Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Doogie is born, part two.

I’ve heard that the Eskimo people have dozens of words for snow. I don’t know if it is true, but it makes sense that something with which you are very familiar would lead to very specific descriptive terms for what seem like minute details.

Maybe it is because the experience was new and unfamiliar to me, then, that I seem to lack adequate vocabulary words to describe birthing my third baby. Painful, obviously, and certainly intense, but neither word seems enough. I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic, but the overwhelming agony and then immediate ecstasy of your birth made up the most vulnerable and absolutely present moments of my life.

Surrounded by the nurses and medical student with your Daddy at my side, I suddenly felt I was drowning, swamped and gasping for air in the crushing pain of delivery. For the first time, I felt out of control, and I cried out again and again as the waves of pain crashed over me one on top of the other without relief. The pressure was overwhelming and indescribable, making it impossible to think about the past or the future or anything but surviving that very instant. 

The only moment I remember hearing any hint of anything but absolute calm and serenity in the nurse’s voice was when she called out from the room a second time.

“I need the doctor in here-- right now, please!”

I caught my breath for a brief moment, and desperately pleaded with her. “Please, is he almost here?” I begged, my voice whimpering from the pain.

“He’s coming as quickly as he can. He’ll be here very soon,” she answered, full of compassion. She assumed I was referring to my doctor, who had yet to arrive.

But here is the thing. I wasn’t asking about my doctor. It didn’t matter much to me in that moment if he made it or didn’t or who was in the room at all. I just wanted my son.

I needed YOU.

All at once, my pleas were answered. I tried for a moment to follow the hushed suggestions from the nurses to pant, to hold off delivery just long enough for the doctor to arrive, but it was futile and lasted only an instant.

“I’m pushing!” I called out. It was not a declaration of intention. It was simply a desperate announcement that, without my permission at all, my body was doing what it knew how to do. Without any input from me, I was having a baby. 

You were—FINALLY!—coming to meet your Mama.

Resigned to the fact that you were not waiting for anyone, the nurse pushed the medical student into position and confidently looked up at me.

“One push, honey, and your baby will be here.”

The Eskimos have dozens of words for snow, and I have none for that moment.

I won’t lie to you, baby child. It was physical agony unlike anything I have ever experienced, but only for a moment. An instant later, you were here! Pink and screaming and perfect and then you were on my chest and every bit of that pain in an instant was just love. LOVE. It was incredible, unbelievable, perfect.

It was 1:24pm.

The doctor bounced into the room the very moment it was over (“I didn’t know we were doing it like this!” he said, surprised) and dashed over to the clamp the cord and assume all kinds of doctor-ly roles from the clearly bewildered and relieved medical student.

(A day or so later, when he came to check on me, I asked that student if that was his first delivery. He ducked his head sheepishly and nodded. Look at you, Doogleberry! Setting the precedence for awesome from your very first moments!)

The most incredible thing about your birth was how instantly amazing I felt. As soon as you were out and in my arms where you belonged, I felt energized, pain-free, and ecstatic to have such a gorgeous baby. Eventually I handed you off to your beaming Daddy, who took you to the corner of the room to see you weighed, (9 pounds 6 ounces!) measured, (19 inches long!) and wrapped up tightly.

There was some difficulty with the third stage of labor as the placenta did not detach as quickly as we would have liked. I am so grateful for my doctor, who, after missing the main event, was patient and confident and full of compassion. I nearly crawled backwards up the bed as he pressed heavily on my stomach in downward motions, apologizing repeatedly for the pain as he worked to ensure we could avoid infection and hemorrhage. He repeatedly offered IV pain medication, but I declined. I wasn’t trying to be a hero, but narcotics make me insanely drowsy (I’m such a lightweight) and all I wanted was to have you in my arms the rest of the day without falling asleep.

In the end, everything worked out perfectly. The doctor’s skill and patience paid off, and we wrapped up everything without resorting to the horrible sounding procedures the doctor had warned might be necessary if it took much longer. I stayed on the pitocin for several more hours to ensure contractions were successful in clearing everything out, and once he was done kneading my stomach I immediately felt fantastic again.

And how could I not?! Just look at you!

The two and a half weeks since you were born have been amazing. Circumstances at our house have been hectic—nearly everyone we live with has had some sort of health scare or another—but you have been window of peace for me. You are soft and sleepy and wonderful, and my recovery has been a breeze. I feel wonderful, I have healed quickly, and the constant pelvic pain that plagued me throughout pregnancy is completely gone.

And you? You are my dream. Your Daddy adores you, your siblings are over the moon, and Mama is dizzy in love.

Welcome to our family, Doogenheim. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Doogie is born, part one.

Early in the morning on Tuesday, December 10th, Daddy and I headed into the hospital buzzing with excitement to meet our baby boy. I changed into one of those oh-so-stylish hospital gowns—pale, non-descript in color with a dizzying geometric print all over it, nearly identical to those worn by patients in every hospital I’ve ever worked in. Who designs that fabric anyway?

My cheerful nurse started the IV and hung the Pitocin to start contractions, and Daddy and I talked and laughed and reveled in our growing excitement until the contractions became strong enough to interrupt our conversation. I stood at the side of the bed for a while and swayed my hips back and forth, and your Daddy pushed hard into my lower back to ease the pain. Before long, I climbed back up into the bed where I could rest between contractions.

And here is where I gush about how much I love your Daddy. This pregnancy and birthing business is not easy on the man that I married. Medicine and hospitals make him anxious. Three times now I have been lucky enough to have relatively easy, uneventful pregnancies, and all three times your father has spent the ten months from when I happily told him a baby was coming until the day we took our baby home tempering his excitement with a healthy dose of worry. But on the day that you were born, when I closed my eyes to let the waves of pain wash over me, I fell in love with your Daddy all over again. He was calm and patient and unendingly helpful—getting me ice chips and cool washcloths and very literally fanning me with the homemade fan Bug made for me to take to the hospital. I sat in the bed with my legs bent, and he dutifully pushed my knees toward my body during every contraction, pressing my hips just enough toward the back of the bed to ease some of the pain. He is just the very best man. Try to be like him, ok?

Once labor progressed enough to be distractingly painful, I wasn’t terribly social. I found, sort of to my surprise I guess, that breathing slowly and audibly through my nose like I do during yoga was calming during contractions. The waves of pain never lasted more than 5 very slow breaths, so I counted my breathing to manage each one.

I had epidurals when your sibings were born, and those births were beautiful and perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing. I am grateful beyond words for the advances in modern medicine that allow me the privilege of walking out of the hospital healthy and with beautiful babies. That relief for the excruciating pain of childbirth exists is a beautiful miracle. On the day you were born, I had agreed to the epidural when we arrived at the hospital, but I had also considered the idea of skipping the medication this time. My thoughts weren’t part of some social statement or exercise in self-punishment, it was just that I was nearly positive I could do it without that extra intervention. Delivering your siblings happened quickly and uneventfully, and I figured I could avoid giving the anesthesiologist a thousand of our hard earned dollars if things went well. (You know, high deductible plans and whatnot.) The thought of suffering through a contraction or two hunched over and trying to hold perfectly still while the epidural was placed was just enough motivation to keep me focused, and before I knew it (about five hours from the time we arrived at the hospital), I was dilated to seven centimeters.

From delivering the Bug and Mr. Baggins, I knew that the transition portion of labor typically goes very, very fast for me. With both of your siblings, I went from seven centimeters to having a screaming baby on my chest in about 45 minutes. My experience with you was no different, only this time I was experiencing everything without the benefit of pain relief. The advanced stages of labor were incredibly intense. I remember looking at the clock at 1:00 in the afternoon, wracked with the pain of strong contractions coming one on top of the other, and saying to your daddy, “he’ll be here by two. I just know it.”

I was right.

While I had been nearly silent for the first 5 hours of labor, I found myself moaning and crying out quite a bit in the last 30 minutes. The nurses (who were AH-MAZ-ING) called for our doctor to come from his office across the parking lot to get ready for the big event. Swamped with something at the office, he sent his medical student (who I had met at my appointment the day before) because, as he put it, “things might go fast for her.”

That proved to be the understatement of the year.

To be continued...

Monday, December 29, 2014

Welcome to our family, Doogleberry.

Dearest Son,

You are freshly bathed and smell of lavender and milky baby breath, and I am watching you sleep beside me on the couch, swaddled in the softest blanket and dreaming whatever new babies dream. Your little chest rises and falls softly, interrupted by the little hiccups and chirps of a little one still unfamiliar with life on the outside.

I love you.

And I don’t want to forget these little moments, sandwiched as they are between the constant hum of family chaos—Mama and Daddy referee sibling scuffles and orchestrate the frantic rush of dinner time, bath time, tooth brushing, and pajamas while adjusting to a new little person in our family. It’s the happiest kind of circus, but the days run together and smoosh together in an indistinguishable blur. I look at the clock at night and cannot believe the day is gone with so little accomplished.

But then, I snuggled you most of the day, and that’s something.

You are the perfect addition to our little family. You have a little nose and chin that look just like your brother and sister did when they were born, and a dusting of soft blonde hair all over your head. You make all kinds of little grunting and snorting noises when you are awake, and the sweetest sighs and soft hiccups while you sleep. You love eating and sleeping and hate to be bathed and you sound like a lamb when you are happy and a lion when you are mad. You are perfect. You are a dream.

And so I’ll write it all down—even though I missed a chunk of time on this little blog—so that I can remember what it was like to juggle my three babies when they were small and we lived in a borrowed space and nothing was the same as it was 10 months ago before we found out you were coming, before we sold our house and moved, before job changes and preschool and all kinds of other little life changes flipped our routine upside down.


I did a lot of reading and thinking ahead of time about what your birthday might look like. I didn’t have any real agenda other than doing my very best to leave the hospital with a healthy baby in my arms. Working in the field that I do has long-since scarred me with the knowledge that there are no guarantees in this world, that scary, hard things happen every single day to people who look a lot like me, and that real life very rarely shakes out exactly the way we plan it. All I really wanted from the experience was to get you out of the deal.

But I’ll admit it, around 3 days after your due date had come and gone without even the slightest hint of baby-action, I was getting a little restless. My mom had been in the hospital, my Bandie had died, and your Daddy had made an extremely rare and therefore unnerving trip to InstaCare all in the days after you were theoretically supposed to be here, and guess what! Still no baby. 

So I ate an entire pineapple with the dimmest hope that the crazies on the Internet were right and it would put me into labor. (Hint: nope.) I lumbered awkwardly on the elliptical and took long, painful walks (waddles?) up and down the hills near Nana and PopPop’s house.

And still, no baby.

 And so, even though I had sort of hoped to avoid any unnecessary intervention, my doctor and your daddy and I decided it was probably best to give the whole process a bit of a jump start.

Spoiler alert: turns out you were worth the wait.

To be continued...

Friday, July 18, 2014

They can, but I can't.

One of the best parts about parenting is watching the unique ways little people interact with the world. Today, while willfully ignoring the near-constant stream of chatter coming from the two people in the backseat of my car, I began imagining what the social consequences would be if I, an adult, engaged in the same habits as my kids. And so, a list of things my kids do that would be inappropriate for me to do:

1. Expressing every passing thought out loud, even if that thought interrupts a current thought.

Bug: Hey Mama, I want to go to Grammy's house because LOOK A KITTY!

2. Lacking the emotional regulation to respond to even mundane suggestions with anything other than near-hysterical energy.

Me: Who wants to go downstairs?
Mr. Baggins, hopping up and down, flapping his arms wildly: Oooo! Me me me me! Peeeeese! DOWNSTAIRS!
*See also: flopping to the ground in dismay at any event eliciting mild displeasure.

3. Commenting on every detail of every day, no matter how uninteresting or unimportant.

Bug, while eating a picnic lunch: Hey Mom, some yogurt dropped on my arm and not my swimsuit.
Me: Ok. Go ahead and lick it off. 
Bug: I did already.

4. Finding it necessary to clarify in what form their requests ought to be granted. Mister regularly begs for "milk please in cup." You know, because of all those times I have brought a puddle of milk for him balanced in my cupped palms and required him to lap it up like a puppy.

5. Discussing our bathroom-related needs at a 7/10 volume, no matter the location or situation. 

Bug, doing the universal potty-wiggle-dance (and maybe we're surrounded by people in church): Mama? I need-a go POTTY! Right NOW! CAN'T HOLD IT!
Me: Can we color for a minute instead?
Bug, shrugging: Yeah, sure.

Baggins, with energy: I dess put POOP in my DI-PAH.

Also: a desire to dip any piece of solid food in ranch dressing (Mr. Baggins), neglecting to flush the toilet after use (Bug), and displaying a near-complete inability to stand still, resulting in spastic dancing, spinning, and/or arm flailing while waiting for parental instructions (both), and eating ice cream with the gusto it deserves.

Monday, July 14, 2014

That noise crickets make.

Yoo hoo! Anyone out there? Hello-ooo?!

So here's the thing. It's been, like, I don't know, a million years since I last wrote anything on this little space. Generally speaking, I don't believe in feeling guilty about neglecting things that are not alive and/or important, but the thing is that I actually really enjoy writing here, and more than that, I love looking back at the way things have changed since I started. It's really the only record keeping I do, and it has become something that is important to me. (First world problems, right?) So I'm starting again! Fresh starts! New beginnings and resolutions and whatever!

Here's what happened: around the time I last blogged, things started getting a little out of control free-time-wise. In addition to the usual hubbub, we decided, for reasons that seemed more complicated at the time than they do now, to remodel our kitchen in preparation to sell our home and move. Have you ever tried living without a functional kitchen while simultaneously packing a house on an extremely tight timeline with two small children? While working nights? It's an adventure!

But we did it! We wrapped up the kitchen and I somehow managed to fit our life into boxes. Our plans changed just enough so that we ended up moving to Nana and PopPop's  house, which the kids have absolutely adored. I haven't lived at home for longer than a summer break in 12 years, but to be honest, the transition has been much smoother than I ever guessed. My family has been so welcoming, and we've had the perfect balance of great people around to help with kids and enough privacy to really feel at home.

Other things that help with adjustment: the dreamy amount of counter space available to me in my mom's amazing kitchen.

As anyone who has sold a house can tell you, the move was the easy part. Navigating the ups and downs of  having a house for sale was even more chaotic, but with the help of a fantastic real estate agent who Paddy has known for several years, we made it! Our little red house has new owners, and while we'd been planning this for a while, I cried more than expected when we stood in that empty house for the last time.

I looked around at that empty house and saw the carpet where Bug crawled awkwardly when she was first learning, and the spot we put our Christmas tree, and the rooms I put my brand new babies to sleep in, and I cried until I couldn't see anymore. I thought about all the other changes we have been navigating the last couple of months, and for a second I let myself feel really overwhelmed by all of the decisions we have yet to make.

And then I picked up my baby boy, ushered my little red-head out in front of me, and grabbed my Paddy's hand. Together, my little family of 4 marched out that door and into our future.

Oh, wait. Did I say family of four?

I meant four and a half. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring projects: The Back Door.

The  bummer thing for me about owning our particular 60+ year old house is that we weren't  fortunate enough to snag any of the cool architectural details that you sometimes luck out on with older homes. We don't have any cool molding it anything like that, but what we did have was this oddly embellished back door. Unfortunately, as the last area on the ground floor that I hadn't gotten around to painting since we moved in, the exterior of the door was just dirty, sad, and weird.

(The truth is that I forgot to take a picture before I cleaned it up really well and started painting the top half, so you only get the bottom part of the door for reference. Also, imagine it dirtier.)

Now, I love me a good door (see the front door transformation here) so a change was in order.

Using some paint I had around the house, I spruced up the door to a nice light grey color, and highlighted the embellishments with white glossy trim paint. This way, they look intentional instead of like some tired throw back to when my grandparents were young homeowners.

Here's the total before and after look. What do you think?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Heart of the Home, or, Finally, my kitchen isn't a total embarrassment.

Right in the middle of a million other major life changes (they're exciting! and nervewracking! and stressful! Let's not talk about them right now!) we decided to finally finish some of the upgrades to our kitchen. As you might remember, we've done smaller cosmetic upgrades from time to time but we hadn't really tackled much of the major stuff, beyond replacing the appliances. Basically, up until last week, this was the status of our kitchen. Admit it, you're jealous of the vast, sweeping expanses of counter space. Don't worry, it's EASY and FUN to prepare dinners with only THREE INCHES OF FLAT AREA to work with.

The worst offender, by far, was the atrocious floor. It was hideous, stained linoleum with paint splatters. Interestingly, you can see that it wasn't the first ugly linoleum to be laid down. At some point, our orange kitchen must've had the very flashy green flooring you can see peeking out from under the dishwasher.

During some other era, the floor must have been this disgusting carpet, which for some reason wasn't pulled up from under the old, wider-than-standard stove. (Packing tape to hold it down is so classy, don't you agree?)

After putting it off for a million years, we decided to go ahead and redo the floors. We knew we wanted tile as opposed to a wood laminate because the rest of our home has lovely hardwood floors hiding under the carpet (just waiting for someone more energetic than me to refinish them.) We figured tile would be a better compliment to those someday-floors. Paddy's flooring guy, who also scored us the remnant carpet piece for the toy room, had a great deal on some tiles. They were a nice, large size and neutral color, so I didn't mind that we didn't really have much choice.

PopPop and Paddy scraped out the laminate that curled up the walls and pulled up the aforementioned carpet piece.


Particularly given the tricky stair section, we opted not to try our novice tiling skills out on our floor, and instead let professionals do the job. We are thrilled with out it turned out!

And after!
(You can see we still have baseboards to add, but I was too excited to wait to share.)

Once the floors were in, we knew the hideousness of the countertops and sink would really be highlighted. Despite my best efforts, the red Rustoleum countertop paint I snagged for a great price turned out to be about as durable as a ripe peach. (CURSE YOU, RUSTOLEUM! Also, your customer service kind of stinks.)

Given the finishes in the rest of the house, we thought granite countertops would likely not be worth the dollars, particularly given that this isn't our forever house. We found a nice laminate that looks great and will hold up well.
We also replaced this gem of a sink. Believe it or not, I scrubbed that thing with Comet on a regular basis. Not even my furious, obsessive scraping and polishing can remove 50 years of grime, it seems.

Though you can't tell (even in person), I ended up repainting the backsplash a lighter, creamier color. The green in the new countertops ended up making the grey backsplash read really blue-ish and bizarre. I also painted the bottom trip of the cabinets where there used to be linoleum coving black to match the rest of the cabinets. Here is the final transformation!

From this:
To this!:

What do you think?