written under the influence of nsync

It's Monday.

It's raining outside and raining coffee drops inside. In my mouth.

Sorry, was that weird?

It's just that I don't talk to a lot of adults lately.

But if you need me to make up a song about the color of your shirt, I'm your girl.

Maybe a haiku? I don't know.

Give me another cup of coffee and I'll get you a limerick too.

Anyway, it's Monday. I'm at home recovering because we took on the very arduous task of taking a baby to church yesterday. We've tried the last couple of Sundays, but we never quite made it. But yesterday, we made it. We made it. We may have been twenty minutes late, but we were there. We go to a small church, and we walked in during a rather somber announcement. James was trying to hightail to a seat, and he drove the stroller right into a table causing the entire congregation to turn around and stare at us. I froze and probably wet my pants a little. I died of humiliation. I'm not actually blogging, my ghost is. Gracie later took advantage of a quiet moment to display her, uh, gastrointestinal distress? I came back to life just to die again. But of laughter this time.

I said I'm at home recovering like I'd be anywhere else. I QUIT MY JOB, REMEMBER?! So happy to be home, but also fantasizing about sitting in meetings, because right now that sounds like a cheap version of a beach vacation.

What? Babies are exhausting.

So anyway, we took the baby to church. She attracted a small crowd. I loved it. I had adult conversation. I loved it. If you're shy and/or struggle with small talk, have a baby. I'm serious! They're the perfect buffer, literally and figuratively. They're the perfect topic of conversation, and they're a literal buffer in that you can awkwardly push the stroller back and forth instead of wondering WHAT DO I DO WITH MY HANDS THIS IS WEIRD. Whenever I feel awkward I'm like OH CRAP SHE SPIT UP AGAIN and then I dig a burp rag out and wipe her face down before they notice she never actually spit up and I'm just really uncomfortable. So yeah, I talked to strangers and acquaintances without wanting to vomit. Progress.

In other news, I'm feeling real stress about making sure Gracie wears all her outfits that currently fit before she grows out of them. REAL STRESS. It happens so fast! She has a better wardrobe than I do, and I'm not just saying that because 90% of her onesies and shirts involve cats.

Ok well maybe I am.

It's just that she looks so purrrfect in them.

Sorry. That pun was physically painful, wasn't it?

I'm not even kitten right meow.

Ugh, myself.

In more other news, I need to paint my toenails again.

I'm sorry for telling you that.

If I could, I would push the stroller back and forth right now to cope with that awkward moment. Good thing this isn't in person and I'm on the couch...NOT wearing my maternity leggings.

Or am I?

You'll never know.

Yes you will.

I'm wearing them.

I'm leaving now. I'm against some deadlines right now...

...at the library.

I know. But at least I made myself sound important for a minute?


I don't know. The caffeine is wearing off. And the baby is crying.

Maybe we'll chat again?


next thing you know I'll be driving a minivan

It may not be Mother's Day anymore, but I just gave myself the best Mother's Day gift around.


I'm unemployed! Sort of. My new boss is a little more demanding, but at least she lets me work in my pajamas.

So there we have it. I'm officially a stay-at-home-mom. This is so weird and wonderful. It's what I dreamed of since I was little. It's something I knew was hopefully on the horizon, and here it is! There's a sleeping baby next to me, and I don't have to do anything but take care of her. It was hard to leave a job I mostly loved and all my coworkers and my salary, but I can't imagine anyone else taking care of my little girl. It's worth all the sacrifices in the world.

Now to find myself a minivan...

....kidding! Not in a million years.


a case of the mondays

It's Monday afternoon, and I'm sitting on the couch watching Chopped on Netflix, and I'm in a bad mood.

Why a bad mood?

Don't ask. Because I don't know. The dishes need to be washed? I have to wait for James to get home at 9:30 to watch our shows? I'm really, really tired? I'm hangry and the more I eat the hangrier I get? Gracie and I have had to change our outfits multiple times today? Pick one.

I was going to take Gracie to see James at work today, but after I showered, dried my hair, and got dressed, I laid down and realized I didn't have the energy to wake up the baby, put some pants on her, and get us out the door. So I'm on the couch with an iced coffee and Netflix. Such a hard life, right?

(But really, will you bring me a snack? And by snack I mean a meal. Two meals.)

Maybe I shouldn't watch Food Network shows while hungry? Whatever.

I may not have gotten Gracie out the door today, but I did take her out to coffee with some friends on Saturday. I put her in a onesie with bikes on it and matching polka dot pants. I love that she has a onesie with bikes on it. They look exactly like my beach cruiser, and the bike that used to be on my blog design. I dressed her and smiled. Bikes, blog, baby. Life is wonderful! And then James asked if I wanted a pizza for lunch, and life was really wonderful.

And then she destroyed her outfit. You know what I mean.

Then it was my turn to get dressed, but I quickly realized NOTHING FITS after you have a baby. Nothing. After the baby comes out, your fat goes back to all the wrong places. My muffin top has been supersized. My thighs could crush the Hulk. All the billowy shirts I had been planning to wear post-baby clung to me like they had separation anxiety, so I swallowed my pride and put my maternity clothes on. I know that my body is still going back to normal, but I looked at myself in the mirror, and even though I know I had a baby only a month ago, my reflection made me wonder if I was somehow four months pregnant. You never know!

(Seriously though, will you make me some waffles? I could go for waffles.)

Anyway, it should be no surprise that I'm currently wearing maternity leggings. I pledged my life to them while I was pregnant, and I'm not about to go back on my word.

So speaking of partying. Oh, we weren't? Oops. Maybe if you had brought me a snack by now I'd be coherent enough to know what I'm talking about. I digress! Anyway, I partied hard on Friday night. There was a major warehouse fire in town, and the local news covered it for three hours, and yours truly watched every minute of it. Gracie was into it too! She managed to stay awake while overly dramatic reporters interviewed people and asked the hard-hitting questions like "I heard you took a picture of the fire! What did you see when you looked at the fire?" and "Can you smell the smoke?" I was riveted.

(For real, can you make me some tacos?)

James and I have been all about some Food Network shows lately. On Netflix, of course. We're all out of Iron Chef episodes and I'm not ready to talk about that yet. We've been watching Food Network Star, and we're hooked. Being on a show like that is my worst nightmare, but I can watch it all day long. Except I can't watch it all day long because James is at work. The nerve! So I'm watching Chopped. I couldn't be on this show. I have no cooking creativity. I would panic, throw all the ingredients in a blender, and then run away.

Speaking of food, I'm reading Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan. Once again, not helping my hanger problems. But it is SO FUNNY. It's making me crave all kinds of bad food. Like hot dogs. I'm not a hot dog person, but after reading his chapter on them I was literally salivating. Maybe I should find a new book to read.

Speaking of food, again, I'm going to go scrounge around in the kitchen before The Boss wakes up. But you're more than welcome to show up on my doorstep with food.



state of the motherhood address

Listen, I promise I will stop blathering on and on about my baby with the killer hair, but as I am couch bound 23 hours a day, I have nothing else to talk about at the moment. Someday soon I will go back to yakking your ears off about books and nothingness. Promise.

You guys, the fruit of my loins--my loin fruit, if you will--has survived on this planet for one month. One month! Only 17 years and 11 months to go! What's more important is that I have survived one month as a mother. IT IS SO DANG HARD WHY DID YOU NOT WARN ME. A friend from work beat in my head that I just needed to get through the first 4-6 weeks. Every time I saw her while we were making tea in the break room, we would chat and she would always end with "don't forget! Just survive the first 4-6 weeks! It will get better!" I GET IT NOW. The first 2-3 weeks almost killed me. I baby blues-ed so hard I wanted to run away. Honestly. I didn't think I was going to make it. I couldn't sit up due to the trauma from delivery, I wanted to hack my boobs off with a chainsaw (still do!), and I was so tired I couldn't spell my own name. Things have gotten so much better. I can say that because Gracie is crying at the moment, and James is the one dealing with it.

I have never loved James more. Watching him hold our baby while she smiles at him makes me want to dissolve into the couch. I love it. When she's fussy in the evenings, he straps on the Baby Bjorn and walks her around. He's forever refilling my water and grabbing me another nursing pad and making me food and staying up to rock her to sleep after I feed her.  He works a lot of 14 hour days which means I'm usually at the end of my rope every evening and occasionally crying louder than Gracie, but when he's here, it's so wonderful. Mainly because I can have 5 minutes to myself to go upstairs and lie down with the cat and remember what life was like a few short weeks ago.

I'm turning back into a human. Slowly! I feel like pieces of myself are starting to return. Gracie napped on my chest for two and a half hours the other morning while I finished a book. I'm reading again! I swear I could feel my brain smile; it felt so good to use it again. I made myself scrambled eggs and avocado and toast for breakfast this morning. A real breakfast! We've started taking her for walks in the stroller once the evening fussiness sets in. We walked for an hour the other night. Fresh air and a baby who wasn't crying. It was heaven. Gracie and I have gone out to lunch with my mom a few times. I'm working on becoming brave enough to take her out and about with me. So far, so good. Everywhere we went yesterday, people stopped us to tell us how adorable Gracie is. I beamed with pride. I worked on her for 9 months!

She's learned very important things during her 1 month of life, like diaper changes won't actually kill her, so screaming isn't necessary. We're still trying to teach her that baths aren't a sign of the end times, but no luck so far. She's obsessed with staring at ceiling fans and will occasionally scream until I let her look out the window. She's so curious, and I can already tell she wishes she could move herself around and talk to me. I can see the little wheels in her head turning all the time. I have a hunch this child is nothing like me and will be outgoing and talkative. Let's all start praying.

I've learned some very important things too, like when she's screaming and crying because it took me half a second too long to get ready to feed her, taking a video and sending it to James to remind him what he's missing at home is quite therapeutic. This video is also available for anyone currently struggling with baby fever.

I took Gracie to her one month check up this afternoon. I felt like a rockstar for taking her by myself. I plopped the carseat in the car, turned up some sweet jamz, threw my shades on, and off we went. I felt like mom of the year. But then we got there a few minutes late, so I burst through the front door, banged my diaper bag on the carseat as a I tried to maneuver my way to the front desk, and then bonked the carseat on a chair and dropped my sunglasses like HEY WHATS UP NEW MOM HERE. When I was scheduling her next appointment, the receptionist mentioned June 3rd, and I had to clamp my mouth shut from screaming THAT'S SUPPOSED TO BE LUKE AND LORELAI'S WEDDING DAY! It was at that moment I realized I needed to stop living deep in the land of Netflix and come back to reality.

I introduced Gracie to the library once she finished spitting up on me at the doctor's office. I didn't have the stroller with me, so I broke my arms lugging the carseat around. CARSEATS ARE REALLY HEAVY. I better have some gnarly biceps from all this schlepping. I walked out of the library with one arm full of carseat and the other full of books. It was a great visual of my current stage of life. Baby in one arm, a book in the other, and chocolate in my mouth.

I was going to take her on a walk, but she's finally sleeping. I'm going to go boogey down to the new Alabama Shakes album and do the dishes. Or the laundry. Or nap? I'll nap. 


the story of gracie anne

I never took a childbirth class and I never read any books on birth. How big are your judgy eyes right now? I knew the basics and didn't want to pay for someone to tell me how to breathe during contractions. I never wrote a birth plan. There was no birth playlist aside from the string of swear words running through my head with each contraction. I worked really hard during my pregnancy to prepare myself for whatever kind of birth I might have. Complications happen, emergency c-sections happen, and I was more focused on mentally preparing myself for the unknowns than reading about birth positions. I refused to be disappointed by how she was born. My only goal was to give birth to a healthy baby, no matter the method. I spent the week before she was born listening to hymns and praying through anxiety and fear. I wanted to go into labor and delivery fully trusting God and knowing that He wrote her birth story, and nothing I could do would change it.

At every OB appointment, my doctor would shake her head and tell me my body still wasn't doing anything. She prepared me for the fact that I would probably need to be induced at 41 weeks, and I was fine with that. At my 40 week appointment, I laid on the exam table as my doctor argued on the phone with a medical assistant over the date of my induction. The hospital was completely booked, and that had never happened before. I was eventually scheduled for an April 2nd induction, 8 days past my due date, but I was on the wait list for March 30th. I was waitlisted to have my baby. The whole week before I was on pins and needles, waiting either for labor to start or a call that my induction had been moved up.

I had zero signs of labor the week of my due date, but every little twinge or Braxton Hicks made adrenaline and fear shoot through me. I spent my due date celebrating with my mom. We ate Italian food, got some good midwestern dairy bar ice cream, and I ran into an old friend I hadn't seen in years. Everywhere we went, someone asked when I was due and I got to bellow "TODAY!" in response. We used the "but it's my due date!" excuse to justify all our choices. Ice cream? Yes. Extra breadsticks? Necessary. Vanilla lattes? Required! Pedicures? Duh! Except every nail salon was booked. So I laid down on my parents' couch while my mom updated me on all the latest Real Housewives happenings.

On Friday, I woke up with the irresistible urge to finish the last few cleaning projects on my list. I went Monica Geller-style crazy. I put new dining room curtains up. I vacuumed TWICE. I washed the master bedroom curtains. I cleaned the bathroom. I stood on my tippy toes on the bed (safe!) to dust the ceiling fan blades. I put a duvet cover on the bed. And that's not even the half of it. I was so hungry afterwards that I downed 5 pieces of pizza in one Blue Bloods episode. James was convinced all my cleaning was going to put me into labor. I scoffed. He promised. I went to bed with a sore back but feeling totally normal.

I woke up at 8:00 on a sunny, cold, Saturday morning from a pain that made it feel like someone was twisting my back with a wrench. At first I thought maybe I just really overdid it on the cleaning. The pain came back sporadically through the morning, and my stomach started to cramp. I texted my mom around 11am to tell her that maybe, MAYBE, I was in very early labor. But as everyone loved to remind me, I was a first time mom, and I didn't expect anything to really happen for at least another 24 hours. And maybe I just ate too much pizza last night? I still wasn't totally convinced I was in labor. James just smirked because he knew. He just knew. After a few hours, we figured the horrendous, back-twisting pain was the start of something, so we instinctively started preparing. James ran some last minute errands while I put the finishing touches on the hospital bag. He walked back inside with a box that had just been delivered, and when I opened it I found an amazing crocheted doll of Chummy from Call The Midwife that a good friend had made for me. I thought it was hilarious that a midwife showed up on my doorstep the day I went into labor.

I always thought the women who got themselves primped and primed during labor were crazy, but I started having the same urge. I showered and did my hair, and I had the most irresistible yearning to paint my nails lavender. I was not about to show up to the hospital without purple toes. The contractions were picking up and I was starting to howl through them. By mid-afternoon I knew I was in labor, and it wasn't even because of the contractions, which, by the way, WERE ALL IN MY BACK. The dreaded back labor I've heard so much about. The contractions never started off mild like normal contractions; I could hardly breathe through the very first one I felt. My abdomen felt like it was on vacation while my back was assaulted with chisels. But it wasn't the oh-God-why-have-you-forsaken-me-pain that let me know I was in labor; it was my calmness. I had an otherworldly calm and acceptance and just felt ready to go, whereas every string of Braxton Hicks had terrified me.  I had been so scared of going into labor, but once it happened God gave me the grace and ability to get through it, which is still so cool to me.

I started timing the contractions mid-afternoon to get an idea, and they were still irregular but approximately 8 minutes apart. I was starving, and the only thing I wanted to eat was meatloaf and donuts. Naturally. I had an intense craving for both, so James grabbed the food, we turned on Friends, and we spent the next couple hours laying on the couch while I shoveled food in as fast as I could between contractions. Despite my screams every 5-10 minutes, it was almost a relaxing afternoon. We savored it as much as we could, because we figured we would be at the hospital at some point that night.

A couple hours later I was clawing the couch like a cat and screaming like a dying cow during each contraction. Each one made me feel like I was going to simultaneously throw up and pass out from the pain. Within an hour, they went from 7-8 minutes apart to 4-5 minutes apart. I finally called my doctor, and she said I would definitely be having a baby that night. I got the "but you're a first time mom" speech again, and she said to head to the hospital soon, but they may have me walk the halls before admitting me. I didn't tell her that there would be no walking, only me screaming on the floor.

We got to the hospital around 9pm. I was put in a wheelchair, and James pushed me to triage while I screamed the whole way with my childhood Mickey Mouse blanket wrapped around me. By the time we got there, my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting nearly two minutes. I was terrified I wouldn't be dilated enough, but I was already at a 5 so they admitted me immediately. At one point, they had a person from registration confirming my information, a nurse asking me questions about my pregnancy, and another nurse trying to start my IV all at once. I started crying when they would all ask me questions at once while I was in the middle of a contraction. I made no attempt to answer questions until I heard the most important one: "Are you wanting an epidural?" "YES. FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING, YES." They took me to a labor & delivery room and started pumping me full of fluids so I could get an epidural. And then the trembling started. I trembled and convulsed like I was being electrocuted.

An hour later, I was crouched on the side of the bed, clawing into a pillow while a needle went into my spine. Within minutes, the roaring pain in my back started to subside and my feet started to tingle.  The more the pain went away, the happier I felt. Whatever batch of epidural drugs they gave me contained mad levels of endorphins, because I loved everyone and everything. Had my legs worked, I would've stood up to hug everyone who walked in the room. I felt like I was at a spa. I giggled and told my family that this is so fun! I want to do it again! I wrote love letters in my head to whoever invented the epidural. John T. Epidural? I don't know, but I love him. Or her. For about two hours, I had the time of my life. I cracked jokes and teased the midwife who broke my water that I could've just brought my own crochet hook to use. The midwife said she could tell the baby had a full head of hair, and I was so excited to get her out and see for myself. So many people told me that if I got an epidural, it would slow down my labor. The nurses told me I would be in labor for many more hours because, SAY IT WITH ME, I'm a "first time mom." But darn if I wasn't fully dilated not long after getting the epidural. The pressure started slowly increasing and I started to lose my sense of joy and wonder, so I called the nurse in. I was at a 10! It's go time, right? Ha!

I always thought that once you're fully dilated, you start pushing, but apparently not. She wanted me to hang out another hour or two so the baby would get even lower and my time pushing would be shorter. I mentally cursed her as she put the bed in the most awkward and uncomfortable position to "aid gravity." I made it about 30 minutes before I felt like all my insides were about to fall out of me, and nothing I could do would stop it. She reluctantly came back in and told me I should hang out a little while longer, because some first time moms push for 3 hours. I started screaming that the baby was falling out and LADY. LISTEN TO ME SHE IS COMING OUT RIGHT NOW. She continued to ignore me while she checked the monitors and I started getting hysterical because THIS BABY IS SERIOUSLY COMING RIGHT NOW YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO ME. She came back with some "first time mom yadda yadda yadda," and then checked me and said "well, maybe it is time to push."

I knew labor would be painful, but no one warned me about pushing. I had a good epidural that numbed most everything, but for me the indescribable pressure of getting a baby out was excruciating. I made noises I didn't know I was capable of. Think of an entire dying barnyard. My dad said he could hear me screaming all the way down the hall. I remember fixating on the design of my hospital gown during each push and finding a weird comfort in my purple nails. There were handles on the sides of the bed for me to pull during each push, and I yanked on them so hard that I couldn't use my arms for two days. Every 30 seconds I begged someone to tell me how much longer it would take, but all anyone would say is that it was up to me. I wanted to strangle the nurses with my IV and glared at two of them just like the gem that I am. James and my mom took turns putting cold compresses on my forehead and giving me sips of water between pushes.

My doctor finally came in, and I was so relieved that she happened to be the one on-call. She asked me if I wanted to reach down and feel how far the baby had come, and I stunned the room into silence with my vehement "UM, NO." However, the bad news is that I could see everything in the fluorescent light cover right above the bed. They might as well have strapped a mirror up there. One accidental glance full of blood and guts and I vowed to never look up again, no matter where I am or what's happening. After an hour, I told everyone that I'm sorry but I can no longer do this. I just can't. 19 hours of labor had worn me out, the powers of the meatloaf and donuts were fading, and I felt like I had run 20 marathons from the pushing. The doctor told me the baby would be out in two more contractions, but after one more push the doctor pulled her out, right at 3:32 am on Sunday, March 29th, 4 days late but perfectly on time. The doctor immediately said "she's so much smaller than I thought she would be! You had such a big belly!" (EYE ROLLS.) The baby was extremely awake and alert and calm. Gracie weighed in at 7.7 pounds, measured 21.5 inches long, and was completely healthy and perfect and gorgeous. Seriously, so gorgeous. I can't believe she came from me.

The moments after her birth are a complete blur, but I remember a few specific things. They immediately laid her on my chest, and as they were setting her down she looked right into my eyes and grabbed my finger, like she knew exactly who I was. I looked up to my right to see James crying and the nurse helping him cut the umbilical cord. I remember saying "I did it! I gave birth! I actually did it!" over and over. I was in so much shock that I had actually given birth to a baby.

Everyone says you forget about the pain once you hold your baby. Gracie laid on my chest for about 20 minutes while I kept asking WHY DOES IT STILL HURT SO MUCH SHE'S OUT. The doctor tried to gently tell me that there had been some extensive tearing and she had to sew me up. One epidural and several shots of lidocaine later, and there was one spot that still would not go numb. While she was stitching me up, I remember feeling dizzy and woozy; everything was surreal and weird. The doctor finally told me that she was concerned about my bleeding. I heard her mention a possible hemorrhage, and one nurse told another to keep my IV in because I may need a blood transfusion. I was so preoccupied with the baby on me that I don't remember even worrying about the bleeding. They finally got it to stop, and I asked the doctor every 5 seconds ARE WE DONE YET like a kid on a road trip. After 30 minutes of stitching, she responded with everyone's favorite sentence: "I just need to finish putting this muscle back together." She said it verbatim, and that sentence will haunt me forever. It also explains the searing pain I felt while pushing and also why I was unable to sit up for three weeks. The nurses tried to distract me by helping me nurse the baby. The bleeding started again, and I told my mom I felt like I couldn't stay conscious. I kept dozing on and off for about an hour until a saint from heaven brought me apple juice and graham crackers.

Since I started labor with a crocheted midwife on my doorstep, it was only fitting that the new season of Call The Midwife premiered the night of Gracie's birthday. I turned it on in the hospital room and watched until the nurse came in and decided it was the perfect time for another breastfeeding lesson. I couldn't sleep for two nights because every time I closed my eyes, all the pain of delivery came flooding back to me and I could feel everything again. I felt phantom baby kicks in my abdomen for the first 24 hours after she was born, and the trembling from labor lasted another 48 hours. They kept us an extra day to help me recover, and my parents brought us food and coffee and I held my baby girl and cried hysterically over nothing and everything. James went on midnight runs for cheeseburgers and milkshakes and we almost felt like we were on vacation since we had cable tv to watch. I was dying to get out of the hospital, but the moment we were discharged and started to drive away, I sobbed like a maniac and wanted to run back inside. James had to take me back a few days later due to extreme pain, and he commented that it was our first little home together, and now I'll forever want to hug that hospital whenever I drive past it.

In 6th grade, we sang the hymn Grace Greater Than Our Sin one morning in school, and my teacher said she would sing that song to her niece Grace. For some reason, that moment has forever stuck with me. Even at age 11, I loved the thought of having a baby Grace. James wanted a Gracie (which is her actual name), so we had no arguments over her name and agreed on it before I was even pregnant. We knew any baby we had would be further proof of the grace of God in our lives, and that's exactly what she's been. Her name could not be more fitting. Grace covered me through the entire pregnancy and through her birth. It was so hard, but it's such a precious memory I will cherish forever, and I can't think about it without wanting to sob with joy. She came on Palm Sunday, and I can think of no better way to have started the week of Easter. Just as Jesus made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, she made her triumphant entry into our lives, and we're so glad she's here.