Colt: Week 3

Week 3: July 22 – 28

Colt Medical: We haven’t been back to the pediatrician to weigh him, but he is definitely growing and gaining weight great. We tried to weigh him on our scales at home (me solo and then me holding him) and we think he’s around 8.6lbs (8lbs 9oz) — growing boy! And, when I tried to measure him, he was about 21.5 inches.P1030392

In other news, he is growing some pretty little eyelashes and he finally lost his umbilical cord on Saturday (day 20)! P1030407

Feeding: Nursing is still going really well. It seemed to hurt a little more this past week than the week before, but I absolutely love it and it’s still one of my favorite things. Colt has been eating a little longer these days with feeds lasting about 20-30 minutes total, and he continues to stay on a rough 4 hour schedule. Sometimes we let him sleep a little longer at night and feed a little more often during the day, but it’s still working out to 6 feeds/day. IMG_2503

Sleep: Colt is still a pretty good sleeper, however waking up to feed during the night then getting up early for appointments and stuff did start to wear on me. By Friday I was pretty exhausted and took the day to really relax. I think soon we’ll start letting him sleep a little longer at night (unless he wakes up hungry), but for now, having my mom here to help with all of the night feedings, burpings, changings and comfort-sessions has been CRUCIAL for both Michael (especially since he had to return to work last Monday) and me. IMG_2100

Colt’s Personality: He is a very relaxed little guy – still super chill and easy – although a few times this past week I think we encountered a “witching hour” of sorts where he would be a little fussy around for a few hours! I always knew that this was a possibility, especially since I had read that it usually happens from around 3 weeks old – 3 months old, but it was still a little shocking to us the first night, since until that point he had hardly let out a whimper! Tuesday and Wednesday he was fussy from around 7-10pm, and Thursday he was up from about midnight – 4am. He has been fine since then, but we did introduce Colt to the pacifier which seems to be insta-comfort for him, and we are thankful for Gigi who is always willing to hold him and comfort him – no matter what the hour!IMG_2617

Mama – Post Pardum: Loved week 3! During week 2 I had hour-stretches of feeling like a real person again, but week 3 I basically felt great all week! During that first week I honestly didn’t know if I would ever feel good again so I’m super thankful for the progress. I can still feel that the incision is healing and I get tired after walking around for too long, but otherwise I hardly feel like I was ever pregnant.DSC_0663

I am still SUPER behind on responding to people who have written, calling friends, etc. but I think that the combination of having Colt 3 weeks early and having a c-section put me more behind… I’ll catch up soon!!IMG_2403

Activities: Lots of activities in week 3!
Colt has been loving his strolls through the park with Gigi!

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On Tuesday, Gigi and I took Colt for his first visit to the mall – JK Iguatemi. IMG_2442He loved strolling around the fancy shops, but he especially loved the FANCY-schmancy, private nursing/changing rooms that the mall has. Seriously – they are out of control. P1030379

Wednesday morning Michael and I took little Culhane to the Federal Police station to get him registered for his Brazilian passport! P1030427

On Thursday, my dear sweet friends Jana & Brett took my mom out to see a little bit of São Paulo! They visited the Mercadão Municipal and Estação de Luz in the Centro – downtown São Paulo – as they are kind of SP landmarks, but definitely not places we want to be taking Culhane anytime soon…P1030399 P1030402

Thursday evening Joe hosted us, the Hudsons and another friend, Fernando for a beautiful dinner at his apartment. It was such a fun night of great food, wine and company! P1030403

On Friday, Gigi babysat while Michael and I went out on a dinner date for sushi, and on Saturday we spent the day with the Hudsons at Bar des Arts stuffing ourselves with feijoada and other Brazilian treats. DSC_0651IMG_2140DSC_0670

On Sunday (yesterday), we celebrated Colt’s 3 week birthday AND his due-date with a fabulous Italian dinner hosted by Brett Coppens!P1030437

Visitors: Colt got to visit with lots of friends and family in week 3: Gigi Zais, Joe Harper, Trent, Paige & Mailey Jane Hudson, Fernando Spnola, Brett Coppens, Jana & Alex Pearl, Suzanna & Jeff Jones, and Bryan Rakowski.

Thoughts: I can’t believe that yesterday was Colt’s original due-date! I am SO glad that he came early, as I have loved every second of getting to know him these past 3 weeks AND I have loved getting him in his smaller-baby stage! So fun! He is such a precious soul and is a total joy to his daddy and me. It sounds silly but I can’t believe that Michael and I made him and get to keep him! 🙂IMG_2515

This week I am incredibly thankful for so many blessings:
– Colt being such a healthy, happy bundle of joy that we just can’t get enough of!!
Michael being the most amazing father of all time (it’s so fun seeing him as a dad)!IMG_2456Gigi being here and helping SO much!! She’s been working so hard since she arrived making meals, doing dishes and keeping our apartment clean, comforting our little guy whenever he gets upset or fussy, bringing Colt to me for all night feedings and then doing the night burpings/changings…and so many other things. Plus it’s just been so fun to have her here!!P1030430The progress that I have made in recovery! That first week was, of course one of the most amazing weeks of my life, but also one of the hardest and most painful, and at times it felt like I would never get better and return to normal, so I am amazed and thankful at the difference that a couple of weeks can make.

Being a mom is the most fun thing ever, and I’m so thankful that God has trusted us with this precious little soul.P1030419

Colt: Week 2

Week 2: July 14 – 21

Colt Medical: We visited the pediatrician again last Friday and we are happy to say that Colt is a happy, healthy, growing little guy! He weighed in at 7lbs, 1oz – almost a pound heavier than the previous week’s appointment!IMG_2062

Feeding: Week 2 of nursing was great. It still hurt sometimes right when he would start, but mostly it’s been amazing. It’s just such a special time together and has become some of my favorite times with Colt – even at 4 in the morning!

During week 2 he pretty much stuck to his 4 hour schedule which means he would eat 6 times per day, and average feeds were 15-20 minutes total. He spits up a good amount when he eats so we learned that, in order to save ourselves from going through 6 outfits each day, we feed him in just a bib and a diaper. This is also convenient because we change his diaper after each feeding and he often spits up and sometimes even goes to the bathroom during the change! so it’s best he’s not in an outfit then either. 🙂P1030363

Sleep: Colt was a champion sleeper during week 2. He sleeps so well in his crib, carseat, stroller, anywhere. One night we forgot to set our alarm to be sure he woke up to feed within 4 hours, and he slept for 5 1/2 before we realized that he hadn’t woken up! I think he’s too young to go that long without eating so now we always set an alarm.P1030367

Colt’s Personality: During week 2 Colt was the most chill and easy baby. During the first week, he would often cry for 1-2 minutes during diaper changes and baths, but he seemed to have given it all up by the end of the second week. I bet if we could add up all of his crying through the entire week, it would total about 10 minutes — so amazing! (Although spoiler alert — week 3 has already included a little more crying!)

Mama – Post Pardum: What a difference a week makes!  Sunday was 2 weeks from Colt’s birth (and my surgery) and at that point I think I would say that I felt like a real, normal person again! This week I quit taking all medicine and now am just taking my vitamins. I am still being careful not to overdo anything since I know I’m in recovery for 4 more weeks, but I can’t believe how much better I am feeling. Praise the Lord!


Activities: Colt had lots of outings and activities during his second week of life! On Tuesday (9 days old) Michael and I took Colt with us for our first family outing (that wasn’t a medical appointment) to have lunch together as a family of three! We just walked down the block to one of our favorite restaurants, Sallvattore, but it was so nice to get out and do something fun together! DSC_0621

Then, Gigi (Grandma Zais) arrived on Thursday to her sweet 11 day old grandson!DSC_0645 So, we went out to lunch again!DSC_0007DSC_0010

On Friday Michael and I took Colt to get registered as a Brazilian citizen! He was great and slept through the entire thing – even getting fingerprinted – they were so tiny! (PS – How cool is it that he is Brazilian!? Dual citizenship is so awesome – I’m jealous.) Then we had dinner at the Hudsons’ as it was Trent’s mom’s last night in São Paulo! 

Saturday we went out for lunch in our neighborhood and then got together with the Hudsons again for some good Parque do Povo time! We live about a block from this park which is a huge blessing in a city like São Paulo, and Gigi has decided that she wants to take Colt for daily strolls around the park.image copy 2

To celebrate Colt’s 2 week birthday on Sunday we took him to mass at a beautiful cathedral – Nossa Senhora do Brasil. Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 4.20.34 PMDSC_0640

Then we had a great lunch with Joe and Jake at Espirito Santo!photo

Visitors: Colt visited with lots of fun people this week! Gigi (Susan Zais), Joe Harper, Jake Cabala, Tom McElwee, Jana & Alex Pearl, Brett Coppens, Trent, Paige, Mailey Jane and Carol Hudson and Bruna & Fernando Pastore.


Thoughts: Loving every second of being a mom and a family! I can’t believe how much love I have for our little guy and I just want him to stay tiny forever!!

Colt: Week 1

Week 1: July 7-13, 2013

Hospital Stay: It was amazing!!

We were at Einstein Hospital from Sunday morning (1am) until Wednesday around noon, and it was amazing! Einstein is one of the nicest hospitals in all of South America and we were so blessed to be able to have our little boy there. Everything about the hospital is nice, but it’s the level of service that really pushes it over the top. There are nurses just for baby and nurses just for mom and all of them are fabulous! They are so enthusiastic and act like your baby is their favorite and the cutest, like you are the best mom, and like they want nothing more than to keep coming by your room to make sure every little thing is going well.DSC_2353-2623517253-O

We generally kept Colt in our room to hang out during the day, but let the nurses bring him back and forth for feedings at night so that we could rest a little more. Although Michael helped out a couple of times with diaper changes and bathing so as to learn how, the nurses changed all the diapers and did generally everything for us which was great!

Beautiful flowers sent from Gigi Zais!

Beautiful flowers sent from Gigi & Pasha Zais!

Our view from the room

The view from our hospital room


Hospital reading material

Hospital reading

Colt Medical: He’s a healthy little guy!!

On Sunday (his birthday!), Colt spent a couple of hours in the NICU making sure he knew how to breathe properly. Thankfully, they told us that once he got it figured out, it’s not something that he would struggle with again, so we were happy when he was brought to us around 4pm, never to return to the NICU.

Tuesday was a big day for Colt as he had his Hepatitis B immunization shot and his circumcision. He is super tough and hardly cried for either! Later that day we learned that he had a little jaundice so he spent some time under the tanning lights that day/night, but on Wednesday they said he was doing great and wouldn’t need any more treatment.

Treating his jaundice under the lights

Treating his jaundice under the lights

We left the hospital on Wednesday afternoon and on Thursday we took Colt for his first appointment with the pediatrician where, again, he was a total champ! Apparently his weight had gone from 6lbs 12oz at birth to 6lbs 2oz, which was a smaller percentage of weight loss than normal which made us feel good and assured that he is getting the nutrients he needs. He also went from 47cm at birth to 49cm on Thursday, although maybe he just wasn’t fully stretched out the first time…IMG_2367

Friday we took him back to the hospital to meet with his pediatric surgeon to check on how the circumcision was healing and we are thankful to say all is well on that front too!

Feeding: Nursing has been painful but awesome!

Nursing has been going really well. It has definitely been a little painful – especially in the beginning – and the 3 days that my milk first came in were NOT comfortable, but all of that has been totally manageable for me and SO worth it to be able to feed my sweet boy. It still hurts some, and my body is clearly still learning how much milk to produce (as in, it’s currently way over-producing), so even though I am ruining a ton of shirts right now, I’m very thankful that this is the problem we’re having. DSC_2101-2623408472-O

Right now we’re on a pretty predictable 3.5 – 4 hour feeding schedule, and he does about 15-20 minutes total (8-10 per side). This seems short and spread out to me (especially because we started out with hour-long feedings!), but everyone at the hospital and our pediatrician said it was totally fine. He is making lots of big diapers and is at a healthy weight, so he must just be an efficient little eater.

Sleep: I’ve been surprised at how not-that-bad sleep has been for us. Although we are waking up to feed a couple of times during the night, Michael and I still get pretty good stretches of sleep in. Also, Colt is an awesome sleeper. We have had him in his crib for most naps and all night-time sleep since we came home and he’s done great with it. He’s so calm that even if he isn’t asleep when we put him down, he’ll just hang out until he falls asleep and he almost never cries.

Colt’s Personality: So far he has been a pretty amazing baby and we feel super lucky. Like I said, his feeding schedule is pretty predictable anyway, but when he gets hungry and ready to eat, he’ll make little grunts and movements for a good 10-20 minutes before he will cry for it. This is very helpful for us and allows us to know when to feed him before he gets upset. He basically never cries out of tiredness and just kind of falls asleep when he needs to. The one thing that he definitely does not like though, is being cold. When we change his diaper he usually cries for a minute or two, but he is a quick soother and the second that a new diaper is on and he starts to feel like he’s getting dressed again, he stops. He behaves similarly with bath-time — cries for a minute when he gets undressed but quiets down as soon as he’s in the warm water. I’m a little nervous that he is still just new and “waking up” and that he might transition to a more feisty personality, but for now Michael and I are VERY happy!

Go Eagles!

Colt says, “Go Eagles!! Thanks Matty M for sending me such sweet BC gear!”

Mama – Post Pardum: Surgery recovery has been super TOUGH.

Thankfully everything else has been going so amazingly well, but during the first week, I was having a really difficult time recovering from the surgery. I had a lot of pain about an inch or two above my stitches, concentrated mostly on the right side. It was very intense and was the worst when I was walking around or doing anything. The pain was so extreme that it pushed me to tears every single day.

On Friday, when we were at the hospital visiting the pediatric surgeon, I ended up crying in his office because I was hurting so badly. He asked me about what I was feeling and then said that, although it is not his area of expertise, he felt like it was an abnormal amount of pain to be in given the length of time since my surgery. He advised us to go to the ER after our appointment just to have it checked out. We agreed that it would make us feel better to do that, so we went to the ER. The doctor who examined me first said she thought it sounded like I had internal bleeding causing pressure to build up, but after an ultrasound of the whole area we were relieved to hear that they couldn’t find anything wrong. The doctor said that the healing process is different for everyone and for me it just seems to be a slower, very painful one, but that over time I should be feeling better. We talked to my doctor and she advised that we get something to help relieve and distribute the pressure so I got something similar to Spanx and that has been somewhat helpful.

Due to the amount of pain I was in for the first week, I would spend almost all day in bed. This has meant that since coming home, Michael has had to do EVERYthing. For the first week, he did every diaper change, every bath, every outfit change, he brought Colt to me for every feeding, he prepared and brought me every meal, cleaned up every dish, brought me my phone, my computer, my chap stick, helped me get dressed and undressed… it’s been unbelievable. And all the while, he is still having to do work from home. He has had an AMAZING attitude and promised that he loved it and could do this for the rest of his life, but emotionally, it was very difficult for me to be unable to help or be a part of taking care of our son in those first days. I wanted so badly to do all of those things but the reality was that I just wasn’t able to. Thankfully, I am married to Superman and he has already proved to not only be the best husband of all time but also the best dad.


I’m happy to say that as of Monday, I have been feeling much better. I’m still resting and taking it easy, but the intensity of the pain has decreased to a much more manageable level, so I’m able to be up and about a lot more. Also, we moved my mom’s flight up and she will be getting here tomorrow which will be awesome. She would have come sooner but frankly we still needed to send her some things to bring down for us and we felt like I might need her more once Michael returns to work in the office next week.

The other side of post-pardum is emotional, and I certainly felt it! I have felt very very happy, but was just crying at the drop of a hat. It seemed like I couldn’t look at Colt for more than a minute or tell Michael that I loved him without tearing up. The past day or two I have felt more like myself, but I am so overwhelmed with love and joy and thankfulness that I sometimes think my heart is literally going to explode. Michael and I agree that the love that we feel for Colt is so much more intense than anything we could have imagined, and my love for my son only makes me love his dad and love the Lord that much more. So many blessings and so much to be thankful for.


Visitors: Our SP friends and family are the BEST!

We have been beyond blessed by the friends and family we have in São Paulo. They have been so over-the-top in taking care of us and have provided us with the most incredible meals (I’m talking gourmet-style), tons of groceries, and lots of sweet visit time. DSC_2271-2624410758-ODSC_2225-2623493649-ODSC_2235-2623494839-ODSC_2243-2623497885-O

Visitors for week 1 have included: Joe Harper, Paige, Trent & Mailey Jane Hudson and Trent’s parents, Tom McElwee, Suzanna & Jeff Jones, Jana Pearl, B Coppens, Bryan Rakowski, and Josh Ayers.DSC_0508DSC_0557

Coming Home: On Wednesday, I felt mixed emotions about coming home. At the hospital you just know that everything is safe and taken care of, and to be honest, I was worried about Michael since I knew that I would be of no help when we got home. At the same time though, I was excited to get home and just be a little family of 3!! It is what we have been dreaming about and imagining for so long, and sure enough it really has been incredible!

So, on Wednesday afternoon Michael packed up all of our things, helped with one final diaper change, and then drove his wife and son home!IMG_2331 I was hurting a lot when we got home so I sat down while Michael gave Colt a tour of the apartment, ending with his room where he laid down in his crib for the first time!DSC_0583DSC_0597

Although it’s been a ton of non-stop work for Michael, and a lot of pain for me, being home as a family, just the three of us, has been absolutely out of this world amazing. It is so much fun and I can’t imagine Colt ever not being part of our family.


Culhane’s Birth Story

It’s a little overwhelming to figure out how to tell the story of the most amazing moment of my life, so this will probably be a little long, but I don’t want to forget a single detail…

Friday, July 5: 36 weeks, 5 days
1:30 pm I have a routine check-up with my OB.
Michael and I are planning to take a little vacation that weekend (Saturday – Monday) to Intervales State Park in southern São Paulo state, which is about a 3 to 4 hour drive away. Although I am feeling great with no signs of labor in the near future, Michael makes me promise to ask my doctor if she thinks it is a good idea to be that far away. She recommends against it and says that it makes her a little nervous, but I’m not dilated at all so I feel totally comfortable going.

Saturday, July 6: 36 weeks, 6 days
1:30 pm Michael and I have a slow, lazy morning. Eventually we pack our stuff, get in the car, and drive 175 miles to the Paraíso Eco Lodge where we are planning to stay for the weekend. IMG_2258On the drive, we talk about our decision to go against my doctor’s orders and what the “worst-case-scenario” would be. We agree that worst-case would be if something happened and we tried to get back to São Paulo, and I ended up delivering in the car. That being said, I feel like almost no labor (especially for a first baby) is less than 3 hours, so I figure that is very unlikely.

5:00 pm Our destination is a little off the beaten path, and the last 30 km of the drive is on dirt roads with no cell phone reception, but when we arrive there is a beautiful property with a main lodge and little individual “cabins” scattered about – each themed around a different country.Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 10.53.12 AM We are staying in the “China Bungalow,” which is situated on a beautiful koi pond, accessible only by a pier. After we arrive and get settled, we enjoy a leisurely stroll around the beautiful grounds.

7:30 pm Michael and I head to the main lodge and enjoy a nice, long dinner together.

9:15 pm We finish dinner and go to the upstairs of the main lodge to play cards.  We start with “Scrabble Slam” and (obviously) I win the first match!

9:30 pm As Michael is shuffling the cards for round 2, I feel something funny and say, “Umm, I don’t think my water broke or anything, but I’m going to run to the bathroom right now.” Clearly my statement and the rushing off to the restroom are not comforting to Michael so he is waiting for me when I come out and I tell him that in fact I’m pretty sure that my water has broken. He jumps into action and gets a couple of property staff to drive us to our cabin to get our things to go. I am already a total mess at this point so I stay in the vehicle while Michael and the 2 property staff guys run to our room and grab everything. They then drive us to the parking area to our car and drop us off, wishing us the best.

9:50 pm We jump in our car and start the drive to the hospital. Michael had grabbed a towel for me to sit on and I lay my chair back, trying to relax as much as possible as we bounce up and down on the 30 km of dirt roads with no cell reception. Thankfully Michael remembers the route and soon we are on our way.

Of course, our car is almost out of gas so we stop as soon as we see an open station and Michael announces to the attendant that we need help immediately as we are heading to the hospital to have our son! The attendant is very excited and quickly fills us up whilst giving us lots of congratulations and good wishes.

While we are driving, Michael and I are trying to stay calm, but we also have to figure out a plan. There is so much that we haven’t done yet and don’t have ready, but we know that the water breaking means we are going to the hospital and not leaving until we have our little guy. We feel really confident about his being developed and ready for the world, so there is peace about that, but it is still just so unexpected!

So unexpected that I realize that while I have the phone number for my OB, her husband and her sister at home, I hadn’t stored any of them in my phone. I only have her office’s main number which is useless to us at this point. Then I remember that I had sent her an email recently so I find her address in my phone and send an email with “My water broke” as the subject. She later tells me that she rarely checks email on her phone but for some reason she looks at it and immediately calls. I tell her that I’m not feeling any contractions, so she says that we should just stay calm, continue straight to the hospital and she will have the people there ready and waiting for us.

Along the drive, we also call our families to tell them the news. I FaceTime my parents who are in Paris. It is the middle of the night there, but I know that if my mom sees a call from me at this hour, she will know that something is going on and will answer. She hears my call come in but is in bed and doesn’t get up, but apparently my dad gets up soon thereafter and when she asks what it was, he says, “Oh, nothing, just a call from Ashley.” Mom’s maternal instincts kick in so she immediately calls me back and her first words are, “Hi Sweetie. Are you going to have a baby?!” It had been her biggest fear that I would have the baby early while she and my dad were in Europe, making it more complicated for her to change her existing flight (which put her here 3 days before my due-date), but of course she is thrilled for us.

Although Michael is driving as carefully as possible, he is also aggressively speeding to get us to the hospital as fast as possible, and inevitably, we get pulled over. Michael doesn’t actually even stop but slows down on the shoulder, and as the cops come up beside us and shine maglites in our car, he yells out in Portuguese that we are racing to the hospital to have our son! They wave us on and on we go!

Sunday, July 7: 37 weeks — full term!
12:01 am Michael waits until just after midnight to call his family who is ALL gathered together in Vail to celebrate his dad’s 70th birthday which is THAT day. He calls and tells his dad that my water had broken, we are racing to the hospital, and that for his 70th birthday we will be giving him his first grandchild. Pretty awesome, right?! Michael and I got super excited when we realized that Colt would be born on Ollie’s 70th birthday (and on 07/07 no less!). Another funny side note is that Michael and I had really seriously considered his going to the states to be with his family for this celebration. Since I wasn’t having any signs of labor, we felt confident that the baby wasn’t going to come early, and it was such a special event that he (and I) hated to miss. Ultimately though, Ollie said that it wasn’t the right thing to do and that even if nothing happened, Michael needed to be with me during this time. Thank the Lord for that advice!

Since Joe is in Vail with all of Michael’s family, we realize that we don’t have any family in Brazil, but thankfully we do have the most amazing friends. We call Trent and Paige Hudson (who had just given birth to their sweet girl at the same hospital 4 weeks prior) and ask them to meet us at the hospital so that we can give them the keys to our apartment so  they can pick up everything we need for our hospital stay.

We also reach out to our friend Jana, who we had planned to have photograph the delivery. She and her husband had gone to the beach with another couple, our friends the Joneses, for the weekend and we know that they are a good 3 hours away as well. I feel badly and don’t want to ruin their vacation, but I feel like I should at least tell her and let her decide if she wants to try to make it back for the birth or not. Well, Jana and all of our friends are amazing so they pack up their cars in the middle of the night and race back to São Paulo as well. (And after seeing the photos of the birth, I am SO thankful that they did!)

1:05 am We arrive at the hospital and go to triage to get all checked out. IMG_2264My doctor had alerted the nurses on call that I would be coming in, so as Michael fills out paperwork and hands off our keys to the Hudsons, I get hooked up to machines and start trying to figure out what is what. The issue is that once your water breaks, a clock starts and you essentially need to have the baby within 24 hours, as the baby is at risk of infection and other things.

1:30 am We learn I am 1 cm dilated and the baby is very low.DSC_0461

2:00 am I am started on pitocin with hopes that my body will respond and I can deliver the baby normally.

4:00 am I am 2 cm dilated and my body is showing small signs that it is preparing to deliver. I am having regular contractions but they are not very painful or strong and I am getting the feeling that I’m not progressing enough. But, my doctor and the nurses know that I really want to deliver normally so they increase the pitocin dosage. Michael and I are both pretty exhausted and try to rest, but the anticipation and uncertainty makes it impossible to sleep. DSC_0462

6:00 am The nurse checks me and tells me that I am still only 2 cm dilated. I begin to tear up and she asks if I am in pain and I say no, that I wish I was in more pain, having better, stronger contractions, and that I am sad that things are not progressing well. She can see how truly sad I am at this moment, and responds by asking me, “Você acredita em Deus?” (“Do you believe in God?“) to which I say “Sim!” (“Yes“). She then proceeds to give Michael and I one of the most beautiful ‘sermons’ on trusting in God. She speaks about trusting His plans, and how, although she is trying to help me deliver naturally, if I have a c-section, I can trust that it was always God’s plan for me to have a c-section, and I can let go of my expectations and simply trust the Lord. It is amazing and I am in tears, thankful that God would extend me such grace in a moment like that, and reassured that He is writing our story. Then the nurse calls my doctor and gets authorization to really increase the pitocin. She tells me that this will really let us know if my body is going to respond or not.

6:45 am The contractions have gotten much more painful but they are not registering as actually being any stronger. Then the baby’s heart rate starts dropping. Lots of nurses come in and we get his heart rate back up, but it becomes clear that my body is not responding to our efforts and it’s not good for the baby — he needs to come out. Those minutes, where his heart rate dropped have made me not care at all about the way I deliver. I just want him to be safe and healthy, and I don’t want to put him at risk by clinging to some expectation that I had for myself and my experience. They call my doctor and she says she’s coming in for the c-section. We call Jana and she says she’s on her way as well. Michael and I try to prepare ourselves for this totally unexpected situation that we’re in, but we know that everything is happening as it should.

7:10 am My doctor, Claudia, arrives to the hospital and I’m so happy to see her. She has brought her sister, also an OBGYN, as they do all of their deliveries together. They are both wearing stilettos and big jewelry and I love it – it’s so Brazilian. Claudia rubs my back and hugs me and explains what is about to happen, as Michael and I have no idea how c-sections go.

7:20 am Jana arrives and she and Michael go get “scrubbed in” as I get prepped for the surgery. My anesthesiologist is amazing and makes sure I am comfortable as they numb everything from the waist down. Michael and Jana wait outside until everything is ready.DSC_1562-2626547986-O

7:50 am Michael and Jana come in to the delivery room and the procedure starts. Michael and I are both feeling calm and very confident that this is the right thing for the baby and me. DSC_1571-2626555058-OWe are so thankful to be in the hands of such skilled doctors. DSC_1599-2626570063-OWe are praying and are happy, emotional and in love. We have never felt like such a strong team as we do in this moment, and we can’t believe that we are really about to meet our little guy.DSC_1612-bw-2626920039-O

7:58 am Culhane McGeever Harper enters the world.DSC_1642-2626588754-O Claudia calls Michael’s name as they pull him out, and they lower the divider for me. Michael and I squeeze hands and see our baby boy for the first time.DSC_1630-2626584238-O DSC_1636-2626584198-ODSC_1637-2626586342-OMichael cuts the umbilical cord and they put baby Colt on my chest. DSC_1675-bw-2626920086-OI am overwhelmed with love and how perfect he is and just kiss him. Michael and I call him by his name for the first time and are both in love and in tears.DSC_1710-2626616990-O

8:00 am The doctors take Colt and start cleaning him and weighing him etc.DSC_1746-2626634415-ODad follows him around as I get sewn up.DSC_1756-2626639983-O Colt weighs in at 3.08 kg which is 6 lbs, 12 oz (we originally did the conversion wrong and mis-reported his weight!) and is 47 cm (18.5 inches) long. I briefly get to see Colt again and am even more in love with him than before.DSC_1844-2626682068-ODSC_1853-bw-2626918662-O Then he is taken away for more tests and Michael goes with him.DSC_1877-2626687744-ODSC_1924-2626708118-ODSC_1959-2626720587-ODSC_1953-bw-2626923264-OMichael goes back and forth between Colt and me.DSC_2033-bw-2626923225-ODSC_2041-2626748856-O He eventually tells me that Colt is having a little bit of trouble breathing and they have taken him to the NICU. He said it’s nothing to worry about, but that I may have to wait a little while to see him again.

9:00 am All of the recovery “apartments” are full so I am taken to a waiting room. Michael has to leave to get us on the list for a room, and once he leaves the area, he won’t be allowed back in since he will “scrub-out,” so we say goodbye and hope that we get into our room quickly and that Colt can join us.DSC_2062-2626755600-O There are 3 other moms in the waiting room with me, and all of them have their babies with them and are feeding them. I am emotional and get a little sad that I don’t have Colt with me and I pray that he’s doing OK. I am comforted knowing that Michael is taking care of everything, and he sends me updates about how Colt is doing and the status of our room.DSC_2070-2626758439-O

2:00 pm I finally get taken up to our room where Michael meets me and tells me that Colt is doing well and will probably be released soon. He was having some trouble learning how to breathe but he is getting it figured out. He tells me that in order to test whether Colt is able to eat and breathe at the same time they gave him 2 oz of formula from a bottle and monitored his breathing.  Colt did great and I am happy to hear that, but am a little sad that his first meal wasn’t from me. Then Michael lifted my spirits by showing me pictures of his first dirty diaper. 🙂

4:00 pm Colt is brought into our room and we are so happy to have him!DSC_2405-bw-2625099872-O He is just perfect and within the hour I am able to give him his first feeding, with which he does great. We hang out with him all evening and marvel at the miracle of our precious little boy.DSC_2252-2623511614-O

7:00 pm The Hudsons come visit and make us feel like we have family in Brazil. They bring us TONS of sushi (finally!!), beautiful cupcakes, a bottle of champagne, gorgeous flowers from my parents, and lots of other fun snacks. They also bring an unbelievable door-sign for Colt that Trent made from scratch that day after finding out his name. (I mentioned this before but it’s a thing in Brazil to hang elaborate signs on the door with the baby’s name which clearly we had not prepared.)DSC_2220-2623493778-O It’s fun to celebrate with friends and begin to share our joy with others.

Evening Michael and I fall asleep, happier than we have ever been, so in love with each other and this new blessing that God has given us.DSC_0564

**To see the full gallery of birth photos by Jana, please see below.**
Link: Birth Photo Gallery
Password: 1234

36 Weeks

36 WeeksHow far along: 36 weeks & 1 day
Baby updates: Somewhere in the neighborhood of 6.5 lbs, Baby Harper continues to grow big and strong!
Mamma updates: I can’t believe that this is July and we’re due in July which means we’re really close! I’m busy trying to prepare myself and our lives as much as possible for Baby’s arrival, but at the same time I feel like this is one of those things that you can’t really prepare for or understand until it happens. And I’m OK with that too.
Things I miss: My old wardrobe. I’m glad that I didn’t go over-board with maternity clothes and just stuck to the basics, but it’s starting to get a litttttle old…
Cravings: Nothing unusual.
Weight: +22 — if you’ve never been pregnant, then this might sound like a lot, but here is a quick look at where all of that weight goes. Throughout the pregnancy, I’ve been a little slower to gain weight than I was hoping, but I’ve come to learn that each person is different, and the key is to be sure the baby is healthy and growing well. Thankfully, at each appointment the doctors tell me how big and healthy the baby is, so this has allowed me to be a little less worried about it. That being said, I have heard that breast feeding can burn a lot of calories (and lbs) so I am hoping to build up some more solid weight-gain in the next few weeks before Baby Harper arrives.
Best moments of the week: So much goodness!
First, Michael had a 3 day work-trip to Buenos Aires, and while I didn’t get to go with him, it was so fun for me to hear all about his trip. In addition to working hard, he got to hang out with his old friends and go to some of his favorite spots. BA holds a special place in our hearts because when Michael lived there in ’05/’06, he really fell in love with Latin America, and ultimately that’s what led us to being in Brazil today! Plus, Michael brought 12 bottles of great Argentine wine back with him which I will SOON be able to enjoy…

Michael with his hermanos argentinos, Pepe and Claudio

Michael with his hermanos argentinos, Pepe and Claudio.

Then, the highlight of the week for me came Friday night when I received a picture-text of a beautiful diamond ring and learned that one of my dearest friends, Emily Penn, got engaged! Emily was one of my roommates when I lived in DC and it’s amazing when I realize that we had never even met until she moved into our apartment during the summer of ’08, 5 years ago! Since then, Emily has been such a blessing and encouragement to me, and it brings me so much joy to see how God has brought her and Kern to this point. Yay!

How cute are these two?!

How cute are these two?!

Finally, the weekend closed with a bang as Brazil won the Confederations Cup, crushing Spain 3-0! Come on, World Cup!!!M_Id_397977_Brazil_confederation_cup