Tuesday, December 7, 2010

One problem..

I have found one use for facebook that I have not been able to duplicate anywhere else- the Status Update which is basically a billboard or expressway overpass where I could spray paint a thought for the world to see. This was extremely useful when I needed help with something and could get 300+ fresh eyes and brains to help come up with a solution to my problem. I could also usually count on my friend Margo to exclaim very excitedly to any good news I added to my status.

So now how do I tell the universe that my sweet husband took Pursy to CVS last night was I was at work and bought two bags of Reeses PB cups to fill our Advent calendar? I realize it is December 7th and every day made a mental note to grab candy to fill the small doors that help us count down to Christmas. Even last year when we were childless I filled it with Dove dark chocolates for me and Reeses for Grant. Unfortunately two working professionals with barely enough time in the morning to grab a yogurt or coffee did not take the loving and careful moments to open the door and enjoy the treat inside. Thus it was usually on Saturday mornings that Grant and I would each have 7 pieces of chocolate for breakfast and catch up on the calendar for the week past.

So I came home from work at 2330 and noticed on my way through the dining room- preparing to make another mental note of the candy-less calendar- that most of the doors on the calendar were closed. I opened December 6th and found two Reeses cups inside. The absolute most wonderful amazing and loving part? One was milk chocolate and one was dark.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The most creative thing I might do all day

I took a gingerbread mix, added pears and vanilla and made cupcakes. Cream cheese, cool-whip and more vanilla for frosting. I will then take them to a baby shower tonight and accept all the compliments on my baking savvy.

I worked last night on the OB unit at the hospital- I work up there every once in a while and it is a nice change from the craziness of the ICU/cardiac unit. I met a lovely couple who just had a beautiful little girl and watched their faces as they held her and began introducing themselves to her. I watched Dad struggle through putting on a long sleeve onesie, which as anyone who has ever tried to do that knows, it is like threading spaghetti through a garden hose. I left work remembering that life is beautiful and I am a blessed woman.

Today it is gray and rainy and I am feeling lazy and like drinking too much coffee would be a great idea. Instead I made 30 cupcakes, 3 stockings, washed 14 cloth diapers and am starting to feel like Pursy's counting book.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Many Thanks

My husband, who loves me despite my tendency to be snarky when angry, sarcastic when confronted and emotionally distant when tired and hungry. He has been my best friend for over seven years and tells me every day that I am pretty. I certainly do not deserve such loyalty but I am so thankful for it.

My daughter, who gave me the gift of being a mother which is one of the greatest. She reminds me to slow down when I am anxious and stressed out and her smile is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I am so thankful for her stubborn personality and fantastic belly laugh.

My profession as a nurse has supported us to live comfortably, allowed Grant to be in Graduate school, and encourages my strengths as a human being every day. I am so thankful for the ability to care for the sick and to be allowed into other people's lives. It is a gift.

The people who share my daily life. I am so grateful for the open couches, refrigerators, and bookshelves of my friends. May I never take advantage of coffee dates, dinner parties or craft days where you love me just a little bit more.

My french press. It seems petty, but every morning I can make one delicious cup of coffee and enjoy the little brown foam that means it is fresh and just a little thick. Happiness.

My home. I hate cleaning the hardwood floors that seem to go on for days when they are dirty but there is nothing more lovely then evenings spent listening to records, drinking wine and snuggling with Grant in OUR home.

Things I am trying to be thankful for: the little belly that just won't go away, how much my dog loves me and wants to be everywhere exactly where I am, and my insatiable desire for potato chips.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mommy Wars

A blog I follow called "Cloth Diapers... by Cotton Babies" posted a blog yesterday that I found to be very interesting.

http://clothdiapers.blogspot.com/2010/11/real-mom-talk-is-motherhood-prison.html

I found it interesting because it was a response to an article I read in the Wall Street Journal last week called "Mommy Madness":

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704462704575590603553674296.html.

Let me break down the gist of both articles. The WSJ article was written by Erica Jong, who is an outspoken feminist. She grew up in the 50's and raised her daughter in the 70's. She speaks about her mother's style of parenting and then her own style- then she goes after attachment parenting. For those of you who are unaware, attachment parenting is a parental style that involves 5 primary principles. Breastfeeding, baby-wearing (slings and carriers vs. strollers), co-sleeping, more paternal involvement especially with infants, and immediate response to infant cries (rather then the Ferber "cry it out" method). Ms Jong talks about the growing number of mothers practicing attachment parenting and the "prison" it creates for mothers. She speaks about the high expectations this culture is creating for women and the negative feelings about not making your own baby food, wearing disposable diapers rather then cloth, and having outside child care. She talks about how working mothers are being villianized for having to work, and how "helicopter hovering" over your children will produce insecure adults.

The Cotton Babies (aka Jenn Labit) response was interesting. Rather then listing why she practices attachment parenting (actually, she doesn't even state if she DOES) she addresses the problem with the WSJ running an article that produces the same feelings in mothers that Ms Jong was arguing shouldn't happen. Whatever "style" of mothering you use, women should realize that being a parent is hard. And it is hard enough without feeling like there is some standard you need to meet in order to be a "good" mom. Ms Labit simply brings up the point that the problem isn't the method, or lack of method. The problem is the judgment passed by both sides. She says that "could she (Jong) just be saying, "Shut up world! I am ME and YOU don't get to decide if I was a good mom"?

My thoughts on the whole bruhaha. After reading almost every book on raising an infant that the library and B&N had, Grant made me take them all back because I was going crazy. Purslane was her own person and didn't care whether I was trying to "baby whisper" her or "Dr Sears" her. So Grant and I came up with our own method that worked for our life, her personality and our overall feelings about parenting. We cloth diaper her because I am passionate about it and Grant loves me. I make her baby food because I have the time and Grant likes saving the money. She sleeps in her own crib at night because Grant and I like having our own bed and like having sex whenever we want to. I carry her in sundry slings and carriers because I like the freedom and I like being able to kiss her little face whenever I want. Grant stays home with her two evenings a week because his schedule is flexible and we need my income. We also like that he can take care of her just as well as I can because he was comfortable being alone with her early on. I breastfeed her because I think it is the best food for a baby and my body cooperated with it. My labor was drug-free and all natural because she came in 3 hours and I didn't have time to renig on my plans for a Bradley birth. In short- we have been very blessed that the things we wanted to do as parents we have the resources, physical ability and information available to be able to do.

And when Baby #2 comes along the well laid plans of mice and men might have to be remade because every baby is different.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Goodbye Facebook

I deactivated my Facebook account today. It was actually a decision made completely impulsively after a "facebook discussion" had on the wall of one of my friends. In a moment of impulsive clarity, I realized that we have begun using facebook as a sort of bathroom wall to say all the things we won't say to each others faces. We use words we wouldn't normally use because we have the impersonality of the computer screen and the luxury of lots of time to come up with a perfect answer. We forget that tone doesn't come through in Times New Roman font- nor does sarcasm, irony or wit.

I realized also that I had spent a good part of the day stewing internally about this particular discussion- and also externally processing with Pursy who is not a great listener. She is however, non-judgmental and therefore a perfect sounding board. The crazy thing about this particular discussion is that is was exactly the sort of conversations we have had a million times over beers on the back porch or coffee in a cafe. An opinion about a car commercial (the Toyota Sienna and Highlander commercials) evolved into a discussion about post modern angst and the true motivation behind decision making in consumerism. Just when I thought things were getting really interesting, a friend of a friend jumped into the discussion like a cannonball in a swimming pool party and said that our comments made him more angry then the commercials and called all of us "self-conscious" and "crybabies". HUH?? So rather then simply overlooking his comment as if it came from the grumpy man sitting next to us at a restaurant who has been eavesdropping, I let it fester and bother me all day. Why would he do that? What in the hell does he care what other people talk about on facebook? Did he not have anything intelligent to say and thus needed to try and rain sarcasm on our conversation parade?

I came to the conclusion that A. I like good conversation B. I miss handwriting letters C. I don't know some of the 300+ friends I have collected and certainly would not expect them to want to look at my vacation pictures D. Not all modern conveniences are good for me E. People are less inhibited when you can't see their face and maybe they should be a little more.

So that is my non-judgmental (i.e. I don't think everyone should inactivate their FB) non-self righteous (I don't think I am better then you because you are going to check your FB page after you read this) and very happy goodbye to Facebook.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Urban Living

This weekend we took Pursy on her first visit to Philadelphia- we put her in the Baby Hawk (my new favorite baby carrier) and explored Eulogy for lunch and Belgian beer, Old City Tattoos for ideas, South Street for consignment stores and tater tots, Liberti for church, and Sophia's for pumpkin pancakes with Chuck. Grant and I come alive in urban places. We love parking the car and not thinking about it again until it is time to head back to State College. We love divey restaurants and basement records shops. In the city coffee alone for breakfast is acceptable and I walk out confidently into crosswalks knowing that no car will hit me (unlike being on PSU campus where crosswalks are merely pavement decoration and oblivious student listening to IPod while driving could very likely run me down). In the city Tightsaspants and Ugg boots is not the uniform and creativity is king. I saw a pair of boots I want so badly I might learn how to raise cattle in order to make them.

I also discovered that I like being a Mom in the city. I loved having Pursy on my back walking the streets of Center City and listening to her babble as we passed parks, fire engines, construction sites. She was taking in everything. Sunday morning we met up with Grant's college roommate for breakfast and the waitress brought me a sliced banana in a gravy boat to mash up for Pursy. Life didn't revolve around her and it was certainly less comfortable but she fit in seamlessly. A woman at the next table chatted with me about baby bibs and the day care her son attended. There was no explanation as to why he was in day care- of course he was, because she worked. She was confident and happy to be out for breakfast with her husband and son. It made me realize how many ways there are to be a Mother- there are no rules and should carry no judgment. If we lived in the same neighborhood I would have offered to bring Pursy over for a play date because her son LOVED playing with her. We would have become best friends and walked down the street with our babies on our backs and drinking our breakfast coffee.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lessons from an Unlikely Place

This morning as I was walking through my bathroom I noticed a little bug in the doorway. My first thought was that I was very happy there was only ONE of them, as we had an infestation of this particular species of bug a few weeks ago- they were everywhere outside our kitchen window and a few hardy, determined ones managed to get inside. They weren't bad bugs- they look like little beetles with black bodies and a red design on their thorax. They didn't fly at my face, attack my feet or sting my hands. They were easy to scoop up with a magazine and throw out the door. So we lived in symbiotic harmony until the first frost when I found a graveyard of dead beetles on the ground.

So today, I was impressed by this little survivor on my bathroom floor. I stepped over him and figured that if he was stubborn enough to survive the genocide of coldness that took out the rest of his buddies that he could hang out. When I walked through the bathroom an hour later, he was climbing up the curtain on the other side of the bathroom. This would be akin to me traversing the Grand Canyon in 60 minutes. Again- I was impressed.

And also chagrined by the fact that he had spent his hour determinedly crossing the bathroom to get to the window, and I had spent my hour baking a cake, drinking two cups of coffee and looking for homeopathic remedies for ringworm on the internet. He used Pursy's nap time a little more wisely.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Not as Good as It Seemed

Over the last 6 months, Elliott has gone from viewing Pursy with: disinterest, novelty, curiosity, and with the introduction of solid food- supreme fascination. He has discovered that very yummy things fall from the high chair and her fingers always have something sticky and delicious on them. Now before any of you throw up in your mouths a little bit, Mom is always close by with a wet wipe AFTER Elliott has finished off the pureed sweet potato from her hands and BEFORE she puts them back in her mouth.

This seems like a great deal for a dog- tiny hands, new toys, a playmate on the floor. But it is not as good as it seems. In order to get to the food on her hands, he has to come in range of her feet, which are quite good at catching him right in the throat. He also has to deal with the OTHER hand, which often at lightning speed can grab his eyeballs, muzzle, ears, etc. and hold on. This is why three years ago Grant and I spent so much time researching dog breeds- we knew our two children would play together. Elliott is a textbook Boxer.

He loves to run, play, and basically do anything where he can see us. He is co-dependent, obedient and as docile as they come. When Pursy has hold of his muzzle and is pulling as hard as her short arm can- he looks up at Grant and I with a "please help me" face but nothing in his nature would make him react to her. Boxers are playful and gentle dogs- perfect for babies.

I thought that after a few "baby attacks" he would leave her alone- it is a high price to pay for a few morsels of banana or avocado. But he keeps coming back- and lays his head on her blanket while she plays on the floor. I can't wait to watch them running around the yard together- he will protect her and she will continue to repay him with better and better food.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Void In My Interests

CNN reported this morning that the latest moon exploration just discovered an enormous crater with enough water to fill 1500 Olympic sized swimming pools. I could care less. I was never that interested in space as a child (that I remember) and am becoming more hostile towards space now that I am a tax paying adult.

The money NASA spends to continually remind us that space is *BIG* is (forgive the pun) astronomical. 17.3 billion (in 2008) was the budget for NASA which they spent on bigger and better space vehicles, astronaut training, space explorations and research. I feel like the "space race" was already done, and I cannot remember the last time anyone discovered anything new or significant in space. With the exception of crushing every 5th graders hopes and dreams by declaring Pluto not a planet anymore. Unless they find aliens or a gaping black hole that we can dump all of the garbage from earth into, I would prefer to find other uses for that 17.3 billion. Like grants for international adoptions or subsidizing local farmers so that produce that travels on a flatbed truck rather then an airplane doesn't cost 3 times as much.

I know I sound judgey, but everyone is about something. Mine just happens to be something practical, like outer space.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Reusable Grocery Bags

I forgot. Again. It would actually be more accurate to say that I simply never use my reusable grocery bags because after using them once and forgetting 7 subsequent weeks, I don't even know that counts as actually possessing the bags. I literally got out of the car and was going around to get Purs out- looked at the trunk and thought "Ohh- I need to get my bags out!" then put Purs and her car seat in the cart and went in the store. What happens?? It is so much easier to bring in the groceries in the reusable bags because they hold so much more and I only have to take one trip in the house. For some reason grocery clerks like to separate groceries as much as possible- I was once putting away groceries and discovered a bag with a lone jar of nutmeg in it because it was the only spice I happened to purchase that day. No wonder the earth is choking and dying on plastic bags.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fortunately and Unfortunately

My daughter is already showing the signs of a strong willed person. At 6 months I don't have to work very hard to figure out what she wants. Her cries are distinctive, her body language is direct and often forceful, and she grabs my face when she wants me to look at her. She is stubborn when she isn't tired and has no problem inching her way back to the side of the blanket that I have moved her from a dozen times because she wants to grab the table leg.

She is stubborn. And I admire that. I am also relieved because I don't think that being strong willed is something you can teach a child. They are either okay with someone taking their toy from them or they aren't. I think you can teach children to be thankful, imaginative, respectful, and obedient but I do not think you can teach that dogged determination that gets you what you are going for. I am relieved because being strong willed as a woman is a huge asset. She will be less likely to be taken advantage of, succumb to peer pressure, or need affirmation from the wrong places. Hopefully she will go after what she wants just as much when she is 15 as she does now. I think my daughter is going to be a strong amazing woman.

My job as her mother will be to make sure that strength of hers does not end up destroying her life. I need to teach her to be kind so that she doesn't walk over other people. I need to model respect for Grant, the church, my friends so that she learns to be teachable. I need to teach her how to apologize- and forgive- so she does not expect perfection from herself or others.

I know exactly where she gets it from. Grant and I have laughed many times that stubbornness is not a recessive trait in this family. She didn't have a choice, really.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Not an Altogether...

This is a note I wrote in March of last year- pre Purslane. The great thing about this is that I still love spending Saturday nights like this... reading it made me feel like even though life has changed in a thousand ways, I am still the same. And this morning for church I am going to wear that same brown dress and vintage necklace.

This evening I found myself sitting on the front porch with a bottle of Shiraz (French, which the man running the cash register assured me was a "fine region for Shiraz" in reaction to my dubious gaze and judgmental diatribe about the best Shiraz grapes coming from South America), Triscuit Rosemary and Olive Oil crackers, the CD player with some band Grant discovered a few weeks ago that I have been trying to get into, Elliott, and the first seventy degree evening in too many months. I put on my Chacos and a fleece and put my feet up on the railing.

It was brilliant.

The only missing piece was Grant, who is working late tonight. But he called and I chatted to him with my eyes closed imagining he was in the chair next to me.

A few minutes into my bliss, I realized something in my left boob was scratching me, and I pulled out a twenty dollar bill that I had stuffed in my tank top earlier this afternoon. This is a long story.

I called my friend Tiff, who was free and able to chat for a few minutes about nothing. She is fantastic to talk to, as her vocabulary is broad and littered with frequent cussing. We go back and forth from important to ordinary with the skill and ease of two people who have nothing to hide and are just happy to be around on a Saturday evening.

Tomorrow I am going to wear my brown dress with my knee high boots and vintage necklace to church. I should probably shave my legs and have something more then coffee for breakfast.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Philosophy of Marriage

Grant and I have been married for over 6 1/2 years and our philosophy on how marriage succeeds and survives has remained staunch. (like Winston Churchill- unrelated to this conversation but I have never been able to use the word "staunch" without having an image of the sober man pop into my head)

It really comes down to two things. Do you have the same faith and do you love hanging out together.

Regardless of how you define the word, the idea of faith is a spiritual reality that governs an individuals entire life. Faith determines a persons worldview, direction for their life- basically governs every decision a person makes every second of every minute of every hour of every day. If two people don't have the same faith, daily decisions will constantly be at odds. And over time, the little separations become two different roads leading you to different places. Even though Grant and I came from different backgrounds and attended radically different churches when we met- we had the same faith and even before we married each other we formed a "shining barrier". This is the hanging out together part.

This idea comes a book my older brother Daniel gave me called A Severe Mercy, which is one of the most incredible stories about the exclusivity of relationships I have ever read. The Shining Barrier is a series of cords a couple builds around themselves through daily decisions to make one another their only love. The first and obvious is to exclude all other romantic loves and only the two exist for each other. When Grant and I met we had actually very few things in common- we both loved music, smoking, hiking and camping, and road trips. We also liked making out and were horribly attracted to each other. Other then that- he spent his evenings eating take out and drinking beer, was fresh off the Ivy League school boat, drove an SUV for his camping gear, made fun of hippies and yuppies and was staunchly (Winston again) Presbyterian. I was an Anthropology major at the University of Colorado, long term vegetarian and organic foodie, hadn't shaved my legs in 3 years and read exclusively SARK and Brennan Manning for my theology texts. We were all wrong for each other.

But we had the same basic faith and we loved hanging out together. We were so attracted to each other that he pretended to enjoy going to Red Rocks with me to take pictures of flowers, and I ate crappy pub food just so we could be together. By the time we realized that our differences were going to make a relationship very complicated we had already created a thousand cords around ourselves and formed a Shining Barrier. We couldn't imagine it being this good with anyone else.

So that is how we think of marriage. It really isn't so complicated. We decide every day to stay together and make our relationship better. And the days we don't feel like it we keep the promises we made anyway. Because there is nothing like hearing that person walk through the door and realize how much you have been wanting them to come home.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sickness

The "firsts" just keep on coming. Last night I was at work and in the middle of signing off orders for a blood transfusion on a patient when the first wave of nausea hit me. I toughed it out because if I learned anything from being pregnant it is that the human body can always handle A LITTLE MORE. So I kept going.

Two hours later I was running towards the bathroom (a quick walk actually because the unwritten rule is that you never run in an ICU- people start grabbing the code carts..) and puking up the spinach salad I ate for lunch... 7 hours prior. Gross.

They sent me home at 9 and I walked in the door to a husband running to the bathroom. We spent the night trading off in the bathroom but the most miserable I think I have ever been in my life was being roused from a sweaty sickness sleep by a crying baby at 1AM wanting to eat. WebMD said the best thing was to have someone else feed her my expressed milk and stay away from her myself, but Grant was in worse shape then I was so I said a prayer and went in to feed my baby.

So this is what it's like to be a family. I don't think Grant and I have ever been sick at the same time- usually one of us is getting better while the other one is getting worse. This morning I have kept down a cup of tea and 4 grapes and he is sleeping. I keep seeing little germy microbes dancing and laughing on my sheets and the bathroom floor.. I might be hallucinating.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Next Great Adventure

It is time. Purslane has been hungry after nursing, watching Grant and I eat with great interest, and putting everything in her mouth. We are ready for solid food.

If I lay out my commitment, you can hold me to it. I am hoping never to buy a jar of baby food. I want to make everything she eats, thus ensuring I know exactly what she is eating and that she is getting enough of everything she needs. My dear friend Rebecca bought me a book called "Top 100 Baby Purees" and not only do I love the family of pears prancing around on the cover, but the entire Introduction lays out exactly how easy it can be and the benefits of making your own baby food. I love information, so my commitment was strengthened.

Let it be done. I bought a small food processor and also plan to spend some time today on Ebay pricing food mills. I also want a yogurt maker- those things are fantastic and if I could make Pursy homemade yogurt I would feel like a successful Mom even if she turns out to be a serial killer.

This morning she ate a bowl of banana and rice cereal- and I plan to always feed her naked. Amazing how quickly those little hands can move and once they are in the mouth along with the bite of banana the game is over. Next up- bath time.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finding Our Own Way

We have finally gotten Pursy into a nap routine- usually she wakes up between 7-7:30 and is rubbing her eyes by 9. I nurse her, rock her, then put her in her crib with drowsy eyes. Sometimes she flips right over onto her belly and goes to sleep. And sometimes she fusses- definitely letting me know that she is not tired yet. Most methods tell you that the worst thing in the world is to go in to her because she will never learn to self-soothe. I find that if I pick her up, she snuggles into my shoulder and falls right to sleep after that. It's like she just wants to make sure that I am still there.

I can't blame her- I am the same way. Grant finds several times during the night me snuggling into that place under his arm. He has gotten so used to it that he doesn't really wake up anymore, just puts his arm around me. So if I still need that little comfort at 30 years old, why wouldn't she want it at 5 months?

Nature vs. Nurture- nature wins every time. :) I don't really believe this but in the 5 months that I have known her, I have seen more of her innate personality winning over my attempts to teach her things that babies her age are learning. This used to be scary to me, especially as I heard other mothers tell me that I needed to be teaching her that I am the Mom and she needs to acquiesce. But this looks different to everyone, and I plan to find the balance between training and helping her become a good human being and allowing her to be the person she is going to be. And that may not be someone who can self-soothe. I just hope she one day finds a husband who likes to snuggle.

Friday, September 24, 2010

It takes a village to raise a child

I have been thinking a lot recently about the reality that the community we raise Purslane in will be hugely important. I think it must have been our pastor/friend Russ who introduced this idea around the time of her baptism because at that time the members of our church promise to help us raise her. Our church community is only one of the many we have though. We have a group of people we eat dinner with every Sunday night- 5 couples in whose lives we are intimately involved. Kate walks in our house without knocking anymore. Our Bradley teachers- Scott and Carla- frequent our home and we theirs. Abbey encourages Grant and I to go on dates while she keeps Pursy. We have friends in New York, Japan, Alaska, California, DC, Colorado, Louisiana, Tennessee- all who keep involved in our lives as if they lived next door. This is our community.

Along with this concept of community comes the reality that every one of these people will be able to offer my daughter something I can't. Their respective strengths and knowledge from their own life experience that I simply do not have. And I have to be okay with this. This reality seems obvious, but selfish or not every mother wants to be able to give their children everything. So I started thinking about the women in my community and their strengths and began to get genuinely excited about the things Pursy could learn from them.

Amy can teach her about the beauty of opening her heart to "all the children of the world".
Becki can teach her creativity and color.
Abbey can teach her independence.
Carla can teach her how to empower other women.
Julia can teach her a quiet and gentle spirit.
Anna can teach her how to laugh loudly.
Steph can show her how to steward the earth and get her hands dirty.
Amanda can teach her selflessness and how to dance ballet.
Sarah can teach her how to relax and go with the flow.

Some of these things she will learn from me and some she will learn more from them. It actually gives me peace to think that I am not solely responsible for raising Purslane. I am blessed with these girls that make up "my village".

Friday, September 17, 2010

Success and a second cup of coffee

Purslane is sound asleep in her crib. Yes, it is 9:30 and she is taking a morning nap. We have the routine in place- we turn on the snail mosiac lamp (thank you Anna), press PLAY on the CD player and the sweet sounds of Brad Meldau begin (thank you Grant), have a little snack (thank you Mama) and the eyelids start to droop. Before they fully close, I place her sweet little body in the crib- where she instantly wakes up and begins to cry. I stand at the bedside for 30ish seconds rubbing her back and singing some Dixieland version of a hymn (thank you Redeemer New Orleans) and walk out of the room. She fusses for approximately 3-4 minutes then flips on her belly, sticks her little cloth diapered rump in the air and goes to sleep.

I am a mad crazy genius.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ines Sainz

Whenever a story comes out about some stupid boy being accused of harassing a girl, I almost always believe the females side of the story. Not because I am one, but because I find the argument that "she looked like she was 18" or "boys do stupid things" so maddeningly trite. Hormones, alcohol, peer pressure, celebrity- none of these are excuses for taking advantage of a woman. I don't care who she is, whether she is a drunk college girl or a call girl- assaulting a woman is never excused. I am so sick and tired of seeing Ben Roethlisberger take advantage of his position as a QB for the Steelers, I would be fine with a losing season just to get rid of his pathetic molesting self.

However, the story that came out about the NY Jets and Ines Sainz made me take the other position for once. When I saw pictures of her and the outfits she wore to interview these football players- in the locker room- and now she is upset that they noticed?!? You don't flaunt fake boobs and fishnets to blend in. I'm sorry sweetie- you wanted those catcalls and you need to stop asking us to feel sorry for you. Take some responsibility and put some clothes on.

Either/Or

I don't know which is better- courtesy or honesty. I seem to come across a large number of situations in which I must choose one or the other. Either I come across as polite and agreeable(i.e. say nothing) or say the pink elephant in the room and be described as rude. Why do people not like to hear the truth? I asked a friend of mine last weekend to point out my biggest fault. After some reassurance, she told me. And it stung a little, but it was definitely not anything that I was not aware of. I had just hoped that no one else was. :) But now that I know SHE knows, which means probably others know- I feel like I have a better shot at keeping to my desire to weed out this particular behavior.

Hooray. And thanks Steph.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wine before 5

Today I had a glass of wine at 2 in the afternoon. I was continuing with nap training with Pursy and she was particularly stubborn today. So I cleaned the entire house, did 3 loads of laundry and had a glass of wine- all while she fussed in her crib. She is finally asleep and I am congratulating myself for persevering. As painful as it is to listen to my little girl cry, I keep thinking about the day when I can put a cranky baby in her crib and two hours later pick up a happy and well rested baby. I kept repeating my new mantra- "I am giving her the gift of sleep".

On another note, I received two books today. One was "Momology"- a Christian mother's musings on parenthood the Godly way. The other was a colorful, sacrilegious, outrageous and fantastic new book by Sark. As I looked at these two books, I thought that this was me- a contradiction of style, content, purpose and delivery. I will give each book it's proper attention and both will add something to my life. I am more then okay with this.

East West Crossing

I had tea today with one of my new favorites. We shared a pot of Tiger Hill black tea while our baby girls napped in their car seats. Well, her baby napped- mine was awake after about 2 seconds of realizing that something was going on that she should probably be around for.

Things I like about her:
1. she is self depricating without asking for affirmation
2. she doesn't wear make up
3. she says things like "self behavior modification" without sounding like she rehearsed it
4. she admits that she doesn't like going to new places because she is afraid she won't know what to do and someone will be mad at her
5. she gives me advice without sounding preachy or patronizing
6. she listens- really listens

I realize that is only a Top 6 list but somehow appropriate for her and the afternoon.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Five Years Ago

Five years ago Grant and I were evacuating New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina rolled in. I cannot believe it has been so long ago- and I cannot believe the turns and twists life has taken since. I asked him today what our lives would be like if we had either never left or returned to our "home" before deciding to move to DC. Neither of us could imagine. I would have finished my BSN from Louisiana State University and he would probably have dropped out of the DrPH program at Tulane and working either at an urban clinic or for Oschner Health System.

Would we have had children earlier? Would we even still be married? It really wasn't until the four months of hell after our evacuation that we really became friends and decided that even though we are all wrong for each other, we committed to this and were in it for the long haul.

I will never say that Katrina was a blessing. I am not a good enough Christian to see anything good come from that disaster that could not have happened in a less horrible way. But I will say that in the deepest valley of our life, we found qualities in each other that we might not have found or appreciated otherwise.

Five years ago I loved Grant, but only the idea of him I had in my head. Sitting next to him tonight I know his ugliest bits but could not love him any more. And in the unspoken air between us we both hope for the day we drive back across I-10 into the city we both still call "home" with our bags packed and ready to settle in forever. New Orleans, I miss you every day.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Human Nature Hijack

I used to joke during pregnancy whenever I would do or say something incredibly insensitive, random, hurtful or just amazingly bizarre that I was being "hormone hijacked". Now that I no longer have an enormous belly to prove that excuse legit, I am changing my term to "human nature hijack".

Basically what this means is that sometimes I am just a bad person.

I decided last night that it was time to begin taming my sarcastic and thoughtless tongue. Fortunately it was Sunday night, and Monday morning is the perfect time to begin any new habits. I went to bed ready to wake up a whole new woman- full of grace and with a kind word for all I meet.

What happened is predictable. Pursy had a bad night and woke up at 1AM, 3:30 and 6. I did beautifully at the 0100 feeding. I hummed gently in her ear and felt warm fuzzy feelings towards my sleeping husband as I let him slumber. At 0330 I was a little more cranky- particularly when Grant stumbled out of bed and came to us, simply to close the nursery door so he couldn't hear Pursy fussing- and I admit was a little rougher then necessary getting back into bed 90 minutes later when I finally got her back to sleep. At 0600 when Grant tossed her into bed with me and called over his shoulder "I have to get to work early- are you okay?" I was definitely awake enough to holler back "I am so annoyed with you- I know you woke her up slamming around the bedroom". His confused head popped back around the corner and he said again- "are you okay?"

Having already ruined my resolution, I snapped back that she was sound asleep until he started slamming the dresser drawers on his 55 year old dresser that sounds like a dying seal when the drawers are opened due to the significant number of pieces that have broken off and we don't want to replace because it was his fathers. He tried to convince me that she had been squeaking before that, but I was already cross. And now more bummed that my Monday morning was gone and I had to wait until next Monday to resolve to be a decent person again.

That is a human nature hijack, and fortunately we are reformed Presbyterians who believe in total depravity (step one of TULIP) and Grant can never argue with me that it is simply not my fault that my default setting is less then pretty. Fortunately for ME, he also loves me and accepts my apologies- every time.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Nap Training

Day one of nap training has begun and so far Mom and Pursy are both crying. Grant and I have succeeded in doing what we swore we would never do to our child- we spoiled her. And by "we" I mean me. There were countless days in her first three months of life where Grant would call me from work and I would proudly say that I got her down for a nap- to which he would ask (with vain hope in his voice)- "in her crib?". Almost always my response would be some version of "I want to hold her, she is too little for the crib, she was fussy today, we can put her down to nap in her crib when she is older, etc." I loved holding her- and the sweet moments when she was sound asleep in my arms and totally accessible for me to kiss her face were too precious to give up. Thus, I taught my daughter to sleep only in my arms.

Now, let's be honest. It makes me feel fantastic that I am the only one that can easily put her to sleep, calm her down, soothe her. It makes me feel needed and irreplaceable. It also makes my sweet husband's life miserable on the evenings when I am at work. He called me last night because Pursy had been crying for almost two hours and he could not put her down -she was instantly crying the moment he did. I realized then that I had done both my daughter and Grant a huge disservice. He needed to be able to take care of her on his own and even though his loving arms are a close second- they will never be my boobs. Mommies have the secret weapon.

So I went to a friend of mine whose relationship with her children I admire and who I knew wasn't crazy for one method or another of child raising. She told me that it was time for Nap Training. She also said (and this is one of the reasons that I love her) that I needed to ask myself if I minded holding her while she slept. She said that if I was willing to park myself for 3-4 hours a day while Pursy napped then there really was no problem and I could keep up with my current style. I thought about this- as initially it seemed like a perfect solution. I didn't have to change anything, Pursy could get her naps and I was still Mom of the Year.

The problem with this is that I want those few hours during the day to myself. I want to make candles again and I want to work on the scrapbook for 2010 and I want to weed my garden and I want to continue being the person I was before I also became a Mom. I want to offer that to Purslane because I liked who I was. Not that I don't love being a Mom all the time, but there is more to me then that and I want to keep that going. I also want to offer her a stable home and a vibrant,loving relationship to model- so Grant and I will leave her with a babysitter while we go out on dates, we will keep our bedroom to ourselves, and we will always kiss in front of her.

But for today, she is crying in her crib and I am crying in the office. Jan said it would take only a few days to start a new habit and I am desperately clinging to the hope that on Monday afternoon I will put a content baby in her crib and she will take a brilliant nap- while I go work on the scrapbook.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My heart stopped

Tonight the most terrifying thing I can remember ever happening to me- happened. I fell down the steps carrying my daughter.

Obviously because I am now blogging about this experience, Pursy is alright and the only permanent damage is two holes in the attic door where a coat hook used to be. I always grab onto this hook on my way down from the attic just to give me a little stability as I go from stairs to floor, and I must have ripped it right out on my way down.

The list of "fortunately" is long- fortunately I was carrying her upright with both arms wrapping her close to my chest. Fortunately Grant and Daniel were home and sitting in the attic and were at my side in 1.7 seconds. Fortunately I didn't have anything else in my hands, as I have gotten into the very bad habit of carrying Pursy with one arm and a dish, book, blanket, etc. in the other. Fortunately I slid straight down the steps on my ass and missed hitting the doorframe and walls with Pursy's head.

I was instantly hysterical and every horrible possibility went through my head all at once. None of them came to pass, and my daughter is presently sleeping soundly unscathed and unmaimed. It did impress on me in that instant how everything can change and I can never get too comfortable. My heart loves this little person so much and I am so grateful that the Lord watches out for her- while I am busy falling down the steps.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A little morning tradition

I have started taking Pursy downstairs to the living room for her morning nurse- we sit on the couch, put a record on the turntable and welcome the day. Grant gets to sleep in a little more, and we get sweet mother-daughter time. This morning we listened to Bov Iver "For Emma, Forever Ago". Yesterday it was "Carryin' On" by June Carter and Johnny Cash. This might be my new favorite thing about being a Mom.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Typical

Grant and I went out on a date on Saturday night and for the first time left Purslane with non-family people. Samanda (Sam and Amanda) came over at 6:45 and we left after 20 minutes of instructions. I found myself telling them random bits of information like that Pursy's sheets are organic cotton and she prefers the purple binky at bedtime. I was on my way to asking to see Amanda's CPR card to ensure it was current when Grant took me by the elbow and led me out the door.

I had just bought the black maxi dress I was wearing- and found out quickly why normal people do several things when they purchase clothing. First of all, they try it on. When I put the dress on right before we left, I realized that there is reason short people should buy petite clothes. The dress was dragging the ground- so I grabbed a pair of sewing scissors and cut it off. This resulted in a shaggy uneven hem that will ensure when I do have a minute to fix it, it will end up being a knee-length little black dress. It worked for the moment though, as the flowy fabric hid my spontaneous hem job just fine. Secondly, there is a reason people wash clothes before they wear them- when I lifted up my arms, the jersey knit had pilled off and stuck to my deodorant making me look like I had not shaved my armpits in 3 years. Lastly was the issue of the deep V-neck displaying just a little too much of my gifts from the boob fairy. I ended up safety pining the front, giving me rainbow colored flash backs of my days at Bob Jones.

So typical. My first date in 3 months and I am cut, pinned and altogether haphazardly put together. I walk downstairs and Grant looks me up and down. "You look smokin' hot." And that is why I love him.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Green Dress

I was at the gym this morning when a 40ish man came in with his two daughters. The older one was dressed in shorts, tank top and thick bangs. The younger one was wearing what looked like a tiny version of an ugly teal bridesmaid dress. She had accessorized with flip flops and a huge smile. It was apparent in about 2 seconds that there had been a fight that morning- and she had won. She was wearing her party dress dammit and if her Dad wanted to get to the gym at all, he would let her. I thought about Pursy and the stubborn streak I already know so well around her 8pm bedtime and thought that I need to be very careful about the kind of clothes I buy her and save myself the stress. Or I can just enjoy watching her be a little girl and exert her independence in a satin party dress. I think I'll do that.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thriller

Last night we had friends over that reminded me why I like human beings. We ate dinner, walked to the park to feed the ducks and ended up watching a thunderstorm on the front porch with our children. It was low maintenance, and the sort of conversation where small talk becomes the story of how she found her faith. I have never been one for small talk- it never came easy to me. I would rather hear someone's deepest darkest secret than why they prefer Yuengling to Troegs. She was easy to talk to, humorously self depricating and interested in how Grant and I met. The night ended when Pursy let us know she was ready for bed and much too soon. One of my favorite things about getting to know new people is when I think I have them pegged and they throw me a curve ball. I should have known when they walked in on me listening to Thriller on the turntable and they didn't bat an eye.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Frog

Yesterday Purslane pulled the little circle that hangs below the green frog that sits on the bar next to the blue and yellow turtles over the bouncy seat that she sits in while Grant and I try to get things done without her in our arms. It plays an annoying tinny little song that she apparently loves. We have been pulling it for her, but it lasts approximately 7 seconds and it is annoying to be walking over to pull it before she starts fussing. Yesterday Grant called me at work to say that she had pulled it herself. She had been reaching for it, but could never quite get her little fingers around it. She has mastered this skill now, and very happily entertains herself with the song. This morning I was in the kitchen making cupcakes for Anna's birthday (Happy 31st friend!!) and I lost count of how many times the song played after 20. As proud of my little girl as I am, I miss the quiet moments inbetween pulls of the frog circle. This is also the first thing that we have taught her to do for herself. She is now a little less reliant on me and I got a tiny glimpse of what it will be like when she can feed herself, dress herself, drive herself to school and move out. This is the point of parenting, right? Hopefully I won't cry over every step of independence or it will be a LOOONG 18 years...

I don't have the heart

Two days ago I noted that a dove had taken up residence in the hanging basket on my front porch. I tried to stop the nest building before it got too far along, but when I looked in the basket that speedy sonofagun had not only built her nest but laid three gorgeous eggs. Sigh... Yesterday I noticed that there was a nest built on top of a light fixture on our back patio. Same deal- my plan to knock it off was stopped by four eggs. Maybe we just look like those kind of people.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Big Deal

"It is a big deal when you embrace the life you didn't plan on."

I turned 30 this April- 16 days before having my first child. Nine years ago I was engaged to a boy named Aaron and spending most of my time outside of school in my friend's apartment talking about Plato's "The Republic" and listening to Godspeed You Black Emperor. Eight years ago I was dealing with a broken heart, living in Denver working on a Bachelor's in Anthropology and planning on a semester abroad in New Zealand. I was a vegetarian, hadn't shaved my legs in 3 years, seeing (simultaneously) a theater major and a 32 year old computer guy with a condo and a cat. Seven years ago I was engaged to my current husband and we were planning on living abroad somewhere while I did ethnographies and he did international public health. Six years ago we were living in New Orleans on 22K/year, we had a dog named Jack and I was a nanny for a wealthy dual doctor family in Uptown. Five years ago after having our hearts broken by a wicked girl named Katrina we were living in Grant's parents house and I was spending most of my time watching the Food Network and trying my best to get out of bed every day. Four years ago we were living in DC and I was sleeping,eating and breathing a crazy intense second degree BSN program. I weighed 122 pounds and was running 3-5 miles every day while shopping at farmers markets, going to wine bars in the evening and taking the Metro to school. Three years ago we moved to central PA- a place I swore I would never live. We bought a big old 1890's house and decided that we would become that couple that embraced home improvement projects, make homemade soup all winter, and enjoy the small town life. Two years ago we discovered we were really urban people stuck in the small town life and were spending all of our free time out of our house traveling to the closest big city where we could ride public transportation and eat Thai food. Last year I got pregnant and had to take a hiatus from beer, riding my bike, wearing my favorite jeans, eating brie, and going through an entire day without throwing up anything I put in my mouth. Today I am still in my pajamas, my gorgeous daughter is happily in her swing next to me, I hung her diapers on the line this morning, and in about an hour I will try to take a nap with her before going in to work an evening shift at the hospital. I will eat a very American diet of cereal and coffee for breakfast, macaroni and cheese for lunch and some sort of sandwich for dinner. I most likely will not have a chance to read a book, listen to a record, make a candle, or have tea with a friend. But I accept my life and embrace it. I did not marry the abstract, artsy, fluid sort of man I tended to date- Grant is my solid piece and his passion for me and life will ensure that we never become the comfortable armchair to each other. I shave my legs now, eat an occasional hamburger and have to plan weeks in advance to travel with Purslane. It is not the life I thought I wanted 10 years ago but I cannot image being more content. I don't regret anything and I don't wish for anything else. I am loved and I love. And that is a big deal.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mom Jeans and Trident

I go back to work tomorrow and spent a few minutes looking in the mirror tonight wondering if I will look like a Mom to my co-workers who haven't seen me in 3 months. Even though I will be back in my blue scrubs, I wonder if I will wear them like a Mom- like somehow the pockets will start slanting outwards. My work shoes are the same gray Earth tennis shoes that I wore before I went on maternity leave but do they look "sensible" now? Will I be the person who says "I have some!" then reaches into my enormous mom bag to dig out some gum??

Don't get me wrong, I love being a Mom- I just want to look like a hipster Mom. Like it took me 45 minutes to look like I don't care how I look. The thing is, I am not a hipster. I don't have the hips for skinny jeans and (Becki, say it with me) I don't wear tightsaspants under my ironic t-shirt and Toms. I actually like the Gap, purple nail polish and Taco Bell. Now that I am a Mom, do I need to start shopping at Chicos and washing my fruit with special pesticide removing spray soap?

Good god man, what then???

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Covenant Child

Purslane was baptized today. This means that she is now a child of the covenant and when she is old enough to understand and accept, she will be saved by the grace of God. Grant and I promised to raise her with a knowledge of the scriptures and the love of Christ, and our community promised to help us as she continues on her new life. My heart is full.

How to Juggle

I was reading a quote from Jennifer Lopez yesterday (my guilty pleasure is reading People magazine while on the elliptical machine at the YMCA) where she was talking about how she juggles her personal life and her career. And she said something to the effect of "I do the best I can, and at the end of the day I think- did I ask my daughter how her day was, did I kiss Marc, did I call my agent back, etc- and if I didn't get it all in, I try again tomorrow".

I don't plan on getting all of my life wisdom from JLo, but I actually think that was very astute. It is so easy for me to flog myself for not being the supermom/wife/nurse/human being I want to be but at the end of the day if my priorities are to love on my husband, be involved with my daughter, and do well at my job then I am okay with every once in a while buying the non-organic yogurt and just praying that the rBGH doesn't kill us all.

Busy

I was thinking this morning about what keeps people together. Most people don't really worry about it- either because it isn't a big deal if they DON'T, or their relationships are so simple that things never get too far off the path. My relationships with other people have never been simple and it is always a big deal to me when they don't work out. I have birthdays written on my calendar of people that I knew in high school and even though I haven't spoken to them in years, I still feel a twinge of guilt if I don't send a card (have even sunk so low as to send a "birthday text" if I remembered at 2AM) I have a hard time when relationships drop off.

This has changed since my daughter was born. I forgot to send a birthday card to my father in law, missed two anniversaries of individuals whose weddings I was in, and read about the birth of one of my best friend's child on..facebook. How did I miss these things?

I was busy. That day Purslane was probably going through a growth spurt and I spent 24 hours nursing her every 20 minutes. Or the USA/Algeria World Cup game was on, and I didn't talk to anyone. And maybe it was that day when I did 8 loads of laundry, planted my garden, put away all my pregnancy clothes, took a nap with Pursy, did yoga, finished thank you cards and made a spinach quiche for Allie and Jeremy.

While doing all of these things, I have let some friendships drop off. One of my dearest friends from nursing school has tried so hard to keep in touch with me, and I always listen to her voicemails with a smile- but haven't called back yet. I am so glad Julia spent the money to fly out and see me after Pursy was born because I hadn't returned her emails or voicemails yet either. The exception has seemed to be facebook which I navigated regularly while Pursy was napping or I am getting ready to go to bed. I looked through vacation pictures of individuals I am not sure that I even know, commented on status updates from my old pastor from NOLA.. basically spent time with individuals who were low maintenance enough that it was a 2 second thing to have a relationship with them. There was no catching up, no long conversations that might be interrupted by a crying baby, no pressure. I have never really bought the excuse of "I have been so busy" as a reason to stall relationships but I finally understand- and give myself a break.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Our First Date

Tonight Grant and I went on our first date since Pursy was born. This is particularly significant as we are serial daters and have been since we started almost 8 years ago. We love a morning date, afternoon date or evening where just the two of us sit down over a good meal and a good beer and talk about life. We promised each other when we started talking about kids that we would continue to date each other and thus prolong the romance.

It has been 11 weeks with no date- and tonite we went out. I suppose you can still call it "going out" when we left our daughter upstairs on the 9th floor of the Station Square Sheraton with her grandparents and went to the hotel bar for a few hours. One cell phone call for me to return to the room to comfort my crying daughter was our only distraction from each other. I actually put on lipstick AND eye liner, and Grant pulled out all his best moves- we laughed and talked and eavesdropped on the table next to us full of individuals that we are fairly sure work in some capacity on True Blood. (Anna-I was so excited!!)

It's funny how having a child can change the dynamic of a marriage if you let it. We literally could have sat there and talked about Pursy for two hours- and it would have been okay. But we are committed to remaining interesting to each other outside of being Pursy's Mom and Dad. So maybe it was my Whiskey Sour (an old favorite) or maybe it was Grant's hand on my thigh, but I looked at the face of my best friend and remembered again why I fell in love with him in the first place- he is my favorite person to hang out with.

Friday, July 2, 2010

New Wardrobe

I cannot believe Pursy is old enough to have outgrown her first set of clothes- all the newborn items went into a plastic tub this morning to be stowed away for another baby. As I folded her yellow duck sleeper, I thought back to 10 weeks ago when I was placing her tiny body into it and thinking that it was way too big. I loved her night feedings when I would pick her up out of the bassinet and say "hello my little duck".

One of her onesies had a quote on the tag that said "If only they could stay this small". While I understand the sentiment- I love the way Pursy's head fits right under Grant's chin when he is rocking her to sleep, and I love that I can carry her in the Moby all day without my back hurting, and I love her tiny little hands and mouth- I really don't want her to stay this small.

I started thinking about all the things I can't wait to teach her. I can't wait to show her how to weed a garden, and how to make french toast, and how to turn the pages of her favorite book. I know already my heart will explode when I watch her dancing on Grant's feet at a wedding. I know I will watch proudly when she walks out the door in striped leggings and a plaid dress after she picks out her own clothes for the first time. And I know that I will want to lock her in the attic when she becomes a teenager and that stubborn streak that she inherited from me comes out in a sassy voice. I can't wait for all of it.

But today I will enjoy that tiny body that fits so easily in my arms. I put the newborn clothes away and later today will head for Target and Baby Gap to get her a new wardrobe.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Enter Purslane Claire


The Birth Story: Grant and I chose the Bradley Method for our childbirth classes. We learned all about natural childbirth, relaxation techniques in labor, and anatomy and physiology of the female body in relation to the birth process (even though we are both nurses, Grant dabbles in Psych and I am a cardiac/ICU nurse so L&D is a long-forgotten language). We prepared for a long labor, as first births often are. We had a bag packed by the front door with snacks, a massage ball, slippers so I could walk the halls, etc. Grant was ready to coach me through the longest day of my life. My EDD was April 21st- a Wednesday. I chose to start my FMLA leave on Monday so I could have a little time to get things ready if the baby came right on time- and also because being on my feet for 12 hours was completely miserable. So Monday morning I woke up around 5AM needing to urinate and unable to sleep any more. I wandered around the house, ate a bowl of cereal and chatted with my brother Daniel on Facebook. He had just finished a day of teaching (in Japan) and I complained about how enormous I was and how ready I was for this baby to come. I told him how I was afraid it would be another week because first babies often hang out in the womb for a while, and that would “just be my luck”. He told me he would say a prayer, as he had been curiously lucky recently. I told him I would take what I could get.

Around 0730 Grant left for the gym, and I went back to bed. I was drifting off to sleep around 0815 when I felt- and heard- a very textbook and movie-ish POP and felt a gush of fluid. I immediately stood up and was in a puddle of amniotic fluid. I grabbed my cell phone and headed for the bathroom. I called the gym and explained to the woman who answered the phone that my water had broken and I needed her to find the bearded man most likely using the elliptical machine. (Grant told me later that she went up to him and informed him that “the water broke”- to which he very sincerely responded “don’t you have a maintenance man for that?”) By the time he got home, about 27 seconds later, I had already had two contractions. They started off very close together, and Grant timed the first ones after he got home to be between 4-5 minutes apart and lasting 90 seconds. He called the OB on call, and after she heard the data, she told him to bring me in. I of course refused. I had no intention of being at the hospital for 20+ hours laboring in a hospital gown, not being able to eat, with an IV in my arm, hooked up to a monitor. I went back to bed. Fortunately, Grant knows me well enough to know when he can boss me around. He told me we were getting in the car and having our baby at the hospital, not the bathroom floor.

By the time I got down the steps, I had another contraction. Down the steps to the car, another. They were about 3-4 minutes apart at this point and I could no longer talk, walk, or protest through them. I got in the car. Grant made the 14 mile drove to the hospital in around 10 minutes and the volunteer at the front desk was helping me in a wheelchair. We got up to the 4th floor (fortunately without seeing any of my co-workers) and they wheeled me into Room 4. Mynurse Nicole – who I would very soon fall madly in love with and want to be her best friend- asked me if I wanted an epidural. I guess by looking at my face she didn’t think I would have another chance. I told her that we had prepared for a natural labor and I was ready.

I got into my room around 0915 and at my first check was 4 cm dilated and 100% effaced. Twenty minutes later I was 6 cm, thirty minutes after that was 8cm, and at 1020 I was 91/2 cm with a small anterior cervical lip- and the urge to push started. Nicole informed me that Dr Doucette was in another room with a laboring woman but she could start pushing with me. Grant and I had decided that he would stay north of the equator to be my coach, but someone else needed to hold my other leg- so my brave husband jumped in. Later he told me he was so glad he did, because he was able to watch our daughter being born.

In the Bradley classes, our fabulous teacher Carla taught us about transition- the time when the woman is most likely to hit her limit. This usually is right before the baby crowns and the moment when the pain is most intense. There are physical as well as emotional signposts that she taught us to look for. I hit all of mine- I started shaking, threw up and told Grant and Nicole that I was not doing this anymore- they needed to find another way for this baby to come out. Grant broke into a huge smile and said “Christy, you are doing it- this baby is almost here!” That encouragement got me over the hump- two more pushes and she was out.

Purslane Claire Martsolf was born at 1132- a little over three hours after my water broke. Labor was intense and definitely the most painful thing I have ever gone through, but one of my proudest moments came when the med student who was assisting with my birth asked Nicole if all births were like this. She answered that “No, they are not- this girl is doing it naturally and is feeling everything”. In that moment I was so proud of myself and my body for doing what it was created to do. I birthed a baby.

She was born with a double nuchal- the cord was wrapped around her neck twice, so Grant wasn’t able to cut the cord. But her Apgars were 8/9 and her eyes were wide open when they put her on my belly right after she came out. I remember being in shock that we had a girl-I was convinced my whole pregnancy it was a boy and I asked Nicole to double check.

Everything that had been a blur for the past few hours came into focus when I saw her face. Most of this birth story is recounted from Grant- he told me later about things that I didn’t know were happening. He got me through this sprint of a labor, and I could not be more thankful for my sweet husband.