Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rosalie is Signing "More"!!

I am so proud of my little girl!  Rosie is about 6.5 months old right now and has been signing "more" for about a week now!  At first, I wasn't sure if she was really signing, but her speech therapist and occupational therapist assured me that she was indeed asking for more food!  It's never too early to start signing and I'm so glad that the occupational therapist encouraged us to start when Rosie was 4 months old.

A common misconception about signing is that it will delay oral language development.  This is not true!  As kiddos become more able to articulate, they replace their signs with spoken words.  I am very excited about Rosalie starting to use and understand sign language.  Since her ability to communicate verbally is going to be delayed, knowing sign language is going to allow her to express her wants and needs.  This is going to make for a much less fussy baby, and much happier parents. 

I would encourage all parents to teach their babies sign language!  To get you started, here are some of the signs that we started doing with Rosalie when she was about 4 months old:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Live in the Moment

Since it takes Rosalie longer to reach her developmental milestones, it is easy to forget that time is passing by... and quickly.  Each day, I enjoy her cuddles, her smiles, and her little chuckles.  I love having her with me always.  I am so lucky to be her mommy.

There is no better partner in crime than my Rosie.  We go on all sorts of mommy-daughter adventures:  shopping, sightseeing, hiking, etc.  During the day, aside from her naps, we are constantly engaged with each other.  If we're out and about, I am carrying her, talking to her, pointing things out to her, teaching her.  If we are home, I am feeding her, changing her diaper, snuggling her, working on her therapy, teaching her sign language, reading to her, bathing her.  I love every second, but it can get exhausting.

I get tired and have moments, like tonight, when I get discouraged.  I see all the things that babies her age and younger are doing, and she is just not there.  At her doctor's appointment last week, it felt like I answered no to more of the developmental questions than yes.  Is she self feeding yet?  No.  Raking small objects?  No.  Sitting on her own?  No.  Rolling over?  Only from back to belly.  Each "no" got harder and harder to admit to.

After that appointment, I started fixating on everything that Rosalie couldn't do instead of all the things that she can do.  It felt like she would never hold her own bottle, never sit up on her own, never crawl, never bounce in her jumper, never use sign language, never say, "Mama" or "Dada".  It felt useless to be signing "more" before every bite of her pears.  Useless to be practicing her rolling.  Useless to be trying to get her to stand on what I affectionately call her "wet noodle legs".

(Sheesh!  Now that I'm back to my normal self, that all sounds horrible!  Give that baby a break!!  I can be so melodramatic!)

Tonight, what brought me back was watching a sweet video of a 10 month old little girl with Down syndrome saying "Mama".  You can watch the video here.  While watching this video, I was reminded in a beautiful way that Rosalie will do all of these things, and more, when she is ready.  She has already done so much!  A few months ago, I thought she would never roll back to belly, never hold her head up, never turn the pages to a book, never eat solid food, never smile, never laugh, never reach out and grab her feet and legs, never bring things to her mouth, etc.  Guess what?  She's doing all of those things now.

Aren't I happy about all of these achievements?  Absolutely!  I am positively bursting with pride.  But the one downside to her finally reaching her milestones is that I am forced to realize that my baby is not going to be a baby forever.  She's growing everyday.  Someday, in the future, she will not want to be with her mommy 24/7.  She will grow wings.  She will fly.

(I know what you're thinking.  "Wow, there is no way to please this woman.  Rosie is darned if she does and darned if she doesn't.  Poor baby!")

The take away message here is to live in the moment.  Instead of wishing for the future and all of the exciting things it will bring, enjoy the present.  Soon, the present will become the past and you will be wishing that the future had not come so fast.

**Disclaimer:  There are probably several typos because I wrote this entire post on my phone and in bed half asleep!**

Here is a video clip of Rosalie turning the pages in her book!

Here are some pictures of Rosalie doing things that, at one point, it felt like she would never do:
Sitting with support.
Holding her head up.
Grabbing her leg/foot.
Eating solid food.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rosie the Riveter

You may not know who Rosie the Riveter is, but my bet is that you will recognize this iconic ad:

During World War II, this ad inspired women by telling them that they too could help the war effort in a very important way.  Many men were in the military, leaving vacancies in factories producing ammunition and war supplies.  Thanks in part to this ad, the number of women filling these vacancies increased drastically.  Rosie the Riveter became a symbol for feminism and good old fashioned girl power.  In short, a repressed group of individuals was able to show the country and world how capable, useful, and important they were!

What better role model could there be for our little Rosalie, and all individuals with Down syndrome?  This is why Caleb and I decided that for her very first Halloween, Rosalie should go as Rosie the Riveter.

Our hope is that this picture of little Rosalie will help to remind the world that individuals with Down syndrome, and other disabilities, can be contributing and productive members of society.  The sooner everyone stops underestimating what this repressed group of individuals has to offer, the sooner we can watch them blossom!

They can do it!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

"Daddy-Daughter Day" was missing something...

Hello, Blogosphere! Before you begin reading this post and wondering, "Why has Melissa's writing lost its lovely flow and eloquence?", you should know that Melissa isn't writing this post at all. No, Melissa is preoccupied gallivanting around the Old Port of Portland with a bachelorette and her posse (likely making questionable decisions). So instead, you are all stuck with me, Caleb. My apologies.

Today was a Daddy-Daughter Day with Little Miss Rosalie, while her mommy finally took a well deserved girls night. Without a doubt, I have looked forward to this day for weeks, but apparently there were concerns from other parties. A few days ago, Melissa asked if I would "be alright" taking care of Rosie all alone. Later on, my mother offered to drive five hours South to help me out. It would seem that they have more trust in Eva, our cat. In my defense, I would argue that I am MORE than qualified to take care of a three-and-a-half month old for 24 hours or less, even if you don't count the fact that I contributed somewhere between twenty-three forty-sevenths and twenty-four forty-sevenths of Rosie's genetic make-up. But I suppose I shouldn't speak to soon, as I haven't made it to morning yet.

I view Daddy-Daughter time as a time to educate Rosie about all the manly things to do in the world. So, naturally, I took her to Freeport dress shopping and then on a scenic walk by the river in Yarmouth. Real manly. But it was along the walk that her and I did some thinking...

I have been amazed at how well our little girl has developed in her young life. Her strength and coordination have developed quicker than we could have ever imagined. She has rapidly become attentive to her surroundings. Most excitingly, her little social smile is here to stay (and it melts every heart in the room). Certainly, we are still early on in Rosie's life, and of course, there is variability to how babies with Down Syndrome progress and develop. Some of it is chance. But all that said, it is no fluke that Rosie has done so well in her young life: the secret to it all is Melissa.

What Melissa does daily for Rosalie is nothing short of amazing. Every day is full of tummy-time, art cards, play gyms, books, books, and more books. She absorbs everything the physical therapist and occupational therapist suggest and immediately incorporates the workouts into Rosie's routine. She brings Rosie on walks and for "swims" in the pool. She talks and jokes with Rosie, even when Rosie doesn't respond. She reads and reads and reads about every aspect of Down Syndrome. She updates you all with Rosie's latest mischief. And what's even more remarkable is that she manages to do this all while being a wonderful wife and my best friend.

So when the physical therapist says Rosie is ahead of the curve, when family notices how strong Rosie is, and when friends thank us for updates on the blog - I can't help but think that it's all thanks to Melissa. It's thanks to her unwavering, unconditional love for Little Miss Rosalie. It's thanks to her high expectations, her intelligence, and her patience. All I can ask is that next time you consider just how wonderful little Rosalie is, consider complimenting the woman behind it all.

Because, let's be honest, this Daddy and Daughter would be nothing without that special Mommy.

Thanks for everything, baby!

Thursday, July 25, 2013


 I contemplated not writing this post, but then I thought that it would be dishonest to anyone reading who is on the same journey as Caleb and I.  I want this blog to be as honest as possible, so here it goes.

Most of the time, things go swimmingly here at the Swanberg household.  We feel elated to have been blessed with the most special baby girl on the planet (okay, maybe we are biased).  We laugh because we know there are many people who think to themselves, "Wow, Caleb and Melissa are being so strong, but this whole Down syndrome thing must be killing them inside!  They put on such a brave face."  Hahaha!  This couldn't be further from the truth!  In fact, there are many days that go by when we don't even think about the fact that Rosalie has Down syndrome.  It's only a small part of what makes our daughter who she is.

Earlier this week, I had a bad night.  I think it's the first time since Rosalie has been born that I have cried about Down syndrome.  I came to the realization, that while Rosie may seem like any other baby right now, as the months go by, differences will become more and more apparent.  She will look more and more different from other children, she will develop more slowly.  Babies who were born after her are going to be reaching milestones like sitting, crawling, walking, etc. before her.  All of a sudden, I wasn't seeing the positives anymore, I was thinking of all the what ifs.  What if she can't ride a bicycle and really wants to?  What if she's in diapers until she's 8?  What if she gets leukemia?  What will happen if/when she realizes that she is a little different from other children.  Will it bother her?  I don't know why I started obsessing about all of these things, but I just got overwhelmingly sad.  I sobbed and sobbed until I didn't have any tears left to cry.  It was a big old pity party in my bed at 11PM.

It's times like these (among others) when I am so thankful to have Caleb in my life.  He listened patiently to my worries even though he had to be at the hospital early the next morning.  He hugged me, he gave me Kleenex, and he cried with me.  He made me feel heard.  Finally, when I was all cried out, we went to sleep.

When I woke up the next morning, I was good as new.  Back to my happy-go-lucky self.  With Rosie in my arms, I felt so foolish for having cried so hard the night before.  As foolish as it felt, though, I think it's normal.  I was talking to my cousin, Sarah, about it, and she told me, "I think it's healthy for you to have those moments!  It shows that you care!  I would be worried if you DIDN'T have those moments because then you'd be a little too 'roll with the punches'".  I really think she's right.  It's those moments that will push me to be the best mom possible to Rosalie.  To do everything in my power to help her reach her fullest potential.

Later that day, I was watching Ellen, and Michael J. Fox was on.  For those of you who don't know, he has Parkinson's.  Ellen asked him how he keeps such a positive attitude despite his illness and he spoke the following words which really resonated with me:  "If you imagine the worst case scenario and it happens, then you've lived it twice."

Wow.  What a great point!  Why spend so much time stressing out and worrying about things that may not be?  If the worst actually does happen, which it often doesn't, then you're forced to go through those emotions not once, but twice!  Instead, try to embrace the possibilities that the future holds.  Work your hardest to makes these possibilities realities.  And always embrace hope.

Look at those little chunky arms!  Love it!

Wearing her "Mommy Thinks I'm A Hoot" outfit!  Thanks auntie Kris!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July Update

I'm sorry that I haven't been better about blogging lately.  Rosalie is keeping me quite busy!  A better way to get daily updates on her is to join our group on Facebook, "A Daily Dose of Rosie".

General Update:

I am amazed with how much Rosalie has grown in the past month; however, she is still quite the peanut.  She hasn't hit the 10 lb mark yet.  One of the most exciting developments is that she smiles socially now!

Rosalie also surprised me the other day during tummy time!  I was so excited to see that she can roll over from her tummy to her back (if all the conditions are right).

Our sweet pea is consistently sleeping anywhere from 8-10 hours through the night.  She wakes up every morning between 5AM-6AM, so my clock is slowly starting to adjust to starting the day earlier!

On the 4th of July, Rosalie made her very first trip to "the County" to visit her grandparents!

4th of July Outfit

First Dip in Madawaska Lake

Checking Out Pepere's John Deere

Health Update:

-2 Month Check-Up-
Rosalie did great at her 2 month check-up with her pediatrician, Dr. Dayle Dewey.  She certainly was NOT a fan of the three shots she had to get, but she calmed down pretty quickly when I picked her up to cuddle her.  It's a little unnerving to hear her cry like that because she has only done it a handful of times since she was born.  Rosalie was still at or under the 1st percentile for weight on the growth curve for typically developing children.  Dr. Dewey referred us to meet with a pediatric ophthalmologist (the American Academy of Pediatrics says this needs to be done before she reaches 6 months of age).

-Genetics Appointment-
Dr. Rosemarie Smith said that Rosalie is doing well for her age.  The best part of this appointment was that she graphed Rosalie's height and weight on a Down syndrome growth curve, rather than a growth curve for typically developing children.  On the Down syndrome growth curve for height and weight, she is at the 50th percentile!  (AKA perfect!)  We are so proud of our little princess!  Dr. Smith also gave us a chart that shows us when we can expect Rosalie to meet her developmental milestones.  I found a table on the National Down Syndrome Society website that shows comparisons of when typical children and children with Down syndrome meet their milestones.  You will notice that the range for children with Down syndrome is much wider than for typical children.

-Orthopaedic Appointment-
We are officially done with double diapering!  After having another ultrasound last week, Dr. Stephen Barr said that her hips are in the normal range and that there is no need for a follow-up visit!  You would think this would save us money, but now it's easier to see when Rosalie has a dirty diaper so we are actually going through more diapers!  :)

-Home Physical Therapy-
Our visiting Physical Therapist, Lisa, thinks that Rosalie is doing AWESOME for her age!  She said that she thinks Rosie will reach her milestones early for a child with Down syndrome!

We had a week where Rosalie was spitting up after almost every single feeding.  A significant amount.  After eating 1 oz, she would push the bottle out of her mouth and gag if I tried to put it back in.  It was to the point where she was gaining very little weight.  I called the doctor about it and we went in for an appointment.  The doctor thought she was having reflux problems and prescribed raniditine.  We give it to her twice a day in her milk and after a little under a week, we saw a difference!  Rosalie is gaining weight again and spitting up much less frequently.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

Caleb Holding Rosalie for the First Time
Caleb and I are truly blessed to have exceptional fathers who are a stellar example of what all dads should strive to be.  In many regards, our dads have similar philosophies.  The way they cherish and respect our mothers teaches us what a loving marriage is supposed to be like. They encourage us to chase our dreams but are still always there for us when we stumble and need their support.  Through their example, we know the value of a hard days work.  They teach us to be respectful towards others, but also that we need to demand respect for ourselves.  While our dads have a lot in common, they also differ from each other in some ways.  Part of this is due to the fact that Caleb's father, John, raised three boys, while my father, Peter, raised three girls!

Over the years, my husband has shared some wonderful memories with me about his childhood.  From chasing cows to helping with home renovation projects, Caleb and his brothers were always busy!  Mr. John even used the drive to school to give the boys pearls of wisdom on everything from girls to the stock market in the "John Swanberg Lecture Series".  Come hell or high water, Mr. John was NOT going to have lazy boys.  When it came time for them to get jobs in high school, he told them that they should always show up 15 minutes early and leave 15 minutes late.

While teaching his boys to be hard workers was very important to Mr. John, it came second to making sure that they understood the value of family.  He repeatedly emphasized that his sons should always be there for each other, through thick and thin.  He said that no matter what happened in their lives, they should always be able to count on the support of their brothers.  He even had a catch phrase that he drilled into them:  "Team Swanberg, hoorah!!"

Anyone who knows Caleb can see that his father's efforts paid off.  Caleb has the best time management skills I have ever seen.  He is highly motivated, incredibly smart, and humble.  Thank you, Mr. John, for sharing your son with me and letting Rosie and I reap the benefits of the seeds you sowed in his childhood.

Caleb and his Father

My poor father had his hands full while raising my sisters and I.  If you count my mom, the he was outnumbered 4-1!  As you can imagine, this molded him into a man who was fiercely protective of his girls, but also secretly soft-hearted.  My dad was never afraid to kiss my mom in front of us and he always showed her respect and demanded that we do the same.  Watching him with my mom showed me what qualities I should look for in a husband.  Someone who is committed, hardworking, and affectionate.

My father is a Hard Worker with a capital H and W.  He has worked 12-hour shifts in a paper mill for 23 or so years now.  If that wasn't demanding enough, the shifts rotate between days and nights.  This makes it impossible for his body to settle into any sort of sleep-wake cycle.  Being a paper maker is not easy work; in fact, it can be back-breaking.  The mill is constantly sweltering and the air is filled with the deafening roar of machines and the sulfuric smell of pulp.  It's not exactly a relaxing work environment.  During especially difficult shifts, he would open up his lunch box and look at pictures of us so that he could be reminded of why he was there.  That's love.  Despite his crazy schedule, my dad made it a point to attend every single concert, awards banquet, and sports match that my sisters and I were a part of.  We could always count on seeing his face in the crowd, beaming with pride.  Even when I was in college, he and my mom drove four hours to watch my twenty minute Senior capstone presentation.  I tried to tell them not to come because of the distance, but was secretly thrilled when they told me they wouldn't miss it!  My dad was not content with just being a bystander at these events, he wanted to be a part of them and contribute.  We would often stay late and help with the clean-up and take-down after basketball games or banquets.  He and my mom even became part of, and eventually ran, the Athletic Booster club.  This involvement taught my sisters and I to be contributing members of our community.  We learned that we should always strive to be helpful and give back.

Religion was and always will be a big part of my dad's life.  When we were growing up, he did a great job of taking us to church and teaching us about our Catholic faith.  I remember occasionally going into my parents bedroom at night with my sisters to say our nightly prayer with my father.  He said that when we prayed together, it was more powerful than when we prayed alone and quoted "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them".  I remember thinking it was SO COOL that God was right there with us in the same room!  :)  Even now, when things happen in my life, good or bad, Dad is quick to remind me that everything happens for a reason.  He tells me that it is okay to pray and ask for things, but reminds me to not forget to give thanks for all that I have.

My Dad and I

When Caleb and I found out that we were expecting, I thought that we were officially considered to be grown-ups and that our parents would see us as equals rather than as their little children.  How silly of me.  On December 26, 2012, I learned firsthand that a parent's love for their child does not fade just because they are an adult.  I also learned that even grown-ups need their mommies and daddies sometimes.

The day after Christmas, Caleb and I were at my parents house when we got the phone call from our genetic counselor.  We had the phone on speaker and my dad listened quietly from the living room as we were told that our daughter would have Down syndrome.  I don't remember much of that conversation, but I do remember distinctly what happened when we hung up.  Caleb and I sat on the couch sobbing while holding one another.  My dad quietly got up from his chair and gave us some time alone together to process the news.  A little while later, he came back and took me into his arms like he used to do when I was a little girl.  He stroked my hair and told me everything would be okay.  He said, "God chose you for a reason."  When my mom, Nathalie, got home from work and we told her the news, my dad got right to work consoling her too.

Caleb's father was shocked when we told him the news, but it didn't take him long to recover.  Caleb's mother, Mme. Andrea, held Caleb and I the way a mother holds her babies.  She whispered words of love and support to us.  During this time, Mr. John went right to work researching everything he could about Down syndrome.  He ordered books, found support groups, etc.  A few days later, Caleb and I were still pretty emotional about everything, but Mr. John had fully accepted the news and was ready to rock and roll!  "Why are you guys so upset?  I've been reading a lot about it and it's really not that big of a deal."  His matter-of-fact tone was just what we needed to "snap out of it"!

In the days after we got Rosalie's diagnosis, we felt a very real and intense sorrow.  Our fathers were our rocks.  There is definitely a reason that we got the news on our Christmas break in northern Maine rather than when we were 9 hours away in Boston.  We were where we needed to be.  Now that Rosie is here, we can't help but think our reactions were so dramatic and silly!  We even feel a little guilty for being so upset.  Why were we so worried!?  Most days, the fact that she has Down syndrome doesn't even cross our minds.

Rosalie is so incredibly blessed to have Caleb as a father.  He is everything that his parents taught him to be and more.  I know that it is not easy for him to go to the hospital every morning and work such long hours, but he does it for the sake of our future.  He loves his little girl unconditionally.  When I look at my husband and daughter together, I am filled with a sense of love so strong that I can feel it emanating from me--I just can't contain it!  I think I finally understand the way our parents feel towards us.  The depth of a parent's love for their child is bottomless.  There is nothing in the world like it and it is truly a gift to be cherished.

Caleb, I can't imagine going through this journey without you.  You are my best friend and a truly exceptional father to our little girl.  I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us.  Thank you for being you and all that you do.  Rosalie and I love you beyond measure.

Rosie and Papa Swanberg
Rosie and Pepere Nadeau

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Medical Update

Rosie has been a very busy bee this past month.  She has had appointments with her visiting nurse, visiting physical therapist, visiting occupational therapist, orthopaedic surgeon, audiologist, and pediatrician.  She has  been putting on weight steadily.  Last week she weighed in at 6lbs 8oz!  Mommy's big girl :)

We are working with Rosalie's physical therapist on her muscle tone and general strength.  This involves massage, tummy time, side-lying time, etc.  Her occupational therapist is also helping us with those things, but also with tracking movement with her eyes and drinking.

This is one of Rosie's many PT exercises.

These are Rosie's art cards.  We use them to help her learn to focus on images and track movement with her eyes!

At Rosalie's appointment with her orthopaedic surgeon, they did an ultrasound of her hips.  The point of the ultrasound is to see how her acetabulum (the cup in her pelvis) is forming around her femoral head (thigh bone).  If her acetabulum is not forming correctly, it puts her at a high risk for dislocation, which is not a good thing!  At this point, her hips are not bad enough to require the Pavlik harness and we are to continue with double diapering.  We have another ultrasound and appointment scheduled for July to monitor her progress.  I am hopeful that we can continue to avoid the Pavlik harness!

Today, Rosalie had an auditory brainstem response (AKA fancy hearing test) to follow-up on her failed newborn hearing screen.  Finding out whether or not she can hear is very important because hearing plays a huge role in learning to communicate.  If she can't hear, it will be much more difficult for her to learn how to speak.  In order to prepare her for the appointment, I was instructed to not feed her for 4 hours prior to her appointment and to bring her in sleepy.  The goal was to do the test with her asleep.  I set my alarm for 4:30AM and fed her.  I woke up the little princess again at 7:30AM and packed her up in the car to go to her 8:30AM appointment.  The car ride to her appointment was not pleasant.  Poor, sweet girl was hungry!  When we arrived at the office, she quieted down and was well behaved in the waiting room.  When the doctor took us to the exam room, I was finally able to feed her!  She was ravenous and then very sleepy.  We put 4 electrodes on her head and put these little headphones in her ears while she slept in my arms.  The test took about 1.5-2 hours.  From what I understand, it involves playing sounds in her ears and then measuring her brain response.  We got great news!  Rosie's hearing is normal at this point.  We were told to be on the lookout for signs that her ears are bothering her, such as tugging on her ears.  There is a chance that fluid could accumulate and cause hearing loss down the road.  Thankfully, if this does happen, it could be easily fixed by a simple procedure of putting tubes in her ears.

Rosalie sleeping soundly during her hearing test.

All in all, we have been incredibly blessed with a healthy baby girl.  She has been surprising us and exceeding our expectations every step of the way.  We can't wait to see you grow and to see what you can do, Rosie!

Welcome to the World, Rosalie Elizabeth Swanberg!

What a busy couple of weeks it has been!  It all started on Friday April 26, the first day that I was technically full term (you are considered full term three weeks before your due date).  Caleb had just taken Step 1 of the boards on Monday and he was scheduled to start school again in a little over a week.  I decided that I wanted to do everything benign to make Rosalie come ASAP, because it would be so great for Caleb to spend time with her before going back to the grind.

That morning, I went in for an ultrasound to see how Rosie was doing.  At a prior appointment, we had been warned that if they found anything on the ultrasound, I may be admitted to the hospital right away for an induction, so we made sure to pack my hospital bag, just in case.  Everything looked great so we were sent back home.  We joked that our consolation prize for not being induced would be to go buy Caleb a grill, so we made a pit stop at Home Depot!

When we got back home, we set up the grill and decided that we should watch some more of the online childbirth class we had started a few weeks back.  With Caleb studying for his boards, we didn't really have time to take a traditional labor class at the hospital.  I heard about an online childbirth class offered by and decided that that was probably our best option.  Not to mention, it was free!  We had watched a bit here and there while Caleb was taking breaks from studying but we were a long way from finishing the class.

Eva exploring the outdoors and our grill!

After watching the pain management section of the childbirth class, I started Googling "how to induce labor".  There were several things that I was NOT willing to try, like drinking castor oil and pumping, but there were also several other options that seems relatively harmless.  I had some kiwi and pineapple for breakfast, drank two cups of raspberry tea, and went for a nice long 3.5 mile walk with Caleb.  During the walk, I noticed that my belly felt a little strange, but it wasn't anything remarkable.  It kind of just felt like my belly was heavy from bouncing with every step.  When we got home, I noticed a tiny bit of cramping, but again, nothing serious or regular, so I chalked it up to Braxton Hicks.  Besides, we were having our friends, Jon and Melony, over for a barbecue dinner on our new grill!  We had a great dinner with them and then started watching "Bad Boys II", which Jon claims that this was the straw the broke the camel's back, haha.

I think this tea was my undoing!

Or maybe this walk was my undoing?

By 10:30PM, Caleb and I crawled into bed and he took two sleeping/allergy pills.  I still wasn't convinced that I was in labor.  After laying down for a few minutes, I realized that my cramping was getting pretty regular.  Caleb was already passed out so I quietly downloaded a contraction timer app on my phone and started keeping track of how far apart they were.  After about 45 minutes of doing this, I saw that they were consistently 3-4 minutes apart.  I got up to go to the bathroom which made Caleb stir a little bit.  He had been on pins and needles for the past couple of weeks so he asked what was the matter.  I showed him my recorded contractions and he sat bolt upright in bed.  We had learned on our online birthing class that you should call your doctor when your contractions are 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long, for 1 hour.  I told him to relax!
The infamous sleeping pills.

My contractions!

When I went to the bathroom, I saw that I was having my bloody show.  I called out to him that I thought we were going to have to go to the hospital.  Poor, medicated, sleepy Caleb jumped out bed and starting pacing and packing some things.  I called my clinic's answering service and they said they would have a resident call me back.  While waiting, I tidied up our bedroom and called my mom.  We tried watching an episode of "House of Cards" but we weren't able to focus enough, so we gave up!

30 minutes later, I still hadn't gotten a call back, so I called the answering service again.  When the resident finally returned my call, she said that it may not be anything to worry about because it didn't sound like I was in that much pain (I wasn't!).  When I told her about the bloody show, she suggested that we drive to Maine Medical Center to get checked out, just to be safe.  We grabbed the hospital bag and car seat and were out the door in a flash!  Caleb drove, which in hindsight was probably a bad decision, haha!  I think adrenaline had taken over for him at that point, though, so he was able to make it to the hospital safely.

When we arrived at the hospital, we left my overnight bags in the car (I didn't want to seem over eager if this wasn't the real thing) and headed up to Triage.  After checking in, we were brought to a room and they started monitoring my contractions.  They checked me and said that I was 3 cm dilated which may not mean anything because some people are 3 cm dilated weeks before they go into labor.  The nurse informed me that I didn't seem like I was in labor because I was able to speak through the contractions and I was smiling. She said that I would probably end up getting sent home, but that they would keep monitoring me for 2 hours just in case.  Caleb tried to get some shut eye while I watched some TV.  I noticed that my contractions were getting a little bit stronger, but they were still very bearable.

When the nurse came back in at about 2:30AM she said I was 4.5 cm dilated.  I was definitely in labor!  She went through the process of admitting me to the hospital and we walked over to Labor and Delivery.  The L&D rooms at Maine Medical Center are BEAUTIFUL!  We settled in and the nurse drew a nice warm bath for me in the jet tub.  Caleb tried to catch some shut eye while I relaxed in the warm water.  At one point, poor Caleb tried to "set the mood" by playing some music.  I immediately asked him to turn it off, haha.

I stole these pictures from online because we didn't get any shots of the labor and delivery room during our stay.  This is what they look like!  I seriously felt like Beyonce delivering Blu Ivy.  They are so luxurious!

After a couple hours, I decided that I was done with the jet tub!  At this point it was around 4:30AM.  The doctors came in to check my progress and they determined that I was a little over 5 cm.  I relaxed in bed for another hour or so and at that point, the pain started to get quite severe.  I was trying to hold off on getting an epidural for as long as possible, so the nurse gave me some Fentanyl.  That helped to dull the pain for all of about 20 minutes!  I knew that I had to wait 1 hour before getting another shot of Fentanyl so I tried to tough it out as long as possible.  The doctors came in to check my progress again around 6:30AM and I was fully dilated!  No wonder I was in so much pain!  They said that I was no longer able to have another shot of Fentanyl because the baby was so close to coming out.  I asked for the epidural and they said that there was an emergency c-section happening, so it was not possible at that point in time.  Oh boys, not good!  Caleb was very supportive during this time as I tried to breathe through each contraction.  I wasn't be dramatic like you see in the movies and the nurses kept telling me that I was doing unbelievably well compared to other patients!  As good as that was to hear, it didn't help relieve the pain!  Finally around 7:30AM or 7:45AM, an angel walked into the room--the anesthesiology resident!  He was a sight for sore eyes!  He discussed the risks with me a bit more slowly than I would have liked, but I guess that's his job.  Caleb and the nurse helped me up into a sitting position, which was not easy to do at 10 cm!  The doctor administered the epidural, and I started to feel relief about 10-15 minutes later.  Ahhhh!  :)  I could still feel my contractions, but they weren't painful anymore.  Instead, I felt pressure.

After getting the epidural, the doctors decided that since I was comfortable, they would have me wait a little while longer to let the baby descend some more on her own.  I liked their plan of letting my body do some more work, that way I would have to push less.

A little before 10AM, we decided that it was time to start pushing.  It was pretty funny because Caleb was talking to the resident and attending about medical school.  I would quietly interrupt and say, "Ummm, excuse me, I think I need to push now..."  Haha.  After maybe 15-20 minutes, our sweet Rosalie was born at 10:08 AM on April 27, 2013.  She weighed 5lbs 13oz and was 19 inches long.  It was love at first sight!

Already so in love. 

After a few hours, we were moved over to the mother/baby unit.  Again, I didn't get very good pictures of the room, but if you're interested, you can take a virtual tour on the Maine Medical Center website.  We had a great view of the Portland Sea Dogs Stadium!  Unfortunately, they weren't playing any games during our stay.  We got a lot of visit those first few days!

 Meeting Mama Bird Swanberg for the first time!

 Mary came to visit!

 Uncle Seth and Auntie Lisa

Meeting Memere for the first time! 

Tante Steph 

Pepere Nadeau 

Tante Amanda 

Uncle DJ 

 Uncle Dale and Aunt Patsy

 Memere and Pepere are in love!

My wonderful friend (and awesome sonographer!) Melony! 

Don't they look like naturals ;) 

Hospital Course/Medical Issues 
We were very lucky in that there was nothing seriously wrong with our little Rosalie.  She was able to stay in my room with us for her entire hospital stay and had zero trips to the NICU!

During the course of Rosie's hospital stay, she lost quite a bit of weight.  Her lowest recorded weight was 5lbs 2oz.  Unfortunately, breast milk alone was not cutting it, so we had to start supplementing with formula. This was a very exhausting time for me.  I had to breastfeed her, bottle feed her, and then pump.  Thankfully, Caleb was there to help me wash the pieces that went with everything, but it was still incredibly time consuming.  By the time we had finished the process, it was time for it to start back up again.

We had to feed Rosie from a syringe in the beginning because she would get very sleepy when breastfeeding.

Rosie met with several specialists (we like to call them her "friends") during her time at Maine Medical Center.  First, she met with cardiology to assess the small murmur that was detected right after she was born.  She had an echocardiogram which showed a small VSD (not in the same spot as the one that was detected on her first fetal echocardiogram).  Apparently it is in the musculature and should heal on its own.  They also detected a patent ductus arteriosus which should also close on its own.

Next, she met with an orthopaedic surgeon for her hips.  When she was born, her hips were VERY flexible so there was a question of hip dysplasia.  We were told to double diaper and to set up an office visit for an ultrasound to assess it further.  Hopefully, double diapering will be enough to set her hips straight, otherwise, the alternative is a pavlik harness.  Although the baby in the picture below looks happy, this does not look at all comfortable.  I would like to avoid having to use this if at all possible!  
Pavlik Harness

A geneticist came to talk to us about Down syndrome but we didn't really get any new information out of this visit.  We were pretty well prepared and informed at that point!  :)

Rosie also initially failed her newborn hearing screen for both ears, which we knew could be a possibility.  They retested her a day later and she passed on her right side and failed again on her left.  We were instructed to make an appointment with an audiologist.

Finally, Rosie initially failed her newborn car seat test.  Basically, this test involves hooking her up to some oxygen monitors and having her sit in her car seat for 90 minutes.  If her oxygen levels drop, she fails.  For a brief moment, it looked like we might need to get her a car bed because her oxygen levels dropped and she started turning gray.
Car bed...

Fortunately, we were able to remove the infant insert (our car seat with the infant insert is pictured below) and retest her using rolled up receiving blankets on either side of her head.  This did the trick and she passed with flying colors!  Apparently the infant insert was pushing her head forward just enough that it was causing her airway to be compromised.
Our car seat with infant insert.

All in all, Caleb and I were extremely impressed with Maine Medical Center.  We had heard horror stories about people who had babies with Down syndrome and the reactions by the medical staff.  We were blessed  have been surrounded with supportive, positive people who celebrated our daughter's entrance into the world alongside us.  They saw our little girl for who she is, a precious baby, not a diagnosis.  It was very heartwarming and brought happy tears to my eyes on multiple occasions.

More Pictures from our Hospital Stay

Going Home!
I was discharged from the hospital on Monday and Rosalie was discharged on Wednesday.  Caleb and I were able to stay in the hospital with her until she gained enough weight to come home.

May 1, 2013--Rosie's Discharge Day!

Stork Parking :)

Welcome home, Rosie!