Saturday, April 27, 2019

Camden's Birth Story

Long time, no blog! It's been almost a year and a half since I published my last blog, but it feels good to be back. A lot has happened since the last time I blogged back in November of 2017. Grayson is now 4 years old, Emerson is 2.5 years old, and we've recently added a new baby, Camden James, to our family! We are now a family of 5 which seems crazy to me. When I first started this blog, I was newly married with no children, so life has definitely changed! I was really good about blogging through my other two pregnancies and also documenting all of the monthly updates. For a few different reasons, I didn't do any pregnancy updates this time around. I really wanted to write Camden's birth story down because I already love going back and reading Grayson and Emerson's birth stories and all the other updates I did for them. It's crazy how quickly you forget all the details unless you write it down. I don't know how often I will update, but I would love to get back into blogging all of Camden's monthly updates. I have no idea who this would interest, but at the very least, I like to write it all down for myself to look back on! All that to say: here is Camden's birth story! (Lots of TMI and birth details in this blog, just a warning!)

Walking into the hospital for my induction -- last pregnancy picture!

My first picture with Camden right after he was born -- feeling all the emotions!

From the start, this pregnancy was stressful for me. It was definitely different from my other pregnancies, and it was by far the most challenging for me mentally, physically, and emotionally. There seemed to be small bumps in the road from the beginning including being told this was possibily a chemical pregnancy and that I would likely lose the baby to a very painful cyst on my ovary throughout the entire first trimester to crippling anxiety at the thought of anything happening to the baby to intense and chronic pelvic pain. By the grace of God, I made it through each of these trials and the baby remained healthy and growing! At my 20 week ultrasound back in December, I was told I had placenta previa. The baby looked great, but I would have to come back at 32 weeks to see if my placenta had moved out of the way. If it hadn't, then I would have a c-section at 36 weeks. I spent the next few months on pelvic rest (no lifting my other kids) and worrying that I may have to have an early c-section. At 32 weeks, I went in for my ultrasound and was relieved to find out that my placenta had completely moved out of the way. I was in the clear! Or so I thought. I happened to ask about the baby's size while they were doing the ultrasound. The tech checked the size of the baby's belly just for fun to give me an estimate on how much the baby was weighing. She immediately looked concerned and said the baby's belly was measuring 3 weeks behind, and overall, the baby was measuring 1 week behind. After talking to my doctor, she did a few more tests, and I was diagnosed with IUGR (growth restriction). I had the exact same thing in my pregnancy with Emerson, so while I was nervous, I was also pretty comfortable with the diagnosis. I know this meant more monitoring and possibly an early induction. After talking to my doctor, I found out that I would be induced between 38-39 weeks as long as everything they were monitoring (blood flow through the umbilical cord, baby's movements, etc.) continued to look okay. I was supposed to be induced early with Emerson also, but I went into labor on my own at 37.5 weeks, so it never happened. The next few weeks went by, and everything looked good at my appointments. I assumed they would let me go to 38-39 weeks and that I would probably go into labor on my own before then.

So happy that he is finally here!

He weighed 5 lbs 4.7 oz.

At 35.5 weeks, I went into my appointment and unfortunately, something was off. The blood flow through the umbilical cord was restricted, and while the baby was okay at the moment, they wanted to induce me right at 37 weeks. I was really torn about it. Obviously, I wanted to do what was best for the baby and would never put the baby in danger. But I also really didn't want to be induced. I ended up having Pitocin in my labor with Grayson, and it was really awful compared to my labor with Emerson which I never had to get Pitocin. I knew there was a good chance I would go into labor early based on my past pregnancies, but also knew I probably wouldn't go into labor on my own before 37 weeks. But whether I liked it or not, I was going to get induced  right at 37 weeks and quickly tried to mentally prepare myself. Thankfully, I was already 1-2 cm dilated and 30% effaced at my 35.5 week appointment, so my body was already slowly preparing for labor. I had multiple appointments over the next 1.5 weeks with the same diagnosis (elevated doppler levels in the umbilical cord) that confirmed that this baby needed to come out at 37 weeks. I spent the next week and a half trying to prepare my body for labor. I went on long walks, drank red raspberry leaf tea, and took evening primrose oil. I also did these things in my previous pregnancies once I hit 36 weeks and felt that they couldn't hurt, but would helpfully help progress things along. At my 36.5 week appointment, I was 2 cm dilated and 70% effaced. The doctor was confident that it would be an "easy" induction and that it wouldn't take much Pitocin to get my body going. At the appointment the day before my induction (April 4), I was 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. She also said the baby's head was very low and ready for labor. My doctor felt like it would be a quick induction and it wouldn't take very long. My body seemed to be very close to going into labor on its own anyways. I had been losing my mucus plug slowly for almost 2 weeks at this point and on the evening before my induction, I had my "bloody show." There was a part of me that felt like my body was racing the induction clock! Ha.

 Meeting their baby brother

Emerson was a little unsure at first. When she was done holding him, she basically threw him off of her and said, "All done!". Camden was unharmed and thankfully we have taught Emerson to tell us she is "all done" before moving him off of her. Ha!

We were told to report to the hospital at 11pm on April 4 to begin the induction. I tried to nap throughout the day, but I was way too anxious. We said goodnight to the kids and headed to the hospital soon after. I had never been officially induced, so it was a weird feeling knowing we were going in to have this baby. In a way, it was nice to have it all scheduled and planned, but it was very different for me. When I got to the hospital, I checked in, got settled, and then they started me on antibiotics around midnight, right as I hit 37 weeks. I tested positive for Step B, so I had to have two rounds of antibiotics before they started me on Pitocin. I tried to sleep on the delivery bed, but it was super uncomfortable. I also started having real contractions right around the time we got to the hospital. When they hooked me up to the monitor, I asked if I was having a contraction (I had so many intense Braxton Hicks throughout my pregnancy that it was hard for me to even tell at this point) and the nurse was like, "Yep, you are!". The contractions continued randomly throughout the early morning hours but never grew consistent enough for them not to do Pitocin. The induction was still on, but this was just another sign that my body was ready to have this baby. I truly believe I would have naturally gone into labor very soon on my own especially since I started having many contractions right before the induction. It made me feel a lot better about being induced, like I wasn't kicking the baby out early, but that he/she was ready. At my appointment, the day before, the blood flow through the umbilical cord was the most restricted it had ever been. This was a huge confirmation for me that induction was the right decision. Not that I actually had a choice in the matter, but it reminded me that this was what was best for the baby. And that my preferences ultimately didn't matter. I just wanted a healthy baby in the end! I was really anxious, excited, and nervous when getting to the hospital and even more so after starting to have contractions. So after they started the antibiotics, sleep was just not happening. At 5am, they started me on Pitocin. Finally! I was so ready to get the show on the road!

I slowly started having more longer and stronger contractions. Every 15 minutes or so, the nurse would come in and bump the Pitocin up. This only happened a few times though before the baby's heart rate started to decel during the contractions. Basically, the baby's heart rate always drops a little during contractions, but if it drops too much and too often, then it can be an issue. This same thing happened in my labor with Emerson, so at first, I wasn't worried, but then it became a constant issue for the next few hours. My nurse would come in and get me to turn into different positions to get the baby to "handle the contractions" a little better. There were times they thought the baby was playing with or messing with the umbilical cord and that's what was causing it. Changing positions seemed to be the only thing that would temporarily help. I absolutely loved the two nurses I had during my labor and delivery. They were wonderful! They were so encouraging and kind. They really took care of me. They were really good about not scaring me and gently letting me know what was going on and asking me to switch positions. My doctor came in at 7:30am and broke my water. She said my membranes were "bulging" and that it would be very easy to do. She was right. It wasn't bad at all! I was having contractions, but nothing super painful at this point. I expected them to get worse once she broke my water, but I also knew this would speed things along. Over the next 1.5 hours, the nurse and my doctor watched me like a hawk. It was the scariest part of my labor. My contractions were picking up and starting to get more painful, but because the baby's heart rate kept dropping, I was very distracted from the contractions. I was watching the monitor like crazy because I could tell if the baby's heart rate was decelling or if the baby was taking the contractions well. As each contraction started, I watched the monitor and prayed the baby's heart rate wouldn't drop too low. My new nurse came on shift at 7am and she was in my room fairly often getting me to change positions to try to help with the heart rate. My doctor stayed in my room for a while after breaking my water watching the monitor. She very gently told me that she didn't want to do a c-section on me especially because I had never had one, but if the baby's heart rate kept doing this, that it might happen. I was panicking inside because I don't think anyone wants an emergency c-section. At 5am when they started the induction, I was still 3 cm dilated. At about 8am, I was dilated to 4cm which was good because my doctor wanted to make sure I was progressing at this point with the baby's heart rate continuously decelling. Also, they didn't increase my Pitocin much after the first few times because of the heart rate. They basically gave me enough Pitocin to jumpstart labor, and my body did the rest. Which was an answer to prayer because that is exactly what I wanted to happen -- limited Pitocin. Anyone who has ever had Pitocin knows how awful it is! The baby's heart rate kept decelling until about 9am. At that point, I called my mom (who was driving down to the hospital from Atlanta) about in tears because I really thought a c-section was going to happen. She was good about reminding me that they would only do a c-section as a last resort and for the baby's health. I was still really scared and hung up with her because, at that point, the contractions were getting more intense. I sent out a text to a few friends and family and asked them to pray for the baby to be able to tolerate labor and at that point basically let go of "control" of the situation...not that I had any anyways! Ha. It seemed like the prayers were heard pretty immediately. My body was doing better with the new position they had me in -- sitting up completely Indian style. I asked if I could get out of bed and walk around the room at this point. I knew if I was going to handle these contractions without an epidural, I needed to walk around.

Camden's first bath

I have been like this in all my labors, and I know some people think it is crazy, but you have to do labor; however, you feel is best for you! For me, I like to go as long as I can before I get the epidural. I had an epidural with both Grayson and Emerson, so I am not against them at all. I just like to get to the point of not being able to go any farther on my own before I get one. So while I was in a good bit of pain, I was feeling good enough to keep going at this point. I walked around for a little bit and then Josh asked me if he could go get a cup of coffee really quickly. He hadn't slept much all night either, and I think he knew that it was now or never. Haha. I told him that he could go, but to come back quickly. He was gone from about 9:45-10am. While he was gone, my contractions got to the point where I was really struggling with them. I could barely walk around, and my legs were shaking during the contractions. I buzzed the nurse while he was gone and told her that I think I wanted the epidural. Josh came back, and so did the nurse. She told me that she wanted to check me and then we could talk about the epidural. At the time, I was annoyed! Haha. I just wanted the epidural, but I let her check me and was shocked at what she said. She said that I was 7cm dilated and that the baby's head was right there. She told me that I could get the epidural, but if I wanted a natural labor, that she believed I could do it and that it wouldn't be much longer. I opted to keep laboring on my own and not get the epidural. She said I was entering "transition" and soon it would be time to push. She said I could have an IV drug if I wanted and I told her that's what I wanted. Over the next 15 minutes or so, I completed the transition. It was definitely extremely painful and intense, but thankfully there were breaks in between the contractions. My eyes were closed most of the time, and I was squeezing the hospital bed for dear life. My arms were actually sore the next day because of how tightly I was squeezing the railing of the bed! Ha! I was yelling out some in pain and was definitely the most vocal I have ever been during a labor. The nurse checked me again around 10:30am and told me I was at "completion." I cried out, "What does that mean?!" because I had no clue. She said I was 10 cm dilated and it was time to push! I couldn't believe it! It seemed that once my body really went into labor, things went really quickly. And just like they say, I suddenly had the urge to push. It just happened all on its own. They told me to try not to push, so that the doctor could make it in time to catch the baby. I couldn't really control that part! I kept pushing, and thankfully the doctor showed up in time. For whatever reason, I thought pushing was going to be the easier part, but because of the baby's positioning (which we didn't know at the time), I was wrong. Pushing was the craziest and weirdest and most painful feeling! It definitely burned like I've heard it described before and it was just extremely uncomfortable. Pushing took about 15 minutes although it felt like an eternity. I felt like I was in an alternate universe. It was like some weird out of body experience. It was definitely one of the hardest things I have ever done! Josh later told me that there were many people in the room at the birth including a few students (which they had mentioned to me at the beginning of labor) and I had no idea! I was so focused on pushing the baby out and managing the pain that I really had no idea what was going on around me! At 10:50am, Camden James Gale was born! He weighed 5 lbs. 4 oz. and was 19 inches long. My doctor was shocked because when he came out, he was "sunny side up" or "face presentation" which means that he was facing the wrong way coming out. That explained why pushing was so difficult. They later told me that if he was in the regular birthing position, I would have pushed him out before my doctor arrived. But because he was turned around, it took a little longer and a little extra work on my part. Thankfully, he was perfectly fine though! It all happened so fast thankfully! Later, my nurse told me that even if I had wanted the epidural, I wouldn't have had time for one. And she never got around to giving me the IV drugs either -- again, no time! Definitely a blessing for a natural birth.

Daddy is in love.
Mommy and her 3 babies
Grayson's first time holding Camden

Snuggling my girl

The first thing I saw was Camden's face -- in the moment, I just knew it was a BOY! He looked so much like a HE. They laid him on my chest, and I quickly checked -- yep, it was a boy! I had thought it was a boy my entire pregnancy, so I wasn't completely shocked. It was still really fun to wait to find out though! I can't believe I had TWO sons! My initial reaction was different with Camden that it was with the other two purely because I had just had a natural birth. I think I was in shock for a little while after he was born. It was the craziest experience and I couldn't believe I had done it. So while I was so happy to finally meet him, I was also in a very weird headspace and recovering from the intense pain. Camden cried the most out of all my kids right after he was born, but then quickly calmed down and was so relaxed and happy. The hospital let us have an entire uninterrupted hour of skin to skin time right after he was born which was amazing. No one was in the room, not even the nurses, and it was a really special time. I was still really nervous about his health and was anxious to make sure everything was okay. They weighed him, and he was 5 lbs. 4 oz. and 19 inches long. They did all the tests and checked his lungs, and everything was perfect! I had to have 2 steroid shots the week before he was born to make sure his lungs were developed at birth. They had also warned me about a possible NICU stay just because he was born early, so I was prepared for that. I was so relieved to find out he was perfectly healthy!

Grayson was beyond thrilled that he was going to have a brother! He was giddy with excitement and so interested in him!

Grayson checking out Camden's hair

The closest picture we got to all 5 of us! Ha!

The past 9 months and really, the past year (the months leading up to getting pregnant with Camden) were some of the hardest of my life. I dealt with extreme anxiety and fear and a lot of physical pain and restrictions. It tested me in ways I had never been tested before. I was so nervous and scared about so many things, but God was so faithful! He worked together every detail and got our Camden James here safe and sound. The middle name James was inspired by the Bible verse, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." -- James 1:17. I truly believe Camden is a gift from God. I believe that of all my children, but this baby was truly a gift from the Lord and God showing His goodness to us. Camden is so special to me, and his life is so precious. We are truly blessed beyond measure. We are now adjusting to life as a family of 5. Besides lack of sleep, we are doing really well! Camden is the sweetest baby and the perfect addition to our family. Grayson and Emerson are in love with their new baby brother and that has made the transition a lot easier! If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I'm excited to share Camden's updates as the months go on and to hopefully keep this blog updated!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Emerson's 15 Month Update

Rounding out this year with Emerson's 15 Month Update! I say this every time, but time continues to fly by. I can't believe she's so big! I will say this is my favorite stage with Emerson yet. She has become such a fun toddler! I was sad to see the "baby" days go, but she is such a blast right now. While it's bittersweet seeing them get older, watching my children grow is such a blessing and fills me with such joy. There were many challenging months this year with my two kiddos, but I feel like we are in such a good season right now and I'm so thankful for that. Here's an update on Emerson at 15 months:

Dauset Trails

Headed to Church

Emerson's first Trunk or Treat....Taking her candy and running!

Height and Weight: We just went to Emerson's 15 month appointment yesterday, so we have an updated height and weight. Emerson weighs 18 lbs. 11 oz. and is 29.25 inches tall. She's in the 15th percentile for both height and weight. She continues to be our petite little girl, but the doctor is never concerned. At this point, it's basically like her "normal" and it would probably be a little more abnormal for her to jump up on the growth charts. As her mom, I always tend to worry about her weight, but seeing her really come into her own in the last few months, I know that she is happy, smart, and healthy! Emerson was happy as a clam the entire appointment until the doctor walked in and I think that's when she finally realized what was about to happen. Poor girl isn't a fan of the doctor! She screamed most of the appointment -- enough that I had to shout to talk to the doctor. And this was before the vaccines. Ha! Emerson had low iron at her 12 month check, so they rechecked it yesterday and she was back into the normal range which made me happy to see. She was very angry about the finger prick and kept holding her finger up until I took the band aid off. She also got 3 shots and cried a lot. Poor thing! All in all, Emerson is slowly but surely growing and gaining. We are very thankful for a healthy girl! Another minor concern we've had for a long time is Emerson's allergies. She constantly has a runny nose and sometimes puffy or watery eyes. As of right now, she is starting daily allergy meds (Zyrtec), so hopefully that helps. She's dealt with this basically since birth, but since it's never been anything specific and since it's never been too bad (just really annoying), there's not much else they can do for her at this point.

Emerson's first pair of jeans

 Thanksgiving 2017 

Visit to the Museum of Aviation with friends
The pumpkin patch

Sleeping: Emerson has become the sleeping champion! The girl loves her sleep. She has always liked to sleep more than Grayson, but over the past few months, she has slept so much and so well. No complaints here! Some of the reason for that is that she's cut out her morning nap, so she's only taking 1 nap a day. Once in a while, she will take two, but typically one. Honestly, I think it happened earlier for her because she has an older brother and we tend to be busy in the mornings, so that he can nap in the afternoons. In an ideal world, they would both take an afternoon nap at the same time, but that doesn't always happen. Thankfully, Emerson is never the problem when it comes to sleeping! She takes a 2-3 hour afternoon nap and has started going to bed earlier than Grayson (7:30-8pm) because she sleeps in so much! Emerson sleeps 12-13.5 hours a night! We put her to bed each night and she happily goes down. We also laugh at how long it takes her to wake up in the mornings or after a nap. I don't think I realized how much of a morning person Grayson is until we had Emerson. Grayson pops out of bed happy and talking while Emerson can be a grump for up to an hour after she wakes up. She will want to just sit and snuggle for a while before she gets up to play...and I love it! She still loves to sleep with her big Mickey Mouse, a stuffed animal, and a blanket. I will go in her room and see her asleep literally on top of Mickey...she loves that thing and she loves to cuddle things as she sleeps. It's so sweet. She didn't sleep through the night consistently until she was 9 months old, but right now, she's basically my dream child when it comes to sleep! I have to wake her up some mornings because she sleeps so late and she never makes a peep after we walk out of her room for her to go to sleep. She also hangs out in her crib after she wakes up and doesn't immediately cry, so there are times I'm not quite sure how long she's actually been awake for! Ha. This mama is finally getting some sleep and she's thankful! Emerson is also extremely active when she's awake which I know wears her out. She is constantly on the go -- walking everywhere, climbing everything, and getting into anything she can get her hands on! No wonder she's so tired.

 Park fun with Daddy!

Emerson got to sit at the kid's table this Thanksgiving

Riding together

That sass

Eating: Eating is another thing that's going really well! Poor Emerson was sick with all sorts of things right about her 1st birthday, so she just wasn't interested in eating at all. Thankfully, it's all passed now and she's a much better eater! Another big change since her last update is that she's now officially weaned and only drinks whole milk. I truly started weaning her right at 13 months after all the sickness had passed and it only took about 3 weeks for her to be fully weaned. It was very bittersweet for me, but I felt like it was time for both of us. While Emerson absolutely loved nursing (as did I), I know that the easy transition meant that it was time for us to be done. I am so very thankful I was able to nurse her for close to 14 months. Overall, Emerson eats really well! It's helpful having Grayson around because Emerson will almost always eat something if Grayson is eating it! Ha. She loves fruit like grapes and strawberries and is doing a lot better eating meat like chicken, hot dogs, meat balls, sausage and ham. She doesn't eat too many veggies, but does okay with them if they are in something else and she doesn't realize they are there. She recently devoured a stuffed pepper and we were excited to add that to the list of things she likes! Of course, Emerson is still a fan of any snack food or carb! The girl loves her bread. Peanut butter sandwiches, crackers, puffs, goldfish, rolls, cereal, pancakes, etc. are her jam! Emerson has also been eating more yogurt and raisins recently and her "guilty pleasure" is fruit snacks. She would eat way too many if I let her! Ha. She also takes a daily gummy vitamin that of course she's obsessed with and is always asking for more of. Emerson does like sweets and definitely recognizes them, but she will also eat regular food over sweets, just depends on her mood! Once in a while, we will split a bowl of ice cream while Grayson is off playing and it's a fun little treat and quality time for us girls. Emerson loves to drink watered down juice and whole milk! She wouldn't drink it until after I stopped breastfeeding, but now she's a fan of regular milk. I've really tried to get as much food and calories in her as I could over the past few months making sure she's staying on track. While she doesn't eat huge amounts at once, she definitely eats small amounts all throughout the day.

Getting her hair done

Wearing Grayson's old Christmas jammies

Party Playgrounds

Clothing: While Emerson is petite, she is growing out of clothes and shoes left and right. She still wears a size 4 diaper and is also in a size 4 shoe. She can wear a few 9 month tops, but 9 month bottoms are too short. She fits in all 12 month clothing now! I've had to say goodbye to all  her baby stuff and welcome to all the toddler stuff since she is now in all toddler clothing. It's not too sad though because it's adorable! Emerson is also officially in a big girl car seat and no longer in the carrier seat. She still hadn't met the height or weight restrictions for the baby car seat, but we got a good deal on a new big girl seat that she can use until she's out of a booster seat. It's so cute seeing her in it.

 Nature scavenger hunt with our MOPS friends

Loves hanging out on the counters

Loves riding in the car at the grocery store! 

Loves riding her tricycle

Milestones: There have been a few big milestones over the past few months. The biggest is that Emerson is a full time walker. She had been taking steps consistently for about 6 weeks (starting at 12.5 months old), but she would also crawl a lot. You could tell she could definitely do it, but she wasn't very confident about it, so she wouldn't try it as much. While we were on our trip to Texas, she became a full time walker (right at 14 months) and it's been so fun! I love that she can walk everywhere now and it's made Emerson and Grayson's relationship even more exciting. While she can walk, she is very clumsy! The poor girl falls all the time! Someone recently compared her to a baby giraffe...and they are right! Although she's been walking for a while now, she falls all the time. I think a lot of it is that she still isn't that coordinated, but she basically runs everywhere and her skill hasn't quite caught up with her speed. A big milestone in the eating department is that Emerson is getting good at using a fork! I'm so proud of her and it's so cool seeing her feed herself independently with a fork. She insists on using one and has practiced enough at this point that she's getting good! She also appears to be right handed as of right now because she uses her right hand for everything and almost never uses her left (Grayson is opposite). She talks a lot now and we are able to communicate more and more. Some of her new words are "Minnie", "Up", "Puppy", "Mickey", "Again" and when I say "1,2..", she finished by yelling "3!". She knows what her head, belly, feet, nose, shoes, pants, and shirt are. She will tell you a cow says, "Mmmmm", but doesn't know any other animal sounds yet. She also has started singing along to Patty Cake and will say, "Rolll ittt" and "Patttt ittt" or at least what sounds close to that! Her new thing is blowing kisses and saying, "Muahhh!". Emerson is really good about saying "thank you" on her own now and will even say it when another person gives her something. I'm really proud of her for such good manners already. Emerson also likes to sit on the toilet and pretend to go potty after Grayson or I do. I'm hoping that means potty training won't be too bad since she already has an interest in it. She understands so much, is really good at following directions and understands and responds to questions. I can see her understanding and learning more every day.

 Little diva!

Mood: Emerson is definitely a typical girl....moody! I would describe her as sweet, sassy, spunky, silly, smart, super active, loving, feisty, sensitive and a little daredevil. While she can be very sensitive if you hurt her feelings or if she falls and gets hurt, she will also fend for herself and is starting to stick up for herself more and more. She isn't the best about sharing with other kids and will kind of yell at them and pull the toy away from them if she thinks they are trying to get it from her. We've also had to get on her about trying to hit Grayson or about throwing toys out of anger. There have already been a few times that Emerson has had to say sorry and give Grayson a hug. There are also many, many times where she will not want to give Grayson a toy and then we will ask her to share with him and she will sweetly go over and hand it to him. She's so funny because she has that feisty side, but she also loves to hug and kiss and is ridiculously cuddly and loving. She has become really goofy and silly lately. She is everything I wanted in a daughter and more! Emerson still gets so excited when Daddy walks in the door or when she sees Daddy's car. She starts yelling, "Dada!" until he comes and picks her up. It's truly a toss up if she's a Mama's girl or a Daddy's girl...we are definitely her favorite people! And Grayson...for the most part. ;) Emerson does so much better about going into the nursery every Sunday and overall is much better about being left with someone who isn't mommy. Emerson is so much more adventurous, outgoing, and independent than she's ever been. While she still loves her mama, it's rare when she wants to be carried. She will dart the opposite direction as me if she thinks I'm trying to pick her up because she wants to do it all herself. She has her own ideas of how she wants things to do these days! She also insists on walking up and down the stairs like a big girl (no crawling, using the hand rail). I see her so desperately wanting to keep up with big brother and wanting to do exactly what he does.She's very curious and likes to touch and feel everything, but she's also more reserved at the same time. Emerson's personality just keeps growing and I feel like she's really come into her own the last few months. She is such a fun and happy girl usually giggling and smiling and full of life.

So silly

Loves: I think one of the most fun parts of Emerson getting older is seeing what she loves! It's really fun to see what she likes and what her interests are. She is really into Mickey and Minnie Mouse right now. She loves the tv show, the books, and she lights up every time we put her Minnie pjs or shirt on. She points and says, "Minnie!". She is obsessed with any stuffed animal. She is almost always carrying one and loves to hug and snuggle them. She constantly tells us, "Up" when she wants to get on the couch or the bed. She also loves to climb anything and is really good at it! I think she likes to be up high because one of her favorite places to hang out is on the counters (with me standing right there). She is much more into books right now, but her attention span is about 30 seconds. Haha. She still loves books that you can touch and feel and will ask you to read those to her over and over. Emerson loves shoes and insists on wearing shoes to bed lately (sound familiar?). She knows which draws her shoes are in and once I finish getting her dressed, she opens that draw, picks out a pair of shoes, and sits down with her feet held high waiting for me to put shoes on her. Emerson also loves to put on mommy and daddy's shoes and walk's too cute! Emerson really loves babies. She will get in her rocking chair with a baby doll and we will sing "Rock-a-bye..." and then she will shout "baaaaby!". When she is wanting me to sing the song, she will sit in her rocking chair with a doll saying, "baby, baby" until I start singing it. She even points to the little babies on the diaper boxes or in a stroller and says "baby". Emerson really doesn't mind the car. She rarely sleeps on a car ride at this point, but she also doesn't fuss much while being in the car. I will hand her snacks or a stuffed animal or a book on a longer car ride and she's usually happy. Emerson still loves to help out and recently thinks its really fun to throw her own diapers away...which I am okay with! Of course, Emerson still absolutely loves Grayson. They have what I consider a typical sibling relationship. They are best friends, but they also fight and bicker a lot. They love to play together and there have been many more times recently where they entertain each other for a long period of time and I don't even have to get involved. Emerson especially loves to wrestle on the floor with Grayson. It almost never ends well, but she always initiates it and laughs so much while they roll around together. Emerson copies everything Grayson does, wants to play with exactly what he's playing with, and follows him around all the time. Although they have their moments where they are irritated by each other, I think now more than ever I am thankful for their age difference. They truly get to grow up together and I think that's special. Emerson loves Cedric much more lately and gets so excited when she sees him. Emerson absolutely loves being outside. She constantly wants to go outside or play in the garage. She loves to ride on all of the outside cars and loves to push things around in the yard. Emerson loves music, dancing, and even singing along by going "Ah ah". Emerson loves to play in the closet and open and shut the door. She also loves dressing up with hats, shoes, and bracelets and also loves playing with Grayson's litte cars. She cracks me up because she will knowingly take something she shouldn't have or take something from Grayson and then she will high tail it out of the room with a little grin on her face. I can't tell you how many times I've seen Emerson running with a smile on her face with one of Grayson's toys in her hands while Grayson is trying to catch her. They crack me up!

 Emerson loves her cousins!

Painting pumpkins with friends!

Halloween: We had a really fun fall season! We went to a few fall festivals, painted and carved pumpkins, visited a nursing home in costumes, got free donuts and scary pancakes, our church had a Trunk or Treat, and both kids had a blast dressing up! We even went on Grayson's first field trip as a family to the farm.We enjoyed fall to the fullest this year!

Trip to Texas: Our family took a trip to Texas for my cousin's wedding in October. It ended up being a really fun time and we were able to extend it into a vacation in New Mexico. Grayson was the ring bearer in the wedding and we had a blast watching him. He did a great job and the wedding weekend was really fun. It was great to catch up with family and people we haven't seen in years. After the wedding, we spent a few days in New Mexico with our little family of four exploring and spending quality time together. That area of the country was beautiful and it was so fun seeing it with our kids. Our lives are so busy and hectic which made this trip even more special. The kids did really great traveling and were so excited to ride the airplane.

Mommy Update: While there are times that having two toddlers is challenging, I am really loving this season of life. They are both a little less needy and so much fun! We get to do so many fun things like go to the library for Story Time, play dates with friends, the park, museums and family get-togethers and I love that they are aware of what's going on and can now participate and get excited with me. They play with other kids and with each other more than ever and they even have little friends now that they get excited about seeing. Whether it's going somewhere fun or just having a dance party in the living room, these two are such a blast together. This season is so rewarding after the last season being much more challenging. I feel like I'm in a really good place and I'm really loving life with Josh and my two wild littles. I'm so thankful to be able to stay home with them and enjoy these little and big moments with them every day. I'm so excited to go into this holiday season with them being a little older and understanding what's going on. It's really fun getting to see the joy on their faces and introducing them to all these special traditions.

Wearing her Ninja Turtle shell

Bottoms up!

The way she looks at him <3 b="">