Friday, December 31, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 15)



7 Quick Takes Blueberry Style

#1 - Blueberry bag, blanket, onesie, and shoes--thanks to Kristi. Blueberry hat, thanks to Nico.



*********************
#2 - Aw, look. Even the back of the onesie has blueberries!


***************************
#3 -



**********************

#4


***************************
#5 - Contemplation or planning mischief?


Definitely Mischief.

******************************

#6 - "Seriously, Mum? The camera again


***************************

#7 - Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmassing

It is December 30 and I'm sitting here with the window wide open enjoying the lovely breeze. Does anyone else find this picture bizarre?

Warm weather has been the weather of our Christmas this year. Granted, we flew to where it should be warm, so it was a little less unexpected, but still!

Last Wednesday we flew out to Arizona to spend Christmas with my parents. They are temporarily living in Arizona teaching at a local bible school there. Why not enjoy a warm Christmas while we can?!

Packing was a challenge. First (as I mentioned in an earlier post) our dryer broke. So I spent one day running back and forth (well, driving) between my brother's house and mine doing laundry. But by Wednesday morning we were all packed, dressed, and ready to go.

Blueberry was an absolute angel on the plane--both there and back. The worst crying we had out of her was a few minutes of her (very quiet) "uh uh uh"s while she explained to me how she didn't want to go to sleep and how she resented her eyelids getting heavy. She was so quiet on the way there that the people across the aisle from us were shocked when they realized there was a baby right next to them! And, no. We did not drug her.

At the airport:




While in Arizona we enjoyed the gorgeous weather that allowed for craziness like roses and fruit on trees in December.












The cactus wearing Santa caps were rather amusing too.


On Friday we drove to Sedona where we enjoyed the red rocks of Coconino National Forest. While I don't think I would want to live in Phoenix, if I could live somewhere in that area, I totally would.




(My new carrier--Piccolo. Similar to a mai tai but with clips instead of tying on. I still prefer my wrap for now, but when she gets bigger, especially when she's able to go on my back, this will be far easier. And it fits both Chris and I with little adjustment!)

Other activities: I visited my first Trader Joes. While I was impressed by the prices, I actually was not that impressed by the store. I've heard so much about it, and I can see it being great for novelty stuff, but really, I like our Mama Jeans!

My Mum got introduced to playing the Wii. That was absolutely hysterical. If you are a Facebook friend of mine, I'm going to link to the video we took of her.

Chris and I were also happy to spend an afternoon and evening with some good friends of our who we hadn't seen in about 8 years. Nothing like catching up with friends.

Blueberry primarily worked at entertaining her grandparents. She was very good most of the trip; although, she did get her patience tried a little too much on Friday as she spent so much time in the car seat that she proceeded to protest riding in the car seat after much shorter intervals than normal. She also found a new noise to make. I personally think it sounds like the groaning of a train coming to a halt. Chris thinks she's trying to imitate his cough. Either way, it's a most peculiar noise. Oh, and she finally is mastering the art of grasping. Which means everything is being grabbed (and then gummed). Plus she has discovered a love of drinking from glasses. Trying to get her to master her sippy cup. So far, she prefers trying to suck out of the straw opening on mommy's water bottle. It was a busy week in her world!

Saturday morning--Christmas Day!--was the Blueberry present hour. Let's just say her Nana and Papa spoiled her. But that's ok. After all, we have few Christmases together for spoilage.

Nana and Blueberry reading hour.


Blueberry in a Bag


Which she primarily tried to eat--because she's eating everything currently.




Including her new Raggedy Ann


I hope they will be good friends. I was delighted that she was given both the classic Raggedy Ann stories and the classic Raggedy Andy stories. Love those books!


Yes, we are a family of bookworms. Lots of books for Christmas.


Blueberry and a stylin' outfit from France--a gift from her Auntie Joy




I hope everyone's Christmas was as delightful.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Seriously?

So last Thursday, we got a new hot water heater (much needed for several months, had become an almost desperate situation). Yay! Much rejoicing.

Friday, my dryer broke. It runs. It just never gets hot. Of course I was procrastinating on some of my laundry last week, and as we're in high need of laundry now, I was going to do a bunch of laundry Saturday/Sunday.

Well, obviously that plan was no longer going to work. Sunday I washed Blueberry's diapers (well, stripped them which required multiple washings), and then drove over to my brother's house (he lives 1/2 mile away) to dry them.

For the record--I have a clothes line that I could use. Problem being that I really hate crispy clothes, and so I always throw everything into the dryer for 5 minutes or so to soften them up. And it does take awhile to line dry--I don't have time to line dry the mass of laundry going on here!

Today I'm trying to do the drive back and forth doing laundry method; however, my sweet little Blueberry who normally takes short morning naps has decided that today would be a great time to take a 1.5 hour nap. And now, just as I'm needing to head out the door again, yet another nap was determined to be of utmost importance.

Sigh. Two days left to get ready...gonna make it? I dunno.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

12/18/10

Nine years ago today I married my best friend. In those nine years we've shared tears, laughter, helped one another grow, taken turns holding the other person up, held hands, and most recently, added the most perfect addition to our lives. I don't regret a moment of it. And I hope for 90 more.

Love you dearest.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hmmm..

1 package of socks containing three pairs of socks.

When unfolded: 3 slightly different lengths of socks.

I'm confused.

Oh well, at least I'm just chopping the toes off any ways to make Blueberry more leggings!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Daybook-December 12

Outside my window...I took a look this morning, and was delighted to see a good covering of snow on the ground! And it's still coming down. I don't like the cold of winter, but I do love the beauty of snow. Makes up for some of the coldness at least.

I am thinking...that The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was sadly disappointing. I really loved the first two new Narnia movies. Even Prince Caspian I was pleased with despite how they played with the story. I thought they did a good job enhancing some weaker areas of the book. But VDT was, honestly, boring. They took a book that already had good character development, great plot, and fascinating fantasy elements, and they muddled it all up and made it boring. So sad. Especially as it's one of the few (only?) movie we've paid full-price to see this year.

I am thankful for...dates with my husband and good friends who like babies and not only are willing to babysit but who also don't leave me much of an option in the matter!

From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...comes a lot of activity! Fingers are still popular but rather than just playing with them, Blueberry is starting to learn to grab items (with intention). Toes are also rising in popularity. Not quite at the sucking them stage, but lots of staring and reaching for the toes has been going on. AND (it's been a busy few days around here for Blueberry), she's finally rolled over! I had her playing on her tummy (which she has slowly been tolerating more) yesterday and I turned my back for 5 seconds and turned back and she had rolled over! She wouldn't do it again until this morning when I laid her down on her tummy and within 5 seconds she had flipped herself to her back. Yay!

From the kitchen...comes split-pea lentil sesame-seed ham-bone soup. I bought a ham last week for the ultimate goal of having split-pea soup (which I love and was hankering after). I like ham as it's actually a cheap meal option for us. I can make a ham and it lasts for a variety of meals for both Chris and I for several days, plus then I can use the bone for soup which lasts for several more meals. Yesterday morning, I dumped the ham in the crock-pot with the intention of starting the soup. Put all the other ingredients in, go to pull out the split-peas, and find that I don't have any! How I missed this fact when planning the meal in the first place, I have no idea. So, rethinking my plan, I put in lentils instead. Not quite my normal lentil/ham-bone soup, but it would work, so I thought. Well, when we were eating it several hours later, we realized that what I thought were lentils (and what I had labeled as being lentils, had to actually be sesame-seeds! I bought them from one of those bulk-sale bins at our local health-food store, so it must have been a labeling error on their part. For the record: sesame-seed ham soup is only so-so.

I am wearing...PJ's and a bathrobe. Need to get dressed soon--probably when Blueberry goes down for her first nap.

I am creating...order out of The Jumble. Everything has at least been sorted through. Now to actually take action on all the things that need action taken!

I am going...to church in a few hours.

I am reading.. . book 5 of the Harry Potter series.

I am hoping...for a change. I know, I know. How Obamaesque of me.

I am hearing...Christmas carols on the radio. I wish The Wind would play worship music on Sunday mornings during the Christmas season like they normally do the rest of the year. Or at least do a combination of none-Santa Clause Christmas music and worship songs. And I also wish they would NOT play Feliz Navidad ever, never mind twice in one morning! Excuse me while I go shut the radio off from that dreadful song.

Around the house...we are considering the best way to go about baby proofing. It seems that the time is rapidly coming when some things need to be barred off from exploring fingers. Am trying to consider that balance of teaching Blueberry what is hers to touch and what is not vs having a set-up where she's going to hear a whole lot of "no!" vs having a set up where everything is Blueberry friendly and she doesn't have to learn boundaries.

One of my favorite things...the way Blueberry's face lights up when she sees me walk in the room.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Well, as it's Sunday, my week is barely starting! Although, in truth, I have few set engagements for next week. Projects to work on, some errands to run, a Christmas recital to participate in, but mostly a blessedly light week. Oh, we do need to find a babysitter for the 18th so Chris and I can go out and celebrate our 9th! anniversary.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...






Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Friday, December 10, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 14)



#1 - Oh my, this is the first "Quick Takes" I've done since the one I posted in August the day I went into labor. And now my sweet Blueberry is 24" long, 11lb 8 oz (I know, I know--skinny little monkey she is), and has turned 4 months old! What happened?!

***************************

#2 - My darling husband sent me this picture about a month after Blueberry was born, and I've hung on to it as a reminder of how much I'm NOT screwing up my child--even when I feel like I surely must be!



***************************

#3 - Been busy working on Christmas presents this week. I think we're almost all done. Now just waiting for some of them to arrive and then to wrap and get them to those they belong. Chris is nice and easy this year as he just wants music. My Christmas present (and birthday present and Christmas present for next year!) is going to take a bit of planning on my part, but I'm very excited about it. I told Chris that all I wanted was to go to see Hillery who went and abandoned me nearly a year ago now (guilt trip much?!). The other half of my present, as gifted by my husband, is that I'm under orders to take a decently sized trip. No fly-by, weekend visit. Tough on him as he'll have to stay home and work and take care of himself. Now to find dates and get a ticket! This kind of thing is truly my favorite kind of gift in the world.

***************************

#4 - Ugly Tree was last Saturday. And I finally won with a hideous hippo! I'm delighted by this fact as I've come in second for multiple years in a row now. Few new people joined us this year, and a good time was had by all. Blueberry did her usual "There are people around, I can't possibly sleep" act. But as she's generally pretty angelic while doing so, it worked out okay.




(photos courtesy of Aaron Jones)

***************************

#5 - I really need to get a picture of the pose I'm currently in. It's becoming a common one for me lately. I'm sitting at our big desk. My feet are propped up on the desk. I'm supporting the keyboard with my knee. And my arms are propped up by a pillow on one side and Blueberry on the other as she is draped over me, munching away. Actually, I take it back. She's asleep now. What am I going to do when she gets bigger?!

***************************

#6 - I'm feeling very accomplished this morning. It's just now 9am, and I've gotten up, dressed, dressed Blueberry, made my husband lunch, made the bed, put in a load of laundry, washed out diapers, cleaned up the kitchen, got a load of diapers out of the dryer (still need to folded), had breakfast (cooked and everything!), and have checked my email, and am now writing a blog. Go me! Now the questions remain: will the clothes in the wash get put into the dryer and then folded later, the dishes that got put into the dishwasher to be run--will they get put away, will I get around to answering a couple of the emails that were sitting in my inbox, and will I actually manage to finish this post in time to get it up today? And let's not discuss what I've been thinking of as The Jumble:



***************************

#7 - Probably due to the many conversations and thoughts on sleep that I've had lately, the quote that keeps running through my brain is Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech. Actually, it's not the whole speech, but just the one line: "...to sleep, To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub..." Of course suicide is the farthest thought from my brain currently, so I can't really go to far with the rest of the speech. But that one line keeps drifting through my consciousness. So I release it here. It's like the song that you have stuck in your head. Sometimes (at least I find this to be true), you just have to listen to the song to make it go away. Maybe just saying the line will make it dissipate? We'll see if my theory works.

In the meantime, I have a wiggle-worm playing peek-a-boo on my lap as she's waking up from her little snooze. Not quite awake enough to keep her head up to look at me, but she keeps trying.

Till next time, I leave you with this additional Hamlet thought.

"This is the very ecstasy of love"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Daybook - December 8

Outside my window...brilliant sunshine lights up the morning sky. However, upon opening the door to let the puppy dogs out, I was hit in the face by a freezing cold blast of air. So deceptive! It's supposed to warm up a bit tomorrow and Friday. And then it's supposed to snow on Saturday.

I am thinking...of plans for this spring and several trips that we're wanting to take.

I am thankful for...a good night's rest. Amazing how much that can help the brain.

From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...comes laughter! We keep trying to video tape (our camera has a mini video-recorder in it) Blueberry laughing, but so far not much success. Will keep trying though as it's delightfully funny.

From the kitchen...I am trying to compile a list of menu items. Got to work on stream-lining dinner planning, so this is the place I will start.

I am wearing...jeans, gray sweater, and bare feet (I took my socks off earlier because I laid down with Blueberry to get her to take a nap--I object to naps in socks--and forgot to put them back on. Yes, my toes are cold. And my nails are rather in need of repainting).

I am creating...a pile of Christmas presents that need wrapping and, in some cases, shipping.

I am going...nowhere! At least not today. Monday we went grocery shopping. Tuesday was MOPS. Tomorrow I go to the studio. And Friday I'm meeting up with a friend. And Saturday, Chris and I will hopefully be going on a date. So today is a blissful at home day.

I am reading.. . the Harry Potter series again. And I'm trying to find my copy of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Love that book. Blueberry and I are working our way through a huge book of children's poems. Found a delightful one on Christmas pudding today called The Remarkable Cake by Margaret Mahy. Very accurate expression of my sentiments regarding plum cake!

I am hoping...to get a letter for my one job written, the editing of a friend's final Master's thesis done, dinner made, laundry dried, and some work done on the house. To high of expectations? Perhaps.

I am hearing...the delightful harmony of Christmas songs.

Around the house...I have made a sad decision. I am not decorating for Christmas this year. This is a rather momentous decision for me. I love decorating for Christmas. My Freshman year of college, I talked my roommate into letting me decorate for Christmas in October! It's one of those things that Chris and I had to compromise on as he (strangely) objects to my decorating before Thanksgiving.

Originally I had been planning on just not putting up a Christmas tree this year. but I've realized that as much as I miss my decorations, it would be a more stressful thing than a happy thing to put them up this year. So I have, rather sensibly I think, decided that I will spend the time focusing on cleaning my house and enjoying my sweet baby girl (not in that order!), and bring out the decorations next year. Also, we're not going to be here for Christmas, so that kind of adds a little more weight to not putting them up.

But next year--that will be a different story!

One of my favorite things...drinking water. Best drink in the world.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Thursday--studio. Last week before the Christmas show--HELP!
Friday--going out in the morning with a friend.
Saturday--going to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader with Christopher.
Working on Christmas presents and several writing/editing jobs. Tidying my house. Writing up recipes for Christmas.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...


Leggings--as mentioned in an earlier day book.

Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thought for the Day

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences. –C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blueberry's First Thanksgiving

Blueberry's first Thanksgiving was a cold one.

We had lunch at my brother and sis-in-law's house. Played games until late. Poor little Blueberry only took one short nap that whole time (other than the catnap on my shoulder). Was remarkably cheerful though. After all--people were around! She really is a social bug.


Blueberry is introduced to gaming at a young age.


Blueberry with her Auntie Joy


Uncle Jonathan and his Charlaberry.


Nom. Nom. Nom. Blueberry's favorite snack.


Check out the cute boots from England!


She collapsed into bed with Mummy at the end of the day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Misaligned Stars, Bad Fates, and a Severe Dose of Sleep Deprivation

So this story starts last Friday when Blueberry got her second round of shots. Despite it making her feel not so great, there was a bonus (or so I thought) in that she slept really well that night. In fact, I got the most sleep in one night that I've gotten since she came home from the hospital. Combine that with the fact that I've really been working on her napping and she's finally started taking longer naps during the day, I was elated.

And then Sunday hit. And I got some stomach thingy. Seemed to be a 24 hour bug. Got over it quickly, but it was enough to wipe me out.

And then Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday hit. Blueberry apparently decided that napping was a bad idea--in fact sleep in general was not her friend--and I was more tired than ever. Actually, I think to some degree that part of the problem was that my body had finally gotten a full nights rest and it wanted more and was not happy about getting even less.

Then we got to Wednesday night. It was 3am, and as I lay in bed with a (sleeping!) child in her bassinet near me and a snoring husband, I realized something. My body has forgotten how to sleep. Literally. I felt like I literally could no longer sleep. I know understand why sleep deprivation is considered a torture and/or brain washing mechanism.

By Thursday morning I was exhausted. I literally woke up from the semi-sleep I'd finally manged to fall into and started crying. And I couldn't stop. All morning as I struggled to take care of my little girl, I would just start crying for no reason. Finally, it got so bad that I asked my husband to come home. He came home to a weeping, over-the-top dramatic wife, one wired little baby (because of course she wouldn't sleep either), and general chaos. He nicely watched Blueberry the rest of the afternoon as I struggled (and it was a struggle) to take a nap and get some rest.

Friday was a little bit better, but a big question was then being dealt with.

We were scheduled to leave on Sunday morning for Texas. More precisely, to Tulsa first to spend the night with some friends and then to Austin on Monday to spend Thanksgiving with Chris' aunt and uncle. We wanted to break up the otherwise 10 hour (not counting baby stops) trip into two chunks--hopefully more manageable.

My job the entire week was to get ready for that trip. Except I was in such a zombie state all week that I hadn't done anything yet. Plus, in an effort to help out the sleeping baby issues, we decided to try putting her in her big crib in her room. The logic being that I think we were waking her up at night (which was causing all sorts of fun and games and contributing to the sleep issues). But if we were going to start trying to change her sleep patterns a bit, was that wise to do so for a few days and then completely mess her up as we took a trip?

So the question was: should we go?

Friday night we pretty much decided to not go. I was still wiped out and not sure I could handle the trip.

Friday night, I slept pretty well, and actually woke up feeling better than I had all week. Blueberry slept well in her crib, and the world seemed a slightly happier place.

Well, then I felt I had to revisit the question (my sudden reversal gave my husband whiplash)--could we go to Austin? We finally decided to try it. So I spent all day Saturday doing laundry and trying to get ready.

Got about 3/4 of the way packed. Hit the evening. I was tired and done and going to finish packing in the morning.

Phone rings. Friends in Tulsa. "Our toilets are broken. If we can't get them fixed, we don't know if we're going to be able to host anybody!" Hmmm....that's interesting. They were to call us in the morning to up date us.

Half an hour goes by. Watch one episode of The Big Bang Theory. Phone rings. Chris' uncle. "Your aunt is not feeling well. Monday is probably not going to be a good day to arrive." Hmmm...that's doubly interesting.

Now what? Try to drive it all in one day later in the week next week? See if Tulsa friends might be able to host us later in the week (assuming their toilets get fixed)?

We slept on it (Blueberry came to bed with me--couldn't handle the thought of getting up in the middle of the night!).

Woke up the next morning to a phone call from Tulsa informing us that the toilets were, theoretically, fixed. Theory and toilets are not a good combination.

After further discussion regarding various aspects of the trip and a realization that the Fates are apparently against us going on this trip, the stars are not aligned, and I really am still exhausted, and Chris is now suffering from multiple cases of whiplash as we keep changing our minds, we finally decided to just call it off.

We counted it up. From start to finish, we changed our minds on plans for this trip six different times. But we're finally settled. I'm starting to unpack (go figure!), and we're staying here for Thanksgiving! It's all craziness.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Blueberry's Birth Story Part III

Click here for Part I and here for Part II...

Those first few precious moments of baby gazing were so incredible. Holding her tiny little (purple!) feet. Watching her big blue eyes just stare at me...my heart melted.

My baby sister and Adam and had been at the hospital almost the whole time (poor thing--I think I traumatized her from wanting to have kids!). They came in and saw Blueberry right away. And of course there were phone calls to make to anxious parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles.

And trying to feed Blueberry that first time! Well, she licked a lot. That was about as good as it got. It was so cute though. The pediatrician was actually the one who helped me figure out what I was doing. It seemed so easy sounding reading about it but actually doing it was not quite as simple!

Other Reflections:

I was prepared. I did everything I could to make sure I was ready for the whole birth/labor process. It's hard not knowing exactly what you're getting into. But I'm very grateful for all the hours I spent reading and preparing with Chris ahead of time.

The breathing really worked. Focusing through what I was feeling was what helped the most. Recognizing the tenseness of my body and trying to relax gave me something to do that I could control in a situation where I felt so much was out of my control.

Chris was incredible. He was my support. I don't think I would have made it through alive without him there.

On the actual experience--I do wish things had been a lot better than they were. I left the hospital with a very bad taste in my mouth. Our next child very well may be born at home just because I don't want to risk having that kind of experience again. I will definitely be finding a different practice if we decide to go the hospital route as I do not want to risk ever having that man again.

Once again, I feel a lack of faith in the medical system. A process that my body was designed to do was treated as a problem. Every natural instinct that I had was ignored. Most of the things that I wanted to do that I knew would have helped the situation, I was kept from doing. It's the bizarrest thing. Why do we have a system that treats the most natural experience in the world as a medical problem to be fixed? Do problems happen? Sure. And the medical system can be there. But I felt like more problems were being caused in this case than were being helped.

I did find strength in myself that I never imagined I had. I know what I can handle, and I know that I can do this again in the future. And I also know that I will be a lot more assertive in the future when it comes to things like this. I'm tired of being pushed around by doctors.


Side Note on Three "Coincidences":

1. We had a great nurse in our patient room. The first words out of her mouth were "So, how did you get dengue fever?" Now, that may not seem so extraordinary except for the minor detail that she was literally the first person all day who not only knew what dengue fever is but knew how to pronounce it correctly! Turned out that she just happened to be a former missionary in the same mission as my parents who knew a lot of the same people I know as she and her husband had been to Bangkok frequently, and who was on her second to last shift at the hospital as she and her husband were going back out as missionaries!

She was a blessing as I was able to talk to her relatively freely about my experience with the doctor. Turns out he's pretty much a jerk to everybody. She had even had to report him before for abuse of staff and abuse of patients. Knowing that my impressions of him were not just because of how I was feeling has been helpful. I tend to be someone who second-guesses my responses to people, even though I'm told that I'm normally pretty accurate with how I'm reading someone, I still have doubts. Knowing that I wasn't crazy but he really was not a good doctor to work with has helped.

2. There was a girl that was in the two classes Chris and I attended before Blueberry was born (the birth class and the baby care class). We had talked in the second class as we recognized each other and were due right around the same time. Well, the second night at the hospital, Chris was walking down the hall, when who should he run into but this girl! She had her baby just a few hours after Blueberry was born. We've run into each other several times since then and are now friends on Facebook. It's been kind of fun having a random birth-friend.

3. Although I did not get my week of relaxation that I so desperately wanted before Blueberry arrived, the timing was impeccable in another sense. As I mentioned in Part I, my husband's grandparents (who live several states away) were in town that particular weekend. They were scheduled to leave town Tuesday morning, and had actually been discussing leaving a day earlier! If Blueberry had waited even one more day, they would not have been around for the birth. Meaning, they probably wouldn't have seen her for at least four months if not even longer. And it meant a lot to us, and I know it meant a lot to them, that they were able to be here right away.

I don't believe in coincidence. God has to perfect of a plan for that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blueberry's Birth Story Part II

Continuation of...Blueberry's birth Story Part I

They took us to our delivery room and then the poking and the prodding began. First was the IV--even though I had tried on multiple occasions to request only a hep-lock in case of emergency, it was hospital policy that everybody be hooked up to an IV. Then the antibiotics drip. But the worst was the monitor. Now, I know they have a walking monitor. But the hospital and doctors don't like it as much because it doesn't give as perfect readings as the stupid waist/external monitor does. But that external monitor increased my back labor tenfold. I am just grateful that they didn't try to force me to have a catheter instead of being able to walk to the bathroom because the only relief I could get from the monitor was when I could take it off to use the restroom (which I therefore did, a lot).

This is where I get really frustrated. The IV, ok, I understand why they want that attached. But I did not have to be hooked up to their monitor like I was. And the antibiotics, I didn't want. And they were so poorly put in that it literally took two weeks before the vein in the back of my hand went back to normal because it had been so severely hurt from the antibiotic needle.

In the world of hindsight, there are a number of things that I should have just refused to allow. I don't think I really realized (or had the brain power to realize) that I could have just refused some of the stuff that went on. I had that right. Live and learn, I guess.

Any ways, they finally got us "settled" and left us alone for 5 minutes. They also finally gave me a birth ball which I used tons for the next 8 hours.

Well, this is where it gets fun (and more hazy for me). Basically, my dilation progress stopped. My theory is that the back labor probably had something to do with it (I recently discovered with doing a smidgen of research that a baby facing the wrong way can by itself cause a longer labor or a break in progress. Would have been nice if the doctor had bothered to find that out for himself). I also know that how uncomfortable and stressed I felt definitely had something to do with it. Because of the monitor they had me on, I couldn't walk. I could sit on the birth ball, which helped, but getting up and walking was only permitted for so long as it took me to go to the bathroom.

Also, heat was not allowed. Hot packs, hot shower. Nothing. I respond really well to heat. When I'm stressed or my muscles are tense, what I instinctively gravitate to is heat. A hot bath. A hot compress. Even a hot drink. Instead--cold ice chips (we did sneak in some food and Chris had water which I drank as much as I wanted whenever the nurses weren't in the room), cold compress if I wanted that (as if!), and that was it.

To be honest, I felt trapped. I was stuck in positions that I didn't want to be in, wearing clothes that did nothing but get in the way, denied the things that would have helped me, and the people who were supposedly there to help us did nothing but cause more pain and more frustration.

It was around 4:30 or so that my doctor came in and we discussed breaking my water to see if that would help me progress. He was not on call that night, and it was actually a different doctor than the on-call doctor who came in to break my water. I actually liked that doctor quite a bit--he managed to make me laugh which was saying something. I think it was about 5:30ish that they broke my water.

Good grief. I never knew I had that much liquid inside of me. It's no wonder I looked like a basketball!

Well, it didn't really help that much. Maybe a little bit, but things were still going slowly.

I think it was about 7pm that everything got even more tough.

The on-call doctor is a man that I never saw clearly. I had taken my glasses off for most of this, and so I never saw his face distinctly. I pray that I never do because I don't actually want to know the face of the man that I despise so much.

What happened was this, I was still not getting anywhere. The nurse came in to tell us that if I didn't dilate faster (like I had much control over that!), they were going to put me on Pitocin.

Here's the thing. I was doing all of this with no epidural. No pain meds. I didn't spend the last nine months of my life eating as carefully as I could and avoiding all drugs to suddenly load my baby up with as many drugs as her little body could handle before she's even born.

I did NOT want to be induced though without anything to take the edge off. I honestly didn't think I could go any longer with that kind of increased intensity. Naturally, sure I would have been OK with the gradual increase of contractions. But to have them forced like that. No. Not my cup of tea. Besides, I was concerned about the probability of have a C-section if I did go on Pitocin.

Now, I did know that an epidural would not help the back labor. That's the dirty little secret they don't bother telling you when the wonders of the epidural are being touted. It's for contractions only. Back labor--not going to be touched. But my thought was that if I wasn't dealing with the contractions as much, then maybe I could handle the back labor a bit better.

Well, we told the nurse not yet. We kept going trying different positions, going to the bathroom frequently, etc.

The nurse came in several times to inform us that I was going to be put on Pitocin. Which we continued to fight against. Finally, I had found a position (temporarily) in the bed that was helping a little bit. It was quiet. I was focused. Chris was being the amazing man that he was the entire time. And in bursts the on-call doctor.

Now, from my perspective, all I can see is a blurry shape of a very tall man with a very loud, very deep voice, his arms crossed, and expressing very loudly (Chris says he wasn't yelling, but it was close enough in my books) that if I didn't go on the Pitocin, I was going to have a C-section in an hour.

We asked why a C-section. The only answer I was given was the labor was taking to long and with my water broken, infection was going to set in (please keep in mind that at this point, it had barely been a few hours since my water was broken). The baby was fine. If they had quit checking my progress every five minutes (slight exaggeration there, I suppose, but not by much!), that would definitely limit the likelihood of infection. The other hinted at answer was that because the monitor kept shifting around so they weren't getting clear, constant readings (which don't even get me started on the shifting monitor. The whole time I was in labor they were coming in to adjust it because it just didn't fit my belly! I was ALL belly at that point, and the monitor wasn't designed to fit around my particular shape). As far as we can tell, that was the real reason. He just didn't like not having his constant readings. That or he didn't want to deal with me anymore. Blueberry was not in any distress. I was just taking to much of their time.

I told him I didn't want a C-section. Chris and I had talked earlier (with the warnings the nurse had given us), and agreed to request the epidural if we finally got to the point of having to go on the Pitocin. So I told him that fine, I would go on the Pitocin, but I wanted the epidural.

And he told me no! As he put it, I came in not wanting an epidural and I needed to deal with not having one now. Bah! So, there you have it. I wasn't going to get one. It was certainly wasn't because I was too far dilated. His reasoning was that an epidural can slow up labor and the whole reason they wanted to put me on Pitocin was because they were trying to speed things up.

I finally told him that I wanted to talk to my husband before I made my decision. At this point, he became even more of a bully telling us that we'd had an hour to discuss before this and he wanted an answer now or he was going to make me have a C-section. After all, and I quote, "I'm looking out for the well-being of the baby!" Like that wasn't something we were factoring into all of this! Jerk! He made me so mad. I kept telling him that I was going to have some privacy and I was going to talk to my husband first.

Fortunately, it was right around that time that he got called into another room for the delivery. The nurse came back in and by this time, I was crying. She didn't have much in the way of comfort; although, apparently that doctor had a reputation of being a bully to everybody. Needless to say, the additional stress was not helping the situation at all or aiding my ability to deal with the back pain or focus through contractions.

Finally, Chris pulled the monitor off, helped me get up, and we spent every minute that the doctor was out of the room walking. Regardless of their stupid machines and monitoring. The ironic thing was that the nurse came back in and praised us for being up and walking! That's what I had been wanting to do since 12:30 in the afternoon, and they wouldn't let me!

Unfortunately, even though we walked for about an hour, it didn't do enough. I was still not progressing fast enough. It had helped, but I still wasn't far enough. So finally, I believe around 9pm, they hooked me up to yet another machine and the Pitocin started.

I swear, I could feel every drop entering my body. It did the trick. Definitely increased the contractions and definitely sped up the dilation. But I thought I was going to die. Again, though, the worst of it all was not the contractions. Even with the Pitocin, they weren't what was hurting so much. What was really killing me was the back labor. And the increased contractions, of course, only increased that pain.

Off and on that afternoon/evening, we had been on the phone with Chris' aunt who has done this six times now. She was giving us good advice and encouragement. One of the pieces was really funny though. Basically it was to talk to Blueberry. Tell her how much we wanted to see her, and how she needed to come out. Well, Chris did a good job with that. He told me to talk to her, and I told him that there was no way I was doing any talking to Blueberry, I was praying my heart out! He could talk to her!

Well, long story short, by around 10:30 I was ready to push. Oh my. That was fun. Actually, while it hurt, I much preferred it to the contractions. But what didn't help was the fact that the back pain just kept going, and once I was really ready to start pushing, they insisted on me being on my back which was just pure torture. What was even worse was when they stuck me in the stupid stirrups and made me push from that angle. I was not a silent sufferer. I will never make that claim. I definitely made myself heard. And I'm glad of it.

By the way, birth plans--useless. They don't read them. They don't listen to them. As a patient, I felt like I had no rights. I was not allowed to be in charge of my own body. Maybe some places it's better, but this particular hospital was useless.

Fortunately, after all the labor, pushing was actually pretty fast. At 11:12 pm, out popped my Blueberry. She promptly held up her head and looked around--which impressed everybody.

After that, it was all stitching me up (yes, they did an episiotomy--another thing I had requested not to have as I would have preferred the tear), holding the baby, running their tests. Oh the relief of it all being done. The back labor stopped immediately. Such relief. The doctor, charming man that he was, came in only for the delivery, stuck around long enough to stitch me up, and left. I honestly don't remember him saying anything to us afterwords. Maybe he did, but my impression was that he was just doing his job and was in a hurry to be out of there and he could care less that he was actually dealing with humans.

But the moment when they placed that wet little bundle on my chest and I looked into her beautiful eyes, was perfect. Was she worth it? Absolutely. Without a doubt.

Continued in Part III...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blueberry's Birth Story Part I

OK, so writing this has been rattling around in my head for the last three months. For the purpose of record as well as for reflection and catharsis, I give you Blueberry's birth story.

This story really starts on Friday, August 6. On that day, I packed up my bag at work, bringing home the last few things i didn't want to leave in my office during my maternity leave and I blithely skipped--ok, ok--waddled to my car with the knowledge that my baby was due any day, and I didn't have to worry about work again for 12 weeks.

Kind of. I had actually been able to do some work from home for the previous few weeks, and I left knowing there were a few things that I needed to get written for work the following week. But that was fine. I had decided to leave work nearly two weeks before Blueberry was technically due, as that should give me a bit of time to finish those loose ends as well as relax and get those final projects around the house done that I still wanted to attempt before Blueberry was to show up on the scene.

That weekend was rough. I was so tired and moody. I told Chris that I thought I was just decompressing from all the stress I'd been under at work for the last, well, year. I slept a lot. Sunday morning I couldn't even get to of bed to go to church. I tried, but I wound up sleeping instead followed by a two hour nap in the afternoon.

Sunday evening, we went out to eat with Chris' grandparents who just happened to be in town that weekend. I remember sitting at dinner with them and his grandmother hopefully (they live rather far away) asking me how I was feeling. I told them, honestly enough, that while I'd been having regular Braxton Hicks contractions (which I'd been having for weeks), when I saw the doctor four days earlier, he said I wasn't dilated at all, and I really didn't expect to see Blueberry in the too near future.

And truthfully, I kind of wanted a few days at home to relax before she came. I had been telling her for weeks--come anytime after the 12th!

Sunday night I went to bed with my 10 pillows (my gracious husband had moved himself to sleeping on the futon weeks ago as me and my pillows had slowly taken over the entire bed). I slept for about 2.5 hours.

Then I woke up. It was around 1am. I felt like I was cramping like I was about to start my period. I also started having to go to the bathroom. A lot. Now, I know being pregnant is all about having to go to the bathroom lots, but this was ridiculous. I mean, we're talking every 5 minutes. Which when you're lugging a bowling ball around with you every time you get in and out of bed, was not impressive!

Maybe it was the fuzzy brain or maybe it was just that I really wasn't sure what a contraction was going to feel like--it's kind of hard to get a good description--it took me about an hour before it suddenly hit me that, oh hey, I think I'm having contractions.

Obviously they weren't that intense at this point; however, they were just uncomfortable enough to make it impossible for me to fall back to sleep. Eventually I got up, deciding to stay up for a few hours to see where this was going to go. After all, I know it's not that unusual for people to have contractions off and on for quite awhile (read days or even weeks) before they actually start going into labor.

Well, several hours later I had taken care of some emails (I remember sending an email to Hillery answering a question about something or other and putting in there the reason I was up at the ungodly hour of 2 or 3am...needless to say, I had her on tenterhooks for several hours that day as I failed to call her and update her until later that afternoon), read some blogs, played a few games, and it was becoming apparent that (a) these weren't going away and (b) they were actually getting distinctly closer together.

Finally, it was around 5:30am. I hadn't woken up Chris yet because if I wasn't really in full labor, he would need to go to work in the morning. I decided to give it a little bit longer and see how things were going. Finally, around 6:30am, since he needed to wake up any ways, I went in and sat on the futon. I gently shook him awake and when he looked up at me, I told him what was going on. My ever silly husband's first words out of his mouth were, "I guess we won't be watching Doctor Who with Joy and Adam [my sister and her fiance] tonight!"

After punching him, we talked about what to do. He got up, had a shower, had some breakfast, as we started to time contractions. In the meantime, I piddled around the house doing various things (tried laying down to nap--not going to happen!). Set up the pack'n'play, finished putting the final few things in my hospital bag, took a shower myself, put the dishes away in the dishwasher, even answered a Skype call from work! Movement. That was all I could think--I need to move. I wanted to move.

Chris did a few jobs as well (put the diaper sprayer on the toilet for one!) and mid-morning made some phone calls: my parents, brother, and sister, his parents, his grandparents (they were scheduled to leave town the next day--thought they might want to have some time to rethink that plan!). Nothing definite but just an update on the goings-on of the morning.

As time went on and the contractions slowly increased in intensity. The movement began to be inter spaced with sitting on my exercise ball as that really helped the contractions. Basically, get up and do something, rolling the ball with me, sit down and breathe.

Finally, around 11am, we decided we should go to the hospital. Movement was increasingly becoming more painful. And laying down was not much better. The problem I was beginning to deal with more intensely every passing hour was the back labor. The contractions I could breathe through just fine, but I had severe pain across my lower back that wouldn't stop, contraction or no contraction (Blueberry had the back of her head to my back, which seems to be the primary cause of back labor like that). That was definitely the worst part of everything. No way to get comfortable. No breaks ever. It was just a constant, painful, pressure across my lower back. It started almost as soon as the contractions started and lasted the entire labor.

Any ways, I sat on the exercise ball, breathing through contractions, as Chris went and finished loading up the car. Finally, armed with a pillow that did little to make me more comfortable, but was great for squeezing, we set off. That was the longest car ride of my life! So uncomfortable. I'm grateful we live only 20 minutes away.

When we arrived at the hospital, Chris dropped me off at the door and I waited in the vestibule for him to park (I didn't want to have to walk any farther than necessary at that point). They admitted us and the annoying began.

I had pre-registered, naively assuming that the tons of questions I had answered already were all that I needed. Nope. 20 minutes later, they finish firing questions off at me. Then they checked me to see how far I was dilated (second to the back labor, having to lie down so they could check my dilation was one of the absolute most painful part of the whole thing--the back labor actually was part of that pain. Laying flat on my back was like stabbing me with a knife. I seriously wanted to kick the nurse every time they did this).

At this point, I was only at 4. They don't like to admit someone until they're at a 5. Little did I know that as much as I didn't want to have to drive home again if they didn't admit us, it might have been better for me if they hadn't.

Any ways, we began to walk. For about an hour, we walked the halls of the labor and delivery wing, stopping every few feet. What was really frustrating was that there was one thing that gave me some relief to my back, and that was sitting on the exercise ball. But they wouldn't give us a birth ball to use until they admitted us. Torture for an hour.

Finally, they checked again, and I was close enough to a five that they decided to go ahead and admit us.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Forgiveness

It has taken me 24 years, but I would like to go on public record with this statement.

Mum, I forgive you for the mud picture.

For those of you who are confused, I will explain.

Allow me to set the scene: A dirt/gravel soi (small road) in Northeast Thailand. Sweltering afternoon sun with a hint of the rainstorm soon to come, for it is the middle of monsoon season. A little, blond, farang (white) girl of 5 years rides her bike to the neighbors house--a trek she takes on a regular basis. All of the sudden she falls off said bike and lands face-first in a huge mud puddle (obligingly left there by one of the more recent storms). She gets up. Is covered from head to foot in mud. Shaken, crying, and a mess, she trudges back to her home, bawling, desperate for the help of her ever-loving mother.

And what does said mother do? She laughs and takes a picture before helping her pathetic 5 year, mud-coated daughter.

And said daughter holds this incident against her mother for the next 24 years. Very useful weapon in giving mum a hard time.

Sadly, upon entering parenthood, I find myself in a terrible dilemma. Either I must give up my diabolical, parenting ways or forgive my mother for laughing (ok, ok, I'll admit it was funny) at my tragedy.

What ways am I referring to? Well, in all honesty, I just have to laugh sometimes when my darling daughter is crying or otherwise frustrated with the world. Her facial expressions when she's pouting or frustrated can be hysterical. Am I a terrible parent for finding some of the funniest things about Blueberry to be when she is not happy? For example:

1. The pouty face she makes when she feels she's not having her needs met fast enough. Comes just prior to the all-out wail. The pathetic tremble of the turned, down lower-lip--priceless.

2. The way she beats on me when her food is not cooperating as she would like. I guess trying to beat me into submission?

3. When she smacks herself in the face while beating on me because she really hasn't quite made the connection that her hands belong to her and are completely in her control. And the look of surprise on her face that goes along with the sudden blow.

These and other such moments, all little things, yet rather funny in their own way. Is this some genetic problem that I've inherited from my otherwise wonderful mother or do all parents have this slightly evil side to them?

Either way, for the sake of not being hypocritical, I find myself in a place in which I have to confess forgiveness for my mother. So here is my confession.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Daybook - November 10

Outside my window...it is dark outside. Daylight savings time has come again and is making me sad, again. I liked having light in the evenings! And now it is all gone. So sad.

I am thinking...that I'm trying to not be too optimistic about having gotten somewhere good in terms of Blueberry sleeping. There's a little bubble of hope that I kept squashing in a desperate bid to remind myself that we've had hope before--and had it destroyed :) I am also thinking that I've been thinking about sleep a lot lately. I guess that's what comes of feeling sleep deprived!

I am thankful for...a couple of very good sleeping days for Blueberry. Which means productivity and sleep for her mummy!

From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...How to sleep.

From the kitchen...I made stir fry last night and fried rice tonight. Apparently it's a week of heavy usage for the wok.

I am wearing...jeans, pink socks, and a long-sleeve shirt. I'm, happily, only a few pounds shy of my pre-pregnancy weight, and fitting back into most of my old clothes. I say most because a lot of my old tops are either (a) not conducive to easy breastfeeding or (b) not quite fitting right anymore (thank you breastfeeding).

I am creating...leggings from socks for Blueberry to wear because I hate pants on her but her little legs get so cold otherwise. (Thank you Hillery for the idea).

I am going...to start working (part time, from home) for my old job again starting tomorrow. Not a ton of hours, but every little bit will help.

I am reading.. .Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell and Star of Light by Patricia St John (to Blueberry)

I am hoping...to get another good couple of chunks of sleep tonight.

I am hearing...the static of the baby monitor. The blowing of the fan. And nothing else. Sweet silence.

Around the house...I've made progress on piles! And my bathroom is clean--miracle of miracles.

One of my favorite things...writing. I love to write. I just wish I had more time to devote to creative writing.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Thursday--studio
Friday--shots for Blueberry (boo); friends coming over in the evening to test out Chris' game (I'll probably just watch as I, or rather Blueberry, might hold up the process otherwise)
Weekend--spend time with husband.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...



Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Daybook - November 6 and 7, 2010

Outside my window...the leaves are almost all gone from our lovely red tree. It's brilliant sunshine out; however, it appears warmer than it actually is. Friday, the high was in the 40's! We're supposed to warm up the next few days and then plunge back into cooler weather again. Boo hiss! On a happy note, boots are now in season again!

I am thinking...that I'm not really sure what happened to 2010. It's November already, and this fact is puzzling me. It seems like just yesterday that it was November 2009 and a hope that I had was only still a dream--and is now reality.

I am thankful for...a husband who cleaned up diapers, and ran the dishwasher for me last night while I went to bed super early with Blueberry. And then who took her this morning so I could sleep in.

From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...Blueberry is discovering her thumb (sometimes confused with her entire fist). She is also, apparently, beginning to teeth. This has made for a few fussy days. How long does teething last? Her little brain is working all day long, every day. The other day, when Skyping my parents, we could see her really registering their images as being peopleish. That was definitely a first and rather fun! Oh, and she is discovering the charms of the squeal. Most entertaining.

From the kitchen...comes a successful GF adventure! Growing up, one of my family's favorite meals was Navajo Tacos (sometimes called Indian Fry Bread). I've tried to make GF Fry Bread before and not been happy with the results. Edible but quite dense. I'm so proud of myself as I figured out what a good flour mix would be to make the Fry Bread better, and it worked! Really good tasting bread (confirmed by my brother and sister and sister-in-law: non GF eaters, and two individuals who also grew up eating Fry Bread on a regular basis--that's always the test is if someone who doesn't have to eat GF likes the GF goods). Experimentation success! Give self pat on the back.

I am wearing...jeans and a new nursing sweatshirt. I needed some clothes more conducive to breastfeeding on the go, so with my husband's blessing, I spent a bit of money and got three nice tops that should help that area. Very cute and functional.

I am creating...plans and dreams for the next few months. Thanksgiving (to Austin--can't wait to meet the newest little cousin and of course spend some time playing with other cousins and catching up with a wonderful Aunt and Uncle--also, first long car ride with the Blueberry, could be interesting), Christmas (to Arizona--first airplane ride with the Blueberry), and then hopefully a trip in the spring back to Arizona. Why all the trips to Arizona? My APs are currently residing in the big city of Phoenix (Sun City to be more exact) for this year, teaching at the Native American Bible College there. They live very close to Chris' grandparents, so we're hoping that the spring trip we can coordinate seeing them as well.

I am going...to shop at our new Price Cutters tomorrow. Very excited about this store. It is super close (which we have a Dillons and a WalMart that aren't horrifically far away from us, but still a good 10 minute drive). Close, as in, maybe a two or three minute drive. If it weren't for the rather large road to be crossed, it would be easy biking/walking distance. And when Blueberry and I briefly stopped in on Friday, we found it has a fantastic GF section! And, just to make me even happier, they have some international sections in which the UK section had this delightful drink that I've always loved drinking whenever in England--Ribena. Bit expensive, but a fun treat.

I am reading.. .The Little Prince (not done yet) and The Hermit of Eyton Forest (new author for me--Ellis Peters; mystery series set in medieval England--enjoyed the first one I read, now to go back and start at the beginning of the series!)

I am hoping...to continue on this (apparently) better nap pattern for Blueberry this next week. Been reading information on baby sleep patterns and I realized that I've not been catching her early enough during the day to get her to lay down for a nap before her second wind kicks in. So far it has been successful, or at least more successful. So that's been a blessing.

I am hearing...the chatter of my silly little daughter. She really is a very social girl! Must take a break to have a conversation with her. Makes Chris laugh at us.

Around the house...my piles are still in existence. This last week was not very helpful towards tackling them. In truth, it was a rough week. Not entirely sure why. Teething baby definitely had something to do with it. And, I guess we did have a lot going on. Had MOPS on Tuesday morning, then I had to go into work to get my "Blue folder" during work chapel (certificate they give to people who are leaving, marking how long they've worked at the university). Thursday was dance (I was so tired, I will admit to having to leave a bit early), and Friday we left Blueberry with a wonderful babysitter while we went to see TSO. Made for a very, very late night, and Saturday was a very sleepy day around here.

One of my favorite things...baths. I love hot baths. My talented brother is supposed to be installing a new (and much needed) hot water heater soon, and I'm looking forward to being able to take a long bath again. Our current water is ok during the summer, but as soon as it gets the tinsiest bit cold around here, our access to hot water diminishes rapidly. Most frustrating.

On a side note of baths--Blueberry apparently takes after her mother and also loves baths. Loves them so much that if you really want her to throw a good temper tantrum, take her out of the bath!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Well, as it is Sunday, I'm looking at this next week. Need to go grocery shopping. Still working out my insurance. Have to take Blueberry for a shot on Friday (boo). Don't have much in the way of plans beyond that. At least, not plans outside of the house. Around home--clean! Put away piles! Start working on Christmas presents/cards. And play with my ever-charming daughter.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...


Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.