Friday, July 31, 2009

What Makes You Think I'm Busy?

Because thinking of something to write about 5 days a week (on top of reading eleventy billion other people's blogs daily, twittering/and or checking people on facebook every 30 minutes, trying to find places for all my stuff in this new house - although I'm seriously considering keeping it all in boxes and anything I haven't opened in a year gets donated - and oh yeah, taking care of three kids) was not enough, I have decided to NaBloPoMo for the month of August. For anyone who isn't familiar, that stands for National Blog Posting Month, and it means you post sometihng to your blog every single day for a month. The "official" month is November, where if you participate you can win prizes and stuff, but it has proven popular enough that it is now done all year round. The official topic this month is "tomorrow," but you can write about whatever you want, and I plan to. I will probably be totally making up for blank head space by having some photo heavy entries, although those usually end up taking more time than a regular entry so I guess the joke's on me. I am, however, NOT counting this entry telling you about it as my first one seeing as I am posting it on the last day of July, because I am not a cheater. Spendthrift and layabout, perhaps, but not a cheater. So please, come along with me on this journey which will in theory help me improve and flourish as a writer, but will most likely in practice just result in some really dull blogging. Wheeeeee!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Apologize For The Crude Joke That Ends This Entry

There is a moment when you move, where all of a sudden this house that had belonged to someone else and seems so strange, suddenly becomes yours. For me, it happened today as I sat holding my baby and watching my two oldest play. There was music on the tv, and together they spun and spun in circles, and suddenly, our furniture didn't look like it was in a new room - it was where it belonged. As they turned, this house became our home.

have I mentioned our awesome new backyard?

or how they come in caked with sand everyday and I don't even care?

Sophie uses her outside time to ponder cold fusion and look dreamily into space

our fabulous new playroom - where the toys never have to be picked up unless I feel like it

I don't feel like it today

this is what happens to your balls when you move from Co to NE

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

If I'd Known My Stuff Would have To Stay In Them, I'd Have Bought Nicer Boxes

I have just moved into a house that is significantly bigger than my old house. And yet, there is nowhere to put my stuff. I do not understand how people can live in (or build, duh) houses with no closets. I mean, ok, it's Nebraska not Alaska, but still, I'm thinking they have winter here and we DO NOT HAVE A COAT CLOSET. In fact, outside of the bedrooms there is one closet IN THE ENTIRE HOUSE. What is that shit? We live in the most consumer driven society in the world and yet we still seem unable to allow for places to store our stuff. In every condo/house I have purchased so far in my adult, real estate purchasing life (so, 4 places) I (re: my mom) have had to put up shelves in every closet and available space to maximize storage capabilities. Why have the people who live in these places never done this? Are they taking them down when they leave? Cause while I will not claim to be a minimalist, I am not a super pack rat with stuff crammed in to every nook and cranny. I have a reasonable amount of stuff, and excuse me, but I don't want it out in my rooms - I want it put away out of sight. This house has got to be the worst I've had to deal with yet. We KNOW there was a family of five living here before us: between two bathrooms ther are... TWO TOWEL BARS. Seriously. TWO. For FIVE FREAKING PEOPLE!!! How is that possible? Were they seriously getting three towels on one bar or did they all just share a towel? Too weird. So I am stuck not unpacking anything while my mom rushes around completeing various construction projects to try and get my house to be liveable and ensure that our linens are not part of our living room decor (no, those are not my spare sheets. that's an art installation. duh. What are you some kind of uneducated buffoon?). And thank God for her because if it were left up to me whatever shelving was put up would be highly suspect in terms of sturdiness and actual useability. But even I, lazy and mechanically disinclined as I am (what's the opposite of handyman, footywoman?), would at least TRY to improve upon the storage in this house. Cause I like to force my kids to share a towel because I can't be bothered to do the laundry, not because there isn't room for more than one in the bathroom.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Photographic Journey Of 670 Miles

Yes. I will tell you all about my new town (which is a CITY, holy shit) and my new house (which is awesome, although painted slightly odd colors and smelling like dog in places), and all teh other things that flit through my mind a thousand times a day in between the thoughts of "oh, let's get this for this room" and "I've got to bring that in from the garage" or "where the heck is that thing?" Or perhaps I will forget all about the wonderful thoughts I have had and end up standing in my kitchen open mouthed and wondering how I got there and why I went in the first place. Which by the way has happened at least four times today. But for now, you will have to be satisfied with the photos I took while driving from CO to NE. Because taking pictures while driving is way safer than Twitter and I am nothing if not all about safety.

everything we own. except all the stuff that didn't fit

at the beginning, before I started following the wrong truck

Izzy isn't sure I should be taking pictures while driving. Jack wants his tonsils in the shot

wonder at the stupendous landscape photography

oooh, the clever artistry!

fill 'er up. and yes, I am even more tired than I look

oooooooh. aaaaaaah

wind power. death to birds. pick your environmental argument

I am now living the good life. it says so right there. I was unaware it was a destination

again, oooooooh. aaaaaaah. only darker

hotel breakfast, mmmmm bland. Izzy asked to drink the syrup

apparently nylon hotel bedspreads make good cocoons. which is fine because they don't make good bedspreads

this has no funny caption

Fill 'er up part 2

here I am demonstrating safe driving and fine decision making by taking photos while passing

clearly the movie is riveting

helping mommy by feeding the baby so we don't have to stop...

...which looks fun, does it not?

bird's eye view. if there were a bird in my car

when the milk is not in the nipple end of the bottle the baby doesn't get any. which explains why three year olds do not make good babysitters. and why we had to stop

when you are at the rest stops in NE, you want to feel as though you are mailing your garbage. it makes it special

the world's least practical ascot

I'm not thinking about dumping the toys in this bag everywhere

no road trip would be complete without everyone falling asleep

look - a barn! which was apparently special enough at the time to warrant a photo. just don't ask me why

coolest. church. EVER

what my house looks like right now. And maybe forever

Monday, July 27, 2009

Well, This Feels Familiar

I am once again without internet access, as we try and get our new fangled internet/cable/phone doohickies hooked up and running. Which means that you will have to wait until a later date to be entertained with my tales of moving. Hopefully it will be very soon, and in the meantime I'll be organizing my thoughts (which currently run along the lines of holy shit!!!). Of course, this all assumes I still have any readers left after all these absences : )
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, July 24, 2009

Steamboat Springs, 80487

Well, Steamboat, I can't say I'm going to miss you all that much, but I will acknowledge that you have played a crucial role in my life. I moved here 7 years ago (practically to the day) in a car with a cat. I am leaving in a car with a different cat, three children and a husband following in a moving truck. When I got here I was full of dreams about hiking, and skiing, and using the wonderful outdoor atmosphere to start living a healthier lifestyle. Now that I am leaving, I still intend to start living a healthier lifestyle, but am fully aware of my distaste for all things outdoorsy. Moving to Steamboat helped me find who I am - I always just thought about who I wanted to be. Now I can focus on improving the person I actually am, rather than trying to bend myself to fit some mold of my perceptions. Last night I stood outside and looked at the stars - the millions of stars that aren't visible in the city, but are crystal clear and bright out here. I will miss that sky, and I regret not standing out there looking up every night I had the chance. I will not miss the sky with the blazing sun overhead, it's intensity pressing down on me like actual weight. I will miss the cool night air coming through my windows at night, making it perfect for sleeping - no matter the season it will always be cold at night here. I will not miss waking up to a foot of snow in my driveway, no matter how pretty the freshly fallen powder is. I love Steamboat because my children were born here, and in many ways I was too - I found my calling and my love in life in these mountains. But I am now being called elsewhere - to a life that is more suitable to my desires and my family's needs. I am glad that I once called Steamboat home, and I will be glad tomorrow when it is finally in my rearview mirror.

Mt Werner 10/12/07

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Babysitter Blues

At some point in everyone's life they will have the perfect babysitter. Someone who just loves the kids and who the kids love. Someone responsible and reliable, who always seems glad to come over and watch your children. Like being paid is just a bonus, and they would gladly do it for free. It may only be for a brief time, but if you are lucky, this will be your babysitter for your entire childhood. When I was a child it was Hucky. She lived across the street when I was in first grade, and I really don't remember much about her except that she had a snake, and she would always come babysit me even though she was allergic to our cats and by the time parents got home sher eyes would be all swollen and red. I remember that I just thought she was the greatest, but I can't remember why she stopped sitting for me - we moved, but not very far away - so I think maybe she was a Senior and went away to college.

For my kids it will be Simonne. There are not many 18 year olds that you could trust to handle three kids under three not only competently, but calmly. She will cook dinner, change diapers, play witht he kids, fix bottles; everything with a smile on her face. She can get our kids to go to bed without their favorite toys (because we forgot to mention how important they were), with the doors open (whereas we sometimes have to lock it so they'll stay put) and without their fans (soothing white noise - gotta love it). And my kids adore her. My kids actually tell me to go out so that she can come over to play. Izzy quite often asks me if "Mone" can come over, and says I need to go run errands. This past weekend they were actually calling her mommy. I personally, having spent a good amount of time with her on my own, feel almost like she is a little sister. There are many things that I will not miss about Steamboat, and many things that I look forward to about Omaha. But the absence of Simonne will be felt deeply in our family, and I can only hope to find another babysitter half as caring and wonderful as she is.
We'll miss you, Simonne!!!

This entry was supposed to be sentimental and moving and leave you teary eyed at our wonderful fortune to have met this beautiful girl. However, I have been incapacitated by blind rage that after almost two weeks and an ungodly amount of money my computer is STILL NOT FIXED. Apparently, when you pay to have a new hard drive put in and you files transferred over that means "please remove any capability my computer has to access the internet wirelessly." I could seriously kill someone right now - and I am about thisclose to driving over to those offices (when they open - at 10AM lazy ass) and heaving my computer at someone's head. So I apologize that this entry was not more meaningful or better written. And I apologize to Simonne for not doing her fabulosity as a person and a babysitter justice.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Birth Stories - If You Read One You've Read Them All Part 3 - Sophie

Sophie was another planned pregnancy, and once again we hit it on the first shot (seriously. please don't hate me). As I learned with Jack, planned pregnancies are quite a bit longer than unplanned, and this applies double to the third. I think I was done being pregnant at about month 6 on this one. My first two were relatively comfortable up until the last month, but with Sophie things began feeling...stretched... in a way not experienced previously. I think my abs were surrendering.

But, aside from the discomfort and one bout with stomach flu that landed me in the hospital with dehydration, this pregnancy went smoothly. Which was good, because at 30 weeks I was on my own with two small kids. In the middle of winter in Steamboat Springs, CO (which, in case you are unfamiliar, is a SKI TOWN, meaning we get our fair share and then some of snow). So I got lots of experience shoveling the driveway, until the week I woke up to 8 inches every single morning for a week and caught strep throat. At that point I realized that it was probably a bad idea to be out there alone and hired a plow. 

Being on my own also created some interesting logistical issues, as we tried to figure out how to get someone here to watch my kids and help take me to the hospital, but not waste everyone's vacation time before I actually had the baby so I'd have some help afterwards too. There was a good deal of anxiety surrounding this point because my first labor had lasted about 6 hours, and my second was only three, so I was very concerned about taking any extra time to do stuff like wait for a babysitter or get dressed before leaving for the hospital - I REALLY didn't want to have the baby in my car on the side of the highway. In January.  

We were helped slightly in this respect by my 35 week check up, when it was discovered that I was already 3cm dilated. This was very exciting, given that when I was 3cm dilated with Jack I went in to labor the very next day. Little did we know that it would still be 4 more weeks. Because of our (mistaken) assumption that I would go into labor at any moment, my mom quickly scheduled a return trip shortly after the new year, planning to stay with me for a month through delivery and afterwards. 

Three weeks later, still nothing had happened. 

Well, I guess that's not entirely true, I had contractions on and off almost the entire time, leading me to think I was going into labor only to stop completely, as well as wonderfully heightening my discomfort. I was also treated to my dad and husband telling me everynight that the next day would be a great day to have a baby. Like they wanted her out more than I did - yeah right! But the waiting did serve a purpose because it allowed us to schedule an induction so my husband could fly home in advance and be there for the birth. Of course, it didn't turn out that way.

One week before my mom was scheduled to go home, and two days before the scheduled induction, I was sitting on the sofa trying not to move while my mom did all the work with the kids, and I had a contraction. And then another. And these ewre no easy gradually building contractions, they were starting right at about an 8. So even though I had experienced several of these episodes before, sometimes lasting over an hour, I just knew this was different, and if it turned out to be another false alarm, well, I was calling my doctor anyway and complaining. He told me to come in, and by the time I got there I knew this was not going to stop. 

Interesting aside, when I got to the doctor's office it was during Obama's inauguration, and everyone in the office was starting at the tv, which is mounted over the entrance. So when I walked in, there were about 30 people all looking my way, some of whom were standing, and for a second (because I forgot what day it was) I thought they were all waiting in anticipation for me. So I made a bit of an entrance which was totally embarassing once I realized that they thought the president was more important than me. Whoops!

Anyway, I was quickly wheeled down to the hospital, all the while calling Brett and telling him he wasn't going to make the birth, and that he had to get on the road so he could be here as soon as possible to meet his daughter.

With Sophie I was lucky enough to have the hospital "lactation consultant" (ie nipple nazi) as my nurse. And by lucky, I mean cursed to the bowels of hell.  I had tried, and failed miserably at breastfeeding with my first two children, and the experiences were so miserably stressful and time consuming that I pretty decided (along with my pediatrician) not to even put myself or the baby through it this time. Which of course means that this woman is my mortal enemy. 

On top of her extreme disapproval of my feeding choices, she also has the worst bedside manner, EVER. I'm sure that she is not actually a nasty woman, but her tone is less like a supportive caregiver and more like a drill sargeant working with some especially dense recruits. During the labor and delivery should practically shout "breathe!" at me like I was holding my breath to spite her. Or, like I was holding my breath at all, which I wasn't. It may come a surprise to you, but I am not actually a mouth breathing heathen, and can infact allow air in and out of my lungs without panting like a camel. I also, having previously delivered two healthy babies, have learned what does and what does not, work for me. Long deep breaths, yes. Short, panting, hyperventilating, tv delivery breaths, no. So shut it lady. 

If this had been my first baby I'm pretty sure she would have made me cry. If I hadn't been in active labor with a defective epidural, and let's face it, disposed to at least a slight tendency toward civility, I'm pretty sure I would have punched her in the face. I sure wanted to ream her out at the very least, but I was too busy pushing a person out of my body. Oh, and BREATHING. (as an aside to anyone reading this who might be planning to deliver in Steamboat, her name is Pauline. You might love her, and maybe she just really disliked me, but you might want to request a different nurse, at least for the actual delivery part. According to some doctors i spoke to afterwards, she gets complaints a lot.  I highly recommend JoAnne, but it depends on if you want to be treated nicely or scolded while in labor. Just saying.)
So you may have noticed that up there I mentioned a defective epidural. That's right folks, modern medicine failed me again, and it was all the more bitter after the sweet sweet bliss of delivering Jack. First off, the anesthesiologist took almost an hour to get to my room. They had informed me he would be 20 minutes, and so, despite my pain, I waited patiently and quietly for about half an hour. And then it took every ounce of my strength not too throttle the nurse (who as I said before was less than a delight) and scream at her "WHERE IS MY DAMN EPIDURAL GET ME THE ANESTHESIOLOGIST NOW OR I WILL HUNT YOU ALL DOWN SERIOUSLY GIVE SOMETHING AAAAAAAGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! But then he arrived, and he was super friendly as opposed to the female doc who was much more down to business (although that could have been the time difference since she was called in and he was already at work). However, he also did a less successful job. Apparently there can be blockages in the space where they put the medicine, that can keep it from doing it's job correctly. And because he placed the shunt in a totally different place (way lower) than I'd had before, he managed to find one of these spots, so the epidural only worked on my right half. And let me say, it may actually be worse to have half of your body numb rather than none of it because it really focuses the pain on that one section. And it is distracting. The nurse (grrr!) kept ordering me to push at the pain, but seeing as it was on the left side of my abdomen, and I am familiar enough with anatomy to know that I wasn't going to push the baby through there, it was hard to direct my pushing towards where there is actually an exit. I mean, that spot was numb so I couldn't find it. So they called the anesthesiologist back in and in between pushes I would roll onto my side and he would try to adjust the shunt and give me more medicine.  This pretty much only served to make the whole thing more complicated, as well as ensuring that both legs were well numbed for quite some time AFTER the baby was born. But whatever, once again it didn't last for very long, and at 2:31 pm I had my beautiful baby girl in my arms.

So there you go. The story of how all three of my children came into this world. I know you were all dying to hear it.

this is my very bestest Tweedle Dee impression. Or maybe it's Tweedle Dum

here I am at 38 weeks, and I assure you, I did in fact own maternity shirts. And sometimes I even wore them

Sophie Laird Lawrence 7lbs 13oz, born 2:31pm 1/20/09

Mom and Sophie, separate at last
meeting his baby after a quick drive of 700 miles

stop taking my photo, woman!

Just about the cutest little bundle that I ever did see (2 days old)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Birth Stories - If You Read One You've Read Them All Part 2 - Jack

Part 1

Jack was my first planned pregnancy and I took it very seriously. I bought the ovulation predictor sticks and all that good stuff, and voila! success on the first try (please don't hate me). Planning a pregnancy and knowing about it from day 1, was a very different experience from not finding it out until 9 weeks, and it made the overall pregnancy seem to last about 5 years longer, despite the fact that Jack was born at 38 weeks and so actually the pregnancy was shorter. Very little remarkable happened during my pregnancy - in fact my only concern was weight gain. I started out this pregnancy 20 lbs heavier than I had with Izzy (cake!!!), so I was determined to limit my weight gain so as to minimize what I had to take off afterwards. Amazingly enough I succeeded in this endeavor, and my top weight for each pregnancy was the same.

Jack was also my first experience with going into labor. One morning, after making my umpteenth nightly trip to the restroom I found myself unable to go back to sleep because of repeated contractions. They weren't painful or particularly strong, and at first I thought they were just Braxton Hicks. But they didn't stop, and they got increasingly uncomfortable, so I figured I was going into labor. But they were also 10 minutes apart, and it was 5am, so while I knew I would never get back to sleep, I also didn't want to wake my husband up. I figured it would be a wonderful time to tranfer all of our pictures from the camera onto the computer so that it would be ready for all the photos of the new baby.  Totally logical.

An hour later, I was lifting myself off the chair and gritting my teeth with each contraction, and I finally figured it was time to call the doctor, who I knew was going to Denver that day. I still didn't wake Brett up, but he heard me on the phone leaving a message, and came out to see what was going on. As I told him everything that was happening (and returned to my pictures), he noticed that my contractions were now 3 minutes apart, and oh so tactfully suggested that perhaps we should be on our way to the hospital.

I called my Dad to tell him, and then debated who we should call to come over to be with Izzy while she slept. I was very distraught about not wanting to wake anyone up so early. Brett was not as worried, and managed to phone a friend's wife. Meanwhile, I was crying because I couldn't stand up long enough to put my pants on and I was never going to be able to apply my makeup before we left for the hospital. Actually getting to the hospital didn't concern me as much as not looking terrible when I got there. Go figure.

We finally left the house about 6:30 am, and the drive to the hospital was probably one of the worst of my whole life. And I have ridden in the trunk of my own car (voluntarily). My husband's passenger seat wouldn't recline because the backseat was flipped down, and being so upright was excruciating, so we tried adjusting it forward (bending over a 9 month pregnant belly to do that while in labor is F. U. N) to give it some room only to find that it was actually broken. Then when I was moving the seat back again, my husband accelerated just enough to slam the seat all the way back. It was like the worst roller coaster ever.

When we got to the hospital, a very nice man saw me lumbering my way in (why we went to the front door rather than the emergency room I still don't know), and ran to get me a wheelchair. Brett raced me down the hall and into the maternity ward, where he proceeded to ask the nurse if we would be staying. I guess he wasn't sure if I was far enough along to actually have the baby (we know people who have gone too early and were sent home), but the nurse looked at him like he was completely insane that he could even consider taking me home at 8 cm dilated in full blown labor. I knew he was just nervous and excited, but it was still pretty funny to see the look she gave him.

During this labor I was not at all cool and collected. Basically, my experience with not getting the epidural the first time created in me a panic to make sure I got it ASAP this time.  Plus, these contractions actually HURT as opposed to the gentle squeezes I experienced with Izzy.  So basically I was a screaming banshee demanding an anesthesiologist with every breath until she finally arrived. It was the same woman, and she did a magnificent job of getting everything in and running in no time. I think she may have dosed me extra because she remembered me calling her asking why the first one didn't work (I wasn't complaining, just curious if that was how it was supposed to be).

I immediately reverted into lovely old me, and apologized to the nurses while laying back and relaxing. In fact, I was probably way more lovely than usual since the immediate lack of pain is so startling and wonderful.  It was like a delightful day at the beach, that epidural, and I don't know why anyone would choose any other way to live. I'd take one now if I could.

Meanwhile, my doctor (whom I never actually spoke to that I can remember), was frantically trying to make his way back from Denver (he didn't arrive until an hour after Jack was born and he was so upset to have missed it). Which meant I got a new doctor in the delivery room, although we had met when he performed my ultrasounds so it wasn't a total stranger. And then it was time to push. This delivery was so much different from Isabelle - I was in zero pain, and the nurse would just watch the monitor with one hand on my stomach and tell me when I was contracting so I could push. I distinctly remember that there were these long breaks in between pushing, during which the doctor and nurses and my husband were all just standing around staring at me. I felt like I should have been telling jokes during the breaks or something, but unfortunately had not prepared material. It was very awkward and surreal - even more so than being in a room full of people with your goods on display usually is.

But it didn't last very long - I think I gave three good pushes and at 8:31am, he was out. And promptly plopped right on my chest to be spastically rubbed off. They did not do this with Izzy, and I was totally not expecting it with Jack, so I was sort of heaving a sigh of relief and preparing to lay back a little when all of a sudden there is a red wrinkly baby right in my face, and several arms and towels as well. It was somewhat surprising, but also of course wonderful to see my handsome little guy.  Even if he was covered in goo.

And he was different immediately. The first night he would cry unless I held him, so I slept with him in my arms the whole night. He was smaller (and my second- the path had been cleared so to speak) so my recovery was pretty much immediate - I could walk better the next day than I could after 3 weeks with Izzy. And it was just so amazing to have two kids. I am an only child, as well as an only grandchild on my father's side, so Jack was the first boy born into the Lawrence family in 46 years which was pretty cool. And Isabelle just loved her little brother right away - I would often come back into the room to find that she had dragged him out of his bouncy seat by the ankles. It was so sweet to see them together, and it was about at this point that my lifelong dream of having 3 kids started turning into, well, maybe 4 would be better. I think the kickass epidural helped with that too.

No, I don't know why I don't have a shirt on in this photo
Jackson Phillip 7lbs 13oz, born 8:31 am 9/20/07
Mom and baby, 30 minutes old (the baby, not Mom)

Jack, the way he looked pretty much for the first month: asleep

2 days old

Continued tomorrow in Part 3 - Sophie

Monday, July 20, 2009

Birth Stories - If You Read One You've Read Them All Part 1 - Isabelle

Also known as: The Entry Where I Humiliate Myself By Showing Ginormous Pregnancy Photos

So, this wouldn't really be a mom blog without stories about bringing your children into the world, right? And seeing as I'm not one to flaunt convention (aside from the whole pregnant out of wedlock, shotgun wedding thing, haha), I figure I might as well post a few tidbits about my deliveries. However, most women have tales that are delightful touching stories that simultaneously make you cry and wet your pants laughing. Me, not so much. Cause I'm the gal you hate to hear about who has fast, easy deliveries with no real horrific elements. No schadenfreude here, folks. And unfortunately, nothing really funny happened either, so no luck there. But don't worry, I'll make it up to you by posting some embarassing photos later, so you can feel better about that 90 hours you spent in labor, because at least no one has seen you look like THAT.

Isabelle I carried for 41 weeks. The worst part of my pregnancy was when I hit the 24 week mark and promptly swelled up like a water balloon. Like, literally in one day.  My doctor basically refused to believe me that it was all water, and he would very gently remind me that I had already gained the recommended 30 lbs despite having 16 weeks to go and the baby still only being like a pound. Fortunately, I got me "I told you so" moment a week after the birth when, having already lost 25 lbs, I went to see him and he was all shocked, and "look at you!" (btw, I know I typed 'me' up there instead of my, but I like it. I sound Irish).

I guess I should probably start off Izzy's story be reminding readers that she was a surprise. I am still not really sure what prompted me to take the pregnancy test because I was dead sure there was no way I was pregnant, but I did and, oh. So a 7 year on-off relationship suddenly got a whole lot on (and legally binding), and away we went. I had a very easy pregnancy, during which I worked (wow, working - seems like so long ago) and choreographed for an annual dance performance in town. I actually even performed in the show two weeks before my due date, skipping across the stage with flowers painted all over my belly. My only real issue was the above mentioned water rentention. My feet swelled up enough that my only shoe options were my Ugg boots, or a pair of bright red crocs my aunt gave me when I went to see her in Dallas at Christmas and swelled up EVEN MORE due to the heat and humidity, which I wore all the time despite getting snow through the holes because they were easier to put on than the boots. I also had a very strange month (the 8th) where my feet smelled absolutely awful. It was terrible - I would come in to work and change my boots for shoes, and the whole little office would stink. So embarassing, but fortunately it lasted only a month. Showed up one day, lasted four weeks and was gone, quick as that, and I didn't get it with my other pregnancies. Nothing so freakish as pregnancy.

Anyway, by 41 weeks I was done being pregnant. Any of you out there who have made it to that point can understand I'm sure. I was pretty much walking around telling people that they could HAVE the baby if only the would remove it from my body. I got no takers, but I'm sure when they see Izzy now they are kicking themselves for that decision. So because I was late, and my doctor was not a hack, he scheduled some tests to make sure that the baby was doing okay. I had an ultrasound to check fluid levels (shockingly it wasn't all in my ankles) and then I had to go in to the hospital for a fetal movement test.

Unbeknownst to everyone else, I had determined that if they were going to make me come to the hospital I wasn't leaving without a baby.  And fortunately Isabelle decided to cooperate and not really move much during the test, which lead to my doc deciding to induce. Bring on the pitocin!! So just after noon, I got my IV set up, got another one in the other arm because the nurse wasn't sure she could mix the pitocin with the antibiotic I needed for GBS, and contractions began. Painless, wonderful contractions. And because I didn't want everyone at the hospital to think I was a wimp, and they weren't hurting, I didn't ask for an epidural yet, even though I had every intention of getting one. It was my first baby, I thought maybe they would gradually start hurting and then I could ask before they progressed too far. Meanwhile, my doctor left because no matter how often I told him about the super quick deliveries in my family he was convinced it would be at least 12 hours before I delivered.

About 5pm, I happened no glance at the clock and notice that my contractions were coming 1 minute apart. They still didn't hurt in the slightest, but I thought "wow, that seems fast, maybe I should get my epidural now." And it's a good thing I did, because when they made me go to the bathroom first I got hit by a mack truck. We quite abruptly moved from a 0 on the pain scale to an 8. But the anesthesiologist came in and very quickly got me all set up with the initial numbing shot and the shunt and the pain melted away. Then she had to leave for a few minutes. My doctor returned to check on me, which primarily consisted of looking at me and smiling, and then said he was going home for dinner.   Good to know he had his priorities in order.

While we were talking the numbing shot wore off, and the fact that the anesthesiologist had left before actually hooking up my epidural began to become evident. So with my doctor gone, and the nurse out enjoying her dinner, I set about enduring the pain as stoically as I could. I lay there, tears streaming down my face, as my husband helplessly looked on. He kept asking if he should get the nurse, but I didn't want to bother her and "hey, it's supposed to hurt." I'm not quite sure what my reasoning was here, seeing as I was oh, you know, HAVING A BABY, but didn't think I should disturb the nurses. I guess my plan was to quietly deliver it myself? Considering I'm such a whiner normally, I am surprisingly averse to intruding on people when in actual need.

Fortunately my husband didn't listen, and went to get the nurse because I was in so much pain. And fortunately the nurse (the ever wonderful JoAnne) thought to actually check on my progress physically (compared to future births, I was felt up shockingly few times this first time) and announced that the baby was crowning and after a quick call to the doc I started pushing.

This was about 6pm.

I think my doctor made it back about 6:30, and frankly I was surprised that JoAnne didn't deliver the baby herself. It was horribly painful, especially when they rudely stopped me in the middle and asked if I wanted to reach down and feel her head.  My reply was and understandably terse "trust me, I CAN feel it," but thankfully it was quick, and at 6:59 Isabelle entered the world all chubby and pink and not at all squashed like I expected. Honestly, my first thought was something along the lines of "she doesn't look a gross as I was expecting."

My second thought was "stop tugging on that umbilical cord buddy," and when I heard my doctor remark to the nurse that it could be another 20 minutes til the afterbirth came out, during which he was seemingly going to give it gentle tugs, I thought "the hell you are" and pushed it out. Bet you really wanted to know that! So then I got the stitches and the various pokings and proddings that just sent jolts of electricity up my spine. It wasn't even really pain, but just like exposed nerves were being brushed up against, and was most unpleasant. But eventually I got to put my legs down, and hold my perfect baby, and it was all good.

Afterwards there was quite the recovery to be made. The first day I would pee all over the floor everytime the nurse helped me to the restroom, and I finally learned that not only could I not control my bladder, but I couldn't even FEEL it, so I had to remind myself that since all I was doing was sitting in bed glugging water, I should probably go to the bathroom every hour. It also took me at least a week to walk around decently, and I still couldn't stand for very long periods of time until it had been a month. but what can you expect when you pass a kid with a 16 inch head? 

And of course, none of that really mattered. I had a wonderful baby girl to snuggle and just stare at for hours, and while I didn't know it yet, I had just found my calling.

believe it or not, but I make it 3 MORE WEEKS!

all dressed up and fancy for the show

Isabelle Elze 8lbs 15oz, born 6:59pm 3/22/06

First official Johnson family photo

ignore the triple chins - it's all from scrunching my neck down, I swear

our little strawberry - 5 days old

Continued tomorrow in part 2 - Jack