Little Miss Sunshine

Dear Emma,

I still can’t believe how fast your first year is flying by! You are 10 months old today, although you look like an 18 month old because of your size. You’re continue to top the charts in both height and weight, which makes it hard to keep you in clothes for more than a few weeks at a time! Luckily for you, your mom & grandmothers love to spoil you with cute outfits. πŸ˜‰

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We finished your time with the helmet a few weeks ago now, which has led to leaps and bounds in your development. I think it was harder for you to do things on your tummy with the helmet on, but now you’re sliding, scooting & army-crawling all over the place. Most recently, you’ve mastered sitting up from a supine position. Gotta keep a closer eye on you now… you like to get into EVERYTHING. Just like your brothers. Lord help me! Haha.

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Unlike your brothers, we’ve noticed a lot of progress in your communication skills recently too. You are waving, clapping, high-fiving, and say “hi,” “mama,” “dada,” & “bubba.” Chatting with us (ESPECIALLY Alex) is one of your favorite things to do. Eating is pretty high up there too…. when you see someone else eating, you demand that they share whatever it is with you! Your favorites are pasta & fruit.

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Although you’re definitely not shy about letting us know when you’re less than pleased about something, overall you really are such a sweet, happy baby. Despite having a lot of ear infections lately (pretty sure tubes are on the horizon for you), you are always smiling with those cute little dimples of yours. Your presence truly lights up a room, and everyone who looks at your adorable grin can’t help but smile back. That’s why I like to call you our Little Miss Sunshine. πŸ™‚

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By the time I write again, you’ll probably have had your first birthday and be walking!In just a couple of months I’ll never have an infant again. After these last 5 years, that’s such a bizarre feeling to me. But I’m also so excited to see what the coming months bring for you!

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All my love,
Mom

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Bows Before Bros

Dear Emma,

How quickly your first year is flying by! You’re just shy of 7 months old now. So much has changed these past few months since I last wrote, yet so much has stayed the same. You did eventually get a helmet to help address the skull asymmetry caused by your torticollis, as well as starting physical therapy to help stretch & strengthen your neck muscles. The helmet isn’t exactly the cutest baby accessory out there, but we’re making it work. πŸ˜‰ Part of being the first girl after two boys is that you end up getting dolled up quite a bit!

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You’ve also started eating solid foods– no teeth yet, so just soft foods so far. I haven’t pushed this as hard as I did with Alex & Charlie… maybe because you’re my last, maybe because I haven’t had the time/energy to deal with it as much as I did with the boys. But you do seem to enjoy most of what you’ve had so far… Β except green beans. You put those in the “hell no” category!

Also in that particular category is dairy. You’re still on a dairy-free formula because the consequences were disastrous when we tried to switch you. We also let you try some cheese (on pizza) recently, with even more disastrous consequences. :-\ So I feel pretty certain in saying you’re lactose-intolerant, much like Alex & Dad.

Milestone-wise there have been lots of changes & developments too…. you’re starting to sit independently, just for a few seconds at a time. You have been able to roll back to tummy as well as tummy to back. And oh my, can you babble! You LOVE to “talk” to yourself and to anyone else willing to listen. Wonder who you get that from? πŸ˜‰ You’re able to hold things and enjoy toys more these days, but your favorite things to play with are still (1) your feet and (2) your brothers.

What hasn’t changed: you’re still large & in charge. At your 6 month checkup, the pediatrician said your height, weight & head size were that of an average 10 month old. =-0 Another constant is your happy-go-lucky attitude. You have a smile for just about everyone and are a generally content baby, only fussing when you’re hungry, tired or sick. You recently went through a pretty long & crazy bout of illness that involved croup, a double ear infection, pink eye, and general cold symptoms all taking place over the course of 2 weeks…. and even through all that, you were a trooper!

Thank goodness you’re still a wonderful sleeper as well. You go to bed around 6 and sleep until 7ish, sometimes waking up for a quick bottle around 5ish/sometimes not. And you always, always greet us with a big smile first thing each morning. It’s my favorite way to start the day. πŸ™‚ Life with three little ones gets pretty hectic, but Dad & I have been working hard on making sure you each get some one-on-one time with us. For you & I this is usually bedtime. I look forward to it all day– a bottle, stories, & cuddles with just the two of us. Β I also usually take some of that time to catch up on current events while I hold you until you fall asleep (thanks YouTube). I’m trying to soak in every little bit of baby-ness that I can!

And I know Dad feels the same way. You are such a joy to all of us. πŸ™‚ It’s only been 7 months but it already feels like you’ve always been here– the icing on the 5 layer cake of our family. We love you so very much!

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All my love,
Mom

The (bumpy) end of the road

Dear Emma,

Here we are at 38 weeks… if all goes according to plan, your birthday is in less than 2 weeks! I am still very much glad that this is my last pregnancy– the struggle is REAL and I’m more or less a beached whale these days. LOL. Obviously this is not my usual bump photo– I had Dad take it specifically to send to a friend who wanted to see how big I was. :-X And mind you, this was a couple weeks ago. The next bump photo I purposefully take will be right before we go to the hospital for your birth.

Truth be told though, lately I’m feeling more impatient not because of being uncomfortably huge… but because I am getting SO INCREDIBLY EXCITED to meet you face to face. πŸ™‚ It’s so close I can taste it! I think Dad feels the same way too. He’s starting to talk more about what he thinks it will be like to parent a daughter– obviously it’s going to be a whole new ball game for us both, but I think he feels moreΒ anxiety over it than I do. But I also sense excitement from him. He’s not type to be super exuberant about it, but I know him well enough to see the signs. πŸ˜‰ Tonight he was talking about dealing with boyfriends and being a “Papa Bear.” LOL. I, for one, can’t wait to see your & Dad’s relationship develop. The father-daughter bond is such a special, indescribable thing. I’ve been trying to explain this to Dad, but don’t think I’ve been doing it justice.

Dad & I are not the only ones who are excited to meet you! Our family recently threw a baby “sprinkle” (mini-shower) in your honor and there was a lot of cuteness to be had…

We made bows! It’s hard not to go overboard with all the girly-ness after having two boys. πŸ˜‰ Here’s a nice photo of you & I from the sprinkle as well:

And an awesome ultrasound photo of your sweet face! I went to the specialist at the hospital right around 35 weeks for one last check to be on the safe side (given my history of pre-eclampsia), and you looked perfect. πŸ™‚

Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling so perfect… and in a shocking development of events, I ended up right back in the hospital a few days later with the flu and pneumonia. Seriously, no one was more surprised by this than me. That Saturday morning I ran over to the Minute Clinic because I’d been feeling crappy all week and had come down with a fever the night before… I expected to get some antibiotics and be back home within the hour. I didn’t even put socks on! Just slipped on my shoes and ran out the door.

When the doctor at the Minute Clinic saw me, she confirmed that I had the flu and asked whether I was having trouble breathing. To this I responded “Well I’m 35 weeks pregnant, of course I’m having trouble breathing!” She laughed and told me I should go to the nearest ER and get my lungs looked at, just to be safe. While I was sitting there waiting for her to finish typing her notes/wrap up the paperwork, I started feeling light-headed and had to lay down for the last few minutes I was there. Before I went to the hospital I called the OB to see whether they wanted me to go straight to them at the main hospital or if I could just go to the local ER. I’m glad I did, because they suggested going straight to them since the outpatient ERs would likely send me there anyway. Off I went….

When I got there they were expecting me and took me right back. I went in for a chest x-ray, which revealed the pneumonia. I was admitted to the hospital shortly after that. Thankfully Grandma and Papa were able to come up and help take care of your brothers so that Dad could come be with me. They kept a close eye on you at the hospital, and at first your heart rate wasn’t quite what they were hoping to see. The OB came in and basically said “We’re going to do an ultrasound to see what’s going on, and if I don’t like what I see we’re going to do the c-section today.” This was on Sunday morning… and going from running out the door to the Minute Clinic without socks on the day before to possibly having my baby over a month early had me feeling a bit floored, to say the least. Thankfully the ultrasound looked good and your heart rate was doing much better by the second night. Dad and I watched the Super Bowl at the hospital, and I was discharged/ officially on the mend Monday morning. Phew!

Since then we’ve been laying low, trying to avoid germs and failing miserably. This time of year is the pits. Thankfully I have not gotten sick anymore since the hospital stay, and as it stands you & I appear to be as healthy and normal for this point as we possibly can be. πŸ™‚ I should know better than to worry about you… with brothers like these climbing all over you all the time, you’re already one tough cookie!

They are both very much aware of your presence (how could they not be with a belly this big?!?!) and Alex is SUPER excited to meet you face to face as well. I doubt Charlie will really “get it” until we bring you home. He has been extra clingy lately though, so I suspect he senses/understands more than I’m giving him credit for. Alex is also more interested in babies, with more of a nurturing soul, than Charlie is… nothing wrong with that, but I don’t expect Charlie to take much interest in you until you can play with him. On the other hand, he LOVES to “help,” and actually a key toΒ the successful big brother transition with Alex was involving him with all things baby from Day 1 (diapers, bottles, you name it). So I plan to do the same with Charlie and hope he gets a kick out of helping take care of you. Time will tell!

Speaking of time, it’s 10:30pm on the start of my & Dad’s last kid-free weekend before you’re born. The bed is calling my name! πŸ˜‰ This will most likely be my last letter to you before you’re born… see you on the outside, Miss Emma! :-* We really can’t wait to meet you and adore you SO MUCH already!

All my love,
Mom

TGIMLP (Thank Goodness It’s My Last Pregnancy)

Dear Emma,

You are just over 33 weeks along now– the size of a pineapple! And boy, are you making sure I know it. In my last letter I said that I’m rapidly approaching the point where I’m going to be uncomfortable and exhausted regardless…. yeah. We’re definitely there now. LOL. I keep telling Dad “I swear I don’t remember being this uncomfortable with with the other pregnancies,” to which he responds “Well you said that last time too.” πŸ˜‰ I’m not sleeping well as it’s hard to be comfortable in any position, everywhere hurts, you move a lot and no area is safe from your jabs/kicks (which are getting MUCH stronger), and I am having a LOT more practice contractions than I remember having with either of your brothers. I suppose being pregnant while chasing around 2 toddlers has something to do with it!

That was taken right at 27 weeks, when 3rd trimester officially began. As I mentioned in your last letter, Alex is still incredibly excited to meet you. Charlie still doesn’t get it, but I’m getting so big now that he’s starting to sense something is going on. He keeps pointing to my stomach and saying “Ball!” (balls are his favorite toys, heaven forbid I might be hiding one under my shirt… hahaha). I’ve been correcting him, but I doubt he’ll understand until you’re here. Anywho, we had a lovely Christmas and everyone was spoiled rotten… including you!

Yes, your closet is already FULL OF CLOTHES and I think you’re pretty much set through size 12 months, at least. Having a girl is definitely bad for my (and Grandma + Nana’s) wallet, as there is just soooooo much cute girly stuff out there. You also have accumulated a few girly baby toys (plus of course we have lots of baby toys already to be passed down from your brothers), various other girly baby accessories (the bows! the shoes! the pink pacifiers & bottles!), and naturally we’re stocking up on diapers as well. I know better than to stock up on much formula since we won’t know what kind you tolerate best until you’re here drinking it. πŸ˜‰ Nana & Grump got your car seat for Christmas as well. So, at this point we’re as ready for you as we’ll ever be. But it’s still a bit early, so even though I’m incredibly uncomfortable, I hope you stay put for awhile longer! We have your c-section officially scheduled for the morning of March 9, so if all goes well that will be your birthday. Woohoo!

Speaking of being ready for you…. as promised, here are some pictures of your finished nursery:

SO. MUCH. PINK. I might be a little excited about having a girl, eh? πŸ˜‰ I know, I know… it’s 2017 and all, but pink is my favorite color so I just couldn’t resist. The room is kind of ballet-themed as you can see, and most of the quotes on the collage wall are dance-related.

Now it’s just a matter of trying to relax as much as possible these next 7 weeks. And trying not to fall, which unfortunately I did manage to do not long after my last letter. :-\ Tripped over an umbrella on the front porch and although I felt fine (landed on my side), the OB sent me to the hospital to be monitored as a precaution. All looked fine, but you were measuring a bit small so I followed up with the maternal fetal specialist a couple weeks later to confirm that you are growing properly. Which you are, of course:

I mean, how the heck could I be getting SO EFFING BIG if you were not growing like a weed in there? πŸ˜‰ But it’s better to be safe than sorry, and I’m glad we got to go to the specialist because they have much nicer ultrasound machines there. I got to see you in much more detail, and they basically did another full anatomy scan. It’s still hard to say who you look like, as those definitely look like my chipmunk cheeks! Because of my history of preeclampsia, the specialist wants me to come back for one more look in early February. I’m glad I’ll get to see you one more time before we meet face to face.

It’s hard to believe we’ll officially be a family of 5 in just a few weeks! Although I occasionally feel a little nervous about the logistics and finances of handling three young children, overall I’m just so incredibly excited. And VERY ready to be done with pregnancies for good. πŸ˜‰

Although of course I’m very thankful to have been blessed with three healthy pregnancies/babies. I say to Dad all the time– “How did we get so lucky?!” πŸ˜€ Well, I suppose that’s all for now… I may write once more before your birth, but you can see by now how that goes. Until next time, sweet Emma Jean!

All my love,
Mom

A whole new ballgame

Dear Baby Pacheco,

You’re coming up on 13 weeks along now, and we’re almost out of the first trimester! Before I go any further, I’m happy to report that the second ultrasound to follow-up on your heartbeat went really well. You were a perfectly normal little blob and we could see the little flickering of your heart just fine. πŸ™‚

That time I had Dad & Alex go with me, and they were both so excited to get their first glimpse of you! Alex especially, although at first he thought there were three babies because they gave us three pictures to take home. LOL. He also asked where your eyes were. I explained that right now you are still a seed growing in my tummy, and won’t be a full grown baby with all your body parts until you’re ready to be born. He seemed okay with that answer (for now!).

By the time the date of that second ultrasound came around, honestly I wasn’t too worried about the pregnancy because…. I was SO. VERY. SICK. They call it morning sickness, but for me it was all-day-long sickness. I started to come down with that right after the first ultrasound appointment, around 6-7 weeks along, and thankfully the worst of it lasted just over a month. It took me quite by surprise, as I experienced little to no morning sickness with my first two pregnancies. But this time, there wasn’t much I wanted to eat (or could hold down), and many other sensations like most smells, heat, too much motion, eating too much or not enough, etc. caused me to get sick as well. One night right after this started, Dad was kind of enough to make chicken teriyaki for dinner while I was staying late at work… only to have me start yelling “GET THAT SHIT OUT OF THE HOUSE!” while running to the bathroom moments after walking in the front door. :-X Sorry, Dad! Anyway, the only thing that really helped me was sucking on peppermints and taking vitamin B6 (who knew?). Although the situation is much better now, actually I still get waves of nausea from time to time, but only if I let myself get too hungry.

The only other major symptom I’ve been dealing with is extreme fatigue…. straight up exhaustion really, almost constantly. Pregnancy + mothering two young toddlers would do this to anyone, I think. I sleep as much as I can and try to function as best I can, but have admittedly been a very lazy parent this summer. Not many homecooked meals, not many fun family outings, and too much TV for sure. But I’m sure your brothers will forgive me someday!

At my 10 weeks checkup, they took my blood for the DNA test where they look for issues/anomalies in your DNA that might be cause for concern. They did not find any, but they did find out whether you are a boy or girl….

OH. MY. GOD. Not gonna lie, the main reason we decided to have one more was in the hopes of having a girl. We (mostly I) thought that I would regret not trying one more time and would always wonder what my daughter would be like if I did not. And I did do many of the old wives’ tales that you hear about with regards to conceiving a girl– timing, calcium intake, etc. etc. And with the huge difference in my pregnancy symptoms, I thought there was a good chance that I had a little girl growing in there…. but doubt continued to flicker in the back of my mind, and when I got those test results I honestly was expecting to read “boy.”

But man, I’ve never been so happy to be wrong! Not because I wouldn’t have loved another boy (we did have a name and nursery theme already picked out for either scenario, along with fantasies about dominating 1/3 of a baseball team, LOL)… but now I will not have to wonder what having a daughter would be like. We have YOU, Little Miss Emma! πŸ™‚

As you can see above, we just had another ultrasound today to check nuchal translucency (an indicator of Down’s syndrome)– although the NT piece of it looked normal, the tech noticed what is called a “venous lake,” which on the ultrasound just looks like a dark spot on the placenta. The midwife told us later that it could just be old blood, or maybe a cyst, and that it should resolve on its own. In the meantime, I keep going back for ultrasounds every two weeks until it resolves. She assured me that it’s not a cause for concern at all, just something to keep an eye on. For now, I’m not too worried. I have a lot of trust and faith in God, as well as our doctors.

So I decided it would be fun to tell the boys your big news in a fun way (well really just Alex, as Charlie understands none of this yet), so we did one of those balloon gender reveals for them. Alex is so excited and says he loves you already! He talks to you in my tummy all the time. I know he’s going to be an awesome big brother, and I think Charlie will too once he figures out what is going on.

In the meantime, we’ll keep watching our little baby girl seed grow… preparing and anxiously awaiting your arrival! You are so loved already. It feels like the final piece of our family is finally settling into place. πŸ™‚

All my love,
Mom

Third time’s the charm

Dear Baby Pacheco,

It feels so crazy to be typing that again! There have been so many ups & down these last few years with Alex & Charlie that honestly we were not sure whether or not we would want to have a third baby when the time came. One thing we have always known for sure was that we wanted all of our kids to be relatively close in age if possible, so this spring the time came… and went. I was struggling with depression and had been for almost a year, so at that time I just did not think I could handle another baby. After getting help with that and bringing balance back to my life, Dad and I had a long heart-to-heart about it on the long drive to/from the family reunion in West Virginia over Memorial Day weekend. Lots of discussion and reflection led us to conclude that we really did want one more baby, and given our desire to have kids close in age (and our desire to not have to “start over” with the baby phase long after Alex & Charlie have grown into big kids)… the time was right. I went off the pill a few days later and opted not to track or anything during the first cycle, in order to give my body time to settle back into its normal rhythm. But God had other plans and we got this right around Fourth of July:

We could not believe how quickly it happened! Well Dad could, he has said many times that he has a lot of faith in our baby-making abilities. LOL. Anyway, at that point I was hardly more than 4 weeks along, so there wasn’t much else to do but wait and see how things went. Last Friday (which also happened to be Dad’s birthday!), we went to my first midwife appointment. All was well there, and we scheduled the ultrasound for today. Right around that time (6 weeks or so) morning sickness reared its ugly head, which is a new thing for me as I didn’t deal with that much in my first two pregnancies. I notice it mostly during big meals or when I’m out in the heat. Not throwing up at least, just being hit with intense waves of nausea from time to time.

Dad had to work today, so I went to the ultrasound by myself. It was hard to sleep these last couple of nights, constantly worrying “What if there’s no heartbeat? What if the due date is drastically different from what I thought? What if it’s twins?” Unfortunately, one of those fears turned out to be true:

You are measuring at 6 weeks 4 days, which is right on target based on when I think I ovulated (the pic says 6w6d because that’s based on the last period date)…. but there was no heartbeat. 😦 The ultrasound tech said she thought she saw a flicker but not enough to pick up on the monitor. When she turned the screen to show me, I saw absolutely nothing. With both boys we saw clear “flickers” of the heartbeat at 6w0d. Not to mention this ultrasound picture doesn’t even look like anything discernable, which is very different from how the boys’ first ultrasounds looked. I’m trying not to freak out, and failing miserably. :’-( I go back for another ultrasound next week.

In the meantime, I’m so thankful for all my mama friends out there who I’ve been able to lean on and receive reassurances from. They have told me, and I have read online, that it’s quite common for there not to be a discernible heartbeat this early. I have also heard that some doctors wait to do the first ultrasound until at least 8 weeks for just this reason. So we wait, and go back again next Tuesday for another ultrasound to give you more time to grow. Until then, I will try to relax and constantly repeat to myself the newly pregnant + worried mama mantra: “Right now I am pregnant, and I love my baby.”

All my love,
Mom