Thursday, January 25, 2018


We had big plans for a babymoon but as my pregnancy progressed and I got more uncomfortable we lowered our standards dramatically. Sweden (where Justin served his mission) turned into New Orleans. New Orleans was downgraded to a week on the beach in Destin, Florida. And eventually we settled on a mountain getaway in Gatlinburg. It was only a 2ish hour road trip, which is about all my aching pregnant back could handle sitting in one period. 
Gatlinburg turned out to be a darling town and we wished we could have stayed forever! 3 days was not nearly enough.

We ate flapjacks at one of the zillions of infamous Gatlinburg flapjack houses. Doesn't it just sound rustic to say flapjacks? 
I had a large stack of jacks loaded with black walnuts and slathered in homemade orange marmalade. Justin chose a stack loaded with chocolate chips. 
We also road a ski lift amidst trees colored gloriously by the fall. We played mini golf. We worked out. We treated ourselves to the Melting Pot. We played hours of arcade games in Pigeon Forge.
However, the highlight by far was buying spontaneous tickets to the Dixie Stampede.
You guys, I literally ate a rotisserie chicken with my fingers and drank bottomless Pepsi while watching horses do tricks and listening to endless Dolly Parton music. Does it get better? 
No. Absolutely not.
More than anything, Justin and I got to spend a lot of time connecting before Charlie was born. I'll blame all that connecting for the fact that we took like ZERO pictures the entire trip. Oops! 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

1 Month of Charlie Arthur

At 1 month old Charlie:

-Weighs just about 7 lbs. We are so happy that he is plumping up! He is exclusively breastfeeding with the exception of 1 bottle of pumped milk each day. Because he was premature we have to fortify this bottle with a special supplement to make sure his Calcium and Phosphorus levels stay balanced. I have to say, it is a game changer having a kiddo that will take a bottle this time. Oh the things I learned from doing it wrong with Jay. Ha! That poor guinea pig.

-Goes mostly by Charlie but has also adopted a number of nicknames including Charlie Boy, Charlie Bucket, Bubba, and Bubba Balou.

-Is finally outgrowing his premie clothes and moving on to the newborn size.

-Loves reading. Okay, okay, I have no idea if he loves reading but I am determined to make this kid enjoy books as much as his brother. We have been reading Roald Dahl books together while JJ naps. So far we have worked our way through Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (hence the nickname Charlie Bucket) and the BFG.

-Has a peaceful and calm disposition. This is extremely helpful because his brother is over-the-top feeling all the things right now. Seriously, ALLLLLL the things. 

-Sleeps really well (for a newborn). Bless those NICU nurses who got him on a consistent sleeping schedule. He is sleeping ~20 hours per day. He wakes up a few times to feed at night but regularly gives us several 3-4 hour stretches.

-Has a full head of dark, wild hair. I love to fluff it up after bath to make it extra spikey. Though it looks like it is thinning out. We may have another little baldie on our hands.

-Has made a few memorable outings. We took JJ to see Coco in the theater the other weekend and Charlie was happy to tag along. We have also taken him to walk the Walnut Street bridge in downtown Chattanooga and to ride the infamous carousel in Coolidge Park. Other than that our outings are mostly limited to neighborhood walks and the doctor's office. Curse you RSV season!

Charlie Bucket,
You are a joy and light in my life. I thought of you long before you came to our family and now it is like I have always known you. I really think I have. I am so happy you are here.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Coming Home

After 11 long days in the NICU we were very ready to bring Charlie home.
JJ was confused about the whole thing because we talked about Charlie constantly and showed him pictures, but he wasn't allowed in the NICU to meet him. Plus I had been hyping it up for months with library books and videos about being a brother. Plus he had been at the hospital when I went into there was that.
Anyways, just imagine his excitement when he was FINALLY allowed to meet Charlie!
We placed Charlie's carseat on the doorstep, hid behind the wall, and rang the bell so JJ could answer.
I remember JJ's face lighting up like Christmas tree when he peeked under the carseat cover and caught his first glimpse of "Cha-lee".
He is still very cautious around Charlie because we have told him how small and "delicate" Charlie is, but he loves to give lots of hugs/kisses, fetch his clean diapers, throw away the stinky ones (bless him!), and help Charlie feel better when he cries. 
Plus Charlie is the ONLY person JJ will share his swords with. This is a big deal you guys, as he protects those things like his life depends on it.
JJ is such a little people lover and has showed absolutely no jealousy or animosity towards Charlie. In fact, he always suggests we include Charlie at meals, story time, snuggle time, etc.
I can't wait to see the relationship between these two continue to grow over the years.
Brothers are the best, I tell ya!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Charlie Arthur: A Birth Story

Charlie Arthur Thunell certainly entered the world with a bang. I was anticipating an easy peasy planned C-section and as such, had every second of my last month of pregnancy planned to a T. Jay and I were to go on many grand adventures. I would deep clean my house. I would stock our freezer with meals. We would have an incredible Christmas. I would pack a hospital bag. We would tour the hospital. I would finish the last few books on my 2017 reading list. Etc. Etc. Etc. So naturally my body and Charlie decided to have much different plans.

It was the most usual of Saturdays. We went grocery shopping and dropped off a mountain of Christmas cards at the post office. There was nothing special on the agenda for the evening, so Justin and I laid down for a short snooze during JJ's afternoon nap. When I woke up I could tell that something was suddenly very wrong. The next several hours were spent throwing up and doubled-over on the couch with intense pains in my upper abdomen. The pain continued to increase and I could tell I was getting dehydrated from all that throwing up. Around 7pm I finally told Justin that enough was enough and I felt like we needed to get help. Since it was the weekend, our only choice was to go to the hospital. I am sure that I have never seen anything more beautiful in my life than when the "EMERGENCY ROOM" sign finally popped into view. Justin passed off the keys to the valet and we were sent upstairs to the labor and delivery unit. There were no clean rooms in the OBGYN triage so I was forced to sit in a small family waiting room barfing in one of those blue barf bags until a room finally became available. Although it couldn't have been more than 30 minutes, it truly felt like an eternity. I am pretty sure I made Justin go check in with the nurse every 3 minuets or so.

They immediately tried to hook me up to an IV, but because I was so dehydrated, the nurse blew out 3 veins in my arm before finally getting the IV hooked up correctly. Then they began to pump me full of pain meds, anti-nausea meds, and  IV fluids. They also hooked me up to a machine to monitor the baby. A nurse practitioner quickly came into the room to check my cervix. Just a precaution, she told me. The baby's head was really low (which it also was with JJ), so when she left the room without saying much I thought she was just having difficulty getting a good feel. A second nurse practitioner came into the room to check me again and my jaw nearly dropped to the floor when she told me I was 6cm dilated. She also told me they suspected I was having an appendicitis due to my unusual pain and elevated white blood cell count. They gave me more pain medications to try and slow down my labor. Thirty minuets later I had dilated to a 7 and the nurses informed us that I would likely be having the baby very, very soon.

Meanwhile, my sweet husband coordinated for a friend to come pick up JJ and ran home to grab some some essentials, all while continuously providing me with an endless supply of back and foot rubs. An interesting fact about this story is that Justin has been out of town constantly in the weeks prior. In fact, he got home from Omaha on Friday night! Yikes, can you imagine? 

The medication helped stall my labor and although I continued having contractions, my cervix stopped dilating further. I really don't even remember feeling any contractions (though the nurses tell me they were strong and regular) because I was in so much pain from my appendix. Throughout the night I called the nurse over and over again telling her my pain was unbearable. She kept giving me short acting pain medications that helped me feel better for approximately 30 minuets, but then I was back to the raw, excruciating pain. I am convinced they just held me off through the night so the doctor wouldn't have to come in until morning. Haha! But actually it wasn't funny and I literally thought I was going to die. 

Anyways, after finally surviving a sleepless and painful night, they sent me down for an MRI early in the morning. Lying on my back was the most painful position possible, so I am really not sure how I survived 30 minuets in that darned machine. And by painful I mean delivering JJ with ZERO pain medications was like a walk in the park compared to lying on my back with this appendix.  A lot of tears, teeth gritting, and prayers got me through, I guess. Unfortunately, the MRI came back inconclusive. Then they shipped me over to meet with the high risk OBGYN. He gave me an ultrasound to try and get a picture of my appendix, but this also came back inconclusive.  Apparently the gold standard for diagnosing an appendicitis is a cat scan, but because of the risk x-rays pose to the baby, I couldn't have one. Instead they decided they would just take a look at my appendix when I was opened up for the C-section.

Here is where the real fun began. It turns out that having an appendicitis along with a C-section makes you something of a spectacle. Although those are the two most common surgeries women have, apparently having them together is a rarity. I was like a celebrity! Literally. All of those pain meds make this part a little fuzzy, I just remember sooooo many surgeons, nurse practitioners, and nurses, coming into my room to question me about my symptoms. On one hand, the situation turned out to be really lucky because my OBGYN was off for the weekend, but he decided to come in because of my unique situation. On the other hand it was extremely unlucky because my high white blood cell count prevented me from having a spinal tap, which meant I had to be completely knocked out for the delivery. 

Anyways, each doctor had a different opinion and when they announced it was time for surgery, I still had no idea what would be happening to me. The general surgeon working on my case was convinced I was not having an appendicitis (and he sure let me know it!) and said would not take out my appendix if it was not infected. The high risk OBGYN who analyzed my case was convinced I was having an appendicitis so he scrubbed into the surgery just in case the general surgeon refused to take it out. Then there was my actual OBGYN, the general surgeon's assistant, 3 residents, an anesthesiologist, a nurse anesthetist, 3 nurses for the baby, 3 nurses for me, and a surgery tech. Phew! It was one dang crowded operating room.

The next part is difficult to write down. I get the shivers reliving this part of my birth story, but I also don't want to forget any details. Once we entered the OR (if you remember was filled with a butt ton of people), they transferred me to the operating table and literally made me strip down. We are talking BUCK NAKED people. Apparently they try to minimize the amount of time the baby is exposed to the anesthesia, which means that they had to do all the prep work before I was asleep. It was horrifying. Once I was naked, they strapped me down tightly to the table arms out and legs down. Remember that lying on my back was excruciating due to my appendix being displaced to my back so I as absolutely MISERABLE. They then catheterized me and started scrubbing me down. It was so extremely painful to lay on my back that I just remember crying (lots and lots of crying), telling everyone how much my back hurt, and trying to lift up my bum to take some of the pressure off of my back. I literally think I would have lost my mind if it wasn't for the nurse anesthetist who had the decency to turn his back to my naked body as it was being catheterized, look in my eyes, and tell me that he would knock me out as soon as he could. There was also a nurse who held my head as I cried and wrapped my arms in warm blankets because it was the only part of my body that could be covered. Finally, after what felt like a century on that table, they started a 30 second count down, put up a screen between my face the my abdomen, and gave me the good stuff to finally knocked me out.

Justin wasn't able to be with me during the operation, so he waited outside the NICU to catch a glimpse of the baby. That lucky dog was able to see all 5lbs and 4oz of our sweet Charlie as he was transported up to the NICU. I woke up so disoriented and in soooooooo much pain. The doctor came in to confirm that I actually DID have an appendicitis, which is one of the only thing I remember. The pain medications made me forget most of the next 24 hours. Luckily, one of the nurses took lots of pictures so I could see those first few moments of Charlie's life. I know that at some point Justin wheeled me down to the NICU to meet Charlie. Although I couldn't hold him for almost 48 hours and he was covered with tubes and monitors, I also remember the first time I laid eyes on this tiny human, and my heart was captured. 

We then spent a long 11 days in the NICU while Charlie figured out how to breathe and eat on his own. Those were scary days, but also wonderful days. We spent 10-12 hours per day together snuggling and reading Roald Dahl books. It was a rough go getting him here, but a million times over I would do it for him.

And that's the story of how my sweet Charlie Bucket entered our family.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017

One time I jumped the gun and ordered our Christmas cards assuming Charlie wouldn't be born until January. 
So although he was actually born 8 days before Christmas, he only makes an appearance as a belly bump. Oops!
Regardless, I am grateful for this family of mine and the beautiful Christmas season.
Merry Merry Merry Christmas from our little corner of the universe!