Friday, April 29, 2011


If I turn myself inside out to have this baby, so be it.

That's what I was thinking around 0445 on the morning of October 29th, 2010. Because that's when I was finally able to push.

I haven't told my "labor story" here because, well.......hearing every detail of a labor and delivery feels like........being at work.

But it IS my - our - labor story. I was induced. Because I was a gestational diabetic. Turns out it was probably a very good thing that I was induced because Levi was at least a pound bigger than we anticipated. I didn't really WANT to be induced, but my take on it is it's not about me.

So I picked my room (a perk to working on the unit) and showed up at 0700 on Thursday, October 28th fully ready to have a baby, by, oh........late that evening. That was my highest hope. Fully hoping to NOT have a c-section, oh.....the next morning. I so wanted to go into labor before then, but evidently Levi didn't.

Don't I work with the greatest people??

You always start OUT looking cute...!!!!

Must still have been feeling good...

Some decent contractions...(the black "hills" on the bottom of the screen)

I started with a pill to get things "going." We walked. We played Scrabble. We watched the screen. I peed like every half hour and Matt learned quickly how to unhook the monitor, wrap the straps around my neck, and then hook it back up when I was done. We walked some more. I started to feel "something."

And then I started to feel more. We stopped playing Scrabble.

Somewhere in there Pitocin was added to the mix. I felt more.

Then one of my fave docs came and broke my water. I felt more.

It was a cold, blustery October day outside. A huge tree was across the street, having just lost its leaves, and i's bare, black branches touched a sad gray sky. To me it looked like upside-down lungs...and so I laid on my side and fixed my eyes on that tree during the worsening contractions, imagining that those "lungs" were my own, opening and reaching for oxygen, anything to breathe life to my little one and push him or her closer to life outside.

It hurt. Oh yes, it hurt. I knew it would, obviously. I was afraid I'd be the freaked-out crazy lady, standing on my bed screaming horrid words at my poor husband and coworkers (think for a minute: how many of YOU have the opportunity to have a child with your coworkers present???). But oddly, that wasn't the case. I stayed calm and kept my sense of humor. I breathed just like they told me to during our childbirth class. Matt did everything he was told during our class. He was amazing. Absolutely amazing.

When we pulled into the parking lot that morning, as Matt put the car in park I told him the one thing I needed from him, if nothing else: stay calm. No matter WHAT happens, please, stay calm...because I can't calm myself AND him if something goes down.

It's a good thing we had that brief discussion. Because we had our scary moments. The baby's heart rate took a dive a few times...and more than just a brief dive. The details are boring, but I'll suffice to say that A) my nurse (it was night shift by now) - I found out - responds exactly the same way that I do to an oh-crap-oh-crap-oh-crap moment: with deathly calm. No change in her voice, no inflection, nothing. Simple, quiet, gentle commands that may as well be screamed, but can't be. Not in front of the patient. No one else would have ever picked up on her voice that way...but sure enough, suddenly the charge nurse and anyone else who had a free hand was in my room, an oxygen mask was on my face, and I was *determined* to keep it together. I knew I was in good hands. And I also thought to myself (based on the heart rate that I could see on the monitor) - well, if this baby were my patient, I wouldn't be doing chest compressions yet, so I can't freak out too much.

And I also thought, we are SO having a girl. No wimpy white boy would tolerate these drops in heart rate.

We tried to nap and take it easy for several hours. My hope for an evening baby turned to a hope for a just-after-midnight baby...which turned into a 3am baby? Oh please don't let me have a c-section at shift change!!!!!

And then at 0445, I was ready to push.

And push I did. OH my goodness. Yes, I had an epidural. Yes, I was glad!!!!!

I pushed for nearly three hours. I was absolutely, utterly exhausted. So exhausted I fell asleep between contractions and pushes (never did a minute feel so fast nor so sweet). But I was NOT going to have a c-section. Not because I'm opposed to c-sections, I just knew that I would NEVER get a nap that day if I had a doggone section, and I was SO TIRED.

Matt. Was. Amazing. That man coached me through this labor like he had done it hundreds of times. He buried his fist in my back when I needed counter-pressure. He counted and encouraged and cheered me through each push. He did everything - everything! - better than right.

And then it happened!!!!! One final push at 0733, twenty-four hours after this all started, and sweet mercy and hallelujah, my OB turned the baby over so Matt and I could be the first to see and call out,

It's a.........BOY?!?!?

(We were SO SURE he was girl!!)

And with that, a stunned, angry, blinking little Levi began to cry. The most beautiful song any new parent has ever heard - lungs filling with life and promise and dreams.

And now my sweet baby is six months!!!!! I've been quietly celebrating his six-month "birthday" all day today, rejoicing in the Lord for this dear son that He's given us to parent. Oh, how we love this little boy!!

He just discovered the baby in the exersaucer mirror!!

Watching the royal wedding with me this morning!!!! hahahahaha!!!

Sitting on his own for more than three seconds!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cuttin' back

I'm really hoping this post doesn't make me sound too Little House on the Prairie...though yesterday I was pumping at work and watching a rerun of Little House, and I thought, That's not a bad way to live...

Anyway, we've needed to cut back. A lot. When you drop one person's income by a third...and then another third within a few months, it catches your attention. We've tried not to rely very heavily on my income anyway, but know what I mean.

In anticipation of having children one day, we long ago started looking at ways we could save money here and there, and it's become a fun challenge rather than an absolute necessity. But now it's becoming more necessary, especially if we want to keep savings accounts available for things like medical bills not covered by insurance (I lost my amazing insurance when I cut down to one day a week and had to go on Matt's, which is fine but not as great as what I had), property taxes, etc.

It's interesting...kind of like when you move (multiple times) and balk at how much *stuff* you have, when push comes to shove and you need to cut stuff out of the budget, it's alarming how much stuff you've been willing to pay for that really isn't all that life-changing.

So I thought I'd bounce off of you the stuff that we've been doing to cut back or change things, and I'd love to hear what you do as well!!!! Always open to suggestions! Maybe this'll give you some ideas too (not that any of mine are that imaginative)...

1) Line drying Except for Matt's work clothes and Levi's cloth diapers, I line dry almost everything. Yes, our towels are crunchy (you can always fluff them in the dryer, I just don't take the time), but at the end of the day, do I push my chair away from the dinner table and say, "My day was wrecked because my bath towel was crunchy?" No. It is a little time-consuming in the winter when things are drying in the cool basement as opposed to the sunny, warm breeze, but it's not that big of a deal. And ya, of course I use the dryer when I simply don't have time to line dry. No use in being a Nazi about it. But every little bit counts. Heck, even when we lived in apartments stuff would be draped over chairs, the shower rod, etc.

2) Reusing plastic bags When I was in college and dating a very Dutch guy from a very Dutch family, I rolled my eyes and snickered at the sight of plastic sandwich bags drying by the sink at his parents' house. Well heavens to Betsy, here I am washing out ziplock bags and hanging them on the line to dry, too. But you know what? It's one less thing to buy, I'm never out of baggies, and it's one less thingy going out to the dump. So I swallow my pride and do it. We use cloth napkins too. I mean, really, you get them for your wedding and they fill your drawer, so you may as well use 'em!!!

3) Cloth diapers Disposables and wipes cost roughly $1500/year. We've probably spent ~$700 on cloth diapers, cloth wipes, and related items, which is a lot upfront, but then you're set for every kid here on out. Yes, I use disposables when we're out and about and for sitters, again no use in being a Nazi. We've seen no change in our utility costs from using the dryer more, probably since it's offset by the line-drying of other things. But no diaper rash equals not having to stock up on butt cream, either.

4) Try some vegetarian dishes We've run the gamut from eating fast food to vegan (as in, ZERO animal products) and everything in between. Now we've settled in a delightfully "flexitarian" diet that includes local, hormone- and antibiotic-free, grass-fed meats; butter and milk from pastured, grass-fed cows, etc. That being said, we only enjoy those things in small doses on the menu to stretch them once a week. Most dishes are rice, bean, and vegetable based and are FABULOUS!!! And our grocery bills are waaaaay cheaper!!! I'm still doing triple-flips over The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast which has amazing, easy, and cheap recipes that you can totally tweak and add meat, cheese, whatever to. But on any given day I can be like, "Dude, I have bare bones in the house," flip open that book, and find a fabulous recipe with a handful of ingredients that I already have on hand. Eating healthy is *not* expensive, and this is from someone who buys organic produce, milk, and meat (since Matt has to eat gluten-free, we can't buy packaged stuff, pop, etc...THAT'S what made our bills start to go down). Just pick great foods, eat smaller portions, and enjoy it! I mean seriously, you don't really see me or Matt blowing away, it's not like we're not eating here.

5) No-drive days Yeah, $4/gallon gets MY attention. Fortunately I'm not in soccer-mom stage and live within walking distance of a whole lot of things in town. Still, I'm not exactly walking with an infant to run errands in the winter, so it's not like that's my easy solution for everything either. But now as I plan out my weeks, I pick at least one day - usually two - that are designated "no drive" days. Clearly that'll change when I have older kids who have to be driven hither and yon. But it made me realize how many times I would just mindlessly fire up my car and go...when it could've waited. Prevents impulse errands/shopping/buying too. This summer we'll do even more walking and biking, which of course is a nice benefit of living in town. Um, and slow down on the road. Matt drives 65 (yes, 65) on his way to work (commuting to GR is a gas-eater) and seriously, it saves majorly on gas.

6) Put cable on the chopping block There. I said it. Ouch. We haven't axed our cable yet, but we're about to. I was watching the early morning news a few weeks ago with Levi playing next to me, when he suddenly stopped moving and stared, glazed and transfixed, at the TV. I was like, Aw-heck-no and shut if off. Now, I'm not trying to be a Nazi again. Parking him in front of Veggie Tales (or whatever) for an afternoon when I'm busy or sick WILL happen someday and I'm okay with that. I love TV, don't get me wrong. I think a day of watching HGTV with a vat of popcorn could be a national holiday. But that's exactly the problem...I could easily spend a few hours/afternoon/the day on the banality of TV...and for what? Ew. Not how I really want to spend money after all. With shows online now, and Netflix, we really don't need it anyway if there's something we'd really like to see.

7) Make your own household cleaners Seriously, I think vinegar could probably write a State of the Union address. It's capable of everything else. I use it to clean everything. Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide together are cleaning superheros. One spray of each kills pretty much anything, including E. coli. I've made our laundry soap now for the past couple of years and it works fabulously...including on spit-up soaked garments. :) A box of washing soda and Borax will pretty much take care of your whole house - toilet, bath tub and all...though I do splurge and buy Seventh Generation toilet cleaner and Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day for scrubbing the tub.

Of course, there are obvious things, like shopping at thrift stores and garage sales, turning off lights you're not using, etc etc. I'm not a coupon clipper because most coupon-able stuff is stuff that Matt can't have or we just don't buy anyway.

So what do you do?? I'm open to more ideas!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Nearly six months?!

I never thought I'd be sentimental about such small things, but I am. I had to store away the swing and the bouncy seat tonight...he's so over something as boring as a little baby swing and he's too big and rowdy for the bouncy (when it starts creaking and clunking and the baby is trying to flip it over...time to put it away). But it made me sad!!!! He's already growing up too fast!!! *sniff*

I love this kid. He's all boy. I'm crazy about baby boys now. I want a whole passel of 'em. Well, maybe one or two more. He's constant energy and motion. He wants to stand and jump all. the. time. Put him in the exer-saucer and he nearly rattles it apart with his jumping. Pick him up and his feet are pumping in a perma-jump. Walk him in his stroller and his legs are STILL moving in and out in a jumping motion. In the car you can hear the rhythmic swoosh of his feet back and forth on the car seat. He's not a squealer, screecher, or anything like that. Just a quietly cackling (his laugh is more of a a chortle or cackle) little jumper.

Six months in a few weeks!!! My oh my oh my...

In his fabulously tricked-out jogger...

Playing with a sippy cup...

Flirting from the saucer

His beloved aunt Mary and big "brother" Josiah

Trying out the Johnny Jumper