Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 28, 2014 - Meet the BBG

Baby nicknames are a funny thing - it is hard to define how or when you find just the right fit.  With Grace we called her a LOT of different things for a long time before "Super Girl" became her official nickname in our family.  Noah, on the other hand, must have been minutes old before "Buddy" stuck to him like glue.  For our sweet Aya Karen, the baby formerly known as "the BBG" or "Bonus Baby", after a few days of getting to know her "peanut" just seemed to fit perfectly.  So here is our little peanut's blog introduction!

While I am very behind on blogging all about her, it's mostly because I have been spending my time breathing in and enjoying her newbornhood (OK, she is the youngest of three...let's be honest, nothing will ever be on time!).  Aya is one week old today - just like that! - and has had a lovely week I think.

It all started with a 4:15 wake up on Monday April 21st.  
We were not just heading in to get great seats for this year's memorable Boston Marathon...no!  Our surgery was scheduled for 7:30 am and we had to be there by 6:00.  Luckily we stopped at a 24-hour Dunkin Donuts so Kristoffer would be properly fueled for the morning.

Everything went smoothly at the hospital...so smoothly in fact that I might not have noticed my own discomfort.  When I was initially hooked up to the fetal heart monitor so they could monitor the baby before surgery, we discovered that I was having legitimate, actual contractions every 8 minutes.  Believe it or not the nurse said to me, "Some people have a really high tolerance for pain."  I had been really uncomfortable for days but it seems that we all agreed on when it was time for Aya to come out.

I think I will write more comparisons between having a baby in America and having a baby in Kenya another day, because Kristoffer and I were constantly comparing our experiences for sure, and there is sort of a lot to say about it.   And there is also a lot to say about our doctors and nursing care.  For now I'll just tell you more about Aya.  

When she came out at 8:29 am she screamed, screamed, and screamed louder and longer than we had ever heard before.  She was so, so, so pink and remains so one week later.  With tears of joy, I loved listening to those lungs and seeing her bright, healthy color!  Kristoffer was holding her as soon as he could and they sat by my side for the rest of the surgery.  We were all surprised to see her head of dark hair.  She got 9s on her APGAR and seemed to quiet down as soon as she could suck on her Far's fingers while Mama kept her waiting for the real thing a while longer.  Even though the surgical preparation seemed to take ages that morning, the surgery itself seemed to be over in a flash.  

Aya was an instant favorite among doctors and nurses at the hospital.  Despite her super crying power when she was first born, she has been a pretty quiet baby since then (although her first bath tonight did bring out some of that serious lung power once again!). She squawks a bit when she is hungry or needs comfort, or sometimes it almost sounds like she is yelling at us a little bit.  She has a little bit of hair on her ears and some other places like her back.  Grace never had that but Noah did and, as I did with him, I find it to be a very endearing feature.  She is a little critter with that fuzz!  Her hands and feet are small and delicate.

During her hospital stay Aya was well-poked and prodded.  She got her HepB vaccination, passed her hearing test, and her initial EKG and echo cardiogram looked good and ruled out the congenital heart defects that her cousin Kyle was born with.  She will still have some cardiac follow up before we head back to Tanzania, but mostly I think the doctor's are just being extra cautious given our family history.  Aya is easy to pass around and has not minded all the different hands that have held her.  My parents are particularly talented "baby whisperers" and it seems that Grace and Noah are following the family line.  Every time they hear her start to fuss they both instantly start singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star".  They are mindful of her and sweet to her, and do not yet seem to be adversely affected in any way by her presence. In fact, Kristoffer and I are often overcome with emotion just seeing them be with her and each other.  Grace loves to hold her, Noah loves to kiss her.  We are so blessed with these amazing children of ours, and it seems that Aya was always meant to be part of the pack.  

Aya has also taken care of some business in this first week.  We managed to have her first doctor's appointment today, get a copy of her birth certificate (thanks to my Mom for that!), apply for her passport and have a bath.  All in one day! Not bad for a newborn, eh?!  She is not doing anything brilliant in the sleep department...at least not during the night time hours, but she has been nursing well from the start which is wonderful.  Two other things: her neck is really strong and she is often lifting it up to look around, and she smiles a lot!  Now generally when newborns smile it is believed to be gas and I know I thought that was the case with Grace and Noah, but this baby is not very gassy and regularly gives out little smiles.  Needless to say, it is a quality that we are loving.

We are so grateful for all of the emails, phone calls, and Facebook messages we have received to congratulate us on Aya's arrival.  She was born into a wonderful circle of family and friends...and there are still so many people waiting to meet her in Denmark and Tanzania too! Here are some a ton of pictures from her first week, including all of the loved ones she was able to meet.  Even though I am exhausted and still recovering physically from the c-section, it has been a wonderful week for us.

Welcome to the world, sweet Aya Karen!  We love you!
April 21, 2014 8:29 am 7 lbs. 7 oz. 19.5 in.

Just a few minutes old.
My first time holding her.

 Nene's first cuddle.
 Auntie Meghan.
 Biggest Sister Gracie!
 Big Brother Noah!

 "Auntie" Brooke visiting from Connecticut.
 "Great" Aunt Nina.
"Great" Uncle Jack.

 She is so pink!

 Someone caught us sleeping...
Time to go "home" from the hospital!
She wore the purple hat and sweater Nene made her to match her purple blanket. 

Peanut in a car seat.

Once we got to Nene's house we were greeted by Auntie Meghan, Sean, Molly and Nora too, who all took turns holding their new cousin.

First night at home...all wrapped up like a baby burrito!
 Next day, Nora and Sean came back with Uncle Tim to see Aya again. 

 Nene loves to chat with Aya.
 Mrs. Duffy came from Doylestown, PA to visit!  Here is Pops with the ladies!
 My mom and my girls!

 Sister Love :)

 See - I told you she smiles!
 This picture is MUCH cuter than the one they took for her passport!  
 Aya's first bath...with helpers.
And my favorite picture so far...our three beautiful children together. My heart is so full.

Monday, April 21, 2014

April 20, 2014 - Love, Actually

There is something to be said for Hugh Grant's bit about the international arrivals terminal at the airport in the movie "Love, Actually."  It is a beautiful place :) It was a VERY big moment for our family when we were reunited on Good Friday at the airport and could probably have been in a movie scene of our own.  Grace asked me a little later, "Why were you crying, Mama?"  She is not yet at the age where she understands that pure bliss can bring you to tears, and she may never know until someday if she becomes a parent just how amazing that moment was for me and Kristoffer.

Their travels started like this:

And ended in my arms, and all was right with the world.

We had a wonderful weekend.  There was an Easter egg hunt at my parent's church yesterday, followed by egg decorating at home.  Their jet-lag has been manageable, although has given us some early mornings.  They really enjoy being at Nene and Pops' house with Belle, their favorite feisty doggy.

This morning they woke up to an indoor hunt for their baskets and lots of Easter eggs.  It was a lot of fun!
(first 4 am jet lag wake up!  Happy Easter!)

We went to a lovely mass at my parents' beautiful new church, which Kristoffer and I enjoyed even though Grace and Noah fell asleep at the beginning. And, despite it being MUCH colder than our African blood is used to, there were even some signs of spring.
The best part of the day was spending it with family.  Meghan, Tim, Michael, Sean, Molly, Nora and Judy, Max and Patsy all came for Easter dinner.  This led to a LOT of laughs, and another Easter egg hunt.  Grace and Noah were so happy all day that Kristoffer said, "I'm just so happy for them! They never get to see their cousins!"  Thanks to my parents for a lovely day and dinner, and for all they have done for us this past 6 weeks (and for the next 6 weeks!).

Just before the end of the day, watching RIO and trying really hard to keep Grace & Noah awake past 6pm!  It worked...they last until 6:40 :)

Now our hospital bags are packed and we're ready to go.  

Appearing for the last time as a family of four...just eager for our #5 to get here tomorrow.  

Happy Easter to all...it was a lovely, emotional holiday weekend for the Welsiens and we look forward to starting the next chapter of our family's story tomorrow morning.