Married to the Empire

Friday, September 30, 2011

Nursery Decor

It took us until this week to get the nursery finished.  Lots of things weren't done before Alex arrived unexpectedly early!  But Steven is so pleased with it all (as am I), that he's been bugging me to put pictures up online.  So here you go.  While we didn't initially intend to have a theme, we went with a space theme after I found some fabulous artwork.  The filler is framed scrapbook paper and a banner I made with his name. 

The red picture above the banner is a bible verse: And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8

Doogie really likes the boppy.
The comment we keep getting is that it's not a babyish room, which is exactly what we were trying to achieve.  We wanted a fun, bright room that he can grow into.  I don't want to have to redecorate in a couple of years.  We just hope he likes it as much as we do.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Welcome to the World, Matthew Alexander

Last Monday I spent the morning shopping with gift cards received at my baby shower on Saturday, then I intended to write thank-you notes.  But suddenly, something was wrong.  I was dripping.  In a panic, I called Steven to COME HOME RIGHT NOW, then called the doctor, who said to head to the hospital.  I debated whether to call a friend to come get me, but I wasn't in pain, it was going to take friends at least 15 minutes to get to me, the hospital was 30 minutes away, and it was just starting Dallas rush hour. 

So, I drove myself to the hospital.  (In retrospect, that was probably dumb, but it is what it is.)

When I stepped out of my car, I was suddenly soaked.  Thankfully, Steven keeps an emergency blanket in each car, so I grabbed that, wrapped it around myself, and walked into the hospital. 

I was set up in a room in Labor and Delivery.  Steven finally arrived.  (Answered prayer, as he was coming from Dallas during rush hour, and it only took him an hour and 15 minutes, instead of the 2 or more hours I expected.)  I believed (and still do) that my water had broken, but they sonogram they did on me said I had too much fluid for that to have happened.  Contractions had started, but as I could talk through them, the med staff decided I wasn't really in labor, and they sent me home. 

Now, you should know that this was 5 weeks before my due date.  I hadn't packed a bag for the hospital, and in my haste to leave, I still didn't pack anything.  We had to call friends who have a key to our house to go home and get me some clothes.  You know you have a good friend when you can send her to your underwear drawer to bring you clean panties! 

We were back at the hospital 2 hours later.  Contractions had ramped up, and I was in pain.  I spent an unpleasant night with no sleep, having contractions about every 3 minutes.  But every time they checked me, I wasn't far enough along.  The nurse came in at 7am to say that my doctor was sending me home again

I started sobbing.  And I do mean sobbing!  I was in so much pain, and I couldn't fathom having to ride in the car for the 30 minutes it would take to get home.  Then ride back to see my doctor, who was saying to stop in her office.  (She hadn't been to see me in the hospital yet.)  My nurse saw how bad things were, and Lord bless her, she fought for me.  She came back a few minutes later and said I was being allowed to stay.

A less kindly nurse came on shift and said, "You have a very low tolerance for pain."  Yeah, I know.  It's not a defect, even if you have less respect for me because of it. 

I was moved back to Labor and Delivery, and they put something through my IV bag that knocked me out, thankfully.  But because I was sleeping through contractions, no one checked to see how far along I was until 6pm.  (Don't even get me started!)  There was more talk of sending me home with a prescription for Percocet, which I knew wouldn't do squat for me.  The doctor was saying this could go on for days or weeks, and the prospect of that had both Steven and me panicked.  But when someone finally checked me, I was dialated to an 8.  My doctor seemed shocked.  (*sigh*) 

I started begging for an epidural, which I'd made clear from the start that I wanted.  I was ticked that I'd gone all afternoon in agony when I could have had pain relief but no one could be bothered to check how far along I was.  I pretty much decided that I hated my doctor at that moment.  I wasn't liking her up until then, but my enmity grew after that.  (No, it's not Christian of me, but it is human.  I'm feeling a tad more forgiving now that it's over.) 

My doctor informed me that because my platelets were so low, the anesthesiologist refused to do an epidural. 

Yeah.  Low pain tolerance, and I was being forced to give birth naturally.  At that point, I hated everyone.

I'll spare the details, but Matthew Alexander was born finally at 8:08pm on Tuesday, September 20th.  The NICU team was there to whisk him off to be checked out, as he was 5 weeks early, but praise God, he is 100% healthy! 

I am so amazed at the Lord's faithfulness.  This pregnancy was so hard and fraught with so many scares and complications, not to mention the fact that I was hitting this kid with migraine meds almost every single day of pregnancy.  I've never prayed so hard in my life, as I did during pregnancy.  And God protected my sweet baby boy through it all. 

Everyone, meet Alex.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Nursery Name Banner

We didn't really intend to have a theme in the nursery, but it sort of morphed into a space theme after I found some awesome spacey artwork.  Even better, I found some great scrapbook paper that fit the theme, as well.  To make wall decor affordable, we framed some of that scrapbook paper, and I also used some to make a name banner to hang above the crib. 

I started with some chipboard banner pieces I bought at Stamp Asylum in Plano.  (I'm a tad obsessed with that store.)  Because all of our picture frames in the nursery are black, I didn't want brown borders on the banner.  I bought some black distress stain and covered the edges of the chipboard.

Next, I made a template from cardstock and used it to trace onto scrapbook paper.  (The robot paper is my husband's favorite.)  I wouldn't ordinarily trace on the front of the paper, but I wanted to make sure everything was nice and straight with the designs.  I then cut out the paper. 

Next, I applied Mod Podge to the back of the paper and adhered it to the chipboard.

While all that was drying, I got out my handy-dandy Sizzix machine and cut out letters and stars. 

Then I painted Mod Podge all over my cutouts and sprinkled liberally with glitter.  I made a colossal mess in the process.  Usually I love glitter, but today, I was hating it.  Must be a pregnancy thing. 

Also a pregnancy thing (or maybe it was just because I was too covered in glitter), I forgot to take any pictures of the next few steps.  I Mod Podged all over the top of the banner pieces with the scrapbook paper adhered.  Then I glued on all the glittery bits.  Finally, I took it all out to the garage to spray everything with some clear sealer, as I don't want bits of glitter falling onto my baby. 

With the banner pieces completed, I just needed to punch holes for the ribbon, then string it together.

Here's my super-simple secret for attaching bows to a banner and making loops for hanging.  Tie bows, then flip them over and slip a twist tie through the back of it.

Next, make a loop in the hanging ribbon, and twist the twist tie around it.  It makes a secure loop and keeps the bow attached to the ribbon. 

Trim any ribbon ends you want, and voila!  All done!  Ready for hanging. 

(Don't worry; it's only hanging on the crib for picture-taking purposes.  It will go on the wall above the crib, with all strings safely out of reach of baby.)

I'm linking this post with Mod Podge Rocks, a very fun blog for Mod Podge projects.  Be sure to visit there and take a look around.  Lots of great stuff over there!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Baby Crafting

I've been doing a lot of sewing for babies lately.  (And I'm a bit burned out on it, to be honest.)  My BFF from junior high school, whom I am still friends with, is due with a baby girl.  Her due date is just one day after mine.  What are the odds?  I stitched up a few things to send to her. 

Burp cloths:

A personalized, ruffle-butt onesie:

I won't lie; I think I just did an okay job on the onesie, not a great one.  But at least my attempts at applique went from looking like a drunk monkey did them to looking like a sober monkey did them!  Still, I went ahead and sent it because I still think it turned out cute, even if it's not perfect.  (But I found myself glad that I'm expecting a boy because I would have had to make a ruffle-butt for my own child had he been a girl.  And I didn't really enjoy sewing on ruffles.  Other bloggers make it look and sound so easy, but I guess I'm just not talented enough to find it simple.)

An elephant pacifier holder (I'm most proud of this one):

I got the pattern from this book, which I checked out from the library.  Lots of cute projects in it!  This particular one called for using felt, but since this is for a baby, I used fleece instead.  Fleece is washable; felt is not.  I also made an elephant paci holder for my Alex.  It was too cute not to!  I had fabric leftover from this project, so it didn't even cost me anything, other than the pacifiers.

This next one didn't wind up being a gift.  I just made it for my own baby.  It's an elephant rattle:

I added 3 jingle bells inside the head (well surrounded by batting and tightly sewn in), so it makes a soft jingly sound that's not annoying.  (The not-annoying part is very important to this migraine-prone mama!)  I'm not thrilled with the placement of the handle, so I may still rip that out and resew it.  We'll see.  I'm pretty tired of sewing at this point, so I may just leave it.

And last but not least, my newest furry baby needed a little something.  I sewed up a simple rectangle of fleece, stuffed it with batting and catnip, and added a ribbon (because Ninja loves ribbons).  I think he likes it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

This Motherhood Thing

It's so not for the faint of heart! 

I had a regular OB appointment yesterday with plans to run errands afterwards.  Things didn't work out that way. 

When my OB pulled out the doppler thingy to listen to the baby's heartbeat, things weren't sounding right.  Even I could tell immediately that something was wrong.  His heartbeat was steady and rhythmic for a while, but it kept skipping beats.  *boom boom boom skip boom boom boom skip*  Then it just went all sorts of crazy-erratic with no rhythm whatsoever. 

My doctor immediately sent me to the hospital with instructions not to worry.  Uh, yeah.  Right.  Naturally, I was freaking out. 

I contacted Steven, who left work right away to meet me at the hospital.  I also quickly sent off an email to some close friends asking for prayer, as well as posting on Facebook.  I have to say that I love this aspect of the technology age, because I had people all over the world praying for our baby within minutes! 

I spent a couple of hours in the hospital hooked up to various things.  The baby's heartbeat was still wonky, but everything else was fine, so I was eventually sent home.  But I was told that my doctor wants me to go to the hospital for this testing twice a week until the baby is born.  I go again on Friday.  I was shaky from fear and hunger, so Steven and I went out for a much-needed late lunch after all that. 

My OB called that afternoon to tell me that she set up an appointment for me with my high-risk OB, who said back in June that she didn't need to see me again.  So much for that!  So, Baby Alex had an echocardiogram this morning with her. 

The glorious thing is that his heart was in perfect rhythm this morning!  The high-risk OB couldn't find anything wrong with him.  Thank you, Jesus!  But I have a new worry: she said his umbilical cord is loosely wrapped around his neck.  However, he was practically dancing in there while she was trying to examine him, and she said that as long as he's active like that, he's fine. 

I asked a friend this morning how she survives motherhood.  It's killing me so far, and he's not even out of my body yet!  She said motherhood is the most wonderful thing, but it's often like having your heart ripped out of your chest and stomped all over.  So far, I'm finding that to be true. 

Monday, September 5, 2011


We painted the nursery last week. 

It just about killed Ninja because kitties were locked out of the room during the process.  He doesn't like to be left out, and closed doors with his people behind them drive him crazy!  But we knew he'd be dancing in the paint trays if we let him in. 

The next night we set up the furniture. 

We also have a bookshelf and a chest of drawers in there.  I'd like to move my rocking chair in there, too, but I'm not sure there's room for it.  We still need to get stuff up on the walls, but it's coming together. 

We put the room together just in time for our first baby shower.  Steven's coworkers gave us a shower, and we were so blessed to receive some great gifts, including our stroller/carseat combo.  We now feel semi-prepared, as baby Alex now has a bed (but no sheets), a carseat for riding safely in the car, and some other basic necessities.  Notice the tent on the crib?  We love our Ninja Cat, but we just don't trust him not to try to sleep with the baby.  My dear BFF from junior high school, who is expecting a baby one day after me (crazy, huh?) sent us the tent, and we really appreciate it!  The crib itself was also simply given to us.  Free is good!  It's amazing how generous people become when they hear you're having a baby. 

The cats still don't understand that this is now the baby's room and no longer theirs.

Hey, Mom!  We're starting to think you're a little bit crazy because we see no baby!

The shower at Steven's office had a Star Wars theme (not too shocking), and one of the artists photoshopped a picture of Steven to make this poster:

It absolutely cracks me up every time I see it!  I think Steven is planning to hang it in his weight room, which is what the former Star Wars room became.