Thursday, November 30, 2006

Happy Birthday Isabella!

One year ago today, I awoke to a regular day. The plan was to go to work, head to my doctor’s appointment at 4pm, go out to dinner with Andy, and then head to class at 6pm (I audited a class with him that semester). I was pretty hungry as we headed into the appt. and was looking forward to a great dinner, which never happened. In fact, I didn’t eat a normal meal until dinner time the next day.

The dr. appointment was just a regular check-up. I was around 38 weeks pregnant and had weekly visits with my doctor. Thus far, my pregnancy had been very routine and uneventful. That all changed when the nurse practitioner had a difficult time getting a good heart rate from the baby. She had me move around to hopefully stir the baby who could possibly be sleeping. Checked again. Still low. Her rate had generally been in the 130’s throughout pregnancy and this day, it was in the 90’s, which indicated that she was in some sort of distress. The NP suggested that we get to the hospital to further determine what we should do. Apparently, we needed to get there fast because they called for an ambulance. Thankfully, I was not able to realize how serious the situation was or I may have freaked out. Through it all, I remained pretty calm and I can only attribute that to God’s peace coming over me. They checked me again at the hospital and Isabella’s heart rate was still beating erratically – sometimes normal and sometimes really low. They didn’t know what was causing the instability but determined that it would be safer to get the baby out. Everything happened so fast and was such a whirlwind. At first, I just thought that they were going to induce me. (I know that sounds silly now, given the seriousness of the situation – but again – it all just happened so fast). I don’t remember exactly how I found out about the c-section, but my main concern was that I could be awake and that Andy could be present – both of which were possible. They wheeled me into the OR and administered the anesthesia almost right away. Andy arrived, all dressed in his scrubs, right as they began to make the incision. Just a few moments later (6:52pm Eastern time), I heard the most beautiful sound – our baby’s first cries. I couldn’t believe that our baby was here. And when the doctor announced that we had a baby girl – tears just filled my eyes. I’ll never forget that moment. Since her heart rate was still erratic even after her birth, they had to take Isabella to the NICU. I only got to see her for a few moments and didn’t get to hold her until the next day. That was hard. Andy took pictures of her with a digital camera, so at least I could look at her after they stitched me up.

As any parent can attest, the times goes so fast? This was already one year ago! Sometimes it does feel like a while back and sometimes it feels like just yesterday. I get a little sentimental as I think of that precious, tiny newborn. I miss being able to put Isabella between us in bed after her early morning feeding. She would never lay still now. I miss her falling asleep easily in my arms. I always get sentimental when she grows out of clothes and I have to pack them away, knowing that she will never wear them again. At the same time, one of the most rewarding things is to see her learn new things and grow. I can’t express in words how proud I was when she rolled over for the first time or fed herself for the first time, or started babbling. She has many more milestones to reach and we will be right there with her, cheering her on. This past year has been such a gift and we are so looking forward to the years to come.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving and the beginning of Christmas

We hosted Thanksgiving at our place. There were a few of us who weren't able to travel home for the holiday, so we invited people over. Here is our dining room - ready for a feast!This was my first time roasting a turkey - EVER! I was so nervous about it, but it turned out great - golden brown and very tender. What a relief!
Here's a closer look at our bird.

City Hall, the police department, and our local library are all down the street from where we live and they are located in an area called Payrow Plaza. Each year at sunset, on the day after Thanksgiving, there is a tree lighting ceremony for the whole town. It's really a fun event. They provide cookies and hot chocolate, we sing Christmas songs and countdown to the lighting of the tree. We had a great time.
Isabella really liked the lights.
Here is the main tree. It's not a great picture, but it is a huge tree. The darker blobs at the bottom of the picture are people - that's to give you perspective on the size of the tree.
Isabella has been trying to learn how to open doors. Thankfully, she hasn't figured it out yet.
She is playing peek-a-boo with herself in this picture.
Our little elf - eager to sort through the boxes of Christmas decorations.
It turned out kind of blurry, but I still think this is a cool picture. I've seen similar photos online and thought I'd give it a try. Isabella had fun playing with the lights.
Here's our tree - all decorated.
The next morning: Isabella is already getting into the ornaments. We only put a few on the bottom and they are all child-friendly ornaments.

Andy's updated list: Her was able to check a few things off. Unfortunately, the list grew longer this past week. Still, he is definitely making progress. Less than three weeks now. . .
On Tuesday, Isabella let go of us for the first time and stood by herself for a few seconds. She did it a couple of times in a row, but hasn't done it since. She sure is growing up. Her birthday is in four days. What a big girl! She is also getting into more and more stuff. Recently, it has been the phone. Somehow, she turned the ringer off of the phone and she deleted our answering machine message. We didn't realize this right away, so we apologize if anyone was trying to get a hold of us over the weekend. I guess we need to find a new place for the phone, the only problem is that this is the only phone jack in the whole apartment. We'll try to figure something out.

More scrapbook pages

Journaling reads: "Sometimes I creep into your room after you're fast asleep. I listen to the steady sounds of your breathing: inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. . . At that moment, I decide that this is my favorite sound - it reminds me of the life that flows through your body. I could have sat there for hours. Then daytime comes and we play an animated game of Peek-a-Boo. You just laugh and laugh and laugh. An incredible joy fills my heart as I listen to that giggle. I decide then that this is my favorite sound. I could have listened to it for hours. Since I can't decide between the steady rhythm of your breathing or the gleeful melody of your giggle, I now have two favorite sounds."Journaling reads: "We hosted Thanksgiving at our place for us and a few other seminary students who couldn't travel home for the holiday. This was my first time making a turkey and I was so nervous. I asked everyone I knew what their method was for cooking a turkey. My mind swam with all the different methods out there. The night before the big day, Andy and I prayed that the turkey would turn out well. It seems silly to pray for a turkey, but I didn't want to mess it up. Thankfully, it turned out beautifully."
Journaling reads "Andy surprised me with flowers on that crisp December night. We had a date planned. He even borrowed a friend's car so we could go out to dinner {neither of us had a car at the time}. We strolled through Riverside Park in La Crosse, WI and paused a few times to take in the beautiful array of Christmas lights. Andy led us to a bench where he proceeded to read me some of his journal entries from the past year and a half. I felt so honored by the words he had written. I thought that was all, but then he bent down on one knee, told me that he loved me, and asked, "Karen Marie Benetti, will you marry me?" to which replied, "Yes, yes, yes!" We stayed in that moment under the stars for a little while longer and then made our way to Ciatti's to celebrate over dinner. 12/02/01"

Monday, November 20, 2006

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!

It looks like Isabella will get her wish. Yesterday, one, if not both, of her front teeth finally popped through. It's a little difficult to tell because she's not the most cooperatiave about letting us feel around in there, but I think I felt something yesterday.

Isabella is becoming so verbal. She babbles all the time. When we say "uh-oh" she repeats it or at least copies the pitch of the word. We have also heard her say "cookie" and "Tokyo" but these were just flukes, I'm sure. She loves to say something that sounds like "wiggle wiggle wiggle. . . " over and over again. It cracks me up! Last night, Andy said, "Isabella, say Da Da" and she did! Then we asked her to say "Ma ma" and she started to say "Ba ba ba ba ba". She has made the 'ma ma' sound before, but I guess she can't do it on command. This morning, I was feeding her and asked if she was all done, to which she replied, "Yeah". Again, I think this was a coincidence, but it was still fun.
Such a peaceful sleeperCruising along the tableOur little ray of sunshine

Checking out her new sticker book from Lily Golackson. Thanks Lily!

Standing on the couch - one of her favorite spots

We're heading back to Wisconsin for the holidays on December 16th which we are so looking forward to. However, between now and then, Andy has a lot of work to do. He has a to-do list which he has posted on the wall of our bedroom. Each item probably represents about an average of 10 hrs. (except the conference call) of work. Credo is probably more. To say that he will be busy is an understatement. I'm sure he would love your prayers for energy, discipline, and focus during these next few weeks. Thanks so much!

New Pages

Journaling reads: "It was the perfect day - unseasonably warm. Staying indoors was out of the question. You basked in the warmth of the sun as you made your way through the piles of leaves. Your only problem was trying to figure out how to unstick the leaves from your fingers. As much as you waved your arms around, at least one leaf stayed glued to your hands. Next fall, you will be walking, so you probably won't have this problem again."

Journaling reads: "Every Wednesday morning at 10:30 am, we could be found at the pool that Auntie Kristen and Auntie Lori lifeguarded at. We decided to sign you up for swim lessons there. Your reaction to the water was neutral. There were no smiles or giggles, but there were also no tears. You just 'soaked' it all in."

Journaling reads: "Daddy thinks you look scared in this picture – but you weren’t scared at all. I snapped this photo of you as you watched the monkeys swinging around. You were mesmerized. Grandma Debbie, Auntie Lori, Mommy, and you enjoyed a day at the Racine Zoo. We saw giraffes, lions, tigers, monkeys, and several farm animals. You even pet a few {farm animals, that is}. What a fun day!"

There's just something special about a two-toothed grin!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Packages, Growth Spurt, & Beautiful Days

Words of wisdom for the day: When you need to mail a package and you decide to walk to the Post Office, check to make sure it's open before making the trek. The weather on Saturday was gorgeous and we had a few packages to send out, so we decided to take a walk to the post office. We placed the two smaller packages under Isabella's stroller and Andy carried the bulkier package {it wouldn't fit in the stroller storage}. The post office is probably about 1.5 miles away and by the time we arrived, Andy's arms were pretty tired from carrying the bigger package. On the way there, Andy joked that the post office better be open because he didn't want to carry this package all the way back. At that moment, I remembered that it was Veteran's Day and I had a sinking suspicion that he would be getting more of a workout that day than anticipated. Sure enough, we walked up to the door and read the sign that said they were closed for Veteran's Day. Shame on us for forgetting that it was V-Day. After the post office, we tried a local convenience store that has a mini-post office inside. We walked up to this door very hopeful about ridding ourselves of these packages only to be greeted by another closed sign. Apparently the store is only open until 12:30pm on Saturdays. {Side rant: many of the local businesses near us have the strangest hours}. From there, we went back home to drop off the packages and decided to try again another day.

Since the weather was beautiful and that walk wasn't the most enjoyable, we took another walk, package-free, through the downtown area. It was kind of a surreal experience. Andy was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt and we heard Christmas music playing throughout the streets. For a moment, we forgot that we were in Pennsylvania.

We think that Isabella is going through another growth spurt. Earlier in the week, she was eating almost as much as us at supper time. She's also been taking longer naps this week and even took three naps on Tuesday instead of just two. I really think that she woke up from that third nap looking a little older.

Here's our pics from the week:

Playing in the living room

What a sweetheart!

Looking so grown up

She's been getting up on her tip toes a lot lately

Enjoys being free of clothes

Her upper teeth have just about poked through. We can't feel them yet, but when we look inside her mouth, we can see the ridges of her new teeth. Any day now, they'll break through. As a result of her teething, she has been chewing on EVERYTHING!

Enjoying another beautiful fall day
Yummy toes!

Isabella's starting to pull up onto the furniture with just one arm. She's also cruising around one-handed - one hand holding onto the furniture and the other holding onto a toy. She's definitely getting stronger. Still, I don't think she's really close to walking on her own just yet. Whenever we go walking with her, she walks really well when we're holding onto both hands, but as soon as we let go of one hand, she stops and drops to her knees - afraid to walk with the support of only one hand. From what I observe of her, she is a very cautious girl. She doesn't seem to attempt things until she's really sure that she can do it. My mom says that I was the exact same way. I'm still a pretty cautious person. I suppose there are worse traits that she could have picked up from me, and I think that my level of caution over the years has probably kept me out of a lot of trouble. I know that Isabella will walk when she's ready. She has her whole life to walk, so for now we'll let her enjoy the crawling stage.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Good Sounds & Bad Sounds

We'll start with the good sounds. Last night, we were all playing together when Andy started to imitate the sound of the sirens we hear outside our window from the nearby police station. Isabella thought it was the funniest thing she had ever seen or heard. She seriously laughed hysterically every time Andy did this and it probably went on for at least five minutes. I would have loved to have gotten video of it, but it was a moment that I didn't want to mess up by trying to capture. The memory of it is sweet enough anyway.

OK, onto the bad sounds. Isabella is starting the phase when she whines when she doesn't get her way. For example, yesterday, she was playing near our computer cords. I removed her from the area and placed her in the hall with her toys, shutting our bedroom door behind me. As soon as I put Isabella down, she started crying because she wanted to play in the bedroom with the computer cords. Thankfully, she is easily distracted and this only lasts for a few seconds. Still, I know that those tantrum days are around the corner, and I'm not looking forward to them.

Earlier in the week, we had some beautiful weather, so I took Isabella outside to play in the grass. We generally can't play outside for too long because Isabella wants to put everything she touches into her mouth.


I decided to do another page from our visit to the pumpkin farm since we took so many pictures.
Journaling reads: "It seemed like the day when we would see you in your Halloween costume would never arrive. Uncle Jeff bought you this lion outfit several months before you were even born. Halloween came and went last year and we just looked at the costume, still on its hanger, and tried to imagine how our baby would look in it. We still had a whole year to wait. Here we are now, one year later. Seeing you in that costume was definitely worth the wait. You looked cuter than we had even imagined."