Sunday, April 1, 2018

Harrison's Construction Themed 3rd Birthday Party

  In January, Harrison turned 3 years old, but I knew well before then what his birthday theme would be!! We can barely drive down the street a few blocks before he has spotted a digger, bulldozer, tractor, truck, or some other kind of construction vehicle.  It's a gift... :)  While this theme was very decoration intensive, it was so cute and a ton of fun!  I was so thankful for my Silhouette machine to cut out all of the signs and shapes!

   Our whole house was transformed into a construction site with caution tape, caution signs, hard hats, safety cones, and more!  

Caution tape was a must have for this party theme!  All the party guests got a caution hat as they entered. 
The kids loved wearing them around!

Two pieces of foam board taped together made a great CAUTION sign!  The black letters were cut out using my Silhouette machine and a black sharpie and a ruler made the diagonal lines.  

These safety cone candles from Amazon were the perfect addition to the construction cake! 

While I know that food without themed names tastes the same as food with themed names, I still love finding ways to make the food items fit the theme of the party!  From the chicken nuggets to the chips and cake, it wasn't hard at all to find construction site themed names for all the different food items!  After adding a few safety cones, a bulldozer, a digger, and a caution sign, and we had a feast ready for even the hungriest construction workers! 

One thing I love about the South is that even in January you can have a party outside!! We were so blessed with beautiful weather on the day of Harrison's party.  I was so grateful for the mild 60's temperature and sunny skies, because I had planned for lots of fun activities outside....a Construction Zone building station, an exploration tub filled with rice and different construction vehicles, and a safety cone ring toss.  All the games were fun, but I think the rice tub was the biggest hit!

A long and shallow Sterilite storage container and a 20 lb bag of rice made for hours of entertainment!
A 2x4 cut into blocks made a fun building station!!  Two foam rings and a couple of safety cones made a great ring toss!

The construction theme was such a blast and we had a great time celebrating our big 3 year old!  

Anderson's Birth Story

Anderson James Banco - April 7, 2017

    Childbirth is truly one of the most raw, emotional, awe-inspiring, life-altering moments that a woman will ever experience.  It is something to be remembered, cherished, and retold over and over.  I wrote Harrison's birth story over a period of a few months and finally published it when he was 4 months old.  As I sat planning Anderson's 1st birthday several weeks back, I realized that I had still not finished writing his birth story (What can I say?? He's the second child...), so I decided I had better bite the bullet and finish it.  Before I know it he will be starting Kindergarten, and then publishing his birth story would be slightly weird. 
    One thing I have tried to do regularly, even more so since becoming a mother, is to write things down as they happen....things I'm thinking, hoping, dreaming.....things that happen in my day...things I'm worried about, praying about, wondering about....  However, writing things down in a leather bound journal of baby book just doesn't happen.  It's a lost cause because you don't always have it with you when you think of things to write down.  But you always have your phone.  I'm way more of a "real book" kind of girl, so succumbing to technology in order to write is hard for me.  But the way I see it, if it aids me in recording my history and my children's history, it's a sacrifice worth making.  I have always kept a Google Doc for both boys, and I use it like a journal or baby book for each of them.  I started one when I was pregnant with Harrison, I have continued through his first 3 years, and I started a new one during my pregnancy with Anderson.  I track milestones, funny things they say and do, and my prayers and hopes for their lives.  As much as I want each and every memory of my babies to be burned into my mind and etched into my soul, I forget things.  If you don't write things down, you will forget.  You may remember bits and pieces, but the raw emotion of each moment won't be as strong.  The words you use to describe the people, places, events, thoughts, and feelings will become watered down, and it just loses something.  I've finally compiled the jumbled mess that was my Google Doc from before, during, and after Anderson's birth, and so I present...
The Birth Story of Anderson James Banco

It’s pretty crazy how strikingly different your 2nd pregnancy is from your first.  With my first baby, from
the moment I found out I was pregnant, I was pinning nursery ideas and newborn photography poses
on Pinterest pin boards, reading every article and book I could about birth, infant sleep schedules,
breastfeeding, etc.  I spent hours researching and reading reviews on every baby item out there,
from strollers and carseats, to Diaper Genies and baby carriers. Don’t laugh….but I even made a
spreadsheet of my baby registry items grouped by category (as they are organized in Buy Buy Baby
if you go around the store in a clockwise direction, of course).  I know that's so OCD, but it did make
registering incredibly efficient.
    For my pregnancy with Harrison, my first trimester was towards the end of the school year and
throughout the summer, so during those exhausting first 12 weeks, I would lay on the couch and rest,
watching “A Baby Story” on TLC while simultaneously rubbing my belly and talking to it. Every waking
moment of each day was soaked in the joy and expectation of bringing a new life into the world.
   Fast forward 18 months. I found out I was pregnant again in late July 2016, so my first trimester was
during the FIRST couple months of the school year, which only added to the utter exhaustion that is the
first 12 weeks of pregnancy.  Surviving would be the only word to describe those first weeks.  When I
got home from school, there was no laying on the couch and napping.  That's not exactly possible when
you have a toddler running around. Hungry two year olds don't really care that you have morning
sickness and are so tired you feel like you got hit by a bus. Sometimes I tried to rest, but I would end up
getting pounced on or find my tiny little dude poking me and yelling, “Mama UPPPP!!” in my ear.  
    As the weeks progressed, there were many times that I literally forgot I was pregnant. Whereas
before, being pregnant dominated every thought in my head, now it just didn’t even cross my mind.
 I was too busy working full time, being a wife, taking care of a toddler, and running a household, to even
think about it.  Gone were the days of researching baby products (been there, done that), gone were the
days of reading about baby sleep (I was an old pro now), and gone were the days of lying around
rubbing my belly and dreaming of the future that was to come.  Even after my baby bump started to
make its presence known, I still would forget about being pregnant until I….A) looked in the mirror...or
B) had to wash the bump in the shower.  Then I was like, “Oh! Hello baby...I forgot you were there!"
At 18 weeks, we found out the gender of our baby at our anatomy ultrasound. The ultrasound tech
did all of her stuff, found all the check points, measured all the bones and heart chambers, etc, and
then she asked if we wanted to know the gender. We said yes! She started doing the wand
around on my belly and headed down south to check out the private parts. All of a sudden, I, Tony, and
the ultrasound tech all just stopped and stared at the screen. " it doing what I think it's doing??"
I said. The ultrasound tech started laughing. baby BOY had his hands down near his man
parts and seemed to be having a grand ole time playing with them. Apparently the obsession starts
even earlier than I had originally utero! I was really surprised it was a boy to be honest. I
just knew I was having a girl because I was carrying so differently. But the more I thought about it that
day, the more excited I became about having another sweet little boy.
As my pregnancy came closer to its end, the somewhat painful memories of my failed induction
and c-section with Harrison came flooding back. I truly had put that past me,
but as I thought more and more about how this birth would turn out, all those thoughts and feelings
resurfaced.  It had been my heart’s desire to have a natural birth with Harrison, and I did anything
and everything I knew to prepare for just that. But things did not go as planned, as they often don’t.  
After going 2 weeks past my due date with absolutely no dilation, I was forced to schedule an induction.  
And after getting Cervadil the night before the induction (to hopefully help dilate me), and doing 21 hours
of painful Pitocin induced labor, I still barely made it to 2 cm dilated, and baby never dropped. I spiked a
fever during labor and had to take IV antibiotics. It was an all round fail, and I ended up with a c-section.
The entire time they were cutting me open and getting Harrison out, I was throwing up and violently
shaking. It was pretty horrible.  
   As much as I was told by others that a “scheduled c-section” is WAAAYYY better than a c-section
after hours and hours of labor, I still didn’t want that.  I didn’t want to be lying on an operating table with
my arms stretched out beside me, completely numb, unable to see anything that is going on, and scared
out of my mind.  I didn’t want to have my baby brought to me on the operating table and only be able to
kiss his little cheeks for mere seconds before he would be whisked away and I would spend the next
hour being stitched up and lying in a recovery room instead of nursing and bonding with my baby.  
Throughout the whole pregnancy, I weighed all of my options in my head.  My doctor said I could
definitely try for a VBAC, but my fear with that outcome was that I’d go through all the hours and hours
of labor trying to have a vaginal birth, and then end up with a c-section anyway.  My other fear was that
if I decided to do a VBAC and wait things out, that I’d go way past my due date again…..and there are
just no other words to describe what it feels like to go two weeks past your due date other than just
freaking miserable.  There was a part of me that couldn’t help but feel very broken over not be able
to have a natural birth with Harrison.  I know that was mostly caused by the pressure and expectations
I put on myself, but still, part of me felt like my body failed me. And I had to grieve over that.  But at the
end of the day, like they say… get a baby either way, no matter what your birth story is. I prayed
during this pregnancy that God's will would be done, and that if I was supposed to have a VBAC and get
the opportunity for a natural birth, then I would. I prayed for God's best for us and for Anderson.   
By 37 weeks, I had mulled and pondered and prayed, and I had finally decided what would be
“the plan.”  Normally, a scheduled c-section is scheduled for 39 weeks, but since I wanted to give my body
as much time as possible to go into labor on my own, I decided to schedule a c-section for 40 weeks...
on my due date of April 7th.  If I went into labor before then, great...I’d try my best to do a VBAC.  If not,
I would have another c-section, and I would be at peace with that decision. It just so happened that
April 7th was a day that Dr. Plyler was going to be the OB on rotation at the hospital that day, and he
was the OB from my practice who delivered Harrison.  So that made me feel good.   
That first week of April, the week before I was to go out on maternity leave, I literally felt like I was
having an anxiety attack.  My mind was literally racing a million miles an hour.  I stayed at school so
late trying to get last minute stuff done (in addition to all of the many hours and weekends I had spent at
school already getting prepped for my leave).  As soon as I checked 10 things off my to-do list, I’d think
of 20 more things to add.  It seemed like it was never going to get all done.  I was so stressed, so tired,
and so ready to meet my sweet boy.  The well meaning comments of others really get to you those last
couple of weeks….  “Are you STILL here? Why are you still working?” (Reply in my head:  Yes…..yes
I am.  I am working because I have a job to do and I need money to pay my bills.  I don’t have the
luxury of just quitting work early just because I’m huge and fat and miserable.  But if you’d like to pay
my bills for me so I can go home and sit on the couch and watch Netflix….be my guest.)   “You haven’t
had that baby YET?” (Reply in my head:  No….no I haven’t.  Clearly, as you can see from the large
and in charge baby bump that is now before you, I haven’t had this baby yet.)   “How much are you
dilated?  Do you think you’re going into labor soon?”  (Reply in my head: No, I’m not dilated at all.  I
wasn’t dilated AT ALL with my first baby even at 2 weeks past my due date, and I’m not dilated any
now. I can’t do anything about it, so I’m not sure what you want me to say.  Babies are born when they
are ready….or in my previous case, when they are surgically extracted, so I have no earthly idea when
I’m going into labor. Who does?  It’s not like the baby lets you know when it’s ready to come out.  Let’s
be real here.) People are so well meaning and they truly ask you about things or make comments
because they care and they feel for you. I've said very similar things to some of my pregnant friends
with nothing but love and sincerity. But there’s just something about the last week of pregnancy
that just makes anything and everything anyone says super annoying.  
My last day at school before Anderson’s birth proved to be even crazier than I thought.   I did end up deciding to take one day off before my c-section so my last day was scheduled to be Wednesday, April 5th.  I would be off Thursday, April 6th, and then the c-section was scheduled for the 7th.  Well, mother nature decided to bring some extreme severe weather to the midlands Wednesday afternoon.  So severe in fact, that the district announced that Wednesday would be a half day due to reports of tornadoes, high winds, and large hail. We would get out at noon and that was the time to storm was supposed to start getting really bad.  That night I ended up going ahead and packing the car with everything I needed for the hospital in case of emergency and decided to spend Wednesday afternoon at Tony's parents house. So my final farewell day to the kids got cut slightly short, and I had to re-do my sub plans for about the 3rd time to take into account the missed instruction on Wednesday. I’d already redone them once because Thursday was originally scheduled to be Field Day, and it had been cancelled for severe weather too!  Ugh.
  I walked out of school Wednesday afternoon knowing that every little minute detail was not
perfect, but that it would all be okay.  I got in my car, closed the door, and drove off….leaving
all my school worries and stress at school and ready to put on my mommy hat. Tony was
working that day, which made it even more emotional to not have him to come home to, and I
was already freaking out about the weather and feeling scared, so I actually picked up Harrison
and spent the rest of the day at Tony's parents house. I figured if a tornado came through and
something catastrophic happened, being in a one-story brick house with people I love was better
than being in a two-story house on a hill by myself with a toddler at 40 weeks pregnant. As I
talked with Tony’s mom, we kept an eye on the news and the radar and several different times
reports of tornadoes came out for different places in the Midlands. The weather did get pretty
scary and it rained really hard and the wind blew and blew, but eventually that evening the storm
passed, and I ended up driving back to our house with Harrison and spending the night there.
         That night I sat straight up in bed and realized that I had forgotten to leave jelly beans for my sub
for an Easter graphing activity...heaven forbid. So Thursday morning after I dropped Harrison off at
daycare, I ran to pick up jelly beans and made up little baggies of them and took them up to the school
Thursday morning.  Afterward, I met my friend Katie (who was also pregnant….with her 3rd boy!) for
breakfast at Cracker Barrel.  Then I went to my regular OB appt.  I didn’t even let them check me for
dilation that time because it didn’t matter at that point…. I was scheduled for a c-section the next day.  
They basically had me pee in a cup as usual, listened to the baby’s heartbeat, and then sent me on my
merry way.  
All my vitals were great and baby’s heartbeat was strong.  I had gained 45 lbs total with this pregnancy
and I still had ankles!  I would call that a win, especially as compared with the 65 lbs I gained with
Harrison.  After my appointment was over, I went and got a pedicure and ran a few errands.  I had to get
some last minute things done… know, super important stuff to get done the day before you’re about
to have a baby…. like buying your toddler a laundry basket because his broke, buying commands strips
to hang pictures up in the nursery, and getting groceries.  Nesting is no joke.  I came home and finished
packing up my hospital bags, making little goody bags for all of my nurses, and continued to piddle
around getting all my ducks in a row.  My mom and dad came into town later that afternoon.  They would
be keeping Harrison while we were in the hospital. Since I couldn’t eat after midnight and it was our last
meal as a family of 3, we decided to all go to Olive Garden for dinner.  That night I texted Tammy, our
sweet friend and doula and confirmed with her that she would be there with us the next morning.  She
was an absolute godsend and helped us tremendously when I was in labor and going through surgery
with Harrison, and even though I was going to be having a c-section, we wanted her there for Anderson’s
birth too.
At 4am that night, I was still lying wide awake in the bed and I couldn’t get to sleep. It was all
Tony’s fault. : He had been snoring like a freight train earlier and I kept yelling at him so he got
up and went to the couch to so I could go back to sleep. But so much for that. :) I lay  there in
the bed with a million thoughts running through my mind.  Today was my baby’s birthday!  Your
whole pregnancy is filled with such uncertainty, and then the last several weeks are filled with
excitement and slight anxiety about if today could be the day. With every odd sensation,
contraction, etc. you think….is this it? Is labor near? Now, here I was at the end and I knew for
sure. Today was the day. It was kind of weird. Knowing that in advance seemed so odd….
awesome...but odd.  In just a matter of hours I was going to get to hold my precious baby boy.  
Feelings of joy and anticipation were running through my body, but then the anxiety and fear of
having surgery again would come flooding through me right afterward.
Every time Anderson moved inside me, it would bring me peace though.  I thanked God for him
and for his life within me.  And I knew that even if surgery was horrific, it would all be worth it
because afterward, I would get to hold my baby and smell his sweet baby smell and feel him
against me. I was excited to nurse again, and I couldn’t wait for Harrison to meet his baby brother.  
I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face.  I hoped it would be one of love and adoration!  I guess
we would see.
Last picture as a family of 3.
40 Weeks Exactly! Holy baby bump.
   We woke up the next morning and Tony and I got ready.  We got Harrison up and enjoyed some
morning snuggles and fed him breakfast.  I was so hungry, but I wasn’t allowed to eat anything before
surgery. Before we headed to the hospital, I asked my parents to take a family picture of us….our last
picture as a family of 3.  Tony also took a picture of me and the baby bump in front of our front door….
my official 40 week picture!  We gave lots of hugs and kisses to Harrison and headed out.  We had to
be at the hospital at 8:30.
When we arrived at the hospital, we walked up to labor and delivery.  It was still fairly early and there
didn’t seem to be too many people there.  We gave the nurses at the nurses station our names, and
they pointed us down the hall and said that they were expecting us.  As we walked down the hallway,
another nurse intercepted us, greeted us, and pointed us down further.  We started laughing when a
3rd nurse greeted us and showed us right into our room.  Talk about customer service.  We felt all
 special!  Haha.  The nurses handed me my hospital gown, and I got changed.  The next step was putting in my IV and prepping me for surgery.  I freaking hate IV’s.  I told the nurse that was about to do my IV that I had really deep veins just so she would be aware, and I told her the story of the first time I ever gave blood in high school and how the nurse had to stick me 7 times to find a vein.  I think I jinxed myself, because it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  She tried both wrists multiple times and could not get a vein.  Finally she sent for another nurse to come try.  She tried to get my wrist vein and failed so she told me she had to resort to the most painful IV location...the back of my hand.  And she was right. It hurt like the dickens.  And it was super uncomfortable because I couldn’t bend my hand without this shooting pain.  But I knew I was in for way worse pain, so I decided to shut up about the IV.

It's go time!
Tony and I talked and just sat around and watched TV for a bit wondering what the hold up was.   
The c-section was supposed to be at 10:30, and time was ticking away.  The nurse came in shortly after
and told us that Dr. Plyler was running behind and had a couple other ladies who were delivering before
me, but that it shouldn’t be too much longer. Tammy showed up during our wait and hung out with us. I
felt slightly guilty that she was there because technically, you don’t really need a doula with a c-section,
but we just really selfishly wanted her there.  She and her husband were supposed on their way to the
beach 3 hours away that day for State Tournament for the bowling program they coach,
and so the fact that we were being delayed made me feel even worse.  Tony’s parents also stopped by
and came in the room with us to talk/hang out while we waited. 11:30 rolled by….12:00….still nothing.  
A few minutes later the nurse came in and said we were good to go.  Tony got on his hilarious blue
jumpsuit, I put on the famous blue hair net, and they rolled me down the long hallway to the OR.  It was
baby time.
As they rolled me along, I was aware of the stark contrast in my experience as compared to last time.  
With my first c-section, I had been laboring for 20+ hours.  I was exhausted.  I had no idea what to
expect.  I was scared out of my mind, and I kept my eyes closed the entire time on the way to the OR.
It was this overwhelming whirlwind and kind of felt like an out of body experience at times.  But now, I
was fully present.  I was aware of what was going on. I knew where I was going and what was going to
happen.  As they opened the doors of the OR and wheeled me in, all those memories came flooding
back.  It was like instant de ja vu.  I remembered the bright lights and stark sterility of the room. I
remembered the cold…..the absolute freezing cold.  I remembered the radio on.  It had been so loud.  I
remembered feeling slightly aggravated and offended that songs from the top 40 were being played so
nonchalantly while I was being cut open on an operating table.  But there it was again playing in the
background.  The nurses gave me a warmed blanket to put on to keep me warm.  I appreciated that so
much.  I didn’t remember getting that before, but I may have been so out of it I didn’t remember.
The nurses put those air pressure cuffs on my legs. I had forgotten about those things from the last
time until that moment.  One of the nurses commented on the fact that I looked “way too pretty” to be
about to give birth.  I had put full makeup on that morning and curled my hair and everything.  I mean...
why not, right?  I knew I wasn’t going to be going through the whole sweaty, painful, hair in a ponytail,
bouncing on a birthing ball, on my hands and knees on the floor in odd positions to get through
contractions labor thing.  And I was about to be in a LOT of pictures… why not look good?  
    Next, the anesthesiologist came up and talked to me and walked me through what he was about to
do. I think that was the moment when it hit me what was about to happen again, and I felt the shakes
coming.  I wanted to stop. I wanted to be calm and quiet and still, but I couldn’t help it.  It just happened.
The nurses called it the “mommy shakes” and reminded me that it was totally normal.   The
anesthesiologist had me sit up straight and bend forward so he could access my spine. I buried my head
into one of the nurses chest’s and she held my hand.  He was going to give me a spinal, which is
different than the epidural I had the first time.  I felt the cold alcohol pad cleaning my back.  The spinal
kind of felt like a bee sting going in.  It wasn’t horrible but didn’t feel great either.  The numbing sensation
spread over me fairly quickly.  It’s such an incredibly disturbing feeling not to be able to feel your legs or
to be able to move them voluntarily.  They asked me if I could feel something and I said no, so they knew
that the spinal had fully taken effect and that it was time to begin.  They put up the infamous blue curtain
in front of my face so that I couldn’t see everything they were doing during surgery. And then they
showed us a new little feature that the curtains had.  Apparently, now they make the curtains with a clear
flap in the middle that the nurse or doctor can flap it down when the baby is coming out so the parents
can see the baby!  I was really excited about that.  
     Tony held my hand while the doctor and nurses worked.  I could hear  things going on down there
and could feel some pressure, but no pain.  I hated not being able to know what was going on.  How
much longer would it be??  After a bit, I smelled a horrible burning smell.  I asked Tony what it was, and
he said I didn’t want to know.  I figured out later they were burning the scar tissue that they had found
from my previous c-section once they cut me open. Yuck.  I kept my eyes closed pretty much the whole
time.  It allowed me to focus on being calm and take my mind off of what was happening and just
visualize me holding my baby.  After what seemed like forever, I started to feel the pressure, tugging,
etc.  I knew that meant birth was near!
Welcome to the world
Anderson James!
  Dr. Plyler got his hands around Anderson and then they let the window down so we could see him being pulled out. It’s such an indescribable feeling to see your child’s face for the first time.  Even covered in all of the “stuff” that is on them when they are first taken from the womb, in your eyes, they are still the most beautiful beingsever.  Dr. Plyler cut the cord, and then the nurses took Anderson, wiped him off, put his little hat on, and brought him to me.  I was still lying on the operating table, so Tony held him up to my chest and I got to feel his soft new baby skin against me and kiss his little cheeks.  Tears welled up in my eyes. I was so overwhelmed and just elated to finally meet my sweet Anderson. Another precious baby boy was mine to love.  What a gift. They put him in the bassinet and Tony wheeled him down to the nursery. On the way, they got to stop and see the grandparents (so I was told…..I was still being stitched up in the OR. Wah, wah, wah….) Anderson had to lay underneath the heater in the nursery for a while to warm up because his body temp was too low.  After that, he had a bath and got weighed.  Meanwhile, I was brought to the recovery room.  Tammy, our doula, came with me and made sure I was settled, and then she had to leave to go out of town.  I was so grateful to her for staying with us and for being present for the birth. 

Snuggling with my little man.

The recovery room was one of my 
Yay! I can eat something!
most unfavorite parts of my c-section the first time, and this time was no different.  Being in a room alone while your husband and family are joyfully watching all of your baby’s first moments - the first bath, etc., pretty much sucks.   I remember sitting there in the bed, still totally numb and unable to move from the waist down, still slightly in shock that my baby was now on the outside of me and not the inside, and feeling so isolated.  I laid there for over an hour.  Everything changed, though, when I heard the wheels of the baby bassinet coming down the hall. It was a sweet sound indeed, because it meant my baby boy was about to be in my arms.  Tony came around the corner pushing Anderson.  He picked Anderson up and handed him to me, and I was able to nurse him for the first time.  Such sweetness. I Ioved nursing Harrison.  It ended up being one of my favorite things about motherhood, and I was so happy to be able to have the opportunity again.  Anderson ate like a champ, and then I got to just snuggle him to my chest and soak him up.  Annddd…..I got a POPSICLE!  Hooray!  When the nurse told me I could have a popsicle, the look on my face was priceless. “Are you for real?” I asked.  She probably thought I’d mistaken her for telling me I had just won a brand new car.  After not eating since 11pm the night before, I was famished, and a popsicle sounded amazing.  Snuggling your brand new baby boy + eating a red popsicle = HEAVEN.  

      After a while longer in recovery, I finally got moved to a regular room.  But shortly afterward, I started itching
like crazy all over my body.  I told the nurse, and she said it was most likely a side effect of the spinal. She said they
could give me benadryl in my IV and it should take care of it. I basically told her I was good with her giving me anything
as long as it took the itching away.  Literally, as the nurse was pushing the Benadryl into my IV, I started to feel this
terribly weird feeling come over me.  It was like a “rush,” and not in a good way.  While I’ve never done any kinds of
drugs in my lifetime, I felt like it was as close to what I would imagine shooting up heroin feels like.  It was this
instantaneous out-of-control, loopy feeling, and I did not like it!  I immediately told the nurse that I felt really weird,
but she aid not to worry and that it would be out of my system within an hour.  After she left, I could barely hold my eyes
open.  I would literally be sitting up talking and then I’d just conk out and fall asleep. I’d doze in and out, and it was
like this out of body experience.  6 hours later I was still totally out of it and was talking nonsense and literally could
not hold my eyes open. Tony had to be right there next to me holding the baby because I would just randomly fall
asleep. He probably thought I would drop him….which was a legitimate concern.   Apparently, during all of this, Tony’s
mom came in and stayed with me while he went to go eat. I don’t even remember her being there.  His sister Andrea
came up there at some point too, and she said I was talking about waffles and other random things and making no
flipping sense.  Every time I’d wake up and try to focus on thinking coherent thoughts I would feel somewhat angry
inside, because I felt like I was missing out on my baby’s whole first day.  Tony kept telling the nurse that he didn’t
think this was normal and she acted like I was crazy or overreacting or something.  She said, “I gave her the lowest
dose possible. There’s no way it’s causing that kind of a reaction.”  Oh, but it did. Even though that first day was kind
of a blur, I managed to enjoy it as best I could, and we did remember to take a family picture. IV Benadryl…..never
     We had planned all along for my parents to bring Harrison up to the hospital that afternoon/evening to see
Anderson, and I wanted to see him so badly.  But I did NOT want Harrison to see me that way. I seriously couldn’t hold
my eyes open or even hold my baby. Harrison had already been facing so much transition lately, and I didn’t want
him to be scared or upset by the fact that Mommy wasn’t acting like herself. I wanted to be fully present and able
to enjoy that moment when Harrison met his baby brother.  So we decided to let him come up the next day.  
    That night they took my catheter out and I had to get up to use the bathroom for the first time.  I had been lying
still in bed and not moving much, so my pain level didn’t seem so bad. But as soon as the nurse made me get up
out of the bed, I was in agony. With the nurse grabbing my hands and helping me lift my weight, I slowly inched my
way over the side of the bed with my sliced abdominal muscles.  I thought I was going to rip wide open.  The pain
was unbearable.  As I made my way over to the bathroom, the nurse kept telling me to look forward. I was hunched
over because standing straight up made me feel like my incision was going to tear apart. I knew where I was going
and I could see where I was stepping, but she was very insistent  on me looking forward.  I got slightly pissy with her.
She kept saying, “You need to look forward!” I think I yelled something like, “I AM looking lady!!”  I thought I was going
to pass out. This is another time when I thought to myself, "And a scheduled c-section is so much easier how??"
   Our first night in the hospital was rough…..  Anderson would not sleep in the bassinet at all so he slept in my arms,
which scared the crap out of me.  Whenever the nurses came in to take my blood pressure, I would pop awake so
they wouldn’t think I was sleeping with him in bed, since I’m pretty sure that is frowned upon.  He just wanted mommy
snuggles, but holy moly it made for a rough night.  It was all in such sharp contrast to our first night in the hospital with
Harrison.  Harrison was born at 3:35 am, but at 6 something that evening he had to be put in the special care nursery
(our hospital's version of the NICU) because his white count was really high..or low...or something like that, so he didn’t
sleep in the room with us.  Tony had to wheel me down to the nursery in a wheelchair every 2-3 hours so I could nurse
him.  So, while having to wake up and travel for every feeding and not being able to have our brand new baby in our
room with us really sucked, we didn’t have to worry about diaper changes, his safety, etc. that first night because the
special care nurses were doing all that.   
    I was desperate for a couple of hours of sleep without having to hold him just so I could actually relax and not be
sleeping with one eye open, so to speak. I swaddled him up, nursed him until he conked out, and then gently lifted my
little burrito over into his bassinet as best I could from my hospital bed. As luck would have it, as soon as I got him
settled and started to drift off myself, Tony started snoring like a freight train.  I was still bedridden at this point and
in a ton of pain, and Tony was sleeping in the little pull out chair thing….too far out of my reach….  I certainly wasn’t
going to yell over to him to shut the heck up and risk really waking the baby up.  So I resorted to the only thing left to
try…..violence. Haha.  I grabbed random objects off of the rolling bedside table...tissue boxes, chapstick, a pen…. and
chunked them as hard as I could at him so he would quit. Don’t worry...I was kind. I tried to avoid his head.  However,
it didn’t help. He was out like a light.
    The next day, April 8th, I finally got to take a shower, do my hair, put on some makeup, and feel somewhat normal.  We had several visitors that day.  Pam, the lady who keeps Harrison, and her daughter, Shelby, came by. And one of my best friends from college, Kristen, came by and surprised me!  And she brought me a milkshake! It’s always the right thing to do to bring milkshakes when you come visit a new mom, FYI. Haha. That afternoon after he woke up from his nap, my parents brought Harrison up to the hospital to meet Anderson. Earlier that day, the hospital baby photographer had come in the room to do newborn pictures, but we asked her to come back when Harrison was going to be there so maybe she could take some with him as well.  She agreed. I was so excited to see my boy! That’s another difference when you have a second child.  You are so excited to meet your new little bundle of joy and get some bonding time with them, but you miss your older child SO much and feel so guilty for being away!  

Proud big brother Harrison checking out the new family addition!
 When my parents arrived with Harrison, Kristen was still there visiting, so she agreed to take a video for us of

Harrison meeting his baby brother for the first time. It was such a precious moment.  Tony brought Harrison in
the room and as soon as he saw Anderson he pointed and said, “Baby!!”  Tony brought him over to me and let
him sit up in the bed beside me. He reached over and said, “Hi!” and patted Anderson’s head and said, “Hat!”  
He was so glad to see me. He just kept looking up at me and kept saying, “Mommy” and  “Mama, up!” which is
what he always said when he wanted me to hold him.  I was still so sore and couldn’t really hold him the way he
wanted to, which killed me, because I wanted to snuggle him so bad.  That whole moment in time was so perfectly
sweet and I’ll never forget it.  
My two little men!
   On Sunday, my friend Molly came by to visit and our friends the Harbaughs.  That night, Tony decided that he
needed to go home and see Harrison, and my mom was dying to come up and be with me and the baby.  So Tony
went home to put Harrison to bed and my mom came up to the hospital to sit with me while he was gone.  It was so
nice to have my mom up there.  She told me all about the adventures she and my dad had been having with Harrison
at home.  She said he was being so sweet and good, but that she could tell he was really missing us.  
Ready to go home!
    The afternoon of April 10th, we came home from the hospital after two restless nights. I was so ready to be home.
Saturday had been an emotional day because Harrison and Anderson met for the first time, and Sunday was
emotional because Anderson had gotten circumcised and had been acting so sad and pitiful, and it just tore my
hormonal mama’s heart to pieces.  Tony got everything packed up in the car, the nurse did all of our discharge
paperwork, and they wheeled me into the elevator and out the front door of the hospital while Tony went to pull the
car around.  I wondered how I had missed out on my wheelchair ride the first time. With Harrison, I walked right out of the hospital myself. Anderson slept the whole way home from the hospital, through the Taco Bell drive through where we went to pick up lunch, while waiting in the Walgreens parking lot for my prescriptions, and for another hour or two once we got home (perhaps he was too exhausted from being up ALL night….the crazy party animal.)  When we got home, thankfully Harrison was napping, so we were able to come in, get unpacked, eat some lunch, and I even got a much needed nap on the couch.  
   When Harrison started stirring on the baby monitor, Tony went upstairs to go get him up. As soon as he started
down the stairs, I heard my name. “Mama!?? Maaaammaaaa!!??”  He had his arms outstretched and wanted me to
hold him. “Mama upppp!!” Tony tried to tell him that Mommy couldn’t hold him but that he could come sit beside me.  
He brought him over to me on the couch we sat together and I just smothered him with hugs and kisses.  I really did
miss him so much while we
were in the hospital. Then my mom brought Anderson over to me and we just sat there for a few minutes and had some bonding time.  Harrison was very sweet and solicitous of the baby and rubbed his head and pointed out his little facial features.  “Baby eyes….baby nose!”  It also made me so happy to see him hug and love on his stuffed lion that we got him as a present from Anderson.
A little while later we decided to head outside and play since it was such a gorgeous day out. Harrison got his
little push toy and went outside, and I got a snack and something to drink and brought it outside. Tony, my mom, my
dad, and I all sat in chairs on the patio and were just enjoying the warm sunshine, gentle breeze, and sweet Banco
boys. It felt so wonderful to not be cooped up in that hospital room
anymore.  The more I watched my precious boy play joyfully around the yard while simultaneously watching my husband hold our beautiful sleeping newborn baby boy, I just became overcome with emotion. It was all I could to do hold back tears.   I truly could not ask God for more perfect gifts. I was getting hungry at that point so I opened my yogurt, and when Harrison saw me he came up and wanted some. He was holding the spoon.  I took it from him to stir the yogurt up, and he was not happy about that. He wanted to do it himself.  I said, “Just let Mommy stir it first, and then you can have some.” All of a sudden, he started crying and crying and these big crocodile tears started streaming down his face. It all kind of took us aback because he had been so happy just moments earlier. It was such an unexpected overreaction, even for a toddler.  He was pointing to me and crying, “Maaaammmmaa. Mama up!!”.  In my mama's intuition, I somehow knew this was him reaching his breaking point. He crawled up on my lap and sat completely in silence for the next 20 minutes. He didn't want the yogurt. He didn't want to go play. He didn't want to see his baby brother. All he wanted to do was snuggle up next to his mommy.  I could tell the tears had nothing to do with me not letting him stir the yogurt. He had just been holding it all in all weekend long. He had not seen his mommy or daddy for a longer than a half hour in the last 3 days and had been an absolute angel for my parents all weekend. He had simply missed his beloved mommy.  He sat in my lap, his face melted against my chest, and I ran my fingers through his beautiful blonde curls and just squeezed him tight and kissed him. The entire time I was holding him, tears were just streaming down my face. I tried to hold it back but I
Our moment....
couldn't. It was just one of those moments I will never forget....a turning point....the end of Harrison being an only child, and the beginning of a lifelong brotherly bond. I was utterly and completely overcome with emotion. I looked down at Harrison's soft blonde curls, stroked his sweet little hands and legs draped over my lap, and kissed his rosy cheeks. And then I watched my mom, now holding my precious brand new baby boy, snuggling him to her chest and breathing in his sweet baby smell. And my mind started to race in a million directions. I thought to myself, “How did I get so lucky? What have I done to deserve such beautiful healthy boys? God has been SO good to me.” And then it shifted to, “Will Harrison ever forgive me for having another baby? Will he love Anderson? Is he going to understand why mommy can't pick him up and hold him while I heal? Is he going to resent me?”  So many feelings all at once…..  That’s postpartum hormones for you.    After 20 minutes or so of me holding Harrison and us crying like babies together, he so matter of factly jumped back
up and went out to play in the backyard….. and that was that. It was like he just needed to get it all out, and then he
was fine. However, I had to go inside and have a little moment to pull myself together.  Throughout my whole
pregnancy, I really focused on the positives of adding a new family member to our crew, and I only talked in an
encouraging and positive way about everything to Harrison.  As a result, I think he has been remarkably well prepared
for the transition. But even still, when it actually comes down to it, it is a lot for a 2 year old to process when a new
member of the family suddenly appears and his mommy can no longer pick him up because she's just had major
abdominal surgery, he doesn't understand why, and he has to share attention.  

   It’s been almost a year now, since that day.  Sweet Anderson is the happiest baby ever.  Harrison was super happy,
but Anderson takes the cake. And he’s so fat! I love it!  He has a double chin and rolls all over. I prayed for a fat,
chubby baby, and I got one! Haha.  He is so go with the flow, a great sleeper, and is just a joyful baby boy.  And
now he’s crawling and pulling up ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE.  While he’s beginning to exhibit some signs of being a
“threenager,” Harrison is still my precious big boy.  While they have moments every now and again, Harrison
loves Anderson to pieces and wants to hold him, kiss him, feed him (he’s seriously tried to breastfeed him multiple
times….no lie. LOL), and help discipline him (“Oh ohhh Anderson! No no! We don’t touch plugs!”  Hahahaha.) He even
will randomly sing "Rockabye Baby" or "You are My Sunshine" to him, totally unprompted. It's just about enough to
make your mama heart burst with joy.  He really is a huge help with so many things….fetching diapers, grabbing socks,
putting things away for me, etc.  While the logistics of having two children can obviously be challenging at times,
especially with a husband who works nights sometimes, we absolutely cannot imagine our life without BOTH of our
So that is the story of how Anderson came to be a part of our family....just the first of many more!
The best is yet to come!