Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ellie's 1st Christmas

My brother and sister-in-law had a chance to swing by for an early Christmas and to meet Ellie. They brought us some dinner and we exchanged presents. It was great to see my brother with Ellie as he held her in amazement that he had a niece and she was so cute. Then, she pooped in her diaper as he held her! :) Reality set in. Hopefully, it won't be too much longer for him and Jennifer to follow with one of their own! (no pressure - just when they thought it would be off of them...HA!)

One week after giving birth to Ellie, we were able to celebrate her 1st Christmas! We had the grandparents join us, making it a special day of bonding for Ellie and her new family. The grandma's made a yummy Christmas dinner for us to have (thank you guys) and presents were fun to give and open. It was great to see each set of our parents hold her and get to know her.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Labor & Delivery - CHECK!

Ellen Suzanne Cragwall
Born December 18, 2009 at 12:56am
7lbs 12 oz, 20 inches long

Our little Ellie is finally here! The long and anticipated labor and delivery are finally over - shoo! It was quite the experience, but I'd have to say that my expectations for it were much worse than it really was. I will say this - ladies, an epidural is an AMAZING relief when you are on pitocin! We went in at 7:30am and didn't get back to a room until about 8:15am. They had me change into a gown and immediately drew some blood for tests and put in my IV. We sat around waiting until about 11am when I got my first round of antibiotics and then by noon they started the pitocin. I didn't really start having bad contractions until about 1:30pm and then they eventually got to the point that they were 1 - 1 1/2 minutes apart and I was only about 4 cm dialated. At that point, I knew it was time to get the epidural because I couldn't get a break to gear up for the next contraction. PLUS, Ellie was coming down transverse so I had a lot of back pain going on as well. I got the epidural (which is not easy when contractions are happening that fast) and then relief came! I immediately progressed to 6cm by just relaxing and then progressed over the next few hours to 8cm and then 10cm. They put me in a "labor down" status where I sat up and just got threw contractions to move her down. Then, at about 11:30pm, I started pushing. Pushing is not easy - there is a science to it to figure out the right kind of pushing. I finally figured it out, got her down far enough that I wouldn't need a c-section (once they said it was a possibility, I went into full gear to avoid that) and then she came at 12:56am. What a joy to have that overwith - until I had to get stiches and cleaned up. By that time, my epidural started gradually wearing off and then I got to fully relax and meet Ellie. It was one of the toughest experiences I have ever had, but the result was a beautiful, healthy baby girl! We are truly blessed! Here are a few pictures from our time in the hospital - Enjoy!
Hardwick Grandparents
Jesse's DadJesse's Mom

Coming Home from the hospital

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tomorrow's the BIG DAY

Tomorrow, my pregnancy ends. I've made it. I will be 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant when I go in to be induced tomorrow at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital. I have such a mixture of emotions about this pregnancy coming to an end. Since it's my first child, I have a lot of anxiety about the birthing process, or as I call it "the great unknown". Honestly, I am terrified because I have no idea what to expect or how bad it will hurt. AND of course I have those questions (that Satan definitely put in my head) like what if something is wrong with Ellie or what if something happens to me or what if I have to get a c-section at the last minute? My best friend sent me an email tonight with a bunch of scriptures talking about how God always takes care of us in our times of need and how faith in Him will help me through this process (thank you Becca). It couldn't have come at a better time. On the flip side of the emotions I'm feeling, I am excited to finally meet our little girl, a product of Jesse and I. I can't wait to see what she looks like and to take care of her. I can't wait to add her to our little family and share new memories with her. AND, I can't wait to start the road back to a normal body that can bend and move around a lot easier than how I am now! So, I ask for your prayers for tomorrow and for the next few weeks to come as we transition into parenthood. Please pray that we listen to God's guidance on how to be good parents and that I lean on my faith tomorrow as we bring Ellie into the world. We appreciate every one's support and look forward to the chance to introduce a new member of our family to you!

Last Day at Austin Peay

**December 11, 2009 - last day working at Austin Peay State University**
Most people would be jumping up and down at their last day of work, but I had a lot I wanted to finish before I left this job feeling good about it, and there were many aspects of the job I will miss. Looking back, even though my position required a LOT of hours and hard work, plus all of the drama, I would have to say that it was a job I loved. I loved my co-workers, my kids and most of all the "behind the scenes" busy work that produced a great program. Most of you know, but we have been without a Director in our office since May of this year and the 3 of us (Carrie, Alexandra and I) had to pull together an amazing team effort to implement our Fall semester of events and programs without too many kinks. I'd have to say that we did a pretty fantastic job, even getting compliments from the big wigs around campus! So, to my team of co-workers, I will be sad to not work with you anymore. You are 2 amazing ladies that I will miss, especially our morning updates and times of laughter. Hang in there! To my students, make GPC something great and treat it with care! We have worked hard together to make it what it is today. To my busy work, contracts I will miss you the most! To the other Austin Peay Staff that I worked with, thanks for the support and encouragement as Jesse and I take on this new adventure in our lives! I had a great experience overall working at Austin Peay and I appreciate all of the opportunities I was given to become a better Student Affairs professional. Let's Go Peay!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving

My last weekend to travel was this weekend, although I had to get special permission from my doctor due to the ICP diagnosis earlier in the week. We went up to McLeansboro, Illinois to meet up with my parents for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, my sis-in-law got the flu so her and my brother were unable to make it (they were missed), but we still ended up having a good time. We had a YUMMY Thanksgiving lunch and got to rest and relax a bunch - a much needed break for me. Jesse and Dad watched a lot of football and I took a lot of naps. I am thankful for so many things, but this trip was nice and relaxing for us all and I am thankful for that due to what is to come in the next few weeks!
YUMMY Thanksgiving Meal!

Cholestasis

About 3 weeks ago, I started itching more than the usual pregnancy belly - the palms of my hands and feet drove me nuts! Then, my legs and inner arms started itching as well. So, I mentioned it to my doctor at my 34 week check up and she decided to draw some blood and do some tests. Come to find out, I have Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) which means elevated bile levels in my liver. The extra bile salts are accumlating in my skin and cause the crazy itching. ICP has pretty much guaranteed me to have Ellie early, either on my own or by induction. I got this news on Tuesday and it really upset me. It's crazy - I never have health problems so to hear that an organ in my body wasn't working quite right and could be a danger to the baby really took me off guard. It will all go away after I give birth, but it still was shocking to hear something was wrong. Because of this diagnosis, I am having to have a Nonstress Test (NST) test done two times a week as well as a check-up with my doctor every week until Ellie arrives. At 36 weeks, I am already 1 cm dilated but I've been told that doesn't mean a bunch right now. My doctor wants to try to get me to 38 weeks and then if I haven't gone on my own, then she will induce, but I would much rather go on my own. The only catch with that is that I have 2 more weeks of work left and it would mean I would have her before I technically resigned from Austin Peay -EAK! Also, it means she would be here sooner than I expected and as a future new mom, it freaks me out a bit. Not only do I have to give labor to a baby for the first time, but I will also be a parent! The reality of the situation has really started to sink in to Jesse and I. So, I ask you to please pray for mine and Ellie's health and for a safe, happy labor whenever that might be. We will keep everyone posted as much as we can!

Mercy Me Concert

Jesse and I took our last trip over to Knoxville two weekends ago to do an early Thanksgiving with his immediate family since we all had other places to be for this past weekend. It also ended up being the weekend Mercy Me came in to town for a concert so of course we had to go! They had 2 openers, one of which was 10th Avenue North, who was very good live. Mercy Me did a great job as usual! We asked Becca and Steve Denny to join us so it was a great time sharing this concert with them. Afterwards, we were able to visit with Mike (lead guitarist for Mercy Me who is from my hometown) and catch up with him and his little family. It was a great concert and I highly recommend anyone who reads this to try to catch them the next time they are anywhere close to you for one of their concerts - Bart really has a way of leading worship instead of it being all about the band and their songs.
(Our friend Mike Scheuchzer is the one in the plaid shirt with the hat on below)

Nesting

So after I had four fabulous baby showers that have provided me many things I didn't have to raise a baby girl, the "nesting" instinct kicked in full gear. I even got Jesse to help me for my sanity so that I felt more prepared. I'm sure any of you that read this are cracking up because no one is truly prepared for having their first child, but since I've been working full-time, I've had NO TIME to even get her nursery ready, much less go through all the gifts to see what is left to buy. So, Jesse and I took on this task. We also freaked out our cat with all the changes and new purchases. As soon as I have the nursery completely done, I will be sure to post some pictures, but here are a few to see what we have been up to the last few weeks.
My Handy Man!

Poor Callie!

Ft Campbell Baby Shower

A few weeks ago, my wonderful friend Claire Teter threw me my last baby shower here at Ft. Campbell. She threw a FABULOUS party full of incredible food, games and presents. I definitely felt loved and supported from family and friends after that party. Some of Jesse's family were able to make it (Jana, Linda, Nana and Jamie) and my mom and sis-in-law (Jennifer) made it as well. A few girls from our Bible Study on post also came. All-in-all, it was a great shower and I really appreciated everyone who came and helped make it so special!
Thanks, Claire!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Knoxville Baby Shower

This past weekend, Becca (my best friend from FL that lives in Knoxville) with the help of Jesse's mom and sisters threw me a baby shower. It was a great opportunity for me to introduce her to many of my friends and family. It was bizarre having so many of them in the same room, but it was great to see everyone. We had YUMMY food including a famous Publix cake (nice touch Becca) and she had some cute games for us to play. Thanks to everyone for coming - it meant a lot to me!

Ellie's Party

My co-workers and students at Austin Peay threw me a baby shower last week but they called it "Ellie's Party"! It was great - good food, cute cake, sweet presents and fun times with the people there. Thanks to Alexandra, Carrie, Brianna, Jonell and Teanna for all they did to make it a special day! Here are some pictures from the event:
Student Life & Leadership Staff

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Taste of the Busiest Week of My Career

So this past week was the busiest week of my entire career - Homecoming at Austin Peay State University! Since we are still without a Director in our office, the entire week has been coordinated by me. I didn't do every event during the week due to some other offices helping out, but I definitely did the big stuff. Monday, I was in charge of our annual Step Off, where organizations compete against each other in step routines (http://www.theleafchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009910270322). Tuesday, we had a Bonfire (minus the fire due to rain) to announce the Homecoming Court and have a pep rally for the football team. Wednesday was the AP Apollo, the annual talent show put on by my students in the Govs Programming Council. We actually went over capacity of the auditorium and had to kick people out (who we saw watching from the windows)! Thursday, was the largest event - LADY ANTEBELLUM!! This event took the most planning and was the peak of my week. Catherine Raney, Tim McGraw's cousin, was the opener and she did a great job. I met Tim's mom and she was so sweet. Lady Antebellum did a great job and really enjoyed the students. We had over 1,000 come to the concert and everything went without a hitch. Friday was my catch-up day that other department did events and then the week finished with Saturday's parade and half-time Queen/King announcement that I had to organize. I'm so glad the week is done - it wore me out and it definitely didn't help that I was 8 months pregnant doing it all! Now, I am enjoying my day of rest. Enjoy the pictures of the concert!

Catherine Raney (Opener)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Early Halloween

My mom brought Jesse and I a really great pumpkin a few weeks ago and we decided to celebrate Halloween a little early since Jesse will be gone next 2 weeks (training at Ft. Knox) by carving the pumpkin. We both haven't carved one in YEARS, but we thought it would be fun to do together and also to practice since we'll have a child next year. Jesse thought of our design so we cut off the top and then took out the insides, keeping the seeds. We actually baked the pumpkin seeds to use as our snack during the UT v. Alabama game once we were finished. We are proud to reveal our Cragwall pumpkin for 2009!

Hardwick Family Baby Shower

Jesse and I had our first baby shower Oct. 11th in Macon, GA from the Hardwick Family. They put together a shower/reunion for the family and it was great to see everyone! We got some very thoughtful and adorable (of course) gifts for Ellie. We knew the food would be amazing with the Hardwick women cooking (our caterer from our wedding was one of them) and they definitely didn't disappoint.








I wanted everyone to see the Hardwick women that came so people can see my dad's side of the family. (From left to right) My HUGE self, Norma Banks, Aunt Barbara, Mom, Kala Hardwick, Bobbie Jo Carver, Maxine Hardwick & Jeanne Hardwick. (Missing but were there -Ashley Carver, Jewett Hardwick, Pam Smith, Judy, and Martha McMahon Stewart)
We now have a great start on stuff for Ellie - we only had a few clothes beforehand! Thanks to all of these ladies for putting together a great afternoon of family, food, and generous presents for our future baby girl!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back to Orange Country

Last football season, Jesse was deployed to Iraq and one of the hardest things he missed was most of the college football season - especially UT games. I was able to go to one with my best friend and her hubby last year, but this year, we were very intentional about getting tickets for the first game! My parents ended up being able to come up for the weekend and join us, so it was a lot of fun to share it with them. Technically, this was Ellie's first game and she was definitely kicking up a storm with all the noise in Neyland Stadium! I think it was a sweet moment for Jesse and I to be back at a game together, something we plan to do for many years to come once we move back to K-town. Here's a short video of the football team entrance through the team for those of you who have never experienced this tradition in Orange Country!

video

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rock Star CD Release Party

We were invited to come to the cd release party for our friend, Lena Hood (Cox), at Wild Bill's in Atlanta last weekend - we jumped at the chance to go to a Rock Star's cd debut!! The best part about this concert was that not only did we hear Lena sing her songs live, but we also heard the debut of "Ragdoll", the country band her and her husband Jason have formed. This was the first time we have heard them play together some of the songs that they will use for their country group and we were impressed! It was great to be there and experience this with our good friends - we are so proud of them!

Ellie

Lilypie Third Birthday tickers