Sunday, July 26, 2009

Our sweet precious bundle of joy has arrived: Reagan Marie Meyer! (July 19)

Below is Shannon's email that he sent out to our family and friends after our precious baby girl arrived. Go down further to read a little extra on our 1st week as new parents.

"Sunday (July 19) was a long day for the Meyer family (Ali more so than Shannon), but everything turned out wonderful in the end. Let's step back and give a little history first though (condensed version).

Ali was four days past her due date with no signs of labor starting when she had her latest check up at the doctor this past Thursday. Baby Meyer hadn't dropped into place yet and the doctor was leaving on holiday the following week, so the outcome was an appointment at the hospital on Saturday evening to be induced. The magical drip started flowing at 10:30 pm Saturday evening. While Shannon slept soundly in the bed next to Ali at the hospital, her contractions started to kick in around 5:00 am Sunday morning. When the midwifes changed schedules at 7:30 am, our new midwife thought the contractions were occurring too frequently. By frequently, we're talking a contraction every 1.5 to 2 minutes. To help ease the pain a bit, she slowed the drip down and eventually turned it off. The contractions didn't change at all however. The magic drip had kick started the whole shebang and Ali's natural system was in charge now.

Over the next several hours there were many contractions and lots of pain, so we're going to jump ahead a little. Round about 3:30 pm and stuck at 5 cm, things are not progressing very quickly and Ali is getting tired, so big decision time is upon us - Yes or No to the epidural. The pain kept getting worse, Ali was getting exhausted, and we had a long way to go yet, so we decided Yes to the epidural. Let me just tell you, this thing is a miracle for husbands in the delivery room as it turns out. I will commend Ali for being a loving and kind wife through the whole event, but from the moment that big needle is inserted, life returns to sunshine and the husband's fear of being screamed at for this devastating pain being all his fault (in much harsher words) are washed away. The contractions continue for several more hours, but the pain is minimal and we gradually grow closer to the big finale.

Ten o'clock rolls around and the doctor has arrived because it's show time. Everyone takes their places and Ali starts pushing. Fortunately, this part (I'll save you the details) goes much smoother than the past several hours and our beautiful Baby Meyer is born at 9:56 pm on Sunday, July 19th. She weighs in at a hefty 3.6 kg (7.9 lbs) and 49.5 cm (19.5 inches) long. Baby and mom came through everything just fine and both are happy and healthy. After months of debate, we finally decided on her name as Reagan Marie Meyer. Attached is a picture so you can ogle over her as we have.

We'll be in the hospital through Thursday (most likely) and then it's back to our apartment. For those of you who are in town and would like to stop by the hospital, we're at Edith Cavell in room 335. Visiting hours are from 3:00 - 8:00 pm. Please give us a call on either Ali's mobile (048.494.5376) or mine (047.660.1943) before stopping by the hospital to make sure we're still there. Otherwise, we hope to see you in the future, as you are welcome to stop by our apartment.

Once Ali is back home and online, I'm sure there will be blog/facebook updates with many more pictures.

With love from the Meyer family"

Since Shannon gave you the low down of the first day, I'll move on to the rest of our hospital stay. In Belgium it's considered normal to stay for 5 days in the hospital after having a baby which would be considered absurd in the US. I think you stay even longer if you have a C-section which thankfully I didn't have. I felt like I had a good experience and felt lucky to be surrounded by so many helpful nurses. The hospital provides you with about everything you could imagine from diapers, thermometer, lotions and soaps, diaper rash oinment, wipes, pacifier, motherly items and more stuff; thus, if you forget anything in your diaper bag, there is no need to worry (except for baby clothes and clothes for yourself of course; oh and also bath towels for both me and the baby as well).

Once I was given our precious baby girl immediately after birth, I had an amazing feeling overcome me as a new mom as Shannon did the same, being a new dad. He got to cut the umbilical cord and be the first person to put a diaper on her along with dress her. Though initially, the midwife had Reagan attempt to breastfeed after she was laid on me within a minute after birth, which actually worked out better than I expected. It's crazy how babies just know how to do certain things when they're born; it makes life a little easier for new mothers! I really appreciated all the support that the midwife and Doctor Deleuse gave me as I went through the labor process. Of course, I was also thankful for Shannon's patience and understanding through the whole process.

Since Reagan was born late Sunday evening (July 19), Shannon stayed with me until about 4 AM before heading back to our apartment. Our insurance only covered a double occupancy room and the single room rates were quite high, so we decided against one early on. Once I got back to my room, I called my parents as Shannon did the same once he got home. Since I hadn't eaten since Saturday evening, I finally got some dinner at midnight on Sunday, as they don't want any food in your system when you're being induced. I was able to drink some water and a little bit of a sports drink called Aquarius.

During the first night I didn't have a roommate, but the next few days I shared the room with a nice woman from Laeken, Belgium, who just had her third boy. It was definitely a little scary the first few nights, not knowing exactly what I was doing. Reagan actually slept quite a bit during the days and not too terribly during the nights. Though, it was a bit hard for me to get any sleep with the other baby crying at different times than Reagan, so the nights were still sleepless. I enjoyed talking to my roommate, Marie, who thankfully spoke good English besides knowing French and Dutch and probably another language; it makes us Americans look so bad! Shannon arrived each morning and stayed around until the evenings. We gave Reagan a bath, weighed her and took her temperature every morning with the help of the nurses. In addition, both my Doctor and Reagan's Pediatrician came by during the day to check on us. There were also several nurses around if we needed any help. The meals at the hospital were pretty decent, lunch actually being larger than the dinner portion which I thought was a little backwards. We were served a lot of fish dishes, salads, bread, cheese and yogurts.

On Monday we set up a photo shoot for Reagan since we wanted to send out her birth announcement to our friends and family right away. I now understand why the first child always has so many pictures, which sadly will probably be true for us! Anyway we decked her out in her cute pink and brown bear sleeper with matching hat and took numerous pictures, some with her cow stuffed animal, pink blanket and pastel almond candies as decoration. She practically slept through all of it.

Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty low key. Some of my friends, Simone and Maisie (and sister who was visiting), stopped by to say hello. They brought us a beautiful pink begonia plant and mint plant which are sitting nicely on our window sill in our apartment now. Otherwise, I had several nice conversations via phone and text messages with friends and family. One day I even got out and took a little walk while Shannon and Reagan took a little nap. I also did a few baby gift Thank Yous during some of the down time along with reading some books and magazines.

Since Shannon was able to go home in the evenings he actually finished up the baby's room while I was in the hospital. He painted and put together a shelf which is above her changing table / dresser. He also painted some of the dresser that needed to be touched up since we bought it at a second-hand store here called Troc. He put some pink flower stickers on it to dress it up and make it look more girly. Her room and all her clothes are extremely girly, so we would have been in big trouble if the Doctor told us she was a boy when she came out! Besides finishing up the baby's room, Shannon created Reagan's baby announcement, cleaned portions of the apartment (the much needed scrubbing of the shower and rest of the bathroom, my least favorite room to clean!) and took care of getting her birth certificate at the Uccle Commune. I was very much appreciative of everything he did to make my life easier! I'm assuming he also did a little work for Deloitte during this week, but I don't want to get into that!

Finally after the fifth night, it was our day (Thursday) to head home and begin our new lives as parents in our own environment. We packed up and took a few pictures as we left the hospital. Reagan seemed to like her car seat as she snoozed as we made the short 10 minute trip home. We probably broke all rules when we let her sleep in our bed the first night, so we could all get some sleep (actually her room still smelled like paint, so I didn't think it would be wise to have her sleep in there yet). On average she's been sleeping anywhere from 2-4 hours before waking up for a quick snack and then snoozing off again.

Friday and Saturday were fairly relaxed days. We decided to take Reagan on her first outing and what better place than to take her to Daddy's second home, DELOITTE! She was welcomed by all of his coworkers who all thought she was adorable and even a few of them held her. We were very lucky that she was well behaved during her visit which wasn't the case when we headed to Cora next for some groceries (similar to a Super Target or Walmart). She wasn't very patient while we shopped and unfortunately hasn't learned to take a pacifier yet, but we're working on it! On Saturday, some of our new friends, Marcie, Bob and their baby Tom, stopped by to say hello. They brought us some beautiful sunflowers from the Flagey Market.

There will be plenty more blog entries coming as Reagan begins to see Europe through her own eyes vs. inside my belly. Shannon and I recently counted all the countries that Reagan has visited inside my belly and we came up with 10! They are the following: United States, Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic and Norway. We know there will be several more adventures over the next year or so which we are excited to experience as a family.

Reagan's baby announcement which Shannon had actually begun before she was born
Birth day: Moments after Reagan was born she was put in my arms. What a tremendous feeling! Sorry for the exhausted look, but I think you would be too after 24 hrs of labor! Of course I forgot about any pain that I had experienced once I laid eyes on her. I think she's going to be a thumb sucker!
Shannon dressing her shortly after she was born while I'm looking on in the bed nearby
Shannon in awe that he's now a DAD!
Her first outfit, a pink sleeper with little frogs on it that Grandma (Terri) Fisher had brought over back in February
We were so excited to finally meet her!
Day 1: Here she is getting weighed before her first bath. She started off at 3.6 kilos and had dropped to 3.36 kilos before stabilizing which is when they let you go home.
Giving Reagan her first bath which she didn't seem to mind too much until we took her out of the water
All bundled up in her hooded towel
After her bath we decided to dress her up to get ready for her photo shoot!
She sleeps so peacefully in her daddy's arms
You would have thought Shannon gave birth with all the special treatment he received!
Just chilling out in my hospital bed with my baby girl
Here is a not so great family picture...there's a better one later
The beginnings of a long photo shoot which she cooperated quite nicely through
She slept soundly for most of it. We set up her cow stuffed animal and pastel chocolates and almonds for some decoration.
Sticking her tongue out, probably wanting me to feed her again!
She yawns really big
Another yawn
So precious
I love her cute face expressions
Another big yawn
Her tiny feet
Our sleeping beauty
Another shot of her cute wrinkly feet
I think she likes her cow stuffed animal
We gave out pink and brown sachets filled with pastel chocolates and almonds to our visitors. These candies are traditional Belgian sweets given out to visitors when you have a baby.
Her tiny little hands
She has a pretty good grip already
Peering down on my angel
Day 2: I love giving her chubby cheeks kisses!
Just relaxing by my baby girl
So content when she's sleeping
Day 3: Here is Reagan and her roommate, Yann (pronounced Ian). I had a double room with a nice woman from Laeken, Belgium. This was her third boy!
Reagan is a bit chunkier than Yann, but then again she was 3.6 kilos (7.9 lbs) and he was only 3.1 kilos (6.8 lbs)
Doing what they do best, sleeping
Hanging out with her cow again
Did I mention, I love her baby feet!
She's even hungry in her sleep!
Taking a short nap in her mini crib at the hospital
Some family photo shots

Enjoying my baby girl (notice all the button down dress / work shirts I've been wearing...I guess they have a new purpose now!)
Taking a nap with daddy...this is her favorite sleeping position whether it's on me or Shannon
She gets so scrunched up!
Maisie, a friend of ours, came to visit us at the hospital. She's expecting and due at the end of October.
Simone, another friend, who also visited us at the hospital (She was telling me about baby massage, which I've tried on Reagan who seems to like it when she's in the mood)
Nighttime in her little crib at the hospital
Some of the flowers we received at the hospital from Maisie and Simone
Day 4: Our last day at the hospital
The view from my hospital room
All strapped in and ready to go home
On our way home as we begin our new lives as parents
One more photo in her car seat before we hit the road
Back at home trying to catch some zzzz's with mommy. I think she's going to love the lazy boy chair which I got from my Grandpa (Cliff) Fisher along time ago, who sadly is no longer with us.
Sleeping next to daddy (don't mind his lack of tan, remember he's an Accountant and works a ton!)
Day 5: We brought Reagan in to Deloitte to see Shannon's coworkers (Nadia is holding her)
Snoozing in her crib though she likes our bed better...though I don't want to start a bad habit of her sleeping with us!
Day 6: Some friends we just met stopped by for a short visit (pictured here are Marcie and her 7 month old son, Tom. Her husband, Bob, also came)
Reagan waiting for her diaper to be changed on her pink changing pad on top of her dresser
Beautiful sunflowers that Marcie and her family brought us from the Flagey Market.