What I'm Reading

posted on: Thursday, January 22, 2015

It's been a little while since I've done a book round up and I've got a few to share today if you're into that sort of thing. I think I listened to every single one of these on my audible app which has proven once again to be invaluable to me. Being home with a newborn these last few months this totally fed my book addiction while I was nursing the baby or folding laundry or any of the other things that kept my hands too busy for a real paperback. But there are some good ones in this batch, so let's get to it!

Well, this was a weird book. I think I liked it? I went in to this one blind and it took me AWHILE to figure out what was even going on. But as you know, I love me a good dystopic storyline, so I was pretty quickly won over. There's some really good writing in this book and at it's core it's basically a book about feminism, sexual politics and fundamental human rights. I'd say give it a whirl, it'll get you thinking if nothing else.
Alright, so this one was heavily discussed in an online book club I'm part of (hi, Allie!) and I think most of us came away with the same general reaction in the end. It's a little slow in parts and the characters are hard to like, but it's beautifully written and eventually it sucks you in. I thought it was a little pretentious at the jump off, I mean a book about talented, beautiful ballerinas and how hard their lives are. Boo-hoo, right? But once the story starts to come together it really begins to get complex. I'd even say it's a little shakesperian in how interwoven all of the character's lives become. The ending makes it worth it.

I really liked this one! It's kind of a fluff mystery type of book, but man did it keep me wanting more. It was really hard to stop this one once I started it, and although I guessed the ending before it was fully revealed it was still fun to see how it all unfolded. Definitely recommend. 

I. LOVE. ELIZABETH. WARREN. So does Josh. She's his celebrity crush so that should tell you something about my husband. But he read this book first and recommended it to me (of course he did). But she's just so great, you guys. So inspiring and brave and hard working and takes absolutely no shit. However, reading this book will make you feel like a lazy s.o.b. who's done nothing with your life, so fair warning. Warren for president is all I'm saying.

Amy's book was pretty much exactly what I expected. This book will also make your boring life seem pointlessly uneventful and not at all worth living, so you're just gonna have to get over that right now. She's funny (of course) and surprisingly sweet and vulnerable in her writing. Basically she just makes you really wish you could be her bff and call her up crying with all your life's woes and she'll take you in her arms and comfort you with sage advice and gentle humor whilst stroking your hair and telling you how pretty you look.
And that's all I got for this round. I'm alllllmost finished with We Were Liars (another book club recommendation) and I'm reserving judgement on that one until I find out the ending. After that I think I'll try out Descent (thanks for the tip, Kate!) and of course with all the hype surrounding it I MUST read Unbroken as soon as humanly possible. Anything else you guys can think to recommend? If so, hit me up in the comments!

The Last Day/The First Day

posted on: Wednesday, January 14, 2015

yes ever, you can expect things like this from me for the rest of your life. your mom is a dork.

Today is my last day of maternity leave. Lord, how I've been dreading that sentence. Three kids in and it never gets easier, does it? I'm not going to get too deep with this post because if I think about it too much I'll dissolve into a stomach churning puddle of tears. And I need to actually be a functioning grown up tomorrow and put on not pajamas and go into work with other adults and design stuff, I guess. So let's keep it light, shall we?

Things I thought I would do while on Maternity Leave vs. what I actually did:

  • I planned on reading Anna Karenina. lol, no. Like I was actually going to read Tolstoy in between nursing sessions and diaper changes. Am I new? I have no idea how I thought I'd read a 900 page book while taking care of an infant. I actually listened to lots of books on Audible (hands free!) Book reviews coming up shortly. 
  • I thought I'd get some painting done around the house. Lord knows there are plenty of rooms that still need it. Again, I was obviously smoking something. Was I actually going to put my new baby down so I could paint some dumb walls and squander away those precious hours of her tiny newness? Nooooope. The walls aren't going anywhere but as they say, babies don't keep. What I actually did was just stare at the baby all day.
  • I expected to be dealing with colic again. This is the happiest bullet point by the way, because I'm not! After back to back babies with colic I was totally geared up for it. But the weeks went by waiting for the other shoe to drop and...nothing. Sure, she gets fussy and cries sometimes, all babies do. But I know colic, I've LIVED colic and this ain't it. So many gold stars, baby girl. You're the best.
  • I thought I would get to lounge around watching Netflix all day and maybe catch up on some of the tv series that I've been meaning to watch. Um, no. You know what maternity leave is when you've got two other kids? It's basically just regular life but with stitches and bigger boobs. Meaning I was up and down all day with school pick ups and drop offs, making snacks and wiping butts. Oh, and the only thing on tv was the Wild Kratts.
  • I thought I'd get around to organizing the basement/sorting through clothes for Goodwill/finishing a million other little projects around the house. Yeah, no didn't do any of that either. What I DID do however was finish Ever's bedroom! I wasn't about to pick up a paint brush or tackle something new but oh how I miraculously found plenty of time to get online and order all of the things. Designing a little girl's room has been so much fun, gah! Post coming soon.

So basically, what I'm saying is I didn't accomplish a whole lot. But I did spend nearly every moment possible soaking up that precious time with my delicious baby girl. I love her to the moon, you guys, and tomorrow and all the days after that where I have to be away from her are going to be rough. We'll adjust, we have to. It's just the first of many in an endless chain of life changes we will face. And I'm lucky to know that when I can't be with her she will be in the loving and capable hands of people I trust. But, if you can keep me in mind tomorrow and send some positive vibes my way, I'd sure appreciate it. I'll take all the good juju I can get. I am going to miss her.

Snow Day

posted on: Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Snow days are for brothers and snow ball fights, kisses on cold cheeks, warm pajamas and the biggest mugs of hot cocoa you can manage.

A Date with Oren

posted on: Monday, January 12, 2015

The addition of Ever to our well oiled family of four has been a wonderful but sometimes tough transition for all of us, but none more so than Oren. His feelings toward her have been a pendulum of emotions swinging from ambivalence and jealousy to finally, within just the last two weeks, acceptance and possibly even affection. He talks to her now and even holds her hand or gives her the occasional kiss on the head. It's been such a relief to see him finally start to warm up to her. Even so, I knew he was in need of a little extra one on one time. A day for just the two of us where he had 100% of my attention. I remember being little and my dad taking each of us kids out on days of our own, where it would just be the two of us and he'd let us pick whatever we wanted to do. For my day I'd usually pick the art museum and we'd wander around there for awhile and then go to lunch and it was nothing special but it was also everything special. Those days were nothing extravagant but they are some of my best memories. I want to make sure I make those same kind of memories with my three, and it just felt like Oren really needed his day. He's been super into sharks lately, his favorite christmas present was a five dollar wind up (RED, of course) hammerhead shark bath toy which he now takes with him everywhere. He even sleeps with it. We've been watching lots of shark shows on tv and reading lots of shark books so I figured the Cleveland Aquarium would be right up his alley. We'd been before, but it had been awhile and he didn't really remember it. So I planned our date, first stop was to get hot chocolate for the long drive up and then on to the aquarium!

So the way the aquarium is set up, the sharks are the last exhibit you see, the grand finale so to speak. When we first arrived we started wandering through the tanks of fish and I pointed out all the cool things to him but it soon became clear that all he wanted was TO SEE THE SHARKS NOW. So we basically skipped past everything else and went straight to the end. I let him direct us and followed his lead, letting him take as long as he wanted in each area. We must have gone through the shark tunnel about 20 times before he was finally ready to start working our way backwards to see all the other stuff. I think he really loved being in charge of our route and timeframe and didn't have to compromise or take turns with anyone else for at least one afternoon.

 scuba divers in the shark tank above and the sting ray touch pool below!

After the aquarium I took him to Heck's Cafe for lunch where he ordered their vary fancy version of macaroni and cheese and then we capped the day off with a trip across the street for a chocolate chip cookie the size of his head (and a latte for me). It was just what the doctor ordered and we had such a great time. Days like this are what being a parent is all about and spending all that time connecting one on one with one of my favorite people in the world was such a treat for both of us. He is just the very best little guy and I'm so, so lucky I get to call him mine. 

You have my heart, little man, forever and always.

This Post Is Not About Babies

posted on: Monday, January 5, 2015

Which, let's face it, most of them are when you've got a newborn at home. But no sir, not this one. This one is about my husband. Or, more specifically, our anniversary. Which is today. But we celebrated over the weekend because, well, tuesdays. So it's been 8 years of marriage, but like 238712387 years together, which is apparently the amount of years it takes to forget which number anniversary it is and you have to start doing math to remember.  We've been at this thing awhile now is what I'm saying. 
So last year we decided to start a new tradition and in lieu of gifts treat ourselves to a night away, just the two of us. Well, this year we already botched the whole thing by having a newborn and didn't feel comfortable spending the night away from her so soon. (We're really good at traditions, obviously.) Instead, we decided a day date was the best solution and got a babysitter for the boys (thanks, ma!) and a babysitter for the baby (thanks, nicole!) and spent a Saturday celebrating it up. 
We brunched at Trentina, which I have been DYING to try. It was outstanding (as expected) and we are eyeing the dinner menu for Valentine's day. Chef Sawyer is a culinary treasure for Cleveland and also flipping crazy. He's inventive and daring in his menu planning and also lightweight insane, which I love. (Follow his instagram and you'll see what's cooking (har-har). It may be live scallops, acorn fed wild squirrel, or perhaps a candied honey bee perched atop its own honeycomb for dessert. You never quite know what you're going to get. But I digress.) Also, it should be noted that I wore a new dress and a shoe with a heel, so you know it was a special occasion. (Photographic evidence below.) Afterward we went to see Wild (further fueling my idol worship of Cheryl Strayed) and snacked on popcorn and fresh macarons which we'd smuggled in via my purse from a nearby bakery. It was a pretty great day and I have a pretty great guy. It's been a good 8 + 238712387 years and I'm hoping for a whole lot more of them. 

Love you Josh, happy anniversary!

The Birth of Ever Iris

posted on: Friday, January 2, 2015

I was overdue. Three days to be exact. Nothing crazy but it felt like a lifetime. This was my third baby and the first two had come early, so this was by far the most pregnant and uncomfortable I had ever been. I was dumbfounded by my situation, completely and utterly incredulous to the fact that I was still pregnant. 

Around 38 weeks I'd packed up my family and moved us all into my sister's apartment. She lives minutes from the hospital we planned on delivering in and after my last baby came breathtakingly fast I was terrified of being at home, thirty minutes away, when labor started. We moved in on a friday night and stayed the entire weekend, taking long walks, watching tv, waiting for something, anything, to happen. It never did. I had a check up the following Monday and my midwife informed me I was nowhere near delivery. There was no progress, no dilation and the baby was about as high up as it could possibly be. Awesome.

Back at the apartment, teary eyed and defeated, I packed everything back up. I deflated the air mattress, threw all our bags back in my car and moved back home. Apparently, this wasn't happening. I'd resigned myself to the fact that I may never give birth. This was just my life now. Perpetual pregnancy. I know it isn't logical, but I can't explain the mindset of a woman that pregnant, you just go batshit crazy. Fast forward to 40 weeks + 3 days and there we were, still at home, putting the boys to bed and generally trying to not think about how goddamned pregnant I still was. Ignoring well meaning texts and phone calls from concerned friends and relatives asking (kindly if but constantly) if anything was happening yet. As they say, a watched pot doesn't boil, and I'll sure as hell be the first one to let you know when it does. 

Anyway, the boys were asleep and we'd just put ourselves to bed when I started feeling some light contractions. It was hard to tell if this was the real thing since last time my water broke and there was no doubt the fast and furious contractions I was feeling were the real deal. But this was a lot more ambiguous. No water breaking, no bleeding, just some uncomfortable contractions. Just to be safe I asked Josh to start timing them. They were coming pretty regularly at 10 minutes apart and this time they hurt. They definitely weren't the braxton hicks I'd been having for months. But still, this could be false labor or it could stall out, so we waited another half an hour or so until they started coming about 8 minutes apart. That's when I started to panic a little. I had been terrified about this birth since the minute the pregnancy test was positive. Having had two pretty awful labor and delivery experiences before with both of my sons I was sure this one was going to go awry as well. Neither of my boys had been breathing at birth (for varying reasons), they both had needed resuscitated and my second son was taken by ambulance to the NICU at another hospital before I'd even gotten to look at his little face. And while they both ended up being fine in the long term, I was so afraid of everything that could go wrong. In fact I was convinced everything would go wrong. 

I started crying immediately and telling Josh how scared I was and maybe we should just wake the boys up and we should all go over to my sister's for the night just in case this was really it. He agreed and we quickly loaded the kids and bags into the car. I'd called Abby to let her know we were coming over and that I was having some questionable contractions that may or may not be anything. We started the thirty minute drive over. About half way there things had intensified dramatically and I was no longer unsure if this was "it". This was definitely it. We called Abby again and asked if she and Jeff could meet us outside when we got there and we could just drop the boys off with them and go straight to the hospital. We called the midwife on duty, and knowing my history of fast deliveries asked her to meet us there asap. I was so, so relieved when the hospital finally came into view and baby was still safely inside. I had been terrified the entire pregnancy that when the time came I'd be too far away and I'd have to give birth in the car. Fear number one was checked off the list and so far, so good.

We checked in and I was met by the most incredibly understanding and accommodating hospital staff imaginable. At the last minute, mere days before I actually delivered, I'd typed up a birth plan, essentially a wish list of how my birth might go if things actually went the way they were supposed to and packed it in our hospital bag along with everything else. I'd considered not even doing one at all since things had gone so far off track with my last two deliveries that it seemed almost foolhardy. But Josh dug it out once we arrived and everyone read it over and really tried their best to honor all of my requests the entire time we were there. The things I had asked for were; an epidural if possible (my first labor the epidural didn't take and my second labor progressed too quickly to even attempt one), no unnecessary interventions and the opportunity to if at all possible, receive my baby immediately following delivery. I asked that we delay cord clamping or weighing the baby and have him or her placed on my chest for immediate skin to skin contact and feeding. It was a long shot, no doubt about it. To think I could have any of this, let alone all of this happen given my past experiences, but there was no harm in trying, right? 

I told them I had a history of lightening fast deliveries and they were on it, calling anesthesia immediately and getting my IV fluids started as quickly as possible. But here was the other thing, I'd tested positive for Group B Strep in the standard third trimester screening. GBS, if you're not familiar with it, is a normal bacteria present in lots of people all the time and is generally harmless and of no concern. Unfortunately, the one time being a carrier of this particular bacteria can be worrisome is when you're pregnant. That's because it can be passed to the baby during delivery and cause serious complications if the baby contracts it. To combat this the standard procedure is to administer antibiotics to the mother at the onset of labor. If mom can receive a course of antibiotics for at least four hours before baby is born, then you're all good. But, if labor progresses too quickly and baby comes before mom has gotten the full dose then they have to treat the baby with antibiotics instead. And from what my midwife told me they do it right away after baby is born and they generally have to take them to the nursery for the treatment. Meaning, if my labor didn't last at least four hours after the antibiotics were started, this baby, like the two before it, would need to be taken away from me right after birth. I was positive that this was inevitable. My last labor and delivery took place over the course of three hours start to finish and typically each subsequent baby comes quicker than the last. I was already 5 centimeters dilated. But, they started the antibiotics and we all collectively crossed our fingers for a miracle. Somehow we needed this baby to stay inside longer than both the others ever had. I was pretty sure we were doomed. Meanwhile though, the midwife showed up, our birth photographer walked in and the anesthesiologist came in to give me the epidural. Check, check and check. I'd worried so much in all the months leading up to this delivery. I worried my midwife wouldn't make it in time and I'd have to settle for whatever stranger doctor was on call. I'd worried our photographer would be too late and everything would go down before she even made it to the hospital. But most of all I was afraid I'd have no time to get an epidural. And here we were. Three more fears crossed off the list. Don't get me wrong, I still had plenty to be nervous about, in fact I was questioning whether even having a photographer there at all was a good idea considering how the last two deliveries had gone. But we'd known this was our last baby, and if not now then when? We would never have a chance to document this experience again if we didn't try this time and so she was here, for better or for worse.

But let's get back to that epidural. I was elated once it kicked in. It was so different from what I'd expected. I'd thought I'd be completely numb but happily I could still feel pressure and was able to move my legs but the pain was gone. GONE! I totally get the hype now. I started to relax a little after the pain began to subside and Josh and the midwife and our photographer Lauren and I were all able to talk and even crack some jokes and generally pass the time pleasantly. It was like night and day from my last two labors and I just kept saying over and over again, is this real? Like is this really happening right now? How is this labor? The midwife said to let her know when and if I started to feel the need to push, we both expected it would happen quickly and before the four hours were up, but my water hadn't broken and we hoped the epidural might slow things down a little. She said she wasn't going to check me again until I thought I needed to push or the four hours were up, whichever came first. So we just waited. And slowly, miraculously, the hours passed. One, then two, then three and finally, unbelievably, four. And right as we hit the four hour mark, I felt the need to push. No joke. I don't know if I had been mentally willing my labor to slow down until we hit the four hour mark or if it was just an incredible coincidence but here we were. My midwife checked me and sure enough I was fully dilated and then, as if right on cue, my water broke. She just shook her head in disbelief and we knew it was time to get this party started.

That's when the pushing began. Things had been going so well, so incredibly well, we were bound to hit a speed bump somewhere. Pushing was our speed bump. I pushed and pushed and pushed some more but I was making minimal progress at best. Tired and frustrated I continued to push to the point of exhaustion and over an hour later our midwife started to get concerned about some heart decelerations in the baby and my lack of progress. Here it is, this is where it's all going to go wrong, I thought and the panic started to set in. She called in the OB on duty to assess the situation and at this point things become a bit of a blur. The epidural had worn off for the most part and they were pushing more meds in to try and alleviate some of the pain. The doctor came in and examined me and had me push a few times and he determined our dear little baby was actually quite big and indeed quite stuck. This had been a blessing and a curse. This baby being stuck meant I did not give birth in the car.  This baby being stuck meant I'd had time for an epidural and time for my antibiotics. But now it also meant I couldn't do this on my own, it also meant the vacuum. The doctor explained the vacuum procedure to me, but really I didn't hear a word he said. I just wanted this baby out now. I was all about the interventions at this point, I just needed to be done and I did not want a c-section after we'd gotten this far. So he placed the vacuum on the crown of our baby's head and while I pushed, he pulled. We did a few pushes and made a little progress but I was desperate for them to tell me it was almost over and that the baby would be okay. I kept asking if we were done, if the baby was almost out and he kept trying to distract me with small talk while we progressed bit by bit, contraction by contraction. 

At one point (and I can laugh at this now) he asked me if we had names picked out for the baby. I remember mumbling a yes, but that was about all I could muster at the time. When I didn't offer up our names he laughed and said, "Well, I think you should name it Gigantor!" At which point I began to sob hysterically. Folks, a word of advice here. Do not, under any circumstances, point out to a lady in that predicament, with legs spread and a vacuum on her unborn child's head, just how enormous said child is while it still needs to come OUT. Big mistake. After that he promised me he'd get it out on the next push.

That's when it happened. 

With one last desperate push, all the pain and the pressure was gone. I was light as a feather as I watched my baby's body being lifted into the air. Tears clouded my eyes and I fell back in relief as the doctor announced to the room, "It's a girl!" I was stunned. I looked at Josh in disbelief and watched the tears begin to stream down his smiling face. "No, no, no!" I said. Not because I wasn't happy but because I just could not believe it. I still don't quite believe it sometimes. I remember thinking, "He said it's a girl, he can't take it back now." After all this time, after two sons and a long and difficult pregnancy. After spending nights worried about how this is my last baby, boy or girl, this was our last. I was so afraid I might never have a daughter and now here she was. She was real. SHE.

It was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best moment of my life. Because we had waited to find out the gender and the surprise was so worth all those months of waiting and speculation. Because we already had two perfect boys at home. Because I was overdue and tired. Because the labor had been long and difficult and trying. Because this was our last. 

Because finally, after everything, we had our daughter.

And she was breathing! She was healthy. The miracle of it all shifted into view and I cried tears of joy and relief and utter astonishment. They put her right on my chest like I had dreamed about so many times before and I got to look right into her eyes and feel her soft skin against my own. She was perfect. She was everything. I didn't know how much I needed her until she was here. 

My daughter, our daughter, forever.

If you haven't already seen it, our photographer put together a video we would love to share if you click on the link below.


Thank you, Lauren, thank you so much.

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