Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Home Alone

Thursday, June 15th
   My nurse, Karana, gave us my discharge papers around 2pm with care instructions, but we stayed until 4:30 because we were still waiting for a pediatric cardiologist to give us an update on her heart. She told us that Emma has a VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect) due to a narrow aortic arch, but said it was currently not being obstructed. They are doing echocardiograms every other day to keep a look at it to see if it’s something that requires surgery. We are definitely hoping not though even though she said it would be evasive and the problem could get fixed from the outside of the heart. We went down to see Emma before we left the hospital. 
   I got 36ml of milk pumped this night and was up to 54ml by Friday afternoon! (Now my average is between 70-90ml.) Pumping isn’t my favorite, especially due to the initial pull, but of course I am going to do it for Emma. I have heard that breastfeeding (or at least the baby getting the milk in some way) is very beneficial, especially if I continue it for the next six months. It sure sounds like a long time.. eight times a day, 20 minutes each time, for six months.. But this is my baby! Sorry Michael.. OUR baby.. and I want her to be so super healthy, especially since she is already needing so much other medicine to help her. I have some concerns about how much I’ll be able to get done once I go back to work if I have to pumped every 2-3 hours, but it has to be done, so I’ll definitely try to keep it up until Christmas. And once I switch over to the super early shift mid August, it will be less inconvenient since most of the county is asleep during that time.
   On the way home Michael asked if I was okay and I answered honestly saying yes. But once we got in the house and both laid down to take a nap (me being on the blow up mattress with Sasha because our bed is too high), I started crying a bunch because I hated her not being at home with us. Michael reassured me that she was fine and all of the nurses are taking care of her. That night we went to Target for a two step foot stool, since the one step foot stool I had been using the last couple months of pregnancy still made it too hard for me to climb into bed. I was able to get into bed decently with Michael’s help and he also helped me out of bed two hours later when I had to go to the bathroom, but another two hours later I couldn’t turn my body any way without feeling like I was being stabbed on both ends of my incision. I started crying again and Michael had to pull me into a sitting position by putting his hands on my back so I wasn’t using any of my muscles. He brought me all of the sheets and blankets from the blow up mattress and put them on the couch for me. Even the blow up mattress was hard to get out of because I couldn’t lay flat for a while and then get up again. I had nothing to hold on to and pull myself up with, so having the couch backing and arm rests helped, but I still slept propped up a bit.

Friday, June 16th ~
   Doctor McMan (another NICU cardiologist) called me this morning and I went into the bedroom where Michael was to put him on speakerphone. He basically gave us the same information as the woman at the hospital.  I was able to get out of the car by myself this afternoon when we got to the hospital to visit Emma, and found out in an unintentional way, which was pretty funny. I had been texting my OB about Emma (since she recently left the practice so she wasn’t at the hospital to see us), and since I was distracted by my phone, I kind of just quickly rolled out of the car, landing fine on both feet. Michael gave me a surprised look! I was also fine to get out of the car without help a couple hours later when we stopped by Publix for groceries, and then again when we got home. When we were dropping off my lunchbox full of proud milk bottles, we saw a man turning in a bottle with just a little bit inside. It had a #2 sticker on the top, meaning it was the second bottle they were able to turn in. I wondered if that mom was as proud as I was even just getting that little bit! I wanted to say, “Tell her to wait just another day and it will quickly start adding up. She’s doing great!”
 ^^ She has this little eye mask cloth on her face most of the time when we come in, just to block the sun and NICU lights and help her sleep. I joked in this picture that she was meditating because of how she kept her thumb and index finger together.
   This was another sweet peek she gave us when we were talking to her. It's actually a screenshot from one of the five videos we took of her that day. She was moving her hands and feet a lot this afternoon. When I watch it now I notice that she opened that eye three times, but I only noticed it at this point when I was looking at her as it happened. Another thing I think is interesting is that I use little names for her that I used to not like such as Sweetie and Honey, but saying it to her in my quiet baby voice just sounds appropriate. I noticed that a lot of the nurses also use "baby talk" or baby voices when talking to them.

Monday, June 19, 2017

My Recovery

Tuesday, June 13th /“Recovery” ~
On Tuesday, I was feeling a little better, but still very tired and getting sick some. A nurse came in around 5am to take out my catheter, so my goal for the day was to go to the bathroom on my own. She said it would be good if I could go by Noon, so that became my goal so I would be allowed to leave my room to go see Emma. My nurse (Rachel) came in before her shift ended at 7am and “challenged me” to use the bathroom by 10am instead! Michael left in the morning to take Sasha out, and I was cranky when he got back. I had felt a few bathroom urges, but when I got in there, I would just sit there for a few minutes, sometimes just to throw up. This happened twice until maybe around 9:30am I was able to go. There was a piece of paper on the wall and a plastic measuring bowl in the toilet for me to write down how much fluid I was going through. I kept pumping every few hours, upset that I was still only getting a few drops, if any.
  Dr. Feld came in to see how we were doing and at that time Michael was helping me walk another loop around the hallway. The pain from walking wasn’t too bad since I was still on a few different medicines (the epidural, two Percocet every 4 hours and Motrin every 6), but I had to lay down on my bed again because I started feeling sick. I ordered some food, but didn’t eat much of it. I had ordered oatmeal for breakfast, but since I told them I was on a “full liquid diet” in the morning, it was more like oatmeal flavored soup. Kind of gross, but I still ate it with brown sugar packets. Around Noon a different nurse came in and took out the epidural in one quick swift as she told me that ripping the tape off would hurt the most.
   Around 2pm I felt good enough to go down to visit Emma in the NICU. My day nurse Megan brought us a wheelchair and Michael wheeled me down to the third floor. I had been keeping my room pretty cold (between 65-70) which felt very comfortable to me, so being in the NICU, the temperature felt much hotter. Especially right over Emma’s bed where they had a heat lamp on. It seriously felt like it was at least 90 degrees in that spot. I was able to stand for a few pictures, but then told Michael that we needed to leave because I didn’t feel well. 
   We got outside of the room and saw Dr. Fleishman, (the pediatric cardiologist who did Emma's fetal heart scan in May) saying hello. He started to talk to Michael, but suddenly I said, “I’m going to get sick!” And I did, so Michael quickly wheeled me away. I felt so sad that I could only see Emma for a few minutes. The nurse said that maybe part of the reason I was still getting sick was because nausea is a side effect of Percocet, so we lowered each dose to just one.
   For dinner I was able to eat at least half of my small flatbread pizza that I ordered from the hospital café. We talked to Dawson that night and while he was on speakerphone his mom began saying prayers for Emma and us. I thought that was really nice. I told Michael it was okay if he slept at home that night, but before he left he monitored me while I took a shower. I had read on a few different websites about C-sections that women weren’t allowed to take a shower for a week due to not wanting to get any soap or water in the incision area. However, my nurse wrapped up my IV and told me that letting soap and water run over my incision was the best way to keep it clean, but not to touch or scrub the area. Michael was so sweet and washed my back, then dried off my legs since I couldn’t bend over. I was able to get more sleep that night- about six hours.

Wednesday, June 14th /“The Day I Became a Cow” ~
   That morning when I was pumping, a blonde doctor came in and asked how I was doing. When I said I was wishing I could make more milk, she suggested I take Fenugreek supplements. Michael woke up late at home, which was fine, so I called him asking to pick me up some of those pills. He also printed out three pictures of Emma for me. It was nice looking at them on my phone, but I wanted them out next to my bed too.
  Within 4 minutes of pumping that morning I got a call in my room from a NICU nurse who said one of the doctors (Doctor Orsini) wanted to speak with me. He said that Emma was ready to start drinking milk through her feeding tube, but since he knew I hadn’t been able to really make any yet, he asked if I would give consent for them to provide donor breast milk to her. Of course I said yes and had to verbally state my name, Emma’s name and give consent again. Even if it’s not mine, I knew breast milk was going to be super healthy for her. Luckily around 5pm that evening I was able to pump my first milliliter of colostrum and boy was that a huge accomplishment! A couple hours later I was up to 5ml! Michael made me swear that I wouldn’t post any pumping or milk pictures on Facebook or Instagram. That is too personal and kind of gross in our opinion. I did send the pictures to my mom though! =) During one of the morning milk drop offs, Michael talked to the nurses and was able to get the EASE app set up for Emma. That’s a program where they can send us pictures of her with little messages about how she’s doing. 
   At 4pm after eating some lunch, pumping again, and getting myself looking nice, we went down to see Emma. It’s always our favorite part of the day! Michael usually saw her more while I was in the hospital, just because he would go down to the NICU each time I pumped to turn in my bottles. We brought the wheelchair down just incase, but I was glad that I didn’t use it. I had been walking in place when I pumped to get blood flowing through my body better and kept the room temperature between 70-73 so the NICU wouldn’t seem as hot. This time Emma didn’t have the heat lamp on. We were able to stay with her for about 30 minutes. The nurse (Brittany) told us that they had Emma on about 30% oxygen the night before, but they had been able to turn it down to 26%, which was only five percent more than what everyone normally breathes. We made a couple videos, which I love watching over and over (and over!!), and I made sure to stick my pinky in her tiny hand because I wanted to feel those love squeezes.
   When Michael drove home to take Sasha out before dinner, Nellie the lactation consultant came in to see how I was doing and told me how great of a husband Michael is, mentioning that not many husbands would be helping as much. I said thank you prayers for him and thanked him again when he got back to the room.
   We visited Emma again around 11pm after I pumped and before Michael went home to sleep. The night nurse was really nice and asked us what the baby’s name was. We both said “Emma” in our sweet voices. “Oh, Emma. That is such a pretty name.” We got to see Emma get her diaper changed (those are some tiny diapers!) and I almost started crying when she got wiped because she made a crying face, but she never makes any noise. Michael said it was probably just because the wipe was cold, but I hate her having to be so strong and how she makes those sad faces for a second or two that crush my heart.
 ^^ Such a special moment because they keep her sedated most of the time to help her breathing, and also so her wiggly strong arms don't try to push her tubes out, so when she was able to open her eyes just a tiny bit to look at Michael.. Well let's just say he melted into the floor. ♡♡♡
   A month or two ago I was texting Lindsey about baby monitors and how I wouldn’t want to rush in every time the baby makes an uncomfortable noise because most of the time they just turn over or are able to cry themselves back to sleep (especially if they have recently been fed and changed), but now seeing Emma for real and me dying every time she looks unhappy just for a second, rushing to her side is all I want to do!
   After she got her diaper changed, the nurse spoke again. “Ella is a great name. My friend’s niece is named Ella.” We both just smiled, until she left and I turned around, rolling my eyes at Michael. One of the nurses I had during my hospital stay in May said the same thing; calling her Ella after we said her name was Emma. Focus people!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Emma's Birth Story

Monday, June 12th ~ “Delivery”
   I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to sleep the night before The Big Day! I got up around 9am, took my shower with the special soap again and we left by 9:30 to get to the hospital at 10am. I told Michael that I wanted to get a few “last pregnancy” pictures in front of the hospital sign and he was able to do that for me.
   We checked into the front desk and I told them, “I’m here to have a C-section”, gave them my name and we were directed to the second floor for Labor and Delivery. We gave the people at that desk my name then sat in chairs and watched Family Feud on TV for 25 minutes.
    A man sat down next to me and after one minute he asked me, “Are you waiting to see family too?”
    I smiled at him, “I’m here to have a baby!”
    He looked surprised as most people did. “Are you 9 months pregnant?”
    “Almost. I’m 37 weeks. My baby is small. Only around 3 pounds.”
    The mom of the pregnant girl sitting across from us smiled at me too. “You still look really small, even with a 3 pound baby.” Her daughter looked unhappy and I wondered if she was having a C-section too. I probably said thank you since I always take it as a compliment.
    I felt bad but happy when we got called back before the other girl since they had been in the lobby already when we showed up. A black nurse named Andrea with short wavy hair and glasses walked us through a C-shaped area with many curtained rooms. Michael sat down and waited while I went with Andrea into the bathroom to get changed. It was a little awkward because I had to go to the bathroom while she stood in there with me, then removed my clothes and she helped wash me all over with soapy cloths before I put my purple gown on.
   The nurse who seemed to be more in charge was named Shanna. She was also really nice and explained to Andrea and me a lot of what she was doing. I got my IV put in at 11am and then the anesthesiologist came in to introduce herself. Her name was Angie and she was wearing a bandana with dragonflies on it. She explained to me the difference between an epidural and a spinal block. I chose to get the epidural mostly because that’s what I always assumed would be used and what Doctor Feld said I’d be getting. Then I signed the consent form. She went to get all her “goodies” and another doctor came in. He was an old man with a German (?) accent, Doctor Smeck. He said he was going to be assisting Doctor Feld with the surgery. A chaplain lady came in at one point too and asked if she could pray for us.
   My epidural got started at 11:30 and I was so happy that they let Michael stay with me because in the “what to expect” video I watched on YouTube (on this specific hospital’s channel) it said the husband wasn’t in the room during that time. But it also showed the epidural being done in the OR minutes before the surgery. Shanna had me turn on the bed so my legs were hanging off the right side. I spread them so my hips were in the proper spot and I was told to hunch over so my lower back was straight. Michael held my hand and I really appreciated Angie’s step by step talk of everything she was about to do, including things like, “This is just a cleaning swab. It’s going to be cold”. Or “I’m going to place my hand on your right side.” I was told by my friend Jonathan that his wife said the epidural felt like a bee sting, but I’ve never been stung by a bee so I didn’t really have a pain reference. I just said prayers that I wouldn’t sneeze! There were four or five different parts that hurt when I expected them to, but I just kept squeezing Michael’s hand tighter. Shanna reminded me to breathe, which was very important, and I started exhaling slowly through my mouth.
   Luckily some of the side effects she said I was about to experience were not felt, like an electric shock when the medicine went into my spine. I didn’t feel that, which I was really happy about because she told me to try not to jump from it. I worried I wouldn’t be able to control it. I felt cold liquid going down my back, but she said that was going through the tube taped to my back, not inside my spine. I was so happy when it was over and waited for the side effects to kick in.
   Within half an hour I was almost completely numb from under my chest to my toes. I started getting the shivers which she said was normal and my teeth chattered a lot when I talked to Michael so I just sat there with my mouth open. The epidural made me feel really good, relaxed and calm, and I asked who invented it, but Shanna just laughed. They asked if I felt sick since that is another common side effect, but I said it was only the same sick feeling I had an hour before just from being hungry because I hadn’t been allowed to eat since the night before.
   As the epidural kicked in more I guess I lost feeling in the “hungry” part of my stomach because I couldn’t feel that sickness anymore, which was also really good. I also felt like I had to go to the bathroom again, but shortly after that Andrea put in my catheter. Epidurals are so wonderful because even though I could feel the touches, they didn’t hurt at all. I kept Michael updated on when I could still feel and wiggle my toes, but about five minutes before the surgery I couldn’t move them anymore. A few times Angie came back to pinch me on my stomach using her fingernails to see how far up I could feel, or more specifically where the pinches still hurt.
   At 12:28pm they were ready for me and I got wheeled down the hallway into the operating room. That was the only time I didn’t get to be with Michael since he had to get his blue surgery gown, hair net, and mask put on. They put down the handles of the stretcher and told me they were going to lean me over to one side so they could lift me onto the operating table. I let out a “Whoa!” each time. One nurse was named Rachel and we smiled about spelling our names the same way. Another doctor with glasses leaned over and told me his name was Doctor Hardy. Angie stayed by my side most of the time and slowly moved my arms out on boards. I forgot to ask Michael to take a picture of me laying there. She hung up the blue dividing sheet near my neck so I wouldn’t be able to see any part of the surgery. Another guy came in, all covered up and all I could see were his glasses. I made eye contact while waiting for him to introduce himself next.
    “Hey Shnooks,” he said in a cute voice. Yay! Michael was back. He sat down on my left side near my head. The sheet in front of me was long enough that he couldn’t easily peek around, but I don’t think he wanted to. All week I kept joking about packing Teddy Grams for him to eat in case he felt woozy during my surgery. 
   Doctor Feld came in and then Shanna called a “time out”, which was just them announcing times and who all was in the room with their position, stating what time the surgery was beginning. I didn’t even feel them cutting me. I felt them moving things around, like they were pushing on my stomach a lot, but I stayed pretty calm since none of it hurt. Again I have to say, epidurals are the best.
   I really liked that Michael kept his hand on my head the whole time, stroking my hair over the blue hairnet I was wearing. Apparently it took about 10-15 minutes to get Emma out, but it only felt like a few minutes. Three times I heard Dr. Feld quietly make comments about how small my uterus is. "Have you ever seen a uterus that small?" Angie took a piece of the divider down to expose a clear piece of plastic. I heard someone say, “Time of birth at 12:51.” I didn’t notice the plastic opening until I heard Doctor Feld say my name. I lifted my head and saw him holding a baby with dark hair. Our baby. Baby Emma. I cried a little bit like I knew I would. Just like I did when Michael proposed and as I walked down the aisle for our wedding. Checking off another event that I am so much more than lucky to have in my life.
   The crying only lasted a quick minute and then began again as worry took over because I wasn’t hearing Emma cry. “Why isn’t she crying?” I asked Michael quietly.
   He kept stroking my hair. “It’s okay. She’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”
   That didn’t stop me from worrying and I chanted the same few prayers over and over in my head. Please let her start crying. Don’t let her die. Please let us keep her. A couple times I heard a small grumble, like a start of a cry, but it didn’t seem like enough. I had to assume she was fine though because they wiped her off and asked Michael if he wanted to see her. He got his phone out of his pocket and I was alone again for a brief period of time. He also had the cute record book that my mom gave us with a page in the back for her hand print and footprints.
   He came back and showed me the picture of her. I started crying again and meekly asked him, “What’s wrong with her legs?” One was bowed up and the other one was facing backwards. She had such a sad, worried look on her face and tubes already taped to her tiny nose. I tried to remember that the fact that she was breathing was most important. She was alive.
   Angie came over and reassured me that they had the best medical team and a handful of people that were going to take care of her. Soon after that they brought her to me all wrapped up and put her in my arms. I wish I had enjoyed that moment a little more, knowing now that I won’t get to hold her again for a while. I think I said something like, “Hey baby,” but think I was still crying a little bit. I moved a piece of the towel away from her mouth as she drooled. She had dark wet hair that looked a little bit curly on her forehead. I just wanted her to be okay and not have any issues. Someone used Michael’s phone to get a picture of us. A woman told me, “Give her a kiss”, and I did before they had to take her away.
   I said more prayers, mostly being thankful that she was alive and I didn’t hear a bunch of alarms going off. There was a lot of movement felt in my stomach as they got me sewn up. It seemed like they worked quickly and again, I never even felt any touching as I was being sewn up. That area was completely numb. However, Michael said he saw a part of that while they were shoving their hands in my open incision to put everything back into place. He later told me that he almost threw up at that point.
   I don’t remember what time they announced the surgery ending, but Doctor Feld left after saying that Emma did really well. It was 13:33 military time on the clock when they took the dividing sheet out and I got wheeled out. Michael was gone by then because he had gone to the NICU with Emma and all the nurses. I saw a tall clear bucket of blood by the foot of the table and instantly said, “Whoa! That’s a lot of blood.” Shanna told me that most of it was amniotic fluid and the placenta.
   Back in the recovery area, Michael was already waiting for me and he was just wearing his regular clothes again, looking all handsome. Shanna said goodbye and the nurse who would be helping me for the next few hours was named Nadine. She brought me a cup of ice chips to “eat” which Michael slowly fed to me off of a plastic spoon. Other people came in throughout my time in that area to check my blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. One woman who was also pregnant was there to talk about post-partum depression.
   Michael showed me the new picture he had been able to take while he was in the NICU. Emma’s legs looked a little better since they were both doing the same thing, rather than the one facing backwards, but I was still sad for her. I didn’t want her to be in pain and I wanted to hold her and see her again myself. He told me that while he was there he got super sweaty and almost passed out again. I asked him why since there wasn’t any blood, but he said he wasn’t sure why.
   I was given a very important button that administered medicine through my epidural line when I needed it. The button would turn green every 20 minutes, then I was able to click it again. Each time I did I felt the quick surge of cold liquid go through the tube taped to my back. She said they wanted to make sure my pain didn’t get above a three or four. I ended up not pressing the button for an hour or two until my pain reached a four. That was a dumb mistake because I wasn’t told until later that it takes 15 minutes for the medicine to kick in. So I had to wait an hour for my pain that ended up getting to a six or seven get back down to a two.
   An old lady came in and told us she was the lactation consultant. I remember her name being Nellie, but Michael kept referring to her (when she wasn’t there) as Gertrude. Ha! She brought in a hospital grade Ameda breast pump and showed us how to use it, as well as how to document the amount of colostrum produced and where to label everything. I was really surprised that I wasn’t already producing any milk or that my chest hadn’t gotten bigger yet. I had this silly cartoon idea that they would start getting bigger the minute the umbilical cord was cut. (And no, they did not ask Michael if he wanted to cut the cord. I’m sure he was fine with not doing it. Nobody asked if we wanted to eat the placenta either. Darn it!) That was one of the questions I wrote down for myself; how soon the milk production would happen. Something I figured I couldn’t Google or ask someone else since every body is different, but it was disappointing at the time.
   I started feeling sweaty and asked Michael to take off my socks and extra blanket. I got sick a few times even though all I was eating was ice chips, so I basically just threw up water. Luckily they had blue bags I was able to use and I didn’t get sick on myself. The power went out at one point for about five seconds before the generator kicked on. It was a nice surprise to not hear anyone scream like girls always did when the power went off during school. A nurse said there was lightning outside. A young Hispanic guy came in when it was time to wheel me into a regular room. It wasn’t until they wheeled me out that I realized I had been back in that C-shaped area that we were originally brought into at 10:30am.
   I was taken up to the 7th floor of the hospital and put in a room that looked almost identical to the one I stayed in last month, except this room only had one huge window instead of two. At first I thought there were two windows and one had the thick white curtain down, but it was just the wall. I had to “crab walk” from the gurney onto my hospital bed by using my legs and butt to slowly scoot myself over.
   Shortly after that, around 4:30, Michael went to the NICU again to see Emma. He got a really cute picture of Emma with her eyes open and she had a breathing tube in her mouth now instead of in her nose. That is still my favorite picture of her because her eyes are open. She didn’t look sad in that one and her skin had turned pink rather than the purple it was at first. 
   I don’t really remember much about the rest of this day, so I assume that I slept a lot, or at least tried to. I was always stayed pretty awake even though I felt so tired. Michael brought me my phone around 6pm so I could update people, but it was hard to keep my eyes open. My pumping record shows that I pumped two more times that day. One of them being close to midnight, although I barely got any drops after 15 minutes. Then at 1am my night nurse (Rachael, not spelled the same way) helped me get out of bed to sit on the toilet and see how well I could walk around. I got sick a couple times just from moving after laying on a bed for 12 hours, plus all I had in my system was ice and medicine. I did well enough walking to make the little loop in the hallway right outside my door. Then Michael and I went to sleep, him using the Murphy bed that came out of the wall. We only slept for about 3 hours. I woke up feeling some pain since I hadn’t pressed my handy epidural button during most of that time and kept resetting my timer for 20 minutes while I tried to keep sleeping.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

   It is with great honor that Michael and I are able to announce the birth of our daughter!! Emma McKenzie Gore was born on Monday, June 12th at 12:51pm weighing a thankful 3 pounds, 3 ounces (1450 grams) and measuring 15 inches long. She has what may be an undiagnosed hip dysplasia, but that is something the pediatric geneticist and orthopedist will work on in the later weeks with possible casting and physical therapy. We think she has Michael's nose, my chubby cheeks, and Sasha's black hair. Ha! I am also surprised by how tan her skin tone is.
   Michael and I are back home now as I got discharged from the hospital yesterday afternoon, but I definitely cried when I got home because I wanted Emma to be there with us. But the most important thing is that she is alive and well, and we didn't come home "empty handed" like we were told we might last month. Her being hooked up to tubes and working on her breathing is a very good thing and we just have to be patient until we can hold her in our arms and keep her forever!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

30 Years of Happiness

   I surprise myself, feeling narcissistic a lot of the time, and then realizing I don't have all of the pictures explaining what we have done to celebrate my birthday each year. Luckily, I posted a bunch on Instagram so I have the pictures for you here:

   2011 (before I started my blog) ~ My 24th birthday was celebrated while on the set of Blood Widow. We had an overnight shoot and I sat on the porch of the old house we were filming in with Michael and Julie while I worked on emailing the next day's script and schedule to the actors. I made a little sign to pin on my shirt saying it was my birthday. They kept asking me when it was 12:20am (my birth time), and when it was, they sang happy birthday to me! I got to dress up as the lead character that night for a brief shot after the main actress went home.
   2012 ~ For my 25th birthday I wrote a small blurb about eating at Cheesecake Factory, back when I posted so often that I didn't write too much and only used one picture. But we also went to the new Universal Citywalk mini golf course that had just opened. These are the first pictures Michael has on his Instagram account since we had to get a new phone for him that day. The night before, while he was carrying in 25 balloons for me in the pouring rain, he didn't realize that his phone had dropped into a puddle until it was too late. I wish I had a picture (or knew where to find the picture) of all the balloons in our Millenia apartment living room.
   2013 ~ We went to Catalina Island while we were living in California for my 26th birthday!! <--linked because I did post a lot about that one! ;)  And a few more pictures from that day with the underwater camera here.

   2014 ~ I spent my 27th birthday driving down from Birmingham for Zach & Jacquie's wedding which was the next day. My family celebrated with me that weekend at home. I don't remember what I did back in Birmingham where we were living at the time, to celebrate with Michael and his family.. According to a picture of Michael and I both wearing blue gingham shirts on his Instagram after my birthday, I assume that is when we went to see the movie Oz: The Great and Powerful. I'm sure we went out to dinner too. Never mind, it says that movie came out in February and his caption for that photo is, "Older pic but a good one. Twins!!!!" I guess we'll never know..

   2015 ~ Mia was in Beijing, China for two months this summer doing stuff for work. Crazy! She later went back again, but only for two more weeks. I had to work on my birthday that year, but had the long weekend off from work and was joined by Michael, Sharanya, Tonia, Zach and Jacquie at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon. Then we had dinner afterwards at Macaroni Grill.
   The next day Michael and I went to a free art museum, got McFrappe's, I got a new work outfit from Plato's Closet, he bought me a nice splurge outfit (top and jeans) from Macy's, got a bunch of fancy earrings (probably from Icing's), saw the movie Pitch Perfect 2 because Mia had previously given us her free tickets, walked around Downtown Disney in attempt to use our Groupon to ride the hot air balloon (but it was down due to 3% wind..), then had a late dinner at Chevy's.

   2016 ~ Later during my "vegetarian ad vegan adventures" I posted how I celebrated my 29th birthday the following day with Mia. But I didn't write about how my parents came down, we had lunch at Yellow Dog Eats, then went to Universal to see Blue Man Group. Michael was able to get half price tickets the morning of the show for being an employee, and we still got pretty good seats. I enjoyed the performance and laughed a lot, but was super glad we got the tickets half price. The show seemed to be worth $39 per person, rather than the normal price of $80!! I got a Cinnabon at Citywalk as my birthday cake and my mom was so cute about whipping out a candle and matches from her fanny pack.
   2017 ~ This year, **for my 30TH birthday** I knew I wouldn't be able to do anything too crazy being 37 weeks pregnant, especially since Emma is being delivered TOMORROW!! I would be happy going to a water park for my birthday every year, and Michael has asked me often how soon we can go to Universal's Volcano Bay that just opened. Maybe we can go in mid-August or September after I'm all healed up from my C-Section, but I'm not sure what the rules are about bringing in a 3 month old baby? Lindsey told me that babies aren't even allowed to wear sunscreen until they are six months old. Emma sure would look cute in a tiny bathing suit and sun hat though! ;)
   Anyway, so yesterday was a mix of early birthday fun and regular errands day. Michael and I went to Once Upon a Child and bought a couple more preemie onezies for Emma. He also picked out a pretty coral/red 3-month dress and admitted that the store was really nice for being second hand. We got smoothies, took a nap, then went to dinner at Bravo again (where we went for our anniversary). I've been talking about Cinnabon a lot lately, so he drove us to Citywalk like last year and I got another roll. No candles this time though!
   This morning Michael gave me a birthday "card" that had a photo shopped picture of us from a dream he had a couple months ago. It had to do with him fishing and he caught a squirrel, which then flew into the air, pulling Michael and I behind it. I told him then that I wanted him to draw a picture of it for me, and today he did. This afternoon we drove to Cocoa Beach and went for a lovely walk along the ocean as the clouds held the rain overhead. Michael took some brave "mandatory" bikini bump pictures of me. I can't wait to be extra skinny and healthy again! We were talking yesterday about how we can't believe how fast our relationship got going, a big part of it starting when we went to Cocoa Beach two weeks after we were officially dating, and decided that we wanted to get married and have kids together one day. Obviously it all worked out splendidly and that "one day" for having a baby is now just about 15 hours away! We stopped by Cheesecake Factory on the way home for some to-go desserts. I got the Snickers cheesecake, which was super good with the chopped peanuts and Oreo crust.
   I doubt I will be able to sleep tonight, but might get up at 1:45am to eat, since I'm not allowed to eat after 2am due to my C-section appointment starting at 10am. I'm trying really hard not to be nervous - about the epidural, praying that she cries when they pull her out, that she breathes well on her own, that I recover pretty quickly and don't take too long to be able to walk comfortably, that I am able to breastfeed easily, and the list goes on! We wonder what color her hair is, how much she actually weighs, what she looks like without having a smashy face against the placenta in a sonogram picture, how long her limbs are compared to what the doctors think they will be (with possible dwarfism, etc). We are staying positively excited though!