Friday, March 30, 2012

First week in pictures

Dear Elliot,
I still need to write up your wonderful birth story, but just haven't gotten around to it yet (turns out these baby creatures require a lot of time and attention!). In the meantime, I thought I'd share a few pictures of your first week of life on the outside.

You are seriously just the sweetest, most adorable baby ever. I realize I'm a bit biased, but really, you are pretty amazing. Your big chubby cheeks, your long feet, the way you grab onto my fingers when you're sleeping, the crazy look you get in your eyes as your root around, looking for mama's breast when you're hungry, the little cooing noises you make as you fall asleep, the warmth of your body against my chest when we snuggle. I am in awe and in love with every little part of you.

I can't believe you're already a whole week old, and that you're really mine.

 We are so happy you are here, Baby.


Friday, March 23, 2012


Elliot James Cook
Born screaming at 2:00PM
March 23rd
8 pounds, 9 ounces
21 3/4 inches long

Daddy's huge hands, Mama's dark hair, Big Sister Stevie's button nose

Pure joy

Will write more later, but just wanted to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has been rooting for us. You have no idea how much all your love and support has meant to our family! Now off for more cuddle time with my son. :)


Thursday, March 22, 2012

The night before...

Dear Elliot,
As I was blow drying my hair a few minutes ago, getting ready for bed, it dawned on me. The next time I take a shower, the next time I dry my hair, you'll be here. How do you even wrap your head around something like that?

In approximately nine hours, we'll be headed to the hospital. I have a feeling these are going to be the longest nine hours of my entire life.

It all just feels so surreal, knowing my life is about to be transformed in such a profound way. Just like everything changed after Stevie was born--essentially dividing my life into 'before Stevie' and 'after Stevie'--everything is about to change again. I have nine hours left 'before Elliot.' I can't wait to finally be at the 'after Elliot' point.

I love you beyond words and am so incredibly excited to finally meet you face-to-face and look into your eyes.

See you tomorrow!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Dear Elliot,
So I'm always talking about all the things your sister taught me. Stuff about love, compassion, etc etc. Well you, my son, are currently teaching me a lot about patience! I am not a patient person by nature. I'm like the opposite actually. I hate waiting for anything, especially things I really, really want. And I've never wanted anything as badly as I want you.

My body's been just teasing me since my last update. On Friday night, I started having contractions that were coming at what I thought was every 3-5 minutes or so. My doctor had told me earlier that day, after stripping my membranes, to head to L&D if they were 7-10 minutes apart, since I was already 4cm dialated and it could go fast once it began. So we went to the hospital, where the monitor actually showed my contractions were 2-4 minutes apart. They weren't very uncomfortable or intense, however, so they had me walk around the hospital for an hour and come back to be re-checked. I hadn't made any progress after an hour of walking, so they sent me home.

All weekend I continued to have contractions that never really picked up in strength. Every now and then I'd get a pretty painful one, but they weren't coming regularly.

Grandma (my mom) came over on Saturday and helped me clean the house (and by 'helped me' I mean she insisted on doing pretty much everything herself to save me from 'inhaling too much dust' and things like that!). That afternoon I had some 'bloody show' (I don't know what's grosser--that word combo or 'mucus plug!'), and I was sure that meant real labor had to be just around the corner.

Welp, I was wrong. By Sunday afternoon, my contractions had all but disappeared. They came back that night, but were pretty much gone by Monday morning.

Yesterday I had my last ultrasound and NST. Everyone at my doctor's office was like, 'oh we thought for sure you would have delivered by now!' when I walked in the door.

Last night I had the most uncomfortable contractions and cramps I've experienced yet. But again this morning? Nada. Maybe I will be one of those people that is already like 7cm dialated by the time they  they are actually in active labor :)

I've tried everything they say to try to get labor started. But I guess you are just not quite ready yet. At least I am going to end up with buns and legs of steel from all the walking, squatting, dancing, and bouncing on my birth ball I have been doing!

I'm trying to be patient, baby boy. But this whole experience is really stretching me (pun not intended, haha). I've basically been waiting for a baby since December of 2009, when I found out I was pregnant with Stevie. You'd think after over two years, getting through these last few days would be easy. I'm just so freaking ready to be done with the waiting!

Just come on out little E. I promise you're really going to enjoy it out here. You have no idea how very loved you are, by so many people.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Quick Update

Dear Elliot,
Just a really quick update on where we're at. I had my 38-week OB appointment today and you're still looking great! According to the ultrasound, you are measuring in at just under 8 pounds. Sounds like a perfect size to me!

I also found out I am up to 4cm dialated and 70-80% effaced. Pretty awesome that when I go into actual labor I'll already be like halfway done! :) My doctor did strip my membranes, too, so that may or may not get things moving.

My doctor also said you have dropped down quite a bit. Can you tell from the picture? I can definitely feel myself waddling more!

I'm not gonna lie--this week has been hard. I feel like I've almost reached my breaking point and my nerves are just shot. There have been lots of tears (mostly for no reason other than being emotionally drained). I am just so ready to have you in my arms.

Alright, little guy. Hope you're getting as excited to meet me as I am to meet you!

Love you,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First trip to L&D

Dear Elliot,
First of all, everything is fine. I'm okay, you're okay, and you're still inside cookin' away. But yesterday was definitely one of the most stressful, scary days I've had during this entire pregnancy. I'll start at the beginning.

In the morning, I had a BPP (biophysical profile) ultrasound and nonstress test (where they hook you up to the monitors and watch the heart rate) at my OB's office. These two tests together give you a 'score' of how well the baby is doing, based on five criteria: amniotic fluid levels, body movement, tone (example: flexing of the hands), practice breathing movements, and a reactive nonstress test (meaning the heart rate fluctuates and accelerates during movement). You can either get 2 or 0 points for each of the categories. So a score of 10/10 is perfect, 8/10 is considered 'normal,' 6/10 is borderline (repeat the testing), and 4/10 or less is immediate delivery.

I've had like 12 of these things done, since about 32 weeks, and you've scored 10/10 every time.

But yesterday you scored 8/10. During the ultrasound, everything looked good, but you didn't do any practice breathing movements. The ultrasound tech said that was totally 'fine' to fail that part, and sent me to the NST portion of the testing.

Of course I was nervous having anything less than a perfect score, but I was trying to stay calm and not get too upset over it. Well, that didn't work out so well. And I think what happened next had a lot to do with it.

So there are two recliners in the NST room. Sometimes I'm the only patient having an NST done, so I sit in one chair, strapped up to the monitors, and Dad sits in the other one, usually playing Sodoku on his iPod or something. Yesterday, though, there was another girl getting hooked up at the same time as me (so Dad was out in the waiting room). One of the nurses strapped me up and found your heartbeat right away. But across the room, two other nurses were struggling with the other girl in the chair. I overheard that she was 36 weeks pregnant with twins, and that they were able to locate one of the heart beats, but not the other.

As time went on, I could sense panic in the room. "Turn off your cellphone!" one of the nurses almost snapped at me, "maybe it's interfering with the machine." Then, to the girl, "when is the last time you felt baby move?" I was sitting there, the sound of loud static coming from the monitor across the room totally overpowering the sound of your heart beat coming from my own, watching this all-too-familiar scene play right out in front of me. It brought me right back to that morning on the exam table, when my doctor was searching all over my belly for Stevie's heart beat, and I literally felt sick to stomach. After about 10 minutes, they finally told the girl that they would have to send her over for an ultrasound, and she left.

As I was leaving the office about a half an hour later, I saw the ultrasound tech having a very somber/serious conversation with some of the people who had been working with the girl in the NST room. I'm hoping and praying I am wrong, but it didn't look like good news.

Anyway, having you get a less than perfect score on your testing, coupled with this whole scary ordeal, had me pretty shaken up. I didn't get to see a doctor or anything after the tests (my doctor wasn't even in the office that day), so I went home feeling incredibly uneasy.

Once home, all I could think about was that 8 out of 10. I know an 8 is still considered 'normal,' but isn't the point of having all this testing done to watch for any changes? To catch anything even the least bit  concerning before its too late? Maybe if you hadn't done the practice breathing movements every other time I wouldn't have been as scared, but I didn't feel okay about what felt like a decline in your state of well-being.

Then I started thinking maybe you hadn't been moving as much either.

So I called my doctor's office and talked to the triage nurse about my concerns. She basically reiterated that an 8/10 was fine and told me to do kick counts and try to relax. That just wasn't good enough for me. She told me I could always go into the hospital to be monitored if that would make me feel better, so that's what we did.

I'm just not taking any chances this time.

When we got to the Maternal Assessment Center on the L&D floor, they hooked me up to the monitors right away. They said your heart rate was great and reactive and that that was a much better indicator of well-being than the practice breathing. I basically said, "okay, great, but I still want to redo the ultrasound and see if he is still not passing that part." I explained how I realize I probably sound crazy and paranoid, but that given my history of sudden stillbirth, I need the reassurance that my baby is not just doing 'okay,' but is thriving inside. Otherwise, I just want him out. Now. Dad even stepped in and explained that what we were concerned about was not just the score/number (8), but the fact that it didn't fit with our baby's pattern. If he had a history of sometimes getting 8's, sometimes getting 10's, that would be different. This was scary.

The L&D nurse went out of the room to call my doctor and I overheard her say something like, "I don't think she's going to leave without seeing her baby again." She was right! :)

So she redid the ultrasound for me, and this time you cooperated and did your practice breathing. So a 10/10. As soon as I saw you take a breath, I felt like I could finally breathe again too.

After the ultrasound and an hour on the monitors, the nurse called my doctor again. I overheard her saying that everything looked good, and that according to the monitor, I was having some pretty good contractions. Her exact words were, "I really don't think she is going to make it to the induction date!" I  hope she is right!

I am so glad I went in and got the reassurance I needed. I've made it almost 38 weeks without a major freak out like this, so I felt like I deserved at least one before the big day, right?? Ha.

And this horrible day ended a lot better than it began--with the birth of my new niece! Your cousin Madeline was born at around 8:00pm last night and she is absolutely perfect. Dad and I made it to the hospital to meet her just before visiting hours ended at midnight. I am so excited to be an Auntie for the first time. As I was resting Madeline on top of my huge shelf of a belly last night, you were kicking her little butt the whole time :) Can't wait for you guys to grow up together!

Nine days or less...we can do this, Baby.

Love you so much,

Sunday, March 11, 2012

In the air...

Dear Elliot,
You can literally feel it in the air. Change. It's everywhere.

This weekend it was in the upper 60's and sunny. We 'sprung forward' an hour last night. Birds have begun waking me up with their singing every morning. Neighbors we haven't seen since October have come out of hibernation to sit out on their decks, and Target has swim suits on display and no less than four entire aisles dedicated to Easter candy. Spring is coming. The season's are changing.

And it's not just the weather. In no less than 12 days (maybe sooner!), my life is about to change in a huge way. The sense of anticipation I'm feeling is simply overwhelming.

I feel like I've been stuck in winter for the last almost two years, and my spring is finally coming. The timing of your upcoming birth couldn't feel more more perfect. More right.

So this weekend we put the house cleaning we really should get done aside and just basked in the feeling of Spring, of change, in the air...

Family photo

Got lots of walking in!

Wet dogs = happy dogs

After giving the girls their spring shave-downs...

First deck time in months

My little sun-bathing buddy :)

My view

So as far as baby news goes, as of Friday I was dialated to 3cm (at just over 37 weeks) and had a 'very favorable cervix.' If anything, it's nice knowing those are 3 centimeters I don't have to get through once I'm actually in labor! :) I'm not going to lie--I'm having a really hard time now that we're so close. I am terrified of something going wrong in there when I know you'd be just fine on the outside. While my doctor understands my fears, she doesn't want to induce when we have 'every indication' that you are doing 'wonderfully' and still cooking. And I really want to hold out a while longer, too, but like I said, I'm also really scared. 

My doctor said she will try stripping my membranes if I want her to at my next appointment (Friday, when I'll be just over 38 weeks), and I think I am going to let her. If you don't come on your own before the following Friday (3/23) at 6am, that's when we'll induce. I've been doing everything I can think of to keep things progressing--tons of walking, lots of bouncing on my birth ball, etc--we'll see if any of it helps! My hope is that I go into labor on my own before next Friday, but it's really nice to have an end date in place that I can hang onto when I start to worry and freak out. In 12 days, you'll be in my arms. 12 days. I think I can do it. 

Here are a couple belly pics from this weekend (37w3d). I'm not sure how much more stretching my poor belly can take! I have no idea how I don't have any stretch marks with how stretched out I feel. Watch them all pop up in the next 12 days :)

I swear the fact that my sports bra matches my sweat pants is purely accidental, ha

This is my 'hurry up and take the picture, I feel like a whale' face :)

I can't wait for all the ways my life is about to change. I am so ready for a fresh start.

I love you so much,


Monday, March 5, 2012


Dear Elliot,
Can you believe you will be full term later this week?? As of Friday, I was 2cm dialated (up from 1cm the week before) and have been having lots of fun cramping and contractions since the weekend. I am also 99% sure I began losing my mucus plug Saturday night (sorry, I feel gross even typing that word!) While I realize labor could still be awhile from now, all these things have me feeling really anxious to get everything ready for your arrival. It seriously feels so surreal that you are going to be here, in my arms, in a matter of a couple weeks. It's so close, but I am having a hard time really wrapping my head around it!

Our house is starting to look like a baby lives here. There's a cupboard in the kitchen now dedicated to your feeding supplies. There's an entire shelf in the bathroom closet filled with rubber duckies, hooded towels, and baby shampoo. A Pack N Play, activity mat, and glider in the living room. A bike trailer, stroller, and Red Flyer wagon in the garage. Carseat installed and ready to go.

And this weekend I did some more work in your nursery. For pretty much all the decor either coming from a thrift store or being hand-made, I think it turned out pretty nice! I still have a couple more things to add, but we're getting there. You won't even be sleeping in this room for a few months at least, but having it done before you are born was just something I really wanted to do.

Here are a few pictures:

Weird angle of my 36+ weeks belly :)

 Still can't decide if we need a rug for the middle of the room or not...

 You'll be wearing lots of flannel, just like Dad!

 A basketful of toys just waiting to go in your mouth :)

 Dad hung this up and wrote this message for you

 Hat tree!

This was a gift from Grandma and Grandpa Cook for Dad's first Father's Day (right after Stevie died). It looks beautiful hanging by the window in your room.

Grandma Ziemke (my mom) came with me to an ultrasound at the Perinatal office earlier today and you continue to look 'perfect.' Keep it up, Baby Boy! 

I love you so much!

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