Life Lately

Mac has woken up again from his 2:30 nap (and, as such, has also woken me up from a rare nap time of my own), so I’m sitting in his nursery writing. Maybe this was a gift. 

This post is inspired by the husband of a friend of mine. Charlie Peters is chronicling the life of a stay-at-home-dad, and reading the loveliness he’s been writing has made me itch to sit down and write my own account.  

We’ve hit a new phase of sleep training this week: the cry it out phase. Mac is officially old enough, according to the nurses who wrote our sleep training books, Moms On Call, to sleep through the night without a middle-of-the-night feeding. He’s getting all the calories he needs during his waking hours, just like we do. He can also see as far and as clearly as we can, which has blown my mind. I’ve been testing this theory by making faces at him from a distance, across a room. It holds up. He thinks I’m just as funny from 7 feet away as he does from 7 inches away. 

This new crying it out thing has meant we’ve had to listen to Mac crying and not do anything about it. Hard for me, but harder for Jordan, who is the most sweet-hearted and wants to rush to Mac’s aid at any opportunity. I love that about him. But it also means that he has had to be in a separate room from me during the crying, because his sweetness would’ve made me cave. I’m so glad we didn’t. Mac slept through the night - from 7:30 PM to 7 AM - last night without incident, tantrum, not even a squeak. I am so proud of him, and this means I get to finally move back into my bedroom.

I’ve been sleeping in the guest bedroom since he moved to his crib. Initially, it was because I couldn’t climb up and down the stairs in the middle of the night with the incision, but now it’s been out of sheer laziness. Walking across the hall is much better than traversing the stairs at 4:30 AM, and Jordan is a champ who falls asleep with me, then goes downstairs when I get up to feed Mac. 

Now, though, that’ll be different. I think it’ll be weird to actually sleep in my bed again. I wonder if it will make me feel a little lonely to leave my pal upstairs alone! But he’s not alone. Not really.  

I wonder if he’ll totally blow the whole “sleeping through the night” thing to bits tonight and just explode with fury, just to show he’s still in charge.  

Before I got pregnant, I worried that I would get the post-partum blues because I’d be in the house with Mac all the time. I’ve been delighted to discover that I adore this phase of life, so much so that when we do go out, I find myself overly protective of him and eager to get back home. I’m also finding myself increasingly judgmental of other parents. I saw a young mother actually slap the arm of her 4-year-old daughter in Target yesterday when the little girl reached for something. With Mac sleeping in the buggie I was pushing, I stood at the end of an aisle and craned my neck, hoping she’d see me so I could give her a disapproving look. (I could hear Jordan in my head saying, “Girl, don’t you get yourself into trouble by starting something you can’t finish!”) She never looked up, which is probably good, because she ended up in the checkout line directly behind me. It looked like she’d been crying. I guess we’re all doing our best. 

Getting showered and dressed is a new series of self-care tasks - making sure my breasts are cared for so I can continue to feed my soon, putting ointment on my incision and massaging it so that I don’t get toughened scar tissue hanging over the top of it like a bad beer belly. The massage hurts a little still, but I reward myself with the prenatals I’m still taking. Gummies, obviously. Because I am 8. 

Mac is obsessed with music and percussive sounds. The “motorboat” sound, the bass in a pop song, drums - he is totally soothed by all of that. The night of his 2-month shots, he threw a MAJOR fit and was only consoled by the song Makeba by the artist Jain. It was in a Nike commercial and a friend of mine sent it to me. What would we do without Makeba?! We find a reason to play it nearly every day. That particulars night, we played it 70 times in a row. Conservatively. I can still picture Jordan, shirtless  from having jumped out of the shower upon Mac’s screaming a story away, hair wet and towel slung around his waist, maniacally dancing for Mac in our guest bathroom where we tried to bathe him to soothe him. He said his dad danced for him when he was a baby, and that that’s how his dad threw his back out for the first time. Laughing with him in the midst of Mac screaming has made for some of the sweetest memories. Especially when, as he was rocking Mac in a small moment of relief, his towel dropped. And he couldn’t stop to adjust it. Best. 

I keep wondering when the Mamaroo is going to just heave a sigh and give up. I can’t imagine it’s easy swinging a 15-pound 3.5 month old for 45 minutes in a row. (I actually don’t have to imagine, I know.) I think it might actually start swearing at me before long. 

Mac has started to really enjoy being rocked while vertical instead of in the “normal” baby hold with his head in the crook of one arm and his feet in the other. I find this particularly delicious because I get to hear his nighttime sounds - the little coos and tired whines that are just his way of winding down. It makes me wonder what we as adults would do if it hadn’t been beaten out of us by propriety. What sounds would we make and reactions would we have? Would we blow spit bubbles at people we like? Okay maybe that’s too far. That’d probably be a reason to suspect brain damage. But you get my point. The sweet sounds and the unhappy sounds - they really are so natural. He reminds me of everything pure, as he’s the purest form of person. His face rests against my cheek so that when I put him down in the crib, carefully, slowly, he has a red circle on near his eye from the warmth of our connection. I can’t imagine him ever being older and bigger than this. 

He doesn’t care about toys. At all. He cares about talking, music, eye contact, and human touch. He likes being read to, dancing, splashing in his bath. I’m afraid he’s his mother’s son. 

He and Tom Hanks are starting to discover each other and it’s fantastic.  

I’m sitting in the rocker now typing all this, looking at the bottle on the bookshelf that needs washing, thinking about how I need to go chop off another 2 oz of breast milk from a 6 oz storage bag. Mac likes what Jordan calls a “topper” each night - both boobs and 2 more ounces. Works like a charm. Sleeps like a...well, baby. Although he hasn’t napped well today. But he does, for the most part, keep himself on a schedule. Why anyone doesn’t sleep train their kid I’ll never understand. I am so comforted by the schedule. But here’s where I’ll remind myself of the Target lesson. 

Today marks 15 weeks of knowing and loving this little person. Unlike many, I can remember life without him. It’s like an old song I still know all the words to.  But I sure like singing this new one. 

Pin Curls that Last for 5 Days

Hey, friends!

So one of the big resolutions I made to myself when I started this blog a few years ago was that I didn’t want to be a fashion/beauty/lifestyle blogger. Today, I’m breaking that promise to bring you something that I believe is pretty freakin’ worthwhile: the 5-day hairstyle.  

You heard right: style once, wear for 5 days. Don’t believe me? Check it out. 

This little trick has helped me enormously since I had a baby, though I figured it out long before Mac was born. I was always a person who said, “My hair won’t hold curl.” It turns out that’s a bunch of hooey. ANYONE’S hair can hold curl - even the most limp, flat, fine, straight hair. Trust.  

So this process is called “pin curling,” and it’s a really old technique. The science behind it is that if you allow your hair to cool while it’s still in the shape of a curl, it retains the shape for a lot longer. Think about it: if you curl your hair with a curling iron, then immediately let it drop back down as it cools, the curl will be a lot looser because it’s cooling in a more open, wider shape, instead of in a tightly-wound curl.  

It’s a little bit of work on the front end, but it takes no more than twenty minutes. And when you’re through, you have 5-day hair - 20 minutes for 5 days? Worth it.  

You’ll need: 

- Clean hair
- Duck clips (the long, silver clips you see at the salon) 
- A 1’’ curling iron (if yours is a little larger or smaller, that’s fine - we’ll get to how you can make that work) 
- L'Oreal TXT It Tousle Wave Spray (optional, but great)
- 20 minutes

Step One:  

Wash, dry, and blow your hair out. A “blowout” doesn’t need to be salon-quality - it just needs to straighten your hair and get it completely dry. I divide my hair into two sections with a large clip, dry the bottom half with a paddle brush, then dry the top half with a round brush, pulling the brush up and through my hair as I dry it to give it some volume around the crown. Whatever method works for you is fine - just needs to get the job done.  

Step Two:  

Grab a two-inch section of hair and use your curling iron to curl it under, all the way toward your scalp. The direction you curl it is up to you - if you want to have a salon blowout look, curl it under. If you’re going for more of a Victoria’s Secret wave, curl the hair around the closed barrel of your curling iron. That’ll make more sense in the video below. 

Step Three:  

Release the hair from the curling iron. Then, using two fingers on your non-dominant hand, curl the section of hair around your fingers back up in the same direction as before, and secure it with a duck clip. Make sure the curve of the clip is facing toward your scalp, not away. If it sounds confusing, use the video tutorial below as a guide. 

Step Four:  

Repeat the process until your whole head is covered in pins.

Step Five:  

Give your hair some time to set. Do some housework, make some phone calls, or if you’re doing it in the morning before work, make this the first step in your routine. Do your makeup and have your coffee while your hair cools!  

Step Six:  

Take your hair down and comb through it with a wide-toothed comb. Don’t worry - this step isn’t going to destroy your curls. It’s just going to calm them down. Make sure you complete this step with at least ten minutes before you need to be anywhere so that your hair has time to settle and you don’t look like you shoved your finger in a light socket, like so:

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To maintain your curls all week long:  

Before bed each night, wrap your hair into a twisted bun and secure it with a rubber band. I usually loop one loop all the way around the hair, and take the other loop halfway over the bun to make sure it stays in place all night (watch the video below for a detailed walk-through).

In the morning, take your hair down and you’ll discover that you’ve still got an “out in public” ready head of hair. Hooray!  

Just to show you that this works, I documented 5 days’ worth of hair for you. I curled it on a Thursday, and the last photo was taken on a Monday.  

Thursday:  

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Friday (yes, I’m wearing the same shirt, I have a newborn, don’t judge me):  

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Saturday (featuring my goofy husband):   

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 Sunday: 

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Monday (the messiest and yuckiest day):   

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As they say in My Big Fat Greek Wedding: "So there you go!" 

I hope this has been helpful and will save you some time in the mornings that you could use snuggling your babies, sleeping in, or getting extra work done. 

Thus endeth my stint as a fashion blogger.  

*Bows*  

How Wrong is The Bachelor? Let Me Count the Ways.

You guys, I just can't stand it. 

I haven't recapped this horrid show in a couple of seasons because #pregnant and #newbaby, but I just can't sit idly by and let what's happened over the last few days go uncommented on. 

WHAT IN THE HOT HELL. 

I've decided to give each person in this horror show a pass/fail grade, just like your freshman biology class. And, much like the AP Bio teacher who once gave me an "8" on a test, I will be merciless. AND IT WILL BE GREAT.  

Ready? OKAY! 

ARIE'S MOM: Pass. 

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Whatever, this lady's nice enough. She told Arie to pick Becca, which was good advice, but she also puts ice cubes in her white wine which I really can't deal with. I guess she passes but just because...I don't know. Because I have meaner things to say about other people.

ARIE'S DAD: Fail.

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This probably isn't fair, but this guy gives me the crippity-crippity-CREEPS. I don't know if it's the slightly European accent that keeps surfacing at weird moments, if it's the hair...I just feel like at some point, he's had someone tied up in his basement and has harvested their organs for sport. He also totally buys into the "you can be in love with two people at one time" thing which is upsetting and (like ol' Ice Cubes up there) WRONG. 

Arie's dad did give us one of my favorite moments in the show, though, when he broke the cardinal rule of not mentioning Thing 1 to Thing 2. He pretty much talked about Lauren during his entire conversation with Becca. "So yeah, I think he likes you both pretty much the same. Lauren seems awesome." "Whoever Arie chooses, we'll be cool. But that Lauren girl...is it true her hair was spun into gold by tiny little witches?" "Do you think her liver and kidneys are in good shape? Asking for a friend."

You can practically see Becca's soul melting in this scene.

Brutal. 

NEIL LANE: Fail. 

Dear Neil, you are a clown who makes the same ring over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

At least Arie broke from tradition and chose an oval stone instead of a princess cut with a halo and baguettes on either side. 

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Neil, a question. How has the fact that you've built your career on furnishing empty proposals not tarnished your brand in any way? I don't understand it. People should be fleeing from Neil Lane engagement rings because of the massive amount of bad karma associated with them. I mean how many couples are still together after like 57 seasons of this show? 4?! Right. No, sweetie. 

THE GREEK CHORUS OF EX-GIRLFRIENDS: Pass.

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YES!! This was so beyond excellent. These girls were here to roast Arie on the spit like a big ol' pig. From top left to bottom right, we have Too Good For This Show, Dead Rat, Baby B, Who?, and Not Hoxie - all these ladies had a bone to pick and they good and well picked it. 

I can even forgive the visible bra situation.

We got a lot of delicious morsels out of this. In fact, without Too Good For This Show, we never would've known that Arie's entire story about how he's "taking a risk" by breaking off the engagement to try things with Lauren was a total fiction. He knew in plenty of advance that he had Lauren in his pocket: 

DRAG HIM!! 

LAUREN: Fail. 

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Yecccccch, amiright? 

Look, as Carrie Bradshaw once said, there are the simple girls, and there are the Katie girls. And our girl Lauren is a simple girl. This is not a comment on her mental capacity (Happy International Women's Day!) This is me saying, "You have chosen to have the depth of a single sheet of Kleenex in order to make this weird relationship work with Touchy McGag over there." 

It's just so BAAAAAAAAAASICCCCCCCCCCCCC. I feel like Lauren watched this season in leggings with socks pulled up over them in a chunky cable knit sweater while cradling a hot beverage of some sort and gently weeping into her eyelash extensions. 

Was that mean? 

MAYBE IT WAS BUT I CAN'T FEEL ANYMORE BECAUSE THIS SHOW RUINED ME. 

None of us can figure out why Arie chose Lauren over the infinitely more interesting, more solid, and more charming Becca. Every talking head of Arie's in the finale basically said, "Yeah - I mean, Lauren and I have this indescribable connection and I love making her feel safe, and Becca...well, she's just so confident, she's a rock, and I can talk to her about anything...so yeah. I'd say it's pretty even."

... 

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But the worst offense was her accepting Arie back with open arms when he clearly left another woman to be with her. It's just gross. And since she never watched the finale, she'll never know just how gross it was. 

One time Jordan hit me in the head with a sock he'd been wearing all day. It was kind of wet and disgusting. Lauren is basically the equivalent of a wet sock. 

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Come on, girl. You're better than this. 

Or, you know, maybe not. 

BECCA: Pass. Obviously. 

We needn't linger long on this one because it's just so clear that she's the best and everyone else is the worst and that's just that. Although I am disappointed that she allowed ABC to continue the manipulation by agreeing to star as The Bachelorette, she pretty much gets carte blanche to do whatever she wants. If she wants to set a guy's head on fire just for kicks, she can do it. 

Go get 'em, girl. 

Which brings us to our final contestant here on Pass/Fail. 

ARIE. Fail, fail, fail, fail, fail. 

Let's just run it down, shall we? 

  • Your laugh is terrible. That's personal and below the belt, but that weird forced hearty chuckle thing has got to go. Someone should tell you that. 
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  • You have a 24601 tattoo on your arm because you "identified with the main character" in Les Mis. Sorry, do you mean the hero who carried his daughter's dying love interest on his back through a sewer? The guy who stole a loaf of bread to feed his sister's family and rotted for decades in jail? The guy who raised a dying prostitute's child as his own? THAT GUY?? THAT guy would not bring a girl on national TV to dump her, you stupid giraffe. 
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  • You reached out to Wet Sock behind your fiance's back. 
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  • You then lied to said fiance about the extent of your communication with Wet Sock. 
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  • The you told the production BEFORE YOU TOLD BECCA that you were breaking the engagement, which meant they got to tag along for the worst moment of this poor girls life. 
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  • You refused to leave even though she asked you to like A THOUSAND TIMES, creating further reason for the cameras to be in the house while she frantically tried to find a place where she could be alone (including in the actual toilet room, which somehow still didn't work). 
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  • You fabricated the storyline that dumping Becca for Sockie was some kind of chance you were taking in order to make yourself look good. 
  • On ATFR, you used excuses like "You were working," to justify your decision to wait to dump Becca on camera. 
  • You then PROPOSED TO WET SOCK IN FRONT OF EVERYONE, to (soul-satisfyingly) tepid applause. 

 

  • You're the worst worst worst worst worst. Don't even. It's terrible, you're terrible, we all agree, go hide in a hole until we've decided what to do with you. 
  • Which brings us to: 

CHRIS HARRISON: Pass. 

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Harrison you slippery son of a bitch, you've done it again. You've managed to exploit, humiliate, and degrade people into season-high ratings for what was otherwise a sleeper of a season. Your show needs a massive overhaul, and yet you go to bed every night on piles. of. money. 

I hate you, but I respect you. You've got us all wrapped around your slimy little fingers and I rue the day I started watching this trash pile. I RUE IT, YA HEAR ME?! 

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Yeah, I know. You don't care. 

Figures. 

That, ladies and germs, is it. We've completed another season of mind-numbingly dumb TV. Maybe we'll tune in next season, where we'll get to see the real winner of this dumpster fire: 

 Into it. 

Into it. 

'Til then.

Mac's Birth Story, in which the Protagonist Learns an Important Lesson About Herself

This is the story of how I became Mac's mom. It's long and personal. Further posts will detail what a beautiful genius he is, but this one is about his parents. 

SO. Here we go!  

On December 14th at 4:30, Jordan and I took our pre-packed (way overpacked, by the way - hilariously overpacked) hospital bags to Mission Hospital, which is exactly 3 minutes from our house. In fact, we could nearly see our house from the window of our hospital room. Because we were there for a scheduled induction, it was bizarre to in like we were checking into a hotel, knowing we'd walk out with a baby. We were both so nervous and excited, but trying to downplay both of those emotions in order to appear cool and in-control. 

 Jordan checking out the view. See how cool he's playing it?  

Jordan checking out the view. See how cool he's playing it?  

The room we were put in was a beautiful mountain view room, which I was relieved about because I know it was a roll of the dice that we’d get an ugly room facing construction. We met our nurse, S (no names in this story because that just seems like the right thing to do) who was wonderful, warm, and friendly - so wonderful, given that I had literally never checked into a hospital and had all kinds of of butterflies in my stomach. She told me to put on a gown and hang out for my cervical exam to see how far along I was. They hooked the baby up to a heart monitor at that point and we saw that I was contracting every 10 minutes or so: irregularly, but definitely happening. It was comforting to me to know that those "muscle contractions" I'd been feeling were actually uterine contractions, and that I wasn't crazy. She "checked me" (cool OB term for "seeing how dilated you are"), and found that I was about 2 1/2 cm dilated, which was what I'd been two days before at my 39 week doctor's visit. 

My OB, who I am absolutely in love with, wasn’t on call until the next day, so I saw the on-call doc. She placed a balloon catheter to kick-start the process of labor. I'll let you Google what that is, because it's unsavory. You're welcome. 

Once the catheter was placed, it was pretty uncomfortable - especially trying to navigate getting up to use the bathroom with that, an IV, and monitors checking the baby's heart rate - I felt like the bionic woman. It was kind of hilarious.

With the help of the catheter, my contractions started ramping up in intensity and frequency. We visited with both sets of parents who had come to the hospital and were in the waiting room, despite the fact that nothing was going to happen that night. Even still, it was wonderful to know they were out there. My mom, of course, brought a giant bag of candy. I was eating everything I could because I knew they were going to cut me off at a certain point and I eat every three hours like a small child. While we were chatting, I was contracting pretty intensely - several times, I had to stop talking to let a contraction run its course. They were the real deal.  

Here's where I say: women who've done this whole thing without drugs? You are AMAZING. 

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Our nurses changed at 8 PM and we got a cute young girl named...well I can’t think of what it was. Weird. She was so adorable! Anyway, Jordan will remember. She came in every thirty minutes to tug on the catheter (KILL ME) and the second time she did, it came right out, which meant I was dilated to 4.5 cm! Hooray! All three of us kind of looked at each other in shock when the catheter came out, like, “Was that supposed to happen??” (It was.)

So that meant I was dilated to 4.5! Hooray! It was about midnight at that point, and we were really excited because we’d been told that it could take up to 12 hours for me to dilate to that point. Around the same time, they started Pitocin in my IV. I was a little bit of a zombie because (since we thought it was going to take longer for me to dilate enough to start Pitocin), they'd given me a sleep aid to try and get some rest. I dilated more quickly than anybody had anticipated, so I was super drowsy, but also contracting like a beast.

The fetal heart monitor was probably the most annoying part of this process. Every time I turned to get comfortable, it would shift the monitor on my belly and this crazy alarm would go off signaling the loss of the baby's heart rate. (In reality, the baby was fine, but it spooked us every time!). I had to just resign myself to be careful about the positions I slept in to avoid setting off the alarm. Jordan slept in a recliner by my bed, and we got a little, but not much, sleep. We were too excited and neither of us was really comfy. 

 Me. Geeking. Jordan. Sleeping. 

Me. Geeking. Jordan. Sleeping. 

At 6 AM or so, our nurse did a cervical exam and told me that I was about 6 cm dilated. Not as much progress as we’d hoped, but not nothing. She encouraged me to get up and walk around, so Jordan and I did a couple of laps around the hallway to try to keep things moving along. I was a little woozy after a couple of laps, so we came back in and got settled back in the bed.

Around 8 AM, our parents were on their way back to the hospital (Mom hadn’t slept all night - Jordan was keeping everyone apprised via text). We had another nurse shift change and met K, who was defnitely the toughest cookie of the nurses we'd had all so far. If I'm honest, I wasn't sure we'd totally get along, but I ended up absolutely loving this women, as she was my advocate in so many ways. 

I was dilated enough to receive the epidural at any point that I wanted, so they told me to give them about a 30-minute heads up when I thought I was about ready to have the epidural catheter placed. I labored for about 2 hours, still contracting irregularly, then went ahead and called for it. 

Our CRNA came in to administer the epidural. I was a little nervous about this process, mostly because I’d read that one of the possible side effects is a spinal headache which can last days after labor. Being someone who’s prone to headaches in general, I was really nervous that that would happen to me.

The CRNA had Jordan sit down in front of me and told me to round my back like a cat. She administered some local anesthetic first to help the pain of the epidural catheter placement, but when she started to place the catheter, I could still feel lots of it. It wasn’t just “pressure” (medical term used to cover all manner of sins), but actual pain and discomfort. She tried a couple of times to reposition it, but it still felt uncomfortable. Despite that, she felt confident about the placement and we decided to go ahead and have her administer the epidural anesthesia at that point. Once the epidural started taking effect, they laid me back in bed and I started to feel more numb on my right side than my left. They propped my right side up on some pillows to try to even out the pain medication to both sides, and eventually it did - more or less.

Jordan's parents came in to visit, and I had some Popsicles which I promptly threw up (my poor in-laws! That moment went like this: "Yeah, l'm feeling really good! I'm...actually, you know what? I'm about to throw up. I'm so sorry!! I'm so sorry!" Cue: them fleeing the room.). 

My parents came in to visit and I started feeling the sensation of contractions without the pain, which was awesome. I still had a little unevenness of numbness, but I could move my legs a little and that was kind of comforting and helpful to K (instead of being totally dead-legged from the waist down, I was able to help her a little in moving my legs). I took this uneventful opportunity to take a quick nap.

 My precious parents visiting sometime around 10 AM. 

My precious parents visiting sometime around 10 AM. 

It was at this point in the day that things started to ramp up and get a little dramatic.

My fabulous OB (henceforth referred to as OB) came on call that afternoon! I was so relieved to see her - I liken it to having a sleepover at a friend's house, and you get sick, and your friend's parents have to take care of you, and then you finally get to go home and see your mom and you're SO HAPPY. Yeah. It's like that.  

Anyway, she did a cervical exam and said that I was 10 cm! Finally! Jordan had gone to eat lunch with his parents in the cafeteria. I texted him that OB said we'd be pushing within the hour, and he RAN back upstairs as we started preparing to do the damn thing. 

OB had told us that the baby was "OP," which is medical speak for "sunny-side up." This is different from breech - his head was down, but he was positioned to come out facing the ceiling rather than the floor. K put a “peanut ball” between my legs (basically a giant yoga ball, except shaped like a peanut) and laid me on my side to try to get the baby turned over naturally. She flipped me from side to side working on that, and I could still help her at that point because I still had some use of my legs. 

 Peanut pillow sticking horizontally out! 

Peanut pillow sticking horizontally out! 

Sadly, the peanut pillow didn't quite do its job, and it was time to start pushing. Since we couldn’t get the baby to turn on its own, OB flipped it manually when she came in to start me pushing. At this point my epidural was doing okay - not fully working, but working enough that I wasn't in crazy pain. I pushed for about an hour starting around 2 - just Jordan, K, OB, and me in the room. Things were going well and I could really focus on moving the baby down. It's wild how your body just kicked into autopilot. I suddenly knew exactly what to do - once I got the hang of focusing on a particular spot to bear down into, I was off to the races. We were joking on and off and the mood was really light. OB kept telling me what a great job I was doing pushing, which was super motivating and helped me progress a ton. (Thank you, Pure Barre, for the endurance and the core strength!) 

At the Hour 2 mark, I started to have really intense back pain. The best way to describe it would be a deep-tissue, long-lasting muscle cramp that felt like it was in my left hip flexor, left butt cheek, and radiating around to my lower left back. It started out as something I thought I could work with, but quickly became unmanageable. Our poor nurse, K, kept having to readjust my leg (I was on my side, and she was holding my top leg for me as I wasn't able to labor on my back because it made me vomit) per my direction: "Let my knee fall in - okay, now out. Okay, now can you cross my left foot over my right knee so I can lean forward and stretch my hip out?" Nothing seemed to work and it was becoming extremely painful. (We later found out that I was in severe back labor, which is what happens when the baby is flipped face-up and is hitting your tailbone/pelvis as you try to push. The reason I could feel it is because my epidural had been placed poorly.) 

Our CRNA came back in and gave me a bolus (basically just a "boost" in my epidural catheter) of fentanyl and lidocaine, in addition to bumping my epidural anesthesia again. At this point, my legs were completely numb and lifeless, so K was holding my top leg up for the rest of our efforts to push (God bless her). Every push became more and more painful, and no position I was in could help. I was also vomiting every 10 minutes or so, so things were pretty unpleasant. The baby’s head was all the way down and OB could see its hair, so in addition to the searing pain in my side, there was tons of pressure to push and finish the job. Eventually the pain was numbed by the medication and I was able to push really hard, but still not hard enough to get the baby out. 

OB said that the baby’s heart rate was dropping significantly during contractions, so we should give it a rest and see where we were. The baby was fine when I wasn’t pushing, so she suggested that we give both me and the baby a break for about an hour.

They stopped Pitocin and I took a nap (super weird considering the circumstances) because I was completely exhausted. We waited about an hour and I was able to conk out pretty intensely. Around 45 minutes later, the pain in my left side came back completely and I started throwing up again. K paged the CRNA, who came back in and did another bolus of fentanyl, lidocaine, and the epidural anesthesia. They’d warned me that the first round of fentanyl is amazing, but every subsequent dose is less and less effective, and that’s exactly what I experienced. I was only about 50% numb at that point. When OB came back in, she said that we had about 15 minutes to get the baby out vaginally in order to keep the baby safe and asked me if I thought I could do it. I told her I wanted to try, but that unless my left side went numb again, there would be no way I could focus on pushing because the pain was so great. I never got more numb and tried to push twice as hard as I could, but at this point was borderline screaming with every push and totally unable to focus on moving the baby down.

OB gently told me that we needed to do a C-section in order to keep the baby safe. I knew how disappointed she was to make that call because she was so intent on getting the baby delivered vaginally, and I also knew that if she was saying we needed surgery, it must be the last-ditch option. A big part of me was extremely relieved to be going into surgery because I was completely exhausted.

Once she called for a C-section (and she stipulated a STAT C-section, so it was extra urgent-feeling), about 6 different nurses rushed into the room and OB left to get scrubbed. One whisked Jordan away to scrub in, one was unhooking/relooking my IV to different meds/machines, the CRNA came back to tell me about anesthesia options, people were filing paperwork, I was signing stuff, etc. It was chaos, but it was organized chaos.

They wheeled me down the hallway to the operating room, and all I could think about was how badly I hoped we didn’t pass the waiting room in the process because I really didn't want my mom to see me being wheeled into surgery, since, as far as our parents knew, we were back there pushing. Everybody had scrubbed in by the time we hit the door of the OR; OB and the CRNA were both already there and gloved. They moved me from my gurney to the operating table, put a cap on me, and started a scratch test. I remember making sure they grabbed my pillow from the bed because it wasn’t the hospital’s and it’s my all-time fave pillow (#priorities, obviously).

They took a needle and poked up my legs and abdomen, which I couldn’t really feel. Then they started the process of placing a urinary catheter, which was really uncomfortable and I could feel most of. Our badass nurse, K, realized that I could feel that and told the CRNA that it was clear the anesthesia wasn’t working well enough in the epidural alone to do the surgery with just that. The CRNA then decided it would be best to do a spinal block for the surgery, so she numbed the area and administered the block (which I couldn’t really feel).

At this point, my memory of this whole thing is really spotty. I actually had to ask OB (at my 6 week follow-up last week) how long we were physically in the OR, because I have no concept of how much time passed. The answer was about an hour and 45 minutes. I think the easiest thing to do is explain what happened from a medical perspective, then explain what it was like on my end. 

What happened (per my limited understanding of medicine):  

Apparently, the epidural catheter was placed really poorly, which is why I was able to feel the pain of back labor earlier. Ordinarily, they would have re-placed the catcher (epidurals have a catheter just like an IV port, and the meds are administered through the catheter) before the C-section, but since the baby was in distress, they didn't have time to do that. Once they realized I wasn't numb in the OR, the CRNA made the call to do a spinal block. Because of the back labor, I had had so much extra medication put into the epidural catheter that there was tons of anesthesia already in my spinal space, and when the spinal block was administered, all of the anesthesia in my body shot to the top of my spinal column, paralyzing me from the chin down and also paralyzing my diaphragm, making it impossible for me to speak or breathe on my own until the anesthesia burned off. It's what's called a "high spinal," and is really rare, so if you're reading this as a future mom, this isn't something you should worry about. 

My memory of it all:  

There's a long, bulleted list in a journal I keep of what this experience was like for me. I've gone back and forth on whether or not I want to share it here, and ultimately decided that there were details about this experience that are too grizzly and feel too personal to write about publicly. Suffice it to say that I was fully conscious and aware of taking shallower and shallower breaths until I wasn't able to breathe anymore, and was only able to communicate my panic to OB by widening my eyes to let her know something was wrong. For understandable reasons, the anesthesiologist who they paged (the CRNA was dismissed from the OR) wouldn't let Jordan come in, so I was without him for the scariest part. Lots of it I don't remember. Once I was coming back to awareness/consciousness, my first real memory is hearing Jordan in my ear saying, "It's a Mac!" (We had a girl name and a boy name picked out, so that was his way of telling me we had a son. So precious.) 

My second real memory is looking back over my shoulder to see Jordan doing skin-to-skin with the baby since he knew I wanted to but wasn't able to. He was singing to the baby and crying, both because our son was so perfect and because when he entered the OR, I wasn't responsive and it scared the hell out of him. 

The surgery itself went perfectly. Mac was born at 5:55 PM, weighing in at 8 lbs, 7 oz, 20 3/4 inches long. He passed his Apgar with flying colors, and Jordan brought him over to see me on the table. I peeked over the blanket to see the tiny miracle we had made for the first time, and all the emotions I'd been working so hard to control flooded out of me in full-fledged sobs. 

He was all at once a stranger and my most familiar friend.

After I the surgery was over, everything went just about the way you think it would. Our poor parents had been waiting without an update for a long time, so they were pretty freaked out to learn what had happened since all they knew was that I had been wheeled into surgery, then two hours passed with no news. But when they came back to the recovery area to see us (Mac included), we got this.

I have watched the tape of the day I was born more times than I can count - I could quote it all back to you. My favorite moment of the day is when my grandparents see their very first grandchild for the first time. My parents (like Jordan and me) decided not to find out the sex of the baby, and (like Jordan and me) didn't share any of the names they were kicking around until the day I was born. Had I not know that this moment was possible, it would've been a lot harder for us to go without knowing the gender - but what a pay-off it was. Easily one of my favorite moments of all time: 

Mac's delivery was easily the most frightening thing I've ever gone through in my life, piggybacking on the experience of childbirth, which is already momentous and life-changing in so may ways. Once everything was resolved, the anesthesiologist leaned down by my head and said, "You've got ice in your veins, girl. I don't know how you handled that so well." 

I'll take that with me for the rest of my life. I didn't know that I was as mentally tough as I was. I don't think I'm tougher than anyone else; that experience showed me that I think we all have ice in our veins if we can dig down deep enough to tap into it. Having Mac showed me that I can survive a great deal more than I ever thought possible, and that I can stand on my own in the face of a really harrowing situation. I have never thought of myself as a particularly strong person - kind and compassionate, but not tough. Now I know that I am capable of dealing with absolutely anything that comes at me, that I have the drive and grit to dig my heels in and finish the job when the going gets tough. I am proud of myself. I didn't know I had it in me.

The photo below was taken on the day we left the hospital. My mom snapped it hours before we were released into the real world, leaving the cocoon of the hospital for the first time in over 3 days. I was still swollen, sore, walking hunched over a bit. The first time I saw this photo, I didn't recognize the woman in it. The new mom, holding her perfect newborn son. 

I am getting to know her, too. 

She is all at once a stranger and my most familiar friend. 

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How to (Try To) Keep It Together As a New Mom

REMEMBER ME? 

I'm so happy to report that it's 10:21 AM as I write this post, and I'm sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee while my dog AND my son sleep (one at my feet, one in a motorized-robot-swing in the next room. You can decide which is which.).  

It's good to be me right now.  

There is so much to report, so much to say about the last few weeks of life in the Scott house. The short version is, December 15, we had a baby boy. His name is Mac, and he is amazing, and I have already become the person who posts way too many pictures of their kid. It is here that I will invite you to be patient with me, because, I'm learning, it is actually impossible NOT to be obsessed with your child.  

Or at least, that's my experience.  

So it turns out that motherhood is a REALLY BIG FREAKING DEAL and changes pretty much everything about the way you live your life. A full 24-hours a day at this point (yes, all 24) are spent either getting ready to feed Mac, feeding him, burping him, or thinking about the next time I'm going to feed him. He's an animal and eats like one. Time is a commodity that I never knew the limits of - at least not in this particular way - and so the three-ish hour stretches when he's sleeping are of crucial importance now. Sleep when the baby sleeps? Good joke.  

I've been thinking a lot about the ways in which I'm trying to keep my head screwed on in this new season of "Your Boob Is Permanently Tied To Another Human Being," and all the anxiety that can go along with my new schedule, new identity, and new responsibilities. That anxiety has the potential to drown me in its rip tide if I'm not careful, and anyone who's been a new mother knows exactly the feeling I mean.

But the truth is, at least for now, I feel pretty great.

My recovery is going well, my baby is so sweet and snuggly, and, though I'm definitely sleep-deprived, I'm really happy most of the time. Sure, I cry every few days about something completely ridiculous, but come on. I'm pumped full of more hormone than Jane Fonda. So I thought I'd share some things I'm doing to combat that that overwhelmed, crazed feeling in hopes that it'll help another new mama out there reading, and, if not, will serve for hilarious reading material when the other shoe drops at some point. 

The tips: 

 1. Do something "normal" every day.
 
Every morning during Mac's 9-12 nap, I get a shower, do my hair, do my makeup, and make my bed. Those four things are a myst for me every day. I have never been a person who leaves the house without makeup, earrings, or my hair done, and being a new mom wasn't going to turn me into that person. There's nothing wrong with that, of course - what I'm trying to say is that there for me, there needed to be some carryover from who I was pre-baby to who I am post-baby, and those things allow me to bridge that chasm. The house might be a disaster, there may be spit-up all over my shirt within 5 minutes, but having this small morning ritual makes me feel like ME and allows me to tackle what's happening on any given day with a little more sense of self.   

2. Remember that everything comes in waves. 
 
Of course, this may not be applicable if you're someone who is suffering from post-partum depression, in which case my heart bleeds for you and I am here to talk if you need an ear. Because DAMN being a new mom is hard work. There is not a thing wrong with feeling bluesy or overwhelmed or any of that, so please hear this is as my own experience and not a rule of thumb for everyone.

If you're having an experience like mine that is less post-partum-y and more "generally overwhelmed about every 5 hours," then this one's for you. 

It's been really important to remind myself that everything comes and goes when it comes to these first few weeks. The baby WILL eventually stop crying. The house WILL eventually be cleaner. I WILL eventually not feel like the world is caving in on me.  

In moments when I find myself crying or overwhelmed about something that wouldn't normally overwhelm me (ex. Jordan takes longer than 5 minutes to respond to a text message and I need help RIGHT NOW and the dog is barking because there's a car that just drove by and Mac is crying because he just blew out his diaper - just for example, you know) I try to take a deep breath and remember that there will be an end point to this moment of insanity. It sounds small, but it really helps me refocus and not get totally swept away in what seems like an endless sea of things to worry about.  

3. Keep in mind that you're probably doing a great job. 
 
Hey, guess what? 

If you've had a baby recently, you are INCREDIBLE. Seriously. Not in the "weird Instagram affirmation you scroll past and dismiss kind of way" - you are TRULY amazing. Let's talk about why:  

- Because your body has just GROWN A HUMAN LIFE.
 - Because now your body is capable (whether you're breastfeeding or not) of sustaining that life with food it makes BY ITSELF.
 - Because, if you are breastfeeding, your boobs are a war zone, as are other parts of your body that we shall not discuss here in polite company. 
 - Because you have to get up in the middle of the night and still be a decently friendly and pleasant person the next day. 
 - Because you're navigating a world of having a totally different body than you had before, and probably aren't able to exercise yet, and look at yourself in the mirror only to find that you don't recognize that person. 
 - Because breastfeeding hurts like a bitch and is really, really hard (but worth it, in my opinion - but also, really hard at first). 
 - Because there are 1,000 different opinions about anything you might choose to Google frantically in the middle of the night. 

And for a million other reasons. 

Listen.  

Ancient man did not have Google, and we still survived as a species. I'm trying to trust my instincts and just do what feels right, and I encourage you to do the same. It's impossible to be perfect. There's no such thing. I caught myself freaking out the other day because Mac was 15 minutes off on his sleep schedule. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, LADY, GET A GRIP. (This is what I said to myself in the mirror.)  

Basically what I mean is, it's just all going to be okay. Take a breath. You are probably absolutely killing it. If your child is breathing, fed, clothed, and feels loved, congratulations.  

 4. Set boundaries for visitors.
 
This is actually a piece of advice that one of our mother/baby nurses in the hospital gave me, and it's brilliant. Set hours for people to come see you in the first few weeks after the baby is born. We went with 12-2 because that's after Mac's lunchtime feeding and he'll probably be asleep. 

I threw this out the window last week and accepted people at all times of the day, one day seeing two separate sets of visitors during nap time, and it was a disaster for both Mac and for me. We were exhausted and cranky and I remembered why I had set those boundaries in the first place. Trust. This is a game-changer. 

Also, you don't have to let people hold the baby if the baby is asleep. Also a lesson from experience.

 5. Ask for help, then accept the help without feeling guilty. 
 
Yeah, so you can't do this by yourself. Ya just can't. No one can. 

The amount of meals that have been delivered/paid for to our house is staggering and completely necessary for our survival. My mom doing our laundry and cleaning our house has been essential. Jordan doing skin-to-skin with Mac every morning (before he went back to work) so that I could have some coffee and breakfast was crucial. 

I do not like asking for help, and, as I bet you Southerners can relate to, I feel incredibly guilty accepting help. I want to do it all on my own and people's generosity overwhelms me and shames me. But this is a moment to embrace the community in my life and understand that people are offering these things out of pure love, not expecting to be paid back or thanked promptly. This especially goes for the women in my life, who've surrounded me in a way that is so emotionally and logistically supportive that I feel humbled every single day.  

Special shout out here to my mother, who has cooked, laundered, cleaned, folded, ironed, shopped, fed, decorated, re-decorated, burped, rocked, walked, played, and generally spoiled every human and canine member of this family for the last 2 months. There is no way to explain the debt of love and gratitude I owe her. 

Get an April in in your life.  

6. Retain your sense of humor. 
 
This is similar to #3 in its "just keep swimming"-ness, but y'all, so many things about new parenthood are hysterical if you can just laugh at yourself instead of crying.  

An anecdote:  

- Two weeks ago, I was changing his dirty diaper. The second I took it off and removed it from under his little bottom, he pooped EVERYWHERE. 

No, listen.  

EVERYWHERE. I caught his poop in my hand.  "JORDAN! HE'S POOPIN' IN MY HAND! POOPING IN MY ACTUAL HAND! COME HER!"

And just when we thought he was done, another stream shot out. Jordan described it this way: "Like a soft-serve ice cream lever at a Ryan's." 

At that point, I was still in the early days of recovery from my C-section, so I couldn't laugh hard because it hurt my incision. Picture Mac pooping everywhere, bewildered and guffawing Jordan standing with a clean diaper, and me with one hand on the changing table (still full of my son's poop), and the other bracing myself on the floor because I had to fold in half to keep my insides from popping out as I was HYSTERICALLY laughing. 

That could've been a moment where we decided to just call it and take the baby back to the hospital, but laughing through it made it one of my favorite memories so far.  

(The poop is now cleaned up and we're doing okay, but we're still accepting condolences. No flowers, please, you can make your donation to Clorox Bleach in Mac's name.)  

 

All in all, this is a tough and wonderful gig, ladies. I'm learning that it's okay to be a mess, and it's okay to be real about how gritty things can get, and it's okay to talk to people and say, "I am really sad today because I don't feel good at this," or, "I need you to come over and help me," or, "I feel like my hair is really pretty today and I just need to tell someone that. Good for me." And I'm also deeming it okay to be totally over-the-moon ants in your pants crazy about your child, which I (very publicly) am. 

It's all okay.  

Love you guys. See you soon. 

(Oh yeah - here are 800,000 pictures of my beautiful angel child.)  

 

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