To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

One, Tew, 3, FOUR!! Four Months Old!

Four months. Wow! Time has flown by so dang fast. It was just a year ago that I had two embryos trying to nestle in and make a cozy home inside of me. And now I spend 20 hours a day with this little girl that is trying to grow up way too quick!

I am caught up on her baby book, now just adding in firsts as they occur. She's had her first bout rolling over lately, and even her first real laughs! She discovered her feet and ever since can't stop grabbing them with both hands.

Toys are taking over my home! With our Babies R Us registry rewards we had an insane amount of money on an e-gift card to use at Babies R Us. **here is my tip.... Register for things you want, even if you buy them yourself. We would register for items as we put them in our cart, have our registry updated, then pay. We did it for everything including furniture like her crib, dresser and bassinet. After the registry is closed you get rewards back in the form of a gift card. Uh yeah, I'm set now! A potty of her own, her own sofa, scooter, activity table/bench, movies, books, toys.... We loaded up! She even has her own "iPhone" now! So future parents, register!!!!

She is a complete jabber jaws. Non-stop "talking" when we are home. In public, around new people, she is a little shy, but if she is anything like her father that won't last long at all! I love it when she uses her soft, sweet voice. It is adorable! But more often she is letting us know just how loud she can be. It's possible she's caused an animal or two to leave the room because they weren't interested in her conversations.

Back to the toys, she can pick them up now if they are in front of her. Just the other day she grabbed her entire steering wheel toy with both hands and was holding it. This is not small, I was quite impressed! And it is so cute when she drives. She keeps one hand on the wheel and the other reaches around hitting buttons, the key or the shifter. Before I know it she'll be driving her own Jeep. 

This is all over the place and random. I feel my traditional 4 hours of sleep give me the right to be scatterbrained in my own blog! The photo above with the little OSU stuffed animal... that was a baby shower gift from Dixie. Dixie gave the suggestion to take Katura's photo every month with it to show her growth. This is the first month using it, so expect to see that animal popping up regulary in these posts!

I bet there are important things I should note. But again, 4 hours of sleep a night. My little sleep is not even because of Katura. She sleeps through the night because she is a good girl and loves me. My dog wakes me up for potty trips. When a 14/15 year old dog asks to go potty, you don't say no. You happily get up and appreciate her going outside to potty and not on the carpet!! If I get up with the dog I usually just end up in my chair pumping milk. So on any given night there is a good chance I am up for a hour while the rest of the world is sleeping. Another reason I don't sleep I guess is because of the baby.... the baby and my perhaps over-paranoia of SIDS. If she is quiet too long, day or night, I HAVE to check on her. The other day I didn't see her breathing so of course I gave her a good poke. Oops! So much for that nap she was taking!

She's trying to put her feet in her mouth right now!! But she keeps distracting herself by insisting on watching me write. It is quite an ego booster when you can walk into a room or talk and end up having the undivided attention of an adorable little girl! She's quite a Mommy's Girl, but she always loves play time with her daddy!

Last week I was curious about Disney Springs in Walt Disney World and how it compares to the former Downtown Disney. I was googling images and found a video of people checking it out. Well that one video turned into my new obsession with these vloggers on YouTube. Katura and I were alone watching their fun videos going around Disney, Universal, their normal lives .... and we decided it was time for a vacation. But where to? 

We never had a honeymoon. We wanted Hawaii, but since we were married in Vegas we thought we would delay it so it wasn't like 2 back to back trips. For our anniversary the trip was delayed due to buying a new house, Man Friend's mom passing away and doing a Ragnar Relay. The next anniversary we were secretly going through IVF so vacation wasn't really even a thought. Well now I have my baby, we are living a normal life, and it feels like it is time. Man Friend made the mistake of agreeing with me and he barely said the word Hawaii and I was set! 

Soooooo, vacation prep is on! I'll have a birthday and Katura will turn 9 months old while we are relaxing on the beach in Honolulu! I used to fly maybe 3 times a year, so I am very comfortable with airplanes, packing and TSA screenings. Bringing a little girl is a whole new ballgame, and I'm quite excited! I've got a notebook where I'm writing down any ideas I have about packing and what kinds of things we could do in Hawaii. My little girl already has two new bikinis and some outfits for her time in The Aloha State! I knew I had to shop now because by the time we go I would have no luck finding her some warm weather attire. You can see one of her new hats in the photo to the left, it has a matching outfit (not the pajamas she's wearing)! Since it was watching a couple going to Disneyland that motivated me to plan a vacation, it feels fitting that for my birthday we are going to Aulani (Disney's new resort) for a character breakfast. I am excited to see Katura meet Minnie and Mickey for the first time. She watches them every morning, so maybe she'll recognize them?!? We'll see! And to top it all off, her Grandparents are coming along! 

And with that I already have airline tickets and our hotel booked, so it is time to finalize our rental car so I can relax and maybe whip out a boobie and feed a baby!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Little Update on a Little Girl

Here I am, finally with a moment to write this blog post that I've written in my head many times, and I suddenly have writer's block. Of course! I'd say I blame the baby, but really I should blame the dog that wakes me up every hour to potty at night and my boobs that wake me up feeling like solid boulders desperate to be pumped.

So a baby update! 

<-- Our hand prints, part of our Mother's Day gift to my mommy!

At the last appointment we were at, days before my return to work, we were given permission to let Katura sleep through the night. Finally an end to having to feed her every two to three hours! And what a gift it was that Katura went along with it and has no problem sleeping through the night. She and I are pretty much on the same schedule in the morning, with her waking up after I finish my final pre-work pumping. But still I sleep maybe 4 hours a night, thanks to my old dog and pumping milk whenever I wake up feeling like I'm about to explode. My alarm used to go off at 6:20am before becoming pregnant. I switched it to 6am once pregnant because I had to allot some time for my daily bout of morning sickness. Now my alarm goes off at 5am, but usually I am awake before it. And I use every single minute to get myself ready, feed Katura and get all of my gear ready for work. 

Work ... first off, the "gear"... I go every morning with a big cup for my ice water and my bag that contains my breast pump and small cooler. Farewell to the days of just walking out the door! I was up and down about my feelings on returning to work after maternity leave, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised! It was great to be back with the girls again. Shortly after my return I had my annual evaluation, which was the best one I've ever received. It was such a relief and really helped me transition back to working every day. I only work 4 hours each morning, Monday through Friday, which I imagine also helps me transition. If I had an 8 hour work day, ugh, that would be too hard to be away from her that long!

With work I have a whole new outlook. If we back up, a few years ago we had a different roster of people working in our department. Work was awful. I chose to go part time to at least maintain some sanity and minimize my time around the incredibly hostile environment. Things have improved with people leaving and the addition of two new faces. Those faces have really turned the atmosphere around. Now I go to work and it is almost as if it's my social hour. My four hours a day to visit with friends while having fun organizing things and playing around with numbers. After my daily free time (i.e. work) I then go home to what is now my real job, my job as a mom!

Child care is pretty awesome in our family. We are fortunate to never have to have anyone babysit Katura. Between my mom, husband and myself we have her covered thanks to our variety of work schedules. My mom and Katura have fun enjoying the outdoors, Uncle Buddy (my "brother", and mom's lab puppy), and reading books together. I suspect Katura will be bossing Buddy around in no time at all! 

My time with Katura is always busy and an adventure! She still loves bath time and floating around in the big sink. Now that she's holding herself up better she's been really into sitting up and watching anything that is happening around her. The cats and dog catch her attention often at home, and we've recently had the discovery of Disney Junior cartoons when I'm getting ready for work. Another discovery... her voice. This girl is a "talker"! I've been getting ready for work listening to her carry on conversations with herself. So adorable!

Everything is going in her mouth now.... burp cloths, blankets, Sofie the giraffe, and mostly Mickey Mouse. Often I grab things and find them to be all slimy from being in a little girl's mouth. She doesn't really take her pacifier as often now because she realized she has little fingers and hands and they are sure tasty and always available! I was a thumb sucker myself, so I understand the appeal!

I keep expecting people to unfriend me on social media because I'm that annoying mom that always shares photos of a happy baby doing things. I imagine everyone must be hiding me instead because seriously, how do you put up with me?? Instead I've done unfriending actually. When people start getting a little too creepy and sharing my posts all the time and just giving off a vibe, well, it's time to go. Or those that I used to be very close with now absolutely have nothing to do with me once I announced I was pregnant and can't even say a quick hello ... good bye. My life is so dang happy right now that I just don't even bother to let in anything or anyone that is a downer. So if that means shifting my friends and my relationships with them, so be it.

I'll wrap it up now. Last thing, I'm finally physically able to run again, so I'm gradually working it back into my life. Katura loves her stroller, so I imagine she and I will be spending a lot of time in the great outdoors together. I've also been inspired to start doing the whole Zumba thing again in my basement. I just need to keep figuring out what works for Katura and myself so then I can work in these things and not just always be a zombie after my four hours of work. Oh yeah, by the end of my 4 I'm pretty much walking around with glazed eyes and ready to feed and snuggle with a little girl! Feeding ... uh, it's possible she and I have both fallen asleep while she was nursing more than one time. Just a couple days ago I woke up and my husband had loaded garbage, gone to the dump, and come home and I didn't even know because she and I had fallen asleep together. Oops!

That's it. Done. If I remember what I had actually meant to write about I'll be back!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Track Town 5K, With a Twist

Here's a first.... The first race report I have written on my phone while a baby sleeps on my lap!

In 2010 I ran the 5k from Eugene Marathon weekend for the first time. I was immediately sucked into that race weekend, only missing 2013 due to my wedding reception. There is something about running in Eugene that just makes you run better .... probably all of those crazy fast people you're surrounded by! The next 3 times I raced that weekend it was for the half marathon. Last year I planed to do the half and set a new goal for myself, but life had other plans. I ended up with doctor's orders to not do 13.1, but I could do 3.1 if I ran easy and took walk breaks. All of this was to keep my body in a safe and happy state since I was recovering from egg retrieval and preparing for my embryos to be implanted. It was a very worthy reason to run a 5k versus a half marathon! 

This year I had a pretty good reason again! I finally felt able to resume running after having my precious little baby, but that was only a week before the race. I want to start early being a good example to Katura and showing her how fun it is to be active, and prove that if you want to do something, you can. So I decided that less than 3 months after giving birth I was going to "race" again! I asked my mom to join me as I entered the Track Town 5K as one of those stroller people pushing a baby. I was prepared to be a stroller person!?!

Friday we ladies went up to Eugene for the expo, and frankly it was rather blah for all the hype of it being the 10th year. I maybe had too high of expo expectations. Getting our packets was a breeze though and we even won some free boxes of pancake mix! Most of our day was spent shopping, and I did find Katura her first race day outfit pants and a onesie that says "Team Mommy", which is very fitting since she was with her mommy and I was with mine!

Race day started extra early for me since now I have to be prepared with a diaper bag and milk for my girl, as well as my regular race gear. Around 6am we were on the road and heading to my usual parking spot a few blocks from the start line.

It was pretty chilly at first, so Operation Baby Bundle was in effect! No way would she be cold during this race! After her breakfast we made our way to the start area for last minute potty trips, start line photos and bonding with the other stroller people. We are certainly the minority, but didn't mind all mingling with each other at the very back of the pack. 

Once we hit the start line, however, we began running and set ourselves apart from the slow walkers and hand holders. That is a big race pet peeve of mine. Hold hands on a walk in the park, but don't get all cozy and attached during a race when inevitably you end up being a sort of wall that people have to weave around. So my pet peeve helped us get moving and in a safe pocket of fast walkers. 

The plan was basically to quickly walk and then run once we hit the track. Plans change. My legs feel better running, so any time they got cranky we would do a light run. Going down hills with a stroller is a totally new thing for me, and I learned it is easier to run that as well since the stroller is already wanting to go faster. Oh man, my arms! My legs felt it a little bit, but my arms are what got the real workout on that course. I had to do a lot of diverting around potholes and nasty parts of the street. Plus I had a death grip on it because that was my sleeping baby in it after all!

Coming up to the Hayward Field entrance we were cheered on by spectators rooting for those of us pushing our babies. That was fun and obviously very new to me! We hit the track and I told my mom we were running it in to the end. What I neglected to tell her was I always practice a finishing kick and use it in every race. Those people we were back and forth with during the race now became targets for me to pick off one by one. And I did. And then the real sprint happened and I confess I did ditch my mom in the last 10 or so yards. I always have to give my all at the end!

I was completely stunned when we were given medals! (They've never done this before!) And not a rubber cartoon-like medal like at a Disney race, but real, super nice medals! As we exited the race area we were given reusable water bottles with the race logo on them, already filed with water. Plus we got reusable tote bags, also with the logo, filled with snacks. Nice work, Eugene!! For the first time in all of my Eugene races I actually took advantage of the free pancakes. It was kind of fun to sit and have breakfast outside in the grass with my mom and daughter! Heck the whole weekend was fun!

On the way to the car we had to get some post race photos by Steve Prefontaine, as per usual. It felt great! I am so glad I signed up on a whim and that my mom joined me. So now I am looking forward to more training runs and building back up to my happy 13.1 distance, picking out some half marathons, and many more shorter races with my little girl and her stroller!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tew Months Down, a Lifetime to Go!

Best two months of my life? Without a doubt! Not a day has gone by that I haven't been with my girl. The longest we've been apart was the short time that she was shopping at the mall with her dad while I was at The Wizard of Oz .... buying her presents, of course!  

She's growing up way too fast. I had to retire my favorite of her newborn pajamas sadly, as well as one pair of newborn pants and one regular onesie. Katura is still too small for 3 month sized onesies, so I'm getting maximum use out of her remaining newborn clothing and picked up a pack of 0-3 onesies and pajamas to get us through her transitional period. She's not a chubby baby by any means, but she seems to be gaining in length. We are not a tall people, so it will be interesting to see how much she grows and if she ends up taller than her father an I! Her little body is growing though, and she no longer wears newborn diapers. She still seems a tad small for her fancy* new style of cloth diapers, but I'm sure the day we start using them isn't far away! *I say "fancy" because people don't do the old school cloth with the diaper pin stuff anymore. These have buttons and cute colors and patterns and pictures all over them, easily adjustable to grow with her!

My upstairs living room has become an annex of her downstairs nursery. She has her own baskets set off to the side, one for clothes, one for burp clothes and one for her toys and books. Obviously she doesn't understand what I read to her yet, but she sure does enjoy story time, especially There's A Wocket in my Pocket!, a book of ridiculous rhymes by Dr. Seuss. If she could actually make laughing noises, I'm sure she would have when we read that for the first time!

Even though she doesn't make laughter noises yet, her dad and I get our fair share of big smiles and adorable squeaks during playtime on the floor. She has a play mat with piano keys to kick at, and boy does she love to use those big feet to kick and make music! Her favorite toy so far is a danging green frog that tinkles when she hits it. At times she refuses to even let go, which means her frog joins us for things like diaper changes and every ride in the car!

Katura loves her car rides, and is getting quite the musical education when she travels. Her dad tries to introduce her to Aerosmith and AC/DC while I let her listen to Broadway, hip hop and Jimmy Buffett! We have an new thing going, and that is the newly discovered fun of doing laundry. What? Yeah! I bring everything up and put it on my bed. She "sits" in her Boppy pillow and watches. We listen to music while I sing and dance and put away the laundry. I've even got her to start moving her arm with me all by herself! Favorite laundry song for her? "Life is a Highway", the Rascall Flatts version from the Cars soundtrack.

She's discovering her hands and that they are fun to suck on. Perhaps she'll discover her thumb soon? I woke up this morning to the sound of her sampling her hand and it was adorable! Bath time is still her favorite. She loves to "swim" while rinsing off. I hold her head and neck while the rest of her floats. She gets the cutest look of happiness and calm on her face. It's like she's at her personal little spa! Also she is trying hard to master lifting and holding her head up. Her hair is a new discovery, and I catch her grabbing hold of it more and more. She's making progress and growing up way too fast!

In this second month of life she had her first to the Wildlife Safari. She didn't exactly stay awake the whole time, but it was still fun to take her there and visit the animals in the village. **If you're looking for something free to do some afternoon, you don't have to pay to go into the village, FYI!

And what about me and my life as a mom? Well, I learned once you push a baby out you cease to exist and all eyes are on the baby. Can you blame anyone for that though? She is so darn cute! I am loving being her mommy. We are together non-stop and it makes me dread going back to work and leaving her for four hours a day. There seems to be a popular misconception in the universe that I was just a surrogate and went through years of trying to conceive and an obscene number of injections and drugs, pregnancy and labor so that my mom would raise her and not me. Um, no. Not going to happen. Pretty sure I am capable and I will do a fine job of raising her in my own way. So far she and I are having a blast together!

I don't miss work at all. I check my work email every day to forward along any important messages and voicemail that made it to my account. I still keep in contact regularly with a gal at work that is just too darn sweet. I certainly do not miss the negativity that wafts through occasionally. Heck I am not even there and people still gossip about me over the stupidest things that have absolutely nothing to do with them. Hello, Bitter party of 3, we have your table ready in the corner! 

I've been taking Katura on walks pretty often, and it feels great to be back out there on my old running trails. I bought a new Garmin since I lost one of mine, and it has made me so antsy to resume running and racing. I have to go buy some new clothes I think. Umm.... my old shirts are a little too tight now given the fact that I am always nursing a baby and have developed these ginormous boobs that I've never had. 

And with that, I have  our Eddy Arnold songs playing (she's clearly my Mini-Me with this one!) and we have some laundry and dancing to do together! 

Monday, March 7, 2016

My First Month as a Mom

One month ago my life changed, for the better, forever! At the time I am writing this, 1 month ago my contractions were starting. Now my body is 99% back to normal (healing wise, still gotta get my runner body back!) and I am looking at a perfect little girl fast asleep. I cannot believe how fast this month has gone by!

So what's life like for me with this girl? Awesome. 

For over three weeks I was home on maternity leave with my husband. The two of us had to figure Katura out and started trying to get a rhythm and settled into our new life. For the last few days I've been on my own with her, and I think she and I are getting quite good at the whole mother/daughter thing.

She was born late Sunday night. Tuesday night we went home from the hospital and were back the following morning for a check-up appointment. We learned she had lost 10% of her body weight, so I was asked to come back the next two days to check on her. And my homework for those days was to feed, feed, feed. I was told to feed, pump, sleep, feed, pump, eat and repeat. We did that and managed to have her gain a couple ounces over night. I pretty much was told to stay on that schedule until she had her first appointment with her pediatrician. Two weeks later we were at her doctor, and she was back at birth weight! I was given 2 more weeks to try to keep getting her to gain weight. And thus, this is my life. Feed, pump, sleep, feed pump, eat.... like washing your hair ... lather, rinse, repeat as needed!

I'm pretty much a dairy cow. I know of people that couldn't produce milk to nurse, and some who chose not to breastfeed. Yeah, well, I'm sticking to breastfeeding for now and holy canoli I'm always gushing milk. I would love to go to sleep without a bra on again, but then that means soaking through my night shirt and sheets. Thank goodness for the little soaker upper pads they make to put in your bra!! TMI? Eh, after all I've posted on this blog, this is nothing!

Speaking of my body, my little girl is nicknamed the Boobie Monster and I clearly have the magic boobies. I hardly have to set her on them and she falls fast asleep. It's a gift! She also loves my anchor necklace, so I guess I better get her one for her jewelry box. 

Sleeping for her happens during the day. I go to sleep at night for a couple hours at a time and her dad is such a helper and willing to stay up with her while she's a wide awake nocturnal little girl! I'm working on getting her cycle set to mine. In the womb she and I had the same sleep cycle, so maybe I can do it again.

She's been around town a few times now for shopping and a couple of meals. Once in her car seat she is peacefully sleeping, so that makes for a nice eating experience, versus having a crying baby causing a scene! People are so nice. Just the other day at the store she had 3 people comment on how beautiful she is. That's nice to hear! She IS adorable, and I'm sure it's not my motherly bias. Ha!

My spare time is few and far between. I've been diligently working on thank you cards and have half of them already delivered or in the mail. My goal is to get them all finished in the next day or two. Yesterday she only let me write 3. Her dad tells me I have to not give in to her all the time. I just can't let my baby ever be upset. If she wakes up and wants me, well, she gets me! Today I did manage to give her a bath, do a bunch of thank you cards, vacuum, do laundry, put away clean dishes, brush my teeth and put on deodorant. Maybe I'll work in a shower? Baths ... she LOVES them! I let her float her little body in our huge sink and she instantly relaxes. She loves floating in that warm water!

We have had some friends and family come to visit in this last month. She's awesome with visitors -- sleeps the whole time and masters looking cute! Now that I'm more comfortable I'll probably have her meet more friends soon. This weekend she will finally get to meet her grandpa that she share's part of her name with. He gets daily photos, but it's time for him to come home and finally get to hold her! And with regard to her name, I've heard people are absolutely butchering the pronunciation and adding letters that aren't even there. It is seriously so easy to say. It is just how it looks. Ka-tour-uh. 

So that's the first month. Milk Milk Milk!!! Oh, and a lot of terrible TV. Seriously, at 3 o'clock in the morning there is nothing on other than infomercials. Thank goodness for Netflix! I've also watched an obscene amount of Friends, Ink Masters, Bar Rescue and Cops. Welcome to maternity leave!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

After Thoughts After Labor

Here I am, a new mommy and completely in love! On Super Bowl Sunday some team of football players won a game. People all over the US had parties eating yummy snack food. Money was won in Super Bowl pools. I missed all of that, but I came out the ultimate winner by giving birth to my precious little girl, which you can read all about here if you missed it!

Having documented the experience already, I still have more thoughts I wanted to write down to help me remember down the road. So here we go, in no particular order!

  • Music was the key to my labor. The Super Bowl was on in my room, but I had it on mute. My focus, other than on breathing, was the music I had playing. I worked on an 8.5 hour music list ahead of time, which wow -- that's how long my labor was. I just now realized that! Some of the music I really remember hearing that helped a lot was:
    • Titanic. We did the entire soundtrack a couple of times unintentionally. But this is me, could I ever get sick of it?
    • Eddy Arnold. Grandpa's music kept coming on at times when I really did need it!
    • Michael Jackson ... as soon as she came out the song switched to Michael. She's getting a good early introduction to good music!
  • Pushing. Common sense tells us all it hurts. What I didn't exactly expect was one particular pain I felt as her head was getting close to coming out. I even said it out loud to the room... "It feels like my urethra is getting ripped out!" I guess it's a part of anatomy you usually just ignore. It has it's function and does it without effort. But when it's being squished to hell, oh my gosh, no, it was bad. That really was the worst part of the pushing process!
  • Sticking with that part of my body, the after effects .... you get these huge diapers that are like white, almost mesh, boy shorts. I am proof you can go wearing only Victoria's Secret thongs for an entire pregnancy ... and now they are sticking me in big ol' undies and putting in these pads that are so big I felt like I was walking around in adult diapers. To make it even thicker, they made these ice packs with newborn diapers to stick IN the undies to help ease all that was happening with my lady bits. Awkward? Yes. But overall did it help ease things? Yes. Welcome to the stuff people don't normally talk about. 
  • Spritzing. They gave me a little bottle to fill with warm water and use to spritz my girly bits when I'm using the potty. Oh hallelujah. That does bring some minor relief.
  • Also after the birth they took care of my uterus. Periodically, including right after the placenta came out, they would push down really hard on my tummy to help the uterus start getting back to normal. Pure horror. I hated it so much. Even today, 3 and a half days after the event, I had it done at the hospital again, and ugh, it just hurts really bad.
  • Let's keep the bloody nasty stuff going, shall we? After the room was cleared and Katura and I had enjoyed her first meal together it was time for me to happily take a shower. I was so nasty feeling, like I had just finished a marathon, so getting in the shower was exciting. Then while washing my hair I looked down. Hello Alfred Hitchcock. It was like the Psycho shower scene in there!
  • Speaking of marathons, my arms feel like they ran one. I know I was grabbing onto the bars by the tub during the transition phase of labor, but also during pushing they had me grab my legs and pull. Still my arms are sore from all the tension, pushing and pulling I did with them.
  • During labor Man Friend kept reminding me that I could do this. I did marathons and so I could do this. He reminded me how even during my first one when my knees buckled under me I didn't give up. I stayed mentally strong and pushed through to the end, and that I could do the same thing. He was right. And it was like a marathon. It started out easy, got awkward, then I had a second wind and felt strong again. Soon I was starting to question things and wanting to be done. Then it got really hard. The end got close and when I remembered how far I had come and what was at the finish line, I reached down deep and pushed so hard until I thought I couldn't do it anymore ... then I had my traditional finishing kick to the line and felt amazing when I did reach my goal and was handed my finisher's medal named Katura!

  • This photo melts my heart. My mom took a photo of her and I right after they put her on my chest, which I have cropped and shared here. We just stared at each other and it was incredible. We knew each other so well already. It was like the entire room went dark and quiet. I have no idea what all was going on. People could have been talking to me and I really have no memory. All I saw was that little face looking up at me. I think I got a little stitch and delivered my placenta ... didn't even notice. The whole world ceased to exist to me. The only thing that mattered was this precious little girl, still covered in some vernix caseosa, little bits of blood, the usual body fluid stuff on a baby. I didn't even care. I still had to caress and kiss her. She's my best creation and my most favorite thing in the entire world! Best moment of my life!

  • We had an immediate bond. Still, she might start crying, but if I barely touch her she stops and becomes calm. And skin to skin bonding ... she loves it. we do it all the time. Feedings at my house are a nudist affair at this point!
  • Nursing is an interesting thing. Sometimes I think it sucks when she practically bites while latching on. But overall it's not so bad. We get a lot of alone time together, her dad always nearby if we need an extra hand.  
  • The cute sounds she makes. Oh my gosh. In the hospital I pretty much never slept because I couldn't stop listening to her sleeping noises and watching her. Even still I find myself just gazing at her little face.
  • Hospital food. Could it be any more bland? It did make me happy to have cottage cheese and yogurt a lot. The vegetables I ordered were so bleh. I felt smart when I realized the best bet was to order Cheerios and fruit cups. Can't go wrong with that!
  • Man Friend told the guys in Lamaze to make sure to take advantage when the nurses ask if there is anything they can bring. Drinks? Snacks? Warm blankets? Ice? They are happy to oblige!
  • Ooh, that reminds me of labor. During active labor just before the transition phase I was shaking. I was so cold. The nurses said I could be cold, but it could be a reaction from hormones and signs that the baby was coming soon. They brought me heated blankets which helped a ton!
  • Speaking of blankets, I brought my own soft blanket which was one of the best things I had with me. I was using it the entire time after she was born.
  • We had a VHS/DVD player in our hospital room. We brought a lot of movies with us... if you can, do that! Hospital TV SUCKS!!!
  • I had a baby and my belly button never popped out and I didn't get stretch marks.  What?!?! I'm shocked at how my body is already bouncing back just days later. Obviously I'm not the way I was before being pregnant, but I feel optimistic!
  • Having a game plan going in I think was a good idea for us. It was nice not having to worry. Everybody knew my "rules" for the room and my desires for how the birth and labor would go. And everything was followed, Thank You!
  • Part of my idea birth plan was to not be naked and feel no sense of dignity. Well, you CAN give birth without being naked and without having everybody see everything. I pulled it off. EVERYBODY said, "you won't care". Really? I always told them that No, I would. But they ALL insisted "you won't care or even know". Yeah, ask the 4 in the room with me and they will confirm I was always keeping covered and making sure I stayed that way. 
  • What else did people tell me? That I would want drugs. Sure I whined that I would want them, but we know I didn't really want them. And as much as people thought it couldn't be done, I had a 100% drug free birth!
  • Lamaze class was completely worth it! I can't imagine not taking the opportunity to learn about breathing, as well as information regarding birth and labor.
  • Pushing hurts. BUT after all those contractions it was actually a relief to be at that final bit and be allowed to push your way to the end.
  • The phases of labor broken down (8.5 total hours of labor):
    • My water broke, and nothing happened for 2.5 hours.
    • Early Labor: I spent it at home with my mom. I was up, walking around, putting on make up, hanging up clothes, getting the bags officially ready for the move to the car, watching Friends, texting my BFF, taking photos. This was only 2 hours long actually. I had a very short "early labor"!
    • Active Labor: It started shortly after the Star Spangled Banner and kick off of the Super Bowl. We left for the hospital after the game began. I was admitted and got situated in my room. The half-time show is blurry to me, but I saw Bruno Mars like I wanted to. That is the last thing before switching to Transition.
    • Transition: This, coupled with active labor, was about 4 hours long. It was very painful. I was throwing up at times and spent most of Transition in the jacuzzi tub.
    • Pushing: This was about 2.5 hours we think. Fortunately for ME it felt faster since it was non-stop. I feel like for everybody else it had to be painful to watch or incredibly boring. 
    • Katura was born 11 hours and 58 minutes after my water broke!
  • Poop happens. 'Nuf said.
  • Contrary to what people say, you don't ruin your clothes. After labor and holding my fresh little baby I still could have worn my gown around if I wanted to without it even showing what had just gone on!
  • And finally, it's never too early to use your baby as a prop for fun photos and collages!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Welcome to the World!

Early labor at home with my Lamaze breathing
All these months of build up and here it is .... the introduction of my beautiful daughter and how she finally came into this world!

Our story starts Sunday morning around 8am when my dog asked to go outside to potty. As I stood up I felt a small amount of liquid come out of me. Was it a trickle of water that may have broken? I wasn't sure. At 10:36am I knew for sure my water was breaking in a massive gush! I ran to my phone to text Man Friend and had to dive into my bathtub as I felt gush number 2 coming. During my whole shower this would keep happening. I notified my mom who was at my house before I even finished rinsing my hair! I felt she was ready to head to the hospital but I knew we had time. While she was doing laundry, dishes, pacing, packing snacks and doing anything she could to distract herself, I attempted to dress and put on socks to take my dog for a walk. We never made it to the point of putting on shoes.

Watching the Super Bowl
I started having mild contractions around 1pm and began timing to see if this was the real deal or not. We had learned that after your water breaks it could take 12 to 24 hours for labor to begin. I wasn't about to rush to the hospital until I KNEW. Plus I was going to stay home for all of early labor anyway. At 2pm we declared this was the real deal and I would stay and focus on breathing and relaxing. The contractions started getting much closer together and I had to let Man Friend know it was time to come home from work because I was going to be leaving sooner than later. The goal was to make it through the kick off of the Super Bowl! To get through that wait I used my pillows and yoga ball, lower back and leg rubs from Mom and Man Friend, as well as the breathing techniques we had been practicing in Lamaze class. By the time the game started I was ready to go. I was in active labor, which arrived rather quickly!

Love at first sight, fresh out of the oven!
It was about 4:30pm when we were in our room ready to get comfy and work on contractions. I made it through the half time show at least, then I was beyond the point of doing anything other than surviving contractions. They escalated very fast and I know at a few times I was half-assed saying I needed the drugs. My birth plan was to be drug free, unless deemed necessary for the safety of my daughter and I by the doctor. So needless to say my whining was ignored, which really is what I hoped would happen anyway. I did plenty of research and knew what I wanted. After all we went the entire pregnancy with zero drugs of any kind, not even a Tums, so why change it now?

I had a birth ball brought in to the room to help, but never did get to it. Once the jacuzzi tub was filled I got in and never looked back. The feeling of not having my back touching anything was such a relief as I was having a lot of lower back pain. The bubbles helped distract me, and the noise of them actually helped relax me as well -- although I'm sure my mom waiting by the bed probably didn't think that. I can only imagine the sounds she heard. Before making it to the tub, and IN the tub I did end up throwing up quite a bit. I guess pregnancy for me was book-ended with vomit! It was at the end of the tub time that Melissa, our delivery nurse, came in to see how I was doing and asked if I felt like I wanted to push. She barely asked and instinctively I was bearing down!

Out of the tub I went and back into my own delivery gown (yes, you CAN bring your own and avoid the awful hospital ones!!) and onto the bed. A week before I was 2 cm dilated, when I arrived at the hospital I was at 6cm. By the time I finished my tub I was ready at 10cm and my doctor was called. I actually feel so special and appreciative of her .... it was my doctor's day off but when she learned I was in labor she said she wanted to come in anyway. So there I was, the 1996 grad being assisted by the 1995 graduate and the doctor from the class of 1993 ... all of us from the RHS band delivering what will maybe be a future RHS band girl! It felt like the right group that was brought together for this intense experience!

And so pushing began. My mom was a saint and stayed by my head continually keeping a cold wash cloth on me. Even though I was in absolute misery that really helped a ton. Thank you, Mommy!! Man Friend took my left leg, Melissa on my right, and Amy (the doctor) was front and center monitoring the progress as I pushed. This is when I got discouraged. All of the pushing and it felt like I wasn't making progress. Any time the fetal monitor slipped and I couldn't hear my girl's heart beat I would get nervous. I was dreading hearing them say that things weren't working like they want and I would need an emergency C-Section. **Spoiler alert, no c-section happened! I could tell there was silent communication happening between everyone in the room.

Cutting the cord
Apparently it was a lot of hand signals, with Amy showing numbers to Melissa on the state of my progress. Melissa, when the head was showing, was showing my mom circles indicating how much head she could see. I just continued on with the pushing. To summarize, with each contraction for the first hour or more I would do four strong pushes. The first always felt like a failure so I cut it short, I couldn't figure out where to push since it was all hurting my tailbone. I'd immediately get a breath and go for the second push where I could actually feel I was pushing right. The third and fourth pushes would make the most progress.  

In the last hour or less (I have NO concept of time during any of this, but I was actively pushing for at least two hours), I was feeling that progress was being made which motivated me to push harder and longer. I was up to about 6 strong, long pushes per contraction by the end. I was confused when I felt the progress happened and suddenly the room atmosphere changed. They removed half of my bed, brought out foot rests for me, the doctor was putting on a blue gown, a bucket and strange bag thing were brought and placed under the bed, and two baby nurses were standing on alert. I looked at Melissa and said, "Am I having this baby soon?" She gave me the most wonderful smile and said Yes! It was surreal that it was almost time! And then .... the ring of fire.

Pausing to rest during her first meal
They weren't lying when they used the ring of fire as a phrase to describe what it feels like down there. I was probably making noises of someone being skinned alive, but my best pushes happened when I made more noise and just let it all out. My body, pain wise, wanted it all to just go away. How could I possibly get her out if it already felt like this? But mentally I knew she was there and I could feel the fullness. I just had to cross over that one spot. And then I did, and boy did I feel it. I felt a pop. I had a very small tear, which I suspect might have been that pop? But I really don't know. It wasn't long after, with the rest of the push that there was this strange sudden relief. 

Warm, slimy, a feeling of lightness, and a cord. She was out! In the movies you always see them push and get the head out, then they have to push again to get the shoulders. My little girl cooperated with my pushing and slid out all at once! It was NO time at all, and she was on my chest. She had only the tiniest cry before she was staring up at me peaceful. The most beautiful little slimy thing I've ever seen in my life!

Here are the not-complicated complications, that were possibly part of why I was getting frustrated. She wasn't wanting to rotate. She had been head down for weeks, but instead of her head facing my bottom, she was head up. The doctor kept reaching in monitoring progress and trying to rotate her. That reaching at first was uncomfortable, but then I used it to help me know where to push... and that's how I started making progress on getting her out. As much as it sucks, you DO have to push like you're pooping. If you feel like you're pooping, you're doing it right - that's what they told me and it was so true! Eventually she cooperated after the doctor tried to guide her 3 times and she was lined up. To get to that point though we did try having me on my hand and knees pushing a couple times. That position didn't work for me as I couldn't figure out how to bear down like that. At the end the cord was wrapped around her neck 1.5 times, but not a big deal at all and was easily fixed. So really, is that much to have happen? Not at all!

She and I stared at each other and bonded for 8 minutes before her cord was clamped and then cut by her daddy. Delivery of the placenta was a breeze. I gave half a push and it was out. And continuing in my quest to learn as much as I can, I was asking to see the placenta and get photos of it!  As quickly as the room filled, it was soon empty again. Her grandma went home to let us have alone time, and it was pretty much just the three of us and our nurse until the wee hours of the next morning. I helped give her her very first bath, she did her hand footprints, and got to have her first meal. It was a very busy, exciting night! I didn't sleep at all ... I couldn't stop staring at her and oohing and aahing over every little coo she made in her sleep! For those interested in stats: 10:34pm on February 7, 2016 she was born. She weighed in at 7 pounds 2 ounces and is 20.25 inches tall. Perfectly pink!

So that's the big culmination of this nearly 3 year long adventure to bring her here! I avoid using names in this blog, so I'll leave out her last name...  I am so happy to introduce Katura Inez Rae!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Week 38: I Am Still Pregnant. And Tired.

Once upon a time, back in June, I had to suffer through the Two-Week Wait, aka the time we women spend waiting to either find out we are pregnant or get our period. Well here I am, in January (now February), and feeling like I am in the two week wait yet again... this time, however, waiting for that baby to get here!

Knowing I'm at least 2 centimeters dilated and less than 3 weeks away, I feel so anxious. Anxious, excited, nervous, antsy, eager, all the emotions!

During the two-week wait, from what I've read, I'm not the only one that spent a lot of time googling and reading forums where other people are all in the same boat. That's happening again! If something feels off, or different, or new then I have to google. The crazy thing is that no matter how strange that I google might be, as it turns out tons of other women have googled and posted about it, too! Sudden random breakouts? They're talking about it. Nausea? That's there. Insomnia? I'm not alone. Looking for any clues as to when the baby will arrive? Everybody wants to know!

And that's the hard part I guess. It's like maternity leave.... I know I'm going to be missing work, but WHEN? It's like having a vacation on the books except you won't know when the vacation starts until it's already happening. I've found myself nesting at work, trying to get everything up to date, clean, organized and easy for anyone else to be able to pick up where I left off. But yet NO CLUE when this will all happen.

Man Friend pointed out it does NOT say
This is what is frustrating. Physically I am fine. Any changes aren't bothering me, but the mental part is making me tired. One day I'd feel like labor must be coming up this week. Then the next it feels like I'll be pregnant for 3 more months. I had two uneventful doctor's appointments. She slept through them all, and I did register some non-painful contractions. Lamaze happened, which I wrote about here. Basically this week has been all about mental stress and insomnia. Sleep and I don't mingle anymore. Some nights I was up wandering around, sometimes drinking water, showering, testing different places to sleep, listening to music. You name it, I probably did it.

The week has ended with some awkward pains, contraction timing, walking with Man Friend and doing Lamaze breathing while just trying to relax.... still wondering ... is this the build up??  So now I'm feeling very anti-social. I just want to be left alone to be quiet, not harassed, I don't to hear continual comments about my body and people's opinions of it. I want to be a hermit and wait for this little girl to come out!

**Basically I wrote a bunch of this early in the week. Then went to finish it today and am just blah. I get a free pass I think. Now back to my contractions.....

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