Friday, August 29, 2014

My Birth Story

Contractions started at 9:30 on a Thursday night.

Andrew and I went to bed and tried to get some sleep, but despite how tired I was, excitement that this could be it kept me awake. By 11:30 the contractions were to the point where we needed to start timing them, and after an hour of tracking, we decided to call the hospital and check in.

The doctor I spoke to asked some questions about what I was experiencing and told us to come on down. We got up, snuggled the dog, made a smoothie, and hit the road. I could tell Andrew was excited because he was driving fast, despite it being very early stages of labor. When I arrived I was already 6-7 cm dilated so they hooked me up to a machine to check on the baby; his heart rate was just slightly below baseline but consistent so they got me a room and hooked me up to monitors to make sure he was ok.  The baby's vitals came back up to a normal baseline - still on the low side, but in a healthy range.

Going into the hospital, I thought I could tough it out without pain meds because I have a pretty high tolerance for pain and all the descriptions of labor made it sound like it would feel like awful menstrual cramps. Well, they got it partially right. For all you wondering what contractions really feel like, imagine the worst menstrual cramps you have ever had - the kind that make you nauseated with pain.  Then multiply it by ten.  Now add in stabby gas pain.  Voila: contractions!

After a few hours with no change in dilation, they broke my water manually to help labor along. Whoa what a lot of water! I decided to get the narcotic to help with the pain of the contractions. I still felt the pain, but also a little bit like a 16 year old girl who had a couple of wine coolers in her. What a relief!

Once my water broke, contractions where much stronger than they had been before and I thought about getting the epidural so I asked them if that was an option. The nurse said yes, just as soon as they get my baby's heart rate back up, because it had started to dip again. Then it went way down. The nurse and doctor asked me to try different positions to see if that would help raise the baby's vitals, but no matter what position I was in the heart rate wasn't coming back up. When it got down to about half the rate of a normal baby, things got really serious.

The doctor told me I would be having a c-section because the baby had to come out immediately, I was only 8 cm dilated and I needed to be at 10 to start pushing. I was stunned. I looked over and Andrew was already being helped into scrubs.  There I was on my hands and knees on the bed, naked butt in the hair, and at least five medical professionals surrounding me, telling me to hold onto the sides of the bed.  They literally ran me down the hall. I remember thinking as I was being raced to surgery that I was not scared, and I thought about how worried Andrew must be.

When we arrived in surgery, I was introduced to the anesthesiologists and then told I had to be put under because there was no time to wait for a local anesthetic to kick in.  This was entirely fine by me.  In fact, I was relieved that I didn't have to be awake while operated on.  It was so bright in the room and I closed my eyes to try to relax. They asked me to count to ten, and I felt them prepping my belly. I smelled the anesthetic gas and remember thinking I had better keep my eyes open as long as I can so they don't cut into me while I am still awake. When I woke up I was back in the delivery room and Andrew was standing next to me holding Elliot.

We welcomed Elliot James into the world at 8:41am on April 18, 2014.  He weighed 7 lbs 12 oz and measured 21" long.  Perfectly healthy in every way.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Nursery Design Part II

I am starting to lay out the art pieces above the changing area.  My mom gave me some beautiful water colors she'd painted and I received a wonderful Where The Wild Things Are painting from a friend.  I was thinking of incorporating the maternity series my friend Krista of Love Song Photo has been doing with me.  I'm waiting for one more bump photo and perhaps one with the baby in place of the bump.  There is sort of a balance problem, so my other thought to balance the vignette is to add a small shelf with the little guy's initials.  Sorry guys - you only get to see his last initial for now.

Any other fabulous ideas?  I am open to feedback!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Baby On Board!

In the last year since my previous post, quite a bit has changed.  We're expecting a little one, arriving in just about a month from now.  I will start using this blog a lot more as a forum to share pictures with my  friends and family in an effort to keep my Facebook page from becoming all about my baby.

As we're putting together the nursery, I have been developing a 3D model so I can look at different options in the space.  I've decided to share a couple of the renderings here with you.

The alphabet painting in the first photo was a gift from my mom, which she painted herself and surprised me at my baby shower this past weekend.  How amazing!!
I am toying with the idea of a wall decal of a nautical compass.  Maybe, maybe not.  The next item we need is a low bookshelf  to store all the baby's toys and books.  Stay tuned for more images as I put together the art wall above the changing table!

Here's a close-up of the painting:

Monday, February 25, 2013

Remembering Jennifer

Last night I tossed and turned. I was gripped by anxiety; it twisted and churned my stomach and pinched throat as I lay wide awake. It is the first anniversary of my cousin Jennifer's death. I knew that today was going to be hard for me, because on the day that would have been her 31st birthday, I grieved the entire day.  While I have gotten to the point now where I can talk about her without tears, these milestones seem to transport me back to the rawest moments of my sadness.

As I lay in bed last night, watching as the minutes approached the time that last year she was determined unable to be revived, the tears rolled down my cheeks.  I remembered the morning my mother called to break the sad news.

Sunday mornings I always wake up early, and that particular morning I was hard at work prepping my batch of chili for my office's annual cook-off competition the next day.  I hadn't heard my phone ring, and when I got a cryptic voice mail from my mom asking me to call her right away, I knew from the sound of her voice that something was terribly wrong.  A wave of panic came over me, hoping that my family members (none of whom are frail, feeble, sick, or dying) would be excluded from whatever tragic news my mom couldn't bring herself to leave in a voice mail.  When she answered the phone, my heart was pounding and I had no time for proper greetings. "What's happened?" I gasped into the phone.  She said she had some terrible news... and the time it took for her to compose the words felt like time had stopped and I was waiting in a vacuum.  It was probably only a couple of seconds, but it felt. like. an. eternity.

When my mom finally choked out, "Jennifer died," it was like a punch to the gut. All of the breath went out of me, and I could barely squeak out, "how?"  The moments following were a blur.  My mother tearfully explained what she knew, and the email she'd received from her brother who had gotten a call around midnight when she passed.  My mom promised to call when she found out more, we said our I-love-yous, and then hung up.

I felt my legs double under me and I crumpled to the floor, leaning against the fridge in the kitchen of my apartment and sobbing my eyes out.  I don't know how long I sat there, but I finally got back to my feet and continued to cook.  My husband came into the kitchen a few minutes later to find me crying over a pan of onions and browned beef. He held me for a while, and then I half-heartedly finished my project and crawled into bed where I remained for several hours.

I thought about all of the times I should have called her for coffee and put it off.  I wished I'd tried harder to be there for her.  Jennifer and I were only six months apart in age, and though we had grown apart in our adulthood, we had been inseparable throughout childhood and our teenage years.  Then at eighteen I graduated high school went away to college in California, and she told me how hard it was to see me moving on with my life while she felt stuck.  She got into worse and worse trouble and started to shelter me from the unsavory parts of her life and the unfortunate experiences she had suffered.  We drifted.  She stopped giving me updates.  We saw each other at family gatherings, but it wasn't the same.  I kept meaning to call her for dinner, but I never did.

When Jennifer overdosed in her apartment last year, it was a shock.  She had worked hard to turn the direction of her life around and had achieved her associates degree earlier that year.  She was goal-oriented and had built a community of friends who loved and supported her.  The hazy details that surround that night are, to me, pointless to rehash.  It does not change the fact that she is gone.  It would not make me feel better to know the minute-to-minute truth of what went down.  And knowing anything more would not change my memory of the wonderful person she was.

I remember hunting for Easter eggs together when we were still in diapers, and when we went and saw The Little Mermaid when it first came out in the theater.  I remember the time made our own En Vogue lip-sync music videos with my uncle Jim's video camera, and the summer we rode our bikes over the entirety of Guemes Island while singing the The Fugees cover of Killing Me Softly at the top of our lungs over and over and over again.  I remember the sleep-overs, high school dances, and talking on the phone about boys.  And when it got tough for her, I was impressed by her extreme resilience against what she faced.  Though she had every right to be bitter about many of the hardships in her life, she wasn't; she was a joy to be around; she radiated; she lived on love.  Nothing tarnished her ability to love others, and that is the memory of her that I will always hold in my heart.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Impending New Family Member

image via Lockwood Vizslas

Since moving into our house, Andrew and I have kept busy but we have felt there is something missing. So we did some research, got in touch with a breeder, and are looking forward to welcoming one of these little wigglers into our home!  We drive out this Friday to Northeastern WA, and Saturday at 9am she becomes ours!  We have a name picked out, but waiting until we meet her to make sure it fits.  We are so excited!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Toys: Part 2

Remember way back in April when my mom's friends hosted a shower for me and I showed you some of the wonderful gifts they gave me?  Well, I held back on showing you my favorite gift, because it deserves a post of its own.  It's one of the greatest gifts I've ever received, actually.  It even rivals the three-story fully furnished wood dollhouse my father built for me when I was five, custom made to fit my Barbies.  Yes, this gift is that wonderful.


I have this thing for vintage days of the week embroidered dish towels.

My best friend Abby told her mom about this, who, it just so happens, is an expert at embroidery.

So as my wedding gift she made me these towels, which went along with my nautical themed wedding.

The pattern is from the 30s or 40s.

She kept going and made extras... nautical-themed, of course.

This one she designed off of the sailboat on our wedding invitation:

It features my (new) last initial and our wedding date, Aug 13.
And now, the piece de resistance!

Here's a closer look:

The nautical flags spell Andrew <3 Monica.  Awww.

Unbelievable, right??  No one in the history of weddings has ever received a more thoughtful, personal, and beautiful gift than this.  I'm a lucky girl.  Thanks, Diane!  I will cherish them all my life.