Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Well, we're almost 2 weeks in, and so far, we're hanging in there! We were more prepared this time (there are no illusions left when you already have a child and know how much work a newborn is) but still, you'd think we'd never done this before by the cluelessness we evidence on a regular basis.

Last night was a BAD NIGHT (i.e. Mike and I taking turns at 3:30 am trying to calm her, already having been up for nearly 2 hours), and this morning, luckily (see "cluelessness," supra) I put two and two together and realized that Anne and I have thrush.

Huh, her tongue is white.

Why do my nipples hurt still hurt so bad when she latches on?

Goodness gracious, she's inconsolable tonight and acting out of sorts.

What's that white patch at the top of her mouth?

Ooohhhh. Right. Thrush.

So, this morning we were off to our third visit to the pediatrician in less than a week. Then I had to call my ob/gyn for an antibiotic for myself, and then we were off to the pharmacy. Hopefully, we'll extinguish this thing quickly. I remember it well now from Hank, and yeast can be very, very hard to get rid of.


Friday, May 27, 2011

I've been home for a week...

...with precious little Anne. I do still feel out of sorts (I'm such a routine-oriented person, and as you all know, there is little hope for a routine with a newborn) but this has been a great week. Having my wonderful husband home has been such an enormous blessing. I'm hoping that by time Hank finishes school at the end of June, I'll feel more at ease with my summer-long stay-at-home gig. I think that's a realistic goal.

And, last night, we actually had a very good night. :) Anne went to sleep around 10 pm, and woke at 1:30 am and 3:30 am to nurse, and was up for the morning at 6:30 am. She did crank one additonal time, and quickly put herself back to sleep. For a one week old, that's a VERY good night. I'll take it. I know every night won't be like that, but I'll take them when I can get them. I feel much more rested today.

The keys seem to be swaddling (that Happiest Baby on the Block stuff? It WORKS. If you're expecting a baby, you simply must watch this video. :) I did browse the book, but it was really wordy for me. The video is concise, to the point, and educational), and for Anne, sleeping in her own cozy bassinette.

I was thinking a lot this week about the "one week anniversaries" that came and went. Anne being born, me being in the hospital, me coming home from the hospital...See a theme here? My postpartum baby blues are very much tied to a longing for the support of the nurses in the hospital. It's kind of freakish, really. It's just so, so reassuring to know that if you need anything, a kindly woman chock full of experience is just a button press away. I always look out the rear view mirror kind of sadly as we pull away from the hospital. I think to myself "do they realize that we really have no idea what we're doing?" It's very humbling. :)

This time, as well, I have a bit of a "life after the big event" thing going on. Anne's birth was just an incredible experience. Of course, Henry's was too, just in a different way. That was the birth of my first child, an event I'll never forget, and I loved seeing his little face held up for the first time. This time, my actual birth experience went exactly as I'd hoped it would. It was a challenge for myself that I was able to meet, and the emotional high afterwards was exhilerating. I'm a little sad that it's all over. :)

On the other hand, there is no doubt about it, I *am* glad to have labor and delivery behind me, and to be healing. Healing means that I can go back to some of the things that I enjoy so much, like dancing and running. And I'll be able to enjoy my children to the fullest.

All things considered, it's been a very good week. I'm truly finding happiness in the little things. Walks with my husband and the baby, enjoying some time watching whatever I want on tv while I nurse Anne (Frasier on Hallmark Channel is a huge favorite right now), reading good books.

It's a 3 day weekend, and I hope that everyone enjoys it. Talk to you again on Tuesday!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The things that go on in the night...

Did I say yesterday that Anne gets up about 3 times per night? That would be 4 or 5 times. :) The sleeplessness is making me lose basic math skills. But I'm hanging in there. And at least this time, I know how quickly this stage passes. I keep telling myself that it's not that much worse than the sleepless nights of late pregnancy. All told, I'm probably up a comparable amount.

Because Anne prefers her bassinette to our bed, I sleep much more deeply between her wakings. This is mostly good, but I am much more disoriented when she wakes me. The other night, I heard a baby crying in my dream. Oh right, that's not a dream, that would be my current life. :) But wait! How can the baby be crying from next to the bed when I have her in my arms? Oh. That's not Anne. That's Muffin, the stuffed dog I sleep with to tuck under my arm. He sleeps through the night just fine.

While in the hospital, and up much, much more than I am now, I saw all kinds of interesting infomercials that play throughout all hours of the night. My favorite was for "Pajama Jeans" (pronounced "pa-jah-ma jeans") the comfortable slip on pants that look just like real designer jeans! All yours for just $39.95. There is also a revolutionary new cat litter insert on the market, designed specifically to scoop up the poo for you when you pull on this mesh that hangs over the edge. Or, those pant cuff clips so that you can wear your pants with either flats or heels? You can double your order for free if you call now.

Lately, the night feedings are a bit of a haze, but I think I'm going to invest in a book light so that I can read while I feed her. I will say that she falls back to sleep beautifully when I nurse her in the night and transfers to her bassinette like a dream. You would have thought we'd detonated a bomb in the bedroom when we tried to put Henry in his bassinette 5 and a half years ago. So, we're just doing the best we can with it.

Anne was at the pediatrician this morning, and she's not only surpassed her birth weight, she weighs a whole pound more than when she left the hospital. So, she's thriving. :)

As for me, I'm definitely still in that bluesy place of mourning my pre-postpartum life, but I'm doing so, so much better than after Henry's birth. I understand this time that having the baby blues does not mean that there is anything abnormal or wrong with me, or that I am a "bad mother." It's a physiological reaction that has nothing to do with me personally. It's the postpartum hormone changes wrecking havoc with my emotional state. And it's temporary. And I can mitigate it, which I've been taking steps to do this time. These first couple of weeks are the toughest part, and already I'm over 1 week in. I hope to start dancing again (at home) next week, and return to class within 4-5 weeks. I've been out walking and getting fresh air, which has been doing me a world of good.

Somehow, it's going to be ok. And I won't be able to remember my life without Anne in it. We'll get there. Every day, I feel a tad bit better.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

All about Anne...

I thought I'd post a quick new picture, and a post devoted just to Anne. At her one week birthday (*sob*) she's doing very well. I can tell that she's grown already! She's a very good baby. She has typical newborn sleep habits (ah, well :) ) but is just a delight. We're all still getting used to each other, but we're all very happy. She's super cute, and very lively. I can't wait to see how her little personality develops as she gets bigger. I can't wait to share my future with her. It's just wonderful.

The sleep issue is tough, but we're hanging in there. I'm handling it a lot better this time, because I knew what to expect. Currently, I'm reading Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, by Tracy Hogg, and I have to say, it's kind of awesome. This time, I feel so much more prepared for what is involved in parenting a newborn (a very, very tough job) and thus I knew that I know very little. :) I love the tips in this book, about reading the baby's cues. She devotes a lot of time to "nighttime parenting" and seeing it that way has really helped me. It's not just about desperately trying to get a good night's rest; it's about temporarily providing for your baby's needs during some difficult hours. I borrowed a copy from the library, but I'm contemplating getting my own, I like it so much. I'm sensing that I'm "reading" Anne better than I did Henry, and so even though I'm still struggling with the baby blues thing, I don't feel nearly so bad as I did the last time.

I have to shake off a malaise each day, it's true, but overall I feel like I'm winning the war. Last time, the dark cloud hung over my head for months and months. Having Mike home has been *wonderful*. I don't know what I'd do without him. My vocation as his wife is truly a blessing.

It's true that each baby is so much different from another. Hank really preferred our bed, and we co-slept for several months so that we could all get some sleep. He was a champion side-lying nurser. Anne, not so much. She prefers her bassinette, and gets all gassy from the side-lying position. Thus, I have to nurse her sitting up, but honestly, it isn't that bad. We have only a double bed, and I am never able to get a good night's sleep with the baby in the bed. So, even though I have to stay awake through each nighttime feeding, it's worth it for the quality of sleep I get in between wakings.

She's a pretty typical newborn night waker. From 10 pm to 6am, she wakes approximately 3 times right now. The nursing isn't bad at all, but I do hate the middle of the night diaper changes requiring a trip down the hall to the nursery complete with wail-fest during the transaction. They outgrow that soon enough, though. This time I know it to be true: This too shall pass. It's going to be ok. Our nights won't be like this forever.

Well, I hear some wailing. :) I'm off! Thank you for all of your prayers, I can really feel them working.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Would you do it again?"

I'm at our home computer, nursing Baby CL, so I thought I'd start to compile my thoughts of her birth last week. This may be the first in a series of posts :) Lots of childbirth stuff in the coming days, sorry! Eventually, I'll move on to something else, rest assured.

Anyway, all of the nurses at the hospital, and my doctor, were all very interested in the fact that I'd had an epidural with my first birth, and went unmedicated with my second. What they all wanted to know was:

Would I do it completely drug free again?

I thought that was a good starting point for this post. At first, I had to think about that question quite deeply. :) And right after the experience, I wasn't sure if I would again or not. I thought maybe yes, but I wasn't totally sold. 6 days later, the answer is abundantly clear.

YES. In a heartbeat, yes, yes, yes.

I'll briefly describe the two recoveries. With Henry, I needed a lot of assistance walking right after the birth. I was very disoriented and shaky. Due to the required cathetar, I had difficulty urinating for days. One full week later, I was still sitting on an eggcrate every day due to perineal discomfort, and walking with much difficulty. (I had a second degree repaired tear, exact same as I also received last week with Anne). I had major baby blues and cried everyday. I had a serious lack of appetite and lost my pregnancy weight almost unnaturally quickly.

Ok, so fast forward to last Wednesday. I had held Anne right away, until my doctor needed to stitch me. Once that was done, I held her again and nursed her right there. I felt HIGH from all the oxytocin and endorphins in my system, like I was drunk on some really, really awesome wine. :)

After that, Mike retrieved my parents from the waiting room, with a promise not to tell them the baby's gender so that I could do that in person (I figured I deserved that honor :) ). My parents came in, and I can't even tell you how much joy that experience brought me. We all held and cuddled the baby, cried tears of joy, and it was simply magnificent. I know how much it meant to my parents to be there during that special time (and Anne is my mom's middle name) and I wouldn't trade it for anything. My energy level was high and I felt fantastic.

After they left, the nurse assisted me out of the bed and into the shower, and I pretty easily scooted off the bed and into the bathroom. And oh, the shower. The first hot shower after you give birth is an orgasmic experience. :) Especially with those natural hormones running wild in your system. I felt like a million bucks.

The nurse got me all settled, and the pee issue wasn't even an issue. No trouble there. I was wheeled to my room where I ate happily. For the duration of my 2 day stay, I was up and out of bed, getting around easily, no eggcrate necessary. I ate like a champ, and used the loo without trouble. Mere days later, I've been walking the baby through the neighborhood and out and about. My baby weight is coming off easily, but my appetite is awesome. Breastfeeding seriously gets your waist back into shape and your uterus contracting back down (more difficult with second and subsequent births).

Physically, I feel like I could run a marathon. I could have gone to dance class last week! The recovery has been AMAZING. Words cannot express how much better I feel after this birth. There is no comparison. It was tough, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Granted, there are other factors. This labor was half the time of my first. Much easier on my body. (although the epidural CAN make your labor longer, it's true. But first babies just take longer as well). My body really knew what it was doing this time; it was a machine.

The epidural was the right choice for my first birth, which was long and diffcult. But this? This was wonderful. I'm SO glad that I did it.

Ok, and the nitty gritty? How bad was it?

Honestly, it wasn't that bad.

Don't get me wrong; it was BAD.

But it wasn't *that* bad. It was totally manageable, even transition, which I dreaded with everything I had. I remember the Piticon transition contractions from Hank (epidural had worn off) and I felt like I was getting hit by a mack truck. This time? No. Like I said, it really was manageable. The pushing was tough, so, so tough, and getting stitches in your lady parts with no anesthesia is no walk in the park either. But honestly, it's not that bad. One of the most difficult things you'll ever do, but you can do it, and it's worth it.

There is no shame in the epidural, and it can really ease a long and difficult labor. But I'm so glad I made this choice.

Now the baby blues? Unfortunately, I'm just susceptible to those, and here they are. I'm handling them much better this time, and I'll devote a whole post to that. But 80% of women get them, and I'm just one of them, drug-free or not.

So there you have it. I'll post more tomorrow. :) Until then! Just keep me in your prayers. The nights are tough over here, but we're hanging in there.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Well, today is my due date...

...and here I am, finally able to post my birth story of Baby CL. :) I have so, so much that I want to say, and I'm so grateful that I now have this blog to keep a journal record of my feelings and experiences right after the event. What I'll do today is just post about the birth, and then tomorrow or Wednesday I'll write up how I feel that everything went, and my reflections. So, settle in; this will be an epicly long post. :)

Last Wednesday, May 18th, I had planned to blog about how very cranky I was getting. :) I was miserable at work, with the constant (though, of course, well intentioned) questions about why I was still there, hadn't I had the baby yet (have you seen my belly? obviously not), how large I was getting, etc. were starting to get to me. Obviously, I wasn't my usual chipper self, and so I was contemplating taking the rest of the week off as sick days just to get a little rest and relaxation at home with Mike prior to the baby's arrival.

Thus, Tuesday night I went to bed, well, cranky. To add to the fun, I couldn't sleep. I got up at 1am to use the restroom and couldn't fall back to sleep, so I went downstairs with my book so that I wouldn't rouse Mike. I read for a bit, and finally fell asleep on the couch. Around 4, I woke up with a stiff neck, so I got up to go to the bathroom (AGAIN) and went back up to bed. Blessedly, I fell asleep.

I woke up at 6 (SIGH) needing to pee again, but I laid still, trying to stave it off so that I could rest until Hank woke up. Suddenly, I felt a gush of warm liquid run down my legs. If it had been a trickle, I would have worried that I'd just peed my pants (lovely) but I knew right away what this was, although my water never broke by itself with Hank. I jumped up and ran to the bathroom.

Right away, I leapt into crisis mode. What color was it? Well, I couldn't tell. I thought it was clear, and made a mental note. I took care of the issue, and rushed to the bedroom to tell Mike. Hank was just sleepily rousing, and thus chaos ensued. I could already feel the beginnings of some snappy menstrual-like cramping, and knew my time was limited. So, I quickly hopped online to post my vacation messages for work and to this blog :) and settled in to eat breakfast. I knew they wouldn't let me eat at the hospital, and that's one mistake I did not want to repeat this time around. Labor is a marathon; you need to prepare for it by giving your body strength.

I could still feel the contractions over a distracted breakfast, but shortly thereafter, as I was racing around answering a million Hank questions, getting dressed and straightening my hair (yes, I'm crazy) I noticed that I couldn't feel them anymore. UH OH. Well, I figured I'd call my doctor's office (instructions say to call if water breaks) to let them know I'm on the radar screen, and then walk up and down the stairs, etc., in an attempt to get the contractions back on track.

So I call. And they tell me to go to the hospital. I frown. I ask if I shouldn't stay home longer until my contractions are more powerful and frequent, and am told emphatically "no." Since my membranes ruptured, they want me to come in right away. I frown again, but thank them and sign off. Well, being the stubborn gal that I am, I do push their instructions just a hair. I didn't want to rush to the hospital to have them pushing Pitocin on me because I wasn't "progressing quickly enough." I stayed home for another hour and a half to walk up and down the stairs, pace a bit, and actually did some hip circles. Suddenly, I was back in business. They didn't hurt, but they did exist, so I was happy with that. We packed up Hank to head to his grandparents and were on our way. In the car, I continued to have these light and not-timeable contractions. As we dropped Hank off, I noticed that they picked up slightly, but they didn't really hurt; they just increased in uncomfortableness. I could still easily carry on a conversation with Mike in the car, and I do remember the ride fondly.

We arrive, and I instructed Mike to just park far so that I'd have a nice long walk in. We check in at the nurses station, and are led to the initial examination room. Everything is fine and dandy, and I change into the attractive hospital gown. My doctor (out of a practice of four) was the one on duty that day (yay) but she wasn't at the hospital yet, so I was led through a barrage of incoming questions (hadn't I pre-registered? Yes, but this doesn't stop them for asking you 30 minutes worth of questions, which are repeated 2 or 3 times, I swear it) by the charge nurse, and then examined by the resident midwife.

***TMI alert for the rest of the post*** I'll just warn you now. :) Stop reading if you like.

The day prior I had been 2.5-3 cm dilated, and 50% effaced (thinned). Upon arrival, I was 4 cm dilated and 80% effaced. I relaxed a bit, knowing that I was progressing despite the lack of painful contractions. At this point, it was only 10 am or so, and my water had only been broken for four hours.

And yes, the water. The hospital staff was quite obsessed with it. Apparently, my amniotic sac had indeed ruptured (no kidding) but only partially, not completely, and they were all concerned with what it was doing. I wasn't really sure why that mattered, but I humored them. The midwife did this test to assure it was amniotic fluid, and I was left in the exam room for quite a while as she verified it. During this time, I was starting to get more uncomfortable. I was encouraged by this, and eventually grew weary of sitting on that dumb little exam table. I shifted position a bit, and eventually just got off the damn thing and did some squatting and other positons on the floor.

Finally, the nuse and midwife reappeared, and asked me what I was doing. :) I answered with as much dignity as I could muster from down on my hands and knees on the floor. They assured me that they had a birthing room ready for me, and that I could move now. Happily, we moved to a birthing room.

That was around the time that I started getting cranky again. :) But it was all good. I was in the bed, hooked up to the fetal monitor, and feeling pissed. I loathe the fetal monitor, and wanted to take it off, because everything was going fine. But they wouldn't let me, because due to my shifting positions, the monitor kept interrupting, and they needed 30 straight minutes of monitoring before they'd take it off. During this announcement, at least 5 nurses came in to see some sort of "new system" that my labor/delivery nurse was entering me into in the computer, and I just wanted them gone. I was having to breathe through my contractions at that point, and the presence of anybody but Mike was pretty unwelcome.

My increased discomfort was clear, so the midwife came back in to re-examine me. I was already 6 cm dilated and 90% effaced. Things were really cooking. I was nearing transition, the hardest part of labor. Thus, they asked me if I wanted any pain relief. I said no, not at that time, which tied in nicely to them trying to give me IV fluids. I didn't want them, and they rightly reminded me that if I did change my mind and want the epidural, I needed at least a bag of fluids into me, which can take up to an hour. I told them that I understood that, but I was assuming the risk. They were very good about it, and didn't push the fluids again.

Meanwhile, I was continuing to hate the fetal monitor, and was tiring of getting tangled in the cords every time I tried to manuever. They still wouldn't let me take it off, but the nurse offered up a birthing ball, which I gratefully accepted. I sat on there for about 20 or 30 minutes, and by this point, I was needing to use my total focus to breathe through the contractions when they came. They didn't feel that long to me, maybe 30 seconds, but when I timed them, I realized that they were a full minute. A minute just really isn't that long, blessedly enough.

Soon, I tired of the birthing ball and just wanted to get in bed. I was starting to get the shakes, and I knew that was a sign of the Dreaded Transition. I did lie on my sides, and switched frequently, so I just went with it. I had prepared a special birth playlist on my iPod, and a recording of the rosary, but I ended up not using any of that stuff. The good old fashioned relaxation breathing got me through most of it, and then I moved on to moaning. Vocalizing really does help. I thought I'd be self-conscious about making noise, but in that moment, I totally wasn't. I just squeezed Mike's hand and moaned through them. Pretty soon, my doctor arrived, all perky. She's only slightly older than me, and has 2 young children. The first thing she said was:

"No epidural, huh?" with a teasing smile that said "what are you thinking, girlfriend?!" but it made me laugh. She examined me, and sure enough, I was at 8 cm and 100% effaced. I was almost there.

She encouraged me and left the room, and I just did my moaning thing, telling myself all the while that I was almost done. I did think about the epidural for a fleeting moment, but then I realized something: I had refused the fluids, and by the time they could get the quota into me, I'd be ready to deliver. Basically, I was screwed. :)

I was both chagrined and relieved. So, I pressed on. I had read that the urge to push is "unmistakable" so I kept waiting for that, but honestly, I never felt it. I did feel some pressure, but it wasn't what I'd call unmistakable, I was just finally at the point of dreading my contractions, moaning my little heart out until they were over, and ready to be done.

I reported my pressure feeling to the nurse, and the doctor came back in. I was 10 cm; "complete" and ready to push.

Well. I'll tell you like it is, I don't really hold back on here. I had read that pushing will relieve the pain. Unfortunately, I did not have that experience. :) Pushing HURT. Honestly, it was the toughest part, even more so than transition. I was on my side, and doctor told me to push from that position if I liked, so I did.

Big fat failure.

It HURT. And so I held back. She kept telling me that I had to push through the pain so that I could end it sooner, but that simply wasn't enough motivation for me. In contrast to my last birth, I could feel everything this time, and I could feel the baby's head in the birth canal. I knew I wasn't pushing hard enough, but hot damn, it sucked. :) I just wanted to be out of pain.

Finally, my doctor encouraged me to roll onto my back so that I could get my legs and pelvis wider, and she and the nurse really hit hard on the "pushing through pain as hard as I can" thing. The contraction came, and I just remember crying and chanting "I CAN'T I CAN'T I CAN'T I CAN'T." Because it really felt like I couldn't. I'd push a bit, it would hurt like a bad word I won't even insinuate, and when I stopped I could feel the baby's head slide back down into my pelvis. For full disclosure, it felt like having the largest bowel movement in the known world, and as you can imagine, that doesn't feel very good at all. We went though a couple of contractions like this, and I really didn't know how I could do it. With Hank, I had pushed for 3 hours (that did suck worse, it is true) and this time it was maybe 15 minutes later. And already, the doctor was telling me that she could see the baby's head. This was good.

On the next contraction, I did my usual holding back thing (maybe I could just stay that way forever? I was willing, but I don't know if everybody else was) but there was progress, and my doctor hurriedly got on her scrub suit thing for the delivery. I heard my nurse call the newborn nursery and ask for somebody to come because "we're having a baby in birthing room 5!" and I knew I had to do it. There was no choice at this point.

The contraction came, and I braced myself. I pushed, to the boisterous encouragement of my doctor and nurse. I pulled the last thing out of my bag of tricks to get through, the most primitive urge of all: I screamed. Loud, and long and hard. Probably scaring the shit out of every pregnant woman on the floor. And I pushed. And I felt the burning "ring of fire" that I knew meant the baby's head was crowning. So I pushed harder, and well. It sucked, BAD. But I kept pushing, and I felt the baby's head finally pass through my perineum, and then the rush of relief as the doctor gently pulled the baby's shoulders and body free.

My eyes were squeezed closed for maximum screaming effort, and so I finally opened them for the first look at Baby CL. I remember that moment so vividly with Hank, seeing his little face held up for the first time, and the doctor announcing "It's a Henry!"

I opened my eyes. And saw the doctor deposit a little ball of goop right onto my belly. It was Baby CL, who was facing away from me, and covered with an unexpected amount of vernix. He or she didn't like the delivery anymore then I did, and lots of wailing was going on. Excitedly, I asked:

"Is it a boy or a girl?!"

And the doctor said:

"I'm not positive. Well, I need to check."

That's really what she said. She was busy with afterbirth stuff, and the vernix was obstructing the view a bit.

So, she checked. And finally, the big annoucement. :) Baby CL is a...


Anne Therese, born just shy of 2pm on the afternoon of May 18th, 2011, weighing 7 lbs 14 ozs.

She's absolutely wonderful, and gave me one of the most transforming experiences of my life. I know that I'll never forget a single moment.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Today is the day...

...that will be my baby's birthday. :) My water broke around 6 am this morning (do I have no shame with these details?!) Please pray for me! I will post when I return from the hospital and I am up to it, but it will be at least several days.

Thank you!! I can't wait to post pictures of the much awaited Baby CL! *beams*

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Still hanging in there...

Today is the day in my last pregnancy (39 weeks, 1 day) that I delivered. I didn't think it would be psychologically difficult for me to get to this day in my second pregnancy and not have the baby, since I knew from the outset how different the 2 cycles were. However, all of that being said, I'm still human, so I'm finding it a tad hard to swallow that I feel absolutely fine today. :) My original guess corresponds to what my NFP instructor also thinks: sometime between tomorrow, May 18th and the 24th. Thus, I figured all along that the earliest I'd deliver would be later this week. That's only a day or two away, but all of you moms know that each day at this stage feels like an eternity.

I do have an appointment with the ob/gyn this afternoon, so we'll see what the little muffin is up to. I sincerely hope that he/she has been up to lots of things that will cause me agonizing pain very shortly.

Monday, May 16, 2011

More waiting, but a finished nursery

Well, almost finished. But finished enough that I feel much more relaxed about bringing the baby home. I mean, how ridiculous is that? It's not like we actually *need* a nursery. But my nesting instincts would have no less.

On Friday, Mike moved what he could of the office furniture down to the guest room and set up the crib upstairs. One would have thought that this would have eased my mind. One would have thought.

Instead, I twitched until Saturday morning, when a friend came over to help Mike move the heavier items down so that we could set up the changing table/bureau. Only then did I finally start to feel better. At that point, I took over. I set up the changing pad and diaper accessories. I acquired room-darkening curtains and hung them. I set up the crib mobile and little lamb white noise machine. I got the diaper bag all ready (acquired this one for a really great price at our local Fisher Price store), set up the bassinette and have it ready in our bedroom, and generally did some baby decorating. Mike knew to stay out of my way.

About an hour in, I called Mike up, and he gamely approached. Flushed with exertion, I pointed out that he still had school books and folders in the 2 cute built-in shelving units in the room and I really needed him to move those to make way for items such as hooded towels and baby washcloths. I mean, seriously. I'm just a nut.

But I got just about everything done that I could. My mother-in-law is making us some tie backs for the curtains, and Mike is working on clearing the last of his office stuff. The doors on everything in there need to be planed, sanded and painted, and it's raining all week here, so that will have to wait. But overall, the rooms looks like a nursery, and I feel happy about it.

With that burst of energy satisfied, I'm now concentrating on the menstrual-like cramping I've been experiencing and praying for it to become excruciating any moment now. I have a feeling I'm in for a wait that will be longer than I'd like it to be.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Still here...

Blogger has been acting weird today, so now it's the end of the afternoon and I don't have time to post much of substance. But I'm here! My body has upped the ante a bit. A signal of things happening that I will spare you the details of, but is of the EW! EW! EW! variety. However, nothing painful is occurring, so this means, my friends, that we will continue to wait. :)

I've been doing lots of praying and nesting. I feel as prepared as I can feel (which is to say, not prepared at all, but I recognize this time that this is the healthy norm) and I'm excited and very grateful to be expecting this wonderful baby. If I'm still pregnant on Monday, you can bet that I'll be posting. :) And, it's very, very possible that that will be the case. It's hard not knowing when, but it's so exciting, no?

I'm feeling content and peaceful. Not calm, mind you, because I'm doing lots of tornadoing, but I do feel a great sense of peace.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Stay at home mom for the summer

I'm a person that likes to be in control. I'm certain this is no surprise to any of my regular readers. :) And right now, there is a LOT going on in my life that I have little to no control over. It's tough, but I've actually been navigating it better than I have in the past.

Mike finished his last exam about 20 minutes ago (so much relief) so the big unknown remaining on this issue is when he's going to find a full time position. Obviously, we're hoping it won't take too long, but in this economy, we may have a long wait ahead of us. We don't have flexibility to move (makes no sense for us, given both sets of parents now here, plus I'm up for tenure next year) so that makes it even harder.

We're trying to plan for the summer and fall, as well as for things that need doing around our house, and the financial unknown makes many of these things next to impossible right now. We're just trying to hang in there.

Last night over supper, we got to talking about two big issues: one is our hot water heater, which has been on the fritz, frustratingly enough given that it's only 3 years old. The other is Hank's summer activities.

Living on one income, money is always tight, and this hot water heater issue has thrown a wrench into our budget. Homeownership, sigh. Our heater has only a limited warranty, so we tried to get by with Mike swapping in a part the manufacturer surmised would solve the problem. It didn't. Thus, we had to call the plumber, and $200 later we find that to even fix the thing, it would cost about half of what a new heater would cost! AND, we're not totally confident this part will fully do the trick for the long term. We have a bit of a rogue heater, apparently. Either way, it's going to cost at least $400, so this is not good news.

On the heels of that, we finally made the time to determine what to do for Hank this summer. I'm going to be home this summer, obviously, with the new baby, and Henry will be done with school in late June. Mike will also be home, apart from a summer class that he's teaching, and looking for work, of course. I was thinking that maybe Hank would enjoy the summer camp that our daycare offers for school aged children for a day or two per week for a handful of weeks in the summer.

The thing is, I'm not used to being a stay at home mom. I'm certain all stay at home moms will find my worry very odd, since they handle this on a daily basis. :) But when I was home on maternity leave with Hank I found it very difficult to be home. I was very depressed, granted, and I had absolutely *no clue* how hard it was to care for a newborn baby. It was just a tough time in my life. So this time, I'm taking lots of precautions toward keeping up my mental health. I thought that it would help to have a few days here and there where I just had the baby, and Hank would get to play with kids his own age. I figured it would be good for both of us.

As Mike and I looked over the registration form, however, he suddenly said, "You know, I don't think we should send him at all." And in that moment, I knew he was right. For one thing, it's VERY expensive. And we'd have to pre-pay some of it now. Plus, we'd need to buy a town swimming pass for him and several other items on top of the tuition cost. Even for just a day per week, over the course of the entire summer, it would really add up.

Also, we're going to be home, and it just seems like a hassle to finagle all the registration requirements when we could just keep him home and save the money. So, that's what we're going to do.

I'm worried, because, well, that's what I do best. And honestly, I feel a bit pathetic. My great-grandmother raised 15 children; I'll have 2, and I'm all concerned that I won't be able to handle it. :) But I feel really peaceful about it. I have 2 friends, one two houses over and the other around the block, that stay at home with their kids, so I'll have a social support network right near by. And I want to make the time with the kids this summer really special. Maybe I can go to daily Mass, go to the zoo, do all sorts of nice things that we don't have time to do otherwise. I'm getting all frontier woman, plotting how to can tomatoes and make my own Play Doh. I really think it's going to be ok.

As for the fall, that remains to be seen. I'll be coming back to work, and we'll just have to see what happens with Mike finding a job. Somehow, I know that it'll be ok.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Boy or girl? And lots of crafting and praying

As I'm finishing up my tasks here at work prior to my leave, my heart is full of joyful expectation about the coming Baby CL. Late pregnancy has its miseries, but this sense of anticipation is absolutely wonderful.

So, I've been doing lots of thinking. Is Baby CL a boy or a girl? Well, the answer to that is that I still don't know. :) But I thought I'd make an official prediction. The amusing thing is, my predictions on gender are a whopping: 100% incorrect. Whenever I guess what a friend is having, and what I guessed that Henry was before he was born, I am always wrong, wrong, wrong. Every single time. So I'm interested to see if I'm wrong again this time! I'll be thrilled either way, so it really doesn't matter, but the statistics tracking is a fun and interesting enterprise.

So, here's my prediction - I think that Baby CL is a:


In the next couple of weeks we'll see if I'm correct or not. :)

In the mean time, I've been more introspective this week. I've recently finished up several novenas for specific intentions, and so for the past week have simply been focusing on reciting as much as I can of the rosary each day. I have a new one decade rosary chaplet that I've been using, and it's my absolute favorite of all the rosaries that I own. I don't have a picture of it to upload, but a link to the sold listing for it is here. It was made by the wonderful Carm over at unbreakablerosaries on etsy. It's so light and easy to twirl around in my fingers as I drive or go about other business in my day. The beads are a perfect size too. I'm very picky about my rosaries. :)

I've also whipped out my study Bible and have been reading that each night. I just feel a lot more peaceful of late. I know that I have a big job ahead of me (not just giving birth, but welcoming a new baby and caring for them) and I want to be as spiritually prepared as I am physically and emotionally prepared. I loaded the sorrowful and joyful mysteries of the rosary onto my iPod so that I can listen to them, if I wish, while in labor.

Besides that, I've been knitting and crocheting a lot to pass the waiting time. I do have a blanket for the baby that I'm working on, but it's pretty sophisticated and so I imagine it'll be complete sometime before his or her second birthday. :) I've also knitted some themed dish cloths for friends of late:

These are the Easter cloths. You can't tell from the picture, but each has a pattern stitched into them. I made a couple of eggs, a bunny, a lamb, a cross, a basket, and a chick, all for my friend who received the sacraments this past Easter Vigil. I also made a dessert set for my good friend Karen. AND, the creation I'm most proud of of late, is the amigurumi lamb that I also crocheted for Karen:

I mean, did you ever? His name is "Field." As soon as I saw him on the April 2011 cover of Crochet World, I knew that I had to make him for Karen; he was just calling her name. :)

So, I've been keeping my hands busy. Mike's last exam is less than 24 hours away, and I'm counting the hours. I'll just feel so relieved once we're past that hurdle. The nursery is still a disaster, and there are a million other things I'd ideally like done before the baby comes, but in the end, nothing matters except that my beloved is there with me as our baby is born.

It's funny to think that last time, I didn't feel ready for the baby to come unless:

(1) the crib was assembled with cutsie sheets and matching mobile hanging over top.

(2) matching curtains were hung and matching lamp placed carefully on dresser.

(3) all baby clothes pre-washed in Dreft.

(4) all miscellaneous baby toys and other items cutely arranged around the nursery.

(5) all baby equipment assembled and waiting in the proper rooms.

I mean, I could go on and on. Do you want to know what my standard is this time?

(1) it'd be nice if the bedside bassinette were out of the box.

That's it. Funny how things change with #2, huh?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Baby CL update: May edition

Well, it's nearly mid-May, and Baby CL is really in the spotlight now. I was at the doctor today. More progress has been made. She *thinks* that I may have the baby as soon as this weekend, or early next week.I'm kind of freaked out. I mean, I need that extra week. :) I'm not totally sold, though. As much as we can know certain physical things, nobody fully understands when the baby and your body are going to make that magic connection that signals your brain to start secreting the hormones that ignite true labor contractions. We'll see.

Everything looks great though. The baby is a great size, with pleasing activity and heartrate. All of my vitals look excellent, and I've gained about 27 pounds. All we have to do is wait for his or her arrival.

While I panic in the interim.

What I keep focusing on is my fondest memory from Hank's birth. That would be the moment that it *ended*, importantly. But that sudden cessation of pain is actually secondary. I just remember the moment that the doctor announced that he was a boy, and held him up. I'm awaiting that moment with so much joy and anticipation. Is there anything more wonderful that seeing your baby's face for the very first time? I don't think there is. I don't care how good your ultrasound images may have been, nothing substitutes that first real look. That's the moment that you fully realize how very worth it the entire journey is.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Still hanging in there at 38 weeks

I'm here. :) And I expect that I will remain for this entire week. Which is just fine by me. Mike had his second exam today, and will have his third and final one on Thursday, so I'm definitely wanting to hold out until then. After that, he has a bit of grading to do for the class he's teaching. So, I see making it to 39 weeks as a really, really good thing. After that, all bets are off. I'd say I'm on "light alert" this week, since some women do go into labor naturally at 38 weeks, but next week I'll officially be on "high alert" until the birth. Very exciting.

So, the weekend. On Friday, I had dance class. Yes, I'm still belly dancing, inexplicably enough. It still feels so good to dance. The only problem being that I never bought maternity workout clothes and just made do with stretchy yoga pants and tops. Well, the tops are still "stretchy" but not comfortably. So I abandoned them in favor of a sleeveless maternity dress. I was much more comfortable. And I can still undulate and shimmy, making me very happy. The only things challenging for me right now are turns and twists. There's no mistaking it, when I twist my hips quickly I feel a distinct "sloshing" sensation. It just feels...weird.

On Saturday, I put the finishing touches on the paint in the baby's nursery. It looks good, and the carpet is also in. In terms of furniture though, it's an absolute disaster. The office furniture is still in there, and we simply won't be able to move it out until Mike is done with his finals this weekend. All of the baby's stuff is currently crammed in the closet, some of it still in boxes. I'm itching to get at it, but it has to wait until the office furniture is gone. *sighs*

But we're getting there. I've had a wonderful pregnancy, but I'm finally officially uncomfortable and can't wait to push this baby out. To be honest, I don't really love being pregnant all that much, although it's very, very worth it for the end result. But I'm in the home stretch, so no worries. I'm sick to death of my maternity clothes (I knew this would happen, does every time), I can't even remember what my belly used to look like, my belly button is smooshed beyond recognition, and I haven't been able to shave normally in months. You know that little button stores put in frozen turkeys that pops up when the turkey has reached the correct temperature and is done? Right, very comparable. Baby CL is fully baked.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my ob/gyn so we'll see what he/she is currently up to then. :) I really, really can't wait to meet him or her.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Babies R Us pilgrimage

Last night, my mom and I made a pilgrimage to the mecca of all pregnant women - Babies R Us. It's only the second time I've been there in the past 5 years, the other time coming about a month ago when I went with my mother-in-law. My mom wanted to get a crib mattress for the baby as a gift, and I wanted to look at baby carriers. So off we set.

We retrieved the desired items (I'll post a review of my chosen carrier once I get a chance to use it) and suddenly my mom announces:

"Why don't we look at nursing covers? Your cousin Christina had such a nice one that you could hardly tell she was nursing."

"I can just use a blanket."

"No! Let's look at the covers."

Sigh, ok. I waddle my way to the breastfeeding section, and we oogle the nursing covers. The one Christina used wasn't there, so we had to content ourselves looking at non-approved nursing covers. My mom felt no compunction about opening the packages to take the covers out for a test run so that we could *really* know if they were any good or not, as I glanced around nervously. Like maybe the Babies R Us police were going to come escort us out of the store.

"Oh look! See how it attaches around your neck. But...I don't know. Maybe it doesn't cover enough."

I tie the straps around my neck, which I immediately hate, but I let it go for the sake of politeness. Next, I examine the body of the garment which can only be described as a nursing mumu. This thing extended from my collar bone down to my *knees*.

"Um, mom? I don't think I need quite this much coverage. Plus, it's kind of loud."

Loud as in bright pink geometric shapes with swirls dominating the fabric.

"Won't this draw even *more* attention to the fact that I'm nursing? I think I'm good with just a cotton blanket."

So, what say my readers? Do any of you use these, or are you with me on the blankets?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lovely novena

To St. Gerard Majella, patron saint of expectant mothers:

3 Our Fathers, 3 Hail Marys, and 3 Glory Be's, followed by:

"Great St. Gerard, beloved servant of Jesus Christ, you are a perfect imitator of our meek and humble Saviour, and a devoted child of the Mother of God. Enkindle in my heart one spark of that heavenly fire of charity that glowed in yours and made you a beacon of love.

Glorious St. Gerard, like your divine Master you bore without murmur or complaint the calumnies of wicked men when falsely accused of crime, and you have been raised up by God as the patron and protector of expectant mothers. Preserve me from dangers, and shield the child I now carry. Pray that my baby may be brought safely to the light of day and receive the sacrament of baptism."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Trying to get things finished up...

All of a sudden, it's sunk in that the baby is technically full-term and can be born anytime. In order for me not to hyperventilate at this statement, I need to systematically cross things off my to-do list both at work and at home, so that I feel ready. Notice my use of the word "feel." I've done this before, and thus I know that no matter what I do, I will never actually *be* ready. There's some reassurance in that, to be sure.

I've been getting lots of cramping, and this has also panicked me a bit. I've calmed down a lot, but the fact of the matter is that Mike still has finals through next Thursday. As long as I can get to that milestone, I'll be a happy girl. I'd prefer to go fully to 39 weeks or later, but as long as we can get Mike through his exams, I'll be satisfied. Now watch: I say these things, and then 41 weeks will come and go, and I'll desperately be drinking castor oil and running up stairs trying to stimulate labor. You just wait.

I've been thinking about how I'll let my blogging readers know when Baby CL has arrived. :) I don't have a smartphone, so no blogging from the hospital. Alas, I know you're all crushed and disappointed. :)

This is the signaling system we have at our disposal: I tend to post most to everyday Monday through Friday. I'll post every weekday from now until I go into labor, but I never post on Saturdays and Sundays, fyi. If you notice that I don't post on a weekday, you'll know something is up. :) Certainly, if 2 weekdays go by with no word, this means that Baby CL is now with us. PLEASE PRAY FOR ME. This is very important. :) When I get home from the hospital, as soon as I am able, I'll upload a picture and provide details. It'll all be very exciting.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hormones, hormones, hormones

Oh the joy. I woke up in a better mood than I did yesterday, but my stress level has unfortunately not abated. I clearly need to be spending more time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

I had an appointment with my ob/gyn early this morning, and as I suspected, Baby CL has been busy. My body has made discernible progress toward labor. It's not "oh my goodness!" progress, but it's still good progress and it's more than my body had accomplished even at 38.5 weeks with Hank. What does this mean? Well,

(a) it doesn't mean that labor is coming in the next few days. In fact, it doesn't mean that labor is coming even in the next 3 weeks. But it does tell us that my body is preparing more efficiently for labor, and my labor *should* be shorter this go round.

(b) is a good sign that my labor and delivery will be as uncomplicated as last time, although not a guarantee. And


I'm not ready. And Mike still has finals to take. And the nursery is still a construction zone. And work is nowhere near ready for me to leave yet. And my in-laws are still staying with us. And...I could go on and on. Clearly, I need to be spending more time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

Since my in-laws' stay is a bit open ended (it all depends on when the moving company can get to them) I've been panicking about dinners. These days, I have zero energy in the evenings after work. It's a miracle I can drag myself home most days. What I've been doing is cooking on the weekends, when I have more energy (not to mention enthusiasm), and then we have 1-2 days of leftovers for the week. The other weekdays, we'll do what I call "ad hoc dinners." Quick spaghetti one night, a frozen skillet meal another, maybe tuna salad the next. Well, with guests, especially my in-laws (wherein I still have this irrational need to prove myself as a good wife and mother) I feel that we can't do this. WE CAN'T SHOW THEM OUR WEAKNESS. If they catch me warming frozen chicken nuggets for Hank while Mike and I eat canned soup and turkey sandwiches, they will know that I am a nefarious interloper, a faker stand-in for a true wife of good virtue. It's kind of my worst nightmare; sort of like those horrible dreams where you walk into a crowded room somewhere wearing only your underpants.

So today, when I called Mike for an update (we're having the nursery carpet installed today, and my in-laws are supposed to be getting a report on the location of the moving van) I pounced on the subject of dinner.

"Have you eaten lunch yet?"

"No, but I was going to have some of that leftover lasagna."

"NO!! Don't eat that! I'm planning to use that for dinner tonight. I can warm some fresh sauce and make a dinner salad, and it should be enough."

"Um, well, I could have a sandwich and soup instead, so that you would have enough lasagna."

*silence while I absorb and translate this information*

"Why would you do that?"


"Well, there are only 3 pieces of lasagna left."


*quick pause while Mike realizes that (a) I'm upset about this, yet (b) he doesn't know why I'm upset about this, but (c) he needs to tread lightly to as not to upset me further. Tis the fruits of 6 years of a happy marriage.*

"Well, I didn't eat any, but maybe my dad had some for lunch one day. At any rate, there are only 3 pieces left, but it's ok! We'll figure out something."

*unhappy silence*

"Well, this isn't going to work. *hormones rage* I'll have to stop off at the store on my way home and pick up something."

"If you tell me what you need, I can go to the store. It'll be ok."


Later, Mike IM'ed me to say that he came up with an idea for dinner tonight, and that he was going to the store to pick up just a few things that we need for it. Not only is he also going to make the dinner, but he's also going to pick up a few other things that we can use to toss some chili into the crock pot for tomorrow's dinner. This, my friends, is what a really loving marriage partner is all about. :) There may be other things that are also good, but it's the little things that really matter.

I'm still stressed, but not as insidiously so. The nursery is now carpeted. I am, slowly but surely, getting things done at work. Mike is getting his final school work and exams over with. And the baby is going to come when he/she is going to come. I don't have any control over it, so why fret?

Monday, May 2, 2011

A day of mixed emotion

I started off the day a bit cranky this morning. Hank was bouncing off the walls, we're hosting my in-laws for an unspecified duration as they wait for their belongings to be moved up from Florida to their new local apartment, the nursery is a disaster area, and I don't know how I'll get everything done that I want to get done before the baby gets here. Combine that with this mornings big international news that I fear will have far reaching retaliation implications, and the injured Canada Goose I saw along the side of the road as I drove into work, and I started crying right there in my car. I had to actually compose myself before I could walk into work.

But I don't want to dwell on any of that. I have little to no control over any of it, so why worry?

I'm in the middle of a novena to Our Lady Star of the Sea, for the intention of Mike finding a full-time job in his new field now that he's graduating in a few weeks, and that has been soothing me.

As well, today is a big milestone for me that I've been waiting for for quite some time. Did you look at the calendar yesterday? IT'S MAY. And as of this morning, I am 37 weeks pregnant, officially full term. I certainly don't expect the baby for at least another 2 weeks, but this is an important day. I'm terribly excited, but I feel that at any moment, I could dissolve into tears again. I blame the hormones.