Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Quote Review

It's time for an annual quote review. Here are the best from 2009!

“Webbed toes are not cute on babies.” ~ J

“The throat opens up like Rosie O’Donnell eating a cake.” ~ Cuthbert

“Speaking of wanton destruction….” ~ Cuthbert

“I don’t want to be God. I don’t even want to be a supervisor.” ~ H

“One fish, two fish, red fish, jaded fish.” ~ Cuthbert

“Mount Rushmore looks just like that, except it’s huge and it’s not made of cheese.” ~ Seth

“It’s basically like Star Wars outlining the fall of the Roman Empire.” ~ J

“Gay card beats woman card.” ~ Cuthbert

“Balls is not a verb, just for the record.” ~ H

“Your body is not like toast; you can spread cold butter on your body.” ~ Betty

“It might be good to date someone who’s not, like, a flaky toolbag.” ~ Cuthbert

“Momma, I have your nipple covers!” ~ Little Miss L

“I kind of just want to poke a Quaker, to see what they do.” ~ Mia

“You should really ask permission before you set yourself on fire in someone else’s apartment.” ~ H

Jack: You know, Christian groups are always getting all kinds of free property. That’s what we need to do.
H: We need to become Christians?
Jack: No, we need to get shit for free.

“I am totally not chasing fire trucks to find our new house.” ~ Lisey

“When someone can look you in the eyes and say, ‘Me too,’ and they actually mean it – it can save you.” ~ Rob Bell, Jesus Wants to Save Christians

“Corn fields are the scariest things on the entire fucking face of the planet.” ~ Douglas Coupland, Generation A

You may notice that the list seems a litle shot this year - its kinda hard to get in on the action where the good quotes are happening when one has a newborn. Next year, we're going all out.


Monday, December 14, 2009


i long to be
a candle, flickering in the dark
settled in the shadowed corner
a servant of
the God of the Dark Places
the God of raves and tattoo parlors;
of bar stools and smoke-filled back rooms

i long to be
a flame, fanned by the whispers
of the dark of night
an expression of one
who made beauty out of blood,
Redemption out of Death;
who spoke into the dark to create

i long to be
the salve on the self-inflicted wound
soothing the need for pain
a remnant of one
from which beauty creeps
infusing the broken and bleeding,
defiling the Sabboth with healing

i ache to be
the tool of a heartbroken God
whose tired sighs call me to action
a weeping Christ
who looks into the tomb
and grieves while he heals,
who honors our struggles with tears

i ache to be
an expression of love
for one whose being is love
a flickering flame
for the desperate and damaged,
the addicted and abandoned;
the ones who are just like me

i long to belong
to the God of the Dark Places

Monday, November 16, 2009

Some Conversations

A couple of weeks ago D and I packed up and headed to Cedar Point with Velma and our friend Seth. As we’ve proved in the past, Velma and I cannot travel to Cedar Point without some sort of ridiculousness happening. It simply isn’t possible. Come to think of it, Velma and I cannot seem to spend more than 20 minutes together without some sort of ridiculousness happening, but I suppose that’s a different story. Anyhow, in the spirit of being true to oneself, I’ve decided to share a few of the random conversations from our trip with you. Enjoy!

Conversation #1: Consider your career choices carefully

Velma: So, I started Junior Achievement this week. I had to go talk to all these 6th graders about their future careers. I asked them all to write down some careers they were considering so I could talk to them about the classes and skills they would need to get there, but one kid wrote down that he wanted to be God. What do you say to that?

H: Hmmm, I don’t know.

Velma: I told him he was going to be pretty busy if he was going to be God.

H: Yea, he’ll definitely need time management skills

Velma: Yea, that’s a lot of responsibility.

H: I don’t want to be God. I don’t even want to be a supervisor.

Conversation #2: You see it, right?

On the way home from Cedar Point, we stopped at this happy little pizza joint that someone had recommended to Seth. One of the pizzas we ordered was a Greek pizza with feta cheese on it. The following ensued:

Velma: (squealing and pointing) Look, guys, look!

(everyone looks over to her plate, where she is pointing)

Velma: Look, it’s Abe in the cheese!

H: Huh?

Velma: It’s Honest Abe! There in my cheese!

D: You see Abe Lincoln in your cheese?

Right there, in the Feta! Don’t you see him!?

D: No

Seth: No

H: No

Velma: I feel like I’m at Mount Rushmore!!!

Seth: Mount Rushmore looks just like that, only it’s huge and it’s not made of cheese.

I love you, Velma!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Marketing That Really Stands Out

Here' s a sign I saw by the side of the road yesterday:

Gently Used
Low Mileage

I suppose that's better than high mileage kittens, eh? D found the sign to be rather ridiculous, but you know what? I still remember it, and I'm sitting here writing about it, aren't I? I'd say that makes it pretty darn effective.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Can't a Girl Get a Bath Around Here?

Hello there!

I’m just popping in with a quick short story from my everyday before I run off to get some work done. I promise, I have a few fun blogs in the works for the near future, so don’t give up hope on me yet!

About a month and a half ago, after a long day of being a tired and overworked mommy (babies are quite the time suck, even if they are quite worth it), I decided to hand my beloved Norah over to her father so that I could take a bath.

Now, if you have ever been a new momma, you know that baths are a rare commodity. Between feedings and changings, and trying to figure out what in the world your baby wants, there are laundry and dishes and groceries, and meals that need cooking. Throw in 20 hours working from home, and you have one burned out momma. I needed that bath. I mean, I needed that bath. I needed that bath like I need air – I mean, I was going to turn blue and convulse and my heart was going to stop if I didn’t get that bath.

Did I mention it had been a rough day?

Anyway, I handed Norah over to D and proceeded to draw myself a bath. I even had the forethought to grab a Coupland novel and a glass of water, so I could properly enjoy my bath o’ luxury. The tub reached a state of relative fullness, but it wasn’t quite finished. I decided to climb in anyways and get a head start on my way to relaxation.

No sooner had I sat down in the tub then D came flying into the bathroom, practically shrieking, “She’s throwing up blood! She’s throwing up blood!” I deciphered that my husband was shouting at me that my daughter was dying of some sort of blood-vomiting disease, and immediately hopped out of the tub, searching for a towel. All kinds of crazy thoughts are running through my mind at this point: What in the world did she eat? What if there are, like, little shards of glass in her tummy? Oh, this is very, very bad! How much blood is there going to be? What’s going on with my poor baby?!?! Oh, god, we can’t afford the Children’s Hospital! What if her little intestines are in shreds?!

I ran into the bedroom where little Norah was playing. I’m sopping wet, just barely wrapped up in a towel, and I have no idea where my glasses are, so everything is a little blurry. I look around and I see….. no blood. There is no blood, anywhere.

Stupidly, I think to myself that maybe I need to get my glasses to see the blood – ‘cause, blood isn’t, like, a distinct bright red color or anything, right? *sigh* I looked to D, then looked to Norah, then back to D, then back to Norah. Finally I asked him, “where’s the blood?”

D: Right there! (points to a tiny spot of spit up that, as far as I can tell, has no blood in it)

Me: Where?

D: THERE!! (points closer to the same spot)

I looked very closely, and what did I see?

A tiny, tiny, spot of blueberries, about the size of my pinky fingernail.

Let me just say, there is an enormous difference between vomiting up pints of blood and spitting up miniscule remnants of blueberries. Like, maybe the difference between calling 911 and just grabbing a burp cloth.

Details, details – I know, I’m so picky.

I proceeded to grab a burp cloth, wipe up the spot, and tell D that he was looking at blueberry spit up.

D: Are you sure?

Me: Yes, I’m sure.

D: How do you know?!?!

Me: Because, as far as I know, Norah doesn’t have purple blood. If you find out differently, let me know, but until then I’m getting in the tub.

Now really, I know blueberries aren’t exactly ‘blue’ in color once they’ve been cooked. But they are purple, which is not the same thing as bright, bloody red. At least in my experience, purple, and blood red are generally very different colors. Generally. I could have missed something in art class, I suppose. I’m still trying to figure out whether I should be more concerned that my husband thinks my daughter has purple blood or that my bath water was getting cold while all this was going on.

It was a very nice bath, incidentally, once I got past the ‘o-mi-god, my daughter’s insides are being ripped to shreds by some horrible malady and she’s puking up blood everywhere’ train of though. Very nice, indeed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

PSA for Lactating Mamas

Calling all lactating mamas!

Preemies and sick babies need your help!

(How's that for a tug on the 'ole heartstrings? Did I mention I write for a living?)

The Indiana Mother's Milk Bank is currently experiencing a milk shortage.

In case you weren't aware, human breast milk provides countless benefits to babies, including disease and infection fighting antibodies - which, of course, preemies and sick babies need plenty of. However, mamas of preemies are the most likely group to have difficulty with their milk supplies. You see the problem, I'm sure.

The Indiana Mother's Milk Bank collects human milk from donors. This milk is pasturized and then given to preemies and sick babies who need it. According to their website, 'In many ways, human milk is like medicine to sick or premature babies'.

I'm kind of a sucker for sick babies, so to me it seems like this is kinda important.

If you are lactating, if your youngest baby is under one year of age, and if you have success in pumping, please consider becoming a human milk donor. The process is fairly simple, and they will even provide your milk storage bags if you need them. I was approved as a donor earlier this month and it was super easy to get started.

If you're interested, contact the Indiana Mother's Milk Bank through this link, or check out their entire website here. I promise, it won't be too hard, and then you can brag to all your friends that you helped save some babies! How could it get better than that?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Another Great Quote from D the Wonder Husband

So, my husband took some time off work recently to spend at home with Norah and me. He was really excited about getting to go with us to the library for story hour, and so when Friday came, we packed Norah up and headed out. Story hour went great, so we headed over to the Dunkin' Donuts located inside of the library. I normally do this on Fridays after story time as a way to treat myself after a long week, so D just joined me for my normal latte' run.

As we were standing at the counter, the following conversation took place:

D: "What do you think a hash brown donut is?"

Me: "A hash brown donut??"

D: "Yea, what do you think that is?"

Me: "Where do you see a hash brown donut?" (looking intently over the counter for anything that could be construed as a hash brown donut)

D: "There, on the menu"

Me: "Um, not seeing the hash brown donut."

D: (pointing at the sign) "Right there!"

Lo and behold, what did I see? A sign that looked kind of like this:

So, I'm sure I got the pricing and the specific items all wrong, but you get the point, right?
Hash brown donuts.
Lord, help us.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

That's Not My Pirate

So now that I have a baby, I have ventured into the wonderful world of children’s books. To be honest, most children’s books creep me out. Fairy tales that are so innocently told seem scary to me. Imagine being just a little one and hearing about Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma being chomped up by the big bad wolf. Eek! Then there are witches poisoning apples and fattening up little kids to eat them, and trolls that want to eat the cute little billy goats (what is it with stories about being eaten?)… not to mention parents intentionally leaving their children to die of exposure or starvation or an animal attack in the middle of the woods.

There also seem to be lots of Noah’s Ark animal stories for little kids, where they get to count the animals two by two or make animals noises or whatever. The storytellers have conveniently left out the part about God annihilating all of humanity by drowning.

Cause, you know, that might make the story kind of a bummer.

Anyway, as I was saying, children’s books kind of creep me out. Despite this fact, I’ve started to really enjoy the children’s department at our local library. They have a baby story time on Friday mornings that Norah seems to love, and – bonus! – a hand puppet cat named Puddin’ that they sometimes make sing to the kiddos.

Norah and I have been picking out one or two board books a week to read until the next week when we return them and pick out a couple more. There’s a whole series of ‘touch and feel’ board books whose titles begin with “That’s Not My…”. There’s That’s Not My Bear, That’s Not My Bunny, That’s Not My Puppy, etc, etc, etc,. Each page lists some reason why ‘that’s not my (whatever it is) and then there is something tactile on the page for the kids to feel that goes along with it. For example, here’s an excerpt out of the last one we checked out:

That’s not my bear. Its tongue is too scratchy.

The picture on the page was of a polar bear, and his tongue was made of Velcro.
So, the kiddos can touch the scratchy Velcro tongue, and this is supposed to ensure that everyone has a grand ‘ole time, and the kiddos like to keep reading books. This is important, and I particularly like the pages with something fuzzy on them (That’s my bear. Its ears are so soft!)

So, last week at the library while Norah and I were looking for a book, I happened to notice one of these board books titled That’s Not My Pirate. At the time I thought to myself, “That’s weird, what would we want to feel on a pirate?”, and then I promptly forgot about it. However, as the week has gone by, that stupid book has been on my mind more and more. I mean, really, what textures is my kid supposed to associate with pirating? I get that bunnies are soft and bears can have rough tongues, but pirates? What the heck?

All week long this has been bugging me. The more I think about it, the more completely inappropriate crap I keep coming up with. I finally decided just to write it down so maybe I can let it go. So, here goes! Here is the year’s best children’s book, complete with safety hazards and inappropriate connotations. Don’t say you weren’t warned….

That’s not my pirate, his hook is too sharp!

Look kids! A Touch and Feel hook! You only need a tetnus booster if it breaks the skin!

That’s not my pirate, his peg leg is too splintery.
Anyone seen the tweezers?

That’s not my pirate, his wench is too hairy.

Aww, no sweetie, you don't pet the lady like a doggy....

That’s not my pirate, his sword is too jagged.
Yes, sweetie, that's what we call 'serrated'... Oh... crap! What was that about tetnus again?

That’s not my pirate, his gums are too firm!
Scurvy, anyone?

That’s not my pirate, his stubble is too rough.
Kind of like the velcro tongue, eh?

That’s my pirate! His parrot is so soft!

Finally, something appropriate. And with that, I think we'll say...


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Beware of Human Babies! (a post by Dingo the Wonder Mutt)

As many of you know, there is a new baby in my house. The two-legged creatures who live here have foolishly allowed themselves to believe that the baby belongs to them, but we all know the truth, don't we? After all, they don't park themselves outside her door while she naps, do they? They dont' sniff her regularly to make sure she's in good health or lick her fingers to make sure she stays clean...

Nope, they sure don't. Good thing I'm around - I don't know what that poor baby would do without me!

Anyhow, I'm here with a PSA (I've heard the female two-legger use that term; I think it means public service announcement) for all you dogs who have found yourself in my position - with a new baby you've got to look out for on account of your two-leggers' kind but feeble attempts to care for our little ones.

Here are my words of wisdom:

Take it from me - Do not, under any circumstances, lick the inside of the baby's hand if your baby has a good, strong grasp. Apparently, human babies have a reflex to close their hands whenever something touches the insides of them. Apparently they also have some sort of reflex to yank and pull once they've gotten a nice, firm grasp. My poor tongue advises you to follow this reccomendation. I think my two-legger baby stretched it a good five inches and I'm afraid I'll be barking with a lisp for the next week.

Aside from that, she's a pretty nice two-legger to have around.

My regards,

Dingo the Wonder Mutt

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

*Sigh* There Goes Another Box Of Fabric Softeners

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you dropped a cardboard box (containing, let's say, fabric softner sheets) into the washing machine and let it spin with an entire load of laundry?

Me neither.

Despite that fact, today I got to find out exactly what would happen in the aforementioned situation.

Turns out, the box ends up looking like the little bits that come out of a tree shredder, only soggy and wet so that they stick to everything. I suspect I will be picking bits of shredded cardboard out of my underwear for the next 3 weeks or so.

Unfortunately, D has developed the habit of saying, "Why'd you do that?" whenever I do something completely retarded like this. This annoys the living crap out of me as I obviously didn't plan on washing a cardboard box with my laundry. Even more disconcerting, I have done enough completely retarded things that he has been able to develop this habit - we're not talking once or twice here, folks. Because this happens so frequently and because he questions me so often, my very annoyed self has been having conversations that look like this:

Me : (does something obviously stupid on accident) Oh, crap!

D: Why'd you do that?

Me: Oh, you know, I thought it would be fun.... or, oh, wait - because I'm completely retarded and it was an accident. (insert sarcasm and evil glare)

Even with all this, the nurses at the hospital sent me home with a newborn. Everyone pray for Norah tonight.

Friday, April 3, 2009

T.V. Nation

So, it appears that the switch from analog television to digital that was supposed to take place this February has now been postponed until June. This will give the remainder of the U.S. population time to buy and hook up their converter boxes so that no one will have to miss a moment of Wheel of Fortune, God forbid.

When I heard about the switch to digital I simply asked my husband, “Do I need to do anything to keep watching LOST?” When he said no, I promptly stopped caring about the switchover. However, since then a few things have happened that have piqued my interest in the subject: 1) The government handed out coupons for converter boxes, effectively subsidizing the American capacity to turn on a box and zone out without having to think; and 2) the switchover was postponed until June so that everyone has four extra months to locate these subsidized boxes and hook them up. This whole thing has got me irritated and D is sick of hearing about it, so you, my dear readers, are left with this blog.

First of all, the government subsidy on converter boxes is driving me out of my mind. Seriously, the government is subsidizing our capacity to watch TV? What the hell? Has television become that important to our society that the government has to provide subsidies to make sure we don’t miss our shows? Never mind health care; forget higher education – what we’ve really got to worry about as a country is making sure our TVs work! *shudder*

My health insurance premium costs $115 dollars more per month than my mortgage, home insurance, and property taxes combined. You read that right – $115 more. I could own an entire additional house (and probably a bigger house than what I have now, I might add)…. or, you know, I could have health insurance.

But I guess this isn’t really the government’s problem. They’re too busy making sure I can continue watching TV to do anything about it, I suppose.

Frankly, it makes me sick that watching TV ranks higher than health care as a matter of national importance. Television access is not a basic, inaliable right. You don’t need television to live. Nobody’s going to go homeless tonight or die of malnutrition because they couldn’t access digital television channels. But somehow TV has become a matter of such national importance that government vouchers are being given out to subsidize our habit.

Secondly, the date for the switchover has been postponed in order to make sure everyone gets their converter boxes. So, in effect, it isn’t enough that the government has subsidized the converter boxes so that they will be available to everyone – the date also had to be postponed to accommodate those of us who are such slackers that we couldn’t even get up off our lazy butts to get the converters on time.

The whole thing is just ridiculous, if you ask me. In my humble opinion, if you can’t come up with $45 and wander into a store and buy the converter box, you probably don’t need to be watching TV.

It should not be the government’s responsibility to make sure that people can watch TV. National security? OK, go for it. I’m a little paranoid about such things, but at least it falls within the realm of what government was designed for in the first place. Education? Sounds great – set standards and make sure kids learn what they need to succeed. Health care? Absolutely make sure that everyone has access to affordable (as in, costs less than their mortgage) health care.

But TV? Give me a break.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Update on Norah

Here is a quick update on Norah, in case anyone was interested!

Last week Norah had her 2 month check up and the Doctor said she is looking great. She is now 13 lbs, 4 oz, and is 23 inches long. I’m not sure of everything the Doctor checked for, but he was happy with how Norah is doing.

Norah is still eating like a champ (hence the 13 lbs, 4 oz) and has finally started taking something that resembles a nap during the day. As a result, D & H have finally had something that resembles dinner over the last few weeks. She’s also been smiling and cooing and making little baby sounds that are very, very cute. She likes to wave her arms and kick her feet like crazy, though she can’t really get anywhere yet. She looks like she’s trying to roll over, but she hasn’t had a lot of success yet. That’s okay with me – I’m still hoping she stays little for awhile and some of those big milestones are a little scary to me. You should hear some of my conversations with D:

D: What did Norah do today?

H: She kicked her feet and twisted her legs to the side like she wanted to roll over.

D: But she didn’t roll?

H: No, she didn’t roll….. (bursting into sobs)… she’s going to roll someday! Then she’ll sit, and then she’ll crawl, and then she’ll walk…. She’s going to get married someday and I’m going to get old and have grandkids and then someday I’ll die!… (sob, sob, sob)

D: So, uh, she didn’t roll over?

Anyway, Norah is doing well. Here are a few recent pictures of her:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Top Ten Things No One Told Me About Motherhood

  1. That my first thought when my baby was placed on my chest wouldn’t be “Oh, my beautiful baby, I love you so much!” but “Is that mucus coming out of her mouth? Gross! Dear God, get it off me!”
  2. When your baby screams for an hour nonstop for no apparent reason, you will try every trick in the book to get her to stop, no matter how ridiculous and/or humiliating. When nothing works, you yourself will start to cry and berate yourself for being a horrible mother who can’t take care of her baby. When your baby screams for an hour nonstop for no apparent reason, your husband will try a few tricks, shrug his shoulders, and eat a Kit-Kat bar, apparently unaffected.
  3. That when a baby is born and has a cone head, the cone head can actually tilt to one side, giving the baby the appearance of Igor on crack and leading its mother to worry about the function of the opposite side of its brain, which looks like it may have been slightly squished.
  4. That my baby would not, in fact, nap. I want to find every person who ever told me, “Oh, you’ll be able to get things done when she naps!” and I want to punch them all in the face. And ask them if they’ll come over and get her down for her nap.
  5. That due to the recent popularity of babylegs (teeny, tiny legwarmers) and eighties-style prints on onesies, my newborn baby would be thoroughly prepared for any jazzercise class I could throw her way.
  6. That if you put a piece of white tape across the bridge of a newborn’s nose, they will look like a little mini-football player due the extent of facial bruising that occurs during birth.
  7. That people would ask me, “Is she a good baby?” without ever defining “good”. And that in my confusion and irritation I would be tempted to answer with, “well, except for the one time we had to pick her up from juvenile detention…”
  8. That everyone else I know can place their baby in a car seat, stroller, bouncy chair, or swing and when their back is turned, occasionally the baby will have fallen asleep. And that my baby would begin her career in theatrics early by making a large production of falling asleep and, despite my best efforts, refuse to do so unless I devote every single ounce of my attention to her.
  9. That due to the little radar babies have that tells them when mom or dad has put them down once they are asleep, I would regularly creep through my own house like a burglar. And that I would get so good at it I would consider changing careers and learning how to crack safes.
  10. That it’s okay for my baby to be a little bit fat (ok, you got me – a lot fat). I spent 7 weeks worried that I’d doomed my child to a life of obesity by consuming too many slushies during my pregnancy until a friend told me babies actually need a little fat to store vitamins and such. According to her, a little fat will make my baby smarter. I’m counting on a good 10 IQ points for that extra chin… oh, and then there are those thighs! Harvard, here we come!

In all seriousness, the greatest things motherhood has taught me to date are……



To be content with where I am. This sweet little one has forced me to realize that I’m standing right where I fit and to be happy with that. So what if where I fit has more to do with late night feedings than late night dancing? This is where I am right now.

That babies are a wonderful excuse to slow down and enjoy life more and to excuse yourself from the things that don’t really matter.

That babies are also a wonderful excuse for getting out of attending events you didn’t really want to go to in the first place
(Oh, I’d love to go to that monster truck show with you, but I just can’t leave my baby!).

That my body is far more amazing than I ever imagined. It grew this perfect little person, somehow managed to get her out, and continues to help her grow by making milk. Sometimes I just look at her and think, “Holy crap! My body did that!” and I can’t even begin to ponder the miracle the human body is.

How nice it is to touch another person. Babies are the only people in the world who don’t seem to mind being in constant physical contact with another human being. Being able to reach out and feel human skin at any time is another awesome perk of being a mommy!

That nothing is as sweet as lying in bed, watching your baby wake up and then smile and coo at you while she kicks off the blankets you so carefully covered her up with because you were worried about her feet getting cold.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Velma's Quote of the Week

Velma: (sitting next to me, talking to baby Norah) Are you ready for a little brother or sister?

Me: (giving Velma a dirty look): Are you crazy?!? Besides, I'm on pelvic rest for at least 6 weeks.

Velma: You can't dance??

'Nough said.

To Norah

To Baby Norah:

You are four weeks old now and you are the light of my life. I marvel at the miracle you are daily - how one day you didn't exist and then suddenly, miraculously, you were my little love with your own, perfect, beating heart, your tiny eyelashes, and your bouts of hiccups that used to tickle the inside of my belly and now make me pat your back to soothe you. You are a miracle and I want you to know you were desperately loved and desperately wanted from the very first moment we knew about you. We have always loved you, and we will never stop.

I am writing this today because I have been thinking of all the things I want to teach you, and I want to have them on record somewhere. I want you to see that my intentions are good and to glimpse at the parts of my love for you that are so important. It is my hope that this letter is nothing but a footnote; a written record that sums up the things you have come to know are true simply by watching me live. It is my hope that I teach you to live well by default - that your life with us left you no other option. I will do my best, little Norah, but I am writing my intentions to you now.

I am writing this also so that I can come back to it at times when I don't know how to live or what to do. It can be so hard to get through each day being even half of what I want to be. Its easier to take the path of least resistence, but not always better, and I know there will be times when I need to be reminded of this. And so I write this for us both.

Dearest little Norah, my little love, I hope to teach you how to love well - how to make yourself vulnerable and accept love, and how to see past the surface and find beautiful parts of people who need to be loved. This is why I tell you stories about Dingo - about how she barked and growled at us like a mean dog, but when we took her home we gave her all the love we could muster and she started to become a good dog. And now she is the sweetest dog and she loves you to bits and protects you. But it took a lot of love to get her there. I hope you learn to love the bleeding and broken and the people you see every day who are different than you, and the people who are so much like you that it drives you crazy. And I hope you learn to be loved; to accept the love that is bestowed on you. Remember, the greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return.

I hope you learn that love is a verb - it is something you do every bit as much as it is something you feel. It is a kind word, a helpful hand, a smile when you feel like scowling. It is asking, "What can I do to help?" and then following through. Love is the act of listening with patience. Love is surrendering your time and sharing what you have. Love is an act, a motion, a way of being. I love your daddy by cooking his dinner and folding his laundry and giving him time with his friends; he loves me by keeping the cars running and going to work each day and paying the bills. This is what love looks like. When you don't know how to love someone, its okay to ask them, "What can I do for you?" or to tell them, "I want to love you, but I'm not sure how". How else will you know what to do?

I want to teach you how to be happy with what you have and how to live simply. I hope I teach you the opposite of consumerism - that the things you own can so easily end up owning you, so it is best to rely on community and family and love to make you happy, rather than relying on the things you have. I hope you grow up unencumbered by debt - so that you never have to forego the important things in life because you have to pay for something that is not really important. So many people I know don't live the lives they want to live because the price of car payments and credit card debts and cable TV keeps them trapped. I never want you to know what that feels like. I want you to learn to loosely own the things you have so that you are free to do the things that really matter.

I hope you learn the balance between being content where you are and pushing yourself to grow. May you live in a state of constructive discontent - never quite satisfied with your character in such a way that you feel compelled to pursue growth. But at the same time, I wish contentness and an inner peace for you, that you can be okay with where you are and accept that growth is a process you've embarked on. May you learn to eloquently stand exactly where you fit while never being afraid of taking the next step in growth, onto the next place where you will fit.

I hope to teach you the value of a story, particularly human stories. When all is said and done and we are gone, our stories will remain. And these stories... these stories are limitless. Our stories make us what we are. I hope you learn to ask for stories and I hope you learn to love the stories you hear - for when you learn to love a person's story, it becomes almost impossible not to love the person as well. I hope you learn to love your own stories as well, and to value them as part of what has made you what you are.

I hope to teach you interdependence - to lean on the people you love and to let them lean on you. Our culture has such a strong focus on independence and I think at times its gone too far. We don't know how to ask for help or live in the context of community. I want to teach you these things because I don't believe we were made to live so alone. I hope you learn how to build community and how to live within it. I hope you learn that this makes you stronger, not weaker. It gives you the opportunity to give the very best parts of yourself and find your niche, and it gives you the strengths and help of those around you - so much more than you could ever achieve alone.

My dearest little Norah, these are my greatest hopes for you. I hope for so many other things, like every parent does. I hope for good health and strong character and for you to grow up happy and smart. I hope you find talents and make friends and find a career path you love. Of course I hope these things for you - I am your mother. But mostly I hope for these things I've written about. Part of the reason is that if you learn these few, important things, other success will follow. How could you not make friends if you learn to listen to stories and how to love? How can you not succeed if you learn how to ask for help and if you pursue growth continually? But mostly, these few things are the things I have learned that have helped me to be truly human and happy and content. I consider that a success - that I can wake up each day feeling content with where my life is, appreciating the moment, and knowing there is any number of people I can call if I need help or if I just need to be with people. These are the things that make my life a life I am happy and proud to live.

I don't have all these mastered, Norah, and there is a good chance I will fail miserably at any one of them. And so, even as I hope to teach you, I hope to grow. I hope we grow tpgether, my little one.

All of my love to you.

~ H

Monday, February 2, 2009

Maternity Service Provider Recommendations (Northeast Indiana)

Now that I'm done with the whole pregnancy/labor thing for awhile (maybe a looooong while, *wink*), I would like to give a shout out to the service providers who I felt were invaluable. If you're looking for care in Northeast Indiana, here are my recommendations:

Birth Matters

D, Velma, and I took childbirth education classes through Birth Matters (click here for their website) and loved them! The courses were thorough and explained everything we should expect during labor, from what my body and emotions would be doing to what kind of technologies would be available to us. We also got hands-on practice for pain relief techniques and points to apply pressure to a laboring woman (this was especially helpful as I ended up having back labor). Hallie & Jordan taught this class and helped us to consider the pros and cons of different treatment options while encouraging us to advocate for ourselves.

D & I also took a breastfeeding class and a newborn care class through Birth Matters that we found helpful. Charts that helped us record our daughter’s feedings and diaper changes through the first week of life were particularly helpful.

Even though these classes cost more than your traditional hospital classes, I’d say they’re worth every penny. I felt that at the hospital classes I’d learn a lot about hospital policy and how to be a good patient, but at these classes I learned how to labor and care for my baby in the way that was right for me. Hallie and Jordan obviously care about maternity care for women and about the individual families they serve. In fact, Birth Matters wasn’t offering a babywearing class during my pregnancy, but Hallie took the time to meet with myself and a friend for coffee to show us how to use various slings and wraps since there wasn’t a class available.

Stephanie VanderHorst, C.N.M. (Auburn OBGYN)

I switched my pre-natal care to Stephanie when I was about 16 weeks pregnant and never looked back! It is because of Stephanie that I was given the opportunity to have a birth experience free of unnecessary interventions that I felt good about. Starting from my very first visit, I knew that Stephanie was going to be the kind of care provider I needed. At my previous OB’s office, I had only actually seen the OB once – I had been seeing various nurse practitioners at my other appointments. The one time I did get to see the OB was a short visit to listen to the Doppler and then get bloodwork drawn.

At every visit I had with Stephanie, she started by asking me what questions I had. She would answer my questions and help me to make decisions regarding my care until I was satisfied. Then she would measure me and listen to the baby’s heartbeat. Though Stephanie planned to attend my birth, she had a back up plan in the event that she couldn’t be there. I met the other midwife in the practice and felt comfortable with her as well. This is in sharp contrast to the OB’s office where I did not know who was going to deliver the baby – whoever was on call would do it, and there were over 15 doctors in the practice. I also knew that Stephanie would be with me during my labor whereas my OB was only planning to come in for the actual birth and the hospital nurses would attend to me during my labor.

Stephanie was also very supportive of my decisions not to use most interventions. I was not required to have an IV, continuous fetal monitoring, or other routine hospital interventions during my labor. Stephanie agreed to intermittent fetal monitoring through a Doppler, which was the most invasive intervention I had to have. For the most part she was content to let me labor at my own pace in my own way, as long as it was safe to do so. I believed I was probably going to go overdue, so I was nervous about being induced, but Stephanie didn’t put pressure on me there either. She was going to wait at least 2 weeks past my due date to induce me, and even then she said we could try several different things before resorting to Pitocin - if we did have to use Pitocin, she said we could hook it up until my body started contracting and then stop the IV to see if labor would commence on its own. Overall, I felt she was my best chance for a natural labor and birth.

Now that labor and delivery are over, I am still sure that I made the right choice by choosing Stephanie to provide my care. I am very pleased with my birth experience and I feel that everything went as well as it possibly could have. I’m grateful that I didn’t have to deal with routine hospital interventions and that I really didn’t even have to advocate for myself during labor because Stephanie was taking care of me the way I wanted to be cared for the whole time.

You can contact Auburn OBGYN, where Stephanie practices, at (260) 927-0035.

Indiana Donor Services

Indiana Donor Services was able to use the umbilical cord and placenta from my pregnancy to collect cord blood and stem cells that can be used for research and medical procedures. I didn’t have any big plans for my cord or placenta anyways, so I feel good that I might have been able to help someone else simply by having my baby and signing some consent forms. If you don’t want to keep your cord or placenta, please, please contact Donor Services at (260) 749- 9105 and talk to them about their donation program. It’s easy and requires almost no effort on your part – Donor Services will take care of almost everything for you.

Baby is here! Birth story attached!

There really is a reason why I haven't posted in weeks. No, really. I'm not just being a slacker. But two weeks and three days ago, I gave birth to the cutest little baby you've ever seen.

Norah Ann arrived on January 16, 2009 at 9:29 p.m. at DeKalb Memorial Hospital. She weighed in at 8 lbs, 10 oz, and was 22 inches long.

The short version of her birth story follows. For the long version (with all the details - beware if you're squeamish) click here. For service provider recommendations for maternity care in Northeast Indiana, click here.

Birth Story
I woke up about 2 a.m. Friday morning (or Thursday night if you prefer) starting to have contractions. I wasn't sure if it was labor or not, so I waited awhile to wake D up. I woke him around 4 and told him I thought I was in labor and I would wake him again if I was sure. By 5:30, I was pretty sure so I woke him again and we began to gather up our things and time the contractions.

At 9:30, I called my midwife's office and she said to come in and get checked out. She confirmed that I was in labor and told me I could check into the hospital if I wanted, but I didn't have to. We went to eat lunch and walked around a store for awhile. We were going to deliver in DeKalb, so we didn't want to drive all the way back home to Fort Wayne just to drive right back. Around 2, I was having painful contractions and didn't want to be out in public anymore, so we decided to check into the hospital. We called my sister Velma at that time and she headed to the hospital.

Labor continued, and unfortunately I had pretty intense back labor. Velma and D spent most of the labor putting pressure on my lower back to relieve some of the pain. I think they worked as hard as I did! Around 5:00, I got in the tub and labored there for awhile. This was when labor was getting really intense. Finally around 8 or so, my water broke, my midwife checked me and found I was nearly dialated, and I felt like I needed to push. My midwife inserted sterile water papules into my back, which I had never heard of. Basically, she put four tiny needles into my back right under the skin and then inserted sterile water. It hurt like nothing else, but it relieved the back labor right away. Apparently, it tricks your body because your brain can't figure out what's going on and so it can't process the back labor anymore. After that we pushed for about an hour or an hour and a half and Norah was born at 9:29. My midwife helped D to catch her as her head and shoulders came out, and D placed her on my belly right away. She is beautiful!

Donor Services was also able to use the placenta and cord, so they came and took them away shortly after the birth. Norah latched on and fed great right away and she continues to be a great little eater!

We didn't actually name her until about 2-3 hours before we left the hospital, so everyone was pretty anxious to hear what we decided. We decided to name her Norah for my great-grandmother, and Ann for D’s mother.

Birth Story! (Long version with all the details)

Long Version

This is the long version of Norah's birth story, with all the details (gory or not!) For the shorter version, click here, or for recomendations for maternity service providers in Northeast Indiana, click here)

I am pleased to announce the arrival of Norah Ann, born January 16, 2009 at 9:29 p.m. at DeKalb Memorial Hospital.

8lbs 10 oz.

22 inches long

Thursday morning (January 15th) I went into my midwife’s office for my weekly appointment and an internal exam. She found I was 1-2 cm dilated, 70% effaced, and said baby was at 0 station. I hadn’t been having much in the way of contractions and didn’t feel I’d be having the baby any time soon. My midwife agreed that I’d probably be pregnant somewhere around another week and sent me home with instructions to continue using the Evening Primrose Oil I’d been using. She said if I came back in another week with no more progress, we’d start looking into a few other tricks.

I went home and made bread and monster cookies with J, and finished up sewing the blanket I’d been working on for baby.

On Thursday night, D and I stayed up like normal to watch Grey’s and our Tivo’d CSI. We went to bed around 11, after watching a bit of the news that said we were getting record low temperatures. We both said we hoped I didn’t go into labor due to the weather being so miserable.

Around 2 a.m., I woke up and had to go to the bathroom. I was having bloody show, but the blood was really bright red and worried me, so I called L&D. They said this was normal and told me to go back to bed. I knew that bloody show usually meant a baby was coming in the next few days, so I started mentally planning everything I needed to get done the next day. About 10 minutes later I felt a period-type cramp, but didn’t pay much attention. I kept feeling the cramps about every ten minutes or so, so I started to wonder if I might be in labor. I decided to sleep in between cramps and see if they got closer together or just petered out.

Around 4:30 I was still having to cramps, so I woke D up and told him that I might be in labor. I told him to go back to sleep and I would wake him if it was the real thing. By 5, I was sure I was having contractions and they were coming about every 5-6 minutes. I decided to take a hot bath, thinking that if the contractions continued it was probably really labor, but if I wasn’t really in labor, the bath might make them stop. After a half hour I got out of the tub, definitely sure I was in labor. I woke D and told him I wanted to get things ready in case this turned out to be the real thing.

D woke up and immediately went into super-husband mode. He showered, dressed, turned on a heater in the garage, warmed up the car, threw clothes into a bag, and ate breakfast – all before 6:30. I had to send him out to turn off the car as I didn’t feel it was time to leave quite yet. We timed the contractions for awhile and at this point I was already feeling the back labor I was going to have. About this time we decided to watch an episode of LOST from our Season 3 DVD to pass the time. D knew it was real labor when Ben shot Locke and left him for dead and I didn’t even notice. We gave up on LOST and just focused on the contractions.

At 9:30, we called my midwife’s office and said I thought I was in labor. They said I should come into the office to get checked out. We packed up all our stuff and headed out a little after 10:00. Because we live in Fort Wayne and we were planning to deliver in DeKalb, we made sure to grab everything because we weren’t planning to make the hour-and-a-half round trip again before the baby was born.

About 11:30, my midwife did an internal exam and determined that I was definitely in labor, 3-4 cm dilated, 90% effaced, and baby was at +1 station. She told us we could go home, check into the hospital, or go out and about for awhile. We decided to go eat lunch and then see how I felt. We stopped at Dairy Queen briefly before realizing that the bathrooms were outside. The high for the day was -1 degree Fahrenheit and I was planning on being able to run to the bathroom during my contractions so as not to completely destroy Dairy Queen’s chances of patronage for the day, so this wasn’t going to work. We packed back up and went to the Wendy’s down the street which had a nice indoor bathroom. I could tell when a contraction was coming because my back would start to hurt first, so when my back started to hurt I went to the ladies’ room and hung out there until the contraction was over. I somehow managed to eat a spicy chicken sandwich, which was pretty darn good.

Once we finished eating, we decided to go to the dollar store and walk around. We figured the dollar store wouldn’t be too busy in the middle of a week day, and I didn’t want to be around a lot of people. We walked around for a little while, but I was having a contraction in every aisle, and I started getting tired of being in public. We decided to head to the hospital so that I could have some privacy.

We checked into the hospital around 2:00. When we got to our room, the nurse had already pulled our birth plan and contacted Donor Services for us (per our birth plan), so I was pretty impressed. We answered a bunch of medical questions and I was on a fetal monitor for about 20 minutes. We called Velma at this time and told her to come on up to the hospital. I also asked her to call Lisey and let her know I was in labor, and to text J, Jeana, Cuthbert, and Mia with our secret ‘H is in labor’ code, which was “ThunderCats are go!” I had every intention of having Velma contact them all again when I was ready for them to come to the hospital. However, by the time my labor progressed that far, I’d completely lost my social self and didn’t remember. So, that’s the last I sent as far as messages to friends and family.

Velma arrived at the hospital and her and D undertook the task of putting pressure on my lower back every time I had a contraction. This was the only thing that seemed to relieve my back labor, and I am eternally grateful that they were there to do this. It was also a good thing there were two of them because by the end of my labor they were both getting very tired and it was good that they were able to relieve one another. I labored on my hands and knees for awhile, and then the nurse asked if I would like to try the birth ball (per my birth plan). I decided to give it a try, but I didn’t really like it because when D and Velma would push on my back I felt like I was going to fall off the ball. We tried using the ball in several different locations (near the bed, against the wall, etc), but I never could get comfortable with it so I went back to being on my hands and knees in the bed.

Around 5:00, the contractions had started getting pretty long and the nurse asked if I would like to use the tub (again, per my birth plan). She said she would check me and if I was at least 4 cm I could get in the tub. She checked and said I was 5-6, and went to get everything ready. At that time she also called Donor Services, because they had asked her to call them when I was at 6 cm. I also decided to eat some yogurt right about then, which they let me take with me into the tub. I wasn’t really feeling hungry, but I thought I should probably eat while I was still able.

We got into the tub and hung out there for awhile. Velma got in with me and D stayed right by the side. It was a nice Jacuzzi tub with the fancy jets and everything. However, it wasn’t helping me as much as I thought it would. I think this is because of the back labor I was having. Once I was in the tub I felt like labor was getting fairly intense and a lot of details start to get fuzzy, so forgive me if I make a mistake or get things out of order. Stephanie (the midwife) came up at some point after her office hours were over and just sat with me for a long time. I’m honestly not sure how long it was, but I know that she was there from then on until the end of the delivery. During my entire time in the tub all I really remember was that I felt like I was bleeding a lot even though I wasn’t, and I was making very low moaning sounds in my throat to get through each contraction. A few times I started to feel panicky because the contractions were very long and I was worried about getting through the entire labor.

Somewhere around 7:00 (I think) I felt like I needed to have a bowel movement. Now I learned in my childbirth class that this meant I was probably getting ready to push, but for some reason I didn’t think it meant that I was really getting ready to push – I thought I just had to go to the bathroom. Not sure why I thought this applied to everyone except me, but I did, so I said I had to go and got out of the tub to sit on the toilet. I sat backwards on the toilet so that D & Velma could keep pushing on my back (for the record, I did not actually have to go to the bathroom – I was just getting ready to push). From here things are really fuzzy. I know at one point I started crying and D told me not to cry and I told him I was fine and that sometimes I just have to cry (which is true of me in general – sometimes I just have to cry to cope and it doesn’t necessarily mean things have gotten bad). At one point I also told D I hated him, but I don’t remember why. I think it was because I was hot and taking the towels off of me that had been put on me (when I said I was cold previously) and he said something about it. I’m not really sure. I’m also told that I started hyperventilating somewhere in there and Stephanie reminded me how to breathe, but I don’t remember that at all.

Eventually, I think I said that I felt like I needed to push, so Stephanie decided to check me. She said I was at 9 ½ and to go ahead and give a little push. I did, and my water broke. I’m not sure why, but this scared the crap out of me. I think I’d just forgotten that my water needed to break or just assumed it had broken when I was in the tub, so I wasn’t expecting it. I actually screamed a little when it broke because it startled me so much.

I think it was shortly after this Stephanie inserted the sterile water papules into my back. Like I said, things were a little fuzzy, so I’m not sure of the timing. Stephanie told me she had a trick she could use to get rid of the back labor that was “just water, not medicine”. At that point I figured if water was going to get rid of back labor, I’d take it however it came. She said it was going to hurt like “the mother of all bee stings” and went ahead and inserted them. The pain comparison was, sadly, the biggest understatement I have ever heard in my entire life. Stephanie and the nurse, Pam, inserted two sets of two needles and I screamed like someone was murdering me. It was, by far, the most painful part of my labor, but it made the back labor stop immediately. With the next contraction, it was gone.

Sterile water papules are just little tiny shots of sterile water inserted into the back just below the skin. Stephanie said they trick your brain into not feeling the back labor because having the water under the skin like that is so weird that your brain just can’t figure out what’s going on. Because it’s so confused, it can’t process the back pain at all anymore. Eventually the water soaks into your skin, so the pain relief is only there for an hour or two. This is why she waited until I was ready to push before she inserted them. There was no way I’d have ever let her do a second round if the first round had worn off. It seriously hurt that much.

After this, someone (who? I have no idea) helped me over to the bed where I was going to push Norah out. I was lying on my side for a little bit but I was having trouble getting situated enough to push effectively and I couldn’t figure out what to do with my leg. Someone put up a squatting bar above the bed for me to rest my foot on, but pushing on my side still wasn’t working. Stephanie said she had another trick (I reportedly asked her, skeptically, ‘It’s not like the last trick, is it?’) and asked me to lay flat on my back. She said if we couldn’t get baby to move past my hips, we’d move my hips up past baby. I think it’s important to mention this because part of the reason I chose to use a midwife was because I was afraid of being stuck pushing flat on my back, tied up to a monitor with an OB. But when Stephanie said to get on my back, I got on my back because I felt I could trust her. I wasn’t lying on my back to make the delivery easier on her; I was doing it because she thought it would get the baby out. I think that’s an important distinction. I pushed like that for a long time. I’m not actually sure how long – maybe an hour? Maybe a little more? Stephanie and Pam, the nurse, kept telling me I was almost there but I didn’t believe them. I knew pushing would take awhile, so I just kept right on not believing them for at least an hour. D & Velma did believe them, so when Stephanie had to leave the room for a few minutes to deal with another patient who had showed up at L&D, they kind of freaked out a little. I just kept right on pushing, figuring that she’d be back in plenty of time and that Pam had it under control. Stephanie came back and everything was fine.

Toward the end, I got up and kind of hung from the squatting bar to finish delivery. I was having a very hard time squatting at that point. My arms and legs were very tired from having labored on my hands and knees for an extended period of time, and I was having trouble using my legs to support me. As a result, I think most of my support came from my arms, which were very sore for the next 5-6 days. I saw Stephanie put on long gloves and a Dr. smock-thingy, and I knew we were getting close. She helped D to catch baby’s head as it came out, and then she turned the shoulders and pulled them out for D to catch. Once the baby was born, D put her on my belly right away. She was extremely blue and had the most horrible cone head I’ve ever seen, but she was the prettiest blue, cone head baby in the entire world, if you ask me.

I’m not sure how much time went by, but I heard Stephanie say that the placenta had detatched and she asked me to give a little push. The whole thing came out and she showed me which side had been against me and which side the baby had been on. D cut the cord a little earlier than we had planned because the baby looked good and we were hoping to donate the cord, cord blood, and placenta to Donor Services. Donor Services took it away to be shipped out Fed Ex (kind of weird to think of one of your body parts being shipped Fed Ex!) for cord blood and stem cell research and use.

After Norah was born I held her for a little while and then D went with her to the other side of the room to be checked out while I was stitched up. I had a second degree tear, which was rather unpleasant, but as of today (2 weeks and 3 days later) it’s pretty much healed up and I don’t even notice it was there. To be honest, the first 45 minutes or so after Norah was born are also kind of fuzzy. I felt very disoriented and confused. I knew who all the people around me were and I knew what was going on, but I felt like I couldn’t connect with anyone or really respond to anything very well. It was like viewing the world through a TV screen for awhile there. I also got very, very cold and shaky which kind of scared me. The nurse said it was because my body was still trying to warm the baby, but the baby wasn’t there anymore. I was able to nurse Norah about an hour after she was born (also in my birth plan), and she latched on great with the help of one of the nurses.

Overall, I would say I had a good birth experience. I could have done without the back labor but I guess there wasn’t a whole lot anyone could do about that. Stephanie thought the baby may have been posterior and causing the back labor, but it turned out she was positioned perfectly. It may just have been that she was big enough that she was going to put pressure on my tailbone no matter how she came out. I think the biggest keys to my good labor experience were staying active throughout my pregnancy, having good labor support people who took care of my immediate needs, and having a care provider that I could trust, who allowed me to labor how I needed to without intervening too much.

D, Norah, and I are all doing well at home as of the time of this post. I sure could use more sleep and at times I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to be doing with this baby, but overall things are looking good!