Saturday, December 7, 2013

in which i do something i haven't done in 10 years

look.  i'm a coward.

but two days ago i learned the local theater was performing Les Mis, the musical i've obsessed over for twenty years.  and i've been saying i want to do another show.  and i have this small window in which i only have one kid and i'm not pregnant, and could possibly do a show.  and hello.  it's Les Mis.  so i had no excuses, other than that i was terrified and didn't want to do it.

i wanted to do it, but i only wanted to do it if i knew i could do it well and get a part.  and how could i prepare for an audition in two days?  most people had known for two months!  i thought of lots of reasons why i shouldn't do it, but they mostly involved fear.  and the reasons i should do it involved knowing that i'd regret it if i didn't, and wanting to be an example for ellery.  also, i kept thinking of sara.  she would've wanted me to do it.  she would've auditioned with me.

so i found a song to sing and i sang.  lucky i married a fellow theater kid/choir nerd, because sam was ever the helpful critic, coaching me on vibrato, where to pause, where to crescendo.  and do you know what?  i wish i would've learned about this two months ago.  because maybe instead of singing for 12 hours straight, i would've prepared a song and then given my voice a rest before the audition.  as it happened, i probably way overused my voice (which hasn't really been used in the theater way in a long time), and by this afternoon i was hoping i would still have a voice.

i still had a voice.

i nailed my song.

what is it about performance time that makes it all come together?  i hadn't had one solid practice run, but throw me in front of a couple directors and the nervous energy turns into adrenaline that catapults me through.  i always did better when i was actually performing for an audience, rather than just rehearsing.  and oh my gosh.  i missed that anxious, excited, i'm-going-to-throw-up feeling you get right before a performance.

so i auditioned.  and can we talk about how many others showed up to try out?  at least 150 people - all ages, from all over the area.  i overheard two girls from tualatin, a couple from albany.  apparently everyone wanted to be part of this show.  my favorite was seeing the children - hopeful, ballsy kids who sang their hearts out.  i sang right after an adorable eight year-old boy who whispered to me just before he went on, "i'm nervous."  i whispered back, "we all are, dude!"  right?  we're all nervous.

in fact, i'd never been so nervous for an audition before.  the only other director i've ever worked with is Ms. Hughes, the drama teacher who ignited the flame that is my love for musical theater.  anyone who did drama at pioneer can tell you - she was outta this world incredible.  i did my first show with her when i was ten, and i was only asked to be part of it because i was friends with her son.  he needed a dance partner, and my sisters and brother were in the show, so it worked.  by the time i had to audition for any shows, she already knew what i could do.  there wasn't that pressure to show her everything i was capable of in two short minutes.  i felt that pressure today.

also?  porterville was a little pond.  i was disappointed if i didn't get the lead.  now?  i'll be thrilled to even get a callback.  in my little group of ten that i auditioned with, there were two women about my age with phenomenal vocal talent.  average that out for each group of ten, and that's thirty women who can sing.  and i mean sing.  so if i'm considered at all, i'll be stoked.  if they ask me to be in the chorus?  amazing!  if i'm actually considered for a singing part?  shut up, i'm fainting.

oh also, my favorite part of the day - we'd all been there almost 3 hours and they still had over 100 people to audition.  so the director told us he was going to cut us off once he'd heard enough.  i was holding out a note and frantically trying to remember what the next lyric was.  i started panicking, hoping it would come to me before i finished that note, when he said, "that's enough, thank you!"  and i was saved.  and i should've mentioned that the walls were covered with posters advertising old shows.  at the end of my song, i happened to notice the poster for seussical, performed in march 2009.  sara's show.  she was a bird girl.  and watching her perform, goodness, you knew she was having a blast.  and i almost cried.  because really, i didn't get long enough with her.  none of us did.

okay, that's enough.  except this: sam rewarded me for my bravery with a DQ blizzard.  ice cream is good for vocal chords, yes?  ha.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

to the new moms, and soon-to-be moms

first of all, let me apologize for my singular subject lately - motherhood.  i know that's all i seem to write about these days, but this is the reality of my life right now, so there you go.  feel free to ignore this blog, for those of you who are sick of this subject.

also, if you like reading my blog and normally get to it from facebook, you might want to start following by email, which you can do on the right side of the page over there. --->  i won't be posting the blogs to facebook anymore.

and on to the subject of the blog...

these are some things i've learned in the short time i've been a mama - things that would've been nice to know, things i learned a little too late, things that will (hopefully) be somewhat encouraging.  or at least may you know that you are not alone.  you can read What to Expect the First Year, which is a very helpful book, but there are some things that aren't in there.  my friend marci and i think we could write a book on this subject - and maybe we will!  but for now, a simple blog post.

follow your instincts for your child
different babies need different things.  allow yourself to do what you feel is right for your own child and your lifestyle without feeling any guilt or pressure.  i have one friend who got all the vaccines for her kid, and one who doesn't want to get any.  that's fine.  they are doing what's right for their children.  do what you feel is right for your baby.  you're the only mother he/she has, and your instinct is what is needed.

surround yourself with people who've gone before you
it's such a blessing to have friends and family who have children.  in the beginning, i was constantly calling my sister for advice and help, wondering how i should go about things and if things were normal.  help from others who have done it before is vital.

surround yourself (if you can) with people who are doing it with you
two of my closest friends had babies soon after me - one the next day (and we had the same due date!) and one three weeks later.  as much as i love talking to my mom friends who have toddlers, there is something refreshing about talking to someone who is just as lost as i am.  i'm constantly texting marci and elise, confessing fears and mistakes, and it's just really nice when they admit that they're going through the same thing.  they're having the same arguments with their husbands, they are worried about the same things, and they get it.  sometimes i think moms can forget how hard it is to have your first baby, especially if they have multiple children.  my sister told me that it gets easier every time you have a baby, and admitted that her first baby was the hardest adjustment.  by her third child, she was thinking that the newborn phase was so simple!  (that makes me think i need to have more babies asap, ha.)  so if a friend is on her second or third baby and you're wondering why it seems to be easier for her, relax.  she's done it before.  and she was just as lost as you are when she had her first.

it's not always cute and sweet
i always thought that babies were supposed to have really soft skin and be completely precious all the time.  not always true.  ellery had a blocked tear duct for the first few weeks, which resulted in a ton of yucky eye goop, sometimes so thick that her eye was sealed shut after a nap.  and that umbilical cord stump? nasty.  i hated that thing.  i couldn't wait for it to fall off, which it did after a week, mercifully.  i called the doctor twice thinking it was infected.  ellery also developed pretty severe baby acne that didn't really go away for six weeks.  her little body was covered with the rash, even underneath her hair.  i looked at pictures of friends' babies with envy, since their kids didn't seem to have this painful-looking rash.  (also, just for your peace of mind, baby acne isn't painful for the baby.  it was more painful for the mama.)  then there's also cradle cap, which can just seem really gross at times if it gets bad.  (but coconut oil worked wonders for E's cradle cap!)  so if your baby seems to have all these weird, gross things going on?  it's normal.  and your baby is still cute and precious.

your baby is developing fine
one reason i wish i hadn't read What to Expect the First Year was that it tells you what milestones your baby should be reaching.  and oh my gosh, if baby isn't reaching the milestones she's supposed to be reaching, this mama freaks out.  in the first few weeks i was so concerned that she was developing at the right pace.  i worried she wasn't getting enough tummy time, and that she'd never be able to crawl with how weak her muscles seemed.  not to mention, if you do have friends who have babies the same age, you'll find yourself wondering why your baby isn't doing the things their baby can do.  but the good news is, they all catch up.  even the babies with the most incapable parents still eventually learn to walk.  and you'll think your baby will never be able to hold herself up on her elbows and one day, out of nowhere, she'll just prop herself up like a big girl.  bottom line: unless your pediatrician is worried, your baby is fine.  

keep track of nursing/sleeping
i didn't start doing this until Elle was about six weeks old, and i wish i'd done it sooner.  my phone has an app on it that allows me to keep track of everything - nursing, naps, diaper changes, milestones.  and it's so much easier to figure out why she's crying when i can look at my phone and see, oh, she's been awake for over an hour, she needs a nap, or she hasn't eaten in three hours, or what have you.  it takes away the guessing game to a certain degree.  plus, you can tell your pediatrician if something seems off, like she hasn't had a dirty diaper in four days, etc.

prepare to eat (some of) your words
before i had a baby, i was certain of the type of mom i'd be.  i'd lean more toward the tough-mom style.  since i was never a big fan of kids before having one, i didn't see why moms babied their kids so much.  but you guys, ellery is such a sweet little innocent lamb, that oh my gosh, i can't help myself.  she's definitely slept in our bed.  i've nursed her to sleep.  i'm way more into the attachment-style than i thought i would be.  plus, i was always so annoyed by people who posted constant pictures of their baby.  but if your family all lives in a different state, you just might post constant pictures of your baby, if only so that you feel like they are part of the baby's life.  and you might swear you'll never be like other moms and cut your hair after having a kid, and then you'll realize that you simply don't have time for long hair and that baby is constantly pulling your hair, so you chop it.  bottom line: it's okay if you're a different mom than you thought you'd be.  (and you'll probably find yourself wishing you could apologize to all the moms you judged before having a kid.)

some things will be easier, some things will be more challenging
ellery was a champ with nursing.  she latched immediately, and all the nurses were so impressed with her ability to eat.  breastfeeding was something that terrified me, so it was a welcome surprise that it came so naturally for both of us.  it's easily one of my favorite things about having a baby, and i never thought i'd be one of those moms.  but she's just not interested in sleeping.  not great at napping or sleeping all night.  so there you go.  your baby may struggle with nursing but be a champion sleeper.  some things will be harder than you expect and other things will be simpler.

there will be good days and bad days
...and good weeks and bad weeks.  some days you'll think you've got this whole motherhood thing in the bag.  the next day the baby won't nap and will be constantly hungry and you'll wonder if you'll ever feel normal again.  elle and i have gone through phases together.  the first two weeks were absolute bliss - i had the perfect baby.  weeks 3-6 were monstrous.  she cried a lot.  weeks 7-12 were fabulous again, but 13-16 were pretty rough.  i think it's pretty important to learn about this pattern now.  i'd like to believe that not a day has gone by when my mom hasn't loved being my mom, but i'm pretty sure she wasn't a fan of the middle school years or my senior year of high school.  (now that i've given her another grand baby i think she loves being my mom again.)  but really, i think it's a good idea to accept that some days it'll be awesome being a mom, and other days it'll feel really hard.

so there you go.  the knowledge i've gained after nearly four months of being a mom.

the end.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

it's ok, because babies cry

as sam and i waited to board the plane at the airport, i saw a mother with three little ones, balancing a baby on her lap and asking the two older girls, probably around four and six years old, to help with the luggage.

i smiled.  "how old is she?" nodding to the littlest babe.

"three months, born may 3rd. yours?"

"may 29th.  by the way, you are brave, flying with all three on your own!"  i'd felt a little frazzled that morning, even though i had my very helpful, capable husband with me.

the woman, who had the prettiest sleeve tattoo on her right arm, shrugged.  "you do what you gotta do!"

since we all boarded at the same time (i now know why families with children get to board first!), the woman sat in the row in front of us.  "this way if my baby cries, i can blame it on you guys.  no one will know which baby it is!"  sam and i laughed and agreed.

then i heard one of her daughters ask if her mom thought the baby would cry on the plane.  i loved the mom's response.  "well, we're going to hope she sleeps the whole time, but she may wake up and cry.  but that's okay, because babies cry."

that's when i knew she was the type of mom i wanted to emulate.  i listened as she spoke to her daughters throughout the flight.  she never seemed to get stressed or overwhelmed, and excitedly pointed out buildings growing smaller and smaller as the plane rose into the clouds. and i think i know why she seemed so relaxed about a situation i would have found drenched in anxiety.  she understood and accepted the basic things in life about having kids, and didn't seem to mind about things that were normal, like babies crying.

it's okay, because babies cry.  babies wake up, and they cry.  babies have no other means of communication, so they let us know they are tired, hungry, bored, overwhelmed, etc. by crying.  it's something i'm still learning to be okay with.

i'm okay with it when i'm at home.  ellery cries, and i try to figure out if it's hunger or tiredness, and do what i can to help her stop crying.  it's when we go out into the world that i'm bothered, when i get stares from people who seem to be really irritated by my child communicating her needs with me.  in the grocery store, at the park, at church (don't even get me started on that one), even at friends' homes.  it's what makes me want to be a hermit, staying in my safe house with my precious baby, who can cry whenever she needs without angry stares from others.

she can cry.  maybe she won't be called an "easy baby" by those who hear her scream, but i'm okay with that.  what is that anyway, an easy baby?  i kind of hate that term.  what does it even mean?  a baby who doesn't demand too much of anyone, who doesn't interrupt your life too much?  people have asked me if ellery is an easy baby, and i'm never sure how to respond.  is it harder because i'm not as good of a mother?  is it harder because i choose to be more of a hands-on mom?  is it harder because ellery is sensitive, like her mom, and requires more gentleness and help?  is she "easy" to love? absolutely.  is it "easy" for me to sacrifice showers, sleep, and eating to tend to her needs?  yep.  don't ask me if my baby is an "easy baby".

maybe by the time i've got three little ones, i can be as zen as this mother at the airport was.  maybe with daily reminders to myself, i can slowly let go of worrying that others think my baby cries too much and simply be grateful that i have a healthy, thriving, very happy baby who brings inexpressible joy into my life.

i'll just keep telling myself that it's okay, because babies cry.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

invader

Last night I think I discovered the origin of the whole "attachment parenting" idea.  You know, baby-wearing and co-sleeping.  Want to know my theory about how it came about?

It was a spider.

Yep.  I discovered this last night when we had our own uninvited guest.  I was walking through the living room and almost stepped on a ginormous spider.  I'm not kidding you when I say that for a moment I thought there was a tarantula in our house.  It was huge.  I nearly stepped on it, then shrieked, "Is that a SPIDER?! Oh my GAAAAAHHHD!!!!"  No, I never use the Lord's name in vain - that's how freaked out I was.  Sam, being the practical, non-arachnophobic man that he is, said, "Don't say that," and calmly went to get a tissue to kill the beast.  As he walked away, the spider sprinted across the room, right past the activity mat that Ellery loves laying on, and under the couch.  I screamed more, and Sam calmly lifted the couch and caught the giant demon.

This was when I discovered I may have a slight case of arachnophobia.  I was panicked.  I know he killed the spider, but I couldn't help feeling like there were spiders crawling all over me.  I refused to walk into the living room again, convinced that there were spiders covering the floor.

Our friends think the spider was a "giant house spider", often found in the PNW.  A quick google search will tell you that this spider held the Guinness book of records for it's speed.  Does that freak you out at all?  That's how you know I'm not lying when I say this spider sprinted across the room.  Fastest moving spider I've ever seen, which makes sense since it's legs were five inches long.

So okay, we finally calmed the baby down enough to go to sleep, and I finally exhausted myself enough to be able to go to sleep (after a thorough search of our bed to ensure that none of his friends were there lurking), and a few hours later, baby wakes up to eat.  I'm so terrified of stepping on the floor in the dark, that I bring baby back to bed with me to nurse her there, and leave her in bed with us.  There was no way I was going to get out of bed in the dark again.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that it appeared the spider came out of her room, which meant I was not going in her room, let alone leaving her alone in there.  That's why I think the idea of co-sleeping came from a spider - it was a mom who was too terrified of encountering a huge spider in the dark, so she had baby sleep in bed with her.

I have no idea when I'll feel okay with putting Ellery on her activity mat on the floor again.  Today I put it on our king-sized bed so she could still lay on it and play.  But I'm pretty sure that's where the baby-wearing idea came from, too - someone who didn't want their baby on the floor ever, so they carried the baby everywhere.  Thanks a lot, stupid spiders.

Today I purchased some peppermint essential oil, after learning that spiders hate peppermint, and it's a safe, nontoxic way to keep them away.  But how much peppermint oil will it take to drench our entire house in it?

I hate spiders.  And I may or may not have told Sam that I want to move out of this house because of that spider.  And no, I do not think that is irrational.  You would've done the same.

P.S. Sorry for no photos to accompany this post.  But trust me, you would not want to see a picture of this spider, or you'd be shivering all night, convinced you had a spider on you.  You're welcome.

Friday, August 30, 2013

on not sleeping. ever.

Here's the thing.  My child is a night owl.

And I am not.

Anyone who has ever lived with me or worked a morning shift at Starbucks with me can verify that I am the ultimate morning person.  It's 4:15 and we have to start making coffee?  Great!  What a beautiful morning!  Aren't we so lucky that we get to be awake to watch the beautiful sunrise?!  (To all my former customers and coworkers, particularly Carmel, I'm sorry.  I know I must have been ridiculously annoying.)

Baby let on that she was a night owl while still in the womb.  Around ten or eleven every night, she'd start her own little party.  And I'd be like, hey baby, I'm pregnant, remember?  And I'm thoroughly exhausted, so if you could just realize it's bedtime that would be great.  Also, baby didn't like waking up early at all.  I had gestational diabetes, so my diabetes counselor wanted me to make sure that baby kicked at least ten times an hour because there was a higher risk of fetal demise.  (I know, doesn't that sound like fun?  Worrying that my baby's heart was no longer beating every hour?  This is why my patience with people who complain about their normal, healthy pregnancies is low.)  Every morning, I'd be pleading with God and baby for any movement to let me know she was okay.  And finally around ten in the morning, she'd give a half-hearted little jab, as if to say, Dude mom, I'm fine, but it's, like, so early and it's really tiring growing and developing and stuff, so you need to chill while I sleep, aight?  (Sorry for the vernacular, but I grew up in California and I sort of think that's how Ellery talks in her head.  Because she's a California girl at heart, of course.)

From age 2 weeks until about five weeks, Ellery's bedtime was around midnight.  She was a great sleeper, but her timing was just a little off.  She'd sleep from about midnight until ten in the morning, and only wake up twice to nurse.  I realized I could make this schedule work, because that way it gave Sam more time with the baby at night when he was home.  So I'd drink my coffee around 5pm to gear up for staying up past my bedtime, and it worked for us.  Ever since then, we've slowly been working on an earlier bedtime, and lately she's been sleeping from about nine to eight.

The problem is, my body is still set to the later schedule.  So when baby goes to sleep around nine, or even earlier, it's a problem.  Because I'm wide awake.  Sam and the baby will both go to bed and I'll be physically exhausted but unable to sleep.  I've tried going without caffeine and that hasn't helped.  And now Ellery has decided that hey, mornings are pretty cool, so let's wake up at five or six am!  Not only that, but when I wake up to nurse her, it takes a good hour for me to fall asleep again.  Not cool.

The thing is, she had been doing great sleeping...until we went to California.  Let that be a lesson to those of you with babies.  Don't travel.  Ever.

I'm sure she'll work it out and get back on track, but until then, the only thing that helps when I'm suffering from this ridiculous insomnia is to sit with the cats in the kitchen, eating goodie bars.  (The cats love middle-of-the-night hangouts.  It's the only time they really get my undivided attention anymore.  Sorry Morty.  Sorry Willow.)





**Disclaimer: This post is intended for entertainment value only.  It is not a request for anyone's advice on sleep training.  I had no idea what a controversial subject sleep training was (Cry it out? Babywise?  Co-sleeping?) and have no desire to start any debates here on the blog.  Lest you think I am not humble enough to accept advice and teaching, please understand I have requested advice from those I actually want it from.  Thanks in advance for not telling me what I should or shouldn't be doing to help my baby sleep. :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

month 3

^^This photo was taken by our friend Navid during our recent trip to Petaluma.  She looks so sweet!^^

Likes:
"Itsy-bitsy Spider", "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes", and "If You're Happy and You Know it"
Her activity mat - keeps her happy forever
Bouncing on the bed (see video below)

Dislikes:
Walks in the stroller (apparently she's not cool with me exercising)
Being awake for too long
Being put down for a nap (so tired, but so angry when she realizes it's naptime!)


Cannot believe this kid is three months old.  She surprises me every day with new tricks, and they come out of nowhere.  For the longest time she just screamed when I put her on her belly, then all of a sudden she propped herself up on her elbows.  She's also rolled over a bunch, but not super consistently.  She usually does it when she's not feeling tummy time.  And she laughed for the first time a week ago!  We were in Petaluma, and I was trying to stop her crying and just started bouncing her on the bed.  She started giggling so I shouted for Sam to come see and he was able to record some of it.  She's only done it once more since then, but every time my little heart melts.  There's nothing quite like hearing your first baby's first cry and first laugh!  I just keep thinking she's still just a tiny newborn, but each milestone she reaches tells me she's growing up.  Bittersweet?  Yes.  But oh how I love this little human. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

here's how my weekend is starting off!

Ellery and I often go visit Sam at work.  It makes his day and calms him down and so it's something we do.  Sometimes it stresses me out just a bit because inevitably whenever we finally get around to going, she's about fifteen minutes away from needing to be fed or needing a nap.  Weird how I haven't figured out how to plan better to just take her right after she's eaten and slept, but apparently I'm a glutton for a crying baby.  Someday I'll learn how to be a mom.  But anyway, usually on the way to his office, she's crying, and I'm saying, "Ellery, daddy will be so happy to see you.  Sometimes we have to do things we don't like for other people that we love, and that's called sacrifice."  I take every opportunity to teach her things, people.  She answers me by screaming more.

Today we especially needed to visit Sam at work because this morning I may have been a little grumpy with him.  I was up with the baby a few times last night and pretty sleepy and the husband leaves before 7am for work every day.  And I'm sleeping with baby girl on my chest this morning before Sam goes to work, and he touches my arm and wakes me up and I try to ignore it and stay asleep and he starts talking to me!  You know, saying he loves me and he hopes I have a good day and stuff a good husband does before he leaves for work, and I'm like, "WHY ARE YOU WAKING ME UP!?!!"  And he says, "Don't be mean," and lowers his head and backs away like a sweet puppy and I go back to sleep.  Then I wake up and I'm like, okay, so maybe I was a little tired when I said that and a touch grumpy and I should probably take him a coffee and we should go visit him to make up for it.

So we hit Starbucks first and I am ecstatic to get my own coffee too, because remember how I was up a lot with the baby?  When we get to Sam's office I leave my coffee in the car and we go see him and baby girl is just marvelous and even smiles at her dad, even though she's tired and hungry and wet and I just think what a patient little girl she's being.  Then we barely make it home before she's just really pissed off and I set my own untouched coffee on the hood of the car while I get her out of her car seat.

Here's my coffee now.


And here's what was left in the cup.


So I grumbled a lot and shook my fist at the sky, because obviously coffee is the most important part of my day.  And then I fed the baby and what do you know?  She refused to take a nap.  So I make coffee myself while she plays and go to get the creamer out of the fridge.  Aaaaand we're out of creamer.  I'm not kidding you, the sound that escaped my mouth when I was standing there at the open fridge sounded identical to this.

If you're too lazy to click on the link, it's a video of Chewbacca growling.


^^ That's me angrily drinking my made-at-home black coffee. ^^

And speaking of the above picture, I got my hair cut with lots of layers that works really well when my hair is curly.  I realized last night that when it's straight, I look like I have a mullet.  Awesome.

Needless to say, if these are my biggest complaints about my day, life is pretty darn grand.  Right?  (And it helps that I have my treat receipt to go get a $2 drink from Starbucks this afternoon.)

So happy Friday, everyone!  May your weekend be filled with lots of coffee, babies that take good naps, and husbands that don't wake you up from your precious time sleeping.  (Ok, nevermind, your husband can wake you up because in reality it's awfully thoughtful of him.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

my favorite thing

Some people are lucky enough to have their dream job.

And some people don't realize what their dream job is until they have it.


There was a time when I didn't want to have kids.  I didn't even want to get married.  I'd heard a really great message about being single when I was in college, (listen to it here) about how when you don't have your own family to take care of, you are more available to be used by God to minister to others.  And I loved that idea.  And I still completely support it and think it's a noble, amazing way to live.



And then I met Sam, and then we got married, and even when we were married we didn't want kids. Then something really tragic happened and we realized how important family was, and then we wanted kids.  And we talked about when we wanted to have kids, and before we could decide, I was pregnant.  I'm convinced God did all this, sort of against my will, because He knew what I wanted and needed better than I did.  That's usually the case, right?

It turns out, I love being a mom.  I finally feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.  I'm not saying I'm good at it - in fact, I've never felt more inadequate or unprepared for a job.  I've never had to rely on God more for strength, to hourly beg him for wisdom and energy.  It's the hardest job I've ever done, the most physically taxing.  But I've never loved anything more.


There are times I don't get to eat until noon, because the baby is hungry and wet and requires attention.  Sometimes she still wakes up every hour or two at night and leaves me exhausted.  But then she smiles at me when I walk in the room and I melt and I realize I'm willing to do anything for her, even go without food and sleep.



I sing to her all day, and pretend like I'm on Broadway.  She's a fantastic audience.  When I read to her, I do voices and pretend I'm acting onstage.  It's even better than if I were actually on Broadway, because this little lamb hangs on my every word, carefully studies the expressions on my face, and beams when I sing to her.  I'm a fabulous pretty good decent barely capable homemaker, but there's a certain satisfaction I feel when I've managed to keep the child alive and entertained and make dinner and finish laundry by the time Sam gets home.  It's not that I think I'm a perfect mom, it's just that I super love what I get to do.  And I can't believe I'm lucky enough to do it.


I'm realizing more and more how even though I'm not living the single life I thought I wanted, God is using this little family of mine to shape me.  I'm becoming more reliant on Him daily.  Each middle-of-the-night feeding and every load of dishes forces me to be a little less self-centered and humbles me in the best way.


I wouldn't get the chance to do my favorite thing if it weren't for this guy, being a rock star dad and working super hard for us.  Thanks for letting me stay home with our sweetie, husband.  (Yes, he is normally the one to give the baby a bath.  It's their special bonding time, as you can see below.)


I honestly never knew it was possible to get so much joy and satisfaction just from being a mom and wife.  I'm really loving my simple little life.  I know it isn't for everyone, and plenty of women thrive working outside the home, in addition to being moms.  I hope this post doesn't sound as though I think being a stay-at-home mom is superior to being a working mom.  In fact, I'm in awe of those mamas who can be awesome moms and help out their family by working outside the home, too.  Personally, I just feel like I finally understand why I always felt so unemployable, why I never really found my niche.  It's because I was supposed to be doing this.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

napping conspiracy

Sam and Ellery are involved in a conspiracy against me.

Somehow he has convinced her to take the best naps when he's home.  They're playing some kind of trick on me, one in which Ellery refuses to take good naps for me, but will sleep for hours when Sam's home.

It's not funny anymore.  Quit it, you two.

Seriously, it's getting ridiculous.  When I'm home with her, she'll sleep for maybe 30 minute stretches, an hour if I'm really lucky.  When Sam's home, she'll sleep for three hours, wake up to eat, then sleep another three hours.  What in the world?!  And it doesn't matter what day it is.  If Sam's home for the weekend, she sleeps forever.  He only worked half a day today since he's working Saturday, and she's been sleeping for several hours now.  Really?

I think Ellery just wants to make me look like a fool to her dad.  He doesn't believe me when I say it's sometimes exhausting taking care of her all day.  I'm sure he thinks it seems pretty easy, since whenever he's home she's sleeping and I've got plenty of time to do things.  She's making me out to be a liar when I tell him that I've hardly got any time to clean the house and cook dinner.

And I put her to sleep the same way every time, in the same bed.  So it has nothing to do with the logistical side of nap-taking; the only variable is the fact that Sam is home.

She doesn't care that when dad is home, mom wants a break.  She thinks it's funny to give both of us a break when dad is home, and then be wide awake whenever it's me all by myself.

Don't get me wrong, I love hanging out with the kid.  I'm not complaining that I get to be home with her all day, even when she refuses to let me sit down or put her down at all.  I think the truth is that I'm just super fun and she doesn't want to be sleeping when she can be hanging out with me.  That's what I've decided.

Also, I've been married three years now.  Here's me and my honey on our honeymoon.  These two kids had no idea they'd have a 10 week-old baby by the time they'd been married three years!



Saturday, August 3, 2013

friends and tv characters

I'm feeling rather nostalgic tonight.  I have no idea what brought it on, and I really try not to be this way, but I often find myself in these little pockets of yearning, where I miss old times.  I wish I could be more of an in-the-moment person, but I usually miss the past or excitedly anticipate the future.  Why can't I simply enjoy the present more, and be fully grateful for my current life?  And why do I never realize how wonderful a part of my life is until it's over?  It isn't that I feel dissatisfied in my current situation; I truly love my life right now.  It's more that I miss the people who have filtered in and out of my day-to-day activities.

I relate the people in my life to characters on a television show.  Have you ever watched a show from beginning to end, the kind where the characters transition in and out?  For example, Friday Night Lights - the characters that are featured in the beginning of the show are completely different from those featured at the end of the show, aside from a few staple characters.  Or in the later episodes of The Office, when Michael and Kelly and Ryan are all gone, and it's so sad.  And when you consider the beginning versus the end, you realize how much all the characters have changed and grown, and it's a good thing, but there are parts you miss about the beginning.  (Have I lost you?  I know, I know, this is so random, right?)

But the truth is, I wish life weren't so much like a TV show.  I wish my friends all stayed fully present in my life, instead of transitioning in and out of focus.  More often than not, it's geography that separates me from the people I love, especially since I haven't stayed in the same city more than two years since 2003.  On one hand, I feel so lucky to have moved so often, because it widened my circle of friends that much more.  I've met and loved so many people over the past ten years, people who have made huge impacts on my life.  But with each move, there were friends I had to say goodbye to, people who I still love but don't get to experience day-to-day living with.

I think it's because of all this that I tend to refuse to let people lose touch with me.  I still keep in touch with lots of people from high school, and still genuinely adore people that I've known since birth.  And even though I don't talk to them every day, or even every month, I still treasure the random text, letter, or phone call that reminds me why these people are so important to me.  I miss scaring Tiffany in our apartment, and going to Cold Stone with Annie, or to the bar by Fresno State with Beth, and walking around the park with Jacquie, and going to the bowling alley with Garrett and Briana, and all my other friends from lifeguarding at the pool.  I miss meeting everyone at Taps in Petaluma, and family dinners at Paul and Lauren's, and singing Christmas songs with Abbey at Gilead.  And now I've added Salem to the mix, and if we ever move away there will be people I'll be so sad to leave because I've just fallen in love with them.

And am I the only one who does this?  Or do most people not move as often?  I think some people are able to accept that people lose touch and people change and friendships change, but I'm not so good at that.  I just want to keep everyone in my life, and I want to keep adding in more friends.  And maybe that's why I blog, to try to feel a bit more connected to people that I no longer see every day.

Anyway, what a weird post, right?  I fully intended on writing about baby fashion tonight (ha), but somehow I started missing a bunch of friends instead, and got feeling all sentimental.  Just know that if we are friends, or have ever been friends, I miss you and wish that I could see you every day.  And I'm glad you have played a role in my life, even if you aren't currently a returning character.

And now I'm wishing my life were actually a TV show, because how cool would that be?!  But who would watch it, because these days all I do is make faces at Ellery and tell Sam how cute she is.  Fun for me, but probably boring to watch.

And on that note, it's time for bed!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

month 2


This post is a few days late, since Ellery was two months on Monday, but better late than never, right?

loves:
music
reading (or, rather, listening to me read)
her play mat
talking (this girl coos at all the little animals on her play mat...pretty sure she's making friends with them)
taking naps on mom and dad (see pictures)



hates:
baby carriers.  this is the worst, because this girl loves to be held, just not in a moby or ergo baby carrier.  i think it's because she likes to be able to look around and see what's going on, and she can't do that when she's facing me.  hoping she warms up to her carrier soon, because my arms are getting tired.
sleeping in her bed during the day.  she prefers to sleep being held.  sleeps great in her bed at night, though.

indifferent to:
going for walks.  she used to love them, now they make her cry half the time.

This baby is so delicious!  She's really starting to show her little personality, and we're loving getting to know her better.  Honestly, I just feel so lucky that she's mine and I get to hold her and cuddle her and kiss her all day.  She's also pretty long, as you can see in the picture of her and Sam - two feet tall now.  Sam has determined she'll be a volleyball player if she maintains her current build, while I'm still voting for water polo, naturally.

Do they even have water polo in Oregon?

Will we even be living in Oregon by the time she's old enough for sports?

Oh the unknown!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

on being the world's worst writer

Okay.  So  I'm not saying I'm actually bad at the craft of writing.  I hope that years of school and some of those awards in English actually mean I had something of a gift for it.  I'm talking about how I'm actually the worst at sitting down to write.  I have these lofty goals of someday writing a bestselling novel that turns into a series that turns into these multi-million dollar movies that will allow Sam to quit his job and me to choose where we live.  (He once promised that if I was the one making the money, I could choose where we live.  And that fact is maybe 90% of why I even care about making money at all.)  Now, these days stay-at-home moms aren't actually paid.  Yes, technically we're paid in love (has anyone else seen that quote floating around pinterest?), and technically I guess you could say Sam pays me, because he lets me spend his money, but I'm not really paid for my hourly work.  (And that's a shame because this lady works twenty-four hours a day, yo!  I'd be making piles of cash!)

So back to my original reason for this post: I do love to write.  But would you know it based on how often I actually sit down and do it?  Nope.  To be fair, I write all the time in my head.  I write these great essays while I'm sweeping the kitchen, really funny, thought-provoking pieces on how motherhood is changing me and how I'm not as ridiculous as I thought I was, or that I'm more ridiculous than I ever knew I could be.  It's a shame the world will never read them, simply because I can't make myself sit down and write for a bit.  (And because they are that great.  Or maybe I just think they are because I'm sleep-deprived?)

When I was pregnant several people mentioned that they assumed I must be writing a ton to document my feelings on pregnancy, and I'd just sort of nod and say something like, "Mmm, mmhmmm, yeah totally," because I really wasn't.  I think I journaled maybe 10 times during my pregnancy, which is pretty pathetic.  And I assumed that having this baby would unleash this whole new side of creativity in me, and since I'd be home with her all day I would have all this extra time to write.  (Guess what though?  When I'm not feeding, changing, or playing with the baby, I'm cleaning or cooking or grocery shopping or folding laundry.  Weird how I never knew how time-consuming a baby could be...)  Even since having this baby, I've journaled maybe five times.  It's sad because I really want to document this time in our lives, both for me and for her.  I want to remember every little piece of it, and how do I properly do that without writing it down?

So my new goal is to journal here - right here on this blog.  I know, right?  What a concept.  I'm officially not blogging so that people can admire my writing anymore, I'm doing it simply so that I'll keep writing.  For myself.  I'm hoping the fact that people can read this blog will work to keep me accountable, since no one would ever know whether or not I'm writing in my own personal journal.  Also, I'm spending a lot less time constructing well-planned posts, because I'm sorry, who has time for that when they're furiously typing away before the baby wakes up?  So my posts will be more of this rambling gibberish you're getting right now - the real, unedited me.  Not exactly stream-of-consciousness, but somewhat.  Don't judge the grammar (I know...me, Janna, and Monica are probably the only people who do that anyway), or the fragment sentences or the completely random paragraphs that don't follow any order.  Just, if you would, encourage me to keep writing.  When I haven't posted in awhile, say something - hold me accountable!  It's easy to get consumed in this mom business, but I don't think it will do me or Ellery any favors if I completely lose myself in taking care of her.  I think in order to stay sane, I need to make time for the things that I love, the things that help make me a happier person.

But I mean, can you judge me for wanting to spend alllll my time with her?


Yes, she fell asleep in this position.  Rock & Roll, baby!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

month 1


loves:

taking baths
watching the baby in the mirror
watching the ceiling fan
being cuddled and swaddled
going for walks

hates:

being taken out of the bath
being awake for too long
going for car rides
going to the grocery store

indifferent to:

cats
(but I still touch her hand to their fur and 
tell her how soft they are and remind her that 
she will love them someday)
her pacifier
(I'm hoping she has more interest in it soon.  
After a lot of work, she'll use it for a 
little while, then spit it out.)

We still can't get enough of this little love bug.  She's our favorite.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Imperfect Mama

I want to be perfect.

know I can't be perfect.  I know it.  But it doesn't change the fact that I still want to be perfect.  And when I'm not immediately perfect at something, I usually want to give up pretty quickly.  It's why I don't take criticism well, either.  When a boss tells me how to do something better, I only hear that I'm not good enough, rather than understanding that my boss just wants to help me improve.  When Sam points out areas in our marriage that are struggling, I get frustrated that I haven't perfected the whole wife role yet, instead of being inspired to try harder.  And we all know what happens when I don't have the time to put forth perfect effort in school - how many times have I dropped out of college now?

I've been in my newest role for just over three weeks now.  I'm a mother.  This is my favorite role so far - I love this little human, and taking care of her has been such an incredible blessing.  Yet I also understand that this role is just another area that I can choose to beat myself up over.  I can be disappointed in myself for those rough days when she just won't stop crying, and I can judge myself for not getting her on a feeding schedule.  Being a mother just means I have one more area to work harder at, one more place where I keep missing the mark.

But I don't want to do that.

I don't want to judge myself so harshly.  Of course I want to be the best mother I can be to Ellery, but what I need to keep reminding myself is that my best won't equal perfection.  It's something I seem to forget every day, and I'm constantly practicing grace and forgiveness on myself for when I'm not an all-star mother.  I remind myself that I'm new at this, that things will get better with time, and that someday I won't cry every time my baby cries.  Someday I may even be able to put her to sleep and go to sleep myself, without getting up to check if she's breathing three times before laying down.  I'll get better at this the longer I do it, but I will never be a perfect mom.

Two of my closest friends just became first-time moms, too.  One friend had her baby the day after Ellery was born, and the other had her baby three weeks after I had mine.  One friend lives in northern California, the other in southern California.  I wish that I lived near both of them (yes, I realize that's impossible) so that we could do this together - go out for coffee dates when we just need a break, and talk about diaper rashes.  I didn't realize how emotionally exhausting this whole mothering thing was, and how great it is to be surrounded by people who can help you through it, who understand exactly what you're going through.

On one of my first days with Ellery on my own, I broke down.  She'd been crying, but she wasn't hungry or wet, so I tried putting her in her swing.  She immediately stopped crying, and just stared at me while she swayed.  I decided to straighten up the room a bit, since she seemed fine, but soon found myself weeping.  I called my mom and Sam, asking them if I was a bad mother because I put my daughter down to get other things done.  They both assured me that Ellery was fine, that she was happy, and reminded me that if I carried my baby all day long I would never get anything else done.  But it took quite a lot of convincing on their part.  That's when I realized that I needed to give myself a break.  I think one of the reasons I've avoided the baby blues is because I made the choice early on to give up on perfection.  The more I strove to be the perfect mom, the more sad and empty I felt because I knew that I wasn't.  I realize now that the mistakes I make now won't completely ruin Ellery for life.  If I don't give her enough tummy time today, her development won't be stunted forever.

So here is my public proclamation that I am not a perfect mother.  There.  Now when you see me in public with a screaming baby, you won't be shocked that I haven't yet figured out why my baby is crying.  And in a couple years when I have a whining two year-old who won't share her toys, you won't be surprised that I still haven't perfected mothering.  And if you know a brand new mother, or any mother for that reason, be gentle with her, and avoid judgment.  She probably judges herself enough already.  And if you are a mother reading this, especially a new one, you're doing great!  You are a hero and you're not alone - this mothering thing is harder than it looks.


My precious girl when she was about one week old.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ellery's Birth Story, Part II

I woke up Wednesday morning with just enough time to brush my teeth before nurses and doctors started filtering into my room to prepare me for surgery.  I met my anesthesiologist, who explained a little of what I would experience.  As he was talking with me, my doctor came in and, upon seeing the anesthesiologist, said, "We've got the 'A Team' today!"  It was comforting to hear, especially because I had started to get pretty nervous about the surgery itself, knowing how much could go wrong.  I even tearfully told Sam that if anything happened to me, to please tell my daughter how much I love her.  (Yes, I'm a bit dramatic when I've been in the hospital too long and I'm about to have my baby cut out of me.  Actually, I'm pretty dramatic regardless of the circumstances, so this just magnified my intensity.)

They outfitted Sam with scrubs and told him he was allowed to watch everything and even take pictures, as long as he didn't pass out.  I quickly added that he was not, in fact, allowed to take pictures of my guts, as I am perfectly okay with never knowing what I look like inside out.  He could take pictures of our daughter and that was it.

I was wheeled into the operating room, where one of my midwives greeted me and said she'd be assisting my doctor with the surgery.  I was glad to have a familiar face in the room, and happy to know that one of my midwives would still be involved in Ellery's birth.  My nurse, Ellery's nurse, and the rest of the team were all so kind and gentle, and I felt like I was really in the best hands.  It was very surreal, knowing that I was finally just moments away from meeting this person whom I'd loved for the past nine months.

Once I was numb and there was a partition preventing me from seeing anything below my chest, Sam was allowed to come in.  I felt much better once he was at my shoulder.  He talked me through each step and let me focus on him so that I wouldn't be scared.  Soon the anesthesiologist told Sam that they were pulling the head out, so Sam leaned over the blue sheet and watched them wrench her little body from mine.

Then I heard the most incredible sound I've ever heard in my life - my daughter's first tiny cry.  I looked at Sam and started to weep, overwhelmed with love and relief that she was finally here and that she was okay.  They carefully held her up over the partition so that I could see her wriggly little body, and I kept crying, so thankful that she was alive and breathing.

When my doctor pulled her out, she said, "Wow, you're heavy!" and soon I heard the rest of the nurses commenting on what a big baby she was.  They took her to a warming station to be measured and weighed, and my doctor said, "I want to know how much that baby weighs!"  When I heard the words "Nine pounds, fourteen ounces," I made Sam repeat it to me, because that sounded huge.  Then I heard the nurse say, "Twenty two and a half inches!" and I asked Sam whose baby they were talking about.  Surely I couldn't have a baby that tall!  Then I heard a flurry of comments like, "Where were you hiding that baby?" and "How did she ever fit in your tiny body?" and "Thank goodness you had a c-section!"  And suddenly my aching back and the feelings I had had that the baby had literally no room inside my womb all made sense; I was carrying a huge kid.

Ellery's nurse quickly brought her over and placed her on my chest for some skin-to-skin time.  I couldn't stop staring at her perfect face and body, and Sam and I cried a little bit and laughed and told Ellery how excited we were to finally meet her.  Sam was enthralled with the baby, but also with the process of stitching me up.  He kept peeking over the blue sheet, and at one point the anesthesiologist told me that my uterus was sitting on my belly.  Bizarre!

I was wheeled back to my room and got to feed Ellery for the first time.  She latched immediately and I felt another wave of love and thankfulness wash over me.  I kept telling Sam how lucky we were to have a healthy baby, and I don't remember ever feeling so happy and relieved.  I had been worried about how well she'd eat, and was pleasantly surprised to have such an easy baby to breast feed.  The nurse told me that big babies were usually pretty good eaters, and all my nurses throughout the rest of my stay said that because my labor had been so frustrating, it must be nice for something to go right.  And it was!  She has been such a good eater and I couldn't be happier to have one less thing to worry about as I healed from my surgery.

After Sam, Ellery and I had some time alone as a family, my anesthesiologist came back in and told us about a new procedure he was learning to block the pain.  Pharmaceutical companies are creating a shortage of the drugs normally used to manage pain from c-sections in order to make more money, so he was learning alternative methods.  He said I was a perfect candidate, and that if I wanted, he would do the procedure for free since he was still learning.  I felt really confident in his abilities, so we agreed to have the procedure.  It was very short and easy and worked really well!  I have had pretty minimal pain as compared to the typical c-section patient, and according to my nurses, I was moving much better and quicker than most people.  So that was another thing we were really grateful for - a drug-free, pain-reducing procedure that was performed at no cost to us!

I was also incredibly blessed with the doctor I was referred to.  Dr. Keller apparently does the best job with c-sections at the hospital.  All the nurses who came to check on my incision immediately would say, "Oh, you had Dr. Keller!" based on how well my incision looked. The other doctors use staples, but Dr. Keller sewed me up from inside, so there wouldn't be a visible scar and I wouldn't have to return to have anything taken out.  The incision site is below my bikini line, so Dr. Keller and all my nurses were excitedly telling me that I'll be able to wear my bikinis again in no time without anyone knowing I'd ever had abdominal surgery.  (I didn't have the heart to tell any of them that I've never had a pretty stomach, that the only time I have ever looked good in a bikini was for maybe a week when I was twenty-two, and that I wasn't counting on childbirth and a c-section to suddenly give me a nice, flat, bikini-ready stomach.)

After talking with Dr. Keller after the procedure, she said that the size of the baby, along with her 14.5 inch head, was probably what was preventing my body from going into labor.  Her head was still really high, so it wasn't able to "tell" my body to go into labor, most likely because her head wouldn't fit into my pelvis.  If we'd tried natural labor, I probably would've pushed indefinitely, and it would've most likely resulted in an emergency c-section.  With the scheduled surgery, I was able to mentally prepare, as well as rest my body enough so that I was physically strong enough for the surgery.  It has also helped speed up the healing process for me.

Knowing what we know now makes it very clear that God's hand was over the entire pregnancy, labor and delivery, and that it really worked out for the best.  God even gave me a big baby who doesn't feel like a newborn!  I know it's silly, but I never like holding newborns because they feel too small and fragile, and I prefer to wait until babies are at least a month or so old before I hold them.  Ellery feels like a month-old baby when I hold her, so she's perfect for this mama.  Thank you, Lord!

Speaking of her size, Ellery is not a chubby baby!  All the nurses kept commenting on how perfectly proportional she is.  She's very long - almost two feet tall! - which accounts for a lot of her weight.  She does have some healthy meat on her bones, but she's not chunky.  She's a very strong little girl.  (Can you tell I'm a bit sensitive when people insinuate that she's too fat?)

Aside from her size, her hair was also a huge surprise to me.  I didn't think she'd have hair at all, and if she did I was sure it would be blonde.  Sam had white blonde hair as a boy, and I had blonde hair when I was little.  I couldn't believe it when I saw her little head full of dark hair!  We're anxious to see if she keeps it or if it eventually turns blonde.  Either way, she's perfect.

It's been even more of a blessing now to have my mom here to help us out.  I honestly don't know how we'd do it without her!  I'm not able to drive for another week, and moving around to take care of the baby is difficult.  My mom has Ellery sleeping near her, so when the baby wakes up at night, Mom changes her, brings her to me in bed, waits while I feed her, then takes her to be burped and changed again if necessary, then rocks her to sleep and puts her back to bed.  It's been an invaluable help to us, as it's difficult for me to get in and out of bed due to my incision.  Sam was able to go back to work this week so that when Mom has to go back home, Sam can take time off.  That way I'll have someone here to help me for an extended period of time.  She also helps calm me down when I worry too much about the baby, and she helped me and Sam bathe Ellery for the first time on our own.  Sam and I don't want her to leave!

I hope you've enjoyed reading about Ellery's birth.  We really do feel so blessed and that everything worked out the way it was meant to.  It meant letting go of our own plans and desires, but ultimately, isn't that what usually works best anyway?  God knew what this baby needed, and what this mama needed, and gave us the perfect scenario for this little girl to come into this world.  We are deliriously happy!




Monday, June 3, 2013

Ellery's Birth Story, Part I

I really debated whether or not I wanted to share Ellery's birth story on my blog.  Part of me wondered if I'd be sharing something too private and personal, and if there aren't some things that should be kept between me and my family.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I want to be a writer, which means I need to tell my stories, and great storytellers are open and honest.  Maybe I'm being too transparent, but I devoured birth stories in the days leading up to my due date, and my hope is that somehow my story can be an encouragement to someone else.  Plus, I think this story paints a picture of how God really does work everything out for good, and I like to share examples of that any chance I get.

So let's start with Monday morning.  We were two days past Ellery's due date, and I was scheduled to be induced at 7am.  The doctor let me go an extra two days in the hopes that I would go into labor naturally.  Ellery had been performing extremely well in the non-stress tests, so my doctor felt it was safe enough to let her try to come on her own for a couple extra days.  I really wanted to go into labor naturally.  My dream was to have a completely drug-free birth, and I felt that my midwives had really prepared me for that.  Of course, I hadn't counted on being one of the lucky few to acquire gestational diabetes, so that medical issue really threw a wrench into my plans.  I hadn't counted on being transferred to a doctor either, but I was grateful that I liked my new doctor and felt extremely comfortable with her.  I knew she had mine and Ellery's best interests at heart, and I felt safe in her care.  Though I disliked the idea of being induced, I knew it was safer for Ellery to come out sooner rather than later, and decided to let go of my expectations for the labor and delivery and simply pray for a healthy baby.

Sam and me right before we left for the hospital, excited to meet our daughter!


My mom, Sam, and I headed to the hospital early on Monday.  My mom had come from California to help care for the baby during her first week at home.  (It turns out we needed her more than we realized!  More on that later...)  I was very excited and anxious, and started crying on the drive to the hospital because I was so happy to think that I'd be meeting my daughter very soon.  They started prepping me right away, and my doctor checked to make sure my cervix was ready to begin the Pitocin.  It was not.  She informed me that I'd be put on Cervidil, a drug that would soften and prepare my cervix, and that I'd be on it until 6pm, when they would finally begin the Pitocin.  It was pretty discouraging to learn that I'd have to stay in bed for the next eleven hours, especially because I had just had a full night of rest and could not begin to think of sleeping.  The nurses kept trying to get me to go to sleep that day, but how do you sleep all day when you've just woken up from sleeping all night?  Normally this drug is started in the evening so the patient can sleep while it works, but unfortunately my body wasn't cooperating.  So Sam bought a couple magazines from the Safeway across the street, we watched some TV, and I did some sudoku puzzles.  But it was boring.  I felt bad for Sam and my mom since they were stuck with nothing to do while I sat in that silly hospital bed.

I was finally started on Pitocin around 6:30 that evening, at which point I started feeling great!  They let me get out of bed, which was glorious after an entire day of sitting.  I stood and swayed through contractions, Sam walked the halls with me and pushed my IV unit alongside us, and I happily bounced on the labor ball while we watched The Bachelorette on the hospital TV.  The contractions started but they were only mildly painful, so I was feeling great.

About nine and a half hours later, I was not in such a good mood.  The contractions were more painful, and I was physically exhausted, having been awake almost 24 hours at this point.  My nurse checked to see if I had made any progress at all, and sadly, there was none.  After 21 hours of being on drugs to induce labor, my body was again refusing to cooperate.  That information broke my spirit.  I was exhausted, in pain, and was told that they'd be repeating the entire process for the next two days to keep trying to force me into labor.  If it didn't work by Thursday, they would perform a C-section.

Since I was still having intense contractions, they gave me some sleeping medicine so that I'd be able to sleep.  The medicine, along with a good frustrated cry, helped me sleep a bit.  Tuesday morning they started the process again, only this time I was kept on the first medication for twelve hours rather than ten.  Another boring day!  I felt very discouraged all day, and kept apologizing to my nurses for my grumpy attitude.  But I honestly felt like I was never going to have this baby.  Oddly enough, the more time went by, the further I felt from actually becoming a mom.  I told Sam and my mom that I had felt closer to having the baby the week before than I did at that moment.

It was great having my mom there because she and Sam were able to share the responsibility of keeping me company.  My mom went to our house to take care of our cats several times, and Sam had the chance to run home to take a shower and take care of a few things.  I know my mom had come to take care of the baby, but Sam and I were both incredibly grateful to have her there during that miserable hospital stay.

Around 9:30 Tuesday night, after being stuck in bed all day hooked up to monitors and an IV, my doctor came in to check on my progress.  Still zero.  Nothing had happened at all after now 33 hours of inducing medication.  They were about to start another round of Pitocin when my knight in shining armor (Sam) stepped in.  He asked my doctor if we could just discuss the possibility of a C-section.  I told him I didn't want to go through another two nights of Pitocin and another day of Cervitil if I was just going to have a C-section on Thursday anyway.  She said she'd like to keep trying for another couple days because she thought it would eventually work, but that it was our decision.  I told Sam I didn't think I had the physical or emotional strength to do it, especially because I was on a backward schedule that kept me awake and in pain at night and tried to force me to sleep during the day.

After discussing more about the risks of the surgery, we agreed that a C-section was the choice for us.  My doctor even said that she felt comfortable with it because of the gestational diabetes.  If I had had a low-risk, normal pregnancy, she'd want to wait, but that since we were already now three days past my due date, she felt it was wise to go ahead with the surgery.  She instructed the nurse to remove all the monitors from my belly, which had been hooked up the entire time up to this point, so that I could get a good night of rest.  I was so grateful!  She had me eat a big snack before midnight, and then Sam and I both got some much-needed sleep.

I'll stop there and pick up with the actual surgery.  Baby is sleeping now, so mama's gotta go sleep, too, while I have the chance!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

May 25th

Today is my official due date.  I would be shocked if I actually did go into labor today, especially since only 5% of women actually give birth on their due date, yet there is something exciting in knowing that today is when she's officially allowed to join us.  She's had enough time to develop and get ready to be born, and for that I'm very thankful.  Labor is not starting, as far as I can tell.  I wish I had done this before, and knew exactly what a contraction felt like and exactly how I will know when I go into labor.  I sort of know what contractions feel like now, only because while I was hooked up to machines at the doctor yesterday they told me I was having contractions.  But I'm still waiting for a major sign to tell me I'm in labor.

My bet is that I won't actually go into labor.  My bet is that I'll have to be induced, which will happen Monday morning.  I would love, love, love to go into labor naturally, to be able to have a drug-free birth. But all these complications have made it more likely that I'll need to be induced, and that the baby will be large, which increases the likelihood of a c-section.  That leaves me with this great opportunity to relinquish control.  I can't choose when and how she decides to make her appearance, as much as I wish I could.  Way to go, baby - you're already showing mama who's boss.

It's a bit surreal that Sam and I will soon be parents.  Who actually thinks the two of us are mature enough to be responsible for another person?  I must admit, we take excellent care of our cats, but people keep telling me that a baby is different from a cat, and I'm inclined to believe them.  We have ideas of how we want to parent, but we also recognize that some of those methods may fly out the window once our little girl is actually here.

I've had five non-stress tests in the last two weeks.  Basically, I lay on a table with a couple sensors on my belly, and Ellery's heartbeat and movement are measured to make sure she's still doing just fine in there, which she is, thank God.  Each test lasts about thirty minutes, so I get to sit and listen to her heartbeat for half an hour.  Sometimes it's quieter and steady, like a train moving along the tracks.  Other times it gets very loud, and sounds more like the galloping of a horse.  There have been a few panicked moments when I no longer hear the heartbeat, but then I realize she's just moved to a different part of the womb, and I move the sensor over a couple inches and hear the rhythm again.  It's comforting.

The oddest thing has been when I've realized that I can't slow her heartbeat with any actions of my own.  When my own heart beats too fast, I know that a few deep breaths will get my heart rate down to a safe zone.  Sometimes Ellery's heart sounds like it's beating too fast, which is silly, because babies have more rapid heart rates than adults.  When it accelerates, my first inclination is to take a few deep breaths to try to regulate it once again.  But that doesn't work.  It just keeps beating along in a rhythm unique to her little body, completely ignoring whatever my body is trying to do.  It has been a reminder that though Ellery is inside me and a part of me right now, she is her own person, and will soon be a separate being, linked to me but completely herself.

I'm not sure if I'm okay with this.  I think because she's a girl, I'm expecting her to be a miniature version of me.  I already told Sam that if she looks nothing like me, I don't want to hear it.  (So even if she looks nothing like me, you'd be wise to keep quiet about it.)  I imagine what her childhood will be like, and I find myself picturing my own childhood memories.  I want her to be able to go to her grandparents house frequently and play with her cousins.  I want her to experience hot summers on the lake or at the central California coast.  I picture her as the lead in the junior high play, and knowing the inexplicable thrill of being in the Monache band and slowly turning to the click of the snare, while the crowd stands and roars with anticipation.  I want her to have all of my favorite childhood memories.  And I have to remind myself that she won't.  She'll be her own person.  She'll have her own likes and dislikes.  She may not be interested in musical theater, and she may even (gasp) love gray, rainy Oregon.  (I promise I'll still love her if these two things are true, though I will wonder whose child she is.)

The truth is that I want her to be her own person, and it's my job to help her become that person.  I can't attempt to relive my life through her, or force her to be who I think she should be.  She needs to be the very original person God has created her to be, and I wouldn't be a good parent if I got in the way of that.  I know this, but I can also see it being something of a challenge for me.  It seems like a great place to start praying for wisdom in parenting, even when she's just a tiny baby.

So Sam and I continue to wait.  My mom is coming today, and we are ready for whenever Ellery decides to join the party.  She's officially evicted Monday, but we're hoping she gets bored inside and decides to make her debut.  I keep telling her how cute Morty and Willow are in the hopes that she'll want to meet them so badly that she comes out.  I also told Sam about how lucky Ellery is that she'll be the same size as the cats and can snuggle with them - it would be like me snuggling with a lion!  My dream!  Sam responded by rolling his eyes and telling me I'm weird and that Ellery will not be snuggling with the cats.  I think the cat obsession is one area in which Sam hopes our daughter does not take after her mama.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

nursery

Ellery's room has been ready for three weeks now, and I'm three weeks away from my due date.  I sort of wish I hadn't gotten everything ready so soon, because now time is dragging on.  But I think I subconsciously believed that if I had everything ready for her, she'd decide she's ready and pop out.  So far, no such luck.  I don't feel close to labor at all.

But since I have everything ready, I thought I'd share pictures of the nursery for those too far to come see it in person.  It was a complete collaboration between me and Sam.  He painted the crib and put everything up on the walls and had lots of input on where things should go.  He's not the type to let me make all the decisions myself. :)


The banner near the ceiling and the fabric garland surrounding the canvas were both decorations from my baby shower, made by Sam's sister, Kari.  She let me have them after the baby shower and I love how they add some fun colors and girliness to the room.  Sam and I aren't crazy about pink, so I did a lot of mint green and turquoise, with little bits of peach/coral.  And of course, I couldn't resist adding a little bit of yellow.  I really like how it turned out, and it still looks like a little girl's room.


I'm taking out the crib bumpers until it's safe for them to be in her crib, but I put them in to see how they look.



My dad wrote a song for me when I was born, so I framed it.  I wanted to include music so Ellery knows her roots.

And this song was written by Sam's mom.  This girl will know how to read music.  Sam and I both play multiple instruments, so she really has no choice. :)



Now all we need is a baby girl to finish the room!  We are ready to meet you, little Ellery.  Very ready.  See, here's my stuff for the hospital, ready to go!  This pile has also been ready for the past three weeks.


So now we wait.  I'm still working, and I'll probably work on getting the house clean and making some freezer meals for after the baby.  I might even sew her a couple blankets if I get really crazy from all the waiting.

And before anyone tells me to just enjoy this time because I'll miss being pregnant, save your breath.  First of all, I'm not one of those women who has loved being pregnant, especially with my stupid diabetes.  Second of all, how on earth could it ever be better to be without her than with her?  I just want to be able to see her, to hold her, and to let Sam hold her, because I'm tired of carrying her around all day. :)  I know it's going to be really rough at first and will be a huge adjustment, but I just can't wait to meet this little human and get to know her.

And here's my 37 week belly: