Tuesday, July 26, 2011

thoughts on labor


Blergh. I don't even know where to start!

Most of my life, when I thought about childbirth, I thought about the pain. And when I thought about the pain, I thought about the epidural. I always said I'd get an epidural. Even after we found out we were pregnant, that was the plan. Epidural = good.

Then I turned into this crazy, researching, list-making mama-to-be and the more I read/learned, the more I wondered if maybe I should give my plan a little more thought.

Now before I go any further, please know this: I'm not going to get all Judgey Von HolierThanThou on anyone. I'm all for doing what's right for you and no one else so please, by all means, go forth with the plan that's best for you.

I'm also not naive enough to think that my current plans will unfold exactly the way I imagine. And so I'm educating myself on all scenarios and all possibilities, so that I'm as prepared as I can be. My daddy always said to expect the best and plan for the worst. Done.

Phew. How's that for a disclaimer? Where was I? Right...the research part.

"Natural childbirth" is basically giving birth with no medical intervention. No medicine, no surgery. Here's what I've learned about the pros:
  • If all is well with you and the baby, it's definitely the safest method of birth
  • You remain in control of your body (you can't move around if you're numb/on an epidural) and you're as alert as possible throughout the whole thing
  • It decreases the risk of other interventions (i.e. Pitocin, extraction or forceps delivery, catheterization, etc)
  • Labor usually doesn't last as long
  • There are links between natural childbirth and the ease of breastfeeding (the more "involved" the birth is, the more difficult it may be for baby to nurse)
  • Recovery is better and shorter
There's a lot of literature out there to elaborate on each of those things (and then some), but that's the gist of it all.

I've been reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (it's okay to laugh) and there's so much in there about how beneficial breastfeeding is for you and the baby and how much easier it can be if you have a natural birth. That's honestly what opened my eyes to it all and after reading more and more, it's what I want to work toward.

Unfortunately, the set up we have with our military insurance limits our ability to get this kind of "alternative" care and support - no midwife, no doula, no birthing center (all of which would be my preference). So we're flying solo for the most part.

And y'all? I'm skeered.

I'm scared that it won't work out, that the hospital staff will push back, that I'll give in (and then feel guilty), that I'll be in labor for a bajillion hours and won't have the energy to finish the task, that the doctor will be mean to me. I'm scared of all of those things.

So I've been doing more reading and prepping. And lately, a lot of praying. I reallyreallyreally believe that if I rely on God completely during this time (and that all is right and normal with my body and the babe's) I can do this. What an exercise in faith, right?

Things I'm praying for:
  • Courage
  • Perseverance
  • The ability to remember why I want to do this, when the pain is convincing me otherwise
  • The knowledge to be able to discuss options confidently with the labor and delivery staff
  • A labor and delivery staff who is willing to work with us
  • That Andrew is prepared to talk me through it when I start to question our intentions
  • No fear, no fear, no fear
  • And peace. So that no matter what happens, I'm not held back by the "could haves" or "should haves"
  • Oh, and that whole grace thing. Because no matter how our boy is born, I did the best I could.
One last thing. The network of support out there is INCREDIBLE. You wouldn't believe the words of wisdom, book recommendations, pieces of advice and prayers of support I've received as we work through this. I love that about women. It honestly makes me feel all "yeah! I'm part of the sisterhood!" and it's awesome.

One more thing (and really the last thing) because it's too funny not to share.

My aunt tells this story (I hope you don't mind, Mir!) about her reaction after touring the hospital when she was pregnant with her first. In a moment of real frustration with conventional birthing methods, things got a little heated between her and Mike, her husband. She was emotionally charged and he was, I'm sure, a little exasperated that he couldn't do anything to talk her down. His response?

"Mir! You're not going to be happy unless Holly Treehugger delivers this baby in the woods!"

To which she responded (while crying harder):

"I don't want to have my baby in the woods!"

We laugh about it now.

I would be lying if I said I haven't had a few of those moments in the last few weeks, but I know that all will be well.

Treehugger, or no treehugger.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

28 weeks (3rd trimester, whaaat?)

28 weeks


This week has left me feeling a bit exhausted. After fretting about the possibility of having gestational diabetes, reading all about breast feeding and natural childbirth (more thoughts on that later this week) and then getting a crash course in labor and delivery, I'm feeling a little bit like I need a nap.

I definitely feel more prepared and excited to have this baby than I ever have before, but preparing for it is still exhausting. And mothers everywhere are saying, "Just wait 'til he gets here."

Anyway, I'll elaborate on some of those thoughts later. In the meantime, here are some stats on our boy:
  • We're now in the third trimester. Whoa.
  • He weighs about 2.5 lbs, or as much as a head of Chinese Cabbage. Not regular cabbage, Chinese. Just wanted to make sure that's clear.
  • From head to heel, he should be around 15 inches long.
  • He has eyelashes and is blinking.
  • He's developing billions of neurons and adding more body fat.
And mama's doing well, too! My biggest complaint? Back pain. Wah. But we got an exercise ball yesterday and even just sitting on it takes some major pressure off, so I'm feeling good about that.

That's all for now, folks. Hope your week starts off happily.

Friday, July 22, 2011

letters to my son: wishes for you


At the shower in Concord, each of the guests was given a little note to fill out “Wishes for Baby.” I have read over them several times, coveting these prayers and hopes for our son, and I decided that I wanted to jot down some of my own thoughts on the matter…

Sweet baby,

I want so many things for you. I think about these things a lot, wondering what kind of boy you’ll be and praying that you have everything you need to be good and happy. I want to give you as many experiences and memories as possible. I want to teach you things, even hard things. I want good things for you, I hope you know that.

I hope that you are a dreamer like your daddy.
I hope you aren’t afraid of things you can’t control.
I hope you love fiercely and easily.
I hope you get to know everyone in your family well. And I hope you have many memories of each of them.
I hope you laugh infectiously.
I hope you never forget that we love you so, so much.
I hope you ignore obstacles. I’ve seen your daddy move mountains and I pray that you have that same ambition.
I hope you become the best version of you.
I hope you respect everyone until they give you a reason not to.
I hope you grow to love God and desire to walk with Him, but only when you’re ready – when you’re making the decision for yourself and no one else.

You mean so much to us already. I can’t wait to meet you, I can’t wait to watch you grow and I can’t wait to love you more.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

on giving myself grace

standard of grace

This post has been rolling around in my head for a while now. I formulate thoughts when I can't sleep or when I'm in the car and when it feels coherent, I put pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard. You get the picture.

Then today, when I was perusing my favorite blogs, I came across that picture up there and decided that today is as good as ever to get these thoughts out...

Here's the thing. The real, raw, honest-to-goodness thing: I can be a bit of a perfectionist. An annoying one. But not in all things, only some.

Don't look closely at the seams of things I sew or you'd argue that I'm not a perfectionist. But ask my husband about my cleaning tendencies and he'll tell you that I am. He might use the word "crazy" but he really means "perfectionist." Really.

What's so ridiculous about this part of my personality is that it comes only from me and the standards I set for myself. I have the most laid-back, gracious, helpful husband in the world. It still amazes me. He is a saint, I tell you, and he makes my life easier and my heart lighter.

So the pressure? Yeah, that comes from me.

The dishes must be done.
The laundry must be folded.
The gifts must be handmade.
The pie crust must be homemade.
The house must be straightened up.
The thank you notes must not be store-bought. I have an Etsy shop, after all...
The dinner must be ready as soon as he gets home.


Now let me keep it real a little bit more: some of those things come out of a desire to "be a good wife" and some of them come from my own personal (selfish?) preferences. I like it when my house is picked up and things are just generally in order. I get all twitchy and stuff when it's not. But guess what makes it hard to keep order?

A baby. A crying, hungry, needy baby.

So I decided that I need to get this situation in check before I make myself crazy by not meeting insane goals that I've set for myself.

It started when I was preparing to write thank you notes for our first shower. I would make them myself! I designed them and picked out the paper and then realized how long it would take to assemble them. All of them. Oh, the pressure!

So you know what I did? I bought some. I bought some very cute ones. And it was such a relief.

Then I was going to make Andrew an apple pie for his birthday. And I decided that I would make the crust from scratch, rather than use the store-bought kind. Along with the pork tenderloin and homemade bread and everything else that needed to be prepped for that dinner, I would also make the pie crust. Oh, the pressure!

I didn't. I used a store-bought crust instead and it was delicious. And Andrew didn't even notice.

See the crazy, people? I set these absurd standards for myself and my home, get all flustered when I can't meet them and then feel like I've let someone down. But someone = me and only me.

It was so empowering to say, "I'm giving myself the grace to ____________." I set those standards, so I can bring them down a notch. And on the days when I start feeling yucky about it or inadequate or less than, I remember that those aren't the things that define me. At least they shouldn't be.

I will not let them be.

What was it that Jesus said to Martha?

"You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one."

Yes. Indeed only one. People, I've wept over that.

So for every task - for every thing on my list that makes me feel overwhelmed - I ask how I can give myself the grace to let it go. Something on the list can go, I promise. And one day, something that feels like it should stay on the list will have to go as well. And I'll be okay with that.

Because few things are needed - or indeed only one.

Monday, July 18, 2011

27 weeks and pictures of friends

27 weeks

There aren't many updates on the developmental front, other than the fact that he's growing A LOT. Other than that, we're just chugging along!

This weekend, Andrew and I went to Greensboro to see one of his old college roommates get married. Can I just tell you how much it warms my heart to reunite with these people?

art's wedding

Also, can I tell you how much it warms my heart that friends share pictures? Otherwise, I wouldn't have any since I forgot my camera. So thanks, Christina :)

There were a few folks who couldn't make it, and who were missed dearly, but the GREAT news is that there's another preggo in the group (due a few weeks before me) and we're the lucky recipients of a shower/cookout in August. Love.

Hope your Monday is going well, my friends...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

andrew's birthday trip

Dear Andrew,

Today is your birthday. I wish that you didn't have to work because I'm sure that doesn't feel very celebratory. All day I've been thinking about what I'd do for you, for your birthday, if I had all the money in the world.

And I decided that I'd take you to New York, our most favorite place to be (until you take me to Europe, of course).


I think I'd like to stay at The Plaza this time, because it's right by Central Park and that feels very "New York" to me. And because that's where they always go for drinks on Friends. They're always like, "Let's go to the Plaza!" and "Let's have drinks at the Plaza to celebrate!" I want to be able to say something like that to you. Just once.


I don't have many plans - I just want to walk around with you, like we love to do when we're in a new place. We like to take it all in without being touristy. I love that about you. We'll probably find a bench at some point to just sit on and talk and do some people-watching. You'll make me laugh, I bet.

Then I think we'll need a snack. So you know what we'll do??


Just kidding! That's for my birthday trip :)

I'll take you to some cool coffee shop, someplace non-Trump Towerish, so you can have some of your beloved espresso.


I'll ask them to put a heart in the foam because I looooove you.

Then, we'll need to go back to the room and change because I have a surprise for you! We're going to dinner somewhere swanky, but not like that one place we went on our honeymoon. Boo. I haven't figured out the exact place yet, but we're going somewhere with a lot of character. There will be steak and seafood and lots of beautiful culinary displays. We'll really enjoy it. And then?


Les Mis! Because I know you love it and you want me to love it, too. I'm sure I will.

After the show, we'll probably go have a glass of wine somewhere. And we'll stay up late because we love the city so much that we don't want to leave it.

I hope you have fun. You do so much for me on a regular basis - all I want to do is make this day special for you. You are the greatest gift and I'm so thankful for the life we have together.

Happy Birthday. I love you!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

unloading my iphone pics (pt2)

Remember this post? I decided it was time for round 2!

This is Rudy. He has a squishy face.

Beach day! Shortly after Andrew left for Groton, I treated myself to a day in the sun. And a pedicure :)

And then I went to the bookstore and bought some reading material for our boy. Who we didn't know was a boy at the time...

From the plane on my way to see Andrew up north. Pretty, eh?

Dinner in Newport. Ohhhh, lobster.

The sweet necklace that my honey bought for me while we were there.

Ice cream in a coffee mug. It's more fun that way.

Did you know that he's part kangaroo?

Farmer's Market bounty.

My garden's bounty. Not quite as impressive, but it sure was good.

Flowers for my birthday!

Opening baby gifts from some sweet ladies at Andrew's home church.

Oh, that's just our new ride :)

Reeaaally cute sailor knot headband.

Aaaand another cute puppy picture. I was changing the sheets on our bed and he was too lazy to get out of my laundry pile.

The End!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

26 weeks!

26 weeks

I told Andrew that we're 14 weeks away from the due date and his eyes bugged out of his head. That seems to be a common feeling around here these days. When did time start moving at lightning speed?

This week, we've got a little hothouse cucumber-sized baby on our hands! At least that's what babycenter.com says. Also:
  • The network of nerves in his ears is better developed and more sensitive than before, so he probably is able to hear a lot from the outside
  • He's inhaling and exhaling small amounts of amniotic fluid, which is essential for the development of his lungs
  • He's fattening up!
Gotta love those fat rolls on little baby legs, amen?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

baby shower: concord edition

We had the first of several showers a few weeks ago and it was so much fun! This one was for local friends of the Castrodales, as well as their sweet church family. They've all been so welcoming since I started coming 'round those parts. Love them.

It was hosted by Laura (SIL), Aunt Shelly (Andrew's aunt) and Timbs (a family friend) and held at my mother-in-law's house. You still with me? Good. Now I'll tell you about it in pictures.

There was a lot of good food, including eleventy billion dips made by Laura, who knows me so well...


There were presents...


And there were adorable decorations...

Shower collage
The toys belonged to Andrew's cousins. Aunt Shelly dug them out of the attic for the occasion. This baby is so loved, y'all.

There were NOT shower games. Because I draw the line at awkward games that no one really enjoys. And my sweet hostesses like to cater to my every whim :)

But they did some amazingly sentimental things (my love language) instead, like:
  • Requesting on the invitation that guests bring a children's book with a note inside, instead of a card
  • Having everyone fill out Wishes for Baby cards, filling in the blank to statements like "I hope you're not afraid of _____________." Seriously, I'll treasure them forever.
  • Asking guests to write down words of wisdom and pieces of advice on cards that I can put in a little book (and keep close to my heart on those hard days)

All of it was so thoughtful and I loved every second. There were so many sweet faces to share it all with...

shower collage 2
Going clockwise: Laura, Jessica (MIL), my Aunt Rita (our boy's godmother) and the shower hosts.

After everyone left, I sat in the floor and showed it all to Andrew. Because I knew he'd be SO interested and I also wanted to look at it all again. And read through the books. And pet the baby clothes that are just so stinkin' soft.


And this is what Andrew and his dad did while we told them all about the day...


You see that look on my honey's face? It makes me all giddy and stuff. So I decided to have a baby with him. And then I got to have a shower.

Everybody wins.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

24 and 25 weeks!

24 and 25 weeks

Better late than never, right? That first picture is from the shower we had a few weeks ago - which I'll recap soon, I promise! But you see that headband? It's from Oh, Sweet Joy and I looove it. That is all.

In baby news, here's what our little guy is up to these days:
  • He's about 13.5 inches long and weighs about a pound and a half
  • He's getting baby fat - ohhh, the cuteness
  • His brain and lungs are growing more and more, so send your prayers for lots of intelligence and strong breaths
  • He's developing taste buds
Mom's doing well, too. I love to sleep, eat and say things like, "but I'm growing your son!" when I need Andrew to pick something up off the floor for me. So yes, I'm great :)

After getting our first round of baby gifts, I can't wait to for this little guy to get here. I can just see him all snuggled up in some soft PJs after an evening bath. I plan on sniffing his head A LOT.

Monday, July 4, 2011

coming soon...


I know, I know. I haven't blogged. And I'm two weeks behind on the baby updates. But between work travels, weekend travels, car shopping and just trying to make the most of my time with Andrew before he starts prototype (read: lots of shift work), blogging fell to the bottom of the list.

But it's coming! In the cue, in no particular order:
  • Baby bump pics
  • A recap of our first shower
  • Pictures from our Black Mountain trip - if Mir posts pictures for me to steal :)
  • A few baby crafts (which I know I promised before, but didn't deliver)
  • A nursery update
Until then, I hope your weekend has been lovely...
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