Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Email updates

Just a quick note: if you were used to getting email updates with new posts to this blog, you will have to resubscribe at the new address. Just go to addisonfrances.wordpress.com and click the subscribe link at the top right of the page to enter your email address and continue getting updates.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

new address

In hopes to get back in gear with this whole baby blogging thing, I've decided to move the blog to wordpress instead of blogger. This will allow me to do a lot more with the blog and its content and will hopefully give me the inspiration to start posting more. Therefore, henceforth, the blog formerly located at addisonkautz.blogspot.com is now housed at addisonfrances.wordpress.com.

I promise* I will get back to blogging, not only for all my loyal readers (hah!) but for personal enrichment and memory keeping. Is there such a thing as a May 9th resolution? Seems as good a day as January 1st.

*any consistency in actual creation of blog posts is not guaranteed due to likelihood of sleeplessness, natural disasters involving mountainous piles of dirty diapers, or other potential baby-related emergencies like needing to suck on a sweet little baby cheek like it may be the only thing keeping me alive.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

3 Months

Dear Addison,

First of all, this is a blatant rip-off of Heather at dooce.com, who has been writing her daughters letters every month since the first one, Leta, was born 6 years ago. But it is an excellent idea, and I'm giving her credit, so technically it's not stealing. It's just unoriginal.

Obviously I should have started writing these letters two months ago, but it's kind of hard to have a baby and do anything else you want to do, like go shopping or call friends or even bigger luxuries like brushing your teeth or eating a meal. Take this letter - I'm starting to write it 2 weeks early because there's no telling how long it will take me to get it finished. Right now you're happy all by yourself, sitting in your swing and trying to figure out what those weird stringy things are at the end of your arms (they're called hands, and apparently you find them quite tasty.) But even though you've been happy like that for over 10 minutes, there's no guarantee that it will last.

But don't take that as a bad thing - all babies get upset and cry, that's just part of it, but you are actually a very happy and very low-maintenance baby when compared to others. You sleep for about 4 hours a stretch at night and are usually pretty happy during the day, with only a few crying fits here and there, most of which can be solved by putting your face within half an inch of either one of my nipples. That isn't just a cure for hunger - you LOVE being near the bosom. So much so that it's where you sleep at night, too. I figured out pretty early on that you did NOT like being put down to sleep and there was no way you would tolerate being swaddled, but if I let you sleep on my chest, you were happy for hours. I've done all kinds of things with you sleeping on top of me. Written Thank You cards, watched hours of TV, typed a paper for school....

So you and I have been sleeping together, with the aid of your Boppy and about 5 other strategically arranged pillows, pretty much since we brought you home. And believe me, I've gotten all kinds of grief for it. And I've given myself grief for it, too, because so many people have so many bad opinions about co-sleeping, plus we've got this awesome crib thing that attaches to the bed that your Grandpa Randy and Grandma Fran spent a bunch of money on that would let you sleep right next to me that's totally going to waste. But it makes you so happy to co-sleep and we both get to sleep for hours on end and you wake up happy. Plus, I get to look down and see your smushy little face snuggled next to me, and I have to tell you, you look like a radiant little angel.

Your dad and I agree that you are the most beautiful baby ever put on the planet, and I swear you get cuter every day. I can't stop staring at you, and even when I'm right next to you, I'll sometimes look at pictures of you at the same time just because I can't get enough of your precious little face. And oh my god when you smile it is the best thing EVER! It is so hilarious because it usually just comes out of nowhere and lights up your whole face and you've even started to laugh a little. Ugh! It's so precious!!

Everyone has opinions on who you look like, but your dad and I haven't really seen where you look like anyone in particular. Except lately you've started to chunk up a little, and the other day I took a picture of you while you were sleeping because you were just so beautiful. But when I went back and looked at it, I realized that you looked an awful lot like me, and that freaked me out. Every parent wants a better life for their kid than they had, and they also envision the best possible combination of genetics for them before they are born. In my hypothetical version of you, you look like your Auntie Melissa in the face, but with my eye color, you get some of your dad's height and definitely his longer, leaner body type but absolutely NOT his nose or his calves or my thighs or my nose, either. I don't know where the hell you're supposed to get a decent nose from, really. And you're not supposed to have my chubby cheeks! Well, right now you are, but you're supposed to grow out of them! On the plus side, it looks like you're going to have my blue eyes, and that makes me very, very happy. And if you do keep the chubby cheeks, people will still think you're 18 when you're almost 30, so that's a plus.

I'm so lucky to be in Grad School right now because it's let me spend 3 days a week with you, plus weekends. We have a nice morning routine - I'll sit you in your car seat on the kitchen counter, and you'll watch me cook breakfast and stare at some little toys I hang from the cabinet knobs. Most mornings you stay happy long enough for me to cook and eat breakfast and then clean up the kitchen. The rest of the day isn't as structured yet. Some days you'll be happy in your car seat long enough for me to take a shower. I think the sound of the water and the exhaust fan in the bathroom help you relax, because sometimes you'll even fall asleep in there. During the day, we spend a lot of time changing diapers, and I try to put you in your swing or on the bed and play with you a lot. Most nights I give you a bath around 6:00 or so, and you're usually asleep in bed with me by 9:30.

At first it was hard being with you all day because there was no structure, and one of the things I love most of all in the world is predictability and structure. I love making plans. But with a baby, so many things are unpredictable. Especially moods. And every time you would cry, I would feel like I was failing as a mother because I couldn't make you happy. The way I saw it, you should never cry. It took awhile, but I learned to just let go of my need to control everything and just go with the flow and be happy. So now when you cry, I'm happy that I'm around to try to figure out what's wrong and comfort you. And when you've had your third dirty diaper in an hour, I'm happy that I get to be the one to change it. You've taught me patience, and my sweet girl, that is no small feat.

When I'm not with you, you have people virtually fighting to take care of you. Your "Auntie M" comes over on Monday and Wednesday afternoons when I have class. Thursdays and Fridays I work all day, and you go hang out with Grandma Fran. Grandpa Randy works from home, so you get to spend a lot of time with him, too. Grandma Fran had pneumonia for 3 weeks, so your Abuelita Marisol got to keep you. Samantha and Sarah both loved having you around, and all Samantha would talk about was how you had smiled at her, or how she had been able to make you stop crying by patting your head and giving you your pacifier. Those girls really, really love you. And Abuelita and Papi were so sad they only got to keep you for three weeks - they loved getting to spend so much time with you. But of course, Grandpa and Grandma were almost in a clinical depression after being away from you for so long. You're a valuable commodity, kid!

But the person that loves being with you most of all (besides me, of course) is your Papa. You guys play fun little games. My favorite is "Fighter Pilot" - he lays you down on his legs and uses your legs like they're the controls of an airplane and makes all these crazy shooting noises like he's flying you. He actually does that to help you work out gas after eating, and I know that will be embarrassing to you later, but it's true. On the mornings that I work, he stays in bed with you while I get ready, and the two of you have long conversations about how pretty he thinks you are.

So in a nutshell, your life is pretty easy right now. Eating, pooping, hanging out with people who worship you and tell you you're beautiful all day long. But no matter how much all those other people tell you they love you, I know that I love you the absolute most of all. See, the truth is, I was really, really scared to have a baby because I thought it would be hard (which it is) and that I wouldn't enjoy it or be very good at it. I thought that my life would totally change and I wouldn't be happy anymore because so many people complain about how hard it is to be a parent. And it was really hard to finally decide that I was going to take a chance and become a parent, and honestly I wouldn't have done it if it weren't for your dad. But you made me change from a sort of cynical, reluctant mom-to-be into a head-over-heels, totally in love, "how on earth did I live my life before you?" kind of mom. You made me do a complete 180. And yes, it's hard, and yes, my life is totally different, but it's the best kind of hard and the best kind of different and I'm so, so thankful that of all the babies coming into the world, I got you.

Love, Mommy

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

tweet tweet

I've spent some time over the past week putting together a photo book on Shutterfly chronicling my pregnancy. Mainly it's all of my blog entries, plus a bunch of extra pictures. I think it will be a great memento of my pregnancy that I can enjoy and also that Addison can enjoy later on. It will be especially useful if she ever has a baby of her own, I think.

Re-reading all of my blog entries has made me very nostalgic and has also made me regret not doing more blog entries since Addison has been born. It's really nice to remember all the fun little things (and some not so little and not so fun things) that happened over the course of my pregnancy. There are definitely way more fun little things going on since she has been born, but these things don't exactly leave time for writing blog entries. And finding the desire to write up a creative blog entry in the down time between nursing, diaper changes and trying to shove some food in my face doesn't happen very often.

Even though it's difficult, I am going to start making an effort to write more blog entries. I'd like to hit 1 per week, but we'll see how it goes. However, I AM going to start Twittering about what Addison's up to (I need to use that account for something, huh?) This should be a lot easier than sitting down and typing up a blog and will let me keep track of all the special things that happen day to day. If you'd like to sign up for these Twitter updates, see this post for instructions. Or you can go to www.twitter.com/kautzbaby.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

59 Days

Today our sweet little angel face is 2 months old! I think Aaron would agree with me that these past 59 days have been simultaneously the absolute best and definitely the hardest we have ever gone through. Every day, our little munchkin gets cuter and cuter, and we love her a little bit more. Some days a LOT more, like the day we saw her first real smile.

So far......

we've changed approximately 590 diapers

I've nursed her at least 472 times

Addison has met over 78 new people

she's cried for at least 118 hours

she's gone to the beach, two parks, several stores, her Auntie's house, her Grammy's house, both Grandpas' houses and visited the homes of two sets of great-grandparents

she's had her picture taken probably 2,000 times

I have kissed her approximately 5,000 times (this is not an exaggeration. I am addicted to kissing her little head and her sweet little cheeks.)

she continues to refuse to say "Dada" despite Aaron's best efforts

she continues to refuse to say "Auntie" despite Melissa's best efforts
I have heard her say "Ma" at least once, so we're halfway there!

There are probably a million different cliches about parenting ("the toughest job you'll ever love" and "you just don't understand until you're a parent") and there's a reason these cliches exist - they're TRUE!!! And taking care of a baby is hard enough, especially when you're breastfeeding, but add Grad school and a part time job (and trying to squeeze in a blog entry every now and then) and it will be a miracle if I have one shred of sanity left by the end of the year. But the crazy thing is, it's totally worth it. Last night I spent almost 2 hours trying to calm Addison down from a crying spell and wound up getting only 4.5 hours of sleep, but I was still happy this morning just because I got to wake up to her squishy little face. And honestly, who wouldn't be happy getting to see this every day?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Playing Catch Up

Okay, I have been trying to write a blog entry to catch everyone up on happenings since we had the baby, (I originally sat down to write this "catch up" blog on February 21st. I'm totally making progress!) As a compromise to a full disclosure blog entry of everything that's been happening (which would be just as likely as winning the lottery), I am going to list some important things about the baby and also some important events from the past 5 weeks.

  • Addison has a head FULL of hair. We still can't believe it, especially since I was the baldest baby on the planet. (Mama, I should have let you buy her the baby brush. I'm sorry, and you were right.)
  • She does this weird thing where she'll close her right eye and open her left, which has led us to affectionately call her "Our Little Popeye"
  • Ringo hasn't freaked out on us! He's still sleeping in the bed with us every night, and will come running to check things out when the baby has one of her serious crying fits. He's even helped oversee a few diaper changes. He did, however, give her knee a curious little kitty bap with his paw about two weeks ago. Let's just say he won't be doing that again if he knows what's good for him and where his yummies come from.
  • Aaron discovered her favorite song so far, a dance mix track by this guy BT, called "Loving You More." He has also discovered that she doesn't seem to like Indian music, which bummed him out.
  • She makes this funny noise that's kind of a stuttering sigh that sounds, as Aaron described it, "Like when you're trying to squeeze the last of the mustard out of the bottle."
  • This kid makes the cutest little smush faces when she's kind of asleep, especially right after I've finished nursing her, and she puts her hands up near her face in these little Glamour Shot poses like she's about to be photographed. Or sometimes like she's lying in state at her funeral. Morbid, but kind of dramatically funny.
  • Aaron is much better at calming Addison down than I am. In the hospital, he could just talk to her and she would stop crying. Maybe it's the bass in his voice.
  • She lost her umbilical cord stump thing really early - it was gone by her 2 am feeding the Sunday after we brought her home.
  • Her first overnight visit was to meet her Mimi (Aaron's mom) and Grammy (my mom) and she did really well, up until the whole sleeping at night thing. Three hours of wailing baby and Mama and Nana STILL wanted us to stay longer. Crazy grandmas...
  • She handles baths really, really well - thank you sweet baby Jesus!
  • I still haven't cut her fingernails! I've been trying to build up the courage while keeping her hands covered as much as possible. And don't worry, she doesn't have talons - I've nibbled the ones that needed nibbling down.
  • Auntie M got the privilege of being Addison's first babysitter (shocker!) and is watching her on the afternoons I have class. I don't know who loves it more - me, for not having to worry about the baby while I'm away, Melissa because she gets some QT with the baby, or Addison because Melissa apparently has an infinitely snuggly bosom that she will camp out on for hours.
  • This kid has some serious mood swings - Tuesday I was having an emotional meltdown because she would NOT let me put her down, and this was on top of the fact that we still can't get her to sleep in her co-sleeper at night (she will sleep in three places - in her car seat, in her swing, or in someone's arms) so I had literally been holding her for over 24 hours. Then Wednesday, she was amazing and I barely held her all day! She even slept in her co-sleeper a little this morning! I fully expect that this good behavior won't continue. I'm no fool.
  • I can't stop kissing her! Right now, she's asleep in her sling (which I'm wearing in a perfectly safe manner, don't let the news reports freak you out!) and I have to lean down every few minutes and kiss her smushy little face. It's too irresistible! And she's in her sling because she woke up from her swing nap screaming bloody murder for no apparent reason and it took me 15 minutes to calm her down by holding her. See, I told you I knew the good behavior wouldn't continue.
  • She'll go for about 4 hours between her feedings at night, so I'm getting a good 6 hours or so of sleep. Still nowhere near my ideal 9 - 10 hours, but that ship has sailed until this kid turns 18. At least.
  • So far, we haven't experienced any total meltdowns while we've been out and about - she's tolerated several restaurants, the mall, the downtown farmers' market and tons of trips to Publix, Target and Babies R Us.
  • She's started to smile! She smiled at Aaron a few times on Monday (his birthday!) and on Wednesday, she smiled at me. It's still pretty elusive, but we're positive it's not just gas. Hoping to see it continue a lot more soon.
  • Most importantly, she's absolutely GORGEOUS and we couldn't possibly be more in love with her. Even at 4 in the morning.

a picture of her from this morning in her cutie little elephant sleeper

Sunday, February 14, 2010

One Lucky Lady

Labor Story Part 2

Before continuing, please read disclaimers from Part 1 here.

Okay, so I checked my contraction timer on the iPhone, and I actually called Leslee at 6:00 (I know, because there’s a break in the contraction timing while I was on the phone) but this just shows that everything that came next happened super, super fast.

At this point, we had decided that we would go to the hospital and Leslee would meet us there. Aaron was showered, and started packing the car, and my contractions were about 3 minutes apart. By 6:20, I had stopped timing my contractions because they were a minute and a half apart. In 20 minutes, things had gone from me politely saying “Let’s go to the hospital just to check and see” to me, white-knuckled grip on the bathroom countertop, growling at Aaron, “We need to go to the hospital NOW!”

Our doctor had told me to come to the hospital when I could no longer talk through the pain of a contraction, which was about the point I had reached when I called Leslee. I had assumed that using that rule would give us plenty of time in the hospital, where we would spend hours with all the pacing and the breathing and the pain experiencing. Well, apparently my body decided that I should go through all of that in the span of about an hour.

By the time I was heading to the car, each contraction was making me pretty miserable, even worse when sitting down, so the car ride wasn’t much fun. To make matters worse, I had no idea how far along I was, and because I had only been in labor for what I thought was 5 hours tops, I thought that I had a long, long way to go. I also thought that since I was only 5 hours into labor, that I was only maybe into active labor, which meant my pain had yet to get as bad as it was going to be. The prospect of pain that was going to increase substantially AND continue for possibly another 24 hours seemed pretty unbearable. So unbearable, that I told Aaron that if I got to the hospital and I was only 3cm dilated, I was going to kill myself. Okay, so I was kidding about that, but I knew that if I hadn't progressed very far, I didn't think I'd be able to say no to the drugs.

We arrived at the hospital after breaking several traffic laws, and Aaron dropped me off at the front door to go park the car. We decided we would leave all of our things in the car in case they wound up sending us home. While Aaron parked the car, I held on for dear life to the entry door handle while I had another contraction. Then I had another contraction while we were in the elevator. Then another while we were at the check in desk. Then another waiting in the lobby. All in the span of maybe 5 minutes.

Sidenote: How frigging stupid ARE we??? My contractions were a minute and a half apart and we STILL thought, “Well, maybe this isn’t it. Surely we shouldn’t bring in our bags.” Na├»ve? In denial? I don’t know, but we obviously missed the writing on the wall.

I distinctly remember looking at the lobby TV, which was on the ABC local news. Marco Villareal was talking about something newsworthy (and probably butchering whatever the story was. Dude can’t read a teleprompter) and the clock on the TV said 6:44. There was a poor girl in the lobby who looked to be about 8 months pregnant, definitely not in labor, and waiting with her mother. After I had my lobby contraction (which included a lot of moaning while bending over and gripping the dining table in the lobby and rocking back and forth from foot to foot while Aaron rubbed my back and directed my breathing) I looked over at this poor girl - the look on her face was like she was willing her baby to just be sucked back up into her body so she wouldn’t have to go through childbirth! If I ever see her again, I’ll have to apologize.

After the lobby contraction, I went to the restroom because my contractions still made me feel like I needed to use the bathroom. Aaron waited outside the door in case anything crazy happened while I was in there. After a minute or two, the nurse came to wheel me back to triage, but I couldn’t get up from sitting on the toilet. Every time I tried to move, I would have another contraction that would freeze me in place. I was finally able to get up and leave the bathroom to be wheeled back to triage so they could check my progress.

Let me just tell you how much fun it is to try to change into a hospital gown during hard core labor contractions! Almost as fun as trying to lie still on a hospital bed while a nurse puts a hand up your privates and feels around checking for dilation. And as if the first time wasn’t fun enough, I had to be checked by a second nurse because Nurse Cervix Checker #1 was having some trouble. I quote, “I can’t find the edges of your cervix – all I feel is head.” I don’t know how I remember that, or how I remember that the second nurse had much smaller hands, because I was in so much pain. I think this was also the point where they told us she had a lot of hair, which was a TOTAL surprise. It was sometime during all the checking and writhing in pain that Leslee arrived in our triage area, just in time to hear the completely unexpected from Nurse Cervix Checker #2:

“Adrianne, you’re completely dilated. It’s time for you to have the baby.”

Um, excuse me? Whooza jigga what? In my mind, I was thinking there’s no way this is possible! I’ve only been in labor for 5 hours! (12 if you counted from the “weird” contraction I had the night before.) I’m supposed to be in labor for a long time! We have to do a lot more breathing, I’m supposed to get in the Jacuzzi tub, there’s tons of labor positions we haven’t used, and I haven’t even screamed at Aaron yet. What the hell is going on???

Even though I was in total disbelief, the nurses were adamant – I was so close they wouldn’t even let Aaron go to the car to get our camera. Thank goodness Leslee had brought her camera in with her! Apparently, my condition sent the labor floor into a frenzy. Leslee had no idea how far along I was when we talked on the phone, and at that point I had been pretty calm, so her husband, Dan, had come upstairs with her when he dropped her off to say hello to Aaron and I. He quickly decided to retreat when he heard the noises I was making outside of my triage room curtain (smart man!) but apparently while he was leaving, there were a lot of people running around, pulling charts and grabbing equipment to take to our labor room. I kind of wish I had seen all of the excitement. It sounded very much like an episode of ER....

A lot of what happened after that is a blur. I remember being on all fours on the hospital bed for awhile, which is when my water finally broke (See? I was completely dilated and my water still hadn’t broken – that isn’t always a sign of impending labor!) Aaron and Leslee were on my right, and there were a lot of nurses buzzing around. I asked them if I had to keep my gown on because in the position I was in, it wasn’t really serving much of a purpose. The rest of the time, I just labored in a bra, which was much more comfortable.

I remember when they told me that Erin was on her way, I was really, really relieved that she was the midwife on call and not Little Miss Membrane Stripper. When she got in the room, I exclaimed, “I’m so glad it’s you!!!” She had apparently heard the story from the other midwife, Kim, so she was relieved for my sake as well.

Before Erin got there, I was still just writhing around and having contractions every few minutes, but when she arrived, they let me start to push. Everyone says that pushing during childbirth basically feels like you’re pushing during a bowel movement, and I’d say that’s fairly accurate. However, it reaches a point where it turns into something different, something that feels a lot more serious, and it’s pretty damn scary. I finally got the hang of it when one of the nurses told me that I was doing a good job, but that I kept backing off right when the pushing was getting productive. She told me I had to “push past the fear” and that’s when it clicked and I felt like I knew what I was doing.

Of course, what I was doing was pretty damn hard, and I wasn’t even having to hold up my legs. During contractions, I would grab my thighs and pull them toward me to get leverage, but in the breaks between contractions, Leslee and the other nurse were holding my legs up for me. Aaron was kneeling on the floor, holding my hand and keeping me cool by wiping my head with a wet rag. I was lucky that I had pretty long breaks to rest between contractions and I felt pretty good, considering. During contractions and pushing, it was like I turned into a completely different person – I was working SO hard, and it was so tiring, and I was doing a lot of very loud, very angry groaning that later turned into screams. (After watching all of those baby delivery shows, I had told myself I wasn’t going to be a screamer. Yeah, right. And good luck to you if you think you won’t be, either.) But in between, I was pretty out of it, just laying with my head right by Aaron’s with my eyes closed.

At some point, they asked if I wanted to feel the head, and honestly, even if I had wanted to, I don’t think I could have maneuvered myself to get a hand down there. I did have them wheel over a mirror and I looked in it for a second, but it wasn’t an image I wanted to commit to memory, plus I was sort of busy with the leg grabbing and the pushing. Aaron said he felt bad for me because I would push so hard, and the head would appear, but when the contraction was over, it would just disappear again and it was like all the hard work was for nothing.

After pushing for awhile, I was getting pretty tired of it. I even asked Erin, “How many more pushes do I need? I need a number! I want this to be over, and I need to know how many more times I have to push.” She humored me and told me, “I think two more good pushes will do it!” Like she honestly had any idea and like I could even count to two at that point. But it made me feel better.

Finally, I had gotten sick of the entire thing, and I told myself, “I’m getting this head out the next push if it freakin’ kills me!” I know everyone says the shoulders are worse than the head, but in my mind, if I could just get the head out, I would be fine and it would all be over. One more big push, and I was able to get the head out, and after that the next thing I remember was her being completely out and it was as if the whole world changed. I felt totally great, totally excited and full of energy – God bless adrenaline! I couldn’t stop smiling! I kept saying, “I can’t believe I did it! I can’t believe I did it!”

And I still really can’t believe I did it!

Addison was born at 8:04 am. For all intensive purposes, I was in labor for only about 7 hours, and I was able to have the drug free delivery that we wanted. I only had to have a few stitches afterwards, and I didn’t even wind up having an IV put in. I had the easiest delivery EVER! Yeah, it was painful, but the pain was never unbearable. Pushing was the worst, but that only lasted maybe 45 minutes. Honestly, I’m the luckiest woman on the face of the earth.

I’m also fully aware that I’m the mom other moms hear about and want to punch in the face. I'm very, very careful about who I tell labor details to. Strangers get a two-sentence answer on how my labor went: "I was really lucky. It went pretty fast." When people hear I was at the hospital for under an hour and a half, I get a little afraid by the looks on their faces. Seriously, I made that mistake at my breastfeeding support group the other day when talking to a friend in mixed company. The room got pretty silent, and one girl looked like she would have killed me if she weren't in the middle of nursing. I won't make that mistake again.

Bottom line: I had a great pregnancy, an amazing delivery and now I have the cutest baby EVER! Besides the lack of sleep, I totally recommend this being a mom thing!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Didn't Know I Was in Labor

This entry will contain Part 1 of my birth story, but before I get started, there are two disclaimers:

Disclaimer #1: Birth is a messy process, and in this blog I will give a fairly detailed description of the process. If you think this is gross, I’m sorry. Feel free not to read it. Trust me – I’m leaving PLENTY of stuff out that you wouldn’t want to know about.

Disclaimer #2: Birth is not an “easy” process, and there are many, many women that struggle for many, many hours, or even days, when they deliver their babies. These women are superheroes and I am in no way in the same league with them. You’ll see why…..

Now on with the story! (oh, Disclaimer #3: this will be long. Thus the 2 parts.)

As loyal readers of my little blog know, I was convinced that Addison would not be early, and in fact, I thought she would be late. Our due date was Friday, February 5th, but Aaron was betting labor would start on Saturday, February 6th, and I thought the 8th. At work on Friday, I told my friends (who are also my co-workers) that there was no way this baby was coming any time soon. Hah!

Friday afternoon and evening, I was experiencing some leaking “down there” and spent hours trying to figure out if my water had broken or if I was just having bladder issues. This conundrum is pretty common, and all the pregnancy books and websites have a portion on “how to tell if your water has broken” because, contrary to what you see in the movies, your water won’t necessarily break all in a single, dramatic gush. However, after a phone call or two to our doula, Leslee, and watching the situation overnight, I figured out that the baby had probably dropped and was squishing my bladder and causing the problem.

This little incident was enough to give Aaron and I a reality check – this baby is coming! Obviously she wasn’t coming at that moment, but it made us realize that the labor and delivery that we had been preparing so rigorously for was quickly approaching. That left us in a really, really weird mood all weekend, feeling as if we were in a sort of limbo. Saturday evening, after basically sitting and staring at each other for over an hour, we decided to get out of the house and have dinner at our favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant.

Sunday, the purgatory continued, and in a sort of devil-may-care move, I decided we were having pizza for dinner (something we hadn’t done since I had been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes because of the high carb count.) While I was online ordering the pizza, I felt a little twinge, kind of like a cramp, in my lower abdomen, and noticed that I was simultaneously having one of the practice contractions I had been having off and on for a week or so. I told Aaron, “My Braxton Hicks contractions have changed. They used to just make my upper stomach really tight, but now I feel them a little bit lower, too, and it’s kind of crampy.” That evening we settled in and watched Kung Fu Hustle (a great movie, by the way) and I relished every single scrumptious bite of the two slices of pizza I was allowed to eat.

Um, yeah, pretty sure in hindsight that the "weird" Braxton Hicks contraction was my labor starting.

Sidebar: For those of you that don’t know, labor is broken up into three stages: the first stage is all of the contractions and dilating, second stage is the pushing, and the third stage is post-labor. The first stage is further broken up into early labor, active labor and transition. When you read all the information on labor, they tell you that early labor can last up to 24 hours and is the easiest. The active phase lasts for 4 to 5 hours and is when things start amping up in the pain area. The transition phase is the shortest, just a couple of hours, but it’s also the hardest. Our childbirth class teacher explained that this is when women start saying things like, “This is a really bad idea. I don’t think I want to do this anymore.” For first time mothers, labor is usually longer than for women who have done it before.

Now back to the story…

Around 1:30 Monday morning, I woke up having stomach cramps and felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. I came back to bed, had some more cramps and headed back to the bathroom. Around 2:00, Aaron woke up wondering what was wrong. I explained to him what was going on, and we both assumed that I just had an upset stomach and that things would die down once everything was “worked out” so to speak. I mean, I had eaten Mexican food AND pizza in a 24 hour period. It seemed like a no-brainer.

But after an hour, I was still having the cramps. I decided to start timing them just to see if there was a pattern. I had downloaded an iPhone app months ago that kept kick counts and also was a contraction timer. The timer asked me if the pain was “mild, moderate or firm”, and I selected “mild” since I still just thought it was cramps. At this point, the cramps were about 10 minutes apart, but I still thought I was just experiencing digestive distress. When you take childbirth classes, they teach you all about the phases of labor and a lot of time is spent talking about pain and how to deal with it. Also, I’ve watched probably 100 episodes of A Baby Story on TLC, so I’ve seen many, many women in labor. They all seem like they’re in a lot of pain and basically want to die. I honestly never had any idea that I wouldn’t know I was in labor because I thought the pain would be really intense. The only people that are in labor and don’t know it are those insane women on I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant who don’t think they’re in labor because….they don’t know they’re pregnant! Except for me.

Until about 3:00, I just felt like I had a crampy stomach. I continued to lie in bed, and Aaron rubbed my back and helped me with breathing while playing some relaxing music, specifically Jonathan Goldman’s Chakra Chants (so relaxing that this music is basically the audio equivalent of taking a roofie.) I continued to time my cramps occasionally, but didn’t see a pattern, so I still didn’t think it was labor. Aaron and I joked that if we were timing my poop, we were going to both feel like idiots. We had spent awhile debating over whether my pains were labor, and if they were, what we should do. We decided that Aaron would take me to my doctor’s appointment that morning at 8:30 because if I really was in labor, I shouldn’t be driving. Plus, it would be pointless for him to go to work if that was the case.

At some point, I felt like things were getting more serious and started to believe I was actually in labor. I started timing what I would now term “contractions” and by 5:30, they were about 3.5 minutes apart and I had started classifying them as “moderate” on the contraction timer. Even though I thought we still had awhile to go (and so did Aaron), I called Leslee and told her my status. We had originally planned to stay at home as long as possible, but I was starting to wonder exactly how far along I was and how far I was dilated, so I decided that I wanted all of us to go to the hospital so I could get checked. Aaron had already taken a shower, so he started to pack all of our bags in the car “just in case” we wound up staying at the hospital.

This was at 5:45, and little did I know how quickly things were about to amp up…….

Bring the Pain!

Before I discuss the actual details of our birth experience, I feel like I should tell you about our Birth Plan. Part of our preparations with our doula, Leslee, was making a birth plan, which is basically an outline of our wishes for the type of birth we would have. It’s made up of all kinds of questions about what you do want and don’t want to happen during your labor and delivery, and covers everything from your pain medicine preference to who you’d like in the room to the lighting you’d like. Basically, it’s a Type A planner’s dream!

Some people think birth plans are a waste of time and only set up unrealistic expectations and eventual disappointment because it is highly unlikely that you will have the exact labor that you want. I thought it was really helpful because it made me think about and research things that I never would have thought about beforehand.

Now, when I first got pregnant, my initial thought was that I would definitely be getting an epidural. I mean, they were invented for a reason, and I was TERRIFIED at the idea of the pain of labor. I just saw no reason to be in pain if it wasn’t necessary. And to be completely honest, I had, on occasion, mocked others and their self-righteous attitudes surrounding their choice for natural childbirth. You know the type – people who brag about not using drugs and look down their noses with complete disdain at those who resorted to pain meds as if they had just committed some sort of crime. (Obviously this isn’t everyl natural child-birther, but there are plenty around.)

I don’t know when I started to change my mind, but I did a LOT of reading about childbirth during my pregnancy, and by the time Aaron and I took our childbirth classes (which were extremely non-biased on the subject of pain meds) we had decided that drug-free was the way to go, and that we actually didn’t want ANY medical intervention if necessary (no Pitocin to promote contractions, no Cervadil to ripen my cervix, no breaking my water – no interventions at all.) The reason I decided this was a little fear driven – I absolutely did NOT want to end up having a c-section, and everything I had read said it is a slippery slope from medical interventions to a c-section. Drugs = monitoring, which equals lying in the bed and not being able to move around and help the labor progress naturally. The drugs can also lead to increased blood pressure, slowed labor and all sorts of other problems.

In order to keep from having medical interventions, we planned to stay at home as long as possible during my labor, staying comfortable, eating light snacks and basically staying off of the hospital’s radar for as long as possible so as to prevent their meddling. Also, I had chosen and obstetric practice that is very natural childbirth friendly (even though that wasn’t my plan at the time) and has 4 nurse midwives on staff, which I thought would be even better since midwives are typically less likely to push you to use medication to speed the process along.

Now, just because this was the decision we had made doesn’t mean I had any confidence in my ability to live up to the plan. I had no idea what the pain of labor would be like or how long it would last, and honestly, I’m not in very good shape. I thought it would be like showing up to a marathon without training for it. Around Week 38, I was really starting to trip about my readiness for the event, even though Leslee and Aaron kept telling me they thought I was going to do great. I finally had a tearful breakdown with Aaron and told him that I really was worried I wouldn’t be able to go through labor without the drugs and that I would disappoint him. Sweet husband that he is, he gave me the best motivational speech and told me that I’m a hard worker, that I always kick it into gear when the time comes, and he knew that I had the strength to be able to stay with our plan if I put my mind to it.

So that was the plan – despite everything I had thought before I got pregnant, I had decided and we were ready to have an all natural labor!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What to Expect: Week 40

I’m sure everyone knows why Week 40's blog entry is late – the unexpected happened last week, and we had baby Addison 4 days early! I’ve been trying to get it together to blog about it, and I promise I will as soon as possible. It’s just so hard when there’s sweet little baby cheeks to suck on!

Addison Frances

born February 1, 2010 at 8:04 am

7 lbs, 20 1/4" long

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I'm feeling a little nostalgic about the pregnancy since it will quickly be coming to an end, so I sat down this afternoon and started reading over the blog from the beginning. Besides it being really fun to read, I realized that there are plenty of loose ends left to tie up on here. I'll try to address some of these topics in the next week or so while this is still a pregnancy blog and not a new mom freaking out blog.

First up, back in June I mentioned the super cute baby apparel item called BabyLegs (see here) and that they were a "must" on the items to purchase list. I had been putting off buying them because they're a little pricey ($12/pair. Yikes!) but the lovely people at BabyLegs had a big buy one/ get one sale last month and I stocked up!!
These are the styles that I bought. CANNOT wait to see some chubby little baby legs filling them up! (I actually bought 16 pairs, including some in a pale yellow, and yes, even a pink pair)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What to Expect: Weeks 38 and 39

You would think at this point the baby isn't really doing much in there besides getting fatter and practicing her high kicks. I mean, how much more developed can she get after 37 weeks of growing and becoming an entire human being? But there are still important things going on, including the production of surfactant, which coats her lungs and will keep her lung sacs from sticking together when she first starts to breathe. Sounds pretty crucial, don't you think?

Also, she's shedding the lanugo (downy hair) and more importantly to Aaron and I, the vernix. Don't remember what vernix is? It's the gross, white, cottage cheese/wax stuff that the baby has been covered in for awhile to protect her skin from getting all wrinkly and water-logged. Babies that are born early are still covered in it, which we did not realize until watching the horrifying birth video, in which a scary, ghostlike orb began to protrude from the mother's nether-regions like we were watching some science fiction movie, and Aaron and I began to FREAK OUT!!! I distinctly remember leaning over to him and whispering, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT BABY??????" After seeing the birth of cottage-cheese alien ghost baby, I ordered Aaron to make sure that if our wee one comes out covered in that stuff, they are to clean her off before handing her to me. I really don't need that to be my first mental image of my poor child.

**CAUTION - beyond this point, this post uses the words cervix, dilation, membranes and other potentially gross and/or frightening phrases related to my lady parts. If this qualifies as "TMI" for you, then stop reading here. Seriously, I'm not responsible for your queasy stomach.**

I had my first internal exam last week, and it wound up being a doozy! I was a little traumatized by the whole thing, as some of you reading this have already heard. Here's what happened: I knew according to the lovely little handbook my OB's office gave me at my first visit that I would be getting internal exams from this point forward to check for dilation (how open my cervix is) and effacement (how thinned out it is.) These are indicators of progress toward labor and basically let the doctors know that everything is proceeding as it should toward the baby exiting the womb. However, I was surprised when it didn't look like the midwife I was seeing that day was going to do the exam and started to have me leave after only measuring the uterus externally and listening to the heartbeat of the baby. When I asked about the internal exam, she said she'd be happy to do one "if I wanted her to." Well, it said in their book that they should do one, plus I've been paying them $25 a visit for the past 10 months just to have them spend 5 mintues with me on a more and more frequent basis and this time I wanted my money's worth! So I said yes, please, I would like you to perform an internal exam.

I don't know if she took that as a challenge or what, but HOLY CRAP, did she give me an internal exam! She was pushing down really hard on the baby's bottom (which is up near my ribs) and then pushing up really hard into you-know-where. Seriously, it took my breath away. She told me that I was 1cm dilated, and then I asked her, "Is this what it will feel like in the hospital when you guys check me? Because this SUCKS!" Her answer was when things started to go really wrong......

"Well, this is basically what it feels like, but I went ahead and stripped your membranes which will hopefully get labor started."

Excuse me? Labor? I'm 3 days away from being 38 weeks and you're talking about LABOR??? I practically squealed at her, "I DON'T WANT TO HAVE HER EARLY!!!!" at which point she said that really all it would do is make me have more "productive" contractions.

Basically this is the point where the freak out began, first with an inability to speak, then with a few frantic phone calls describing my violation to my husband and my sister (and my dad, who should have warned me about the internal exams since his wife had JUST gone through them!), deteriorating into Google searches of "stripped membranes" to find out how fast I would go into labor now that this insane woman had stripped my membranes over two weeks before my baby was due, and reading horror stories about how she may have broken my water accidentally and my amniotic fluid was going to leak out and cause my baby to be stillborn. (Okay, that was just one person, and several doctors had responded to her post saying one was not related to the other, but in the moment, I was TRIPPING!)

Here's the thing: it wasn't that stripping the membranes is a huge deal when it comes down to it. It will only help you go into labor if your body is ready. The problems are that #1: she didn't ask me if I wanted it performed before she did it. (And I assure you, my answer would have been NO!) #2: She didn't explain the procedure at all, even after she had done it #3: I didn't know about any of the side effects until afterwards (Aside from me completely losing my mind in unsubstantiated fear, another lovely side effect of the membrane stripping was spotting, so I had that to enjoy for 3 days. Seriously, lady? YOU SUCK!)

Bottom line, this incident totally destroyed my trust in this woman and I would like her to stay as far, far away from my vaginal area as possible, and considering she could potentially deliver my baby, that's kind of a problem.

Of course, this week I had another visit scheduled, with another internal exam imminent. I went in with a plan to discuss last week's horror show with Kim, the midwife I was seeing that day. After explaining the situation, she was totally on my side - I should have been asked if I wanted the procedure performed AND I really shouldn't have been offered the procedure in the first place at this stage of my pregnancy. She made me feel a lot better about the situation, assured me that the midwife I had the problem with is very knowledgeable and competent despite her rather gruff bedside manner, and gave me an internal exam that was only slightly uncomfortable (which was pretty impressive considering I was still having flashbacks about the one from the week before.)

The only problem at this point is that as there are only 3 midwives currently on rotation, so there is still a 1 in 3 chance that Little Miss Stripped Membranes could deliver the baby. It's just the luck of the draw and I'll get whoever is on call that day. And next week, it won't be Kim because her daughter is having surgery and she's taking the week off, so that raises my chances to 50/50 that I'll get the lady I don't like. So right now I'm focusing all my energy on hoping beyond hope that I get one of the two ladies that I like and if not, formulating creative ways to keep the membrane stripper out of the room as much as possible. I'm thinking a lot of crank calls to the nurses' desk may be in order, so have your phones on standby, people!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

All Boys Allowed

For our "big" baby shower, I decided (and convinced Aaron) that we should go co-ed. There were several reasons I thought this was a good idea: #1 - I'm not one of those girly-girls that wants to sit around and play those crazy baby shower games and eat tiny little tea sandwiches and be surrounded entirely by pink. #2 - I'm not the only one having this baby! Aaron is just as involved as I am (I mean, except for not having a giant uterus with a baby in it) and he deserves to celebrate just as much as I do. Plus his friends are cool and open-minded and won't have an aneurism if they have to do something that doesn't involve sporting events and crushing beer cans on their heads.

So, my sweet sister and my three surrogate parents / best friends (and former employers) Mark, Paula and Leslie threw us an awesome co-ed baby shower disguised as a cocktail party this past weekend. Melissa took care of the invitations and the decor, Mark and Paula did the food (of course!) and Leslie provided the location and the booze. They get extra brownie points for hosting this shower on the coldest weekend I think Tallahassee has ever experienced - it was in the teens that night, and the high temperature was maybe 45 degrees. Brrrrrrr!

Special thanks to Jessie for being my dedicated paparazzo for the evening and taking all these awesome pictures!!! Of course, as with all parties, the evening went by too fast and we didn't get to spend as much time as we wanted with everyone (or get pictures with everyone), but thank you ALL for coming and helping us celebrate. We have the BEST friends!

with Leslie
my "sissies" helping me with our gifts
Morgan, the life of the party, especially when she busted out "Mr. Roboto". And a special shout-out to Morgan's mommy, Susanna, for driving them up all the way from Naples. Now that's love!
flip flops from our favorite beach worshipper, Leslie

getting baby advice from Kelly and Conner (and doing God knows what with my hand)

how cute is my hubby?

With Aunt Wanda, Tracy and Jason

Daddy and all his girls

Excited Future Grandpa

yummy food! They did an awesome job at making sure the menu was low carb and okay for my diet

Mark and Paula, my two favorite chefs

with future "Grandma Fran"

Chatting with my mom and Nana

With Nana and Pepa. I'm their second Grandchild, and Addison will be their second Great-Grandchild.

the Kautzes

Jessie, crouching down to give the belly some love

Dan, Leslee (our doula) and Sondra. Dan and Leslee are expecting baby #1 in July!!!

showing off the bellies

Baby Belly Farewell Tour

I'm trying to take as many belly pictures as possible before it's gone. Below are a couple of pictures from the past month, including Christmas Day pictures with my mom and Melissa (and my double chin.)

January 4

January 14 (a little bit bigger, but not much)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What to Expect: Week 37

This is it, people! The big kahuna, the final fruit, the moment we've all been waiting for..... the baby is officially a watermelon! Now, I have expressed my concerns about the accuracy of these comparisons in the past and have decided it's more of a length thing than a weight thing (especially since the doctor guessed that the baby weighs between 6 - 6 1/2 lbs right now, which would be a pretty tiny watermelon.) However, if you count the size and weight of all the extras (uterus, amniotic fluid, placenta... yummy visuals, I know!) I think watermelon is pretty right on. This girl is HEAVY! A quick stroll through the mall with Melissa yesterday pretty much wore me out. And the overall swelling is surely adding to me feeling huge - I can't wear my rings anymore, and most days of the week I have what Aaron and I affectionately call "Hobbit Feet." Oh, yeah, I'm super sexy!
As of tomorrow, January 15, the baby is officially full term. That means that she can safely be born at any time without being considered premature or having any of the risks associated with prematurity. When most people discover that I'm only 3 weeks from my due date, they ask me, "Are you ready?" assuming that at this point the "giant pregnant woman just dying to get this freakin' watermelon out of her I don't care how you do it!" stereotype is in play. Well, although it is watermelon-esque, the belly isn't unbearably huge, and as I've said before, I've really enjoyed being pregnant. So as far as I'm concerned, this kid can keep marinating until her due date (or anytime in the following week) and I will be perfectly happy.
As far as that whole "ready" thing, um, yeah..... Is anyone every really READY for this? Practically, we have pretty much all the "stuff" we need for the baby (thanks to our awesome baby shower this weekend which will be fully discussed in a separate entry.) Our doula, Leslee, thinks we're prepared for all of the breathing, positioning, walking, etc. that are involved in labor. Bags are pretty much packed, car seat is installed, we've taken what feels like 20 classes and we've both read 1,000s of pages of baby books. And I'm super excited to see her (FINALLY!) and have a teeny little baby to cuddle! But here's the big hangup - I'M GOING TO BE A MOTHER!!!!! I don't know how to do that! I'm a pretty good big sister, I think, a decent daughter, a good friend, and I think I've done well at the whole wife thing, too. But a mom? My brain cannot wrap around this part. But I've still got 3 weeks, right?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What to Expect: Week 36

Exactly one month left until my due date! Of course, she could be early or late, but we're in the home stretch for sure. According to my last OB visit, the baby is already in head down position, which is good news - no breach worries. Also, she's measuring the right size, which is great because macrosomia (excessive birth weight) is one of the worries involved with gestational diabetes. Except for a few glitches here and there (and my borderline inappropriate daydreams of having a half a pan of brownies with some vanilla ice cream a big 'ol glass of milk) the gestational diabetes hasn't really been a problem. I had another diabetes appointment this afternoon, and they were happy with how I've been doing. One of the perks is that I've barely gained any weight since I had to start checking my blood sugar. I think I've gained maybe 4 pounds in the past month, and this is usually the time when you pack on the most pregnancy weight.

I'm definitely wondering how I'll be feeling over the next few weeks. School starts back tomorrow, and I have to try to hang in there for as long as possible. My professor for the only class I'm taking is allowing me to miss 4 weeks of school, plus Spring Break is the first week of March so that's an extra week. The longer I stay at school before the baby arrives, the longer I can stay OUT of school once she's here! I'm hoping to get a temporary disabled parking permit for campus use to get me through the next few weeks. If you've been to FSU, you know what a nightmare parking is. Add a big, fat pregnant belly to that and walking to class is pretty much impossible. I'm hoping I'll get the permit, and I'll be parking right outside my building and loving life! And I won't have to worry about my water breaking while I'm walking up the hill from the parking garage to Westcott....

I started getting my hospital bag together yesterday. I packed the things I could pack, put a note on the door to remind us to grab things we can't pack yet (things that I use every day like my hair dryer and my makeup, snacks to keep Aaron fueled during delivery) and I ordered a few things that I haven't been able to find in Tallahassee (including a few nursing bras and tanks for me and a coming home outfit for the baby that doesn't look like Barbie and a My Little Pony mated to create it. Why must every clothing manufacturer try to make baby girls look like some deranged blob of cotton candy covered in flowers?)

The nursery isn't totally ready, but we have our last baby shower this weekend, so I'm holding out on buying things we still need until we see what gaps need to be filled. Next week will definitely be my last big shopping spree for awhile - can't wait!