Thursday, February 4, 2016

Clearing Space

9 months...yikes.  It has been 9 long and simultaneously blurry (due to the rapid-fire speed at which they passed) months since I posted here.  9 very eventful months.

Of course I've been thinking of the bloggers I follow and drafting posts in my head during that time, but actually updating has always taken a backseat to other more pressing spare-time demands...mostly dishes, showering, laundry, and attempts to catch up on sleep. 

I don't even know where to begin, other than to say that I don't feel like I belong anymore.  What does my tag-line say?  Something like, "Navigating the ups and downs of elementary teaching, infertility, and more"?  Something like that, right?  Well, I am no longer teaching (I'll expand on that in a minute), and "infertility" doesn't seem appropriate when you are 27 weeks pregnant with a 16 month old (I'll expand on that in a minute, too).  I guess I fit in under the "and more" bit.  I've said it before and I'll say it again though, this blog is an outlet--or diary of sorts--that if nothing else gives me a place to release the ugly stuff that clouds my mind. 

I don't know if anyone will even read this, but it is high time I do some mental cleansing, just for me, so I can better embrace all the wonderful that gets lost in the shadows.  In truth, I know I am extremely fortunate.  I know my blessings are many.  I am overjoyed at being a mother...and I want nothing I post here to make it sound like I am begrudging that new role.  But I've decided life is hard, man.  And just because one hole in your heart gets filled, doesn't mean you won't encounter other trials that take their own toll.

My absence from this blog can be attributed to many things but mostly that I am not much of a juggler.  Not yet.  This whole mom gig has left me feeling very unbalanced, but in the best way possible. 

I'd like to think that anyone might have had the same trouble in my shoes though.  The tail end of the 2014-15 school year had a couple hiccups...first-world problems, you might say, but difficult nonetheless.  My husband badly broke his finger on the last day of his training and required surgery which delayed his field experience for a few months...which then impacted our placement, requiring us to move across the state in August. 

At the beginning of May I took a nasty spill (fainted into the door frame) while sick with the flu that resulted in the fracture of three of which was cracked clean through and ultimately required extraction and the placement of a dental implant in mid-July.  In December the implant site had finally healed so that I could have a permanent fake tooth made...prior to that I had a partial denture that I had to take in and out for eating, cleaning, etc.  I cannot adequately express what a blow that whole process was.  I realize it could've been a lot worse.  I try to make jokes about it...but really, I HATE that I lost my tooth and I HATE how much money and time it took to fix it and I HATE that I have to be careful about what I bite into for the rest of my life for fear I could loose one of the other two damaged teeth.  The flu in May impacted my milk supply...and the surgery in July impacted it again.  I did manage to make it a full year before I stopped breastfeeding, but was supplementing a lot at the end.

We had expected to finally be a family of three once school got out in June, but with my husband's broken finger incident, we had a couple more months of long-distance marriage while he completed his field experience.  By June we knew we were going to have to move though, so I spent June and July first packing my classroom and then my house.  I decided to take a year's leave of absence from teaching (hoping we'd be transferred back "home" within a year's time).  And though I wasn't ready to go back to work in January after my maternity leave, I never really had imagined I'd be a stay-at-home mom.  A huge reason I chose teaching as a career was that I felt like it was the best way to have both a career and significant time with my family.  Packing up my classroom was sad and saying goodbye-ish to my work family was hard.  I really hoped we'd be back in a year, but that was a stretch. you say "goodbye" or "see you later"?  I wasn't ready to close the door, so I put a stopper in it...but it seemed like from the moment I turned in my keys until now I've been watching that door stopper slide little by little until the door finally latched shut.

Looking for a new job in our new location didn't seem to make sense because we wouldn't be moving until August (and technically weren't 100% sure where we'd be) and trying to move, find a new job, set up a classroom, and find reliable childcare in a brand-new city all in the matter of a month seemed like to great a feat.  Besides, even if I did find employment, we were worried that my husband might get the transfer call and I'd be stuck under contract...forcing us to either turn down the transfer or do even more long distance living with me stuck behind. No thank you.  Staying home with James was much more appealing...and what better time than when he's little like this??

Packing up the house wasn't any easier than packing my classroom.  Not only was it hard to imagine leaving the place where I'd envisioned our whole future unfolding, it was just plain hard to make much headway.  I tried to do little bits here and there when James was sleeping, but getting much done while he was awake was a futile effort.  And I was so tired.  James' sleeping habits were taking the wrong kind of turn.  He'd have a couple weeks of "normal" nights which still included two wakings (one for a diaper change/binky adjustment and the other an early morning feeding) followed by 3-4 nights of multiple wakings with one lasting HOURS...often accompanied by inconsolable crying.  I committed myself to sleep training as a summer project.  I read about various theories, asked other mothers for advice, and tried my darndest, but things just seemed to get worse.  I wanted to blame teething (he got his first tooth at 8.5 months, followed quickly by #2, 3 and 4), but the predictable pattern of a couple normal weeks turned into one week and eventually it just became completely unpredictable what kind of night we were going to have.  Napping wasn't really any better.  He was overtired from his terrible nighttime sleep and was in the habit of waking up after half an hour...maybe 40 minutes if I was lucky.  The weekends with my husband home were not fun summer weekends spent picnicking or swimming or playing at the park.  Instead they were always a mad attempt to check off more things from our to-do list than we added to it...a task we seemed to fail at time and again.  And they were filled with exhausting conversations and questions that we didn't seem equip with enough information to answer.  Do we rent our house out? Do we sell it? How long will we be gone? And do we get all the projects that need done done in order to rent/sell it when I spend all week with a baby and you are only here less than 48 hours (factor in travel time, time for meals, sleeping, and getting to spend some quality time with your baby)?

By the time August rolled around I was SOOO ready to just be done with it all.  Done with the packing.  Done with long-distance marriage.  Done with the stress of the unknown. Done with exhausting circular conversations.  We were all ready, I think.  And I think I expected that living under the same roof again would somehow relieve all the stress that the last year had thrown our way.  Other people thought so too.  Since we've moved they'll say, "Isn't it so nice to finally be together as a family?" or, "I'm so glad that you're all together now; that's got to make things easier," or "You guys must be really enjoying this worked so hard for it." 

Well. Yes.

Yes, it is nice to be a family of three under one roof...and we did endure a stressful year with this career change as the ultimate goal.  But....

I'm sorry, there's a but.

But I was blindsided by how difficult this adjustment to a new life has been.  I call it a new life because it feels like everything about my current life is different than what I've know...and envisioned...and I've had to say goodbye to so much.

That's where the "ugly" has been creeping in.  I've been trying to ward it off, but am lacking access to my go-to strategies.  I've struggled with depression in the past.  I've come a long way since some of my darkest episodes.  I've learned my triggers and I've learned how to combat them.  I can see things coming, I can recognize when I am sliding.  Some triggers: overwhelming circumstances and too much "alone" time with my thoughts. Some remedies: running, forcing myself to engage with friends/family, medication, talking out the "ugly".  Triggers...check and check.  Remedies...I can't run right now being pregnant and all (oh yeah, yet to update you on that very important piece of my life!), I haven't found any friends in this new place yet, and I hate the way medication makes me feel (besides, I'm pregnant!).  I've learned to manage depression without medication and it is sooo much better,  for me.  Anyway, I'm sliding.  Not depressed yet.  But getting awfully close.  The negative thoughts and ugly feelings are starting to occupy more and more of my time and mental space.  So all I have left as an option is to talk out the ugly stuff.  Let it go and make room to breathe in what is good and wonderful and right about life.

First though, I suppose I should finish updating my timeline to now...I'll try to be a little more brief since this post is getting exceptionally long.  Anyone who makes their way through the whole thing deserves a medal for commitment.


We moved.  We got pregnant.  It was a wonderful surprise.  And yes, it was a surprise, but not an accident.  I had only had two cycles prior to getting pregnant, but they were spaced all wonky like before and I was still breastfeeding so I had no way of knowing whether I was ovulating or not.  We weren't trying to get pregnant, but weren't taking any actions to avoid it either.  We figured that it had taken long enough the first time around...we didn't know if my cycles would start regulating themselves or if eventually we'd need to get help.  We also figured that having our kids (if we were so lucky to have more than one) close together might be really nice as they grew up.  And if I did happen to get pregnant while I was already taking time off, so much the better.  So it was a very good surprise.  It's been a little alarming because I guess I never expected my kids to be this close in age (18 months) there will be challenges that I had not entirely thought through.  I am nervous.  But I am more excited than nervous.  "Baby Day" is scheduled for April 15 and we are waiting to find out if it is a boy or girl until then since the birthday itself is not a surprise.  It is scheduled because the type of incision they had to make with James ruled out VBAC as an option.  It also made it so they will be delivering the baby at 37 weeks rather than the typical 39 for scheduled cesarean. So...fingers crossed everything goes well!  I know those last weeks of pregnancy are serious growth time for baby.   Anyway, August = we moved and we found out we were pregnant again.  It also was a terrible month in the sleep department for James.  Between the move, visitors, and trips back "home" to try to wrap up various projects there was just too much change and too much inconsistency and he spiraled out of control.  I was trying to let him cry it out, but threw in the towel when he woke more and more and cried longer and longer...topping out at 3 hours!! (I still feel like a horrible mother as I type that).  I cried too.


More trips back "home" to try to get the house rental-able...we were in the middle of a bathroom remodel, so it wasn't exactly something we could leave as-is. We also were pursuing refinancing our house to make it more manageable to keep it.  Should have been an easy process, but for a multitude of reasons, it wasn't.  The inconsistency wasn't great for James, but he was doing better because I had switched from CIO to rocking & consoling him when he woke...and yes...even bringing him to bed with us in the wee morning hours.  He was able to put himself to sleep for naps and bedtime, but couldn't sustain sleep through the night.


James turned one and started "cruising" a lot more than crawling.  We took a trip down to Texas to visit my husband's grandparents (James Senior) and another trip "home" for a birthday/Halloween celebration with the cousins, aunts/uncles, and my parents there.  James stopped putting himself to sleep.  I had to rock him to sleep, gently place him in his crib, and tip toe out of the room.  Otherwise sleep was much like it was in September...but steadily getting worse.  Looking back it is pretty apparent that even though we tried to keep his bedtime routine consistent, his setting for sleep was constantly changing...and I was trying to wean him...and he was getting new teeth.  Lots to deal with. Not sustainable. And I started panicking that we really needed to resolve the sleep situation before there was a newborn to contend with.  Speaking of which, I felt nauseated most all the time.  My morning sickness was never severe, but was ever-present and way more than I remember having with James.


James started the month with a bad head cold that turned into an ear infection and further amplified the sleep problems we were having.  I was beyond exhausted...he was waking AT LEAST 6 times a night and every few days would have an inconsolable episode that would last a couple hours.  It wasn't until mid-November that we finished the antibiotics, but James was still a mess after that and my husband needed to take a trip to help his mom down in Arizona. James and I went back "home" at the end of the month for Thanksgiving since my husband had to work anyway.  It seemed like it would be a very sad Thanksgiving all alone in a new city, but the trip didn't go that well.  We stayed at my parents' house and spent way too much time analyzing sleep problems. I was really concerned that there must be something else at play to have him waking so often...even when he was with me.  I even borrowed a special monitor from a friend that tracked oxygen levels and heart rate and he set off the alarm at least 10 times in a 3 hour stretch.  I had scheduled a consultation with our former pediatrician while we were in town.  She didn't have any medical concerns, which was a relief, but she confirmed what I feared: that I (or rather our life) had created this mess and he needed to learn to self-soothe.  It wasn't going to be easy, but we needed to let him cry.  She gave me a multitude of helpful tips to try to assist with the process and even gave me an alternate suggestion if I just couldn't get on board with letting him cry it out.  I left feeling like I had a plan, but was nervous because of how poorly the CIO method had gone before when I felt like I was really giving it a good shot.  


As soon as we returned back to our new home, we recommitted to sleep training.  My husband took charge on the first night and it went surprisingly well.  1.5 hours of crying to get to sleep (checking on him at various intervals) and then only one waking with another 30 minutes of crying to get back to sleep.  Second night: 25 minutes of crying initially with another waking and I can't remember exactly how much crying.  Third night: 5 minutes of initial crying...can't remember if he woke that night or not. Fourth night: 2 minutes of initial crying...can't remember if he woke again or not.  Fifth night: no crying...waved bye-bye and blew me a kiss as I tucked him in.  Throughout December this is how it went...some nights he would wake up and cry, but rarely for long and many nights he would sleep through til morning.  I WAS SHOCKED. And thrilled.  And glad to be getting some quality sleep after 14 months of deprivation.  Any kicking myself for getting him so royally messed up in the first place.  Of course I blamed myself...he was my one job and I felt like I failed him.  Christmas brought visitors and we had a wonderful time.  It was such a joy to share it with our little man who could officially be called a walker by Christmas Day.  He loved the boxes more than anything else and quickly caught on to what fun unwrapping them was.  James and I made another trip to see my family after Christmas, but by then he had had enough excitement and quickly regressed in the sleep department.  I was beginning to see what people mean when they say traveling with young children is difficult.  It just didn't feel worth it. 


It took the better part of January to get James back on track before he came down with some kind of bug that set him off again.  He is absolutely the light of my life and brings a smile to my face every time I think about him...but little man definitely has a strong will and tests boundaries, as kids will do.  January brought a wave of daytime tantrums that we muddled through, but with repeated explanations and trips to "time out" he has since amended his behavior considerably.  It's weird to (already) be entering this phase where we have to start enforcing consequences and disciplining.  So far, he has been a pretty quick learner.  He is also the sweetest, goofiest little cherub I know.  He doesn't speak more than a handful of words (dog, ball, bear) and a variety of animal sounds (woof, meow, who, roar, baa, etc.), but he communicates with gestures, grunts, and sign language.  He seems to understand about the new baby more than you would expect...he often lifts my shirt, hugs/kisses my tummy, and points to the ultrasound photo on the refrigerator and makes the sign for "baby."  He loves to go to the grocery store (or anywhere really), vacuum, watch the garbage truck, hug, dance, eat, and cuddle the cat and dog.  He waves bye-bye to daddy and blows him a kiss every night before work.  He is becoming quite skilled with utensils and makes me proud everyday.    


That brings us to now.  The struggles I am and have been facing have very little, if anything, to do with staying home with James.  I cherish our days together...even the tough ones.  I know he will grow up too's already happening.  I nearly cried when I installed his new car seat.  I keep telling myself that these will someday be "the good old days."  Here's what I am struggling with; these are the things that I can't seem to adjust to:

*I somehow expected that living together would bring back the normal type of routine we enjoyed when we were both working jobs with regular hours.  However, my husband's schedule is constantly changing...between days and nights, weekdays and weekends.  Currently he works 7pm-5am...and depending on when he gets home will sleep until somewhere between 1pm & 4pm.  On a good day I can expect him to be working 11 hours (10 hour shift + 1 hour commuting), but most days he has at least a couple hours of overtime.  And some days the over time is ridiculous!  In just the past two weeks he's had one 18.5 hour day and a 21 hour day.  He tries to let me know if he'll be late...but more often than not I don't hear from him and have to wonder when...or if...he'll be coming home. Some days it has me stressed, sometimes worried, sometimes mad/irritated.  He does get three days off a week, but when he is working nights it hardly feels that way since he still has to maintain roughly the same sleeping hours.  So...yes.  We see each other everyday, but it's not exactly as great as I thought it'd be.

*Being a stay-at-home mom (in a new city nonetheless) is lonely work.  I am terribly lonely...I don't know anyone here and it is so hard to meet friends.  I suppose I didn't get out a whole lot before with my friends, but at least with work I got to see them on a regular basis...have some adult interaction with people that I genuinely cared about that cared about me too.  Here we go to the park and the library and I make a point of striking up conversations with strangers.  Not exactly a practice that is in my comfort zone, but I do it because I am really lonely and am making an effort to meet people.  But having a friendly conversation with a stranger and have a friendship are two entirely different things.  The latter takes time.  And I have yet to even bump into the same stranger twice.  I've been seeking opportunities that would put me in the presence of the same people on a regular basis, but that has proven difficult.  All the mommy & me classes I can find are during nap time.  And given James' history with sleeping, it's not exactly a time I am willing to mess with.  Same is true for church services.  I can go to the early service, but the later one (during nap time) is the one that most people and young families attend.  I think the church I've been going to has some women's groups and Bible studies that maybe I could get involved in if I could make it work with the husband's work schedule. 

*Life feels suspended right we are neither here nor there ("home").  We are holding onto hope that we will get offered a transfer back to the place where our family and friends and former life are, but we have no idea how long that might take. Months? Years?  The uncertainty is exhausting.  It's nearly impossible to predict or you just kind of hang out in limbo stewing over the same questions and the same hazy future.  We have yet to do anything with our house...except pay for it to sit empty and sad.  We were thinking of renting it originally and have been back and forth with that decision many times.  Currently the plan is to sell it.  I think it's a Band-Aid that just needs to be ripped off, you know?  Holding on to it is like holding on to hope that life will return to what it we can just hit the play button and things will resume right where they left off.  But the truth is that life won't ever be the same.  We have a new kind of normal now...with good, WONDERFUL husband is working in a career that he loves, we have an amazing son and another  child on the way.  So why is it so hard to accept?  None of us really know what the future has in store for us, but I think it's natural to have an idea in your head of how things might go or what you dream they might be.  This just isn't how I pictured it all playing out...and it's really throwing me for a loop. 

I have more I could probably write, but that should do it for now, I think.  I already feel lighter just typing some of it out.  Clearing space for that good stuff to get the light it deserves...


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

Hello to all in the blogosphere!  I've been away too long and will someday find time to update properly,  but I wanted to drop by and wish everyone a Happy Easter.


I wanted to say, no matter your state in life or what you believe,  I hope that this season can be an encouraging reminder of life after death,  hope after despair,  and sun after the storm.  Keep on keeping on and bask in the little rays of sunshine!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The "What If" Game

So there's this game I play.  I don't really like it,  but I am quite good at it.  I'm sure you're familiar with it too. It is called the "What If" Game.

You never really volunteer to pay this game.  It just happens to you... and it is about as easy to end as Jumanji. Btw, if you have any tips for avoiding/minimizing this game,  I'm all ears.

Anyway,  I've been playing for as long as I can remember.  I don't play it every day or even every week or month necessarily.  It is completely unpredictable to figure out when it might start.  Normally I am just going about my day when the smallest thing can set the game in motion. Sometimes it isn't more than a harmless thought that then snowballs out of control. 

"What if" is a game of worst case senarios. And I am so good at it that I've brought myself to tears with my imagination and have to remind myself that the what if is not in fact reality.

So last night I played a nasty round of it after the alarm on James's monitor went off.  We bought one of those monitors that also has a motion sensor.  It is supposed to detect the slightest movements and is sensitive enough to tell that your baby is breathing.  And based on my testing of the unit, I believe it works the way it is meant to. Anyhow,  if baby goes 15 seconds completely motionless a little beep will sound on my end.  Another 5 seconds and a continuous beeping alarm will sound on my end and in the baby's room.

Well,  James has been sleeping in his crib for two and a half weeks now with no alarm. Last night it went off and of course I shot out of bed and ran across the hall.  It probably took me two terrifying seconds. The alarm in his room had sounded too and caused him to stir (and resume breathing). After my heart started beating again you can imagine the what ifs that ensued...

What if it hadn't woke him?
What if I had to do cpr?
What if I didn't do it right? 
What if the EMTs didn't show up in time?
What if it happens again?
What if it happens at daycare during a nap and nobody notices? 

I watched him breathe for the next ten minutes. Then I tried to go back to bed. But I kept playing that damn game and had to go check on him again. And of course I compulsively checked on him every minute of every nap throughout the day.

I realize there is the "what if it was a false alarm?" and I have two things to say about that: 1.) I don't think it was because I can't even trick that device into going off...I ran a multitude of my own tests when setting it up.  Placing my hand in different areas of the crib... moving it gently,  keeping it still.  I can't keep my hand still enough in the crib to set the thing off. Good for nothing piece of junk, I thought,  but then I can throw only a teddy bear in and it knows the difference and starts beeping almost immediately. Things have to be deadly still for the alarm to sound.  2.) I'll take a false alarm over no alarm any day.

Yeah, yeah... all this new technology... somehow babies survived before it.  Babies sometimes forget to breathe but the body's natural response is to want oxygen and breathe again.  That may be all fine and good and true, but some babies have not survived and I can't help but wonder "what if" they had that technology? 

So I'm embracing the new technology and don't care if people think I'm crazy for it...I swear I'd collapse into a pile of dust if that what if game ever became my reality because look at this face...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Postpartum Musings

I had one goal today.  No, make that two.  1.) Catch up on reading blogs and 2.) Write a post.  Oh, make that three...3.) Go to the grocery store. Oh...and I thought maybe I'd be able to work in some laundry folding, vacuuming, dishes, pick up a couple last-minute Christmas items, and do some gift wrapping.

Well, the day is nearly over and I haven't made it even halfway through that list.  But, I have this amazing little distraction now from my ever-growing list of to-do's.  So that's what I've been up to: loving my beautiful child and chipping away at a list that will never end.  And POOF.  10 weeks have flown by since James was born. 

For what it's worth, I did make it to the grocery store.  And I read quite a few blog posts...but not all that I wanted to.  And I'm attempting to write something now. So, there's that.

Unfortunately that's what this blog space has become to me. For now anyway.  Something on my to-do list.  I WANT to write.  I WANT to read.  But it has to fit somewhere in between meeting the needs of my precious distraction, keeping myself alive, and attempting to maintain my house and appearance at least a little bit.  And I haven't figured that out yet.

And I guess I've been okay with that in the fact that I am very, very happy (albeit anxious, which I'll get to later).  I am so happy to be completely consumed with momness right now.  But I do feel like I owe something to the blogosphere if I spend too long away from it.

Over the past ten weeks I can't tell you how many thoughts have crossed my mind that I said to myself, "I'll put that in a post."  I can't tell you how many because I can't kept track of anything, especially my abundant postpartum thoughts that range from "nobody-cares" to "get-that-woman-some-medication" to "sappy-mushy-baby lovefest" to "sort-of-comical."  I can tell you that the majority of the time it's a sappy-mushy-baby lovefest around here, but I'll try to recall some of the most memorable musings (mostly completely inconsequential) for you in an unorganized list.

1. I managed to avoid stretch marks on my stomach.  Whether that was genetics or my daily lotion regiment in the third trimester for my itchy tummy, I'm not sure.  But my boobs...not so lucky.  When my milk came in...I've never seen the likes!  Pam Anderson had nothing on me!  My poor tiny boobs just couldn't keep up.  I wish I'd taken a picture. Not for you...for my husband.  He missed them at their biggest and I think he thinks I'm exaggerating.  But the purple stretch marks should be proof, right?  Trust me.  They were freaky.

2. Speaking of boobs...the veins on my chest were and are like a road map to Nipple City.  Not sexy.

3. And while we're on the subject of what has happened to my body, my belly button looks like a haggard pit of despair.  The piercing did close up...insert sad face...but I'll probably get it pierced again when we finish having kids, if we are so lucky to be able to get pregnant again. 

4.  Yes.  I know I sound vain.  No.  I wouldn't trade my baby for anything.  No.  That doesn't mean I have to love my sad belly button and stretched-out boobs.

5.  15 minutes in the shower is equal to 2 hours of sleep.  This is especially true in the first few weeks post-baby.  If you can't find time to sleep, or are feeling very deprived...make taking a shower a priority.

6.  Either I was abnormal in the postpartum bleeding department, or the books I read beforehand made the aftermath of having a baby out to be way more of a nightmare than what actually took place.  Perhaps it's because I had a C-section??  Anyway, I thought I'd be bleeding heavily for at least a week or two and then bleeding more, but not as yuck for another 3 or 4 weeks.  I had purchased three packs of the heavy-duty-overnight-diaper pads in preparation for this flood of ick.  My heaviest bleeding was the couple days in the hospital and even that wasn't any worse than a period.  By the time I came home the pads I'd purchased were a joke.  I started wearing them to bed at night stuck to my bra because they were better suited for soaking up all the milk I was leaking.  I still have two and a half of the three packs I bought.  I think I was pretty much done bleeding in a couple weeks and completely done in three.

7.  Pad technology has come a long way since I was a teen.  I use tampons typically, so I had no idea.  There are super thin pads that are really absorbent!  They are sufficient for the job...there is no reason to wear something that feels like a diaper for more than a couple days unless you like that sort of thing.  

8.  Also...people said: beware the first postpartum poop!  Ummmm...again not so bad.  But maybe I am an exception.  Granted, I did get food poisoning on day 5 postpartum (and yes, baby did too via my milk...poor baby!), and that sort of helped things along.  But I've heard people say it's like giving birth all over again.  I don't know.  I didn't get to deliver vaginally, so I'm sure that makes it a bit more uncomfortable down there.  But I have heard others who have had C-sections tell woeful tales too.  I think the pain meds they want to give you are part of the problem...the hydrocodones.  Anyway, I didn't take much of that maybe that's how I avoided that terror.

9. I think the amount of nostalgia I am and have been experiencing since right after James' birth is kind of unhealthy.  I am nostalgic about my pregnancy, I am nostalgic about my labor day, I am nostalgic about his birthday.  Nostalgia sets in every time I retire an outfit that he no longer fits in...or never even got to wear.  I feel guilty any time that I spend not looking at him because I feel like I am missing something.  Does this make me crazy?  I find myself wishing so hard that time would just slow down, dang it!  Or better yet, if I could just rewind a little and suspend ourselves in tiny baby is not so tiny anymore.  In fact, he has more than doubled his birth weight!!  And even though I KNOW this is a good thing and that he is healthy and wonderful...I just want to go back and go slower! 

10.  I cringe thinking about going back to work.  I've had nightmares and the anxiety I mentioned earlier all has to do with work.  So I'm not even going to talk about it except to say that I have to go back on January 8th.  Boo.

11. My husband is still training.  And that is both wonderful and horrible.  He is loving his new career but missing us.  And we miss him terribly but are surviving just fine.  This week has been one of the hardest because he didn't get to come home last weekend.  But he does get a couple long weekends with Christmas and New Years coming up.  I've had some very emotional moments, but it has not been as hard as it originally felt like it was going to be.  And with as fast as time has been going by, he'll be home again before we know it.

12. My life has done a complete 180 from a year ago.  I was feeling so defeated.  So sad.  So consumed by the ugly stuff.  Now I am beyond blessed and have never been happier.  That's not to say that things aren't tough occasionally, but it's so much easier to handle the rain when you've got sunshine in your life....and when the rain isn't a constant downpour.  So, to those of you still out there in the torrential rain awaiting your miracle, I pray that 2015 is your year.  Keep on keeping on and know that you are in my thoughts.  I know it's hard.  I know it hurts.  It's not fair.  But I am here to tell you, someday your little miracle will mend the pieces of your broken heart and your heart will ache in an entirely new way that will make all the struggle worth it. 

I am sure there was more I was going to write about.  And in my head it was going to be much more thrilling for you to read, but I don't have it in me to be clever and I really don't remember. So, I'll leave you with some photos of the cutest baby ever (IMHO)... 

Brand New! (October)

So tiny! (October)

Very expressive from the get-go. (November)

Purposeful playing (Early December)

Angelic Sleeping (Always, but photo from December)

Adorable Smile (Always, but again December) 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Labor Day

So I'm talking about October 10...not the first Monday in September.  Most people love the September Labor Day because it means they get a nice long weekend.  For me it always marks the beginning of going back to work for another year.  And as much as I love my job, I hate that day.

October Labor Day from now on will be far superior.  It marks the day James decided to come meet us.

My labor started at 3:00am Friday, October 10.  Maybe sooner.  It's possible I slept through some contractions.  But at 3:00 I was either woken up by my eensy-weensy bladder or the crampy contraction I was having.  It wasn't much, but it was very different than the 15-minute-long-entire-uterus-tightening-up-so-hard-it-feels-like-a-boulder contractions I had been having.  While those contractions were obnoxious and uncomfortable, they never were "painful" whereas this one would fall in the pain category.  It was certainly tolerable, but was a feeling you wanted to go away.  It started low in my pelvis and felt like it was building and then subsided.  "Crampy" is really the best word I can think of to describe it. I remember thinking "Hmmm?  Is today the day?"  I immediately reached for my phone and started the contraction timer app.

I couldn't go back to sleep because my mind was racing.  Is this labor?  How will I know for sure?  When do I call JT?

About half an hour later I had another contraction.  And then 45 minutes later. I laid in bed the whole time trying to go back to sleep/rest...but it was no use.  By 6:00 I decided to get up and call Labor and Delivery.  I had only had a handful of contractions and knew I was far from needing to go to the hospital, but was hoping they could shed some light on if what I was feeling was the real deal and if so, at what point I should call my husband so he could start his 6 hour trip across the state.

L&D made me cry.  The nurse was not helpful at all and said, "What? Is this your first?"  She didn't ask any questions and seemed annoyed to be on the phone.  When I tried to explain my situation and what I was experiencing she chuckled and said, "Well, I can tell you not to call your husband."

I bawled when I got off the phone and was completely lacking confidence in what I was feeling.  Maybe I was just making it up because I wanted it to happen.  I called my sister-in-law who was going to be my "stand-in coach" until my husband arrived.  I told her about my morning and conversation with L&D.  I said I didn't know if I needed her or not because I didn't even know if I was in labor...but just wanted to give her a heads up that I might need her at some point.

After that I got in the shower and cried some more.  My brother called back and said my sister-in-law (also a teacher) had sub plans ready to go and was taking the day off to be with me.  I was grateful they made the call...because I probably would have just been freaking out and playing head games if left alone all day.

So she came over and I continued to track my contractions with my little app.  By 9:00 the contractions were 15-20 minutes apart.  They still didn't seem bad though.  I decided to call my doctor's office and get their advice.  The nurse I spoke with was MUCH nicer...but I still wasn't confident that I was going to meet my baby that day.  She sympathized with me and said I was definitely describing the early stages of labor, but what she couldn't tell me is how my labor would progress because everyone is different.  She said my contractions might continue like this for hours...or days.  There was really no way to tell, but if it were her she would call her husband just for peace of mind.  She was super sweet and actually called back later that afternoon to check on me and see if I had ended up calling my husband yet.  She said she'd been thinking about me all day and couldn't go home without knowing whether or not he was on his way.

It was a nice day, so my sister-in-law and I took the dogs for a walk to see if things would pick up at all.  Around noon the contractions were about 10 minutes apart.  I was explaining to my SIL that I wished I could just call JT instead of having to call the Academy office.  Things still didn't feel very bad and I didn't want to get JT in trouble for leaving early if the baby wasn't going to come until much later.  If this had happened any other day of the week I may not have been so hesitant, but it was a Friday, so he was going to be coming home anyway and would probably get home around 11pm.   Just as I was explaining this to her, my phone rang.  It was JT.

"Hey Kelse, I've got like two minutes.  Tell me what's going on? I got a feeling I needed to call," he said.

I quickly updated him and told him I wasn't sure if he needed to leave yet.  He said he didn't care and he was coming home.  I was so relieved!

"I love you so much!  See you soon!" was how he ended the call...but he forgot to hang up and I could hear him yell to his fellow cadets, "WE'RE HAVING A BABY!"

Later he told me that everyone dropped what they were doing to help him gather his things and get on the road.  I guess the class literally had two minutes to change into some gear and be somewhere...when they are late they get punished, but nobody cared...they all just chipped in.  How cool is that?

So I was thrilled! My SIL and I decided to go to Target to kill some time and walk a little more.  At this point I was finally excited about what the day had in store and as we left the house I wasn't thinking about much else but the fact that soon my husband would be home and we'd work on welcoming this new member of our family together. 

As I closed the front door I reached to my purse where I normally clip my keys...just a habit I guess.  But, we'd been for that walk earlier.  And I had taken my keys off my purse.  They were sitting on the sofa table.  Inside.  Inside the locked house. 

No, we don't have a hide-a-key.  No, no one has a duplicate except JT.  A problem I suppose I need to fix.  $*#! we were locked out.  And it was going to be at least 6 hours before we had a key to get in.  Unless....

It's scary how easy it is to break in to my house.  I probably shouldn't say that on the internet.  Even the dogs broke in about a week prior to this...I left them in the garage one day because Sadie was sick and I could leave them outside because they dig.  And they chewed the weather stripping on the door into the house and somehow managed to bust in...but that's an entirely different story.  And that's not how we got in.  Apparently there are multiple ways to break in to my house.  I actually had to do it one other time (think I would have learned my lesson about having a spare key then, huh?).  We used the climb-through-a-window-route.  *Please nobody break into my house* unless you want to throw me a surprise party and buy me stuff. 

Anyway, we managed to get SIL ended up needing a Band-Aid, but it was a normal size one, so I say that's not too bad.  We eventually made it to Target and we both bought cute baby shoes.  Hers were cute little boots for her daughter (my niece born back in December...if you've been reading this blog long enough to remember) and mine were an irresistible pair of sneakers.

By mid-late afternoon the contractions were inconsistent...between 7 and 20 minutes apart, but getting stronger.  They still weren't bad, but I decided to lay a bit low until JT got home.  We took the dogs to jail...I mean, "Pet Camp" where they would remain until I felt ready to have them home again.

By 5:00 my contractions were consistently 6-7 minutes apart.  And there was no more mistaking whether or not they were "real."  Still very manageable with breathing and movement, but I was feeling like it was game time.  I called JT to let him know that we would likely be heading to the hospital when he got home, so he'd better stop and grab something quick to eat because who knows the next time he'd have a chance to get a meal.  I hadn't eaten since lunch as a precaution...not that I thought I would have a cesarean, but they advise you not to eat when you're in I didn't. 

Okay, I had a few cookies throughout the afternoon.

My friend made me some tasty bring-in-your-milk it was sort of like prepping for baby, not just snacking on junk food.

JT got home around 7.  And guess how he translated "something quick to eat"? He had a couple steaks and a Cesar salad kit.  Seriously.  That's my husband.  I was thinking like McDonalds, Taco Bell, Carls Jr....something *quick* in in fast food.

But no.

AND THEN, he asks if he has time for a quick shower.  By this time my contractions were 5-6 minutes apart.

"Hurry," is all I said. 

My SIL and I looked at each other and could only laugh.  Was he for real?  She grilled his steak while he showered and I prepared the salad.  This makes him sound like a terrible husband, but honestly he's the best.  Just...sometimes clueless.

We didn't leave for the hospital until about 8:30 when my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart.  They were extra uncomfortable in the car because I couldn't change positions.  We got to the hospital around 9 and didn't get to go back to triage (spelling?) until 9:30.  The nurse hooked me up to some monitors and asked a bunch of questions.  I can't remember them all...but I do remember she wanted me to rate my pain.  I had no idea what to say.  There wasn't even a sign with faces for me to look at as a guide. 

"I don't know," I said.  "Maybe a 7 or 8?"  I could tell my contractions had spaced out and didn't seem as strong once I laid down, but I thought surely I was going to be far enough along that they'd admit me.  I mean, I'd been in labor since 3 in the morning!

"You're at 2cm," she said kind of apologetically.  "We'll have you walk around and check you again in an hour.  If we don't see significant change in your cervix we will need to send you home."

I was crushed.  2?!?!?  I had dilated 1 cm all day?  WTF?  No way was I going home.  No way could I be making up that my contractions had been 4 minutes apart before going back to that little room.

We started walking the halls and almost immediately the contractions picked up in intensity and frequency.  JT was timing and he said they were 2 and a half minutes apart...I'm not entirely sure how long they were lasting...45-90 seconds which meant I really only had about a minute break between the end of one and the onset of another.

All I could think as we wandered those halls and past those empty rooms was, "Why can't I go in there? Why can't I have one of these rooms?"  Instead I had to labor in the hall.  Not what I had pictured.

About half an hour in to our walking I went to the bathroom and ended up vomiting with my next contraction.  I barely made it to the nurses station to tell them I had thrown up before I needed a bucket and vomited again.

The nurse who gave me the bucket said, "They're making you guys walk?  Looks like she's in labor to me." She seemed sorry that the hospital had stupid rules. 

I continued walking.  With my bucket.  Stopping every few steps to brace for another contraction.  Puking.  In the F-ing hall.

At one point I remember almost crying.  "I'm not a warrior.  I want to stop walking," were the words that were playing on a loop in my head and occasionally coming out under my breath.  Not the positive words I'd practiced.

JT and I made our way to an empty waiting room where he tried to help me sit down but I couldn't figure out how.  I didn't want to stand anymore.  I didn't want to walk.  I didn't want to sit.  I didn't want to lay down.  I didn't know what I wanted or how to get it.  But I kept looking at the clock ticking closer and closer to the time I could be checked again.  At 10:45 (5 minutes shy of my hour) the nice nurse who had given me the bucket had advised the triage nurse that she might need to check me again.

I wobbled my way to triage and felt this weird pressure...need to go to the bathroom-ish feeling.  Not the pushing feeling...but immense pressure on my bladder?  My mucus plug (such a gross term...but it was so gross) came out and my water broke as soon as I sat down in the bathroom.  What a bloody shock that was..."mucus plug" sounds like a booger to me...but NO.

And then my water...kept...breaking even after I stood and tried to walk back to the room to be checked.  This is maybe getting more graphic than you bargained for.  Sorry for that.  But it's probably not going to get any you may want to stop here.  You've been warned.

When the nurse checked me she said I was at 5cm, 100%, and ruptured.  She asked me to rate my pain and I asked if I could amend my rating from before.  I said the pain before was a 3 or 4 at best.  This, now, was a 7 or 8.

I didn't have to stick around there any longer...they started wheeling me to a room and the nice bucket nurse (Jenn) came too.  She said she knew that we were going to be her's when she saw us walking in the hall.  I liked her a lot.  She was super nice.

In the L&D room they hooked me up to some monitors, I hooked myself up to my I-Pod (why hadn't I done that in the hall??).  The contractions felt like they were coming right on top of each other by this point.  My new mantra was, "I'm not a warrior.  I want the epidural.  I need a break.  Just give me a little break."

At one point I felt the need to push and I tried to refrain, but I said, "I REALLY want to push now."  It was like an animal instinct.

Jenn looked at the monitors and asked me to try really hard not to push because it looked like I did with the last contraction.  She said we could get the epidural but it might be a little while because there was only one lady there to do it.  She decided to check me again in the meantime.

I was as shocked as she was when she said, "You're a 9!"

"Is it too late for an epidural?" I asked to which she replied, "....maybe...."

Jenn made a call and I guess I got moved straight to the top of the epidural list because the anesthesiologist was there in no time and got right to work.  I had to sit up and in doing so I was completely reconsidering the epidural altogether.  The need to push was so strong I just wanted to get it over felt like the epidural would be a waste of time.

For whatever reason, I went through with it...and the relief was instantaneous.  I finally got my break.  It couldn't have been later than 11:15 at this point.  I was officially 10 cm, but Jenn said just to relax for a little while.

Around 11:30 Jenn decided we should try some "practice pushing" to see how effective I could be with my contractions.  I did four rounds of practice pushing before Jenn left the room and said, "I'll be right back."

She came back with another nurse?? Or somebody.  She said the other lady was better as feeling the position of the baby and she was going to have her check me out.  They then explained to me that they thought my baby was breech because they couldn't feel any hair and they thought they felt a hole. They asked about my last appointment and what position the baby was in at that point.  As far as I knew, he had been head down for a long time. 

Then they got some more people in the room...a resident doctor and...I don't know who else to do an ultrasound that revealed that he was indeed butt first.  At 11:45 Jenn told me not to push anymore.  Medical people commented that it was good I'd had the epidural.  I had to sign paperwork about doing a C-section.  I was bummed, but not devastated.  I had tried really hard not to come in with too much of a plan because I knew things wouldn't go as planned.  And they really hadn't to this point.  I never planned to do most of my labor in the halls of the hospital.  I was okay with a C-section if that was my path to keep me and my baby safe and healthy.  The nurses assured me that I would be an excellent candidate for a VBAC in the future...I didn't even ask, they just offered...kind of like a consolation prize, so I took it.  That was good news.  (Later my doctor apologized and said that because of the position of the baby he had to make another incision in my uterus and he would not advise any vaginal births in my future).

So then we waited.  Fortunately my doctor was the one on call, but it was still going to be half an hour before he would get there.  And there were preparations for surgery.  I don't even really remember what all went on.  I was shaking uncontrollably and feeling super exposed in that stark operating room.

The hospital personal explained that I would feel lots of weird tugging and pulling sensations, but that I shouldn't feel anything sharp or any pain.  If I did they would need to put me out completely.

They did a pinching test to see it I could feel it.  I could.  I might have winced a bit and I said I could feel it, but they said, "No, if you had felt that you would have punched somebody."  Well...two things.  I couldn't punch anybody because my arms were strapped down to the table.  And I had just been through transition labor...those pinches hurt, but they were nothing compared to the pain I had very recently felt. 

So they preceded.  And I could feel the cutting.  And I know I made a face because JT noticed and asked if I was okay.  I whispered that I could feel it, but that it was okay.  I DID NOT want to be put out for the birth of our son.  The anesthesiologist caught on and shot some more cold juice in my line and almost immediately the sharp pains were gone and thankfully I didn't have to be put out.

James was born at 1:43am on October 11th.  And I cried at the sight of his beautiful little head.  I was so relieved to hear him cry.  I was happy.  And somehow I was sad too.  About what I am not really sure.  Maybe that I couldn't touch him or hold him.  Maybe that he was born in that bright, cold room.  Maybe it was that they asked what his name was and I said "I don't know" never did just come to never did just feel right in that moment.  That was sad, I guess.

When JT was able to bring him over by me I kissed him about a thousand times and cried some more and rubbed my cheek against his.  He was (and is) the most gorgeous and miraculous child.  Sometimes I can't believe my dream is here in my arms and even though things didn't go the way I would have dreamed...they went the way they needed to and I am so glad I had the experience of it all.

40 weeks!

Post steak dinner...pre-hospital:)

On our way to the hospital

41 weeks

A tired, but happy family
James is born!

My first up-close look


Friday, October 17, 2014

He's Here!

As you may have guessed our little one has arrived! He was born Saturday, October 11 @ 1:43 am weighing 6 lbs 9 oz and measuring 20.5 inches long.  He was delivered via c-section because he flipped breech in the last few days of pregnancy.  I'll tell the whole birth story in another post...not necessarily because you want to hear it but because I want to remember it.

Anyway...a few little bumps in the road, but all that matters is that I am snuggling a healthy baby and am recovering well.

I have become that person on facebook that everybody hates...posting tons of photos of JAMES, but he's soooo perfect I can't seem to help myself. I am going to try to add photos to this post but am not sure yet how bc this is my first post from my new, not-stupid-anymore phone.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


39 weeks 3 days pregnant...I still blink in awe as I type it.  It is hard to believe I am finally here, a full-term pregnancy, and likely just days away from meeting my son.

Just a couple days ago I had a moment where I was lying in the same position I was in when I snuggled up next to JT and told him we were pregnant eight months ago.  And even though JT wasn't physically there to share it, I had this overwhelming love, relief, and gratitude surge through me.  How for we have incredible the experience has much we've grown through the much we love this child who has been a part of me since January, but is still such a mystery to us...

It made me the tiniest bit sad that the pregnancy is nearing its end.  Feeling our baby move, hearing his little heart inside of me, all the aches and pains and inconveniences of pregnancy that reassured me there was a little somebody in there growing...I wouldn't trade any of that for the world!  Never getting to experience that is what made me most sad about the thought of not being able to conceive or carry our own child.  It's what makes my heart break for others who are in the throws of infertility.  Not having the chance to be pregnant was something I feared and cried about...a lot.  Which maybe sounds weird. Yes, there are other ways to become a parent.  Yes, I am sure they are incredibly rewarding.  Yes, I could find a way to live happily-ever-after without ever being pregnant.  But, I had people ask if my goal was to become a parent or become pregnant.  I'm not mad that they asked, but that's a terrible question.  Is it so bad to have wanted both? (Do you want a marriage or a wedding??  Okay, not exactly in the same ballpark, but sort of...)

I am so humbled and grateful that I got to be pregnant.  And no matter what, I will always look back on this time in our lives fondly.  I know it sounds a bit morbid to say "no matter what, "but even the very end of the pregnancy...when I keep telling myself it has all gone fantastically well and has no reason to not end the same way...I am still afraid of that jump between being a pregnant parent and a parent of an in-my-arms-baby.  I am eager to meet him and try to envision that moment, but just like it's been throughout the pregnancy, my happy thoughts are punctuated with irrational fears that something could go wrong....even though I KNOW it's going to be alright.

That all being said, I am going to soak up these last days of being pregnant.  I am going to cherish every wiggle.  I am not going to wish him out anymore like I was doing a week or two ago (I feel soooo much better this weekend than I have in awhile...maybe that's just knowing I don't have to go to work this week).  I am just going to be ready to welcome him to the world when he decides to make his entrance.  And I can't wait!  But, I totally can.