Pop songs can be powerful, and surprisingly so. There’s this song, “Unwritten,” by Natasha Beddingfield that will always remind me of the day Nora was born. I guess it was on the radio a lot that week, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. I heard it on the radio again this week, while driving Nora to daycare.

Live your life with arms wide open.
Today is where your book begins;
the rest is still unwritten.

Cheesy sentiments throughout the whole song, indeed, but it still touched a nerve with me way back when I was holding this tiny froggy newborn. I can’t help but be excited to watch her story unfold, and be a part of it. It also occurred to me that I don’t actually write anything down. But, are undocumented moments any less important to us? I like to think that we’ll still remember the stories I don’t write down, and the moments not caught on camera. I’m too busy taking it all in to let a camera get in the way.

That said, I still have this blog. I intend to use it more.

Major skill update: My two-year-old can count to ten! (Except the number 4, it always gets left out. Who needs 4, anyway?)

Updates to recent past posts:

  1. I got sick with strep throat at Disneyworld. I spent most of my time in our hotel room, and honestly it’s still all a blur. We had good times the first couple days, then I came down with a fever. It’s pretty upsetting for me, still, to talk about. I’m planning a do-over trip for next year. Details to come.
  2. We have a swing set! Hurrah for Walmart!

Other news:

  1. Oh dear, the weather here has been dreadfully rainy and gloomy.
  2. Nora turned 2 in August, cause you know, that’s when her birthday is. We had a party in the back yard, with other toddlers and grown-ups, and cake and everything!
  3. I’m working full time, and recently acquired part-time work on top of it all. It’s an adventure so far. I may yet manage to juggle it all. I’m just so thankful for the extra income. (See above about planning a do-over Disney trip as early as next year.)

And I have no conclusion. So… FIN.

Happy October!

So, let’s see. One month later. What happened in September? Not a whole heck of a lot, honestly.

Nora is still not walking on her own. And, I’m OK with that.

Number of football games attended: zero.

Presidential debates: one. Errol was an IT volunteer for the debate commission the week of the debate. He was in their offices Monday through Thursday, then was sick and stayed home on Friday. He missed the big action, but still got a glimpse of the governor, and a “hello” from Jim Lehrer. You can see his behind the scenes photos here.

Nora had her first school pictures last week! I can’t wait to see them. Here’s a peek at what she was wearing:

Upcoming plans:
>> Major swing set project in the works, stay tuned! Fall is my favorite time of year, and we still have a lot of mild days ahead of us. I have ambitions of spending those days in the backyard.
>> Errol’s dad and stepmother will be here next weekend. They will be staying at a campground nearby, and we might try to camp out for a night with them.

Pretend this is Nora’s birthday

So, I realize I let a pretty monumental day go by with out talking about it. I’m sorry. I’m no good at this blogging on a regular basis thing. Also, I have been stressed out about going back to working 8-5, but I have survived week one!

I am so much a different person now than I was a year ago. I know a lot of people say having a baby changes you, but no seriously, it changes you. I expected this, but not in the ways it’s really changed me. There’s a new-found kind of humility here, and maybe not a little break in my confidence. I’m not so certain I have the answers to everything anymore, and I waver a whole lot more than I used to. I cannot express how fully I believe that nothing, NO THING, can prepare you for parenthood. Even the most put-together looking mom out there has to be barely holding on by a thread inside.

It’s hard to express this, but I feel like God gave me this gift of seeing how futile my rigidity can be, when at the end of the day and at the end of this life, He is in control. I had all these birth plans, and I knew in every fiber of my being that nursing a baby had to be as natural as breathing if I was just prepared and believed I could do it hard enough. Then, this body of mine turned out to not work the way in needed to for me to follow through with my plans.

I could be disappointed. I could be really disappointed, but then at the end of all my broken plans: there’s Nora. She is the embodiment of JOY to me. I can’t have a bad day when I think of her. She inspires a new kind of wide-eyed optimism in me.

My gosh, I get speechless when I try to express how special and amazing she is. From the day she was born, she was an easy baby. Just, easy. She sleeps when she’s supposed to, most of the time. We’ve found very few things she won’t eat or at least try. She’s curious and interested in the world, loves to dance to pretty much anything (but mostly 60’s rockin soul music). I can’t tell you how many people tell me how precious she is. Always ready with a smile, just amazing. I’m gushing, but if you could meet her, you would understand.

OK, so here’s the first birthday roundup.

Favorite foods: cheese, sweet potatoes, YoBaby yogurt, lasagna
Favorite toys: baby doll, lions (any of her 3), pink giraffe lovey, polar bear, Sully
Naps: every afternoon for at least an hour, two naps on the weekend
Diapers: Size 3
Clothes: still wearing 9 month
Bedtime: 6-7 p.m.
Wake-up: 6:30-7 a.m.
Walking? Not yet. Crawling like a champ, and pulling up, but no independent steps yet.
Loves bath-time.
Totally prefers daddy.

Nora's Birthday

Happy Birthday, baby girl. Love, Mama

Some summary recaps and such

June was a busy month.

Nora got tubes on the 18th, and it went really well. She was already happy, and if you can believe it, she’s even happier. Her progress in learning to crawl picked up almost immediately, and now she gets around so fast it’s scary. So, childproofing: high on the to-do list. Although, we generally plan to take the approach of having her learn what’s ok and not ok to touch instead of removing all objects from everywhere and padding all walls and corners.

On the 23rd we headed to Georgia for what was supposed to be three nights of camping at Stone Mountain, and two nights near Chattanooga, TN. Plans changed. Nora did not handle the heat and change of environment well at all. We spent one night at the campground and one night at a nearby hotel, then we headed home… after a stop at IKEA in Atlanta. It had to be done. How often am I ever so close? Oddly, Nora seemed to enjoy the hotel and the shopping. Hmm…

We will try camping again. Perhaps not in such a hot time of year next time. Also, next time we plan to travel, I will have to put her down to sleep in a travel crib for a few nights before we leave. More than anything, not being in her crib seemed to throw her off. This baby is useless without naps and a good night of sleep.

The theme of the past couple of months, for me, has been the struggle to balance work-life and mom-life. I’m still working half days, and it’s clear that, financially, I can’t do this long term. We plan for me to return to full time after the Labor Day holiday. On the one hand, it’s the safe and practical decision, but on the other… I am so dreading it.

On a bright and happy note, our nieces are coming to visit next weekend! They are Errol’s step-brother’s two girls, ages 13 and 8. I think it’s something they’ve wanted to do for a long time. I have no idea why. Maybe they thing we’re cool or something? I don’t see it. Errol’s parents are bringing them and leaving them with us for the weekend. I’m pretty excited about planning girly-fun things to do, although with these two we’re probably just going to play a lot of Guitar Hero.

I’m going to West Virginia next week

My best friend just had a baby. I used to be jealous of her midwife, and her plans for a home birth. But, I can’t do that to her. I can’t be jealous. She had a very traumatic experience: 4 days of labor, and a 10 pound baby boy who wanted to come out elbows first. Now that I have had my own baby, I don’t believe anyone can have the perfect birth. There’s no way your expectations can match what it’s really like to have a baby. I want to be there to give her the support I had, and to be for her the help I wanted.

Her experience brings back so many memories and raw emotions from after Nora was born. We had a really good talk, and a really good cry together last night. It was so good to have her on the phone.

What can I gain from going for a visit? What can she gain, if I can only be there a couple of days? I want to give her confidence. One thing I can say about my doula, our pediatrician and the lactation consultant: I can look back on their words as encouraging and strengthening. Our pediatrician once said, when I was in the middle of heartbreaking breast feeding problems, was “You need to enjoy your baby.” And, I wasn’t. I want to help my friend have time to enjoy your baby. I know she is where I once was, and just maybe I can help her draw that map to joy.

Stuff happens

And before you know it, nearly two more months have gone by. I don’t realize how fast she is growing until I’m clearing out stuff from the drawers that doesn’t fit her anymore. I look back at photos from the day she was born, and remember how I was afraid I would never get to this place… where I am confident, where I feel like a good mother, where I can see her happy to see me. Now when I pick her up at daycare, and she smiles and reaches for me… I think: yeah, I can see that tomorrow will definitely be even better than today.

But, the past six months? Man, what a whirlwind. This baby, let me sum her up for you:

Oh my gosh, will we ever sleep again?


Yay, four hours of sleep!


Aw, a smile! And she babbles!


Yay! She rolled over!


Her first fever. Will we ever sleep again?


Yay! Six hours of sleep!


Giggles?!? OMG, giggles are the best thing ever!


She can sit up on her own now? She couldn’t do that yesterday. What happened?


A tooth?!? What?

This is how exciting my life is:

That the thing that makes me log in and use my blog in who knows how crazy long is this: Sonic. Brought back. THE STEAK SANDWICH! (That’s chicken fried steak, for the uninitiated.) For a limited time only, but still. I know what I’m eating in February now. I craved this sandwich through my entire pregnancy, and now they have it. Figures. Go now. Get thyself one. I’m not talking about the breakfast toaster steak sandwich silliness they have right now, too. I’m talking about the good ole steak sandwich that I know and love. But here’s the thing: they have it on toaster bread. That’s just ridiculous. Ask for it on a bun. Also, get tots and a cherry limeade, enjoy, and know that all is right with the world.

P.S. This baby is FIVE MONTHS OLD NOW! Can you believe it? I can’t. 🙂

Nora’s Birth Story (Part one of who knows how many)

This has been written and revised so many times under so many states of mind that I can’t even begin to know how to introduce it. I began in tears, the week after she was born, knowing I had to regurgitate as much of what I felt as possible. I have gone back many, many times and added more actual detail. This isn’t even half the story, but it’s a start.

We first saw Nora in breech presentation in a 32 week ultrasound. She stayed in that position for the rest of my pregnancy.

I guess her birth story begins at my 37 week appointment. The doctor had been sure the bulge I felt by my belly button was her bottom. I knew it was her head. It had been there as long as she was big enough for us to be able to tell. A quick internal exam and an ultrasound confirmed what I feared: breech.

I was presented with three options: vaginal birth, version, or cesarean. Vaginal birth and version seemed out immediately. In my mind there were too many risks for baby, and cesarean seemed the safest way to go. My doctor had very little experience with either vaginal breech delivery or version. So, we scheduled a cesarean for August 28, just a week before my due date, giving us 2 weeks to get this baby to flip on her own.

I had spent my entire pregnancy preparing for a drug-free vaginal birth and I felt like my world was crumbling on top of me. We tried lying on an ironing board, getting me and a semi-headstand position, even moxibustion. I cried and prayed a lot, and Errol and I decided we would ask the doctor again about trying version. At my 38 week appointment, we made a new plan with the doctor. August 28 we would report for a version. If successful, we would induce labor, if not then we would have a c-section.

After a week of more trying all the home tricks to turn a breech that we could, and more crying and praying, I decided that version was just not the right answer. I had a really bad feeling about it, and was feeling more and more positive about going in for a planned cesarean. So, at my doctor appointment on August 27, we changed the plan. Cesarean it would be. We immediately went to get pre-admitted and have blood drawn for the next day.

Errol and I went out for a nice dinner at Boure, and I had a glass of wine hoping it would relax me and help me sleep. I had a stuffed pork chop and Errol had ribs. It was still a very restless night. We both had a hard time finally going to bed. Think “Christmas when you’re 5” times a thousand.

We reported to the Emergency entrance at 5:30 a.m. for our 7:30 surgery. My mom met us there. They processed me, tacked on my ID bracelet, and then we walked up to labor and delivery. Errol, my mom and I made the walk to the elevator with my bags and when we got to the floor they had me press the call button and go back into labor and delivery on my own. It was all such a relaxed and surreal experience. I had expected to arrive here in pain, breathing heavily and in a wheelchair. As I sat on a chair at the desk and signed more paperwork, I couldn’t help but think about how I would never labor and deliver a baby in any of these rooms around me.

They took me to a triage room, with three beds divided by curtains, where I went into a bathroom, changed into a gown, and collected a urine sample. Then, I got into a bed. They drew more blood, then they inserted the IV. (Bane of my existence for the next few days because they put it in my right forearm. I wish I had thought to ask why they didn’t put it in the back of my hand. That IV got bumped so many times while I was holding the baby. Very painful.) They also put socks on my feet and some boots that inflate and deflate to prevent blood clots. Next came the monitors for baby and for contractions, then they shaved me. It was a very painful dry shave with an electric buzzer. Ow.

After that, they brought Errol in. I thought I would be able to have him and one other person with me in the triage area, but they said no. One nurse, though, started allowing folks back to see me. We got to visit with our doula, my mom, and our pastor.

Errol got changed into scrubs. We waited for a while. There was a surgery meeting, so our surgery time got pushed back about an hour. The longer we waited, the more I just wanted to hurry up and get it over with. When I look back, though, I wish I had just savored those last moments of pregnancy. I wish I had taken more time to enjoy my whole last day of pregnancy. I wasted a lot of energy on anxiety.

While we were in triage, I was assigned a room out on the maternity floor and my mom was able to get all of our personal belongings settled and have a private place to wait for us.

My doctor (along with what seemed like a dozen nurses, but maybe it was 3 or 4) came in and took another look at the baby’s position with an ultrasound, and talked to us a little more about what to expect. We also got a check in from the pediatrician who is a friend of ours. Then, the nurse anesthetist came in to explain what would happen with the spinal anesthesia and answer any questions we had. He was awesome. This is the person who will be there by your head the whole time, so it’s very important to have someone supportive. He even held my hand while they stitched me up after Errol had left with the baby.

They wheeled me down the hall to the surgery room, and had Errol wait outside while I got prepped. The spinal didn’t hurt at all getting administered. They used a local anesthesia for the site, so all I felt was a lot of pressure. The hardest part was holding still with my back arched, sitting on the edge of the table. I was shaking so bad from the cold room, from the overwhelming emotions, just everything. Thank goodness for Tina, the sweet, sweet nurse who let me lean on her and grip her arms for dear life. They laid me back down and I started feeling a tingle almost immediately. After that, everything seemed to happen all at once. The drape went up blocking my view. It was a lot closer to my face than I expected. Then, they confirmed I was numb and surgery began. The doctors had already gotten a start when they brought Errol in to sit with me.

What happened next is all a blur. I can’t even begin to describe the pressure I felt as they pulled Nora out. It was way more intense than I expected. What seemed like forever tugging and pushing, she emerged at 8:30 a.m. and was taken by the pediatrician to get suctioned and checked out. This station was within my view, so I was able to see her in all her freshly born glory. I immediately noticed her full head of dark hair. She seemed so big to me. When they got her cleared out and I heard her first cries… I can’t describe the emotion. I must have been holding my breath, because I felt sobs just explode out of me when I finally heard her cry. I was overwhelmed with this feeling: she sounds like me, she’s mine. The pediatrician brought her over so I could touch her face and see her up close, then Errol left with her and the pediatrician to go to the nursery and get her weighed and checked out.

I said I had a bad feeling about version, and I know now that my gut instinct was right on. When the doctor extracted my uterus to stitch it back up, he remarked that there were 4 or 5 golf-ball sized fibroids attached to the exterior. There were probably more in the muscle that he could not see. So, I feel like this was our answer. Perhaps their placement was in such a spot where she would have been unable to turn in any other position than the one she was in. (When I had my 2-week check in with him, he confirmed this was, indeed, the most likely explanation for why she was breech, and it’s probable that future pregnancies will result in breech presentation.)

Coming (sometime before her first birthday, maybe): I get moved to recovery, my first time to hold her, the sweet honeymoon days in the hospital, and our harrowing first two weeks at home. Stay tuned!

Open letter to The Cough

Hey, Cough. Yeah, I’m talkin to you. LEAVE MY BABY ALONE. Ever since you announced your presence at 3 a.m. on Friday, December 7, (yes, yes, I do remember the very day and hour) you have totally taken over her body and her personality. I realize you must serve some purpose, but come on. Have you no common sense? Surely you realize you have more than over-stayed your welcome. Take that mucous you got rattling around back there in her throat and GET OUT. I mean, the Fever left, and so did the Pain and Ear Infection. Haven’t you done your job already?? You rob the child of her smiles, stop her attempts at conversation, and make it impossible for anyone to get any quality sleep around here. Every time you stop her breath, you stop my heart. STOP IT. So, whatever you’ve got to do, do it already and leave. You can’t stay here. That is all.