Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Karras Family Visit

This past weekend, Terry's family came from the Cape down to Virginia to help celebrate Jack's baptism. It was a great visit and it just makes us sad that we don't live closer or get to see everyone more often. Here are some pictures from their trip.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

To My Birthday Boy

Happy First Birthday! I can't believe that it has been one year! One year since our world has been completely changed, for the better. We've had our tough days, of course, but then he smiles or giggles and it melts our hearts and reminds us of all the joy he brings. Jackie Bear, mommy and daddy wish for you happiness on your birthday and joy throughout the upcoming year. We love you!

Friday, July 11, 2008

He is Obviously Brilliant

This morning, I left Jack in the living room for a minute while I ran upstairs to get my sneakers for our morning walk. When I returned downstairs, my cell phone was ringing and I could see that Jack had the house phone in his hands. For a second, I thought that he had called my cell phone. I took the phone from him and hesitantly said hello into the phone. I was surprised to hear Terry's voice on the other end. Turns out our son had called his father on his cell phone. As I said, he is obviously brilliant. Should I sign him up for the gifted and talented classes now or what?

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Word?

Today, while the floors were being installed, Jack and I hung out at my parents house. My parents were outside with Jack when he saw a little statue of a cat on the ground. According to my parents (I was inside and missed this), Jack pointed to the statue and said, "Ca". Of course, this means that he's brilliant, right? Terry is skeptical that Jack actually meant to say cat. I mean, he says the sounds "Ma Ma" and "Da Da" all the time, but they don't really refer to Terry or I, so what's the likelihood that he chose cat over mama or dada as his first word? Sure, he loves Merlin, but it's hard to accept that he may love Merlin even more than us.

Living Room New Floors

Living Room New Floors
Originally uploaded by jennifer.karras

Here are the floors in the living room.

Kitchen Makeover

After living in our townhouse for five years, Terry and I finally decided to update the kitchen. The owners before us had taken really good care of the house, but they hadn't replaced any of cabinetry, countertops or flooring. It was all original to the house, which happened to be the model home in the community back in the early 80s. Needless to say, the faux butcherblock laminate countertops had seen better days and the pale parquet floors were chipping away. We were initially just going to replace the floors and put in new hardwood in the kitchen and then replace the carpet in the living room with hardwood as well. But of course, you start thinking about one thing and it always leads you to other things. Like, if we had these beautiful new hardwood floors, won't it just highlight how hideous our countertops are? But we can't put pretty new countertops on these ugly cabinets, right? So, we took a three step approach to our renovation, beginning with painting our cabinets. We then replaced the countertops with a quartz countertop. Then finally, we installed new brazilian cherry hardwood floors throughout the main level of the house. I am excited to say that our renovation is complete! View our pictures below.

Here are the before pictures:

The beginning of the makeover. Let the painting of the cabinets begin:

Finished cabinets:

Gone, Baby, Gone. The countertops are removed:

Voila, new countertops:

The finished kitchen with the new floors:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hangin' in my Crib

Hey, Dad, Give Me That Computer!

I'm Coming to Get You!

Birth Story, Part Three

They whisked Jack over to the baby station, where they cleaned him off and made sure that he was in good working order (because you know the warranty expires as soon as you take him off the lot). Everyone kept motioning for Terry to go to the baby station, but Terry wanted to make sure that I was okay before going over there. Aww! My loving husband! I let him know that I was okay and that he could go over to be with Jack.

In the meantime, despite having just given birth, it turns out that my torture was not over with yet. The doctor was having a very difficult time getting the placenta out and practically had to push her knees into my abdomen to remove it. I’m sure it was an odd sight, in which it looked like my doctor was assaulting me. This all was very painful. And to put the icing on the torture cake, the doctor proceeded to sew me up in a very delicate area, where I could feel each puncture of the needle. Yikes!

Somewhere around this time, my parents showed up in the room with all of the excitement of new grandparents. After Jack was cleaned up, the doctor gave Jack to Terry to hold for the first time. Terry felt a little guilty about holding Jack before I had a chance to, but I didn’t mind. I was so exhausted that it was hard for me to grasp all that was going on.

After a while, I was given Jack to hold for the first time. I remember looking down at him and trying to take in every feature of his little face. This was the face that I had spent nine months wondering about, imagining. It was hard to believe that this was the little guy who had been kicking me in the ribs for the past two months. The little guy who would get the hiccups and make my belly jump rhythmically. The little guy who had made it impossible to bend over to pick anything off the floor. He was foreign, and yet familiar.

While we waited to be moved from the birthing room to the postpartum room, the nurse suggested that I give breast feeding a try. I felt awkward doing it and Jack didn’t seem too interested. I had no idea what we were in for in regards to breast feeding. Overall, I can say that it was a positive experience, but it was definitely hard and painful in those beginning weeks.
During the next couple of days in the hospital, Terry and I tried to get used to our new life. We spent a lot of time staring at the little bear that seemed like an enigma to us. We tried to interpret his little cries, which sounded more like a little bird. Hungry? Wet? Cold? We had no idea, but we tried it all. By Wednesday, we were dying to get out of the hospital and back to the comforts of our home. We checked out of the hospital, packed all of the bags and gifts into the car and drove with such incredible caution home that you would have thought we were carrying a nuclear weapon on board.

When we got home, Merlin and Milo greeted us and the baby with apprehension. They tiptoed around the baby, uncertain of what this thing was doing in their home. It felt so wonderful to be home with all of my boys.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Birth Story, Part Two

From around 5 am to 7 am, Terry and I dozed off. At 7 am, my doctor, Dr. Emery, came to check on me. I was now 3 centimeters dilated. I was making progress! And better yet, I wasn’t feeling any pain!

Around 10 am, I started to shake. I felt like I was having a panic attack. I thought for sure that something was wrong. When I told the nurse, she didn’t look surprised or alarmed. She just called the doctor in to check me again. It turns out I was in transition (read: the hardest part of dilation), and I was now at almost 10 centimeters (almost fully dilated).

It was around this time that I really started to feel the contractions and they weren’t anything like expected. In my mind, contractions always sounded like you would feel your stomach muscles tightening. In reality, it felt like a really bad backache with cramps.

At 10:30 am, I told the nurse that I felt like I was ready to push. To be honest, I’m not sure if I was actually ready to push, but it felt better to be doing something than just sitting through the pain. Looking back, I wish I had waited, because I ended up spending almost 3 hours doing a million sit ups. For someone who spent the majority of her pregnancy eating her weight in ice cream and scoffing at exercise, I was in no shape to keep up with this exhausting pushing.

Terry helped me during this time by giving me ice chips and holding my leg while I pushed. He was also my cheerleader, keeping me motivated and encouraging me. I don’t remember all of the details during this time, but I do remember that at some point a nurse came in to insert some antibiotics into my IV because I was running a fever and they wanted to prevent any infections. Also, I know my parents almost walked in on me in the middle of it all—thank god for those curtains that they have running along the entrance to the room! Embarrassing!

After almost three hours of pushing, my doctor came in to inspect the situation and decided that it was time to get the little bugger out of there. She could see that I was exhausted and had no more energy to keep going. At this point, if she had said that they needed to give me a C-section, I would have been relieved—anything to get this guy out. Luckily, she didn’t say that. Instead, she opted for the vacuum/suction thingy. It took her about fifteen minutes to get everything set up and then I felt some pulling and extreme pain. I thought that I was going to die from the pain. I could hear my doctor telling me to push, but I had no energy left. I tried to muster up enough strength to give it one last push, but I know my attempt was feeble. It didn’t matter, though, because all of a sudden my doctor was holding up a squirmy little Jack.

Birth Story, Part One

I thought that with Jack's first birthday coming up, it would be a good time to write up his birth story. It is strange to think back to that day almost a year ago, and I want to get the story on paper before I start forgetting the little details. So here's the first part of the story:

Since Monday was supposed to be the big “induction day,” I had to check into the hospital the night before. I had to be at the hospital by 8 pm on Sunday night to check in. On our way to the hospital, Terry and I stopped at Wegman’s to pick up sandwiches for dinner. After parking in the garage, Terry carried my two bags of what I would later discover was mostly useless stuff (the make up I brought? Never touched. The clothes that I brought? Never worn. The magazines and books I brought? Sat unread at the bottom of the bag. If I had only known, I would have left all that stuff at home and saved Terry the effort).

After almost getting lost on the way to the check-in desk, Terry and I were able to check-in and were led to our “birthing room.” While I changed into the requisite hospital gown, Terry started to unpack. He set up my ipod on the table nearby and put my pillows from home on the bed. Soon, our night nurse came in and introduced herself as Katrina. She was really young, having just graduated from JMU in May 2006, but was incredibly nice. I couldn’t believe that someone so young was so mature, but she made me feel comfortable. Her perkiness was infectious. She helped to set me up on the heart rate monitor and the contraction monitor and let us get settled into our room.

One of my biggest fears, almost as much as the actual delivery, was getting an IV. I had heard horror stories about nurses missing the vein and having to repeatedly try to get the needle in. And these aren’t just your normal needles, these are super wide pieces of steel. But Katrina took her time evaluating my veins, trying to decide if it would be better to use my left or right arm, and was able to set up my IV on the first try with very little pain. Whew, one painful experience down, only a zillion more painful encounters to go…

Over the course of the next couple hours, Terry and I tried to watch some television in between visits from various medical professionals. One woman examined me and inserted the Cervadil. Apparently this medication is supposed to ripen the cervix to prepare it for birth. I’m not sure if this is the case or not, but I do know that this hurt hurt hurt. I’m almost certain that it was the exam and not the medication that led to my water breaking a few hours later. At this point, I was only about a half centimeter dilated.

Around midnight, Katrina came in and gave me a couple sleeping pills to help me sleep. Terry and I turned off the lights and we both did our best to try to sleep. At one point, I rolled over (well, attempted to roll, because between my gianormous belly and all of the wires I was hooked up to, it was nearly impossible to move) and felt a gush of wetness, which I knew was my water breaking. It was three am. The next time Katrina came in to check on me, she discovered that my water had broke and called in the on-call doctor, Dr. Barry. He said that I could get my epidural if I wanted to and suggested that it was better to get it early. I said sign me up!

Around 4:30 am, the anesthesiologist came in to set up my epidural. Since I have a huge fear of needles, I decided that it was best not to look at what was about to be stuck in me. I just closed my eyes and waited for it to be over with. To my surprise, it didn’t hurt at all. The anesthesiologist was a nice man with a daughter that was getting ready to head off to UVA for her first year at college. We spent a while discussing UVA and JMU and I almost forgot for a second that I was in labor.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008