Tag Archives: family

Audrey’s One Month Old Update

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in, but I figured Audrey’s first month of life was a good enough reason to come on and update you!

I’ve been asked similar questions by a lot of folks this month, so I will answer them here as a sort of baby update and postpartum update in FAQ’s.

How is she eating? Audrey is breastfed a majority of the time via pumped milk in a bottle, with the occasional formula supplement. She had problems latching right after birth, so we developed a routine in the hospital of using a nipple shield to attempt breastfeeding, followed by formula to supplement, and I’d pump to initiate healthy production (a routine that was great for those early days in the hospital… not realistic at all when we got home). Audrey had a tongue tie that we did get clipped early on, but it did not help with latching (I’m still glad we did it; tongue ties can lead to speech problems later on in life, along with needing painful and repetitive procedures).

Attempting the breast was stressful, tear-filled and exhausting for both me and Audrey. I finally decided to put away the fight and the feelings of guilt that I wasn’t able to nurse naturally (similar to the guilt I felt needing to have a c-section) — I’ve realized that a huge part of becoming a parent is putting aside your “ideals” and ignoring those voices in your head that tell you that you’re doing it all wrong. Just like with the c-section, the need to pump and supplement was so much easier to accept because I wanted her to be healthy and happy, regardless of what I wanted.

Now, I pump 7-8 times per day to provide her with breast milk for most of her feedings, supplementing with formula every now and then when it is more convenient or if she needs to sleep. The truth is, I feel just as bonded with her on the other side of a bottle as I would if she were directly on my chest. God bless women who can nurse their babies naturally; direct nursing (or my attempt at it anyway) actually brought on resentment, depression, and chaos for me, so bottle feeding (with or without breast milk) is what makes us both happy! (Plus, Alex is able to help out with feedings … a huge blessing for us!)

How is she sleeping? Her stretches of sleep at night are getting longer and longer, where we will only get up once around 2 or 3 am to feed her, then not again until 6 or 7 am. It’s awesome! But, this also means that sleeping during the day is spotty for her. She is easily over-stimulated and distracted so it is hard to put her down for naps. (However, as I type this, she is going on her third hour of sleep in the middle of the day … seems to be the calm before the storm!)

What fun things have happened this month? She is growing so fast! She’s able to hold her head up for a while when we hold her or when she is on the floor for tummy time. She is showing signs of beginning to smile in response to stimuli.

Audrey has already gotten out of the house a few times this month. We brought her to church a couple times (and she slept through the whole service), and she’s been out for trips to see family (my Grandma’s 87th birthday, a lake day at my aunt and uncle’s house).

She has already pooped and thrown up on me, so literally nothing grosses me out anymore.

So many family members and friends have visited us to see her and to just make sure we are fed, which has our cups overflowing with gratitude.

What’s my favorite part of being a mommy? Seeing a sincere curiosity in her eyes is amazing. We have been watching her take everything in as her vision and reflexes / responses get more and more refined every day. It’s pretty cool!

I also have just loved seeing Alex come into being a daddy. It happened right away in the hospital; as I laid on the operating table, waiting to see the baby, Alex was watching her intently, holding her gently, and smiling from ear to ear … which he still does every time he sees her.

How is recovery going for me? Great! I am already below my pre-pregnancy weight (a huge benefit of breastfeeding) and my incision has healed up nicely. I will be back at work in about a month; until then, I’m eating and resting when I can, and soaking up these early weeks with my baby during the day.


Springtime Babymoon

Last week was a hard week for us. I won’t get into details, but there was many-a-sleepless-night for several folks in my family, including myself. Alex and I have had this “babymoon” (our last trip with just the two of us before baby girl arrives) planned for a long time — but, by the end of the week, I was exhausted, anxious, and I could come up with ten reasons we shouldn’t go on our babymoon. The weather projected rain all weekend and low temperatures, so I was increasingly un-excited about going.

Alex spoke a lot of positivity and wisdom to our situation, and said that, if anything, all the reasons I was anxious and bummed should be the reasons we needed a weekend away. He was so right; the things I was anxious about were things that I’d only add unrest to if I were home to worry about them. Plus, it was going to be cold and rainy at home anyway, so why not spend it at the lake house?

Since it was rainy outside, we had plenty of time in the lake house to be disconnected from social media and technology, and enjoy time with each other uninterrupted. We were able to catch up on TV shows, do some reading, and we got to see our St. Louis Blues bring home a series win against the Minnesota Wild!

This was a “babymoon” without the usual pomp and frills. We went to our family’s lake house, and did things that we would normally do if we were down there (minus kayaking and swimming, because spring is yucky.) We didn’t plan or pay for an extravagant vacation; sure I would’ve loved a long vacation, but our financial priorities actually left us feeling very satisfied about the simplicity of this trip!

We were only a short trip away from one of our favorite restaurants; my belly was happy, and even the baby was very satisfied with our dinner choice.

I mean, can we just take a moment to admire this beautiful french dip sandwich? Gosh. And the bacon and chive potato salad? Heaven. I am not usually the type to order the same thing twice at a restaurant, but I’ve definitely had this dish more than once. Not ashamed.

All in all, it was great to get away for a couple of days. When we got home, it is almost like I forgot what I was freaking out about before we left. The problems that had come up the week before had been resolved on their own, without my constantly worrying over them.

I learned a lot from this little bump in the road; our worry doesn’t ever fix a problem. It just gives us more gray hair, and gives us the false illusion that we have some semblance of control over the events in our lives… good, bad, or ugly. I realized that, by being anxious, I was robbing myself of being present and kept myself from having gratitude for the many blessings upon blessings in my life.

My mom told me last week that she often looks at the day ahead of her, full of to-do’s and commitments, and frets about whether it will all get done. And somehow, it just does. (She’s a wise woman, she is. I am so thankful for her.)

Jesus even instructed in Matthew 6 that surely, since God keeps all the birds of the world fed, He will satisfy whatever it is that we need. And the truth is, we don’t always know what we need, or what’s best for us, or what will help us grow, but He does. We run around frantically trying to keep ourselves and the people around us fed, clothed, and happy. At some point its time to rest, and trust that it all will get taken care of, because somehow, it always does.


My Very First First-Trimester

Yay! I am happy to announce that my husband and I are expecting our very first Hooper baby! (Right now, we are nearly 13 weeks.)

Now that I am further along and we’ve announced the good news to our loved ones, I am excited to share with y’all the process we’ve gone through the last few months. It is also my wish that I would mostly have these types of posts to look back on in the future. I won’t only post about baby stuff from now on, so if you aren’t interested in this stuff, don’t fret! I’m keeping my vision for this blog pretty open.

Side-note: I know it has been a long time since I’ve posted; my life has been in constant ebb-and-flow recently (mostly having to do with my career and my inability to make confident decisions), so I’ll have to update you on that at a later date. Hopefully this happy post makes up for my absence!

I made this photo using the PicMonkey app on my phone! Free, and simple!

Monday, October 31, 2016
I went in to the gynecologist for an “irregular bleeding” appointment. [Brief, yet maybe TMI back story: I stopped taking my oral contraception at the end of August because we wanted to start trying; I had a light (yet certain) period the first week of September, and never had a period after that. I attempted using an app on my phone to calculate when I was ovulating, but it’s obvious to me now how completely unreliable my cycle was (and always has been, honestly) and how tracking every single symptom into that app was a complete waste of time. So days and weeks went by past my period due-date. All the while, every home pregnancy test I took–and I took a lot–was a bold-faced negative.] So, on Halloween, I finally had an appointment with the doctor; my blood pressure was perfect and they even got a negative urine test from me. I sat down with her and told her everything I’d been experiencing. She recommended a blood pregnancy test at their lab that day, though she doubted a urine test would come up negative and a blood test come up positive. I was relieved to hear that I’d get a blood test, because I knew that if there were ANY trace of HCG in my system, the blood test would probably catch it. (Bonus: my blood was drawn by a woman dressed as a witch, so that helped.)

Friday, November 4, 2016
Finally, the end of this most agonizing and anxiety-ridden week had arrived. I left a voicemail with the office so that they would (hopefully) prioritize my blood test results; yeah, I’m annoyingly Type A like that. I decided to hang out with a friend that day and try to forget about my lingering results. I had also, by this point, resolved that my body was adjusting to not being on birth control, and that my next appointment at the gynecologist would be for progesterone treatments to trigger my cycle, not for pregnancy.

When my friend and I were in the car, my phone rang. I answered, as coolly as possible, and was absolutely breath-taken when the nurse on the line told me that my blood test came back positive for pregnancy. My HCG levels were low (around 352, putting my gestation at no more than 3 weeks) but those numbers were certainly there. My body was, without any doubt, at the beginning of pregnancy. I cried. I cried a lot. My poor friend — she congratulated me (knowing that the news I’d received was good news) but wasn’t sure how to respond to the news, being that she knew before my husband even knew! I was grateful to have her with me in the moment, though.

The nurse on the phone asked me to come in for a follow-up blood test that day so that we could be sure the numbers were rising throughout the week. Still in shock, I dropped my friend off and was left with my own racing thoughts for the day. Plot twist: Alex (my husband) was on his way back from Iowa, in the car with his dad and guys from church, so I couldn’t tell him yet. Plus, I knew I wanted to tell him in person… it was just so hard to wait! I went to the doctor and got my blood drawn again and came home, only able to stare at the wall for four hours, still in shock.

Alex arrived home later that afternoon, and all I had for him was the print-out of the blood test results. (I always had an image in my head of revealing it with a cutesy picture of me holding a positive home pregnancy test… but I never actually got one of those. Throw everything Pinterest has allowed you to dream about and just toss it.) I had the blood test results taped to the bathroom mirror, assuming that would be the soonest he would see it. When he finally got home, he was not sensing my urgency to get him upstairs and unpacked. He wanted to do some yard work, play with the dog… basically a bunch of USELESS activities compared to the news I wanted to share with him.

He eventually looked up from playing with the dog and said “hey did you hear from the doctor today?” The best I could do was not answer his question, and silently gesture for him to follow me to the bathroom (in that good ole’ awkward Jan fashion), where I took the blood test results off the mirror and showed them to him. He was very shocked, almost in disbelief, but eventually he hugged me and it was a great feeling for both of us to just sit in this moment. We sat in that moment for a long time. We are still sitting in that moment, actually!

Monday, November 7, 2016
Monday morning, I did that Type-A thing again where I called the doctor’s office as soon as they opened and left a voicemail so that they would prioritize my test results. A few hours later, they called me and very excitedly let me know that my numbers jumped significantly from Monday to Friday the week previous. I thought that they’d say something like yeah, so we think you are ___ weeks along, we will see you at 12 weeks. Nope. The doctors’ office wanted me to come in that day to get my first vaginal ultrasound. I was so excited to hear that we would actually get an ultrasound this early, because I’d heard that doesn’t happen often. [First lesson learned: do NOT trust the internet, basically ever. Other women’s experiences will always be different from yours, too, but it’s better to eliminate at least the anonymous stranger factor that online forums offer.] I had Alex come home from work so that he could go with me to the ultrasound.

Five-Week Ultrasound

We were able to see the gestational sack, the yolk sack, and very faint evidence of the embryo (pictured above). It was still too early to hear a heartbeat, so we were a little bummed about that. However, we were on cloud nine to have our first glimpse at the Little Nugget (as he/she will henceforth be referred). The ultrasound tech estimated that we were about 5 weeks along at this point, and wanted us to come in one week later to check for growth and a possible heartbeat.

As soon as we left, we started planning our reveal to close family and friends. We wanted to keep it as minimal as possible, being that we were so early in the pregnancy. I have plenty of family and friends who’ve had miscarriages (some early, some late), all so heartbreaking and enough to turn me into a worry-wart. I know that choosing to not tell people doesn’t mean it won’t happen; I am trying to find a healthy balance since I am definitely an over-planner, and forward-minded individual. I don’t want to get way ahead of myself, but I also don’t want to dismiss all the exciting feelings that come with pregnancy (and my first pregnancy, at that).

I resorted, after consulting with Alex, to tell my mom first. If anything were to happen, good or bad, the one other person I would want to share it with other than Alex would for sure be my mom, a woman who has been through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Plus, she knows my personality and she knows what truths I need and how to talk me down when I’m freaking out. My method for telling people, I decided, would be quick and subtle. For example, when I got to my mom’s house that afternoon after the ultrasound, she told me she was preparing for a doctors’ appointment that day. I said “oh, that’s funny, I went to the doctor today too” and pulled out the ultrasound picture to show her. She freaked. And cried. It was awesome.

We told the rest of my family that evening. They all freaked. Also awesome. My parents are going to be grandparents, and my three younger brothers are going to be uncles — all for the first time; I was so thrilled to share the news with them.

Friday, November 11, 2016
We had been attempting all week to tell Alex’s mom and sister the news. My father-in-law was out of town, so we constantly went back and forth on waiting to tell them until they were all together. We kept coming back to wanting to tell my mother-in-law and sister-in-law as soon as possible. We tried multiple times to have an excuse to go over and surprise them with the news, but it kept falling through. Finally, on Friday, Alex had the day off. We went to see Doctor Strange (awesome) and met his sister and mom afterwards for lunch. I had bought a Christmas bib from Target that said “Grandma’s Joy” and presented it and the ultrasound to them. I know that they wished my father-in-law was there, but really, it’s his fault that he was gone for so long. 😉

Monday, November 14, 2016
Alex and I went to our second ultrasound, where we finally caught a glimpse of a heartbeat of 123 bpm! We watched Little Nugget flutter on the screen (it was a vaginal ultrasound, so we could only watch the heartbeat, not hear it) and I fell in love, seriously. The tech put us at 6 weeks 1 day, with an official due date of July 9, 2017.

Six-Week Ultrasound

My father-in-law arrived back in town in the evening, and we were already over at their house, waiting, so we could tell him the news. Being a man who is seemingly impossible to surprise, he walked in the door and within 30 seconds guessed that we were there to announce that we were pregnant. Still, he was very excited to be affirmed in his assumptions. Finally, our immediate families knew and we could relax with pregnancy reveals for a while.

So, how’ve I been feeling? I get asked this a lot. I appreciate these check-ins because they keep me light-hearted about the good (and not-so-good) symptoms I’ve been experiencing.

Nausea – I haven’t been able to confidently call myself nauseous, more queasy and un-appetized. I never feel hungry; I usually have to force myself to start eating and then I’ll develop an appetite. But my stomach always feels just full and bloated. I feel okay in the morning; it usually hits me around 10 am and lasts until around dinner time every day. Nothing settles it, really. I’ve tried all the ginger and peppermint and saltines that I could get my hands on, but nothing really ever helps.

Exhaustion – Of all of my symptoms, this is the one that I cannot wait to pass. I wake up very groggy, and I’m normally a morning person. Any productivity lasts for about half an hour before I need to sit down and relax. I’ve never known a tiredness like this; it is almost painful.

That “pregnancy glow” – *fart noise* Yeah, this hasn’t happened for me (yet). My acne is worse than it was before pregnancy, my hair is brittle, and my nails are soft. I am taking a monstrosity of a prenatal vitamin prescribed by my doctor; I hope it is doing its work on the inside, because I can’t see any benefits right now on the outside.

Cravings – These come and go; as I said before, I really don’t have an appetite, so I hardly ever “crave” food, whether it be healthy or unhealthy. I’ve had a significant increase in appreciation for the following, however: sausage-egg-cheese biscuits, ramen noodles, grape tomatoes, naval oranges, and water. So. Much. Water.

Mood swings – Yeah, these have been around. Most of the time, I am upset about something pregnancy related (like a weird pain in my hip, or the fact that SOMEONE AROUND HERE HAS EGGS AND IT’S MAKING ME SICK). I can feel these emotions starting to taper off a little bit, but they seem to just be culminating in a tendency of mine to randomly burst into tears a couple of times a week.

And that’s about it! I am growing steadily; Alex and I went in for an OB appointment this week and got to hear a 154 bpm heartbeat! Alex’s reaction when it came through the speaker was a smile I don’t think I’ll ever forget! We are nervous, but so so excited to be on this new adventure!

July 4th Fun & Festivities

I’m going to try something out with this blog — as I read through some of my favorite blogs, like Katie Did What and Joanna Gaines’ blog on Magnolia Market, I reminded why I wanted to launch my own blog website. I wanted this to be a space where I share our house, our family, and our adventures with the world. I wanted this to be a place where I document our ups, downs, thoughts, emotions, and experiences. From the every-day to the once-in-a-lifetime, this blog would be like our family journal and photo album.

So, I’m going to start that today. I will still blog other, more practical things too, but I want to refocus Home Sweet Hooper so that you really catch a glimpse of the ordinary and extraordinary happenings of the Hoopers.



Independence Day was on a Monday this year, which was really kind of a bummer for Alex’s work schedule. However, we very much enjoyed the extra long weekend by spending a few nights at my parents’ lake house in southern Illinois (by southern Illinois, I mean actually southern… not just south of Chicago). My family has owned this lake house since long before I was even born–I’ve never known a summer without visiting the lake at least once! At the lake house, there is so much of nature and family to enjoy, and ZERO cell phone reception, which seemed like it came at just the right time for us. Disconnecting from the world’s drama and just enjoying a hot, July weekend on the lake is the best medicine.

July 4th Fun & Festivities

During the daytime, the entire weekend was truly lovely. But it actually rained two of the three nights we stayed down there, which was not firework-friendly at all. We were able to do some smaller fireworks, but the big show just wasn’t gonna happen while we were down there.

July 4th Fun & Festivities

Every 4th of July weekend, we celebrate my dad’s birthday. He turned 53 this year; he is goofy, hard-working, and very smart, and his birthday is always one of my favorites to celebrate during the year because the 4th of July is always so celebratory anyway, that his birthday is literally the icing on the cake. Happy Birthday, Daddy-o!

July 4th Fun & Festivities

This is Rain’s second year in a row getting to explore the lake for the 4th of July. She really loves it down there… there are so many critters and plants to sniff and roll around in! This year, we didn’t even have to leash her; my parents’ pit bull, who is faithful to stay near the lake house, keeps Rain occupied so that she doesn’t wander. We brought her out in the pedal boat, and she even fell asleep on Alex’s raft with him out in the middle of the lake! Love that silly, adventurous pup.

July 4th Fun & Festivities

My favorite part of the weekend, though, was getting to spend time with my sweet grandma (my dad’s mom). She is quite the sassy-pants these days, but she’s compassionate and giggly. I think she loves being at the lake; though it is a little hard on her physically, I think she remembers all the beautiful memories she made there over the years with my late grandpa and all their kids and grand kids.



When we returned from the lake, we went straight to work putting together our first July 4th party at our new home! The back of our house faces the city park, where the fireworks are set off every year (that is, after the entire neighborhood is illuminated with individuals setting off fireworks in their own yards). Since we are new in this house, and the previous owners are not contactable for us, we were pretty much taking a wild stab that we could see the fireworks from our yard. Thankfully, we were right!

July 4th Fun & Festivities

Hours before the party started, I took a trip to Dollar General to see what kinds of July 4th supplies and decor I could find for cheap. They had cute floral arrangements, glass jars, banners, yard candles, sparklers, and outdoor string lights. I might’ve gone a little bit overboard, but these are mostly things that I get to reuse and add to each year, since we plan to make July 4th an annual party at our house!

Plot twist: when I was walking out of Dollar General with a cart full of goodies, it was pouring down rain. Man, I was bummed. Would we have to keep people inside? Would the city fireworks show get cancelled? UGH.

July 4th Fun & Festivities

Thankfully, the rain stopped long before the party started. The ground was plenty dry, and we fired up the grill! We cooked potatoes, brats, and hot dogs, and had a seriously great time with friends and family. At about 9pm, the fireworks started, and we all gathered our lawn chairs in the perfect spot in the yard. We thanked God for our freedoms and for our loved ones, and everyone left feeling full of Independence Day goodness.

I would say that July 4th is my second favorite holiday. (Halloween is my first favorite holiday… everything about it is, as the kids are saying now, “bae.”) But there is something about the summer sun, the BBQ and beers, and the historical reminiscing that makes July 4th so special. I’ll always love it, and always look forward to it.

What was your 4th of July like this year? Where’d you go? What did you do? Most importantly, what did you eat?