Monday, December 5, 2011

Where does the time go??

So apparently, having a baby really does keep you busy.  And the time FLIES by--it's been almost 5 months since my precious Grace arrived and we've enjoyed every minute.  She's drooling, talking, laughing, squealing, drooling, grabbing, reaching, smiling, DROOLING--she's so adorable.

So, another thing about having a baby is figuring out how to be resourceful, especially when it comes to dinner!  And my favorite go-to for an easy and delicious dinner is my yummy crockpot lasagna!  It's very simple and tastes SO good.  I'm also kind of an "ad-libber" when it comes to crockpot recipes, so really you could add, remove whatever you want:


1 pound bulk Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried basil leaves (or just season to taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)
1 container (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
15 uncooked lasagna noodles

Step One:  Cook sausage and onion in 10-inch skillet over medium heat stirring occasionally, until sausage is no longer pink; drain. Stir in tomato sauce, paste, basil and salt.

Step Two: Mix 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese and the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses. (Refrigerate remaining mozzarella cheese while lasagna cooks.)

Step Three:  Spoon one-fourth of the sausage mixture into 6-quart slow cooker; top with 5 noodles, broken into pieces to fit. Spread with half of the cheese mixture and one-fourth of the sausage mixture. Top with 5 noodles, remaining cheese mixture and one-fourth of the sausage mixture. Top with remaining 5 noodles and remaining sausage mixture. Sprinkle top of lasagna with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese and parmesan.

Step Four:  Cover and cook on Low heat setting 4 to 6 hours or until noodles are tender.

I've also made this with turkey sausage and it's equally delish.  When I'm just making it for me and Chad, I just cut everything in half and use my 4 quart crock pot and we can eat half of it for dinner and still have enough for a whole other meal.  The full recipe will feed at least 6 people.

Lasagna is one of my FAVORITE meals and Chad and I really like this recipe.   Enjoy!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

She's here!

She's finally arrived!!!  5 days early from her due date, but I'm not complaining :)    Here's her birth story for anyone who is interested:  Whew! Here goes!

My due date was pegged for July 16, but little Gracie (thankfully) decided to make her appearance 5 days early. On Wednesday, the 6th, I had a doctor's appointment and found out that I was 60% effaced and dilated 1 cm. My cervix was "nice and soft" as my doctor put it, but he didn't seem to think that she would be arriving any sooner than when she was "due." Little did he know...

Sunday, the 10th, I woke up around 4am with contractions—I was so paranoid that I wouldn’t know when I was in “real labor” vs. just BH contractions and everyone reassured me that I “would know.” Well, based on the pain in my back and the tightening of my stomach, “I knew.” The thing is, there was no rhyme or reason to the contractions. They would get really close together and then spread way apart…so we went about our day in an effort to keep my mind off of the lack of progress. We went to church, had lunch with the family, relaxed that evening and the only thing consistent about the contractions is that they weren’t consistent. HA. I had plenty of bloody show throughout the day so I went to bed with the feeling that Grace would be here soon, but I had no idea when!

Well, at 1am Monday morning (the 11th), I woke up to a much more INTENSE contraction. I was DEFINITELY experiencing some serious back labor and it took my breath away. I tried to get back to sleep, but basically couldn’t do anything but breathe and moan through the pain. It really started to sink in that “this was it” and after 2 hours of laboring in the bed (with Chad snoozing beside me, completely unaware) I decided to get in the shower and see if that changed anything. At this point, contractions had been coming about every 5 minutes and they were not getting any easier. After having about 3 contractions in the shower I thought it might be time to let Chad in on the fact that we were probably going to have a baby that day. I wobbled back into the bedroom, turned on the bedside light and announced to Chad, “I think it’s time to go to the hospital.” He sprang out of bed and by
4am we were on our way. My contractions were moving into the 3-4 minute range at this point and it was a 45 minute drive to the hospital on a 2 lane road so we had a fun little adventure getting there.

We were checked into labor/delivery by 5am and the nurse came in to get me set up in bed. She checked me and I was only 2 cms and I was so mad! After 24 hours of “real” contractions, I had only dilated one more centimeter. I didn’t have time to vent my frustration though because my contractions were coming in quickly and STRONG so I was a little busy trying to crush my husband’s fingers as I breathed through the pain. The nurse assured me that we were gonna stay and have a baby, so I texted my mom that she could come whenever she wanted to.

At about 830ish or so I reached a point that I realized that I needed some pain medication to help me cope with this back labor or else I would be waaaay too exhausted to push when the time came. One of my biggest fears was that Grace was going to be 10+ lbs (we didn’t know it at the time that she already was! And the doctors all thought she was about 8.5, but I’d had a gut feeling for the past 2 months that she was way bigger) and that I wouldn’t be able to push her out and would end up with an emergency c-section. I was very aware that my energy level was crashing right after each contraction. I asked for some IV meds—I was already hooked up because I was group b strep positive—but they didn’t even TOUCH the pain, only made me a little loopy. After a few more contractions from Hell I confessed to Chad that I thought I needed an epidural. It was not part of the original plan, but I knew that I needed some rest if I was gonna deliver vaginally. By 930/10 I was epiduralized (my own fancy word) and can I just say, BEST DECISION EVER. I was really frustrated that I wasn’t going to persevere naturally and did feel a little like I was giving up for going with the epidural, but I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was the right choice once the next
contraction came and I breezed right through it. All my labor at this point had been really
hard and all in my back and it was just so excruciating. The relief was WELCOME.

I was checked again and had progressed to about 4cms before the epidural, but since I was “pain free” at this point we decided to go ahead and take some pitocin to keep the ball rolling. The doctor was planning on coming back at lunch time to break my water,
but at 11am my water broke all on its own! I kept progressing each time I was checked and even worked a few cat naps in and by 2pm I was 8cm dilated. Nothing too exciting happened again until about 4pm when the nurse came back to check me (I was 9.5cm) and said, “Let’s get ready to push!” It hit me like a ton a bricks that I was definitely gonna have a baby! The nurse left to check with my doctor and I was left with my emotions (I hadn’t cried yet at this point, but I’m a pretty emotional person and I had been holding back the tears all day) and I spent the next little bit of time wrapping my head around the idea that in a matter of minutes (hopefully not hours) I would be holding my little girl in my arms.

The nurse came back about 20 minutes later and announced that we were gonna start pushing and I was hit with a wall of tears, but I held them back—barely. Thankfully, I was able to keep my mind off of it because things were getting crazy as I got into “pushing
position.” With Chad on one side and the nurse on the other, I started pushing through the contractions, 3 pushes for each, and it definitely took a couple to get the hang on it, but the nurse assured me that Grace was moving with every push-no matter how ineffective it
might’ve felt to me. She was still sunny side up so every once in awhile the doctor and the nurse would get a good giggle out of the way that Grace would wiggle and squirm through each push, trying to turn to face the right way—I’m pretty sure that I was cracking jokes
with everyone throughout the whole process, ESPECIALLY when Chad “disappeared” briefly
to grab a Sprite (from inside the room—he didn’t venture out to the vending machines) and I had a contraction coming on, so I was getting ready to push and I looked over and there’s Chad, chilling by my bedside, sipping a Sprite!? HA—c’mon daddy—we gotta push!! He told me he needed a drink (I’m sure that Sprite was not the kind he meant), but I was just happy that he didn’t pass out or anything. After about a half hour of pushing, I felt Grace crowning and I thought, “Oh my head, (or her head) I can’t possible stretch any further!!” I was definitely right because as her head finally pushed through, I tore in 2 places, top and bottom (2nd degree—ouch!) and boy did it burn. As I pushed Grace’s shoulders out, I noticed how the doctor lugged her out onto the table and then literally heaved her onto my chest and promptly announced to the room, “she’s a toddler!” while all the medical staff gasped inawe at her size. I didn’t notice that she was huge or that she was so totally covered in vernix and blood, but immediately burst into tears and held onto her with all I had. I was so overwhelmed that the little girl that I had been carrying for 39 weeks was actually in my arms! Chad cut the cord and we had a super emotional moment together as a family. Then they moved her to the table beside me to clean her up and weigh her: 10lbs, 4 oz and she felt everypound. One solid baby!

I got all stitched up, tried our first round of breastfeeding, family arrived to see Grace and eventually we headed off to our room. Because of being Group B positive, we had to stay 48 hours from delivery time (4:57pm) so we were in the hospital from 5am Monday morning, until 5pm Wednesday evening. Total, I was in labor for 16 hours on Monday (I don’t really count all my time spent contracting on Sunday) and I managed to do half of that medicine free. Now Grace is a week and half old and the love of our lives :) Being a mother has been challenging—some things come easily and other things don’t feel natural at all, but we’re working on it! It’s definitely a learning process for both of us.

Now, I know that my recovery is NOTHING compared to what you ladies who had c-sections had to go through, but I can say that I fely completely un-prepared for the physical recovery from vaginal delivery, especially with 2 tears and one being 2nd degree. I wish that someone would have told me what it might've been like, 'cause it's exhausting to wrap your head around the damage done to your body AFTER it's all happened. I was prepared for the possblity of tearing, but I guess I just never got it in my head that it would make things so much harder. Again, you cesarean ladies get MAJOR props for going through what you did--you are all my heroes!
There ya go ladies! I can’t tell a short story, so hopefully you’ve made it to the end of this.

Grace Estelle Hughes, 7/11/11, 4:57pm, 10lb 4 oz, 22 in long, absolutely GORGEOUS.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

So close....yet so far?

Only about 2 weeks to go until this baby is DUE!  I've definitely reached the end of my "comfort level."  She's stretched me to my limits and some days I'm convinced she thinks she's gonna make her great escape through my belly button by the way she pushes--or maybe there's an alien in there instead of my baby?!
The daily "twins" comments are grinding my gears and we've now reached the point where even the FedEx Delivery guy says, "You still haven't had that baby yet?!"  Hilarious--I've been given strict order to not have the baby this weekend, which I made no promises to keep!  My parents are taking a quick trip to WI to see my Gramma T and some family for the 4th and they won't be back til late Monday night.  Dad says he wanted to squeeze it in before the baby comes, but I warned him that he might miss it altogether.  Maybe Grace will come on Monday and be a 4th of July baby :)  Then it will be like my parents were just "late" to the party instead of missing it completely. HA, we'll see what happens!

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and everything still looks great--Dr. Wolf agreed that he thinks this baby will be "bigger than average" but he didn't think more than 8.5lbs by full-term...I secretly think he didn't want to freak me out by saying 9lbs + but it's too late Doc--I've already thought it!  I think she'll definitely be tall/long.  I really just can't wait for her to be here.  Waiting is almost as miserable as being this pregnant in the middle of summer!
The good news is, her head is definitely locked into my plevis, which means dispite all her pushing and shoving through my belly button, she does in fact know the right way if she'd only start moving that way...C'mon Grace--head towards the light!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Worn out

I can't get matter what I wear, how I sit, lay down, lounge, recline....nothing helps.  This baby is going to be born a toddler. 
Got a doctor's appointment today--gonna have him check me and see if by any chance I've made any progress *fingers crossed*  I'll be 37 weeks this Saturday, which is full term, and hopefully Grace will realize that and decide to make an early entrance.  I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and my first thought was, "Did I grow even more overnight?!"  She is WAY out front and I'm thinking maybe she's even dropped some (I can definitely feel the pressure!) and I commend allllllll you women out there who have had twins--gold medal.  Whew!

I'm totally worn out.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dreams again...

I regularly have the most bizarre dreams at night.  What's interesting is my sleep pattern now-a-days: I wake up almost exactly every hour and a half...roughly 90 minutes, give or take a couple.  What I find interesting about that is how I manage one whole REM cycle and then somehow magically wake up, no matter how deep I was sleeping.  My dreams will even be interrupted once that internal timer goes off and my eyes pop open and there I am, exhausted, but "awake."  I'm always able to go right back to sleeep and it seems like I immediately go right back to dreaming.  I'm also super tired every morning because I can't really lock in more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep, even with tylenol pm (which I only take when I have back pain at night). P.S. waking up every 1 1/2 hours with a Tylenol PM in your system makes for some very weird trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night because I can tell I'm SUPER groggy and "drugged" but just can't seem to stay asleep...I've stubbed pretty much all my toes and run into pretty much every wall/door on the way for a mid-night bathroom break. HA.

So last night, I had probably some of the most unnerving dreams I've ever had, but one in particular is that I dreamt about Gracie, but sometimes she wasn't there...I've never seen her face in my dreams, but last night, I was holding an empty blanket, knowing that it was Gracie, but she wasn't actually "physically" there in the  blanket--like I just can't come up with what she's gonna look like at all so she's always non-existent and yet, she's there.  Weird, no?  Chad told me the other day that he dreamt about her and when I asked him what she looked like, all he said was, "beautiful"....I guess I'm going to have to wait for her to actually arrive before I'll know what she looks like!

Monday, June 13, 2011

35 Weeks and getting uncomfortable

I really didn't think I would get this tired at this point--I technically still have 5 weeks until my due date, but I'm having such a hard time imagining keeping this up for 5 more weeks!  I am not trying to be a whiner or a wimp, but this baby is riding all out front and my back is starting to take the brunt of the burden.  Also, it only takes a little bit of walking around for me to feel the desparate need to sit down and catch my breath--Don't take me to Walmart--I'm a total mess.  I have definitely already sat down in the middle of an aisle when I feel like my heart is racing, just from walking to the back of the store!  Yikes.
2 more weeks and Grace will be full-term and then it will just be a matter of time for her arrival.  This Wednesday I have a Drs Appt and then the hubster and I are going to pre-register at the hospital and take a tour of the maternity ward.  I think once we've done that I'll really start to feel "prepared" for her to get here! 

Working all day (even though it's a low-impact environment) leaves me feeling tired when I get home and then I have the desire to attend to baby things, but hardly ever the energy--boy is that frustrating.  I did manage to vacuum, clean the bathroom, and organize some things last Saturday, but I haven't felt like doing it again since...

Yesterday was our 1 year anniversary (time flies!) and we had a FABULOUS day together.  Church, lunch out, movie, some shopping--great memories together, and the rest of our lives to go!

35 weeks, ready for church and to celebrate our one year anniversary :)  Look comes complete with no makeup-haha.
Chad likes having his picture taken too--he's enjoying a donut :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

34 weeks and counting

This Saturday I'll be 34 weeks pregnant and it's really starting to sink in that within the next 6 weeks(ish) I will be holding my little girl in my arms instead of feeling her move in my belly!  Ya know, 3 years ago I was single and happy with no immediate thoughts about marriage and babies and here I am, married one year (in about 10 days) and only 6 weeks from being a MOM!  Good grief, that's amazing.

Today, Grace is thumping against my belly and I already have this image in my mind of how babies like to rhythmically kick their feet when they nurse, and although I still can't picture her face, I can see her in my mind's eye just absentmindedly kicking/jabbing it.

I had a doctor's appt yesterday and everything still looks GREAT :)  I love it when I hear that.  Blood pressure good, heartbeat good, and somehow I lost 2 lbs since my last appt (2 weeks prior). Not complaining and neither did my doctor, but we'll see if I've evened out when I go back in 2 weeks...after that, I've finally made it to my "every week" appts.  Can't believe how time is flying (and yet, some days seem like they'll last forever and she'll never get here--how bizzare.)

I'm very excited about my first baby shower coming up this Sunday--Grace certainly has been blessed already with the abundance of items that have been given to her.  She's spoiled and she's not even here yet! :)