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


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


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.


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.