Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Baby Story - My longest post ever

In honor of J's 2nd birthday tomorrow (!!), today for the first time I'm actually writing down his birth story. It's not that anything strange or scary happened, but seeing as how it was one of the most beautiful days of our life I think it's worth commemorating. It's funny, I couldn't tell you alot about any other day 2 years ago but the weeks before J's birth and the day itself are etched in my memory. I remember what I was wearing that day, details about the nurses (one named Linda had just found out she was pregnant with her first kid, I wonder how she's doing), even the fact that NBA basketball finals were on TV. So here's the story for those of you who are interested.

J was overdue. Not just a little overdue, but TEN DAYS -- he was due April 20 and evicted (I mean born) May 1. Looking back I'm wondering if we figured the due date wrong but at the time all I knew was, I was READY. TO. HAVE. THE. BABY. ALREADY. I had been on maternity leave since April 15, just sitting around the house waiting. And waiting. And doing jumping jacks, and jumping off the bottom of the stairs (I'm not kidding), and taking hot baths everyday (dr.'s advice), and drinking cranberry tea (twin sister's advice), and taking castor oil (BAD IDEA - internet advice), and having "hot monkey sex" (mom's advice and yes those were her exact words), all to no avail. Add in the constant, 2 to 3 times daily calls from my sisters and mother-in-law (Are you feeling anything? Did your water break? We didn't hear from you this morning, are you at the hospital? DID YOU HAVE THE BABY WITHOUT TELLING US?) and I was one miserable cookie.

After 2 straight weeks of being 2cm dilated with no real contractions and 2 visits where they "stripped the membranes" (2 words: never. again.), we all decided that if J didn't make an appearance by April 30 we would evict him, i.e. induce. On Sunday night I prayed prayed prayed that I would go into labor on my own because I was convinced that being induced would result in a c-section, or worse. But J had different plans - all day long he kicked me furiously and wouldn't allow me to get any rest, but no labor started. After a night of Charley horses and horrible back spasms (NOT contractions, just back pain) I was more than ready to be induced the next morning.

All night long we were restless, excited, nervous, petrified, the whole spectrum of emotions. It was like Christmas Eve, waiting for the presents you know you're going to get the next day but no clue what they're going to be. On the one hand, we knew that in less than 24 hours we would be parents and get to meet the baby I'd felt kicking and seen dozens of times on ultrasounds I would sneak and do on myself at work (hey there's perks to knowing how to use an ultrasound and having one nearby). On the other hand, I was irrationally afraid of being induced, not just the labor but whole process. Believe it or not J's birth was the only time in my life where I've ever been hospitalized or even had an IV catheter.

So...we arrived at St. Rose Monday, May 1, bright and early as instructed. Thankfully there was only one other birth going on so we were checked into a room right away. The nurse had a hard time getting an IV catheter in and had to poke me SIX times in my arm, hand, and wrist -- oddly of all the medical procedures that day the IV catheter was the most traumatic for me. They checked me once -- yep, still 2cm -- and started up the Pitocin. For 4 hours, nothing major. A few little contractions that felt like Braxton Hicks, and no dilation. Around noon my doctor came in and after watching me laughing and joking with my sister told me I was "a little too happy" and had them turn the Pitocin up. Still nothing regular. At 2pm the she came back and had them turn me up again, at which point she and the nurse got into a little argument over turning the Pitocin up that high. They actually stepped out into the hallway to exchange words, after which Dr. Keller (who I LOVE) came back in, turned up the Pit, and told me I'd be getting a new nurse. (I had never seen this balls-of-steel side of Dr. Keller before and let me tell you I was impressed.) Well, she was right -- within 20 minutes I felt a strange throbbing in my back that turned into full-blown every 3 minutes contractions pretty quickly, and full-blown horrifying back labor a few minutes after that.

By 6pm I was at about 5cm dilation and the back labor was BRUTAL. I couldn't sit down, I couldn't stand up, I could barely think straight. All pretensions of "trying without pain meds" flew out of the window and I begged for an epidural. (While we were waiting for the anesthesiologist they gave me something to "take the edge off" that helped with the pain but also led to me saying things on the birth video like, "I'm high high high as a kite in the sky sky sky" and "Wow, this stuff is great, they could sell it on the street.") Right after the epidural -- which was nowhere near as scary as I'd imagined -- at around 7pm my water finally broke, which put the labor into hyperdrive. By 10pm I knew it was time to push, and when the nurse checked I was 10cm and she could feel the hair. Hair! He had hair! I was close enough to delivering that Dr. Keller literally sprinted into the room and it was like the pit at the Indy 500 as they broke down the bed for delivery and medical equipment started randomly appearing out of the drawers and cabinets. I distinctly remember me and TH looking at each other and we started laughing. It was so weird - here we were at this moment after 12 years together, 4 years of marriage, a horrible miscarriage, and 10 days overdue. I think you call it "giddy with excitement."

I only pushed for about 20 minutes. Because of the epidural I could kind of feel what was happening but I had no idea if I was pushing hard enough, so every time she told me to push I would overdo it and bear down so hard that I had broken blood vessels in my eyes the next day. At one point my sister B was talking to my mom in Alaska and twin sister D in Denver 3-way on her cellphone, and they were all crying and yelling "He's coming! He's coming" over the phone. B turned to Dr. Keller and asked if she could put them on speakerphone, at which point Steel-balls Keller resurfaced and firmly told her, "You better not."

J was born at 10:24pm screaming his head off. My immediate impression was that he was HUGE, he had alot of very curly hair, and he looked like TH's dad (which he still does). Then I burst into tears. TH was standing next to me looking completely shocked, and my sister starting singing "Happy Birthday" softly while they cleaned J off. When they handed him to me at a healthy 7lbs 2oz and 19 inches, my first words to him were, "I've wanted you for so long."

And the rest as they say is history.

(pictures tomorrow)

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Ok today's post is total vanity but I have to share. This morning when we came back from church TH complimented me that I was really looking good in my dress, a dress I bought 3 years ago for my grandmother's funeral and at that time it just barely fit. Now the same dress is almost 2 sizes too big. I looked at the date today and realized that I have been on The Great Weight Loss Plan of 2007-2008 for almost a year!! I started right after J's birthday last year when I looked at these pictures (yeah I got brave and threw in a swimsuit picture for your horror):

Holy crap look at the size of those thighs!!

Wearing a 2-piece no less, I'm one of those big girls who shows it proudly LOL

Not that I looked terrible but that was definitely a heavy point for me. I've had a gym membership out here for going on 4 years, but while I was pregnant and throughout J's first year of life I basically paid every month to say I had a gym membership. I didn't work out at all. Partially out of paranoia following miscarriage, partially out of exhaustion from my then-60-hour-a-week job, and partially just basking in being pregnant. I lucked out in that without much effort I only gained 25 pounds with J, and thanks to round-the-clock breastfeeding I lost all the baby weight within 6 weeks. Which is actually sad, considering that those pictures are of me at my pre-pregnancy weight. That's right, I was fat before I ever got pregnant, and I was happy to get back to that weight.

Sooo, right after J's first birthday last year I finally got my act together and started a real attempt at weight loss. I didn't hire a trainer, I didn't join Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or anything else that costs money, I didn't start on a fad diet like Atkins or South Beach. I did it all by myself, with only a couple of "rules":
  1. Stop stuffing my face.

  2. Get off my ass.

  3. Give it a year instead of wanting results in a month.

That's it. Of course there are more details but that's what it comes down to. As of this morning, 51 weeks later, I have lost (drumroll, please).....22 pounds. It may not sound like alot but that's the most weight I've ever lost. Ever. I also can say that I started running in the last year, even going so far as to do a 5K (which I plan to do again pretty soon). So. Here are a couple of pics we took after church this morning. I know I'm not "skinny" by any standards but in my eyes this is a HUGE improvement. Also note the ripped arms in the last picture from faithful Body Pump classes 2-3 times a week. (Do you want tickets to the GUN SHOW?? LOL).


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Baby Fever

I think I'm getting "Baby Fever." Ok, I know I'm getting baby fever. J turns 2 in 9 days (!!!), and suddenly the ol' biological clock is ticking away again, like a little angel (or devil) sitting on my shoulder...tick-tock...J needs a sibling, you don't have any other family in Vegas...tick-tock...If you started tomorrow you'd still be over 32 by the time the next one's born...tick-tock...You didn't want your kids to be more than 3 years apart, remember?...tick-tock...Remember the miscarriages? It's not guaranteed to happen easily next time!...tick-tock...J's pregancy was super easy, why not do it again? You loved it!...tick-tock...You have 3 bedrooms now, make use of them...tick-tock...Don't you want a little girl? Or another super fantastic little boy?
And around and around we go.

On the other shoulder, there's the little devil (or is it angel) that is The Voice of Reason: Hey! You just bought a house! You have yet to pay the first mortgage! Prioritize, lady!...and...You can't afford another maternity leave anytime soon, remember how broke you were last time?...and....It's so great now that J sleeps 11-12 hours a night. Did we forget that he didn't accomplish this little feat until he was 10 months old?...and...Remember the miscarriages? Do you want to chance that again?...and...J's pregnancy was super easy. Why tempt fate?...and...Hello, daycare is not cheap for one kid, how can we afford it with two now that we have a mortgage and everything...

Big huge SIGH....Right now we're happy with one, but I know we'd be happier with more than one. If only I could get my brain on the same page as my biological clock...

.....Anyhoo, here's some random pics I took at our daycare lady's wedding this weekend to show off my new SWEET camera:

On TH's jacket after the "Butterfly Release" (taken up close)

Bridal bouquet (taken from about 45ft. away)

J and Daddy lookin' all Miami Vice. Note that they're not sitting with the rest of us...could it be because a certain "someone" got a little too happy to see his daycare peeps at the wedding and started yelling out their names like he was giving shout-outs at a rap concert?

Cutie ringbearer (taken from about 45ft. away)

Cool moment caught on camera when the ringbearer (the bride's son) was looking at the audience through her veil. (Taken from about 45ft. away)

Flowers on the aisle...can't get this one rotated correctly on Blogger...

Pretty arch over the altar. (Taken from about 75ft. away. This camera rocks!)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Not gone, just harder to see.

Today's topic is kind of uncomfortable. Obviously if you've seen my pics you know that I am a Black person, as is my husband, and my son. (Don't get me started on the comments I get from white and black people about J's possible heritage due to his light-colored hair. He came out that way, we don't know why his hair is that color, God picked it and we like it. But he's not "mixed" as many people insist, he is indeed a Black Kid. If you're cringing, sorry, it's not natural for me to use the term African-American unless I'm writing a paper for a sociology class).

Anyway, we live a very blessed life here in Vegas, although the community we live and work in is not exactly....multicultural. We've made peace with that and actually have developed a pretty good network of friends from all races through work and church, so usually it's not something we have to think about. There have been 2 recent incidents, however, that have really driven home for me the fact that racism is still alive and strong in our country, just not as in-your-face as it used to be.

So remember the fair we went to the other day. A funny thing happened on the way into the fair. We were standing in the long, hot, dusty line to get admission tickets. J was in the stroller in front of me wilting by the minute, and he started to throw a mini-tantrum and threw his cup of water on the ground. The guy in front of us picked it up and turned around to hand it back, literally did a double-take, and gave us this really strange look. As I was saying thanks for the cup, I glanced down and saw that his entire right leg was encased in a tattoo of a guy doing the Heil-Hitler pose with his hand in the air, there were swastikas all over, and the tattoo guy's mouth was screaming open with the words "SKINS RULE." I kid you not. It was one of the weirdest moments I've had in recent memory. The guy kept glancing back at us, and then he whispered to his girlfriend and then she looked back at us. Oh yeah I didn't mention of course we were the only black people in sight for miles around. So we had to stand in line behind this Skinhead guy for another ten minutes until he got his tickets. I don't why but my heart was pounding, my hands were shaking, and I felt ill every time I looked down at his tattoo.

The second incident happened to me yesterday at work. A lady who I never met before brought her dog in because he was limping. When I came in the room the dog started growling at me, which is par for the course for alot of animals when they see the white coat coming. Once I started my exam, however, he calmed down and let me do what I needed to do. As we were getting ready to take the dog in back for x-rays the lady goes, "Dr. E, you seem like a really good doctor and everything and you're a nice person, but I think Jake would do better with a different doctor." When I asked her if there was something I did that upset her, she said, "No, no, no! You're very nice. But we got Jake from a shelter and we're pretty sure he was abused by the people who owned him before, who were probably Mexican. Because of that he hates colored people. That's why he growled at you." Those were her exact words. Not "he doesn't like people of color," but "he hates colored people." What do you even say in a situation like that? Trust me, alot of things came to mind but I just laughed it off and said, "well, he'll have to deal with his fears today because I'm the only doctor here."

Sigh...I don't even know why I'm writing about this, really. I guess just as a reminder that some things that seem like they're gone are just harder to see.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hey - there's actually a county fair here!

Somehow living in Vegas it never occurred to me that there was life elsewhere in Clark County, Nevada. Lo and behold, not only are there a few little towns around Vegas, there is actually a County Fair. Upon finding this out TH and I knew we had to introduce J to the fair concept so off we went yesterday morning. It was about 50 minutes away, and we had a great time on the way there singing songs and playing "I Spy." Somewhere along the way J started saying "Eye, mommy, eye" and rubbing his eyes, which we attributed to his seasonal allergies (he has to take baby Claritin all the time). The fair itself was pretty cool - not the biggest I've been to, but not bad. We ate giant turkey legs and drank lemonade. We bought cowboy hats and played carnival games. They had a really cool area called "Kids Town" that was all free little-kid carnival games like bean-bag toss and making music with cowbells, which J loved. After a couple of hours it became apparent that J's eye problems was a little more than allergies -- his left eye was gummed almost shut and he was rubbing it furiously. TH and I looked at each other and the same time realized what was going on -- PINKEYE!! Yep. J is staying home from daycare today and as I type this morning I can see his right eye starting to look funky, too. Sigh.....

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What do you do all day?

I recently came across an interesting book in which moms from across the U.S. kept a diary of a day in their lives. There were full-time working moms, stay-at-home moms, moms in rural and urban areas, single moms, etc. I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing but it's interesting reading. It seems that across the board, we're stretching ourselves thin, beating ourselves up, and in alot of cases almost burning out trying to do everything that today's mom wants or is expected to do. But overall the moms in the book are still happy at the end of their long days, and I find that to be true for myself as well. So yesterday I kept a diary of my day to see just what it is that leaves me so worn out by bedtime. Here goes:

  • 5:30am - woken up by puppy needing to be fed (I'm "fostering" a 3-week old patient of mine whose mom died delivering her pups. There are bottle feedings every few hours).
  • 5:40am - Made lunch, got J's backpack ready for daycare, put puppy's soiled bedding the washing machine, took puppy out to start training her to potty outside.
  • 6:00am - Took turns with TH to shower, get dressed.
  • 6:30am - TH got J up and got him dressed while I did my hair/makeup. Started coffee, ran around looking for cell phone charger as cell phone was dead (under the couch - hmm wonder how that got there). Scrambled to get trash and recycling together for TH to put on the curb including contents of litter box I forgot to clean the night before.
  • 7:14am - Left to take J to daycare and go to work. 9 minutes late. Still don't have the new commute down since moving. Gotta work on that.
  • 7:39am - Dropped J off at daycare. Cleaned up crushed fruity Cheerios from backseat.
  • 8:02am- Pulled into work 2 minutes late. Oh well. First appointment already waiting. 2 more appointments being checked in as I came in the door, as I ran back to my office I could see one animal actively bleeding in the lobby. Shit.
  • 8:03 am - Accosted by kennel technician letting me know one of our boarding animals passed away in the night and I need to call the owners (who are out of town) ASAP to talk to them. Called owners, spent 10 minutes on phone with grief-stricken lady.
  • 8:15am - Finally made it into first appointment. All exam rooms now full of waiting people. (I was the only doctor seeing appt's in the morning).
  • 10:30am - 7th appointment of the day. First euthanasia of the day. Lady acting really strange, doesn't want us to cremate her pet, would rather have me wrap it up in a fancy pillowcase she brought so she can take it home. Ok, whatever works for you. Bitten by cat as it took its last breath, luckily didn't break the skin.
  • 10:50am - ran next door to 7-Eleven to get coffee. Still haven't had breakfast besides a banana in the car and my coffee this morning on the way to daycare. No break in sight. Contemplated getting a bag of Doritos but remembered that I brought carrot sticks in my lunch bag. Diet disaster averted.
  • 11:30am - appointment with lady who brought ALL 5 OF HER CHILDREN with her. Dog having severely foul bloody diarrhea. Walked into exam room where kids were pulling pictures off the wall and trying to make each other eat dog biscuits, dog looking half-dead in the corner, lady shoves a stinking ziploc with a "stool sample" in it at me before I can even introduce myself.
  • 12:30pm - finished last appointment of the morning, had until 2pm to do two procedures. Hopes of sitting down for lunch and returning phone calls quickly dwindling.
  • 1:24pm - Scarfed down lunch while second procedure was being prepped. Returned a couple of phone calls. No time to write up charts. Checked online to track my new camera. Delivery on Friday! Yayyyy!!
  • 2pm - Second euthanasia of the day. Very sad. Techs are calling me "Dr. Death" today. Not funny.
  • 5:24pm - Left work, went to pick up J. Not bad, I'll be there by 5:45 which is my personal goal each day - I hate for him to be the last kid picked up. On the way home to entertain J I taught him the song "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" and was surprised at how many animal sounds he knows.
  • 6:23pm - Finally home. This new commute sucks.
  • 6:24pm - Let J and TH loose in the backyard while I started dinner--salmon, red potatoes, and salad. And a chicken breast on the Foreman Grill for when J refuses the salmon. Played with J while dinner was cooking.
  • 7:57pm - J in bed. Spent a few minutes checking email, jacked around on the internet, tracked the new camera again just in case (still coming Friday woo-hoo!).
  • 8:48pm - On the way to the gym, rocked out to a song I never heard before. Immediately embarassed (and glad I was alone) when the announcer said it was a song by Miley Cyrus.
  • 9pm - Body Pump class at the gym. Upped my weight today, legs will be sore tomorrow but my arms and shoulders are getting ripped, yeah!
  • 10:23pm - Back home from the gym. Decided to take my shower at night to save time in the morning. Tried to be proactive and get lunch and daycare backpack together beforehand. TH already asleep.
  • 11:36pm - Fed the puppy one last time and took her outside. Smart girl - she actually went in the dirt like she's supposed to. Went to bed, set clock for 5:30am.
Wow, reading it over it seems like a full day, and I didn't even write down alot of things. I challenge you to try it - you may be surprised at how much you're really cramming into your day, especially if you're a mom! (And I only have one kid, LOL).

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Ok, I know I promised new house pics and more recent shots of J, but of course now that the internet is up and running, the camera is refusing to cooperate with being in a new house. I'm getting some stuff uploaded off the memory card, but I haven't been able to take any NEW pictures since we left the other house. Go figure. The good news is that after alot of cursing at the old camera and sighing and moping around looking meaningfully at TH's new flat-screen TV, he finally relented and I ordered a new camera today! It's sweeeet. A Canon. Not an SLR just yet, I'm still a newbie photographer, but I'm ready for the next step after the old point-and-shoot. So we should have pics within 7-10 business days.

Do you ever get the feeling that you're living now what will later be some of your best memories? The last couple of weeks have been pretty spectacular for our little fam. I catch myself just looking around trying to soak in the whole vibe because I KNOW I'm going to look back at this period in our lives later and think, "Man, those were some of the best days of our life." Everything isn't perfect, it never is, but for once we're firing on all cylinders. There's the obvious -- the house, the move, the immediate decrease in stress. But it's the undercurrent that's really great right now. J is at a delicious age. Sure, he throws random tantrums on a regular basis now (for instance as we're struggling up the aisle this morning to get communion with him trying to force his way to the front yelling "MY TURN! MY TURN!"). But he's becoming my best friend. I'm serious. We have very interesting conversations now, such as today when I asked him why he loves his blankey so much, and he looked up at me with those big brown eyes, rubbed his blanket against his cheek, and said, "Cause I hold it." Every day he asks me to sing his favorite song to him, "No One" by Alicia Keys. "Sing no one, no one, no one, Mommy." And when I sing it to him, it's about him: No one, no one, no one, can get in the way of what I feel for you....

TH and I are having a Marriage Renaissance of sorts, as well. People say that moving and buying a house are extremely stressful events for a marriage. It's been the opposite for us. Throughout this whole ordeal, there's been very little bickering, alot of hand-holding, and in general a sense of "us against the world" that we haven't had since we first moved to Vegas four years ago. We've been together forever (half our life! We counted!), and it's still good. How can that be?

Anyway I could go on and on. I only hope this blissful time does too.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My kid already knows this.

For a couple of weeks now I have been watching the new TLC show "I Can Make You Thin," starring British "weight loss guru" Paul McKenna. He has an interesting strategy for losing weight, in that it doesn't involve dieting in the traditional sense of the word. McKenna's ideas are based on consciously eating, as opposed to the kind of unconscious or subconscious eating that most people in modern countries tend to do. I haven't ordered his book yet as the jury is still out for me, but I think what he calls "the rules" make a lot of inherent sense. Here are the Basic 4 Rules:
  1. Eat whenever you are hungry
  2. Eat only what you want, never what you think you ‘should’.
  3. Eat consciously and enjoy every mouthful.
  4. Stop when you even think your body is full.

What I find most interesting about this strategy is that when I watch J and other young children eat, this is exactly what they do. When J is hungry, he eats. When he's not, he doesn't. He has no concept of what are foods that he "should" or "shouldn't" eat other than what I tell him, so he naturally likes to eat green beans and corn, and to this day refuses to eat cookies -- because that's what he likes. I don't think he purposely eats consciously, enjoying every mouthful, but because he's a little kid and eating solid food is still relatively new, it takes him a long time to chew, and when he likes something, well, he holds it in his mouth for awhile (sometimes for an hour. Ew.) And when he's full, he stops eating.

Somewhere along the way, as kids grow up, we TEACH them to become compulsive, emotional, obsessive, unconscious eaters. As a new mom I've spent plenty of time standing over the high chair obsessing about what and when and how much J is eating (I've even posted about it a few times). When I've read books or talked to the pediatrician or my mom, the answer is always the same: They'll eat when they're hungry. They'll like different things eventually. Oddly enough after thinking about applying McKenna's strategy to my own life, it's becoming easier for my Mom Brain to finally accept J's NORMAL toddler eating habits.

Like I said....interesting.