Category Archives: pregnancy

Goodbye, 2013.

It’s sort of difficult to look back and reflect on this year. It seems to have been impossibly long and impossibly full of both good and bad. I’ve heard from many people that 2013 lived up to its reputation of being bad luck and ended up being the worst year in memory. Not many people seemed to have enjoyed this year, and I can’t particularly say that I blame them. Obviously, this year brought us amazing goodness, but it was unbelievably hard, too. Cameron, his father, and both my parents spent time in the hospital. I seem to have lost touch with most of my friends. The flood. Oh, the flood. What happened in September this year put a huge crack in me that has forever altered the way I see the place I live–through no fault of its own–and I don’t think it will ever be fixed. I spent more time this year battling my depression and anxiety than probably ever before. Not to diminish the beauty that is my daughter, but her arrival brought with it almost 5 weeks of daily crying and some of the worst self-doubt I’ve ever had.

But there was beauty and wonderful moments this year, too. I celebrated my 25th birthday and Cameron turned 30. We spent three whole weeks in Hawaii, something I think about almost daily. We traveled to North Carolina to witness the union of two of our most wonderful family members. I started working on a new book with my agent, which was exciting despite how challenging it was. And, even though many of my friends seem to have fallen away from me, I grew closer than ever before to my best friend–my husband–and to my parents. Of course, most beautiful of all, my little girl. I cannot wait to see what this year brings us and I am so excited to watch her begin to learn and grow. I know 2014 will bring new challenges but it will bring new opportunities too, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m eager to see 2013 go into the record books and hopefully 2014 will not be repeating any of its bad habits.

Happy 2014, everybody.

Advertisements

Awake My Soul: A Birth Story

(It’s a long one, so TL;DR : I had a baby. It was awesome.)

This story starts off with a hunch.

I had a hunch, not long ago, that Caroline was not going to wait till her due date to come earthside. I don’t know how I had this hunch, I just did. That was the first hunch I had.

Last week, I just had a hunch that something was up. I felt lousy. My stomach hurt almost every day. I just felt run down. Thursday night, Halloween, I felt completely miserable, upset stomach and sore muscles. (And I didn’t even get to have any candy!) All early signs of labor. And maybe I was just in denial about the whole thing because I really had it in my head that knowing my luck, I would go past my due date. I hadn’t even packed any bags. All I was thinking about was that I only had one more week left of work, and then I could have that nesting time and finish cleaning my house, make the baby book, get everything ready and then do what everyone always seems to do and just wait it out.

Friday I kept having another hunch. Saturday, we were supposed to go down the valley for a memorial service for a family member of mine who passed a few months ago, and then Cameron and I had arranged a small babymoon–show tickets and a hotel in Denver. All day Friday though, I was really nervous about going down to valley. Highway 36 still hadn’t opened which meant we would have to take the long way around, almost 2 1/2 hours to Denver. I kept worrying–what if something happened and we were 2 1/2 hours away from the hospital? All day I couldn’t shake the notion that it just wasn’t a good idea to go down, but I couldn’t really justify canceling all our plans especially on a non-refundable hotel reservation over a hunch.

Saturday morning, Cameron and I were laying in bed being lazy since we didn’t have to get up and leave till after 11. We were watching videos on his phone and I rolled over to look and something happened.

“I either just peed myself or my water broke.”

Cameron evidently didn’t hear me–or thought I was joking–but I got up quickly and hurried to the bathroom in time for a terrific gush of something that was definitely not pee. All righty then. I called Cameron in and told him I thought my water just broke. We immediately got on the phone with my OB–I felt bad because it was before 8 on a Saturday, but he had just given us his personal phone with explicit instructions to call if we needed anything. When I told him what happened he said to go over to the hospital and get it checked out. While I got ready–and continued to leak fluid all over the place–Cameron got on the phone with my parents to let them know what was going on.

Around 8:30 we walked into the ER and were ushered back to a room that was not in the birthing center and the labor/delivery nurse, Joanne, told us that there were 2 people in the center who had just had babies the day before and were still waiting to be discharged, so until they left I’d have to stay in this other room. Then she asked how frequent my contractions were–and I told her I wasn’t having any.

“Oh, we’ll probably just send you home then and you can come back when things progress.”

PHEW. I was really worried they’d want to keep me and I’d be stuck at the hospital for all of my early labor. I got changed into a gown (and left another lake’s worth of fluid on the bathroom floor) and Joanne hooked me up to the belly monitors to make sure everything was kosher and did the litmus paper thingy to find out for sure if my water had broken, though by that point I had zero doubt it had. The baby sounded fine, and I was having contractions according to the monitor, but very small ones that I didn’t feel at all. Joanne declared that I was about 2cm dilated and sent me home, telling me that Dr. K would call me in a few hours to check in. (Knowing that he had delivered TWO babies the day before really made me feel bad for calling him so early on a Saturday!)

My mom texted to say that she was packed and ready to hit the road to come to us. I was really relieved that she was going to come–originally she had planned to come for the birth and stay with us for a week to help out, but that was contingent on waiting until the 11th when she could have the time off work. Since it was the weekend, though, she was able to at least come up till Sunday. I called her and asked if she could pick up a baby book for us since we still didn’t have one (I was going to make one) and I didn’t want to miss out on getting footprints in the book. We got home and I took a shower, Cameron started tidying up the house, and we packed up my bags, got the car seat ready, the whole nine. My doctor called around 11 and said that if things didn’t pick up by that evening he’d want me back at the hospital to get things rolling because he didn’t want me to go too long since the risk of infection was there. I wasn’t super pleased with this, as I was hoping that he’d give me till the next morning, but it was what it was. My mom arrived around noon, Cameron ran to the store to stock up on some groceries for the next few days, and I finally wrote our birth plan (another thing I was procrastinating on) and then we all finally sat down to breathe.

And then nothing happened. Which is sort of weird because usually the water breaking indicates “hey! baby coming now!” From the moment my water broke until much later that night, I didn’t have a single noticeable contraction. Maybe a couple squeezing sensations here and there, but absolutely nothing happened. We took a walk around the block, I sat on the exercise ball, we did lunges, I put tabasco on my lunch…and nothing. I started growing increasingly disappointed, because I knew if nothing was happening by that night, I’d end up getting induced and that terrified me because it was the number one thing I had hoped to avoid. Around 2 or 3 Cameron got a call from the doctor who was checking to see how things were going, and Cameron expressed to him that I was concerned about induction. Dr K said we wouldn’t go immediately to Pitocin, but instead they would give me Ctyotec to soften the cervix and hopefully get things rolling that way, since he knew that I really wanted to go naturally and he wanted to support that. We told him we would be back at the hospital by 7 at the latest if nothing happened before then.

And nothing did. We got about a quarter of the way through watching Braveheart and decided that since nothing had happened already, nothing was likely to happen by 7, so we packed up the car and headed over, despite my mounting disappointment. When we got there I was immediately hooked up to the monitors and Dr K came in and gave me a dosage of Cytotec, and then he said he was going home and that he would be back later when we were ready to deliver. He said it was likely that nothing would happen for a long time.

And nothing did. Fancy that. Because of the Cytotec, I had to lie in bed on my side for up to 3 hours at a time, which just made me miserable and disappointed and sore. And still not a single contraction. Part of the way through watching Saturday Night Live, the nurse came in and said that I could get out of bed until the next dose of Cytotec, which made me feel a lot better. I went back to the standard–sat on the ball, did lunges, had Cameron rub my back. But by the time she came back at 11:30 for my second dose of Cytotec (at which time I was at 3cm, 60% effaced), I still hadn’t felt any contractions.

Finally, about 12:30 or so, I was lying in the bed starting to feel sorry for myself, and finally started feeling something. The monitor thingy confirmed that I was indeed having contractions. My first thought was relief that my body was finally doing something and that I was finally walking in the other direction from having to be put on Pitocin. I think somewhere around 1 or 1:30 the nurse said I could get out of bed, as long as I stayed hooked up to the belly monitor. It was a fair compromise to me because it meant I could sit on the ball and not be lying prone on my side with my leg going asleep.

Things started to ramp pretty quickly at this point. My contractions started out around 4 1/2 minutes apart for only about 40-50 seconds and they were manageable. I asked Cameron to put on my Mumford and Sons playlist and for almost a full hour (I think) I sang my way through contractions and we kept time and it was finally exciting! Something was happening!

I lost track of time after a while, especially because at 2:00, daylight savings time ended and we went back an hour! I remember watching my mom turn back the clock on the wall (and I remember her telling the nurse so that we didn’t accidentally time the birth on the wrong hour) So we were back at 1:00, and at this point things started to get really hard. I couldn’t sing through the contractions anymore, but I do recall quite vividly trying to listen to the banjo licks and concentrate on those. Cameron was incredibly supportive, he sat on the stool behind me the whole time and rubbed my head during each contraction and occasionally suggested a different position. We tried a few different things, but I felt the most comfortable sitting on the ball and leaning on the side of the bed. I think at some point my mom asked if there was something I could throw up in in case I started feeling nauseous, and the nurse put a sick bag on the bed right in front of me, which was stupid because then all I could think was “I hope I don’t throw up, I hope I don’t throw up” which was not helpful to concentrating through my contractions. (I’m pretty phobic about vomiting and I really worried more about that than pooping myself during delivery.) Unfortunately I had kind of lost the ability for most speech at this point and I couldn’t vocalize that I wanted someone to move that stupid sick bag. Contractions seemed to be coming right on top of each other now and sometimes never seemed to end at all–just tapered a little–before another one began.

And then I hit that point. I don’t know if it was the beginning of transition or what, but I definitely hit that wall where I was seriously doubting my ability to get through it without meds. They were coming so hard that all I could do was lean on Cameron and say “ow ow ow” and think about how stupid I was for planning to do this without drugs. What the fuck was I thinking? This was WAY too hard. Fuck this, man. The nurse came in and asked if I was a tub person (Cameron thought she asked if I was a tough person) and said if I wanted, I could get into the bath. Cameron asked if that’s what I wanted (I think he asked me about 5 times because every time he asked, a contraction hit and I couldn’t respond) and at some point I said yes and the nurse went to run it. This was also around the time I started saying out loud that I couldn’t do it, that I needed something to help get me through. The nurse immediately picked up on that and said that if I wanted the epidural I could have it at any time, and Cameron told her I really didn’t want it, that we would try out the tub first but could she check me to see where my dilation was so that we could make a plan. She said she was going to check me in a half an hour (which would have been the time I would have gotten a third dose of Cytotec), but she could check it now, except that she didn’t like doing it because it could lead to infection. My mom said, if you’re going to check in a half an hour why can’t you just check now? So she checked me and I was 6cm and 70% effaced. Which is good because if I had still been at 3 or 4cm I have a feeling I would have given in. But Cameron got super excited about this and urged me into the tub even though I had to stop on my way there (a whole 15 feet away) to have a terrible contraction.

Getting into the water seemed to help, but I think what it really helped was to put me through transition. I didn’t feel like the water necessarily calmed or soothed me, but it did seem to give me a break between contractions. Still, that being said, I was still sitting on my knees leaning on the wall rail in absolute agony and I’m pretty sure it was at this point that I said (for the first time out of many) that I wanted to die. My mom was right there at the tub with me and Cameron was in the room telling the nurse not to suggest an epidural to me again. While they were gone, I had that first serious urge to push. And I mean serious. When I said so to my mom, she said, “What do you mean? You can’t push here. You don’t have to push.” Except that I did, and I had another contraction and could-not-help-it, which cued my mother to yell for Cameron and the nurse that I was trying to push.

Have I mentioned the doctor wasn’t even in the hospital at this point?

When the nurse heard that I was having urges to push, she did the #1 thing that annoys the everloving shit out of me when I read birth stories: “Oh, no, she can’t be feeling urges to push.” Because god forbid a woman, even a first-time mother, actually have some intuition about what she’s feeling. And I mean seriously, it’s not like I was making it up. I was leaning back on all fours and bearing down, unable to stop myself. I had to push and I had to do it right then. Now, granted, we had just done an internal check less than 10 minutes before and I was only at 6cm, but obviously something was happening. I had another contraction and felt like I had to push through it, and I remember my mom frantically going “Don’t push! Don’t push!” and me yelling my head off and finally the nurse came into the bathroom and went “Oh, wow. Yeah, we should check her again.” Ya think??

So they pulled me out of the tub, dried me off a little and threw me back in the bed where the nurse found out, wonder of wonders, that I was 9cm dilated and 100% effaced, and the head was in the canal. Gee! No wonder I was having urges to push! (Sorry…soap box over.)

The problem with having urges to push at this point was that there was no delivering doctor in the hospital. He only lives a few minutes away, but it was close to 2:30 in the morning and I have no doubts he was fast asleep. I know I would have loved to have been fast asleep.

I spent the next 10 minutes or so lying on my side curled against the bed rail screaming my way through contractions that actually, for the first time in a long while, were breaking in between. Cameron told me later it looked like I had reached this “zen moment” and that he thought I was actually falling asleep in between them. It was SO nice to actually get a break even if it was for a minute or two at a time. The contractions themselves, though, were really difficult if only because each one made my body try to push and I was begging them to let me push because the urge was so strong. I kept saying, “I want to push, please, I really want to push” (when I wasn’t saying that I wanted to die) and I could hear someone (the nurse probably, I had my eyes closed the entire time) saying “you can’t push yet, you have to wait.” Cameron was literally holding my legs together to keep me from doing it. He took over at that point and told me to redirect the contraction to my mouth and started breathing with me, which helped until the very end when I started to unintentionally hyperventilate because the redirection of energy was so difficult.

When Dr. K finally (10 minutes is a long time when you’re in that much pain) came into the room, he very calmly sat on the end of my bed, did an internal check and found that I was complete, and told me that on my next contraction I could start to push.

Here’s where things get super hazy. Considering I had gone through transition and went from 6cm to 10cm in under 20 minutes, I was pretty exhausted and mentally unstable because I never really had a chance to evaluate what was going on and process the whole thing. It was just like, labor start. Labor suck. Labor REALLY suck. Bam, pushing. Wait, what? Where was my average 12-14 hour labor? Anyway, I started pushing and I only really remember up to the point of the ring of fire when I totally freaked out and started saying I was scared and that I couldn’t do it. Everything gets super blurry at this point but apparently right before one push I told the doctor that I “wanted to fucking die” and he told me “No, I’m pretty sure you don’t want to die.” I only remember a lot of voices and a lot of screaming and at one point telling everyone I was sorry (seriously why do I do that? My first memory coming out of anesthesia when I had my tonsils out was telling the nurse I was sorry for coughing when she took my oxygen tube out), presumably for all the insane noise because I was actually feeling embarrassed by the noises that were coming out of me. Hormones, who knows.

I wish I could remember the exact moment when her head came out, but I do remember looking down and seeing it and asking if she was out only to be told that it was just the head. I only had one or two more pushes and suddenly, there she was. I had only been in real, active labor for about 5 hours and pushed for about 15 minutes. The instantaneous relief was overwhelming. The doctor wasn’t able to put her on my chest immediately because her cord was wrapped around her neck four times–yes four–and had a true knot in it below. Once he had unwrapped her, they put her on my chest and started sucking out her mouth. She cried a little, but not like I was expecting, and I asked if she was okay, and the doctor told me she was. I also asked if she was still a girl. (After all, we’d only had an 80% certainty of that on the ultrasound) She didn’t have a lot of vernix, and she was purple, and god was she tiny. But she was perfect.

I looked up at Cameron at some point to find him weeping and trembling. I said, “please don’t pass out.” He said the moment was something he had never expected, and he had that sensation like when you hit your funny bone, all over his body. The doctor fixed up her umbilical cord to be cut–it didn’t occur to me at the time but I had expected them to wait longer for the cord to stop pulsing, but because of the knots and how many times it was wrapped around her neck, there was nothing in it left to pulse out. When I was more coherent later, this fact scared the shit out of me. No wonder she had come so early and was born so small. She was running out of nutrients from the cord. Later, the doctor told us that if she had gone to her due date, we would have ended up having a cesarian in the best case scenario–the worst case scenario would have been her not making it. It’s a fact that still, a few days later, gives me a feeling of ice water falling straight down into my stomach. I suspect it will for the rest of my life.

After our golden hour, our Caroline got all her measurements and came in at 5lbs3oz, 19 inches long, and born at 2:59 on Sunday, November 3rd. We ended up staying an extra day at the hospital because she lost 9% of her birth weight over the first night (mostly due to her being so small that she had almost none of that brown fat that babies burn through first) and she was slightly jaundiced, but we took her home on Tuesday morning. Because of her size we had to supplement her with formula for about 48 hours, but now that my milk is in and she is feeding like a champ, we are hoping for a positive weight gain (or at least a stabilization) at her first pediatrician appointment tomorrow.

Meeting her Papi for the first time

So far she has been amazing. She cries rarely and calms easily, sleeps for pretty long stretches, breastfeeds well, and loves to snuggle with her mommy and daddy. Of course we have our moments, and I’ve had several overwhelming overloads and breakdowns, frustrations with painful engorgement, and general postpartum hormones, but things are smooth sailing for the most part. My mom wasn’t able to stay with us for the first week as we had originally planned, but she is coming up on weekends for now just to lend a hand which is super helpful especially because she can bring us stuff we can’t get up here that we don’t have time to get down the valley. (For example–preemie size diapers. The Safeway here didn’t have a single package in that size and the only ones we had were size 1 newborn and were so big on her they didn’t keep any poo inside. Luckily we called the hospital and they were nice enough to give us a few packages in the meantime.) It’s still a process adapting to this new life we have, but whenever I get frustrated, I look down at her and feel so much love for her that I think I might explode. It’s true, what that quote says, about having a child meaning that you are allowing your heart to go walking on the outside of your body. I’m pretty sure I’d never ask for it to be any other way.

Finally Dry

The crawlspace is dry.

The crawlspace is dry.

I am so excited I just have to say it again.

The crawlspace is finally. freaking. dry.

Everybody now: rip-roaring cries of sweet sweet jubilation!

The laundry “corner” on September 12 when the crawlspace flooded.

Of course, what this really means, more importantly than the crawlspace being dry at last, is that I finally get my washing machine and my dryer back. Sure, sure, we probably could have rigged the setup to co-exist with the pump a while ago, but I just knew that if we took the time to set it all back up again, something would happen and we’d need to move it all back out of the way again (it’s a pretty tight space) to get to the pump in an emergency, such as overloading the drainage pipes with the pump water and the washing machine drainage. And, since I am of little help being the size I am (and unable to lift much) it didn’t seem very smart to try to get it all back into place and working again with just the two of us.

On Friday, though, I noticed that I hadn’t heard the pump in a while. Over the last 6 weeks or so it has gone from pumping constantly down to three or four gallons a minute down to a few cups every so often, so we knew it was finally starting to dry out, but on Friday afternoon I didn’t hear it at all. Of course I worried about a burnout and wanted to check to make sure nothing was backing up, but I couldn’t fit between the wall and the washing machine to get to it…womp. Cameron gave it a check when he got home and it all looked fine. By Saturday, the only thing we could hear was the auto-check hum every minute or so that it does to make sure there’s nothing to suck up. My parents were also visiting, and my mom crawled back there and stuck a flashlight in the hole and declared that the ground was, in fact, totally dry. So, since we had two extra able bodies, we (they) finagled the washer and dryer back into place, shoved the drainage hose down the same pipe where the pump has been dumping into (so that we can keep it running just in case) and voila. I finally have a working washer and dryer.

And the angels sang hallelujah

I was so excited that I could do laundry on a whim whenever I wanted or needed that I immediately threw my big fuzzy blanket into the wash, since it had been a while. (And that night I slept great wrapped up in my soft, fuzzy, nice-smelling blanket…coincidence?) Later that night my mom and I also de-tagged and sorted all the baby’s clothing and blankies and finally washed them (yay!), and got them all organized and ready to go.

IMG_20131026_180858

It’s amazing how much more normal things feel when you can just do your damn laundry whenever you need to and you don’t have to cart it out to the laundromat. I feel so much better. Ahhh.

Meanwhile….

I suppose I should take this time to make a general disclaimer also known as TMI Alert. I’m gonna talk about some gross stuff you might not wanna hear about regarding labor and delivery as we get closer to having this baby. If you’re not interested in reading it, turn away now.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Thursday night, I thought Caroline was really taking our doctor seriously when he said it could be “any day now.” I went up to the bathroom after dinner and discovered this huge blob of brown mucus and I was like woah, okay. What the hell is that doing there? I called Cameron up to come look at it and we were both like “Did Dr K say that was okay? Or should we call the triage nurse? I think he said brown was okay. I don’t remember.” I know I had read that sometimes the mucus plug comes out weeks before labor begins, but at 36 weeks? Really? So, just to be safe we called and the delivery nurse called me back a few minutes later and when I described to her what had happened she said, cool as a cucumber, “Yep, that sounds like a mucus plug.” So I was a little bit like, okay…is that normal? And she said it was, sometimes it comes out early and you re-grow part of one or not, but it doesn’t mean you’re about to go into labor. She said the only thing that would be cause for concern is if my water broke, or there was bleeding, or if contractions began in earnest. And, since I have an appointment Thursday, she said to just keep it and talk to the Dr then unless anything else happens before then.

So, yeah. Fun. Since then I’ve really had this feeling that this baby is going to come early and most likely nowhere near my EDD. I’m confident that everything will be fine (especially since this week we hit that “magical” 37-weeks point) and frankly I’m excited for something to happen now. What happened Thursday night left me with this mildly surreal feeling, sort of like, oh yeah. So it IS going to happen sometime soon. I was just beginning to think I was going to be of a whale-like proportion forever. And naturally now I’m stupidly impatient for something REAL to happen. I keep finding myself looking to the animals for cues, since they generally know when these sorts of things are going to happen. This morning Whiskey came into the bedroom and laid down right next to my head and was being strangely cuddly and pleasant (normally he ignores my presence altogether), so I began to wonder if he sensed something was about to happen. As it turned out, he was just trying to butter me up so that I wouldn’t be mad when I discovered the pizza box he knocked on the floor overnight. Hmm.

He cares about nothing except food, catnip, and the fireplace.

I suppose we’ll go back to more of the waiting game in the meantime!

The Magic Words

Ah, yes. The magic words every pregnant woman wants to hear, when she’s late in the third trimester and can’t turn over in bed without looking so much like a breeching whale that David Attenborough is knocking at the door hoping to film a documentary on a new species. If you’ve been there, you know exactly what words I’m talking about.

“Could be any day now.”

Sweet hallelujah! There IS a light at the end of this tunnel, even if I can’t actually FIT in said tunnel. Have I mentioned according to my dr’s records I’ve put on 41 pounds since March? Mmmyep. If that doesn’t make a girl feel good I don’t know what does. Pretty soon I will be squeezing into these puppies:

IMG_20131016_091512

Anyway, Dr. said the magic words yesterday at our 36 week check. Now, don’t get me wrong, he said it more as an overall “yep, it might happen” rather than an “expect to go into labor right now.” Just a way of saying, yep, it’s almost that time so don’t freak out in case it does. Obviously, we want Caroline to continue incubating as long as possible, so please don’t think I’m chomping at the bit to have her out tomorrow or that I’m going to start thinking of myself as overdue. I know it’s important for her to bake a little longer. I’m only mostly joking. Nevertheless, it is good to hear from the doctor that he’s confident that if she did come, more than likely everything would be just fine.

That being said…do I STILL really have 4 weeks left till my EDD? Fuck me! (However, Dr did say that babies do tend to be born earlier and somewhat smaller than average up here, I’m assuming due to altitude or barometric pressure or thin air or a preponderance of unicorn farts or something scientific like that. Who knows. But maybe it’s true and it won’t be 4 more full weeks. Fingers crossed.)

After giving me the mother of all horrible internal checks (seriously it was awful), Dr declared she is still head down, growing according to schedule, and her heartbeat is slowing down to a good rate. I’m even a tiny bit dilated! Not like that means much at this point but hey, makes me feel good that my body is responding in roughly the way it is supposed to. I also had my Strep-B culture done and thankfully do not need another internal exam until closer to the due date thankyoubabyjesusbecausethatsucks. So that being said, full steam ahead on the Let’s Get This Show on the Road Train.

Relaxing with my stage-5 clinger of a cat on Mount Caroline.

Caroline’s newest trick, by the way? Planting both feet firmly on my ribs ALL. NIGHT. LONG. I am seriously (as in, not even joking) beginning to bruise on my ribs. When I sit up I can feel one or both of her feet pop around the edges of my ribs and Jesus Fuck does that hurt! This morning I almost could not sit up to get out of bed. Please, please, please drop soon. Please.

Oh, and on the subject of dropping. I have had a virtual crew of complete strangers (you know, people you’ve never met before) look at me and say “Wow, you’ve dropped!” I just give them this look like yeah, tell that to my bruising ribs and my inability to breathe when I lie down. If I hear one more stranger tell me I’ve dropped, I’m gonna drop my palm on their face.

hahanojohn

Oh, we booked a “babymoon”! Or, more like… “last date with the two of us not involving a babysitter.” We were sort of planning on doing that last night, because several months ago I bought tickets to see The Book of Mormon in Denver. But, since getting off Isle Estes these days is sort of a pain we would have had to make an overnight out of it, bring the dog with us, stay at my parents’ house, come back early or take time off work, yadda yadda. It had just become a pain, so we sent the tickets to my parents as a birthday present for my mom instead. I was bummed, but happy that they apparently loved it.

Dad enjoying a little musical sacrilege

So, instead, we are going down next Saturday to see a show in Denver and stay at a nice hotel overnight, since we won’t have to rush to get back home. It’ll be our last chance to chill out together, just the two of us, and be out of Estes for a little while…probably for the last time until the baby comes and/or the roads open up, whichever happens first. (My guess is baby.)

Part of my “postpartum goodie bag” package arrived from Walmart last night. (I was hoping it would be my new pair of boots, but no dice. Just part of the Christmas morning-like joy of doing all our shopping online these days.) Oooh yes, definitely getting close now. Because nothing screams “you are either getting ready to have a baby or perform surgery on a small animal” like a box full of giant thunderpads, stool softeners, witch hazel wipes and doggie tinkle pads. My Depends and granny panties are still on backorder. Shucks.

When I got that tattoo I didn’t actually think I would one day get to BE a whale.

It’s the Final Countdown

…and now you have that song stuck in your head, dontcha? Dontcha? Well at the very least I do…

First snow! Measurable one, anyway. We’ve had a couple dustings so far but nothing major. I think our first snow last year was pretty late, so it’s exciting to see the snow making a more seasonable appearance this year. I know it seems crazy after the floods and all, but we really do need the moisture, because we will dry out pretty fast as conditions return to normal, so as weird as it sounds to say we need the moisture, we do.

Anyway, we are finally in “final countdown mode” as we move into 4-5 weeks till Sweet Caroline can be expected. Still feels impossibly far away, but maybe that’s just because I am in so much discomfort that anything more than a day sounds far away. I am so ready to be able to walk normally again…

We are pretty much finished with the nursery, with the exception of getting a border up (which could end up being such a pain I might just finish the painting and forget about the border) on the wall. I’m overall pretty pleased with it, though I do wish I had a *tiny* bit more floor space. Oh well.

Caroline’s posse
Nursing Headquarters
Baskets for books and toys. Didn’t have enough floor space to get a bookshelf in the room, so on the wall it was.

We have all of her outfits hung in the closet and all of her sleepers, swaddle pods, and blankies in the dresser, along with a whole drawer I’m using as a staging area for diapers and extra wipes. I’m using the bed and the dresser as the command station for diaper changes. We got a box of 650 wipes AND a box of 900 wipes, so I think we will be more than set on those for quite some time. I have a decent stash of diapers going; I didn’t want to buy too many of one kind in the event that she doesn’t fit, doesn’t like them, any of those contingencies. I decided not to start cloth diapering till 8-10 weeks and since I don’t have any cloth diapers already and don’t have a way to get any except ordering them, I decided it wasn’t worth the extra effort to stock up just yet. Hopefully by the time she is ready for them, a road will be open and I can go buy them in person. Just something about ordering them online without seeing them makes me nervous since they are so pricy. I’m committed to cloth diapering, but it’s just hard to get a hold of a decent stash right now and I don’t want to half-ass it….no pun intended.

About the last thing I have to do before she comes is wash all of her clothes, sheets, blankies…but unfortunately I still don’t have my washing machine in use yet (it’s killing me) and I’d rather not use the laundromat for those since the dryers there are so intense I don’t want anything to shrink. Really crossing my fingers we will be able to shut off the pump soon or at least figure out a way to configure both to run at the same time.

The other final piece we were waiting on was the car seat/carrier/stroller, and that arrived yesterday courtesy of my parents. Hooray! Step one was figuring out how to unfold the damn stroller…I really think they should give you that as a test to see if you are allowed to be parents.

So wait, the parent tray is where??

After roughly 10 minutes of trying to figure out where the “parent tray” (also known as Baby Walk Latte Cupholder Area) was, we were finally able to unfold the frame and then it took another 5 minutes to decipher the little drawings to find where the plastic insert that holds up the basket underneath went! So complicated, and the instructions were not helpful whatsoever. The rest of it went pretty quickly though and not long after we had passed the test and were allowed to receive our parenting licenses. Woohoo!

(If you’re curious, the setup is a Chicco Cortina Travel System in Martini…apparently Consumer Reports’ #1 best buy for safety and convenience in travel systems…yay us!)

We still have to get the car seat base installed, which means I have to first clean up my car (murr) and then I think we’ll bring it by the police station since they’ll (I think) install it for free, and then we don’t have to worry if it’s done incorrectly or not. I can’t decide if we should buy another base to put in Cameron’s car. They are not cheap ($85!) and I just wonder if it’s really worth the extra inconvenience of trading cars if one of us needs to take the baby or whatever. Guess we can decide once we determine exactly how much of an inconvenience it turns out to be.

Ooh, I am also set for babywearing. We have an Ergo with an infant insert, but I really wanted a wrap too because it just seemed easier especially if I want to carry her around the house or she wants to be held a lot. I had originally planned on getting a Moby, but after numerous other recommendations and reading it looked like Baby K’Tan was the way to go, so I splurged and bought one for myself. Super cool! It looks to be fairly easy, has a variety of ways to wear it, and looks pretty cute too. (And it’s in a neutral color so Cameron can wear it too.) I had to use poor Bambi as a test dummy again because I didn’t think the cat would appreciate it. (We also used a gallon of milk to test the weight…we are nothing if not thorough product testers.)

Nearly there!

35 weeks and pretty ready to get this show on the road

Dear Caroline

I just wanted to touch base and let you know that you officially have a window for joining us earthside on this amazing planet. I don’t want to rush you or anything, since I know it’s probably a scary idea and you’ll probably be nervous, but I just wanted to let you know that I purchased an outfit for your very first Thanksgiving. And, well, I suppose it would be really nice if you could wear it because I’m pretty sure you’d look stinking cute in it. Also, I know you won’t exactly get to enjoy it quite the same way, but Thanksgiving is an awesome holiday. It’s almost as cool as Christmas!

Now, I don’t want you to think that you should just rush things and come out at any time. According to the doctors you’re not scheduled to be delivered till the 21st or so, but please don’t think that’s a hard and fast date. If you want to come a little earlier, that’s cool too. Personally I think it would be cool if you joined us during the full moon, but that’s just me. Just don’t think that’s an open-ended invitation. See, your MeMe (that’s grandma) wanted to make sure that she didn’t become a MeMe until after her 50th birthday, which is November 6. She said she doesn’t mind sharing it with you if you really wanted, but make sure you don’t come before then. (She might get a little grumpy.)

So that’s your window of delivery, sweet thing. And I know it would be nice if you came before Thanksgiving, but if you don’t get around to it, that’s okay too, just don’t take too much longer because then the Doctor will MAKE you come out and nobody wants that, especially you. Trust me. But if you could just think about how cute you’re going to look in that outfit for Thanksgiving, that might give you some motivation. (Plus, I’ll be real with you, sweet thing, Mommy really wants a nice glass of wine guilt-free on Thanksgiving.)

With love,

Mommy

Everybody Gets One

I really wanted to be that pregnant lady who kept a calm head and didn’t panic about some little minor event that happened in pregnancy. I really wanted to be the one who didn’t show up at the hospital in a panic only to be checked and sent home by a sagely nodding OB.

And I guess I didn’t do that–but I did go to the hospital yesterday when I didn’t have an appointment scheduled to get checked out. I guess everybody gets one.

Nothing serious, lest you be worried, I was just having some really quite annoying cramping/slightly stabby sensations in the general area where my uterus normally hangs out for the better part of the afternoon, and given that we’d just had a conversation with our OB about diagnosing pre-term labor early so we have time to get me out of Estes, I decided to play it safe, and I called and went over. My OB did the routine 34-week check (since we were supposed to have that appointment today anyway) and then did a whole bunch of poking and prodding, asking me where the pain was, etc, and then decided to do an internal check. It made me a little nervous (why couldn’t he determine what was going on from the outside??) but probably was for the best in terms of my peace of mind. He did a test that I can’t remember the name of now that started with the term “feta” (but had nothing to do with yummy cheese, damn) but is done to determine if there is any risk for going into labor in the next 2 weeks or so. That came back negative, which is good. He also did a cervical check (which was not particularly pleasant, holy ow) and he said that was fine, no effacement or dilation yet and it is still around an inch and a half long. Also, baby’s head was down and she is presenting vertex! That surprised me because I was sure from the movement/placement I was feeling that she was sideways, but I guess not. So, in the end all was well (he said more than likely it was a mixture of being mildly dehydrated, bad Steph, and the baby’s head was probably sitting on an uncomfortable spot on my bladder.) and I’m glad we called because I probably would have been stupid worried all day if I hadn’t. No harm no foul and Dr K is pretty confident that the baby will not be born early (or at least not in the next 2-3 weeks, which is our window for full term anyway) but he did say that if she is, more than likely everything will be fine and we shouldn’t worry much. (Unless she is born before November 6, in which case we have to face my mother’s wrath for making her a grandmother before she turns 50.)

More than anything I appreciated that Dr K took the time out of his day to sit down and listen to my concerns. That really goes a LONG way with me. Normally when we have these appointments he rattles off a list of any warning signs and goes through it all at a normal pace, but yesterday he came in, immediately sat down next to me and went through each issue individually until he was sure that I (and Cameron) were comfortable and worry-free. He didn’t seem annoyed or exasperated with us for pulling that typical first-pregnancy move of jumping the gun and coming in for a little cramp. He was even the one to call an hour later to let us know the not-Greek-cheese test was negative, which he could have just passed off to a nurse to do but didn’t. So that helps a lot in the long run because I honestly feel like this doctor has our best interests at heart and will continue to do so until we are there for labor and bringing Caroline earthside.

Speaking of which, 6 more weeks till the due date whaaaaaat? We finally get our childbirth classes this weekend, yippee! I’m still a little sad that we have to do them marathon-style and probably won’t get a breastfeeding/infant care class, but I guess the labor and birth parts are the most important, and it’s all better than nothing. Plus we (well, I, Cameron already knows her) will finally get to meet the other gal whose due date is only 2 weeks away from us, who I am hoping will be the start of my new mommy network. And, assuming the delivery truck arrives as scheduled today, the final pieces of the nursery should be delivered and I can FINALLY be ready in that room.

And before I go, here’s a picture of my corgi. Because why not.

Personal space is not his forte.