Monday, December 26, 2011


For those of you that don't know already, Madelyn was discharged from NICU on December 22, after 33 days in NICU. I never thought that day would come truly-- after so many close calls and roller coaster emotions, it finally did though. It was the best day of the year for sure. I had been waiting for my girls to meet for 9 months, and Bella's reaction was absolutely priceless.

Here is a link to the video of her homecoming and meeting Bella for the first time

Since she has come home, we had the best low key Christmas. We didn't travel anywhere or stress ourselves out with multiple gatherings.... we stayed home and enjoyed our new family addition and my parents came over to celebrate with us. We are adjusting to life with 2 children and I am sure there are still more adjustments ahead of us, but we are in love with our two girls more than we ever thought possible.

Since Madelyn's birth, we have experienced an outpouring of support from so many people. I want to take a minute to thank everyone. I am truly humbled by the support that has come our way. My facebook page was overcome with hundreds of comments and prayers the night that Madelyn entered the world. My best friends came together and have cooked us meals, cleaned our house, unpacked moving boxes, babysat Bella, and drove me to/from the hospital before I was released to drive. We got meals and gifts in the mail from past clients of Mandy Leonards Photography, we got cards and gifts from past personal training clients of mine and online friends that I've never met in person. I had several people stop in at the hospital to see me and bring me coffee or just offer a supportive hug. It was seriously the most amazing outpouring of support I could have ever imagined. You always learn who your true friends are in times like this and there are so so SO many people that Jerry and I are overwhelmingly thankful for right now. Those of you who have stepped up and been there for us this past month, you know who you are. Thank you SO MUCH from the bottom of our hearts and souls. I don't think words can express the true gratitude we have, but we will be returning all the support when the time comes for all of our friends that have been there for us. We have made new friends in the process and grown closer with others too. I feel like my family just didn't expand by one over the past month, but I feel like it grew but a lot more by all of you who came out for us. We love you all.

Happy Holidays :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 28

Here we are... day 28 of our NICU stay with Madelyn. I really can't believe we had a baby 28 days ago that still hasn't come home, that still hasn't met her big sister. It is really starting to exhaust me and I am soooo ready for it to be over. I am tired of driving back and forth 2-3 times a day. I'm tired of the hospital room. Im' tired of fighting cords to the monitor to change my baby's diaper and pick her up. I am tired of the fact that my husband and 3 year old haven't been able to bond with the other member of our family. I have an all new feeling about babies who spend 4-5 months in NICU. I feel connected to parents who have experienced a NICU stay themselves. I feel connected to the NICU doctors and nurses. I feel jealousy to parents who get to have a normal delivery and homecoming with their baby. Then I feel guilty for feeling jealous about this LOL! But I also know these are all very normal feelings. I've seen lots of babies come and go since Maddie was born, and I'm SO incredibly happy for everyone who doesn't have to go through the NICU experience. I would never ever wish it on anyone. However, I will also say that it has made me realize my priorities in my life all over again, and also really shows you who our true friends and family are.

It's no secret that I love my job. But since going through the last 28 days, my focus has definitely been on my family, as it should be. My daughters are my everything. I would and will do anything for them, and when this is all over, I am promising that I will make sure I make time for each of my girls separately and together. I can't wait for them to meet more than anything. It's been something I've been waiting for 9 months and here I am still waiting!

As we get closer to Christmas, I am really anxious to have Maddie home more than ever. I am not an overly religious person, but Christmas time to me is about family, love and celebration. If Maddie isn't well enough to be home yet I will truly feel like something is missing. I am hopeful she will make it home to be our little holiday miracle.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Maddie's Birth Story

So... I haven't posted on the personal blog in quite awhile. Mostly because I was so insanely busy with work in October that I barely had time to eat, let alone keep updated in here. But... we had a bit of shock come into our life 2 weeks ago, and I think it will be good for me to write out what happened and continue back to updating on the kids.

So... as most of you know, Madelyn's due date was January 1, 2012. I had a completely uncomplicated pregnancy. We had a very stressful few months leading up to November 20th-- we bought a new home and closed on November 15, when we supposed to close on November 1st. We lived with my parents for 8 weeks during this transition. I also continued to work my busiest month of the year for business.

So on November 15th, I was hosting a newborn workshop for a friend of mine AND closing on our new home. Mission accomplished X2. The next few days were spent trying to move into our home and start unpacking. We thought we had 4-6 weeks before Maddie's arrival so we were not in a hurry to get our baby things together quite yet. We planned on getting things together after Thanksgiving.

On November 20th, I woke up feeling fine. I got dressed and went to shoot a boudoir marathon. Got through the sessions just fine. I came home around 4:30pm and was feeling a bit tired and having a few Braxton Hicks contractions, but nothing out of the ordinary for being 34 weeks pregnant. I sat on the couch next to Bella, put my feet up and drank a big cup of water. Jerry told me he was going to Costco-- no big deal. Bella and I stayed home and were playing with Barbies.

At about 6:30pm, I noticed I was having a bit stronger contractions but still nothing that concerned me. Then I felt a little gush. It definitely got my attention. Enough to where I decided to stand up to head to the bathroom to check it out. When I stood up, I felt a bigger gush and this time felt a bit of pressure release in my tummy too. This really scared me...because this is what I felt when my water broke when I went into labor with Bella.

I went to the bathroom, and unfortunately Bella followed me. When I went in there, I filled the toilet with red blood. It was the scariest thing I've ever seen in my life. My heart I think stopped for a moment. Bella looked at me and I knew I couldn't let her know I was scared. "Are you ok Mommy? Are you bleeding?" she asked concerned. "I'm fine Bella, Mommy is fine. Let's go play some more." and I flushed and pulled my pants up. We went back out and started to play again and then I called Jerry and told him to come back home, then immediately called my mom. I didn't know if I should call an ambulance or drive myself to the hospital. I couldn't fathom getting Bella scared so I didn't want to do either. Thankfully, on his way back, Jerry called my friend Megan who lives 5 minutes away and she drove right over and got to our house before anyone. She started playing with Bella...and a few minutes later Jerry walked in the door and we headed to the hospital, running a red light on the way.

I got into triage and told them I was bleeding heavily and was 34 weeks pregnant, no complications. I wasn't having any intense abdominal pain, but was having mild regular contractions. I was still bleeding heavily. They checked my cervix, and I was 2cm and 70% effaced. Hooked up to the monitor, thankfully Madelyn seemed fine. They thought I might just be in early labor, so they gave me a shot to try and stop it. It didn't work and I continued to bleed. They moved me to a L&D room and admitted me.

They continued to monitor the situation and Madelyn was fine on the monitors. However, I continued to bleed heavily and they had to change my bedding several times. I was feeling terrified...

Finally at 11pm, they called for an ultrasound to check the placenta because of the bleeding. I got one steroid shot for the baby's lungs. It took FOREVER for the ultrasound tech to get there..a good 2 hours. Then it took her an hour to do the ultrasound. It was on the ultrasound that they saw the placenta hadn't completely detached from the wall yet but was almost completely detached and had a huge blood clot behind it. It was a life/death situation for me and Madelyn and an emergency c-section was absolutely necessary.

Immediately, they got me prepped for surgery. I barely had time to think. I cried the entire way down to the operating room. My dreams of another natural delivery were gone and I was terrified something was going to be wrong with my baby. At 4:38am, Madelyn Kate Leonards was born. She weighed 5 pounds 10 oz and was 18.5 inches long. She has a full head of black hair and big dark blue eyes. She is absolutely beautiful and looks so much like her big sister.

However, the next few minutes were just as scary. The c-section was terrible. I hated not being able to hold my baby. I couldn't even see her. I was in pain and I felt claustrophobic from the drapes etc. Jerry was barely able to touch me during the procedure. I was so drugged up after the surgery I couldnt sit up in the bed. I felt terrible. Madelyn cried when she was born but then had trouble breathing and they had to immediately put her on a ventilator and took her to NICU.

We are now on day 15 of her NICU stay and the progress she has made is amazing. She is like a different baby now. She should be home soon. I am forever grateful to the doctors and nurses who took care of me and Maddie. I owe them my life and my daughter's life.

This birth story was probably the scariest moment of my life I've had so far..but I am so incredibly thankful for that beautiful baby girl sitting in NICU right now. She is our miracle baby and we can't wait for her to be home and meet her amazing big sister.