Saturday, September 29, 2012

Immortality and Heights

Somehow over the course of two English degrees (and four years of high school classes), I never read Wuthering Heights. It is one of those books that has been on my "To-Read" list since high school, but it has never happened. Now, on October 8th, a film adaptation is being released here in the States. I can't see the movie before I read the book. Therefore it has just moved up on my list.

But, since I have a baby at home, and I'm not sure I could convince Beau that our big date night should involve 19th century British romance, I probably won't see it in the theatres. At least that gives me a little more time to read the novel. It is rather lengthy.

The trailer makes it look dark and mysterious. Sultry, too.

Apparently, this is the first time that Heathcliff has been portrayed as a black man in a film. From articles and such that I've read, the text supports it. In this day and age, I wonder why that distinction/rationalization even needs to be made. Funny that we--modern 21st century Americans--might be more uptight than 19th century Brits. Imagine that. (And to my non-American readers, feel free to choose to be lumped in that "we" or not. Totally your call.)
Here's James Howson as Heathcliff.
(photo from here)
Masterpiece Theatre made a miniseries a few years ago. They cast Tom Hardy.

(photo from Masterpiece)
And really, who cares what Bronte said he looked like when you can cast him... (No disrespect to Howson who is handsome as well. Not quite Hardy handsome, but who is, right?)
I may have to also watch this version. To, um, compare the versions. Yeah.

Before I pick up some Bronte, I need to finish The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

This is another title that has been on my list for some time. It is what my book club is reading this month. My choice! Whoo hoo.
I always get a little nervous when it is my choice. I don't want people to hate it and think I have terrible taste in books. I'm hoping this book is well received.
I'm about 15% done (Amazon destroyed page numbers for Kindle owners!) and liking it so far. I need to get cracking before Friday. I find, though, that if I read it too early, I forget the good stuff because I've read other books and then I don't participate in the discussion much. Nerd problems, right?
What are you reading? Is there anything on your list that has been camped there for ages?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Birth story part three...the saga ends

OK, so we got through the long, boring part and now, friends, it is time to have a baby!

After my epidural took hold, I kind of freaked out a little. My legs got really, really numb. They felt heavy and pain free. I was convinced that they were so heavy I'd accidentally move them in my sleep and the weight of them would pull me off the bed. My mom told me that it absolutely could not happen, but I demanded that they lessen the intensity of the epidural. I wanted the pain to be dulled enough to snooze, but really wanted to know what my body was experiencing in this whole labor thing.

Everyone kind of looked at me like I was cray-cray, but it was important to me. This will become significant later. You know, when I am regretting that decision and feeling some serious pain.

At around 2:00 a.m. (after some really nice epidural induced sleep) the nurse came in to ask me if I was feeling any pressure and felt like I had to push. I think my response was something to the effect of, "Well, I could push. I feel some pressure." Apparently that wasn't quite convincing enough, so she checked me, assigned a new number to a new measurement and went to talk to Jen. She came back a few minutes later and told me we were going to wait a little longer to see if the baby scooched down a little further. (Yes, that is a medical term.) I went back to sleep for about an hour.

I woke up to a much stronger desire to push. Everyone (you know, the 47 people needed to participate in the birthing event) got situated. Jen told my mom to hold my left leg and Beau's mom to hold my right. It was apparent that she wasn't sure what her role was in this event and she started to back out toward the door. Like I said, there were about 47 people in the room already--all of whom were going to get to know me VERY personally--so I thought she should be there for her grandson to be born. I was not going to be shy if she wasn't. So, she stayed.

Oh, I forgot to mention during the long boring part that the AC was out on the floor. Throughout the night it was moderately uncomfortable, but as more and more people poured into the room, and the baby warmer got turned on it got downright hot. Grody, sweaty hot. On top of the grody, sweaty hot one gets when working really hard to push a baby out of her. It was not pretty. (Nor was I as you shall see.)

I started pushing. It was slow going. I totally thought that since my pregnancy had been so easy and so uneventful I was going to have the easiest delivery. About an hour into the pushing, I realized that every hope I had of the last part being smooth was dunzo. Out the window with my birth plan. Probably having donuts or something yummy.

If you've ever been at the hospital for any reason you know that they ask you to identify your level of pain using this handy chart:

Up to this point--through allll that time-- I'd hit an eight or so once or twice. When I started pushing I was still at an eight, just a consistent eight. (The closest I'd ever come to this was when I broke my rib--that was a six. And it hurt like hell.)
 Perhaps an hour in to the pushing after varying positions and such, I was feeling really sick. I looked at my mom and, with the little bit of strength I had left, I asked for the puke bag. I expected her to know that when I turned my head toward her and mumbled "puke" she'd know what I needed. She didn't and I managed to puke on myself, my pillow and my bed. That was my break between contractions. Awesome.
And to really gross you out, I'll let you know that when you have had nothing but water and orange popsicles for over twenty-four hours, you puke up green watery bile. You're welcome for that visual.
Between two contractions, about two hours in to the pushing I asked Jen what the record was. She told me she wasn't going to let me go beyond four hours. I thought she was kidding. I really thought this pushing part was supposed to be relatively fast. Turns out I would keep pushing for three and a half hours total.
When Jen let me know that she could see out Little Man's hair, I asked her what color it was. I'd always half joked that I had to have blond babies. When she said she thought it looked dark, I told her I didn't want it. I was trying to be funny, but, well, my delivery was off. (Oh, how about totally unintentional pun.)
Now, I was at a nine on the pain scale, and I was getting frustrated. I was working so hard, she could see his hair, where was he? Was he stuck? I was starting to panic and fear that something was going to happen to my baby and I was going to be rushed in for an emergency c-section. I was terrified of that, but honestly, at this point I was more terrified for my baby. I didn't think I had enough strength to get him out and that is a really scary feeling.
Jen suggested a little game of tug-of-war with my mom to help me really bear down and push. She took a sheet, tied it in the middle and gave me the knot and gave my mom the two ends. She stood at my feet while another nurse took her position holding my legs. It is possible that Beau's mom took my other leg. I really think she did, but I'm not certain. When it was contraction time I'd pull and mom would brace herself and give me resistance. I was able to push much harder doing this, and it kind of got my mind off of what was going on. I had to concentrate so hard on pulling that I wasn't thinking about what was happening *down there*.
I'm not really sure how long I did that. I know at one point I calmly mentioned moaned that I was at a ten (hoping that there was a prize when I reached the max, perhaps.) That, I guess was the "ring of fire." "Pedro's" head was pushing through. Jen told me his head was out and I'd have to deliver the shoulders. I wanted to cry. The thought of pushing again was overwhelming. The contraction started and the next thing I knew there was a baby on my chest. My body contracted enough that I barely had to push again.

All of a sudden, at 7:23 in the morning, this squirmy, slimy baby was in my arms on my chest. I kept chanting, "Oh my God." It was, I suppose, as much an exclamation of my mind being completely blown as a prayer of thanks.
I finally got to meet Carter James. I'm not going to try to describe it, because I honestly don't have the words. At that moment something inside of me changed. I felt the most overpowering, breathtaking love. I thought I had loved the baby that grew inside of me for 37 weeks. I had no idea what love really was until that moment he was squalling in my arms.

He was absolutely perfect. (And his hair wasn't dark...)

With all of that tug-of-war going on, I'm not sure how my mom didn't have two dislocated shoulders, but when she was asked if she wanted to cut the cord, she stepped up and did it. (Honestly, I think that is almost as brave as pushing a baby out. Gross.)

Jen told me that Carter came out with his fist pressed to his temple, holding on to his umbilical cord. No wonder I hit a ten; he added another inch to the width of his head!

Almost before the pain had subsided, the acute memory of it subsided. Today, I can tell you it hurt and that it was the most pain I'd ever felt, but I can't really remember the pain. It is an abstract concept. Words, really. I'm not as scared of having another as I should be...

I'd never say these are the finest pictures of me, but they are so, so beautiful. OK, so my head is in puke, I'm sweaty, swollen (look at those chins--yes, plural. aak.) and haven't showered in twenty-seven hours, but damn, I'm a mom and that's pretty beautiful.)

Fortunately, before my Little Man was born, it was explained to me that because I had been running a fever and had been put on antibiotics, he'd have to be put on antibiotics and be monitored in the nursery to make sure that he didn't have an infection. I'm so, so glad that they told me that beforehand. I'm also really glad that my midwife understands the importance of that bonding time right after birth. I was absolutely the first person to hold him. His skin touched my skin. When he was cleaned off, it was done right there on me. Eventually he was taken for his Apgar and to be examined. (Because he was on the cusp of being a preemie they wanted to make sure he was healthy and sound.) That was quick and he was brought right back to me and I was encouraged to feed him.
For about forty-five minutes I got to hold my baby before he was taken away. I talked to him and told him how loved he was, and I really have no idea if anything else was going on around me.
I snapped out of it when the moms mentioned Panera for breakfast. Yummy. The nurses took Carter to be examined and such in the nursery and I waited for breakfast. I'm not sure if I wanted food or a shower more, but because of the epidural, I wasn't allowed out of bed quite yet. I waited patiently for my food and after breakfast got up to take a shower. It was glorious. And a little gross.
The nurses brought Carter back to me after my shower for this picture.

I hadn't brushed my hair after the shower and look funny, but look at that sweet baby peeking out from his blanket.
It hadn't occurred to me that in order to give a baby antibiotics they would have to jab a needle into his poor little body, but they would have to do that. I don't have many photos of him from the first few days because of that. The IV line just made me sad.
Before leaving so I could rest (heck, so she could rest, too) my mom went to the nursery and took this photo of my brave little boy (pre IV, but still pretty wired).

And at some point he was wheeled to my room. I have no idea when this was, but I know it was in my room on the first day of his life. They let me hold him one last time before he was encumbered by all those wires.

You'd think since the whole birth thing is over, my birth story would be done, but that's not true. He hasn't met dad yet, and that is so, so important.
When Little Man was born, Beau was on a flight to New York. In New York he got to see pictures of his son. It was 1:41 p.m. when he got the texts that confirmed he was a dad and pictures were sent. It was not long after that that he was informed all flights coming in our direction were cancelled because of a tropical storm off the coast. After taking a two hour helicopter ride,  and two eight-plus hour flights, he would have to drive the eight hours to the hospital. He did it with no rest and in record time (and got out of a ticket, too!).
At just after 11:00 p.m., I was in the nursery feeding Carter and the nurses in the nursery asked me if the man standing at the door was dad. Indeed it was. He finally got to hold his sixteen hour old son.
He looks absolutely exhausted, but like a darn proud papa. Right after I took this, he changed his diaper. Before I even changed our son, dad did. He's awesome that way. I'm easily the most blessed woman.
After some complications and some worry about his eating, Little man was released from the nursery on Thursday night and got to spend his first night with mom and dad. He was free of IVs and monitors and sensors. We finally got to hold him without fear of moving his line or setting off a sensor. Holding him in my arms knowing he'd be heading home with us the next morning was the an incredible feeling.
One last picture from the nursery for you and then I'm done. Three generations:

So there you have it my friends. My birth story. In its three-post entirety. I never, ever thought I would post photos of me without make-up, lying in puke, half naked, etc. on the Internet for the entire world to see--for all of eternity-- but it is my story and I'm so incredibly proud of it.Thank you for letting me share it. Thank you for reading it.
And especially, thank you for not judging my appearance (or my fuzzy slippers in that last photo...). You guys rock.
 What's the scariest, most rewarding thing you've ever done?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Birth story part two

I think we left off with me in wet shorts. I'll pick up from there in a minute, but I did forget two minor details and I want to warn you that I did not edit these photos. If I was a decent blogger, I would have made sure all the details were included yesterday and would edit photos. Oops. Sorry.

Details: 1)When my water broke just before 6:00 on Sunday and I contacted important people like baby daddy, my mom, Andy, etc. I realized that I'd probably be having a baby instead of going to work on Tuesday. I didn't have my sub plans written yet. I got right to that and sent them to my dear friend Angela. 2) I had also been shopping earlier that day for items to pack in my birth bag. Since I was shopping for items, the bag obviously wasn't packed. (Though Pedro's was. There I go showing signs of being a good mommy early!) While I was waiting for my mom to, you know, finish her leisurely dinner and such, I packed my bag. (I'm giving my mom a hard time; you'll see she totally earned a mom of the year award and about a billion leisurely dinners on me.)

Aside from my amniotic giggles, not much was going on. Though I was totally amped, mom convinced me to go to bed and try to get some sleep. This is the advice that everyone gives to moms in early labor. They fail to acknowledge that sleeping on the most incredible, scary, intense, emotional day that a human is going to come out of one's hoo-ha is nearly impossible.

So, to appease mom I went to bed at about 11:00 p.m. (Note, I didn't put the mattress protector on the bed because it seemed like way too much work while in labor. Fortunately gravity plays a huge role in seepage, so I was fine lying down. Just in case you wondered. You probably didn't. And didn't need that whole image planted in your head.) I got a little bit of sleep, but contractions started to come at about 2:00 a.m. They weren't intense or regular enough to really keep me up, but really, who could sleep at a time like that?!

At 2:30ish Beau sent me a text asking if I was awake. I was, so we FaceTimed. (Yes, I made that a verb.) We had not fully committed to a name yet. Our plan was to wait until we met our little guy to decide which of the names on our short list fit him best. I was really sad that Beau wouldn't be there for that and I worried that I was going to screw the whole thing up. Then he said, "I guess we'll meet Carter soon, huh?" Done. Beau got to make the final call on the name. (It was both of our favorites, so it wasn't a huge surprise to us.) He also let me know that he was going to be on the first helicopter out of there and would be on an airplane headed in the right direction soon. Stupid me, I told him I'd try to hold it as long as possible and maybe he'd be able to see the birth of his son. That sounds sweet, not stupid, right?

Yeah. Do you have any idea how long it takes a person to get from Angola to Virginia? Longer than you want to be in labor. Trust me.

After our conversation (he was amped too!) I decided that sleep just wasn't going to happen. I wanted to get back on the sit up ball turned birthing ball to help move things along. My contractions were about six minutes apart at this point, but not consistently.

Since I was up, mom got up too. I forced her to watch way too many episodes of Say Yes to the Dress to try to pass the time. She kept telling me to get some sleep--because she's wise--but I knew it was definitely not going to happen at this point.

Because the twelve hour window was coming up, I took a quick shower at about 5:00 a.m., had breakfast (because I knew once admitted they weren't going to let me eat!), talked to Jen, my midwife, on the phone and headed to the hospital.

I was clearly in a good mood and the contractions hadn't started kicking my butt yet. I am wearing one of Beau's shirts because mine hadn't fit over the bump in months.

Since it was so early, we had to go in through the emergency room. I was chauffeured upstairs in style.

Because of the lack of sleep I was too delirious to remember I was going to push a baby out of me and was just excited about the wheelchair ride.

I got situated in my delivery room and Amanda my nurse filled out my whiteboard. I wasn't ready to commit to a name yet, so we stuck with Pedro for the time being. I love that Pedro is part of my photographic birth story.

Sorry for the view of the trash cans. Here's something prettier. ME!

Nice Gown, huh? I love that picture of my bump. I don't love that I have eighteen chins in that shot. Oh well. There's no place for vanity in the delivery room. Besides, in no time I'd be out of that gown and into the cute pajamas brought. I'd be holding my perfect little baby and watching The View. Little did I know, I'd be stuck in that bed and its immediate vicinity for the next twenty-four plus hours.

Jen came in to see me and told me she had an intern and asked me if it would be cool if she participated in our adventure. I was still excited about this whole thing and thought it would take all of two hours, so I said yes. The intern checked me to verify that my water had indeed broken and measured my dilation and effacement. My water had broken (durh, we all saw that picture!), but I was still only at a 1 cm dilation. (I have no idea what the number attached to my effacement was.)

Jen, or Amanda, or someone asked me if I'd prefer Pitocin or some other labor inducing suppository.

Let me take a moment to let you know that I had spent quite a bit of time considering how I wanted my labor to go. Beau and I discussed everything and came up with a plan that would give a directive for what was best for our baby. I had dutifully typed out a birth plan that had every one of my wishes and desires. I printed it and had a copy in my bag. I had my mom go over it before we went to the hospital. I had been very thoughtful and intentional in my planning.

Nowhere on that plan were drugs. I was going to do this cave woman style. This is not because I am tough or think that drugs are bad, but because I had done enough reading to know that Pitocin is from the devil and brings on some serious pain.

When Jen (or Amanda?) told me that not doing either was no longer an option because my water had been broken for twelve hours and my risk of infection got higher, I realized that my intentional planning was out the window.

Because I was going to get Pitocin, (I chose that over the other option because it is given via an IV and can therefore be controlled) I was going to be attached to an IV pole and both the baby and myself were going to be monitored consistently. The part of my plan that talked about how I was going to walk around, take hot showers, etc. was shot to bits as well.

The cords were, however long enough that I could move from the bed to the birthing ball or rocking chair.

I love this picture of my mom and me. This was still early on. You can tell because I'm smiling an almost genuine smile.

Angela was dying to know what was going on, so I called her. She let me know that she was on her way. She didn't ask, she told. I love that she came. She told me even if I didn't want to see her, she was going to sit in the waiting room in case we needed her. What an awesome friend.

Also awesome is that she braided my hair for me.

In high school and college Cyndi would braid my hair for me. I loved it. Not only does it get my hair out of my face, it is very soothing. Cyndi couldn't be there to braid my hair for me, but Angela stepped in. Later--many, many hours later--I'd be super grateful that my hair was pulled back from my face.
Shortly after Angela arrived, Jaimie arrived. (Jaimie, sorry about the red eyes in your C &C debut...) Aren't my friends pretty?
I suppose at this point it was probably noon-ish. My friends stayed with me while my mom went downstairs to get some lunch and stretch her legs. They kept me amused and entertained.
At some point I developed a low-grade fever, so Amanda added antibiotics to my IV cocktail. It wasn't a bad fever and the antibiotics were to prevent infection.
The Pitocin was starting to take effect and  the contractions were getting stronger and stronger. My mom was there to hold my hand and help me breathe through the pain. (I also had John Mayer and Norah Jones on iTunes, so that was pretty nice.)
My friends left to go watch our school's soccer and baseball games since they were in the regional tournaments and playing not far from the hospital. Mom stayed with me. At some point mid-afternoon the intern came back in to check my progress. She felt around and let me know I was dilated to about a six. Jen got excited for me and told me that things will start moving more quickly because I'd made it over the hump. I was stoked; her encouragement was infectious. The contractions hurt, but I felt like they were manageable enough that I was going to stick to my plan of not getting an epidural. Things were moving along and I was going to meet this little person I'd fallen in love with already.
My timeline is fuzzy, but I think Jaimie and Angela came back to give mom a break for dinner. The contractions were getting worse and I was certain that meant I was making progress.
At this point Amanda had gone home and I had a new nurse. I don't remember her name, but I loved her. She was so encouraging. Anyway, she came in and asked me if she could check me because she felt like I should have made some more progress.
It didn't quite click when she told me that I was at a one. There are so many numbers associated with child birth that it didn't occur to me that she could be talking about my dilation (because I was at a six a few hours ago). She looked kind of sad for me and I realized that a one was bad, whatever it was. I asked her to clarify and she told me that's how far I'd dilated.
Let me recap: At this point I'd been in labor for almost twenty four hours. I'd had Pitocin, the devil's drug, coursing through my veins for just shy of eleven hours. I was still at a one, despite being told I was at six centimeters. The intern had somehow mis-measured me. I was devastated. All of that progress I thought I'd made was a pipe dream. I was just as dilated as I was when I walked in the door.
I asked my mom to tell Jen I didn't want the intern to touch me again. According to Jaimie, my mom may have ripped them a new one out in the nurses' station. Around me, she was a vision of calmness, but apparently the mama bear instincts stick around long after the baby bear is a baby. She got fiercely protective. needless to say, I didn't see the intern again.
At some point in the middle of all of this Beau's mom called. I had telephoned earlier in the day when I was all smiles and let her know her first grandson was on his way. She got so excited she booked a ticket south. She called to tell us she'd be here at about 11:00 p.m. I was in the middle of a painful contraction when she called, so my mom was on the phone with her. She thought she was coming to see her grandson, but I knew he wasn't going to be born yet. Surprise!
I was in some serious pain and morale had plummeted. I was running on about three hours of sleep and a bowl of cereal. I was absolutely exhausted, but in so much pain that I wasn't able to get any rest.
I hadn't heard from Beau, so I had no idea what his travel schedule looked like, and things seemed pretty bleak to me. At this point my freinds left. I'm not sure if mom sent them packing or what, but I needed some rest and it wasn't going to happen when we were hanging out. And, to be quite honest, we weren't really hanging out. I was clutching the bed rail in pain and don't really know what they were doing...
Around 8:00 p.m. the sweet nurse came in and asked me if I would consider an epidural. I didn't want one. She told me I'd be able to sleep. All of a sudden I wanted one. I knew I wasn't going to have the baby any time soon, and I didn't want to be so exhausted that I couldn't push. After talking it over with my mom, I opted to get a needle inserted into my spine. (Frankly, the reason I didn't want one is because the idea of needles anywhere near my spine freaks me out, not because I wanted to experience the pain of child birth.)
About an hour after it was offered, the most wonderful, handsome man in the world came into my room. Nope, not Beau, but the man who was going to put the lower half of my body to sleep. I have no idea if he really was handsome, but in my foggy memory, he is god-like. After stabbing me in the spine he told me he wasn't going to leave my room until I was smiling. Obviously he had no idea what labor was like. I wasn't sure I'd ever smile again. Then, all of a sudden, my legs went numb, the pain went away, and I was smiling like a simple minded fool. He was my hero.

I'm smiling under that mask.
I was able to nap now that my southern half was numb, and at some point someone came in an put an oxygen mask on me. I know she explained why, but I was so tired I just let it be put on me and went back to sleep.
Mom snapped that picture, by the way, because Beau was on FaceTime. He was in Barcelona (maybe?) getting ready to board a flight to NYC, then one home and would be there with me by 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday. I let him know that I wasn't going to hold the kid in that long, but we'd be waiting for him.
I'm grateful I got the epidural for many reasons, but the biggest is that I got to talk to Beau when I wasn't in pain. I can't imagine how helpless he would have felt seeing me in that amount of pain and knowing he was still twelve hours away.
At about midnight Beau's mom arrived. She was going to just say hi and then leave the hospital to sleep. She said she'd meet her grandson the next day when it was convenient, but I figured she'd flown down from Boston, she might as well hang out with us and then be here when her grandson arrived. It just made sense to me.
Here's Grammy updating the family on my lack of progress.
She spent the night in that uncomfortable chair. I'm sure it wasn't what she had planned, but I'm so glad she was able to be there.
Well, my patient readers. Here is where I'll leave off for the night. This one post birth story is going to turn into three.
I'd stay up to finish, but the little guy doesn't allow me to sleep in...
Moms out there: Did your birth go according to plan, or were you like me with what turned out to be a laughable plan? Were any of you realistic enough to not have a plan?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Birth story part one

I wasn't going to post this. But now, almost four months later, the details are getting fuzzy. I realized I need to put to paper blog the events of the most intense thirty-seven and a half hours of my life. It was a long labor; this will be a long post. (Edit: This will be two (?) long posts...) My mom was here to document the event in photo, among myriad other very important tasks she happily tackled. I'll include those photos as I go. (Note: Those will be in part two. Sorry to get your hopes up... You know how wordy I can get..)

On the Friday before Memorial Day a very well-meaning coworker told me the baby had dropped and I was going to have a Memorial Day baby. I wasn't due until June 18, two days after graduation, so I told him to bite his tongue because I had way too much to get done to have the baby early. He just looked at me knowingly and shook his head.

That night I took my sweet yearbook girls to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory for our annual end of the year dinner. After a super satisfying meal and some even more satisfying cheesecake, the baby (Pedro, at that point) was VERY active. At one point a bunch of girls were watching my belly and he did a crazy hard judo chop and made my belly bounce. There were loud shrieks of surprise, and maybe a little fear, and I knew we had probably overstayed our welcome at the crowded restaurant.

We went outside and took our group pictures.

(I do have some really cute group pictures, but I don't want to put pictures of my girls on the Internet without their permission. Someone did snap this photo of my big belly and two of my teensy tiny editors.)

I headed home. I was exhausted from a very long day. My feet were as big as I'd ever seen them. I called my mom and asked her to bring the spa foot bath thingy when they visited the next day. (They had already decided I was done making the hour long drive north until after the baby was born.)

When they visited on Saturday, my mom massaged my huge feet after they soaked in divine lavender bath salts she brought for me. (That's love!) Even they commented on the way my belly had dropped. Earlier that morning, I posted this picture to my Facebook page:

Beau was out of the country for work and I didn't want to have another "holy shit" moment when I picked him up from the airport. (Two weeks earlier when I picked him up he looked at my belly, said "holy shit" and then had to try to delicately backpedal so I'd give him a ride home.) My plan was to take and send weekly belly pictures. It turns out that it would be first and last installment of bellygram, the not so well known sister of instagram.

I took it easy the rest of the day and rationalized excuses not to do the grading I had brought home. I had a relatively restless night, but managed to get some sleep. The restless nights were just starting and I was expecting them to get worse for the next three weeks.

Sunday morning I got up and decided to check some errands off my to-do list. There were a few minor things I wanted to get done to prep for the baby's arrival and I figured doing them Sunday would be another awesome way to rationalize not grading. (Because I knew running errands would be enough to wipe me out for the rest of the day.) Monday I was going to buckle down and get all of the papers graded so I could spend the rest of the week packing up my classroom and getting all of the work related prep work done.

On my list of things to do was go to Bed Bath and Beyond for mattress protector (in case my water broke) and travel sized shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc; stop by my maternity photographer's house to pick up our pictures (she's amazing and will be getting her own post soon!); and a trip to Moe's was in order as well.

I was going to get started relatively early, but I was moving pretty slowly and then my BFF called from California. (Remember her from here?) We chatted for a while and discussed books that we had been reading, my pregnancy--I insisted I felt great and that the little guy was going to keep cooking for a few weeks-- and her super adorable kids. I got to Moe's and ordered my taco salad and sat and read while I ate. It was a leisurely lunch and the taco salad satiated little Pedro. (Did I mention that throughout the pregnancy I craved Mexican food? That's how he got his nickname. Obvs.)

Next was  Bed Bath and Beyond. I felt silly getting the rubber sheet, but I worried that amniotic fluid would ruin the pillowtop mattress. I envisioned my water breaking at home in bed, because too many people had suggested that it would be so funny if it broke at school. One of my EMT certified students even offered to deliver him for me if my water should break at school. The whole scenario was mortifying and made me not want to set foot in the building so I had to picture my water breaking at home just so I could work. (I had, by the way, decided that if my water broke at school I would calmly walk out of the classroom with my purse and phone, would get in the car and drive myself to the nearby hospital and while on the way would call the office and ask for a sub. I was going to vacate the building before anyone knew what was going on.)

I digress... I got my items and headed to Amanda's to get my maternity shots. I was so excited to get them! They are stunning. Seriously, when I post my story about her you are going to want to book a session with her. She's a magician/goddess/miracle worker.

During our maternity session we had discussed how Beau was going to be out of town almost up to my due date. Amanda does birth photography and she said that she'd gladly shoot my birth if Pedro came early so that Beau could see it all through her lens. Her one caveat was that I couldn't go into labor the week of Memorial Day because she was going out of town. When I went to pick up the photos, she reminded me of her offer, looked at my belly and said something to the effect of, "there's no way he's coming before I get home." I agreed, told her how great I felt and practically skipped down her driveway. (OK, I totally waddled, but in my head I was skipping. I felt so good. I'd checked items off my list and it was a beautiful day. Skip to my Lou.)

It was late afternoon at this point. As I was driving home, I passed Taste Unlimited, my favorite non-Mexican eatery. They have gellato. Divine, wonderful, amazing gellato. And I had had a scoop the day before when my parents and I went for lunch. It was good. So good that I HAD to have more. Right. That. Minute.

I was devastated when I looked into the gellato case and saw the chocolate concoction I had the day before was gone. I literally didn't know what to do. It was the one thing I had to have. And it wasn't there. I just stared blankly at the case and the poor teenage girl behind the counter probably thought I was simple. I told her how sad I was (and probably rubbed my belly in the most pathetic way possible) and she said that there was just a little bit left so they had packed it into a to-go cup. There was a pint left. Had the case of gellato not been separating us, I would have kissed the poor girl.

And being a mere child, she had no comprehension of what kind of hormone induced craving roller coaster I had just been on. She was, at that moment, my best friend in the whole wide world. (Sorry, C. You understand, though, I'm sure.)

I happily drove home and started digging in. I got about four bites in when I realized I had to go to the bathroom. Pedro hadn't been too hard on my bladder, but every once-in-a-while he'd move just right and I had to go that instant. This was one of those moments. I put the gellato down on the kitchen counter and waddled to the bathroom.

Now, I'll spare you the details, but I lost my mucus plug on that trip to the potty. (If you don't know what that is, I urge you NOT to google image it. Seriously. Now you'll want to, but don't.) I knew from my obsessively extensive reading that this was an early sign of labor, but not indicative of anything immediate. I had actually been expecting it and was excited that we were getting the ball rolling.

In my reading I had also read about how many women experienced incontinence because of pregnancy. (This was another of my school/pregnancy related fears: wetting myself in class. Ugh. I'm embarrassed for myself just thinking about it.)  As I was walking back to my gellato, I felt wetness and thought that I had experienced some of that aforementioned incontinence. Recall, though, that I had just gone to the bathroom. Odd.

I went back and decided that in order to have undisturbed gellato time it would be best if I wore a pad. (Sorry, this might be a little TMI...) I started walking back to my gellato when I felt it again. I knew, though, that there was no way I could have peed a third time in two minutes. There might have been a baby playing hackey sack with my bladder, but three times? Not a chance.

Could my water have broken? Gasp.

I hadn't had any contractions, so it couldn't have been that. Besides, I had three weeks left. And first babies come late. Everyone knows that.

I called my mom to put her on alert and to get some you're-not-in-labor reassurance. Our friends Andy and Meagan called. (Well, just Andy, but on behalf of Andy and Meagan.) They wanted to know how I was feeling and if they could do anything. My half of the conversation was probably so bizarre for poor Andy. It went something like this: "Yeah, I'm fine. I feel good. My water might have just broken, but it might just be nothing. We'll see. But thanks for checking on me. You guys are sweet." I'm pretty sure he suggested I call the doctor.

So, I did. Again, I'm sure I sounded like a moron. I called the answering service and told the lady that my water might have broken but I'm not sure, so can someone call me back? The midwife on duty called back a few minutes later and seemed a little skeptical. She said that sometimes mucus plugs keep coming out in parts and maybe it was that. She told me to lie down and then get up. I'll spare you the details, but the difference in consistency would indicate if it was mucus or amniotic fluid.

Based on what she told me it seemed very amniotic-y. I called her back and told her about my lack of contractions and that I didn't really want to hang out at the hospital if I didn't have to. She told me I could labor at home for up to twelve hours or until the contractions got close together (4-1-1 as per birth classes!).

Andy called me back and I told him I was probably in labor but it wasn't a big deal yet. He invited me to have dinner at his in-laws' house so I wouldn't have to be alone. I had enough sense to decide that it wasn't polite to leak fluid at the dinner table so I declined. Then, I called my mom and asked her if she wanted to have a sleepover at my house. Her response, and I kid you not, was, "we're about to have dinner. I'll leave when we are finished."

I'm not suggesting that mom is cold hearted or wasn't excited. I like to think this reaction was a testament to how calm and collected I was. Or, whatever was for dinner was darn good. Who knows?

At some point in here I sent Beau a text that read, "I think I might be in labor. I'll let you know" of course, he called immediately and let me know that he'd me home as soon as he could. I told him to text me when he was done working and if I was up we'd talk. I wanted to be able to confirm that I was actually in labor before he flew home from Africa.

Mom arrived at about 9:00 p.m. and we hung out for a while. I was still not entirely convinced that this was IT. I started having minor contractions, but nothing to make me really believe that I was in labor. I decided that if it was, I should move it along a little, so I got my exercise ball out and did a thousand crunches.

Just kidding. I wanted to see if you were still reading. If you aren't, you should start.

I was swaying on the ball and mom said something funny. I laughed and fluid squirted out. I thought that was really gross/funny and laughed more. I gushed more, which made me laugh more. You see how this is going. It was a vicious, and very wet cycle. I sent this photo to Beau with the message, "Yep, water definitely broke..."

 Like the towel between my legs? This might just be the hottest photo of me.

Stay tuned for part two of the birth story. Where there is an actual birth. And way more pictures. That don't make me look like I wet my pants.

OK, fess up, how many of you looked up mucus plug?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Falling for Fall

Happy first day of fall, friends.

We live very close to a university and they had a home football game today. My windows were open and I got to hear the roar of the crowd. It was awesome. I wish I could have been there, but since it was loud enough to hear at my house, I imagine it would have been too loud for Little Man.

(Photo from Merchant Circle)

Maybe next fall he'll get to experience a college football game.

While I love summer, I'm kind of glad fall is here. There is something so refreshing about that slight chill in the air that reminds us that summer has come to a close. Even though it was probably 80 degrees here during the day, the evening air turned crisp. Soon the trees will be turning and leaves will be crunching underfoot.

Hopefully our little family will venture back up to West Virginia to check out the Blue Ridge foliage. If you haven't noticed, the West Virginia mountains are our new favorite hang out. I guess with baby we've mellowed a little. There's something about seeing a vast wilderness before you that makes you slow down and look at life a little differently.

(Photo from Romantic Asheville. Click here to see more of that gorgeousness.)

That photo is of Asheville, NC. It isn't quite West Virginia, but the same mountain range, so close enough. I liked that there are other photos on the page for you to browse.

As the trees change and the weather turns chilly, sweaters will become my go-to. I like this stripe cowl from here. It might be time to go shopping... (If you're reading this, Beau, I'm totally kidding. I hate to shop. You know that.) No, but really, guys, isn't fall shopping such fun? The boots, the scarves, the layers.

There's a certain flavor to autumn, too. While I'm not a fan of pumpkin flavored anything, and cinnamon isn't my bag, I am looking forward to steamy cups of hot chocolate and home-made soups. Mmmmm. Yep, I'm ready for summer to be done.

What do you like best about autumn?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Instagram art

I love what Instagram does to my photos, but hate how they just kind of sit on my phone and Facebook after I have fun with filters. I have some pretty nifty shots that don't really get to see the light of day. So, a few weeks ago blog sensations Young House Love posted a giveaway for Canvaspop, a company that specializes in turning Instagram art into canvas prints. Their post opened new doors for me. While I didn't win, I did take advantage of the 30% off discount (checkout code YHL30 good through 12/31/12!!).

All of a sudden I knew that my Instagram treasures would become legitimate art! Like for our walls! Whoo hooo!

Just the other day these guys appeared on my doorstep:

Each canvas is 12"x12" and is perfect!  My only regret is that I didn't use the same Instagram filter on each photo. (You can see how one border is dark and the other is light. Totally my bad, but since the photos weren't taken or Instagrammed the same day, or had any higher purpose at the time, how was I to know?)

Here' a closer look. 

This summer we took Little Man to the beach once (pre-baby, I thought it would be so easy and we'd be there all the time...HAH!). While we were on that one trip to the beach, I took this shot of him contemplating the sand and it has become my favorite picture of him. I love the floppy sun hat pushed jauntily back (because it was too big, but whateves), his super chunky cheeks, and the sweet bow of his lip. I could just eat him up. I also love that I captured his mellow personality perfectly in the shot. He's very contemplative. Not only did I get it with my iPhone, but now it is on canvas and will, someday, be hanging on my wall!
The other image is our first kiss as husband and wife. More on our super sweet, super private elopement coming soon. But here's the shot, up close and personal.
Yes, I know there is an element of irony in the photos in this post being terrible when the post is about a company that converts awesome photos to canvas. Stop judging. You're missing the point: these things are awesome and if Beau doesn't stop me, all of our walls will be covered in canvas! There are worse things, right?
Perhaps soon I'll do a little update and show you where they hang. I'm still contemplating that. (Remember this post about my ineptitude when it comes to decorating?)
So, tell me, what photo would you have printed on canvas and beautifully displayed?
Oh, BTW, if you use either of the links to Canvaspop I provided, you'll save $30 on your order of $100. Like magic. Hopefully you'll have a better idea of where to hang your Instagram art than I do!

Monday, September 17, 2012

My HONEST Opinion

Have you heard about the company called Honest?

Not too long ago Plum District, a Groupon-like company offered a deal on Honest products. I spent $20 for $40 worth of products. I'd been talking about Honest with my neighbor Ayme and decided this was as good a time as any (OK, better!) to sample a few of their products.

Using my voucher, I purchased the shampoo and body wash, conditioner, diapers (with anchors on them!!), and mini hand sanitizers. Let me just say, the diapers are incredibly cute!! Look at those ice cream cones and skull and crossbones! They are, by far, the most adorable disposable diapers I've ever seen.

(Image stolen from the Honest website.)

What I like most about this company is their care and concern for the health and well-being of their customers and the environment. The diapers are natural, plant-based and easy on a bum with sensitive skin. Most of the time I don't use disposable diapers, but when I'm out and about I decided carrying around a wet bag, diapers and covers is just too much. I've been seeking the best possible diaper for Little Man to wear when we are hanging out away from home. Regular diapers give his little bum a rash, and the chemicals give me the heebie-jeebies. To be honest, there aren't a ton of options out there. Honest diapers fit the bill and surprisingly they cost about as much as other 'sposies.

Completing my order was super easy, the delivery was quick, and the products felt like they were high quality. You can't see it, but both of my thumbs are up. Why yes, that does make it very difficult to type. Thank you for asking.

I do have to say I'm not in love with the shampoo and conditioner, but that's because I'm weirdly picky about smell. The products are made with vanilla and tangerine essential oils, which to most normal people probably sounds nice. I'm clearly not normal; I don't love the way they make my hair smell. It isn't unpleasant, but I'm not a fruity or vanilla-y kind of person. I'd be super stoked if they developed a lavender formula. (Ahem, hint, Honest.)I'd buy the heck out of that!

My Honest opinion is that this brand is definitely worth checking out. Heck, you can even skip out on that annoyingly expensive Target run that consists of diapers, beauty and cleaning products and have them all delivered to your doorstep. (Thus freeing up your Target runs for those nonessential items that just kind of end up in your cart, but make you really happy.) How cool is that?

If you could have anything delivered to your doorstep, what would it be? (Dibs on David Beckham. Sorry ladies.)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I'll Drink to That

While I was poking around the Internet (thank you, StumbleUpon) I found this little gem of a site.

Its one function is to select a beverage based on the music you are listening to. For example, if you are listening to The Offspring, you should be drinking PBR with an olive (presumably the 40 ounce version). Mozart, a bottle of red wine, garnished with a cherry. Florence and the Machine also calls for red wine, but with a pineapple garnish. Obviously.

Is garnishing beer and wine a thing? I mean I almost understand garnishing Madonna's vodka with pickled carrot sticks (?), but why is Michael Buble's Merlot free of adornment, yet Frank Sinatra's needs a maraschino cherry?

I guess I have a thing or two to learn. Or three: look up Bob Marley. Is that for real?? I'll keep looking for my soundtrack for champagne and strawberries.

(Photo taken by Velo Steve and found on Flickr.)

Do you pair music with drinks? Do you know where to find pickled carrots? Ever sip Merlot with fruit?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

You Bet Your Cass

Beau, Little Man and I have done some recent traveling. Twice in recent weeks we have gone to West Virginia for a soon to be disclosed, but currently top-secret mission. (Oooh, the suspense. I know...) On our way home for one such top-secret, super suspenseful trips, we decided to make a spur-of-the-moment stop in Cass, West Virginia to ride the Cass Scenic Railroad. (Those of you who know Beau know that spur-of-the-moment is his forte!)

Frankly, it was pretty cool! Once upon a time, there were over 3,000 miles of logging tracks in the mountains of West Virginia. Now there are only 11, but they are 11 working miles that make up the Cass Scenic Railroad. An adventurous person can traverse all eleven miles of said tracks. We, however, skipped the four hour trip and took the shorter four mile, two hour trip to Whittaker Station. (While Little Man is an awesome baby, we thought four hours on a train might test even his patience.) 
Whittaker Station is home of a recreated, authentic logging camp. And some absolutely breathtaking views.
Here in Virginia, people sometimes say derogatory things about West Virginia and its inhabitants. I think those people need to visit places like Cass. Views like this will shut anyone up.
Anyway, back to the train. Our trusty guide was locomotive #5. Shay #5. It is the second oldest Shay locomotive in existence. It has been in service since November 1905 and it weighs in at a mere 90 tons. As we climbed the 7% grade, the locomotive billowed black puffs and soot rained down on us. I can't remember exactly how many pounds of coal we shovelled into the engine to produce the steam that powered it, but if I recall correctly, it was about 1500 pounds. I remember saying to Beau that the poor man had moved the equivalent of a Ford F-150 in the course of our two hour trip. Whoa.

At each railroad crossing, and as we approached the stations, the conductor would sound the ear-piercing whistle. My super brave son only got a little perturbed by it. There was a chin quiver at one point, but for the most part, the whistle was met with a look of sheer surprise mixed with a smidge of suspicion.
But, you know little boys...they love trains. Their dads do too. Beau is already planning on taking the four and a half hour trip to Bald Knob when Little Man is old enough to geek out with him.
Here are a few more sights from the trip.

If you happen to find yourself in West Virginia (like we did twice in one week...) I highly recommend stopping in Cass for a few hours. You might be pleasantly surprised at what West Virginia has to offer. This is just one of many wonderful adventures to be had in this fine state. (Over the course of the last few years, we've also rafted the New River, hung out at the Greenbrier, and visited/skied Snowshoe, so I feel that I can make that last statement with the utmost authority.)
And, hint, we hope to have many more WV adventures.
Have you made a spur-of-the-moment stop that turned into a great little adventure? Tell me about it!