Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Want To See You Be Brave

The other night I saw a commercial that made my heart swell with pride to be a woman. Upon reflection, Microsoft's salute to heroic women not only caused me to be grateful for the women who have demonstrated extreme bravery in the past one year, such as the women that the commercial highlighted, but also resulted in feelings of pride for the everyday bravery that I have seen women in my own life display.

 I'd like to acknowledge the bravery shown by the women in my immediate sphere of influence, women that I call friends. Among them are women who have battled and beaten breast cancer, earned doctorates and law degrees, studied ancient languages while walking in the shadow of the Parthenon, breastfed in public, run a half-marathon for clean water in Africa, given birth in their own homes, worked undercover with the FBI to gather evidence against a child-abusing family member, donated to breast milk banks, survived the loss of a child, saved money to adopt a toddler from Haiti, published novels, home-schooled their children, served as presidents for their organizations of interest, become a finance department director with a high school education, revitalized a stagnant educational curriculum in a school system, started their own businesses, battled infertility, joined the military, lost their homes to a tornado and picked up the pieces, campaigned via the media for funding for the arts, left unhealthy relationships, moved alone across the country to get a doctorate at MIT, recovered from broken hips/arms/elbows, raised special needs children with joy, awareness, sensitivity, and a warrior's heart, cared for their partners during long-term disability and terminal illnesses, and come out to their families about their GLBT orientation. If these acts don't require bravery and determination, then I don't know what does. This post is my opportunity to give a standing ovation to the women in my life, and the men who cheer them on, as they effect positive changes within their communities, which is really where change typically begins. As the commercial states, I salute each of you and bid you to continue your deeds in the next year and the next. Glass ceilings are breaking all around us, and others are begging to be broken. My thanks to you, ladies.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Grammys

One question that I seem to hear a lot these days is, "How is motherhood with three kids going?" There really is no single answer to that question. The truth is that parenthood to three boys aged three and younger is a hilarious, fun, tiring, stressful, time-robbing, educational, spirit-boosting, spirit-trodding, eyebrow-raising, dinosaur-stepping-on, laundry-folding, laugh-until-your-sides-hurt, newborn-cuddling, pour-me-a-glass-of-wine experience! "Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?"(to borrow my favorite line from Clark Griswold). We're five weeks into it and we finally have our sea legs beneath us. I no longer (mostly) dread the days that BJ works and leaves me with all three boys, although we still welcome breathers when family members offer to take one or two of the older ones for any specified amount of time. We are rolling with the punches, engaging with each of the boys individually and together, and truly loving and surviving life as a family of five. With that said, BJ and I have learned that reality sometimes sadly deviates from our expectations. Let me give you a specific example of this by sharing the story of our evening last night in a little tale I shall dub "The Grammys:"

It all began yesterday afternoon when neither of the older two boys fell asleep during their nap time. Typically both boys nap for at least two hours, so this was unusual. We spent the evening with BJ's mom but came home at a reasonable time in anticipation of getting the boys in bed early. This, we thought, would work out well for us in the end. After George and Silas were down, we said, we could hang out with Van on the couch and watch the Grammys and drink hot chocolate (for me) and bourbon (BJ)! Huzzah! We drove home with baby Van screaming the entire way, but despite the cacophony Silas fell asleep on the way home. He transferred successfully to his bed initially but reemerged ten minutes later only to fall into a pitiful heap on the floor and announce that he was not tired. In the meantime I had just bathed Van, BJ was putting boxes of newborn and 0-3 month clothes back into the attic and moving his car into the garage, and George was doing something. Don't ask me what because he was only partially supervised (you can judge me when you have three kids under the age of 4). BJ came back into the house right about this time and I put Van into his crib with his soother on while we quickly changed Silas and George into their jam-jams, and then I took Van to the couch to nurse him while BJ put the boys to bed and read them each a book. He then came out and plopped down on the couch beside me. Deep sigh.

Then... the calling for "Daddy" ensued. George wanted to show Daddy his two Snoopy's. They both wanted water. Silas suddenly thought his bed was too high (bear in mind he has been sleeping on the top bunk with nothing but excitement for five months now). George got out of bed and pulled down his miniature bookshelf (and all of the books, of course). Several trips BJ made back into their bedroom, each time coming back out increasingly exasperated. Finally after an hour and ten minutes it grew quiet in the big boy room, and for 20 minutes we thought they were asleep as we watched our DVR'd Grammys.

I hadn't prioritized listening to music the past year, so I had low expectations of enjoying the Grammys. I must say that low expectations sometimes make a great evening because it turns out that I was quite pleasantly surprised. Just as we were getting involved in a breathtaking mash-up of Carole King's "Beautiful" and Sara Bareilles' "Brave," performed by the respective artists, here comes Silas traipsing out into the living room with a grin on his face rivaled only by the grin on Georgie's face, following about five feet behind. Skunked again! By then BJ and I were exhausted, so we let the boys snuggle up next to us on the couch and watch the Grammys. They loved the pyrotechnics, adored the "robots" (Daft Punk), and oohed and aahed during the various performances. They stayed awake with us until 11:00, at which point Van finally fell asleep so I put him down. BJ and I were determined to get our drinks in, even if we didn't actually enjoy them, so I chugged scalding hot chocolate and BJ quickly downed a whiskey while our older kids wrestled loudly in the living room at 11:15. The cold front had come in with 50mph winds, so BJ repeatedly went outside to aright blown-over trash cans while I discovered that George's snack of a fruit/vegetable squeeze had left 14 purple stains on the carpet. BJ then herded the children into bed (AKA a pallet for each of them built on either side of our bed because we wanted to battle them no longer) while I de-stained carpet, then we took a shower and finally crawled into bed at midnight with children on the floor on either side of us.

That, my friends, is our life right now with our three young boys.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Australian Open...Times Two

Photos by Sommer Marshall

A year ago I wrote the post entitled Australian Open Bam! The post discussed the nostalgia I felt as the one-year mark of George's life was signified by a tennis major, which I'd watched through middle-of-the-night feedings the year before. An excerpt:

I was watching a game on ESPN and my eyes fell on the Bottom Line, where they post scores and late-breaking news. What caught my eye was that my favorite male tennis player, Rafa Nadal, had withdrawn from the upcoming Australian Open due to a stomach illness. ESPN noted that first rounds of the Open begin on January 14th. And then Bam! there it was: the sudden memories of all of those late, late nights up watching live Australian Open tennis on TV last year while my newborn Georgie either ate or otherwise refused to sleep. OMG, I thought! My baby is about to be a whole year old! Of course it's time for the Australian Open again because it's nearly time for George's birthday! And then I closed my eyes and let the nostalgia wash over me, thinking of the hours and hours of tennis that I watched as it occurred live halfway around the world, with a sweet-smelling tiny seven-pound newborn in my embrace. I watched tennis in the hospital, in our bedroom, in our living room, while I snacked on muffins and donuts, as I quietly talked to my dad on the phone while he did overnight security work, as I watched a coyote meander through our yard, as we did "shift work" when George had no idea yet when it was daytime and when it was night-time, and as I stumbled from my warm bed to the living room with my new baby, flipped the switch for the fireplace, and nursed. All while watching Australian Open tennis. And I thank God for every single one of those middle-of-the-night moments with Georgie, and astoundingly I find myself wanting that exhaustion and peace again, for a third time with a third little one.

The last line really tugs at my heart...wanting that exhaustion and peace again, for a third time with a third little one. Even as George was a baby, I had the strong feeling that I didn't want to be done having kids, that I would crave the whole experience again. Two years later here I am, watching Australian Open tennis in the middle of the night with a third little one, Mr. Van Owen. This time I didn't forget the Australian Open was coming though; I was counting down the days until Round One began on January 13th, knowing that my favorite tennis major awaited me during long overnight hours. The kicker is that even as the exhaustion has happened this time, I haven't really minded too much. Each time that I have gotten up and flipped on the gas fireplace and sat down for a 2-1/2 hour haul with Van, I have done so with little reticence because this time I have the feeling that it's happening for the last time, with the last little one. BJ and I haven't ruled out a fourth child, but part of me thinks that destiny always had written for me three little boys to be entrusted to my care--not four little boys or three little boys and a little girl. We'll see what the future brings, however.

Five nights ago Van began sleeping through the night, right as the tennis matches were getting quite competitive and more evenly-matched. Two nights in a row he went to bed around midnight and slept until around 8:00AM, which really is music to my ears. So why in the world does some part of me feel nostalgic already? What am I, crazy? After two nights of sleeping through the night, Van and I revisited our feedings when he woke up at 3:00AM and stayed awake until 5:00AM as I nodded off while watching the Wawrinka/Berdych semi-final. Since then he has slept through the night for two more nights (which has necessitated DVR-ing of the Rafa/Federer semi-final and now the women's championship). My little boy is already growing up. Life with three little boys has been hectic these past five weeks, and I haven't had the time to myself that I have previously enjoyed as an individual; I haven't always eaten hot meals as they were ready, and I haven't always felt well when I've been tired or recovering from childbirth, but I will say this: I'm not complaining. Motherhood has been an experience like no other, and to be thrice blessed is more than any one young lady deserves. I know Van will be up again in future nights, as will Silas and George, and I can't begrudge it. It comes with the territory and affords me quality time with one of my children---time I'll be longing for when they are 19, 18, and 16 and costing me $1300 a month in groceries and grabbing the car keys and running out of the house. I just hope they sometimes kiss me on the way out and call me when they get there. Savor it, my fellow parents. It doesn't last forever.

On a side note, the Australian Open has now caused two weeks of Lorde's "Tennis Court" to be stuck in my head on a loop. Good thing I love the song. I think I'll add it to my run playlist as a forever-reminder of my early days with Van. "We're so happy, even when we're smiling out of fear.
Let's go down to the tennis court, and talk it up like yeah..."

Lorde / Tennis Court from joel kefali on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Labor Story with Van: I Am Woman (Part 2 of 2)

After 20 or 30 minutes of being at the hospital, Melissa came in and checked me and told me I was at a 5. She repeatedly told me that I was in active labor and not early labor anymore, but I didn't really believe her. It seemed too easy to be active labor because I was used to the crunch of pitocin, which had previously caused me three-minute contractions with one-minute rests in between. What I was experiencing this time was totally manageable--contractions that lasted 60-90 seconds and afforded me approximately three minutes of rest in between. With that much time to rest, I kept regrouping easily; plus, the contractions really weren't too bad yet. I remember laughing about a bumper sticker that we had seen on the drive to the hospital ("Jesus is coming. Look busy.") and talking with Melissa and the other ladies in the room about their own birth experiences. BJ was well-rested and relaxed, and he was a huge encouragement to me as the morning wore on. Melissa told me that progression is typically about a centimeter of dilation per hour, which would have put me at delivering around 2PM. Her estimate was accurate, though thankfully a bit long. I requested a birthing ball and then for some reason balked about getting on it, but somewhere when I was around 6.5cm Melissa strongly suggested I get on the ball because she thought I would progress faster that way. So I did.

On the birthing ball. Ignore the fact that my smile is a little maniacal.

Here's me during a contraction and my support team cheesing it up. You can tell where their priorities were at the moment.

A couple of hours passed and contractions were still about three to four minutes apart, but they had definitely intensified by that point. By 11:00 or so I was occasionally cursing during contractions and I was experiencing some back labor. Melissa showed Christa and BJ how to dig their fists into my lower back during contractions, and it was amazing how much that alleviated the pain. I could not have done it without an epidural if it hadn't been for those two taking shifts and frantically pummeling my lower back for the duration of each contraction. At one point BJ's hand cramped up and he temporarily stopped (realistically he probably only stopped for two or three seconds), but I delivered him an earful in that brief moment about how him stopping was not an option and how he had the easy job here. There was little mincing of words during the contractions from about a 7 on, followed by my profuse apologies during break time. Once my mom's phone rang and she began updating my dad on the status of my condition on the phone since he wasn't at the hospital yet. Bear in mind that my mom was not idly gossiping away to a random friend here--but still I barked at her during a contraction, "PLEASE STOP TALKING ON THE PHONE!" She quickly made her quiet exit. My poor mom. All throughout the later half of the morning I had the insane notion that I was not progressing at all with my labor. In fact, I kept bemoaning this fact to Melissa, tearfully making dramatic statements like, "We're not getting any closer!" and "This isn't working!" Everyone assured me that of course I was progressing, and sure enough I was. I don't know why I didn't believe it. 

I think I began losing it for real when I was at a 9. It was the only point of the labor that I truly debated getting an epidural, and my mother and sister were all too quick to offer to get the anesthesiologist. I think this was because they were weary of seeing me suffering. BJ, on the other hand, got in my face and convinced me that I was so close to the end and didn't need no stinkin' epidural at that point. Even though the pain was extremely intense during contractions, I realized that he was right. The idea of calling the anesthesiologist and then having that needle put into my back was so unpalatable to me that I quickly called out to NOT bring him in, and at that point my decision to go natural was ultimately made. I knew I would not revisit the decision in the remainder of the labor process. In the meantime, Dr. Brown was supposed to have checked in during the noon hour to break my water (he had not, in fact, kept his word on this), and so I kept laboring away at a 9 with water intact, shrieking obscenities and then apologizing for it in the following moment. It was during this point that I got back up onto the edge of the bed and abandoned the birthing ball for good. I may have called it a son of a bitch on my way up to the bed.

Somewhere along the way I began experiencing nausea during the peak of contractions, and so Melissa gave me some IV Zofran. The med didn't really seem to touch the nausea so I requested a little vomit baggy to hold during contractions. Only I could hold this baggy though, and I became seriously irritated if anyone else tried to hold it for me. Once my friend Sara did her best to stick it under my mouth when I started dry-heaving during a contraction, and I barked something at her and ripped it out from under my face, if I remember correctly. Oh, if only someone had been ballsy enough to take a video...I would never have noticed at the time, and it would be so hilarious to look at now! Christa and BJ were continuing to take turns with digging their fists into my back, and even though my skin was beginning to feel raw, I didn't care because the pain of the rawness was so much less than the pain of the back labor. Why none of us considered lotion is beyond me, but truly I can say that some of my skin was gone by the time it was all said and done.

As much as I hated the aforementioned nausea, it ultimately is what caused my water to break. This was much needed. So I was sitting on the edge of the bed at a 9, shouting at Melissa that Dr. Brown needed to get here NOW and occasionally emphasizing that point by pounding a fist into the mattress, and during one of these contractions I dry-heaved violently from the nausea and the impact popped my water bag. Melissa, for her part, was amazing. She always stayed calm, always offered her hand for squeezing, and kept repeating something I needed to hear for some reason, which was "I know. I know." She'd been in labor before, and I knew she knew what I was feeling at that exact point. Well, once my water was broken, any hell that hadn't broken loose was officially unleashed at that point. I immediately progressed to a 10 and was ready to push, and Dr. Brown still wasn't there. I repeated my screaming at Melissa that it was time for the baby, and the doctor better get his ass here right now, and Melissa surprised me by telling me what we would deliver without the doctor. This was music to my ears! In that moment I cared about nothing at all except getting Van out of me, and if it had just been Melissa, BJ, and me, I had full confidence that we would be just fine. She called in another nurse, who incidentally asked Christa on the way into the room how she was doing. Christa responded with, "Better than the lady in the bed!" which sadly for her was remarked smack-dab in the middle of a contraction. No one really remembers what was screamed in that exact moment: my mom and I seem to remember that I shrieked at her, "NO JOKING!" Christa specifically recalls, "SHUT UUPPPP!" and BJ thinks we're both wrong but can't remember what was bellowed. In any case, Christa earned her rite of passage and also quickly closed her mouth. By this point most things were a haze to me. I can tell you where a couple of people were in the room; Melissa was directly to my right, BJ directly to my left, Susan maybe off somewhere to the left, and Sara floating around the room doing her helpful thing. I don't have any recollection of anyone else, except that my dad had long since left the room because he couldn't stand to hear my pain. As my friend Amber, who delivered without meds and WITH pitocin, later remarked, "There could have been a crew filming a documentary and I wouldn't have cared." I must agree; a camera pointed at my business end would not have fazed me in that moment. I got situated back on the bed, everything was set up to catch the baby, and we would soon be pushing. The on-call doctor came into the room right about that time, a friendly man as I recall, and then about two minutes after he came in my doctor finally arrived. He said he never got a page, and I'm not sure that anyone reminded him that he had said he would come in around noon to break my water anyway. It was about 1:35PM at that point in time. Melissa instructed me to "bear down and push," and I did.

Inwardly I began panicking at that point. It was way too late for an epidural and I finally realized my lot here: I was about to push a baby out of a hole in my body with no pain meds. What if it took hours? I knew I would die if it took hours because no one could bear this pain for hours (I'm sure people can; this is just what I was thinking). But BJ hugged me and held me from the left side, Melissa was with me on the right, Dr. Brown was there to catch him, and all was going to be right very soon. I was surprised at the guttural noises coming out of my mouth during my pushes; I don't remember making them, but there they were. I could feel Van coming out, and he was swirling and turning as he did so. My first thought was that Dr. Brown was sticking his hands in me and twirling my child, but then I realized that Van was doing this on his own. I had no idea that babies turn circles as they come out of you, but indeed they do. Then an intense burning sensation, a tear (which I didn't specifically feel but was probably part of all of the pain), and gasps of happiness from everyone in the room. Though I hadn't seen him yet, I knew Van was here at last.

 My first moment seeing him

That's Melissa in the red. Cool, calm, and collected. I seriously love her.

Dr. Brown clamping the cord

One thing that people who have birthed naturally have told me is how immediately the pain stops after the baby comes out. In one sense, yes, the contractions are gone and the aptly-named "ring of fire" that happens during pushing is also over; however, once the afterbirth came flying out of me (about two seconds after Van did), I was left with the sense of a giant gaping wound where a big baby just pushed his way out. Dr. Brown needed to stitch a relatively small tear and I was quite jumpy. I was also still trembling uncontrollably (not from cold), which had started at about the point that Melissa measured me at a 6.5 earlier that morning. I felt ridiculously tired all of the sudden, and I'm pretty sure I dozed off as Van was passed around to loving arms in the room before coming back to me to breastfeed a few moments later. What was noticeable was how alert Van remained for many hours, and I attribute this to not having epidural meds in his little system. I was tired, but thankfully Van was wide awake. I asked for Motrin only once and then did Tylenol only after that; I didn't want Percocet in my breast milk and I also didn't want to be conked out in the coming days when I needed to be alert. Dr. Brown, obviously a man of little faith, told me he doubted my ability to recover without Percocet, and I asked him why he thought I would need it if I didn't need meds during labor and delivery itself? I was right. Dr. Brown= 0, Jenny= 1. Heck yeah!

I couldn't have made it through without my team. I negotiated with Van aloud during the entire labor, telling him that I needed him to help me so that I could help him, and that we could do this together. We did. We had help from BJ, who never doubted me for a second and then bragged about me incessantly afterward (I smile as I type this just thinking about him announcing to everyone that I did it without meds!); my mom, who stayed right by my side during the hard parts and didn't fight TOO hard for the epidural; my sister Christa, who encouraged me all along by reminding me of the "sweet cheeks" I would be kissing soon, forcing me to remember the endpoint of all of this, and also sacrificing her fists for my back's sake; Susan, who was total encouragement all along; my friend Sara (who is also my boys' godmother), who came in when I was at about a 7 and helped out in every way while staying perfectly calm; and of course Melissa, nurse extraordinaire. Calls and texts from friends and family were also so encouraging. 






If you're considering a natural birth, let me say this: I went in with a flexible state of mind, and it served me well I believe. I never forced myself to do anything, and I always felt like I was in control until the very end, at which point I felt like Melissa was in control so ultimately I was okay. You don't have to go in completely determined that you'll do it naturally in order to succeed in doing it naturally. I kind of surprised even myself. Afterward the nurses announced in total surprise that Van was a heavyweight...9 pounds, 5 ounces! I was so excited! I mean, now that the kid was out of me, he may as well be huge so that I have eternal bragging rights! Although I must say that if someone told me my baby weighed 9-1/2 pounds BEFORE I pushed him out, I may have opted for the epidural out of fear! But ultimately I didn't, and it all went as it should have. By the end of it I had a bleeding opening that needed to heal, a small tear that required six stitches, a raw and bruised lower back, hemorrhoids, a uterus contracting back to size during feeding sessions, and blistered, cracked nipples from the beginning stages of breastfeeding. All of it, though, was for him and so it was totally worth it. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I am woman. Hear me roar.

Van Owen: born December 17, 2013 at 1:41PM. 9lbs, 5oz, 22 inches. Roar.

My Labor Story with Van: Getting There (Part 1 of 2)

I'd like to begin my labor and delivery story with a disclaimer: events are described from my limited perspective and may not be consistent with reality in terms of the nitty-gritty details. As labor progressed, I increasingly drew more inward to collect myself and became less aware of what was really going on around me.

Following is my rendition of the story of Van's birth and my labor leading up to it. This time I got the experience that I wanted--no pitocin, which enabled me to forgo the epidural as well. I had an amazing support system present, including our moms, my sister, my close friend Sara, and of course BJ. I also got the amazing blessing of having Melissa as my labor and delivery nurse for the third time. Melissa has been with me as I have labored with all three of my children, and wouldn't you know that she was on the schedule for December 17th. I knew it too, because she and I had messaged on Facebook the night before and she told me to go into labor because she was working the next day. =)

On the evening of Monday, December 16, I wasn't tired. We got the boys to bed, BJ went to bed, and I showered and found myself really not wanting to get into bed. Instead I opened to page 1 of J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, a book I gave up on after that night because it just wasn't good, and read until about page 50 before deciding to turn in. At 12:55AM I laid down, and at 1:00AM on the dot Silas came into the bedroom crying from leg aches. I got out of bed, set him up on a pallet on the floor beside me, rubbed his feet for him, and gave him ibuprofen. Ten minutes later he was fast asleep and I was lying in bed again. At 1:13AM I felt my first contraction. I knew it was a real one and not a Braxton-Hicks, but I had already felt several real ones over the previous several days and not had any consistency with them. Nine minutes later I felt another, and then I drifted off to sleep.

At 2:03AM my eyes flew open with the pain of another contraction. I knew in the moment that I opened my eyes that this was it--Van was going to come in the next 24 hours. I waited in anticipation, and sure enough felt another stronger contraction nine minutes later. After a few of these, the time between decreased to seven minutes, then five minutes. In the meantime, I was way too excited to sleep so I browsed the internet on my phone. My friend Melissa Goss-Jentz is a very good writer and has created a hilarious and insightful blog that I enjoy reading. Previously she had given birth to her son Jannik in her very own bathroom and had recounted the tale in three separate posts that I will re-post here (Contraction, Transition, and Expulsion). For the pure sake of solidarity and encouragement, I read all three posts again and felt invigorated by this friend of mine who had given birth naturally. Foregoing the epidural has long been a dream of mine. At first the primary motivation was to keep meds from entering the baby's system and live the process of laboring and birthing as it was meant to be naturally; however, my labor experiences with Silas and George both required the use of pitocin, which is infamous for intensifying the labor experience and causing unnaturally long contractions. Having had the pitocin twice, I also had an epidural twice because I couldn't handle the pain of labor contractions hyped-up on pitocin. What I learned from epidurals is that, for me, they relieve the immediate pain of the contractions and birth itself, but I pay for it in the six weeks following. Both times I experienced intense feelings of pressure and pain at the site of the injection for approximately six weeks. Both times I feared the pain would never go away, and it truly was at a scale that impacted my ability to lift, jog, and just plain move around. It really helped me to read Melissa's story of Jannik's birth because it made a natural birth seem attainable to me. Throughout the labor process I periodically thought of Melissa and remembered that if she could do it, I could do it too. I kept telling myself that if I could just make it through the relatively few hours of painful labor, I would be home-free without epidural pain for the next six weeks. Even at that, though, I entered the hospital uncommitted, telling my nurse Melissa upon arrival that I was not closed to the idea of an epidural and would just "see how it goes."

I got out of bed at 3AM after briefly informing BJ that I was in labor. I told him to go back to sleep, that the pain wasn't bad and I was going to labor by myself for awhile from our house. Anyone that knows BJ knows that going back to sleep was not a problem for him. This was fine because I knew I would need him later and he may as well be rested. And so I got up and piddled around and did what any normal girl in labor does: finished packing, painted my nails, ate some fruit, took a few showers, Facebook messaged Melissa and told her I would be in that day and to save a spot on her patient load for me, and began getting a little giddy. I was going to meet my boy TODAY! Hooray! I texted my mom at 5:30 because I knew she would be awakening soon, and she called me right away. We talked for about ten minutes and then I got on the phone with my best friend Sommer, who was on her commute to work on the East Coast. Contractions at that point were four minutes apart and intensifying; although I could fairly easily focus on conversation still at that point during a contraction, it was becoming difficult to talk through them so as I felt them coming on I would tell Sommer to update me on something in HER life. At 6:15AM I thought it wise to go ahead and get BJ up. I knew we shouldn't wait too long to get to the hospital because I was Group B Strep positive, which would require administration of antibiotics before Van was born, and I didn't want to wait too long. I also didn't want my water to break at home. I had that experience with Silas and we had a mess to clean up afterward!

BJ got up, got our stuff loaded into the van, and we woke up our boys. The plan was to all drive to the hospital where BJ's parents would meet us. Terry would take the boys back to their house with him and Susan would stay with BJ and me in the hospital room. We left for the hospital at 7:20AM and arrived just before 8:00. My mom also arrived at the hospital at the same time as us. I immediately saw Melissa's smiling face as my mom and I walked on to the unit. I filled out some brief paperwork, was shown into my room, dressed into my fashionable backless gown, and got in the bed and waited to be told what to do next. I was totally under control at that point, laughing and joking with my family, and I expected a long road ahead that day. After all, I kept thinking, I'm only in the very early stages of labor; things will get a lot crazier than this. And they did...
Read part 2 here.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Van Owen

This is so belated, I know. But I'd like to introduce you to my little Van Owen. His pictures are all over my Facebook page, but I haven't mentioned his birth on this blog yet. I'm head over heels for Van. Already I don't know how I ever lived without him. Labor and delivery story to follow soon.
 Stats: Born December 17, 2013 at 1:41PM. 9lbs, 5 oz. 22 inches. Welcomed with open arms!