Monday, December 30, 2013

Saying good-bye to 2013

As the year comes to a bittersweet but all-to-welcome close, it is easy for me to reflect on all of the negative aspects of the year. This has, by-far, been the hardest year of my 28-year life and I hope that it remains the hardest year.

The problem with this year is that all of the wonderful things came with their share of heartache, hurt and trial. It has been a learning experience learning to rejoice and cry at the same time - attempting to have a grateful heart despite great bitterness. 

One would think that having a baby, opening a business and learning that you are pregnant again would be cause for only joy and celebration but that has not been my story this year.

Eighteen days after ringing in 2013, I gave birth to a baby girl and Joseph "gave birth" to a new company, Conquest Brewing Company. What started as an adventurous year quickly became a pit of sadness, stress and exhaustion.

I never imaged that childbirth would be so extremely painful and being ill-prepared made for a disappointing start to my daughter's life. The endless crying, diaper changing and little-to-no reward was almost too much to bare. I silently dealt with post-partum depression for the first 6 months of Gwen's life and when I finally went to get help they turned me away saying that I could not possibly have post-partum at 6 months post-partum. So I continued to drown in stress and internal conflict over loving my little Gwen so much but also being overwhelmed by her non-sleeping, constant-crying self.

All the while, Joseph was building his company. Trying to find the right balance between his never-ending responsibilities at the brewery and my constant demands of him to come home and save me from my daily job of taking care of Gwen. For the first 5 months after Gwen was born, Joseph worked two jobs - 40 hours at his former job and then who knows how many hours with the brewery. The dynamic of our relationship changed as before starting the brewery when he left work, he didn't think about it until the next time he went to work. While owning his own business, he is constantly getting texts/calls regarding various aspects of the company that usually cannot wait until the next day. The pressure I put on him to be home was not fair but during the time I felt as if he was my only lifeline.

I had also quit my job at the University of South Carolina to stay home with Gwen. I had never been one to want to stay home and care for children. I had always envisioned myself being the corporate mom who was successful in her career. God changed my heart (and I am glad he did) but this change was extremely upsetting. Going from making a steady income to not making an income at all and still having to work without any pay was a struggle. I didn't expect that taking care of a baby all day would be so stressful and exhausting. One day, standing in front of a sink full of dishes I broke down exclaiming to Joseph, "Who the hell wants this to be their job?" I get no fulfillment out of house work. There is no acknowledgement except more dirty dishes and laundry. 

The thing is, those tasks go unnoticed and unappreciated which was evident by a family member's comments about his father working a job and earning and income and his mother staying at home to raise kids. The comment was basically that the father could do anything he wished with the money he made because the mom "didn't work". I was furious at this mentality of the stay-at-home mom, that her work is not as valuable as the working father's. Luckily, Joseph does not share in these views and he does his best to validate and to voice appreciation for my work.

Then we found out that we were expecting again. The initial reaction as I looked at the pregnancy test was joy but the subsequent feelings were anything but that. Thoughts of how I was going to love another baby, how I was going to deal with having two babies under two years old and most of all, how I was going to survive another labor and delivery were overwhelming and honestly, still are. The hormones of this pregnancy combined with the post-partum depression have made this pregnancy not as enjoyable as Gwen's. I have yet to take a belly photo or make notations of progress. 

The one thing I noticed through this whole year is that through everything, I rarely looked to God for joy or answers. Yes, I prayed but I did not believe that He could honestly take the burdens and help me find rest. I did not look to His promises of

Over the past two months through counseling and increased sleep thanks to Joseph taking the reigns and helping me, things have gotten much better. I have learned a lot about myself: mostly about my selfishness and how I tend to rely on my own strength which is failing instead of relying on the Father's never-ending strength. "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28.

So, the ending to this year is much like the beginning. It is full of hope and wonder. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Hot Minute

It has been a hot minute since I last posted on this thing called a blog. Apparently, you are supposed to post regularly on these things. Who knew?

A lot has been happening with our family lately, from my father having complications with back surgery to my husband's company opening their tasting room. From my sister getting married to me getting lost in the face of my beautiful daughter.

As many of you know, the hubs has been brewing beer professionally for about 6 or 7 months now with the brewery producing beer for the masses since the day after Gwen was born.

We finally opened the tasting room on a hot, Columbia summer day and were amazed at the 600-700 people who actually showed up to taste the fruit of Conquest's labors.

The festivities began at 2:00 but by 1:50, we already had a line that stretched to the parking lot until 7:20 pm.

First pour of the day
Being a stay-at-home mom for the past 4 months, I was eager to work and work I did. In between Gwen's feedings I poured pints, washed glasses, gathered glasses, talking to customers, nommed on some amazing British Bulldog food and washed it down with a Seven Ceas Pale Ale...or two.

We were truly humbled by everyone who showed up to volunteer, by the monetary and verbal support of our investors and to the community who showed up to support us. It has been Joseph's dream to open a brewery and now that it happened we are beyond ecstatic. Proof that dreams do come true. Though the days are long with Joseph working two jobs and some days we only see him for an hour, we know that in the end, it will all be worth it.

I'll leave you with a few photos from the day:

The Brewers with their bounty.

Conquest's Crew

The wonderful citizens of Columbia who turned out to support us! Some stood in line for 2 hours!

Collecting a glass or two.

The amazing Irish/Scottish drinking band, SYR.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Best Baby Baubles I know baubles are little trinkets and some of these items aren't really trinkets, but for the sake of alliteration we are going with baubles.

Every mom has their go-to baby items that they couldn't live without. Here are just a few of mine:

1. Sleeping gowns

Carter's Baby Gown

During church yesterday, a fellow  new mom exclaimed how she hated baby gowns and that she preferred sleepers, even the ones with snaps. This took me by surprise as my experience has told me otherwise. Baby gowns have been a life saver during middle-of-the-night diaper changes. No snaps, zippers or little pants to take down makes this clothing item a must have. 

2. Breastfeeding Cover
Udder Cover

Breastfeeding is coming back with a vengeance and women everywhere are fighting for their right to bare their breasts in public in the name of nourishing their young ones. I am all for it but I am not as brave as those women so I opted to check out Udder Covers. They are constantly running "free" promotions where you only pay shipping and handling. At first I thought it was a scam, surely it would be cheaply made, the fabric would fall apart but it was quite the opposite. The cover allows you to see your little one while you nurse while giving you complete modesty. 

3. Swaddle wrap

This is the most valuable baby item especially for those who are swaddle-incompetent like me. My husband can swaddle like a L&D nurse and I would get so frustrated because Gwen would Houdini out of my swaddles. Houdini no more! While it may look like you are imprisoning your baby, it actually simulates the comfort of the womb. Gwen sleeps better and longer when bundled up in the soft, stretchy fabric. 

4. Dexbaby Sound Sleeper

Dexbaby Sound Sleeper

After spending almost 10 months in the womb, a baby gets used to loud noises. Not only does she hear your heartbeat but also the gurgling of your bowels (charming, I know), your voice and other external noises. Your womb gets up to 90 decibels! That is why Dexbaby sound machine is a God-send. We use the rain setting (and sometimes the ocean and womb settings) and actually hooked up our computer speakers so it would be a little louder.  If we ever spend the night anywhere, the Dexbaby Sound Machine goes with us. 

There you have it! The products that have made me a little more sane. Are there any items that I should check out? 

Monday, March 11, 2013

The One About the Truth

The truth. 

During the first weeks of having Gwen, I hated being a mother. 

Let me clarify: I didn't hate Gwen. I loved/love her with all my being but I hated the unknown, of not knowing how to care for her.

I read blogs and literature regarding having a healthy pregnancy and a beautiful, natural birth. I failed, however, to read anything about the reality of caring for a newborn. 

I imagined sitting in a rocking chair in a pretty, clean nightgown, my hair perfectly straight and brushed, my cheeks rouged and my eyes lined and swept with mascara.  Gwen would be in my arms, swaddled in a light pink blanket, her lips and eyes closed in peaceful slumber. Both of us rocking away, blissful, not caring about the world and time. 

Reality can be cruel. 

Reality was me sitting on a couch in sweatpants and a tank top with milk stains, my hair in a haphazard bun, wisps escaping every which way. Gwen, mouth open and eyes red with crying, arms flailing. 

This was my new world and I hated it. I hated the crying and not knowing want to do. Every fiber of my being wanted to help my little girl be comfortable but I didn't know how. Everyone had their opinions and I felt trapped to follow their advice which left me feeling as if I couldn't care for my baby. 

Instead of listening to instinct, I Googled everything and read entirely too many blogs. They didn't have the answer. 

My heart did. Mothering is instinct and when I started listening to that instinct, things got better.

As a result of feeling out of control and helpless, I cried. A lot. I even yelled at Gwen out of frustration because I didn't know how to help her or stop her crying. I spiraled into a rut of self-pity and complaining about how much I hated being a mother and how I "couldn't do it anymore". The frustration was overwhelming and I took it out on my husband All the while my husband encouraged me, telling me that I was made to care for our Gwen and now I know that it is true. His patience unending.

I regret yelling at her as I never want her to feel like I hate her. I never wanted to scare or let my sin affect her. But the truth is, is that I am not perfect but I have a Father who is and who is forgiving. Though Gwen could not answer, I asked her to forgive me for yelling at her and then I forgave myself and moved on. 

I thought that it could be an issue of not bonding but I felt as if I bonded with her from the moment they laid her on my chest and I feel confident in that to this day. I look at her face and I can say that I have never seen anything more beautiful. I didn't know why I was having such a hard time. I have concluded that it was just new. There is not manual for what your personal experience will be like with a new baby. It is an overwhelming and under-appreciating job.

But what I find to be sad is that no one ever writes about the ugly side of things for fear of being judged and being deemed an "unfit mother".  Women only write about the unicorns and butterflies, of how motherhood is easy despite the lack of sleep. I would be doing everyone an injustice if I lied through a fake smile and say that I love it.

Motherhood is hard but every day is getting easier and more beautiful. Her and I are learning about each other and getting into a rhythm of life. I'm learning about what makes her uncomfortable so when she cries I go down the checklist and more than likely I can calm her with in minutes.

Mothers can be so critical. Not only of themselves but of other mothers. I have come to the conclusion that I will always doubt myself and feel as if I am doing things wrong. Motherhood, so far, has taught me how selfish I am and since I realized that, things have been a lot easier. 

Like another blogger wrote, being a mother and waking up everyday to care for your little one is a mission. So now, I realize that my job is to serve. Not only my family but my Father through being a mother. Instead of complaining about I "hate" my new life, I know take joy in knowing that this is my purpose and what a beautiful purpose it be able to serve God by serving my family.

It still isn't easy waking up at 3:00 in the morning to feed Gwen but I can now look at her little face and take in the beauty of being able to care for and to comfort her. 

My life has been enriched.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Family Tradition: Hamburger Hotdogs

I don't remember the first time I bit into a hamburger hot dog. As far as I know, it was the first solid thing I ever had to eat.

When I think of family, traditions and my childhood a few things are aroused in my mind - one of them being the hamburger hot dog.

Is it a hamburger? Is it a hot dog? Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

The answer is yes...yes...not quite...and definitely not. 

Who came up with the recipe? Who knows...all I know is that my mom made them and now I make them though somehow, tonight was the first night in all the time Ackerman and I have known each other that we have had them. 

Sad, I know. Maybe it's the thought of having a child and one day serving these hot puppies to her and her siblings, friends, family, pets and anyone else willing to scarf one down, made me long for the nostalgic taste.

List of Culprits:

1.5 lbs of ground beef
10 slices of American Cheese 
1 small red onion 
1 package hot dog buns
salt and pepper to taste
ketchup or other hot dog/hamburger toppings (optional)

Start out by browning off the ground beef and red onion in a skillet. Go ahead and add a dash of salt and pepper to flavor the meat. Once browned, drain off excess grease into a tin coffee can like my grandpa used to do.

Also, talk your husband into getting a decent camera so your photos will turn out semi-well.

After the grease has drained, add the 10 slices of American cheese. I am sure you could use cheddar, Swiss or any other combination of cheese you desire. We have always used American and dang it if I'll stop now.  Stir the now melted cheese into the beef.

Preheat the oven to 325.

As the cheese is melting, go ahead and get the buns ready. Place a piece of tin foil (Ackerman gives me grief about calling it tin foil. I have always called it tin foil and dang it if I'll stop now. (See a trend?)) on the bottom of a baking pan. Open up each bun and put a line of mustard down the center. Go ahead...I'll wait....

Once the cheese has thoroughly melted and you've ate two spoonfuls of it just to be sure that it's not poisoned, fill the hot dog buns with the beef mixture. This is where it would be handy to have one of those Taco Bell meat scoopers that puts the perfect amount of meat in each taco. But since I don't work at Taco Bell a spatula worked fine.

Once all of the buns are filled, place in the inferno (aka oven) until the buns are toasted on top.

Scarf Place hamburger hot dog civilly on a plate and enjoy!

This meal doesn't get the healthy seal of approval but it does get the "I am tired and want something quick, easy and yummy" award.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The One About the Newborn

Gwen is now almost 5 weeks old. It is incredibly insane how quickly the last month has gone by. People always tell you how quickly time goes when you have children and they weren't kidding. Right now my life mainly revolves around this little girl.

Right after her birth, my first thought was "I am never doing this again...ever." Every time I thought about giving birth, I felt traumatized. When I saw the clothes I wore to the hospital, I was stricken with fear. I couldn't even listen to my labor playlist in fear of having flashbacks. But then, Gwen and I have moments like this:

And I remember why I did what I did and birth doesn't seem that traumatic anymore. There is a sort of amnesia that happens. While I remember being in intense pain, I also feel detached from it. As if it wasn't really me that gave birth or like I watched it on TV and sympathized with the woman pushing on the bed for 43 minutes. So, the next birth will not involve meds though I am sure when the time comes I will be begging Joseph for them just as I did with Gwen's birth.

Our first night home with her, I was so scared that she was going to die. I cried so much that night and Joseph just held me and prayed for me. I was extremely emotional for the next few days, overwhelmed with the thought of having to care for this little creature in such a scary world. I felt irresponsible for bringing her into such a crazy place. But I was also overwhelmed with love not only for Gwen but a new kind of love for my husband. Both loves were much more intense than I could ever have imagined.

We are slowly getting used to each other. Getting to know each other. She knows that I will pick her up when she cries (not fusses...but truly cries) and that I am the keeper of the milk. I know that she likes to bounce in her Daddy's arms and that no amount of coercing will get her to take a pacifier. 

Though there have been so many sweet moments with our little Gwenrito, (or Nugget, Ducky, Gwen-a-roo, many nicknames!) there have also been many frustrating moments for me that leave me feeling extremely guilty. If I can't figure out why she cries, I get mad and I know she can sense it. It makes me feel as if I am a bad mother - only a month in and already getting frustrated to the point of tears. I had prepared myself so well for birth but failed to prepare for life after birth.

Many of us do this with weddings as well. We plan our perfect day - focus on our dress being just right and get upset if our bridesmaids don't do as we ask. We cry if our cake is the wrong shade of white. Our attention is completely diverted to the physical aspects and we forget to prepare for the aftermath. I know I did and our marriage suffered for the first year because of it.

I am glad that I am recognizing this now, instead of a year from now. This time I won't become disconnected, discontent and defiant towards our little family as I did when we first became man and wife. It is an extreme life-alterning event and being prepared (well as prepared as one can be) is so important.

There are a few things I know: her smile is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. More beautiful than the ocean and the view of the clouds from above. Baby poop no longer scares me as it once did and yes, sometimes there is projectile poop (as we learned on our first night home with her). Finally, I have the most amazing little family.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Saying Adieu to the Baby Bump

I miss my bump. Before I was pregnant I had a fear of getting big - of my body changing and not being able to recognize myself after the bump was gone.

But now that my tummy has deflated, I kind of want it back. It isn't only the look of being pregnant that I loved (minus the swelling) it was feeling my little mermaid inside of me, kicking and swimming around in her private hot tub.

I was one of the lucky ones, no stretch  marks have taken residence and I have pretty much gone back to the way I was before getting pregnant (actually losing 10 additional pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight). Things are a little bit more saggy and my naval ring has permanently found it's home in my jewelry box (but let's face it - I am's probably time for me to say goodbye to that piece of metal anyway).

I miss rubbing my tummy and resting my hands on the bulge. I miss watching it move with my little one's movements - especially the morse code-like movements when she had the hiccups. I miss people telling me that I "barely" looked pregnant at 6 months. Such a compliment for someone like me who has had body-image issues.

Luckily, Joseph and I decided to have maternity photos taken by the wonderful Christy Gant at Studio 9 Photography.

On a beautiful, South Carolina December day, we headed out to the Sandhill REC Farmer's Market property (owned by Clemson no way do I support Clemson. My husband on the other hand...).

This was a day where I wasn't feeling beautiful  but more swollen and large. Christy made me feel completely comfortable and beautiful and the confidence showed in the photos.

After the farmers market, we went to a christmas tree stand right down the road. The gentleman that worked the stand was very gracious in letting us use the stand!

I cannot even begin to explain how happy I am that we have this brief moment in our lives captured in photographs. I also cannot begin to say how happy I am that we found Christy!

So while I have said goodbye to my baby bump and hello to a precious little girl, I know that the future holds at least two more baby bumps for me! 

Just for are a few more:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The One About Birthing. Part III.

The time had come. All of the uncertainty, pain, sadness, joy, mystery, beauty and love of the past year and a half since we had lost Lord Voldemort (for more on Lord Volde, click here) had come to this. 

The birth of our little girl.

Going into this pregnancy, I knew that I wanted to have a natural birth. There had never been any doubt that I wanted to forgo the stress of an epidural as my unnatural fear of needles hindered my mind of even thinking about getting one. 

In order to prepare for a natural birth I read all of the books, the Bradley Method, Hypnobirthing:The Mongan Method, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, What to Expect When You're Expecting...I watched videos on Youtube of women -  strong, beautiful woman, bringing babies into the world without the aid of pain medication or hospitals for that matter (most of the videos were of waterbirthing at home). I wanted to know what I was in for, what the pain would be like. I was hoping that these texts and testimonials of births would give me some indication of the adventure I was about to embark on. I will tell you that no amount of reading, listening or watching could prepare me for what would come after the initial onset of labor.

As you read before, everything up to this point had gone pretty well. (Click for Part I or Part II) The pain was becoming unbearable. The midwife, Debbie, had finally shown up and it felt like a bowling ball was about to be pushed out of my bum.

What started everything was not my desire to push (though the desire was there) but rather that Gwen's heart rate dropped significantly low, low enough that the midwife came into the room to check me and instruct me to start pushing.

Out of the whole labor process, this was the time I most felt out of control. I wasn't prepared for what I was supposed to do. Yes, I know, push the baby out. But how? 

Debbie, the nurses and my mom where "yelling" at me to PUSH PUSH PUSH. And boy, did I push. I thought if I kept my eyes open that they would pop out of my skull, so I learned to keep my eyes shut during the pushing. I ended up busting a blood vessel in my right eye and vessels in my right eye lid because of how hard I was pushing. My mom held back one leg and Joseph held back the other. Honestly, how do women use the stirrups? I thought I was pretty flexible and there was no way my long legs were fitting in those stirrups.

Someone kept telling me to use my legs as leverage to push, but I was working against myself, pulling my legs up and in and stead of up and out. After several attempts at grasping my legs, I guess I got it right and I got into a better rhythm of pushing.

Here is where things went wrong: I thought with every contraction that I was supposed to be pushing Gwen out, instead of slowly working her down. I quickly got discouraged, wondering why I wasn't succeeding in getting her out into the world. I should have voiced my concern, annoyance and confusion but I didn't. The feeling of being out of control was overwhelming. I remember thinking that I couldn't do it anymore but what choice do you have when your little one depends on you?

At one point, the midwife told me to stop pushing which you would think would be a relief but not when every fiber of your being wants - no needs - to push. Oxygen was placed over my nose. I can still remember the strong, manufactured smell of the plastic face mask. I don't remember very well, but my mom said I had to quit pushing for 12 minutes as Gwen's heart rate dropped significantly again.

Then a doctor came in.

 I had never seen said doctor in my life. It is never comforting to hear a doctor ask "is there a heartbeat" when you are in the middle of attempting to push said heartbeat out of your body. I'm sure the midwife said something reassuring that I don't remember (who am I kidding...I don't remember a lot of this. I had to ask my mom a TON of questions about what happened because as I said before, I felt completely out of control and out of it.)

Eventually I was able to push again. And push. And push. And push. I pushed for what seemed like forever, falling over to my right side like a tree after every 10-second pushing session. I was almost waiting for Joseph to say "Tiiiiiimber" as I kept falling over.

After 43 minutes of pushing, Gwendolyn's head popped out. People had told me about the "ring of fire" that you feel as the baby's head crowns but it was one sensation I didn't have. In a way, I was disappointed. I had a morbid wish that I would silently sing Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" as the head emerged. 

Side note: While Gwen was being born, my dear 21 year old sister was by my head. When all of the blood and fluids came out she passed out. Between that and my making mooing noises earlier in the labor, I am pretty sure I scarred her for life. End side note.

As her head emerged, Debbie told me to once again, stop pushing. At 8:13 pm, after 16  hours of labor (3 hours of active labor) I had the greatest feeling of relief. In an instant, the pain went away and all 7 pounds 5 ounces and 20 inches of Gwendolyn Raye left the confines of my womb and entered the world. They laid her on my stomach and Joseph cut the cord (which he said felt like cutting through a big slab of bacon. Mmmm bacon.)

Nurses then whisked her away to the other side of the room to check her out since her heart rate had been so low and  meconium was present in the fluids.

I asked Debbie if I had tore and I was taken by surprise when she said I had second degree tears due to Gwen's shoulders (she will probably be a swimmer with those broad shoulders!). Debbie then began the process of stitching me up which was not that painful considering what I had just been through. 

Not much later, they brought Gwen to me and I got to hold her and feed her for the first time. 

I don't know how some women actually look gorgeous after giving birth. I look like death.

Up next: After the delivery. Feelings and thoughts on giving birth naturally.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The One About Birthing. Part II.

"On a scale of 1-10, what is your level of pain?" 

Before January 18, my level 10 of pain was when I broke my toe. I was 15 and tripped over my brother's guitar amplifier. Or maybe it was when my face was mauled by a dog when I was 2 (or was I 3) but I don't remember that pain. 

The thing about pain is that it is relative, it is personal. No one experiences pain the same way just as no one experiences music, art or life in the same way. Sometimes pain is beautiful and in the moment it doesn't seem that way, but looking back it is the most beautiful feeling.

This was one of those times.

After I recovered from the intense trauma of receiving an IV (click here to read Part I, detailing the traumatic event of getting an IV) and antibiotics, I began laboring the way I had planned. By this time, I was having contractions that were extremely uncomfortable but were manageable through slow, even breathing, silence by those in the room (including nurses...I was not hesitant to tell a nurse to give me a second if I was working through a contraction) and by focusing on my labor playlist. For me, during centimeters 4-7, music was the greatest help, singing through the contractions helped them pass more quickly and relaxed my body and mind. I found that worship music was the best.

While not hooked up on the monitor, I was able to use the birthing ball and walk the halls to help labor progress. I visited our family in the waiting room and went by the nursery to look at the cute babies and remind myself why I was doing what I was doing. 

At about 5:30, Joseph encouraged me to get up to walk the halls... again... despite my reluctance to do so. I wanted to lie in bed but he won out in the end and I began my waddle down the halls that went like this: waddle, waddle, waddle, stop and lean on the rail, waddle, waddle waddle, lean on rail. When we got back to the room, labor had progressed and the midwife mentioned the option of breaking my water which after talking it over we decided to do. While the procedure wasn't painful, it was incredibly uncomfortable but it made things move much more quickly (and I think made the contractions a lot worse than they should have been) and before I knew it I wasn't handling the pain as well as before.

This is where the fecal material made contact with the rotary air stirrer.

I remember looking at the clock. 7 pm. The nurse checked me and I was only 8-9 centimeters. My thoughts were as follows:

"Wait, what? That's it? Surely I was 10 centimeters and ready to push out this baby out."

"Why was the midwife not here? Doesn't she know that I am about to pop a baby out?"

"Why does it feel like I need to poop out a bowling ball? Certainly babies still come out of the lady parts not the bum."


 No amount of breathing would help ease the discomfort and by this time I was begging Joseph for medicine in between attempting to munch on ice chips. Repeating, "I can't do this." At one point, I yelled out the "F" word and I might have hit the side of the bed. I immediately apologized to those in the room (mostly to the nurses). I'm not sure why I cared what they thought about me but I wanted them to know that I usually didn't yell out cuss words. No amount of begging resulted in me getting the meds I so desperately felt I needed at the time. 

During all of this, I felt completely out of control. The pain was overwhelming and I couldn't focus. Joseph and my doula (who is also my mom who I cannot imagine not having at the birth. Please, please, please do yourself a favor and have a doula at your birth) were flanking the bed, my knees resting on their sides. At one point Joseph left the bedside (and made my leg move) to get some water and I am pretty sure I threatened his life. I would thrash my head side to side, I felt my hair getting more and more knotted each time I turned my head but I didn't care. I tried imagining the muscles of my uterus bringing my little one down into the birth canal (I read a book that says that would work).

By this point everything was hazy. I'm not quite sure when nurses started prepping the labor room but seeing them lay out blue paper and medical equipment was reassuring. And I mean a little reassuring. Like the size of a pea reassuring.

Then I saw the face of an angel, my midwife.

It was time.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The One About Birthing. Part I.

I imagined it would be easy to write this post, after-all, how hard is it to describe labor and delivery? Well, apparently harder than I expected. The experience is so completely emotional, physical and spiritual that mere words hardly begin to do it justice. For the sake of getting it out there, I will start out at the beginning. (Note: More than likely I will skip around with past and present tense...sooo get over it. Creative license.)

Picture it... Columbia. 4:00 am on Friday, January 18. Four days shy of my due date. I woke from sleep with a pain that can honestly be described as premenstrual cramps. Except that I was pregnant and by the grace of God hadn't had any of those cramps in 9 months (one of the upsides to pregnancy). I laid there for 30 minutes, timing the contractions, they ranged 5-6 minutes apart  but did not come at regular intervals or last for more than a minute each. I woke Joseph up to let him know that I was contracting and that these were not like the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been having for weeks prior...these added an additional punch. I told him to sleep and I went to wake my mom (she had come for the weekend to help out since I was still on bed rest). We stayed up, I ate breakfast and took a shower making sure to shave my legs because who wants to push a baby out with prickly legs? Not this girl.

The contractions came in waves and I breathed through them. Closing my eyes and not-so-gently letting Joseph and my mom know to not talk to me during these waves. Around 11:00 the contractions had steadily made it to 4-5 minutes apart and lasted more than a minute so we headed to Lexington Medical Center.

They took me back to a room where they hooked my cute, oh-so glorious tummy to a monitor and watched for the contractions. At this point I had made it to 4 centimeters and was feeling great. After about an hour they decided to admit me to the hospital. I was officially going to pop this baby out.

We moved into a spacious birthing room and this is where the trauma started. An IV. If any of you know me well, you know my fear of needles. Not blood or gore. Needles. In the form of a shot or an IV. Since I was Beta Strep positive I had to be hooked up to antibiotics to ensure that Gwen wouldn't be harmed during delivery. So, Funny Nurse comes to hook me up and I gently tell her that I have belonephobia ( is a legit fear). She laughs and mentions one of the midwives that has it as well. 

I did not laugh.

Funny Nurse starts the IV (after giving me a shot of a numbing medicine? Seriously...what is the point...either way I am getting stuck)...and I begin to have tunnel vision. Joseph and Mom are in the room and people are talking to me. I am super hot and feel like I am out of my body. People are talking to me but I don't understand them and I attempt to let them know that I am not doing well. (My mom later said that it came out in a terrible slur). Funny Nurse was no longer funny, she was rather the bane of my existence. With the IV in, I began to recover.

Honestly, my first thought after surviving the IV was, "Labor is going to be a breeze after this". Little did I know...

Friday, January 11, 2013

38 weeks

First: Go guess Gwen's birthday, weight and length! 
Who ever has the lowest score wins. Wins what you ask? Love and maybe a beer.

Only two weeks remaining (give or take). After my maternity photography session with the wonderful Christy Gantt of Studio 9 Photography, I really haven't taken many photos of myself.
There was the obligatory beach photo session that I had with my mom, but when you are born and raised on the coast, with salt water in your veins it is a must-do.

At my 37 week appointment, my blood pressure was something stupid like 170/101, they had me lay down and it went down to a more appropriate measurement. Over the next few days, with headaches and not being able to regulate my BP on my own, I went to the hospital where they ran blood work and other tests (including hooking me up to a fetal monitor where I got to hear my little girl have the hiccups twice in the two hours I was was quite funny and hard not to laugh at her).

That's when it happened. I was sentenced to full bed rest. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Just get on your left side and stay there. At first it was hard, I didn't really understand what bed rest meant. I mean, I might have taken a trip to Lowe's after my appointment to get tile for our backsplash. I continued to dilly dally around the house, loading the dishwasher and what not, always checking my BP and making sure to lie down whenever it got in the scary diastolic 100 range.

But then I was reprimanded by many people including my husband and mother (and later the midwife). So now I spend my days on my side watching documentaries that I would never have watched on Netflix. Catching up on TV shows that have passed me by in the two years since I haven't had cable and I can honestly say that cable TV is overrated. With a million and one things to do, I am lucky to have my husband to cook and take care of my, my mom to drive 2 hours to take my laundry to the laundry-mat because our washing machine is on the fritz and a plethora of other people that have sent food and love my way.

How far along?  38 weeks
Total weight gain/loss? Let's see....I gained 25 pounds but then lost 6 due to being on bed rest so a total of 19 pounds!
Maternity clothes?  Kind of? I am mostly lounging around in sweatpants and Joseph's t-shirts nowadays.
Stretch marks?I am glad to say that I still have yet to get a stretch mark due to the fact that I am so tall and I am not "showing" as much. The ultrasound tech was surprised when she knew how far along I was because my tummy is "small".
Sleep?  It is what it is. I wake up 5-6 times a night to pee. Sometimes I wake up for an hour or so only to go back to bed and sleep until an ungodly hour (11 am anyone?)
Best moment last week? Definitely my mom coming up to help with all of the chores and getting Gwen's room ready. Don't know what I would do without her. Another highlight are Gwen's hiccups. They make me laugh because I can only imagine how frustrated I would be if I had them!
Movement?  She is a mover and a shaker. Joseph has gotten to see her make waves in my tummy and it really is one of the most unworldly things. 
 Food cravings? None. I just want bad food. Cheeseburgers mainly. Mmmm.
Gender? She is still a she and forever a she shall she be.
Labor signs? Zero. Just some Braxton-Hicks. When I went to my OB appointment on Tuesday they checked my cervix to see if there was any dilation or But I will tell you one thing: IT HURTS! I thought it was going to be a breeze but that woman almost killed me.
Belly button in/out? least for now. I think that it wants to stick out....but I am hoping it decides to stay in!
What I miss: Doing laundry....not! I do miss being able to do housework because everything that I usually do is put off on Joseph and he has a million and one things to do.
What I am looking forward to: Gwendolyn's arrival! I am ready to start my life with her in it.
Funny Story: is really an inappropriate story that I will not write here because it involves my cervix check, a comment about short fingers and a member of my husband's anatomy. The nurse got a good kick out of it though. 

Eventually I will get photos of the nursery up. It will probably be after Gwen gets here but I am not one of those go get-em types.