Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I'm not pretty...and that's just fine!

So, I had a conversation the other day with a friend of mine, and I decided that I'm not pretty.

But wait, that's OKAY! We can't all be beautiful or even pretty. Especially when it's so relative. BUT, I already know I have so many other positive qualities that make for circumstances where I have plenty of friends and a wonderful husband and family and if I needed a decent job, I'm sure that my appearance wouldn't stand in the way of that. I'm fun and funny, I'm loud and crazy, and I can be pretty cute and peppy. Those are great attributes! I don't need to be pretty.

So, frankly, I'm tired of being told to think myself as beautiful. How about smart? I'm pretty smart. How about fun to be with? I'd rather have friends who like hanging out with me because I'm just that much fun. How about friendly? I have friends all over the world because I love maintaining those friendships. I'm pretty skinny, other than my butt region, and for some reason, that's a really good thing. So, hey, that's something. It makes it seem like I have self control and good eating habits, but if you know me, you know that's bull.

And if you ARE pretty? Like my friend is? That's awesome. That IS a positive attribute and I'm sure it'll serve you well in many capacities. But that's not the end all, be all of human interaction.

But I'm not. My eyebrows are weird. And I've tried to learn how to fill them in, but honestly, it's soooo much work. My hair is nuts, so I've been perming it for 2 years so I don't have to do anything to it. My teeth are crooked and awkward, even after braces. And just the other day, while trimming my nose hairs (don't judge), I realized that my nose is no where near symmetrical. I do have nice brown eyes though. On the scale of beauty, I'm just okay.

And I am okay with that. Because it's okay to NOT be pretty, even if the Dove Commercials tell you that you should always think you're beautiful.

How about this instead? Be realistic. Work hard, be smart, and be so kind that no one cares.

*Oh, and if you try to flatter me by telling me that I am, I appreciate it, but I will delete your comment. This was not a post to elicit false flattery. Tell me something ELSE to appeal to my vanity. Thanks!

*This was written in response of Buzzfeed's highlight of the latest Dove shenanigans.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

One more night...

This little boy turns 1 tomorrow. What?! It went by so fast. He refuses to walk. I think he could do it if he wanted to, but every time I stand him up, he just laughs at me, straightens his body, and falls forward into my arms. He is a happy baby. That sounds incredibly cliche, but he never complains and is always smiling. He eats a ton of food...probably more than his big brother.

This baby is loved. Every one wants to cuddle with him, hold him, sing with him and love on him. We are incredibly lucky to have this little guy in our lives, but he's got a good batch of siblings too. :)

One more night, little boy!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Lame Way to Start Off a Year

I'm sick. Sicker than I've been in years. The kind of sick where my 5 year old asks if everyone can have Oreos for breakfast and I reply "Yes, as long as you go upstairs," and then I immediately roll over and go back to sleep. At some point I called my RS president to confirm details for church tomorrow and to let her know I am not attending tomorrow. She is amazing and ordered a pizza to be delivered to my door for the kids' lunch. I have a vague recollection of that pizza making it into the house. Sometime in the afternoon, another one of my friends came over and played with the kids and held the baby for a couple of hours. I was passed out on the couch. Graham came home from some "man event" and took over for the rest of the day. I'm only up typing this because the NyQuil has worn off and I woke myself up somehow. I can't hear out of either ear and I feel like someone shoved biscuit dough behind my eyes. I have some really good intentions of being less lazy this year, but this is an ominous sign. Hey, at least I blogged today.

Time for another swig from the NyQuil bottle.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome 2015!

It's a new year! Not much changes in our house with the coming of a new year, but I always have ongoing goals to be working on, so I might as well share them!

1) I need to blog. It's not about you, it's about me. I couldn't care less if you read this blog. But I like to go back and read my own posts. I like to contemplate my feelings at certain times, to witness personal growth, and to laugh at my own follies. I can't do that if I don't keep up on my blog. Hopefully, I'll create more time to do so.

2) I want to be a spiritually stronger person. This includes improved scripture study and temple attendance, but also smaller things like biting my tongue, thinking the best of others, and be willing to serve more.

3) I'm lazy. I'd just rather do fun things than boring things like cleaning and folding laundry and sorting papers. But it looks bad. And my kids are starting to imitate me. Even though my own mess doesn't bother me, it drives me insane when my kids destroy their rooms. Perhaps I should be setting a better example?

4) I want to learn Spanish. This seems random, but we have a lot of Spanish-speaking sisters in our ward and they are very disconnected from the other sisters. We've had Spanish sisters for a while but they remain apart from Relief Society. Maybe it's our turn to try to bridge the gap. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Beach Day!

A few months ago, I was called into the Relief Society presidency.  One of my main areas of focus is the moms in our ward...we kind of get forgotten.  As a way to fulfill my calling AND a way to get me to the beach more, I started a weekly beach playdate.

We go to Lewes beach.  It's perfect.  It's the first town on the bay, so no crazy waves or riptides.  There's a "secret" spot I know for parking so we don't have to pay, and we access a part of the beach that is hardly ever crowded.  And since we go on Thursdays, we don't run into out-of-towners.

This is a taste of our first week:

And some cuteness from the second week:


Ignore me.  I look weird.  And note, I hardly look sun-kissed...yet I still ended up with the WORST sunburn I've ever had.  It is now 5 days later and I can just put on a t-shirt without wincing in pain, although it's still not comfortable.  More importantly...LOOK HOW CUTE JACOB IS!!!!  (And yes, I did tie the bumbo seat to the boogie board and took him out into the water...he flipping loved it.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

1 Week Old!

What a difference this time around! All in all, my recovery has been similar to my other birth experiences. The HUGE difference this time is having Graham home. With Sam, it was just one kid. I could nap, eat, etc. and I felt great. With Ellen and Anna though, Graham had to go back to classes pretty soon after, so I was left by myself with kids and a new baby. Now? It's like having a butler and it is awesome. I'm so grateful that he has a job that has allowed him to take a few weeks off to stay home. Enough gushing - you're only here for the pictures.

Here he is!

Look at that hair!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jacob’s Birth Story

This is long.  When you experience every second of a birth with great recollection, you have a lot to write!  (Imagine how much longer it'd be if I had written it right after instead of six months later.)

You’d think after 3 kids, I’d be a pro at this. I’d know exactly how things would go and I’d know exactly what I’d need to have a happy and harmonious birth. For the most part, that’s true. I know my body better than I did with each previous pregnancy and I had a good idea of what was ahead, based on previous labors. But, the midwives aren’t kidding when they remind us that “every pregnancy is different!” As a reference point, here are the summaries of my last three births:

Sam: Water breaks at 7:55 am. Get to the hospital by 9. Immediately request and receive an epidural. Sam is born at 11:39 am. I needed a one-stitch episiotomy.

Ellen: Sent to the hospital for an induction. Upon admittance, was already at 5 cm. They kept me anyway and started Pitocin at 6 am. Not a single contraction produced from the Pitocin. At 7 am, my OB takes me off the Pitocin and breaks my water. At 8:55 am, Ellen is born. The stay was 3 days because I warned my nurse to get my antibiotics in earlier because I would labor fast. She didn’t listen to me, and I was only half-treated for Group B strep. Honestly, after 3 days, the hospital felt like a prison and I really missed my son.

Anna: I had decided to go with a midwifery practice this time around. I was sure I wanted to have an unmedicated birth and had planned on it the entire pregnancy. At midnight, I had a few tiny and irregular contractions. At 2 am, my contractions were about 4 minutes apart and lasting well over a minute. During the drive to the hospital (about 25 minutes), I fell apart. I no longer cared about an unmedicated birth and just wanted some pain relief. Thanks to a very cooperative anesthesiologist and an empty labor floor, I was able to get a spinal block within 5 minutes of my arrival, around 2:30 am. I was already at 7 centimeters. Water was broken for me and Anna was born at 3:41 am.

Now onto Jacob!

Knowing that I still had a desire to try for an unmedicated birth, I began my prenatal care at The Birth Center in Wilmington. I thought that taking away the option of pain medication would prevent it from being a distraction. We created our birth plan, including so many things for pain management. I packed tennis balls, a back massager, my iPod, scented sprays, and intended on using the birthing ball and stool at the center. My most important request was that Graham be involved in everything and that we be left alone as much as possible.

The last few weeks of my pregnancy were uncomfortable, as everyone’s is. I was really hoping that I would be able to deliver earlier than my due date. My main reason was that Graham had a 3 day conference in Wilmington that included my due date. This would mean that I would be driving myself and the 3 kids up to Wilmington while in labor if anything started. I was a little worried, but held onto the hope that it would be sooner than that. The weekend that I hit 38 weeks, I had light contractions every night. They’d never be hurt, but become regular enough that I couldn’t sleep through them with excitement, but every time I’d get up to prepare, they’d peter out. On Monday, things were off. I felt lousy and things were just going on. I took a nap on Monday afternoon and woke up to dampness. Honestly, I didn’t know what was going on. I had no contractions but wasn’t sure if I had a small leak in my waters or if it was all the normal, end-of-labor, goings on down there (you think I’d know). I called the midwife on call and spoke to her. I commented, off-hand, that I had noticed this all weekend, and she suggested that I come in, just to double check that it wasn’t my water.

Graham and I packed up the kids and our stuff and headed up towards Wilmington. It’s a two hour drive and we were really hoping that we wouldn’t get there, only to have to turn around and come home. We left around 6 and made a quick stop at the Wendy’s drive through for some fries and a drink. Not wanting to bother Graham’s parents, we decided to keep the kids until we knew what was going on. We did call ahead though. We arrived at the Birth Center at 8pm and Graham stayed in the car with the kids while I got checked out. The midwife on call was Nicole. I cannot say enough about how amazing she is. I have loved all of the midwives at The Birth Center and would have had a beautiful birth with any of them, but for this experience, she was just the perfect match. She checked me out, and fortunately, my waters hadn’t broken. Good thing too, because the fact that I wasn’t sure when all this had started would have meant that I would need to go to the hospital instead and I really wanted this for myself. Since I was being checked anyway, we checked for dilation and effacement. I was at 3 cm, and 75% effaced on one side, but almost 100% effaced on the other. I know that sounds crazy, but there is a great explanation for why later. Also, while checking me, because I was so effaced on the one side, she could feel his ear. How crazy is that?! In addition to all of this, she said that just by checking me and pushing things around, I stretched out to 6 cm. Knowing how quickly my labors progress, she was afraid that this alone would trigger my labor and wanted me to stick around for a while. I had a gut feeling that this would be the night. We brought the kids inside to watch a movie as we tried to decide whether or not we should go home or just hang out for the night. We could always spend the night at my in-laws who lived 5 minutes away if we needed to. After hanging out in one of the birthing rooms, I had a few sporadic contractions, but nothing to be excited about. However, because we were all already there and she thought she’d be getting a call from us later that evening anyway, she said that she would strip my membranes for me to see if it might help things get started. I agreed and Graham left to take the kids to his parents’ house.

Nicole stripped my membranes at 10 pm. Graham got back at around 10:15, and 15 minutes later, I had my first contraction. Yes! 10 minutes later, I had another one. Now usually, two contractions only ten minutes apart is not cause for excitement. However, my body works fast when labor starts. She asked if I thought that labor was starting because she would need to call the nurse to come in, and she lived a good half-hour away. I wasn’t quite sure yet, but by 11 pm, I had had 4 more contractions (that means they are now five minutes apart!) and I was now at 7 cm dilated, so I asked Nicole to call the nurse and to fill the tub. These contractions were very manageable so I was feeling pretty confident in myself. For these contractions, I would rest my forearms on the bed, burrow my head into the comforter and sway my hips until the pain stopped. In between contractions, I was unpacking things and cracking jokes and checking the scores for the KU game. The tub wasn’t quite full at 11:30, but I asked if I could get in anyway and was helped in by Graham.  I’m not sure at what time my nurse came but it was sometime before midnight (and she was fantastic, but 6 months later, I can’t remember her name.) One of my most important requests was that I was just given space. I would let you know what I needed, when I needed it, but otherwise, I just wanted to be left alone. Contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart and painful, but the water was very soothing and I was able to get into the position that I needed to be. At this point, I became unaware of time. I faced away from the clock and just focused on getting through each contraction. I was most comfortable kneeling in the tub, with my arms draped over the side. Graham sat by my head and would stroke my face in between contractions. I was brought a glass of water and probably drank two glasses, but that’s it. I didn’t want tennis balls or my shoulders rubbed. I tuned out all sound, so I didn’t ask for music. It’s hard to describe unless you’ve experienced it, but during each contraction, I just closed my eyes, pressed my forehead against the side of the tub, and just kind of hummed through it. Probably somewhere around 1 am, my water broke. We’re not sure because it wasn’t obvious that anything had changed right away. Things got very intense after this. It hurt. A lot. It was not just pressure and I couldn’t just give it a different name to make me feel better. It was pain, and it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt.

I had about thirty seconds between each contraction, which only gave me enough time to announce that “I am finished. This was a stupid idea! This is not for me! I can’t do this!” Nicole checked me under the water and things got very quiet in the room. I was still kind of zoned out, but I remember hearing her whisper to my nurse “This baby might be breech. I think I feel his penis.” What?! This was worst case scenario. She asked me to shift positions and fortunately, she figured out that it was his thumb. He had his hand by his face and was holding his ear. (Remember how my effacement was uneven? She thinks this might be why.)  I was crying during my contractions and telling Graham how much it hurt.  During those thirty second breaks, I couldn’t believe how exhausted I was.  Every ounce of energy was gone out of my body. I could only muster enough strength to keep my arms on the side of the tub so I wouldn’t float away. I love my husband so much. He was so patient with me. But he also looked so scared. This was a new experience for us and I could tell when I looked in his eyes that he felt so helpless. To distract myself, I turned around in the tub so I didn’t have to look at him. And then, it got worse. The contractions were non-stop and I’m pretty sure that I yelled at Nicole that something was wrong. It just felt wrong.  Like the baby didn’t know how to come out. Nicole asked me to feel down there and I said I couldn’t feel anything. This just made me panic even more. How could this be so painful and have me not be close?! I thought that his head should be right there, just ready to come out. She didn’t check for dilation at this point, but I didn’t care. I threw in the towel. I was done. I felt so out of control and desperate. Looking back, I think it was because I was floating in the tub. I couldn’t brace myself on anything and it made me feel helpless. Fortunately, Nicole knew better than I did and kind of tricked me into getting ready to deliver. She told me that she was pretty sure it was time to have this baby, but she understood if I didn’t want to do this anymore. She would call an ambulance to transport me but in order to do her job, she had to tell them how dilated I was. I needed to get out of the tub and onto the bed so she could do a final examination. In my head, that made perfect sense. With a lot of help from Graham and Nicole, I climbed out of the tub after a contraction. On the way to the bed – it’s literally 4 steps – another contraction started. I stood by the edge of the bed, head burrowed in the blankets waiting for it to end, crying through the pain. After it ended, Nicole and Graham pushed/lifted me onto the bed. I could only get onto my right side before another contraction started. After that contraction, Nicole checked me. She looked into my face and said “Oh sweetheart, give me your hand.” I reached down and there was his head! “You’ve probably been ready to push for a while but just weren’t reaching down far enough to feel his head.”

All of a sudden, there was light at the end of the tunnel. I stopped crying, stopped talking and said “Okay, let’s do this.” Nicole asked for a squeeze bottle of olive oil and for my nurse to prep the warmer for baby! I became focused and it didn’t hurt anymore.  My contractions slowed down. I pushed once and the olive oil erased all pain from each push. I pushed again and could feel him moving and his head was out. I took a break to breathe and get ready. Another contraction came and I pushed as hard as I’ve ever pushed and this new little baby was born. He was here! I reached down and lifted him off the bed and brought him to my chest. He was perfect. So tiny and so perfect. And guess what? He was still holding onto that danged ear!

He was born at 1:28 am, after a little less than three hours of labor and eight minutes of pushing. I couldn’t believe how little time had passed. It felt like an eternity. You really can’t keep track when so many little things are happening in such a short time.

He scored a 9/9 on his APGAR test so he needed no help after birth. I delivered my placenta about 10 minutes later and we had a little anxiety over my blood loss, but after a shot of Pitocin it stopped immediately. I was amazed at how well Nicole and the nurses work together. Nicole was able to make her concerns and need for urgency very clear without causing too much alarm in me and Graham. They laid a blanket over Jacob once I brought him up to my chest and he just rested there, working on getting his eyes adjusted to the light. Graham was exhausted and he probably fell asleep on the bed less than half an hour after Jacob was born. I had so much adrenaline rushing through my body that I couldn’t sleep. I just watched my new baby in amazement at how perfect he was. I also had this thought running through my head “I just did that. I can’t believe I did that!” I got cleaned up a little later, ate a light breakfast, took a small nap, nursed a few times, and then we got in the van at 7:30 am. We picked up the kids, introduced his parents to their newest grandchild, and headed home. It was everything I had hoped it would be. I am so amazed at what a difficult and amazing and beautiful and crazy experience it was.

Interesting little facts:

  • -          My placenta showed that Jacob had actually been an identical twin. One placenta, but a spot where a second umbilical cord had started. Isn’t that crazy?! I cannot imagine having TWO little babies right now.
  • -          My recovery was amazing. I already had great recoveries with my other births, but I had so much energy with this one.
  • -          This was the first birth that Graham was able to take time off for. He stayed home for two full weeks and it was so lovely.
  • -          Jacob still has a notch in his ear from where he was grabbing it, 6 months later.

February 25, 2014.
1:28 AM.

6 pounds & 8 ounces, 19½  inches long.