since I wasn't in agonizing pain, I wrote them off a Braxton Hicks and went on with my day. However, after dinner that night, I had a feeling that we needed to go to the hospital and notified the on-call doctor of what was going on. After hearing that I was at a 5 the previous day, she told me it would be safest to just come in and get checked. 

When we arrived, the floor was packed and instead of being sent to the regular triage room for monitoring, we were shown to a spacious delivery room, where I was monitored for the next hour. Since my contractions still weren't the strongest, the nurse wasn't quite ready to admit me. When we explained that we were coming back at 5:30 the next morning for induction, she told us they would probably just let us stay over night, to which we were extremely relieved. As the time rolled on, things were seeming more grim and the nurse notified us that now the doctor would probably send us home if I didn't progress more. 

And that's when the contractions began getting stronger and stronger...

After another couple hours of monitoring, I was at a 5 1/2, which -- according the nurse -- probably still wasn't enough to stay, which is when I began to panic. By this point, I was sitting on an exercise ball having to breathe through contractions... what was I going to do if they sent me home?

It was FINALLY at around 12:30 am when the nurse came in and said that it looked like I was staying until I had the baby and I was SO relieved. We were then introduced to our new nurse and I began pushing harder for an epidural (#priorities), to which she assured me was coming soon.

She lied. 

The contractions had gotten to the point of unbearable (those of you who have ever delivered a child know exactly what I'm talking about) and I could no longer keep my eyes open during them and would shake and sweat through the entire grueling 60-90 seconds (with a 60-90 second break between each one). That's when my nurse finally took my blood -- and got blood all over my shoes and the floor :/ -- had it sent out for testing, and then contacted the anesthesiologist. 

I'm sure that what seemed like 5 hours was only a half hour or so, but I literally cried when the anesthesiologist walked through that door with his cart full of spine-numbing goodies. 

"Whoa... what's going on with your back?" He bluntly asked.

(For those of you who don't know, I had back surgery when I was a senior in high school to place a rod on my spine in order to correct my Scheuermann's Kyphosis and I still a pretty large scar because of it.)

"Are you sure they let you have an epidural with your first one?" 

"OMG YES! Just hurry up and give me the effing shot" I wanted yell, but couldn't because another awful contraction was coming on.

It seemed like another 3 hours, but he finally gave me the shot and sweet relief was in sight. 

That epidural was nothing short of euphoric. 

I could breathe again.

I could talk. 

I felt so happy and relaxed. 

By this point, it was close to 2:30 am and at last check, I was only at a 7, so I figured that now was the time to kick back and try to take a quick nap. Our ditsy but sweet nurse (who despite getting blood all over my favorite Toms and crushing my legs beneath the bedside tray while raising my bed for blood work) was now my angel, and I finally felt up to visiting with her, which is what we did for maybe a minute and a half before I felt a huge gush and wetness against my legs. 

"I think my water may have just broke..." I announced.

Sure enough it had and I was beginning to feel a weird sensation in my lower stomach. 

"Are you sure this epidural is working? Something doesn't feel right."

She assured me that I was still hooked up and that I could push the button every 10 minutes, which is when I felt the undeniable urge to push. 

"He's starting to come out and I really think I need to push," I warned the nurse, who slowly walked around the bed, not believing that it was time. 

To paraphrase what she said:

"The doctor is delivering another baby right now, but if it is time to push, I think I can do it... Oh shit!"

She yelled for Brandon to press the call button, quickly told the nurse that baby was crowning, and sternly told me not to push anymore. 

(If you have been in this situation, you know that it is extremely difficult to not push when your body is telling you it's go time.)

Fortunately, the doctor had just finished delivering another baby (and was actually planning to come to my room right after to break my water) and the room was quickly filled with several new machines and nurses.

After 3 relatively painless pushes, all 6 lbs. 10 oz. of Little Brother Sandmeier was here! As I have discussed before, I spent 9 months stressing out over having a new baby and whether or not I could ever love another child as much as I love Jackson, but the moment the nurse placed him against my skin, my heart doubled in size. 

I loved this little boy so much. 
Ignore the exhausted woman with the chapped lips...
He looks nothing like his dad...

The rest of the morning consisted of the usual: Brandon slept on the uncomfortable plastic recliner, I cluster fed the baby for 2 hours straight, and then couldn't sleep from all of the excitement. 

It was a very long night, but our name-less baby was here and he was absolutely perfect. 

The next morning, my mom and brother brought in Jackson, who did about 2 million times better than I had anticipated. (Brandon and I acted the same as we always do and Jackson got a kick out of seeing the baby, laying in the hospital bed with mom, stealing mom's chocolate milk, and opening his new VTech digital camera from his brother!)
Grammy in her element.
Exhausted but oh so happy!

At around noon -- before Brandon, my mom, brother, and Jackson all left to go to lunch and take Jax to get his haircut -- Brandon and I decided we had to nail down a name. My entire pregnancy, I was stuck on the names David, Matthew, and Patrick, but he just didn't seem like any of those. We had been bouncing names off each other that entire morning (I like Braden and Gavin; Brandon liked Christian and Jacob) when I finally looked online at baby names and came across Gabriel. 

For the first time ever, Brandon actually agreed with me on a name and we had it narrowed down to either Gabriel or Jacob. 

To decide, I did what any logical person would do and wrote both names on different slips of paper, put them into an unused barf bag, and told Jax to draw one. It took a lot of coaxing, but he finally reached in and grabbed out the slip of paper that said Jacob.

It was settled. His name was Jacob.

However, something just didn't seem right... he just wasn't a Jacob to me. Brandon could tell I was having second thoughts and said we should name him Gabirel and that he also thought he seemed like a Gabe. 

(Since Jackson's middle name is Lee, which is also both Brandon's dad's and Brandon's middle names, I asked from the get-go if we could use one of my family's names for his middle name, so we went with Anthony in honor of my dad.) 

The rest of the afternoon was spent resting, visiting with family, drinking lots of chocolate milk (my major craving), and cuddling with sweet Gabe. 
Aunt Nancy and Uncle Rolf
Joe (my brother)
My dad came in Friday evening after work! 
Gabe's first bath with our favorite nurse, Maxine (during his 24 hour check up... at 3 am!)

Saturday was our discharge day, so after Gabe's early afternoon circumcision (and a visit from a few friends), it was time to go home!
Terrible quality but a lady brought by some homemade hats for Gabe and Jax couldn't help but try one on!
Our friend Sondra and her daughter stopped by Saturday afternoon to meet Gabe!
Post HUGE breakdown... postpartum hormones are crazy... more on that later this week. 
Time to get these munchkins home!
The adjustment to becoming a family of four has gone way better than I could have ever imagined, which I will talk more about later this week! Thank you all so much for the prayers, texts, calls, and well wishes -- we are so incredibly blessed by our two sweet boys!

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