June 7, 2009

THIRTY!

Posted in Happy (Insert Holiday Here) tagged at 3:53 am by junecleaverwouldbeshocked

So…yesterday was my 30th birthday. I never really dreaded turning 30, although everyone seems to assume that I did. It doesn’t feel any different, doesn’t change anything. It’s just that I have to remember for the next year…that I’m THIRTY.

It was a nice day – my husband snatched Milly out of bed first thing and took her downstairs with him, which meant that I got to roll over and pull the covers up under my chin for a little while. This may not sound like a treat to most people, but just being able to pull the covers waaaaay up is al ittle luxury when you usually sleep with a toddler and have to keep them pushed down far enough so as not to cover her little face. Anyway, they were back in a little while with breakfast in bed, and several homemade cards and gifts from Rachael. I loved the little gift – crudely wrapped in wrinkled Christmas paper that she’s been wrapping gifts for her Barbies in for the past six months, and well taped. Inside was an artificial pink rose that came off a bunch of roses in her dress-up drawer. She told me that it was perfect because it would never die and I could keep it forever. Awwww!

The “eh” part of my day came when I had to go to the DMV to renew my driver’s license…which expires on your 30th birthday. Oops. Rachael came along with me and wanted very badly to take her own vision test, but the lady behind the counter had already flipped out over another kid touching the testing machine, so naturally I didn’t let her. I did point to a sign and ask her to read it, and loved watching the lady’s mouth drop open when my five-year-old started reading about saving five dollars by renewing your vehicle registration online… *snickers*

Then we were off to visit with my mom for the evening. We met for dinner at Ruby Tuesday…my first margarita in a looooong time, and it was nowhere near as good as the frozen margaritas at a little Mexican restaurant closer to home. Then we went to the movies and saw “Up” in 3D – I knew that Rachael was dying to see it, and the previews did look good. And it was good, I guess, except for several spots that will make any woman tear up…don’t know why Pixar has to do that to us. But Rachael loved it and, if you want to get absolutely technical about it, I actually turned 30 during the movie, at 8:37 p.m.

As good as Friday was, things really got interesting on Saturday…

Gene had been telling me for two weeks to not plan anything on Saturday. Nothing. At all. So when a friend called on Friday evening to ask me to go out geocaching with her on Saturday morning, to double-check her coordinates on some new caches she was placing, I wasn’t so sure. Gene told me to go ahead though, and just be sure to be home by 2, which was when we needed to leave. Tonya was coming to pick me up at noon, so I made sure that I was dressed to go out before leaving, and I had the girls ready to go as well.

Backing up just a bit…I’ll admit that I was having some minor anxiety issues on Friday night, and demanded that Gene ‘fess up if he was planning anything big. He swore that he wasn’t, and reminded me that I already knew I’d be seeing my dad and stepmom on Saturday. So, I was pretty sure we were going out to dinner with them. And I assumed that it would be somewhere out of town (most nicer restaurants are out of town, for us) since we were leaving at 2…

Well, Tonya and I passed by the street where our church is located and, out of habit, I glanced over at it. And there in the parking lot was my mom’s car. And a motorcycle that looked suspiciously like my uncle’s. Hmmm. Okay, I thought. So maybe we were having a family thing and eating in the church fellowship hall, the way that we did for my mom’s 50th birthday this past February. No big deal, I thought. I made a comment about this to Tonya, and she was confused – she thought we went to a church closer to home. As it turned out, the caches that she had hidden were all at churches. She arranged it as a multi-cache, one where you find coordinates at the first stop that lead you to the next, coordinates at the second stop that lead you to the next, and so on. She had deliberately chosen smaller, lesser known churches in the area…and one of them was ours! How funny! Our church was the fourth stop, though, so we visited the others first, checked the coordinates, and then pulled into our church’s parking lot.

We crossed the street toward the fellowship hall, my thinking all the time that I really hoped my mom didn’t look out the window. She wouldn’t know that I was out caching this morning with Tonya, that there just so happened to be a cache here. I was hoping we could check the coordinates quickly and be on the way…even if I knew that I was meeting Mom here later, SHE didn’t have to know that the surprise had inadvertently been ruined, right? So Tonya took me around the side of the building to the power meter and pointed out the tiny magnetic nano cache that she had stuck behind it. Just as I leaned toward the building to see the tiny nano…LOTS of people leaned out from the side of the building and yelled “SURPRISE!!!”  Needless to say, I nearly had a heart attack then and there. It took several seconds to fully register what was going on…that Tonya was in on the whole thing…that our errands were nothing more than a means to get me in the right place at the right time!

So I headed up to greet everyone. Gene and the girls had left right behind us to get there ahead of us. My mom was there, with her husband and his kids. Our friend Junior. My stepbrother Mark and Uncle Buddy. My friend Michelle and her husband with our godson. My friend Robin and her kids, Kate and her kids, Chandres and her family. Seeing Chandres was a shock as she was supposedly on vacation in Tennessee through late Saturday or early Sunday – but she had come home a little earlier than she’d led me to believe, so they’d be there for the party. It was awesome to have them all in one place…even if I was the center of attention, which I generally hate.

We went inside and Chandres promptly presented me with a big, sparkly party hat that says “All Hail the Birthday Princess”. They had decorated the hall with streamers and balloons, and tables flanked the room that were decorated to reflect the stages of my life. My friends and Gene had worked together to plan this thing, and he had sneaked my box of old photos out of the house without my realizing it…and my friends used these as the biggest part of the decorations. The first area was “childhood” – pictures of me as a little girl, surrounded with toys on loan from Tonya’s daughters. Very handy that a lot of my childhood favorites are making a comeback, as there were Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, Cabbage Patch Kids… There were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches nestled among the kiddie things, a crock pot full of Tonya’s mac and cheese, and pitchers of juice and Kool-Aid. Next up were pictures of my teen years – including an 8×10 of my and Gene’s prom picture.  🙂  He had also stolen my high school yearbooks, which were spread out on the table. Pizza and soft drinks were the ‘teen food’. Then there was the 20’s section – wedding pictures flanked by flower petals and champagne flutes, newborn Rachael pictures, Rachael as a toddler. Kate had cooked two of my favorites as the ‘adult food’ – her baked ziti and bruschetta, and Robin made punch. And lastly, the “now” section – a printout of our Geocaching.com profile page (only natural as Chandres, Tonya and Robin are geocachers as well) and a stack of birthday gifts and cards.

We all sat down to eat and talk…Milly had her first ever PB&J and (of course) absolutely loved it. While we talked, Chandres explained to me what I had *really* seen that morning.

Yes, Tonya had hidden the caches. But the name of the multi-cache wasn’t really “Wild Goose Chase” as she had told me. And she didn’t really need me to help her double-check the coordinates – Chandres had already done that. In fact…they hid the whole thing in honor of my birthday! The name of the first stop was “Kristin’s Surprise #1 – She’s 3030”. Although I had stood right in front of the church with the 911 address large as life on the front door, I had failed to notice that the address was (quite appropriately) 3030. At the next stop, the cache was hidden at the base of a speed limit sign – it never registered to me here that the sign read 30 mph. And at the final stop – our church – there was a code on the power meter with -30 at the end. I can’t believe how much thought they put into planning this cache! Even better, it had already been entered and approved in the geocaching website, but won’t be published until Monday – so I signed the log at our church first, claiming the coveted FTF (first to find) for my birthday.

After it was all over, Gene explained to me how he had contacted my friends several weeks ago through Facebook to ask for ideas for my birthday. Chandres emailed him right back with several ideas, and then started planning like crazy. She pulled the other girls in, and they put most everything together. I learned that they had been emailing/Facebooking for weeks, that Gene had been talking to them on the phone during his lunch break and on his way home from work, which are the only times it’s guaranteed that I’m not around. That he had given them his key to the fellowship hall so they could get in when they needed to, that they were all there decorating last night while Rachael and I were out with my mom. They all put so much thought and so much energy into this, and I appreciate it so, so much. Definitely so much more than I ever expected.

So yes, I’m 30. And it’s been one of the best birthdays ever. ❤

December 9, 2008

One year ago today…

Posted in Baby Talk, Happy (Insert Holiday Here) tagged , , , at 4:57 am by junecleaverwouldbeshocked

It was Friday, December 7, 2007 – ten days past my due date of November 27, and I was rapidly approaching miserable. I was supposed to go visit my midwives that morning, and had every intention of begging them to do something to help coax my stubborn little girl into the world. All week, I had been upset and weepy, on top of hormonal/evil and the mommy guilt that comes along with that. And my back hurt. And it hurt to sit, stand and lie down. In short, I was over being pregnant and ready to meet my little cupcake.

My plans to beg for help were nixed by the weather, though – while it wasn’t doing anything at home, there were reports of sleet, freezing rain and snow between my home and Tomi’s, my senior midwife. My mom had called to tell me about all of the accidents being reported on the radio, so I decided it would be best not to risk it, and called Alicia (my main midwife) at home. She agreed that we should postpone the visit, and said that she and Tomi would come to me on Monday morning if baby hadn’t arrived already. The thought of enduring another weekend with no baby was nearly too much to bear, so I explained how I’d been feeling and asked if she had any suggestions. Although she wasn’t worried – or even eager to discuss alternatives before the 42 week mark, which would be the following Tuesday – she told me to research and decide for myself about a castor oil induction, although she would not specifically tell me to or not to try it.

I was online in a matter of minutes for a refresher course, and it didn’t take me long to call dear sweet hubby at work and tell him he’d be picking up some castor oil on his way home.

I mixed a concoction consisting of two ounces each castor oil and orange juice after dinner, and somehow choked it down just before 7 p.m. – all the while remembering how I had tried the same thing with Princess, only to spend a miserable evening in the restroom with no baby to show for it in the end. I had vowed that I would never do the castor oil thing again. But I did…and then I waited. I fully expected for it to do what castor oil is intended to do, but never did find myself running for the bathroom. Instead, the contractions I had already been having off and on for weeks started to become more frequent; this was apparent by 10:30, when I started to pay attention to how far apart they were. By 11:30, they were five minutes apart – and a trip to the bathroom scared me when there was bright red blood on the toilet paper. I called Alicia and confessed to my castor oil experiment. She told me that the blood only meant cervical changes, and that the contractions would probably begin to space a little further apart before becoming any closer, and asked me to call her back around 1 a.m. with an update. In the meantime, she said, she would load up her car and get a bit of sleep.

After talking with her, I told DH to start straightening up the living room and making sure everything was ready. After panicking for a few minutes, he did – and then laid down on the couch to sleep until I had something new to report. I decided to take a quick shower – both to be nice and clean in case this was the real deal, and to let the water help relax me during the contractions. That didn’t exactly work. The water felt nice, but once in the shower, my contractions started coming closer together – every two or three minutes until I got out. By 1:00, they were so strong that I had to stop everything to get through them, and they were still no more than five minutes apart (and usually closer.) Alicia said she would pick up Sam, my doula, and head our way. It’s about a two hour drive from her house to mine, so I figured she’d be here around 3 and decided to get some rest.

Lying down was horrific. There was not a comfortable position to be had. I finally settled on the glider rocker in our bedroom, rocking and breathing through the contractions and dozing in between. I had to get up to find a blanket (I was freezing) and then to run for the bathroom during a sudden wave of nausea. I sat and sat and sat and the contractions stayed consistent at about three minutes apart – alternating between difficult but bearable, and truly painful. I kept checking my watch to be sure they weren’t becoming any closer…and finally started wondering what had happened to my midwives. 3:00 came, then 3:30, then 3:45… The contractions were becoming so painful that I finally gave up on letting DH sleep until they arrived – I waddled out into the hallway and told him that I needed my birthing pool, and he should start inflating it about ten minutes ago. And that I wanted some grapes, which he promptly fetched.

Not being familiar with the area – and having only been to our house a couple of times – Alicia had gotten a little lost on the way. She and Sam finally arrived around 4 a.m. and came upstairs to check on me. Seeing that I was doing okay, they headed back downstairs to start bringing their things in from the car. DH had inflated the pool and put it in the living room, but rather quickly ran into a problem – our water heater wasn’t up to the task of filling a huge pool with warm water. He filled as much as he could, then stopped to wait for the water to heat back up. Meanwhile, Alicia and Sam set to work in the kitchen, boiling water in every pot and pan they could find to help fill up the pool. I felt vaguely sorry for them, having to come here in the middle of the night to boil water and haul it from kitchen to pool – I hate inconveniencing people – but I wasn’t able to concentrate on that for long.

Around 5:30, they came to check on me again – it was hard to talk to them since I had to stop and breathe through nearly constant contractions. Alicia attempted to listen to the baby’s heartbeat without making me move from the rocker, but couldn’t find a good spot in that position, so I moved to the bed. Her heart was pounding away just perfectly, slowing ever so slightly during a contraction. Since I was already on the bed, she asked if I wanted her to check for dilation before I got into the pool to let the water help with the pain. For months, I had been worrying about this first internal exam – Alicia had become more friend than care provider, and I was so sure it would be awkward and strange. Thankfully, labor dulled that a bit, and it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined. She checked quickly and told me that I was dilated to six centimeters.

It was 6 a.m. when I went downstairs and got into the pool. I expected to feel a huge difference, having read over and over about water being “the midwife’s epidural” and how much easier the contractions would be once in the pool. Not so much for me – they felt about the same, but at least I had the novelty of being in a pool in my living room to distract me! Finding a comfortable position was difficult – sitting down on the inflated bottom of the pool felt nice, but didn’t seem to be conducive to having a baby. Ultimately, I ended up on my hands and knees – alternating between rocking (hoping to help open up the pelvic area) and clinging to the side of the pool, talking with Alicia (who was sitting in the floor by the pool) between contractions.

I had only been in the water a short time when the nausea returned. I told Alicia and Sam that I was going to be sick, and Sam got right up to search for a trash can. None in the living room, so she headed to the kitchen. She was still there when I couldn’t hold it back any longer – and despite that, I can still see clearly what happened next. Sam grabbed a plastic bowl off of the counter and, as if in slow motion, sprinted across the kitchen and into the living room, bowl held in front of her at arm’s length, reaching the pool just in time that I didn’t make a huge mess on the carpet. (While this was remarkable in the moment, it’s downright hilarious in retrospect. Maybe you had to be there, but the sight of Sam running with the bowl is one that I’ll always remember when thinking of Boogie’s birth.) The midwives were even encouraging about my being sick – “get it all out”, they told me, “that’s a good sign, means things are moving!” I loved having my own personal cheering section that thought everything I did was wonderful!

Once that was over, DH came to kneel in the floor by the pool so I could hold onto him. It didn’t seem like I’d been in the pool any time at all before I started feeling like I needed to push through the contractions. I tried to ignore the feeling, thinking that if Alicia had just checked me, and I was only at six centimeters, that there was no way it was time to push yet. There couldn’t possibly be room for a baby to come out yet, and I’d surely kill myself trying. But after a couple of contractions, I told Alicia what I was feeling and she told me that if I felt the urge, to go ahead and push through them. Her ‘permission’ (so to speak) was all that I needed – with the very next one, I started bearing down.

And, I think, with the one after that, I started yelling. I hate to admit it, as I had been envisioning a calm, quiet, peaceful birth in the water…but that’s not exactly how it happened. As her head started descending – rapidly, it seemed – I got louder and louder. I remember thinking “oh no, I’m going to wake Princess up and scare her half to death”, but I couldn’t stop. This was also the point where I remember wondering just why having my baby naturally seemed like a good idea, quickly reminding myself why it was a good idea, and mentally telling myself that this was not going to last much longer and was for a very good cause. All of these thoughts must have run through my mind in a hurry, because they occurred in the time between two contractions, and that wasn’t very far at all by this point.

Knowing that it wouldn’t be long before my little girl arrived, Alicia encouraged me to get into a squatting position in the water so that I could catch my baby. I moved, and was so surprised when I reached down and felt the spongy, squishy top of her little head. I was trying not to cry when I told DH, “I can feel her head, it’s right there!” Squatting through the contractions just didn’t work for me, though – my balance isn’t great on a good day, and I quickly found myself back on my hands and knees in the water.

About this time was when Princess’s bedroom door opened and she came out into the hallway. I think I was the first to realize that she was awake, and told DH. He headed upstairs with the phone in hand, to shepherd her back into her room and call his dad to come and pick her up until everything was over. Sam asked if I would rather have DH nearby, and offered to go up and help Princess get dressed; I wasn’t sure how she would react to that, having only met Sam once, but I knew that I wanted DH – so up Sam went. In just a moment, she was back – and she wasn’t alone. I later learned that Princess told her she wanted to come downstairs and see her mommy. Sam told her that the baby was coming and that I might be making some funny noises, but Princess said that was okay, and down they came.

Meanwhile, DH had returned to the side of the pool and I was still pushing. It seems like only five or six contractions had passed from the time that Alicia told me it was okay to push if I felt the urge – and I could certainly tell where my baby’s head was by the fiery sensation.

Princess reached the side of the pool at 7:04 a.m. on Saturday, December 8, and just a few seconds later, I felt the same thing I had felt when she was born – that wonderful relief of the baby’s head coming free, and the rest of her body following it out. I looked down into the water to see my baby float quickly forward into my reach; I sat back and picked her up out of the water and onto my chest. My sweet little Boogie was finally here, and her big sister got to witness her birth.

She started breathing immediately, and her skin turned quickly from a gray-ish color into a healthy pink. I sat in the water with her for a while, holding her close, still wet but wrapped in a receiving blanket, rubbing her back. Sam remarked later that babies born in the water usually take a little while to start breathing regularly, and that she had never seen one start breathing as quickly and effortlessly as mine. She fussed a little, but didn’t really cry. She was alert and content from the beginning.

They helped me out of the water after a few minutes, and into my favorite chair (lined with waterproof pads, of course.) My new little girl latched on and nursed like a pro at just thirteen minutes old. A bit later, Alicia clamped her cord and DH cut it. He took his new daughter while the midwives helped me upstairs and into the bathroom, where the placenta was delivered. I took a quick shower, got dressed, and headed for bed.

The senior midwife, Tomasina, had arrived while I was in the shower. Alicia had been waiting to call her when it was close to time for me to give birth; no one had anticipated that it would happen so quickly once I got into the pool! Tomi held my baby while I got situated, and then they weighed and measured her – my sweet baby girl was 9 pounds and 6 ounces, and 19” long. Her APGAR scores were 8, 10 and 10. In short, she was simply perfect. wub.gif

November 27, 2008

I guess she was looking ahead.

Posted in Baby Talk, Happy (Insert Holiday Here) tagged , , , , at 6:35 am by junecleaverwouldbeshocked

I suppose now that maybe, just maybe (although it certainly didn’t seem that way at the time), it’s a good thing that Boogie decided not to grace us with her presence on her due date. On November 27, 2007 – exactly one year ago today – I was pleading with my giant baby belly to please, please contract already. I didn’t really expect it to listen – after all, Princess was five days late, and she was (unfortunately) evicted. But I was in a great deal more pain the second time around, and was very anxious to have it over with.

Of course, I didn’t look ahead on the calendar to this year, to note that Boogie’s first birthday would have been on Thanksgiving Day, had she not been so stubborn comfy. And while it wouldn’t be a bad thing, per se, to have a birthday on Thanksgiving, I would much rather her have her very own special day.

I never expected her to hang in there for eleven days past her due date, and suspect that I’ll always hold a bit of a grudge over that one. In fact, I’ll probably remind her of it at least once a week for the duration of her first pregnancy someday.

Anyway.

Another Thanksgiving, and I have so much to be thankful for. A husband who is quite often maddening, but is truly a good man, a wonderful husband and father. Two beautiful, sweet, perfect little girls. A comfortable home, heat, plenty of food to eat, clothes, vehicles, creature comforts. An amazing family and terrific friends. A God who loves us and provides for us. Well, those are obviously a little out of order – but the point is, I could go on all day counting my blessings, and still never cover them all.