Friday, April 27, 2012

John Paul's Birth Story, Final Installment

How ridiculous...this is like triple overtime and so obnoxious and for anyone out there still reading...sorry.

Not really.

I mean, he hardly sleeps and he nurses like a newly-married woman fresh off her bridal diet and lounging in an all-inclusive resort. We are talking a reckless abandonment when it comes to consumption here.

(And for anyone just tuning in, this one has all the juicy details...but if you're looking for character and plot development, feel free to hop over here, here and here ... oh, sorry, I think I just put myself to sleep.

So back to the epic tome.

5 cm. Fully effaced. Bulging bag of waters (ew ew EW I loathe birth lingo). I was quickly escorted up to the long-sought L&D floor and assigned a glorious birthing suite complete with sunken, jetted tub (which I actually used this time. Sort of.) and a nurse named Heather who fell from Heaven above, glamorous highlights and stylish glasses included. She was quite possibly my favorite person ever (next to Dr. Anesthesia, of course) and was totally covered by our health insurance. (Note to future self: doulas are expensive. Nurses are included.)

Things picked up preeeetty quickly once we hit the labor suite, but I was still totally confused by the normalcy between contractions. I kept asking our doula Jessica (who'd arrived by then, toting her crockpot full of ginger compresses, electric candles and iPad full of T Swift and DMB) what was 'wrong' with this labor...and she kept smiling and saying 'this is what a second labor feels like.'


Except then something caraaazy happened. I'd like to call it 'transition' to be as medically accurate as possible, but what actually went down was something like ohholyshitholyshitwhatishappeningtomybackCOWNOISESCOWNOISESomgmybackmyspinemypelvis

Something along those lines.

So for the first 90 minutes in Hotel Delivery...totally under 'control.' I was breathing/vocalizing (code for really embarrassing moaning noises) in a controlled fashion and laboring very effectively either leaning over the bed, sitting in the bathroom (ew), and, eventually, standing in the shower completely devoid of all modesty and/or dignity and telling myself over and over again 'wet epidural...the water is a wet epidural'

Well, somewhere between 7 and 8 cm, my body called my BS and little man began his agonizing OP (translation: sunnyside up) descent from stubborn zero station to whereverthehelltheyneedtobetopush.

And that's when things got real.

I mean, I went from mostly calm and naturally-laboring birth diva to drug-seeking inpatient in like 45 seconds. The moment I felt the first twinge of 'back labor' this time around, I think I had a full blown PTSD episode and was suddenly back in September, 2010, 4 hours into the pushing stage and performing a general examination of conscience as I prepared to meet Jesus.

Just a leedle bit dramatic here.

Heather clasped my hands across the bed and, looking straight into my frantic, hunted animal eyes and answered my cry of 'WHAT THE HEEEEEELL IS HAPPENING?!' by calmly informing me that baby was OP.

As my brain cracked open to absorb this new tidbit of info, I suddenly realized that my window for obtaining an epidural would be slamming shut soonish, and so I began sounding the alarm, shouting our code word at the top of my lungs.


Dave: 'Honey are you sure?'

His perfectly reasonable inquiry, along with those voiced by nurse Heather and Jessica the doula, were sufficient to convince me that there was a coercive and secretive effort afoot to deny me medication and that they were allllll plotting to put me off to the point of no return, after which time no epidural on earth could rescue me.

So I did what any reasonable laboring woman would do, faced with this problem. I slowed my labor down.

That's right, I jedi-mind tricked my body into actually slowing the contractions down to maybe 3 minutes apart as we waited for Dr. Crackdrip to make his grand entrance. All the while, the room was full of incredulity and exclamations like 'wow Jenny, you actually are slowing down your own labor...that is amazing!'

To which I replied

Uuuunnnhhhhh, where are the drugs? Where ARE THEY?!!!! Is the anesthesiologist even on duty right now? Did you call him? YOU DIDN'T CALL HIM YET, DID YOU???? DID YOUUUUUUU???

In other words, I was perfectly pleasant and rational, and it was indeed a well-thought out and informed decision.

Honestly, I would have settled for street-purchased heroin it I'd thought it would arrive sooner.

Eventually Dr. McDreamy made his way into the room and started explaining the risks and procedures and blahblahblah I very nearly reached around behind my massive self and jammed that needle in my own back.

And then....bliss.

It was quite possibly the world's most perfect epidural. I could move my legs, I could feel my contractions, and when it came time to push, I could do that pretty well too. But I could no longer feel the shovel dragging down the inside of my spinal column.

Thank you Jesus.

Strangely enough, the moment the epidural kicked in, somebody casually informed me that I'd need to clear the 'antibiotic window' of which 2 hours remained before my water broke. Why this information was revealed this late in the game, I couldn't really say, but I was instructed to lie as still as possible to let the antibiotics work their Group-B-Strep fighting magic. In other words, what in the heezy would they have done if I hadn't become crazed and drug seeking?

Pumped the newborn full of penicillin, I suppose. But anywho, my very obedient second born kindly waited until the allotted time had passed and them 'pop' went his little water world, at his own doing, exactly as the 2 hour mark arrived.

After impressing one and all with my 'practice pushes' I was encouraged to go ahead and try the real thing. Fully expecting to take 2 or more hours to get this kiddo out, I allowed myself to be coached along for 20 minutes or so until suddenly,

"Okay STOP. Just hold it right there."

Um, excuse me?

"Jenny just stop for a second, just relax."

Not pushing here.

Nurse Heather looked up and announces to the room 'It's true, she's not pushing! This kiddo is pushing him or herself out!'


A flurry of activity and one very funny page later ('Attention L&D break room can we get a doc or resident or anyone to room 201 stat' omgs coming over intercom)

 Nurse Heather assessed the situation, marshaled her troops and announced to her fellow nurses:

"Get ready to catch, girls"

Oh my.

At the very last moment possible, two doctors or residents or simply people in blue scrubs wearing gloves (who I'd never seen before or since) skidded into the room, latex snapping around their wrists juuuuust in time to catch.

I think they handed him to Dave, or at least presented his business parts for inspection, which immediately set off a rare public display of emotion as my usually stoic husband choked out 'It's a ... boy!' (He had been so sure of a girl all along, I think the drama of another teeny weenie heightened the moment's intensity for him.

As we both cried and marveled over our tiny son, my crack team of medical experts proceeded to pummel, inject and generally violate my nether regions whilst I, blissfully unawares thanks to a potent cocktail of hormones and narcotics, cuddled this sweet and perfectly round-headed little man to my chest.

He didn't cry, much to the dismay of one pediatric nurse in particular. She kept rubbing his back while he laid on my chest, wide-eyed and peering around the room. He squeaked a few times and blinked at us all and slowly turned pink, but my boy was not about to publicly display his emotions for the room, back thumping notwithstanding.

He latched on immediately, kind of without my even offering (little ballsy there, fella), and he nursed for 70 straight minutes. Seriously. They came back like 3 separate times to try to get his vitals, but were turned away each time by his voracious appetite.

And for the past 8 days, I can't say much has changed.

Except my heart is gradually enlarging. And my body weight is melting away under the assault of his eager little mouth. And I may never sleep again.

But we're doing oh so well. Two sweet little boys. 19 months apart.

Craziness, be ours.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

John Paul's Birth Story, Installment 3

Okay, let's just get this thing done, shall we? It's like the perfect ending to a 41-week pregnancy...and perhaps the lengthiest non-celebrity birth story currently gracing the internets.

So acupressure. It works.

I waddled from my relaxation/mental anguish sesh freshly contracting, but still wary of these relatively 'painless' Braxton Hicks which had been taunting me for weeks on end. I didn't remember having them with Joey's pregnancy, but they were frequent visitors this time around, and they never failed to raise and then dash my hopes in a vicious cycle that always began with me on the elliptical machine for an inappropriate amount of time and ended with a nightly wallowing session at Mickey D's, my head buried in a vanilla soft serve cone, weeping softly.

I was not going to be deterred so easily this time though. Upon arriving home, I insisted on marching briskly around the backyard while Dave grilled dinner, afraid that if I did sit down/stop moving for any amount of time, the magic muscle spasms would dissipate and I would be pregnant forever. Like an elephant or a manatee.

I did laps around my mother in law on the back patio, asking her about her flight and apologizing profusely for the absence of a second grandchild upon whom to dote. Since she is the epitome of good-natured midwestern charm, she simply smiled and told me that this baby was coming in God's time, and not a moment sooner.

I must hide my feelings towards her at that moment in the darkness of my heart. (Especially in light of the 30 meals she cooked (mostly from scratch) and stocked into my freezer before the end of her stay. Mom: holy. Jenny: not so much)

We eventually sat down to dinner, I on my birth ball and everyone else civilized-like, in chairs. Obviously my contractions subsided the moment I lowered my heft, and I wept bitter tears into my grilled pineapple.

We finished dinner, slammed Joey in bed and imposed on mom's good and exhausted nature to babysit while we made an ice cream run. Once in the car, I confided to Dave that the contractions had stopped and that I would be needing to 'eat my feelings,' hence the urgent need for frozen dairy.

We ate our fatty mcfatterson custard sundaes on a bench near the river by our gym. And then we walked. Up and down the river, through the gym parking lot, and right smack into our fav kid's club nanny and the most frequent commentator on the state of my cervix.

As Jody fired questions as to interior baby's whereabouts, I hung my head in shame. No, still no baby...and no I hadn't been to the gym that day. I just couldn't face another round of dilation jeopardy. Lucky me, we still got to exchange gynecological pleasantries, and this time with both our husbands present. At 9 pm. With ice cream on my maternity tank.

At this point the contractions had returned, but I was cynically hardening my heart against them. We got home, jumped in bed, and I promptly began to time the little devils on my phone.

10 minutes apart. 7 minutes apart. 14 minutes apart. 8 minutes apart.


around 11:30 or so I decided that 'laboring' in the bathroom with my birth ball would probably be more effective than lying in bed cursing at my cell phone, so I grabbed a favorite novel and holed up for the next hour or so while Dave packed our bag (which had already been packed for a month.)

By 1 am it was clear that we were dealing with real live labor, though I still felt so 'fine' in between contractions that I was highly skeptical. Joey's labor started with a bang (well, a gush. Ew.) and went 90 miles an hour the whole time. This was just too ... manageable.

After a relatively pleasant 25 minute car trip with only 2 (dammit) real contractions throughout, (and two different airings of my favorite overplayed song of the moment on 2 different radio stations)
 we arrived at the hospital and informed the intake nurse that we were in labor. She eyed my calm and collected appearance and raised an eyebrow as she pushed the intake form across the desk, no doubt looking forward to sending another rookie back into the night.

I obligingly donned my mid-calf length (is this some hot new trend in medical couture?) gown and promptly had a painful-ish contraction that required somewhat more attention than I'd been giving them so far, causing nurse doubtful to double take. But again, no sooner had it passed then I felt 'fine' least as fine as 200 lbs in an assless paisley gown at 2 in the a.m. can feel.

I let her check me and steeled myself for the worst. But she surprised us both, proclaiming me fully effaced and a solid 5 cm.

Calling over her shoulder that she'd get our room ready, she left stunned us in the triage area gaping like idiots and repeating her numerical data in astonishment. How could I be a 5? That was the point at which I'd screamed our drug-seeking code word during Joey's birth, and a good 12 hours into hard labor at that.

Second born children. That's all I can say.

And that's all I can say for tonight as well, as I am quite literally lying on my side nursing a ravenous wolverine cub while typing.

Martyred for your reading pleasure,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

John Paul's Birth Story, Installment 2

Click here for the enthralling first part of the story.

After sleeping not at all for the past several very pleasant days, I've realized that either I write this damn thing out now or later, but that I'll never be 'well rested' enough to feel like doing it, so I might as well do it.


Good, Uncle Jessie.

Now where was I?

Ah yes, Ling's Hairstyles. Mere minutes after my dear mother-in-law's plane touched down, I'd flung Joey in her general direction and fled to the enticing massage cave in search of salvation in hte form of contraction-coaxing acupressure.

I was not to be disappointed.

First, however, because this is, after all, my birth story and therefore bound to include at least one or two details so fundamentally ridiculous and/or outlandish as to barely merit belief, let me disclose that this 75 minute session of heaven on earth was tainted with the horrific details of forced government abortion, a casual description of abortion-as-birth-control, and a semi-lively discourse on the merits of living in a communist regime vs. the good 'ol US of A.

I shite you not.

You see Leena, my master massuese, is also a Chinese immigrant who is 20 months fresh to the US and very, very happy to be here. For many reasons, not least of which the grim reality that when she got pregnant for a second time the doctor had to 'take baby out,' since to defy China's One Child Policy meant fines, imprisonment or worse. (Worse particularly for the child in question, who is nearly always forcibly aborted.)

So there I was, 10 flipping months pregnant, desperate to get labor started and at the mercy of a very strong and teeny Asian lady who at one point mounted the back of my recliner to gain access to my shoulder blades and upper back. And who found it opportune to casually engage me in conversation about her personal experiences with abortion.

Horrifying? Yes.

Fascinating? Well, yes, in a way...because while she expressed a certain degree of disappointment with her government's policy and its effects on her own second pregnancy, she was strangely detached from the grim reality of the policy. She readily praised the freedom which we are accorded in this great nation, but she also chided me when it was revealed that I was perhaps going to continue reproducing beyond the current occupant.

"You have one baby, now more, no more. Two enough."

Grim smile.

"We'll see...we're open to more."

"You want more?! How many?"

Shrug. "5 or 6? Who knows...we'll see if this one ever comes out."

"Too many! Too much work! Babies hard work!"


Back and forth we went, her sharing snippets of her reproductive horror story from the Far East and me nodding and sighing in relief as she hit on areas of tension, all the while perfectly aware how.flipping.bizarre. this all was.

In retrospect, having named our son after two great missionary saints - perhaps two of the greatest in the history of Christendom - it makes sense that he would engage in a little evangelization right from the get go. I just kind of expected he would be, you know, born first before he started preaching the Gospel.

God's plans are mysterious though.

TBC...because for the love of all that is good and holy, he is asleep and might remain so for 30 minutes or more...and maybe I can do the same!

Probably not.

But a girl can dream.

Monday, April 23, 2012

John Paul's Birth Story, Installment 1

Because a second-born deserves an epic saga.

Last Wednesday my mother in law arrived in town to help us with life after new baby...the baby, however, was still happily ensconced in utero.  Minor detail.

Determined to get things rolling, and fresh out of ideas after trying massage, chiropractic, evening primrose oil, raspberry leaf tea, acupressure, running, membrane stripping, positive mental imagery, sex, pineapple, chinesefood, redwinemexicanfooddrinkinggallonsofsalsavigorouswalkingelipticalmachineridingswimming...

you get the idea

I decided to play my ace. After having tried short of castor oil to get this baby into an exterior position, I put on my game face and headed to Ying's Hairstyles and Foot Massage.

A hidden gem in glamorous Englewood, Colorado, Yings is my go-to for cheap asian massage (not that kind of massage). $25 bucks gets you a rocking foot massage that basically is a full body massage in a recliner, while soaking one's feet in a bucket of lavender. Primitive? Perhaps. But completely amazing. Add to this the grim reality of pregnancy, week 41, and I was a desperate case indeed.

I waddled into the salon and bee-lined for the massage cave where I collapsed most gracefully into the last recliner in the row, swollen toes pointed heavenward. I was ready. Let's do this, Ying.

(Actually, Ying had a hair appointment, so Leena was my superhero that day.)

to be continued ... a cruel tease I know, but the ravenous beast awaketh...did I mention he had a 2 hour and 41 minute nursing sesh last night around, oh, 2 am...? No?

My bad.

Love love love my fresh baby, but so flipping tired.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Drumroll Please...

Introducing John Paul Francis Uebbing!

Born at 7:30 in the a.m. on Thursday, April 19th weighing in at 8 lbs, 4 oz and stretching 20 inches long, he's our little peanut!

Beautiful, blessed birth and labor experience -- deets to come.

Thank you for all the prayers, support, indulgence of weeks months of whining, etc.

Birth story to comeeeeeee.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Recycled Goods...

Because I don't have a more recent version to post (ahem), but this does make me smile/cringe as I read over it again...


Joseph Kolbe's Birth Story... An Exercise in Lost Control

My little Joey bug is 3 months old now, and I've sufficiently recovered from the emotional trauma that is childbirth to be able to share his birthday tale.  Now I'm not into sharing super personal or gruesome details on the internets, so if you're looking for some seriously disturbing mental images, you might want to hop over here.  This birth story is PG-13 at worst, and even then only  for the occasional use of adult language rather than graphic violence.  So here we go...

I woke up for work on a Tuesday morning in late September with some light contractions, but nothing serious enough to merit staying home.  Our little one was due October 7th, and although I was absolutely huge and measuring almost a month ahead (a flipping month!), neither we nor our doctor thought I'd go any earlier than our due date.  We'd had a false alarm over the previous weekend, which was shocking as we were the most prepared and studied first time parents in the history of human reproductive history.  Seriously.  You know, the parents who read everything, take all the classes and cannot possibly encounter anything for which they are not supremely prepared.  Right.  So as we shamefacedly drove home from the hospital that Sunday evening, I vowed that we would not return until I was 6 centimeters dilated and ready to transition.  And then, when we did return, I would be wearing my own fabulous little black "delivery dress", repeating calming passages from Proverbs to myself during the peak of each contraction, and bearing freshly baked cookies to deliver to the nursing staff, along with individual copies of our meticulously detailed, bullet riddled birth plan.

Convinced that I was not going to make my targeted date of September 30th as my final day in the office, my two favorite coworkers took me out for lunch and pedicures at noon, insisting that if we didn't go now, I wouldn't be around to go at all.  How true that would prove to be.

So there I sat, blissfully relaxing in a massage chair in a post-pedicure euphoria, a Smashburger extra-spicy-jalapeno laden baja cobb nothing but a delicious and heartburn-producing memory, when suddenly I had to get to the restroom.  I mean, my toes were not even dry yet, but I was utterly convinced that I needed to get up at that very second and book it to the ladies room at the back of the salon.  And so, shooting out of my chair with greater speed and accuracy than my pedicurist believed possible so late in the gestational game, I lumbered across the salon in my temporary foam flip flops, waddling urgently (but gingerly, mindful of my freshly painted toesies).

Arriving just in time, I heaved a sigh of relief at the minor victory of not wetting the pedicure chair.  5 minutes later, still reveling in that "just in time" feeling, it dawned on me that although I had been drinking gallons upon gallons of water these days, this was probably a different kind of water loss.  Just then my delightful coworker Jenny knocked on the door and timidly inquired whether I was in labor or not.

"Ummm... actually... I think maybe?" I replied uncertainly.  Muffled squeals and scuffling from outside the door and then...silence.


I'd been abandoned in the Snappy Nails restroom, and I was going to have to deliver my own baby using only a can of industrial air freshener and a commercial pack of 1 ply toilet paper.  Not a minute went by, however, before my second coworker, Brigette, a seasoned veteran of motherhood who was herself with child, though far less obviously, appeared outside the door, calling to me in her heavily accented southern drawl, 

" doin oh-kay?"

Opening the door, I assured her that, other than the massive water loss, I was feeling just fine... too fine, in fact, to be in labor.  After all, I knew that nobodies water actually broke in public.  That only happened to 1 in 10 women, or in the movies.  And I was going to have a remarkably calm, controlled and textbook childbirth experience.

Undeterred, Brigette bundled me in paper towels and grocery bags (this was glamorous, people) and hustled me to the front door of the salon where Jenny met us, grinning, holding a bag of industrial strength pads the likes of which had not been seen since middle school health class.

"I didn't know what else to do so I ran to the grocery store next door and, well, here!"

Still utterly unconvinced of the actuality of my predicament, I allowed myself to be bundled into the car and driven the 2 blocks back to our office parking lot, where we sat for no less than 20 minutes arguing about what to do next.  It went something like this:

Me: "I'm fine, I can drive home"
Them: "No, you're in labor, you cannot drive."
Me: "But it doesn't hurt."
Them: "Jennifer...we're calling your husband."
Me: (whining) "But I don't wanna leave a car heeeeere."
Them: "Jennifer, we're driving you home."

At this point I probably should have accepted defeat.  I mean, I was in no shape to go back to my desk at the rate I was leaking water (sorry, but no other word will do), and they were using my full name and threatening to call my husband.  These girls meant business

So we headed home, me in the passenger seat and Brigette driving my car, Jenny caravaning behind us in her ride, and about 45 minutes into the drive (did I mention I had a delightful daily commute?), I started experiencing serious pain.  I called my poor husband who, at this point, had probably fielded half a dozen phone calls from me assuring him I'm "fine" and to "just stay at work until I say so".

"Babe, come home now.  Seriously, NOW." 

He did.

Upon arriving, he found me in our bathroom, candles lit and dripping wax all over the tile, trying in vain to practice some of the relaxation techniques we'd mastered.  Jenny and Brigette were pacing anxiously in the living room, no doubt nervous about the way I'd gone from zero to 60 in a matter of minutes.  Though I was still muttering about the birth ball, the rolling pin and the heating pad we'd carefully laid out for use during my long, home-bound labor, we ran out the front door, obnoxiously huge suitcase in tow, and booked it to the hospital for the second time that week. 

One bonus from our previous visit was that all the intake paperwork was done, and upon arrival I was plopped into a wheel chair and wheeled directly to a labor and delivery room.

Despite my plaintive panting cries of protest that I "was not sick" and "could definitely walk by myself" (I was a Bradley-trained mother, after all) I was nonetheless delivered to our richly-apportioned LDR suite on wheels, and then quite suddenly, Dave and I were alone.

I made a beeline for the bathroom of our palatial suite and the giant, sunken bathtub I'd been envisioning throughout my entire pregnancy.  5 minutes of tortured soaking by candlelight quickly disabused me of the notion of a peaceful water birth, however, and I allowed myself to be led back to the dreaded hospital bed where I'd sworn I'd spend absolutely no time at all.  At this point our doula, the one we had been planning on interviewing that very evening, called from Panera to inquire as to our whereabouts.  20 minutes later she met us at the hospital, where we hired her on the spot.  Her presence proved to be one of the greatest blessings of our labor, which was so far nothing like we'd anticipated.

By 10 pm that night we were sure I was in transition.  My contractions had been 2 minutes apart since the car ride to the hospital, and they were increasing in intensity.  A truly terrible phenomenon which I would not wish upon my worst enemy, they were double peaked contractions, meaning each brought two high points of intensity rather than one, leaving virtually no time for recovery between them.  In addition, I was experiencing back labor and was honestly convinced that someone was dragging a shovel down the inside of my spine, raking each vertebrae with its jagged metal edge.   (We'd later discovery that baby was posterior, hence the crazy back pain)  I reluctantly consented to an exam so that the nurse could check my progress, warning her that she had exactly 30 seconds before I would be writhing in pain and utterly uncooperative.  Expecting to be told that we were in transition and minutes away from pushing, I asked whether our doctor had been called yet.

"Well, you're somewhere between a four and a five, so it will probably be a few more hours."  She cheerfully informed us as another contraction slammed though my body.

All thoughts of natural childbirth exited my mind at that point as I yowled our "code word" for epidural use.  I had made my husband promise that no matter how badly I wanted one, no matter how convincingly I pleaded with him or with the staff, I was not to be given an epidural.  I wanted to do this on my own.  But just in case things didn't go as we'd planned, we'd settled upon a phrase which, if uttered, meant, basically, "give me drugs NOW."

About 12 minutes after I started yelling "Portiuncula" (we are seriously dorky Catholics), the anesthesiologist of my dreams arrived and knocked me into 1999.  He was handsome, efficient, and utterly in agreement with me that the music of Nora Jones was "terribly annoying" and that pumpkin spice lattes were, indeed, the best part of fall.  Nodding and smiling as he adjusted my crack drip, he slipped from my room as I slipped into drugged relaxation, but not before calling my father to tell him that I was "wasted and listening to Dave Matthews" and that it was "just like college all over again." Ahem.

Not my finest moments, those, but 10 hours later when I was still laboring, I was thanking God in heaven for modern medicine, and I was doing so often.  And audibly.

Meanwhile, Dave, Jessica the doula and I spent the remainder of the night watching the Hills and listening to Taylor Swift on iTunes, because deep down in my heart of hearts, I am a 15 year old girl.  Especially when I am under the influence.

I was hardly having the stoic, empowered experience I'd been envisioning.  The experience I'd carefully crafted and prepared for.  All of my dreams of a natural, uneventful labor had been destroyed.  But in their place, God was doing something incredible in my heart ... and through my body.  At 9:45 am on Wednesday, September 22nd after 19 hours of labor and nearly 5 hours of pushing, our wonderful doctor gave one final good hard tug, slipped the umbilical cord from around our little one's neck and placed a writhing, cone-headed little blue alien on my chest as the attending nurse asked Dave, "who is it, Dad?"

Dave looked and, choked with emotion, said to me, "It's our's Joseph."

My heart exploded.  Unimaginable joy flooded through me as I looked at our son, seeing him, knowing him after all these months of unknowing.

"It's you," I whispered to him, choking back sobs, "it's been you all along."

And boy oh boy, was he worth it.  Every contraction, every push, every drip of the IV, every sleepless night, every pound gained...and every alteration to my plans, to my preferences...none of it mattered in the end, it turned out.

All that mattered was that our child was here, that Dave and I had been allowed into this mysterious and sacred fellowship of creation with God Himself, and that Joseph now existed because we had cooperated with Him.  And it was so good.

And the epidural?  Oh yes, that was very good.

I love you, Joseph Kolbe...and I couldn't have imagined a better entrance for you myself.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Managed Healthcare

Because who doesn't want to see this at their 41 week prenatal appointment?

At least nobody asked me if I wanted to be spayed today...

Tom Petty and my Chiropractor

... Really do take the cake for the best one-liner delivered to my mammoth self in this, the 10th month of the marathon pregnancy I apparently signed up for last July.

Yesterday, in a fit of sciatic rage, I went to my local 24 Hour not-quite-looking-the-part-at-this-point Fitness to whale around swim laps before my chiropractic adjustment, per the instructions of one very trim, athletic and admirably crunchy home-birthing friend ... but alas, after only 10 laps I was booted from the pool by a hoard of neon and floral ... Silver Sneakers water aerobics was getting underway, and so I was banished to the hot tub (shh, I'm the world's least compliant preggo - I also drink -gasp!- wine.)

After a minute of two of soaking (on the top step, I'm not that terrible of a mother), I was approached by a charming, elderly Vietnamese man who interrupted his Tai Chi routine in the middle of the tub to swim over and interpret for his broadly smiling wife who was perched next to me, staring at my stomach.
'My wife, she say you have baby soon?'

Damn I hope so.

More excited Vietnamese chatter.

'My wife want you know, you eat nothing but pork, green onions and carrots for one month. One month after give birth. And no BEEF.' (more excited chattering) 'No beef for 3 month, three month you no eat beef or drink cold water, yes?'

Um, yes.

'And no eat anything sour. No lemons, no oranges, no sour. And no ice cream'

Fat chance there.

'And keep legs closed for one month, sit with legs closed, you need heal. You rest and rub salt water on teeth and keep legs close together' (graphic demonstration on the wife's part ensues)

Not too sure about the possible double meaning of that last one...

Our happy exchange ended with much vigorous belly rubbing, patting, smiling and assurances of 'you have have good BOY in here, happy boy!'
I love being touched by strangers.

But hey, they were friendly, enthusiastic about my impending birth and motherhood, and did not once use the words 'pop,' 'go soon,' 'explode' or 'fully cooked.'

At least not in english.

p.s. love you Sarah, but still totally pregnant...perhaps more laps are in order.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

To my sweet Joey who braved the crowds with me this day last year (and helped me slip past an Italian police barricade) to witness the beatification of our hero, Bl. John Paul II, in St. Peter's Square on Divine Mercy Sunday.


"No no you will CRUSH the bambino!" (police scare tactic/Italian dramatics. I was undeterred)

Being sheltered from the beating sun by an umbrella held by an adoring German couple, who were also quite intent on feeding my 7 month old an apple.

Nursing a sweaty, sweaty Ergo-riding Joey in a paramedic tent after the Mass while perched on the edge of a stretcher...I was such a novel sight that VIP treatment was afforded at every turn.

Being shoved against the crown barricade when in came time for Communion and having an Indian priest reach through the crown and physically lift me up over other people in order to receive Jesus, before bustling me (and Joey) back from the crush of humanity - the only moment of the day when I was a teeny bit scared and perhaps regretting my decision to take a baby into a very emotional crowd numbering more than 1 million.

Scanning the horizon looking for Dave, who was perched up on the south Colonnade with the rest of the media, taking pictures and video.

The overwhelming smell of roses that flooded the otherwise highly aromatic crowd of unwashed humanity baking in the sun during the moment JPII was proclaimed 'blessed' by Pope Benedict - unreal. Friends who were outside the Square blocks away reported smelling roses in the streets...Our Lady was most definitely present that morning.

Such a magnificent memory for our family --- how I would love to sweeten it by marking this first anniversary with a new birth day (hint, hint interior baby)

Bl. John Paul II, pray for us!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sweat Equity

Tried to summon the enthusiasm (done) and the motivation (check) to get alllll the way to Hobby Lobby to pick up the materials necessary for replicating this little number, only to stand paralyzed in the jewelry-making aisle for all of 10 minutes trying unsuccessfully to decipher which of the 39 different types of necklace clasp would best suit my rudimentary DIY needs.

Pinterest fail.

I left empty-handed and literally soaking in sweat, due either to hormones or the sheer weight of the decision before me. Or perhaps I'm just so mentally handicapped from my luxurious life of stay-at-home mothering that I'm not equipped to make truly important economic decisions.

$8 dollars richer and no fabulous necklace to show for it. Forever 21, I'm headed your way...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Accepting Help

So I'm one million months pregnant, a blessed reality of which all of you, my dear readers, are well aware. Sorry for that. Sort of.

This past weekend was my emotional due date, and when our alarm clock toddler went off at o'dark thirty on Monday morning, I may or may not have starting sobbing. Because a. I was still pregnant and b. my husband had to go back to work and we were not blissfully baby-mooning in a 5 star hospital suite eating sumptuous cafeteria fare and cuddling our angelic newborn. (Yes, I have completely lost touch with reality.)

I managed to pull it together and get a shower in before punching in for the day, but I was preeeeetty much scrabbling around on the rockiest bottom all the day long. (And the dr's appointment which included an ineffective and loathsomely titled 'membrane stripping' ... well that didn't tint my glasses any rosier, either.)

The thing is, despite my repeated efforts to suck it up, offer it up, and pick myself up...this pregnancy and motherhood thing has been really hard. And it continues to get harder. Better in some ways, yes, but definitely harder.

So this morning when my mom called and offered to take Joey for a couple of nights to let me rest, I did what any good mother would do: I said I'd think about it, which was code for 'no thank you.'

Not because I didn't need the break - I do, desperately. And not because I don't trust my mother to watch her beloved grandson who looks so exactly like my dad as a little boy he can reduce her to tears of admiration. I said I'd think about it because, honestly, what kind of a mother would I be if I had to give my child away for a couple nights in order to give myself some time off?

I'd be a smart mother.

After a few minutes of discussion with Dave, I called her back and surprised us both by heartily accepting her generous offer. And then I started packing his duffel bag. Because somewhere in the fog of hormones and emotions, in the back of my brain, I could hear Kimberly Hahn or some other venerable sage of domesticity intoning the maxim of motherhood: "Never turn down offers of help while your children are young."

So even though I feel guilty (inappropriately so), anxious (unreasonably so), and somewhat chagrined by my own perceived lack of ability to multi-task at 40 weeks pregnant (idiotically so), I'm sending the little tyke to Camp Grandparents for a 48 hour furlough, and putting my feet up for a couple of days.

And trying really, really hard not to feel bad about it. It's Easter, after all, and if I can't accept some of His lavish mercy during this holiest time of the year, then I've got bigger problems than uncontrolled swelling in my fingers and face.

I don't know if this came out as a litany of complaint or of humility, but I do know that I'm planning on spending the next few days in rest and prayer and maybe in a pedicurist's chair. Because I'm not invincible after all, it turns out. And swollen toes look better tipped in one of summer's hot pink hues, I'm told.

Monday, April 9, 2012


He is risen, He is truly risen!

Spent all weekend cleaning, eating chocolate, going to reeeeeally long and yet strangely peaceful liturgies and wondering why I'm still with child.

Also, eating my feelings.

Proof in the pudding:
Hence my utter unsurprise and oddly placid reaction to the Target checker who, in under 30 seconds, managed to tell me I looked like I was about to pop, wondered if I were going to have the baby at the store, inquired after baby's gender and, upon learning the hidden nature of said info, sagely informed me that it was 'definitely a boy, cause that would be one HUGE girl. Dang.'

Also, my boys are really handsome.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Things You Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

"You look like you're ready to pop!"

"Wow, you're going to have your hands full!"

"So how dilated are you?"

"No baby yet?!"

"Was it planned?"

"Hope it's a girl so you can be 'done.'"

"When are you due again?"

"You're all belly! Except the water you're retaining in your face..." (thanks, mom)

"Wow, you look uncomfortable."

and the pièce de résistance: "I'm pro choice." Uttered by an unsuspecting and bafflingly British state rep who came politicking to our porch last Saturday afternoon and was outlining his platform for my polite husband.

Hoisting Joey onto one sizeable hip, I waddled out front and calmly informed him he 'probably had the wrong house' and then asked him which of my children he thought more deserving of the choice to live, the exterior or interior. He beat a hasty retreat punctuated by nervous English laughter...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Color blocking ... I can hit that

My primitive understanding of this haute topic informs me that basically any combination of formerly mismatching colors now a. go together and b. identify you as stunningly on-trend.


I have taken to assembling random arrangements of clothing/accessories/shoes and putting them together in no specific order and have been consistently achieving compliments from an otherwise style-illiterate spouse and always-very-stylish girlfriends, which leads me to believe I have found the answer to every woman's daily question: what should I wear?

This could work, if I weren't 1 million months pregnant:

But this serves equally well, and has the added bonus of being essentially an outfit I can hit both 'shuffle' and 'repeat' on multiple times a week. And so far, no one has noticed....

It was all working out reeeeally nicely, but then it snowed today. I asked my black yoga pants if they'd take me back, and they grudgingly agreed. Spandex is so hard to accessorize...

Monday, April 2, 2012