Monday, August 31, 2009

Carly loves her daddy.

They go on many crusades together.
Like looking in the mirror in her room.
She's a lucky girl.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mama Wants . . .

In general I make it a life goal to avoid Nicole Richie behavior in all forms.
But I totally covet her necklace.
She has an "H" for her daughter Harlow.
For obvious reasons, I would like a "C".

So cute.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Telling the Tale

Well, Carly is asleep for the time being, so I should probably get in the shower. But I've got a tale to tell.

As we all know, my doctor said Carly (so long, "Lil") was very unlikely to come on her own. So I had settled into a very relaxed state, wondering what I'd be doing with my week of free time. Sunday, August 9th, my house was a mess, we had very little food, and I had a big list of "To Dos" sitting on the table. That day I was also extraordinarily uncomfortable. I missed church and spent the majority of the day in a warm bathtub--though, I never showered or washed my hair: this will be important as you see the coming photographs of me. Around 11 on Sunday night, I started having severe pains. They felt like menstrual cramps times a billion. The "Braxton-Hicks" Contractions I'd been having felt nothing like this. I was confused. But the pains were coming every 20 minutes on the dot. "I think you're in labor" Chris tells me. "I can't be. I'm not anywhere close to labor--and Dr. M is in Texas" I reply. Alas, I am up all night timing contractions (another important note as you see coming pictures of me) and by 6 am, they are about 4-5 minutes apart and getting really strong. So we call the on-call doctor and he tells us to come in and get checked.
In all our unpreparedness and the fact that I'm having severe contractions every 5 minutes, it takes us an hour and a half to get to the hospital that is 10 minutes away. We get there around 7:30 and I'm in all sorts of pain. Two nurses try to check me, but Carly was still so high they had troubles. The on-call doctor came in to try to check instead. His first name was Periclus, and he had a heavy Greek accent. But he was super-nice and the med student following him around raved about his genius, so I felt we were in good hands. He checked and said I was no further than a 2 or 3, but labor was not going to stop. Our options? Sit in agony all day, waiting for everything to happen naturally, or break my water, get me an epidural and pitocin, and get this party started. We chose the latter.
The doctor broke my water and after that the contractions picked up. I was screaming quite a bit at this point, and the nurse hustled to find the epidural man. I remember Chris stroking my head and saying "Its ok, babe." I screamed back "No! This is not ok!" Soon the wonderful anesthesiologist came in and gave me the epidural. I was freezing for some reason and shaking all over and having contractions and I was terrified my involuntary movements would cause permanent paralysis as he stuck a tube into my spinal column, but thankfully he had a little experience and all went well. In no time the warm drugs were flowing and the nurses piled warm blankets on me and then I decided this labor thing wasn't too bad. I could still feel contractions through the drugs though, so they he upped my dosage a little and soon I couldn't feel a thing. At that point, they brought on the pitocin.
It turns out I "respond really well to pitocin". That's what the nurse said anyway. I lost track of time, but not long after the epidural and pitocin drip the nurse checked me and said "Well its a good thing we did your epidural when we did. You're at a 9 1/2" (you start pushing out baby at 10 cm, in case you're like me and didn't know that until you took a childbirth class at 30 weeks pregnant). At noon, we were ready to start pushing. I was drugged enough that I actually couldn't feel contractions or the urge to push until the end. This was not a bad thing for me, as I still had the capability to push and our really really great labor nurse told we when to push and counted down for me the whole time. At the end, I could feel Carly starting to emerge, and I knew when to push without having to be told. Soon the doctor came in for the final few pushes and at 12:53, our beautiful little coneheaded Carly entered the world. So we were at the hospital at 7:30, started pushing at 12, had a baby by 12:53. All in all, it was a very successful morning.

My new opinion of having a child is I could do labor and delivery over again easily. That part hurts, but modern medicine is a gift from God. The recovery? That's the part no one tells you about. That's the part that will be really hard to knowingly choose to go through a second (and third, and fourth) time. That's the part that makes it hard to walk even 10 days later. Our little Carly is so worth it of course. But that's the part I really wasn't ready for.
We were in the hospital for the standard 2 days. Carly spent the night in the nursery (and some days--I needed a nap or two) and was brought to me to feed. She's been a champ at breastfeeding. She gained weight after being discharged from the hospital and then gained a whole pound 1 week later. Little piggy. I'm less of a breastfeeding champ, as it is rather painful. My goal is to learn the ropes until her 3 week appointment and then have a heart-to-heart with the wonderful lactation consultant at our pediatrician's office. Like everything, we'll just gradually learn together and make little goals.

When Carly was born her hair looked very red--or at least auburn or strawberry-blond or somewhere in there. Since we've gotten her home, though, her hair has darkened quite a bit and I think its almost exactly Chris's shade now. I'm sure it will change many times throughout her life. Chris is still "holding out hope" that it will be red (though, we'll accept her if it stays brown). She's a good baby and never cries, really. The only two things that really make her cry are hunger and sponge baths. She is nocturnal, however. She sleeps all day and is wide awake at night. Not fussy usually, just hanging out and looking around with her wide beautiful eyes. The nurse at the pediatrician's office says that will reverse itself soon. Here's hoping.

And how about choosing "Carly"? Well, a long time ago we were talking about names and Carly came up as one we both liked. It stayed the front runner the entire pregnancy, and by that last week, we were referring to her as Carly most of the time. The first time I held her Chris asked "Well, what do you think?" I said "I think she's Carly." He answered "Me too." And she was Carly. No real story behind it. We just liked it. Our first runner up was "Quinn". I still love that name for a girl, and would love to see Carly have a little sister named Quinn. But we'll take one step at a time! And no, Carly doesn't have a middle name. I don't have a middle name, I now use my maiden name as my middle name. My mom is the same way-- no middle name and uses her maiden name or initial. I wavered back and forth on whether to give her a middle name or not, but in the end liked the thought of keeping with that tradition. So she's Carly C. The lady at the hospital commented on how we were "sure keeping things simple" because we used the most basic spelling (there are a million ways to spell Carly) and weren't giving her a middle name. We like it that way.

We took Carly home on Wednesday, August 12th--my due date. A pretty good way to spend your due date, if you ask me. We have slowly but surely been getting the hang of things trying to keep her happy and well-fed. It can be exhausting and overwhelming at times, but nothing has ever brought us more joy. She is the most beautiful thing I have ever laid eyes one, and we are both totally smitten.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Snug as a Bug

I have every intention of writing all about Carly's surprise
appearance and how life has been with her.
I also have every intention of wearing make-up again someday.
So far, no luck in either department.
Turns out this is way beyond a full time job.
But we've never been happier.
So for the time being, a few shots from the last few days:
Car loves her swing.
Car really loves having her hair washed under warm water.
Raising her right from day one.

One of my absolute favorites so far.
She had enough of grandma's flash photography.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


This is Carly.
She's our daughter.
August 10, 2009
12:53 pm
7 lbs 8oz

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mark Your Calendars

For August 17.
At my doctor's appointment yesterday,
Lil still had no desire to meet her parents.
I mean zero.
So we'll force her out if necessary.
The plan is to go in Sunday night the 16th and get things rolling. The real induction will begin Monday morning. This gives Lil 5 days past her due date to see if she's interested in making her appearance unassisted. My doctor said that at the rate I'm progressing (zero), its unlikely I'll go into labor on my own before the 17th. But he's been wrong before, he said, and he doesn't mind being wrong. Only time will tell, but we'll have a baby on August 17th regardless. A definite light at the end of the tunnel is acceptable to me, even if that light is further than expected. Chris and I are well-informed on the ups and downs of induction. Because of this, its easy to have mixed feelings. But we trust my doctor, and he spoke yesterday about making sure to avoid anything that would create "a recipe for disaster". And I feel very much at peace with everything that went down yesterday. I usually take the "at peace" thing as a good sign. A few major perks to August 17th? That's the day my parents arrive in Knoxville. They'll be able to see Lil all shriveled and lizard-like, fresh from the womb. Also, my doctor will be back. He will be on vacation all week next week (when he told me, I almost flipped). He was very apologetic (how dare he go on vacation with his family) but after my check-up, he seemed pretty sure he'd be back to deliver Lil'. It also gives Chris a whole other week to get some of the billion things he'd like to get done before the big arrival. So all-in-all, the 17th is shaping up to be an opportune day. We'll take her if she decides to show up earlier, for sure, but for now I'm not minding the current schedule.
Except that means I have 10 days left of pregnancy. Not 5.
It also means I have a whole week of not working to fill.
What am I going to do with myself?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The End is Near

I'd like to think so anyway. I'd like to think the end is very near indeed. I'm really hoping I'll have a baby within the next week. I've told Lil to come on Monday, August 10th. It will give me a weekend to rest and prepare after my last day of work, my doctor will be in, and it will be 1 week before my mom, dad, and brother arrive. I don't get to see them very often these days, and I don't want to be a delirious slug when they are here. And I really don't want to be an over-due whale when they come. So August 10th it is. I'm accepting all good vibes on that one;-). Unfortunately, one thing I've learned during pregnancy is that baby is the boss from day one. Such a little person controlling our every move--I have a feeling we have a lifetime of this to look forward to.
Pregnancy in review:
Cravings: In early pregnancy, I was so sick I had a very hard time eating anything. I can't even remember what I ate. I remember eating a lot of Progresso vegetable and wild rice soup, which is something I can't even think about now because its mentally connected to nausea. From my late 20 to mid 30 weeks, I had a total obsession with tomatoes. I've never really liked tomatoes but I was all the sudden putting them on everything: think slices on sandwiches and wraps, big chucks in scrambled eggs and on top of anything Mexican. Loved them. Then one day it just ended. Me and tomatoes went our separate ways. I also couldn't stand meat for probably the first half of pregnancy. I was probably 21 or 22 weeks by the time I got back to eating chicken. However, one thing I remain to love and crave is Applebees riblets--don't get me started on how much I love those. Other pregnancy obsessions include potato salad, milkshakes, and anything fruity and chewy (fruit roll ups, Mike & Ikes, Skittles, etc). At the beginning I couldn't stand chocolate (a travesty for this chocoholic) and I wonder if I'll ever again be able to eat many foods that ended up in the toilet after I ate them.
Whats really strange is the mental connection between certain things and being sick. I was sickest over Christmas break and into January. When I see pictures of people dressed in winter clothes or snow activities, a little wave of nausea hits me. This also happens with the "30 Rock" theme song. We watched hours of that show during Christmas and now the song makes me sick. And sadly, the same thing happens with the idea of Christmas. Christmas trees, presents, stockings, the whole thing--I get nauseous thinking about it. Its tragic. I'm hoping this Christmas will heal my emotional scarring.

My physicallness: Well, I have been nauseous every day for about 33 weeks, but that is just my thing, I suppose. Every person has a "thing" (or several) and mine must just be nausea. I was wondering the other night if it would really go away after the baby comes. The prospect of not being nauseous is exhilarating, but seems unrealistic. One great thing? No stretch marks. Not one. Every visit, by doctor compliments me on my nice stomach skin (it takes a special person to be an OB, I think, ha ha). I credit Creme de Corps, the $28 bottle of lotion we got on recommendation from Chris's thesis advisor. Once I started growing, my belly started itching so bad with no relief. I layer of Creme de Corps, a layer of Johnson's baby oil, and I was good. Nice and shiny and greasy, but good. And one bottle, though crazy expensive, has lasted my whole pregnancy, so for me it was a good investment. The other thing that helped with stretch marks was that my weight gain was relatively steady. My fastest weight gain was 8 lbs in 4 weeks, and that was during my trip to Idaho, where I was extraordinarily well-fed. All in all, my weight gain has been acceptable to me thus far, though I'm very curious to see how much I weigh after the baby and all the baby juices come out (yummy, I know). A final weird thing about my body? My feet have shrunk. They shrunk early, probably by 13 or 14 weeks. I remember putting on all my different heels for church and they were all flopping off. What?? They still do. I wonder if its permanent. And since I haven't gotten any swelling--or hardly any--all my shoes are now a size too big. Very strange.
I won't get into the emotional side of things too much. Some things are journal things for me, not blog things. But pregnancy is such a roller coaster of emotions. Exhilaration and excitement one second, followed by fear and worry the next. Its hard having a baby inside you where you can't check up on her, can't make sure she is doing ok. I used to freak all the time when I couldn't feel her move. Fun fact? I have an anterior placenta, which blocked me from feeling her for a while until she was a little bigger. It still muffles a lot of her movements, so I've been told. I do think I worried too much. Its my goal not to worry so much as a mother, because it can really drain the fun and excitement. One thing that's funny about pregnancy is it makes you survive this 9 month marathon of emotional and physical misery and joy. By the end you are totally exhausted and then--then--you're expected to go through labor and delivery. Every night I come home and think "There is no way I could do labor tonight, I just don't have the energy." That's why Monday sounds good to me. A weekend of a little R & R ought to get me nice and ready, right?
I've gotten a ton of great advice from new-mom friends. Now I'm going to open up a few last minute questions to the masses (k, I just realized there are a lot of questions; maybe pick one or two? ha ha). I know every mom, baby, delivery, recovery is different, but I want to hear your story:
What did you do, or wish you had done, to prepare for bringing the baby home? For example, I've heard of pre-cooking and freezing meals. We may or may not have family around when we bring her home (and I'm honestly fine with either), so what preparations would you recommend?
Did your water break? Did your labor begin with contractions that built up? I'm afraid I won't notice I'm in labor. Is that even possible?
Maybe more importantly, do you remember feeling differently shortly before labor began? Like sick to your stomach, out-of-it, or just "weird". I felt so "weird" yesterday and wondered if it was a sign. Alas, it wasn't because here I am at work blogging.
This is weird, but are babies cold all the time? Its 95 degrees here and a million percent humidity, will we still need to wrap her up in all sorts of layers when we take her home in the car?
If this is too personal, don't worry about answering, but any breastfeeding tips? This is my biggest fear, but also one of the things I have the greatest desire to succeed at.
How was your recovery? Did you feel like you were out-of-it for days, or were you up and at it in no time? I know you should take it easy no matter what, but what would you say I should be prepared for in terms of recovery?
How did you feel about guests? Was there ever a time when there were just too many guests or too much going on? On the other hand, if you were left alone early on did you feel overwhelmed trying to care for the baby?
This is my last "pregnancy post".
Its time to wrap up this whole pregnancy thing I think.
Time to move on to the baby thing.
Just a little surreal.

Monday, August 3, 2009

This Month is Such a Special One . . .

Its August. Did you notice? I did.

August is typically a downer month. It means the summer is coming to a close. It means school will be back in session soon (UT starts August 19th! Isn't that insanely early?). But not August 09. August o9 is the month I've been looking forward to for quite a while. I remember a few years ago, after we had been married a year or so, we were at TJ Maxx and I saw the cutest little blue baby dress for a few bucks. I convinced Chris to let me buy it, and started a "baby box". On the top I wrote "Baby Box: Not to be opened until sometime around August 2009"--it seemed like perfect timing for C baby #1 (though we later tried for earlier; guess I was right from the beginning). I'm pretty sure that was the only thing to ever go in the "baby box". Where is the baby box now? I have no idea. Sadly that little dress may be lost forever. It would be really fun if I could find it though. Anyway, I've been looking forward to this month for quite some time.

But we're not here to talk about August 09 for that reason. August 09 is also a landmark all its own.

It marks one whole year in Tennessee.

Yes, it was August 12 (my due date, ironically) of 2008 that we arrived in Rocky Top after a long and excruciating car ride. I remember driving into Tennessee. I was in complete shock at how many trees there were. I grew up in the relatively treeless desert of Idaho. I thought I knew trees from my time in Indiana, but you just don't know trees until you drive through East Tennessee. I remember feeling claustrophobic. Just outside of Knoxville there are just endless rolling hills of trees. That was my first impression of Tennessee. Whats with all the trees? Despite the trees, we made it into town, found our apartment, settled in. Remember how it smelt like smoke? We had vinegar and oranges and all sorts of stuff sitting around, trying to get that smell out. It never really came out, which is why I'm so glad we moved apartments in February. I love our new apartment. Its smaller, but feels so much more like home. That was a good move by us.

I still spin a little thinking that we actually live here. That I actually consider it home. We've grown up a lot here, Chris and I. This may have just been us, but the atmosphere at BYU and in Provo is so cozy, so nourishing to young newlywed LDS couples. There are a million other people in your exact position. Marriage in the early 20s is no surprise. Church activities abound. The temple is a 2 minute drive up 9th East. For us life was relatively "easy". We were sustained by the support of everything around us. We knew coming to Tennessee would be a drastic change. We knew it would be a challenge, but also a blessing. Not only would Chris continue to get a great education (and get paid for it), but our marriage would be strengthened as we set out on this crazy adventure with just the two of us. And that is exactly what has happened. We have had no one but each other. We still receive a lot of support from family and the Church, but the cocoon is gone. I am more in love with Chris and more tied to him now more than ever. Sure, that just happens with time, but I think being here and facing the challenges we have have accelerated the process. I'm grateful for our time here as a family. I do wish, with our daughter arriving, that we were closer to my family, but our return to the West will come (hopefully sooner rather than later? Umm, we'll see.) But our time here as been a blessing for our soon-to-be family of 3.

A few observations on the South? Because I know you're dying to know.

1. News stories on obesity are not an exaggeration. Coming from the West to the South, the prevalence of obesity here is noticeably higher. Just looking around at people in the mall, grocery stores, restaurants--so many more obese people, or at least heavily overweight people. I think its frustrating for someone as health conscious as Chris to see obese 30-somethings riding a Rascal around Wal-mart filling their cart with the worst possible foods. I'm not a specter of perfect health, but it can be stressful when you see people's habits and then hear them complain about their weight or bad knees or whatever. The real problem is how much people eat out here. At least once a day. Fried chicken biscuits with gravy for breakfast, 5 Crystal sliders for lunch, drop by Chick-fil-a for dinner. That's a slight exaggeration, but when Southerners hear how Chris and I limit eating out to 1 or 2 times a month max, they are shocked. If only they new how many calories--and how much money--we save.

2. Tennessee is in the bible belt. No doubt. Its nice. In other places, even Utah, God isn't spoken about is public spheres. But here is all about God and blessings and mercy and grace. And I think its been good for the people who I have interacted with to see that Mormons believe in Christ and blessings and God and prayer. Mass emails are sent out in my office requesting prayers for family members. Coworkers walk around listening to Gospel music on their Ipods. No one is shy about their faith, which can be refreshing, considering sometimes I think LDS people (or maybe its just me) worry about being to "forward" about their faith. That being said, Joel Osteen and similar money-making preachers kind of creep me out. Well Joel Osteen really creeps me out. Its just me, but something about him I don't really like. We'll leave him to the Baptists, I suppose.

3. I have a serious love/hate relationship with Tennessee weather. The Fall and Spring are absolutely beautiful. Not humid, perfect temperature, sunny. I absolutely love Fall and Spring. Winter also spoiled me. It was cold, but not like Utah and Idaho cold. At it was gray, but I don't mind gray. But there was hardly any snow. I thought I'd miss it, but I didn't. I didn't miss digging a car out or ice on the windshield or slick roads. Winter was like late fall in Utah, and I didn't miss it at all. I did get a "White Christmas" in Idaho, though, so maybe that filled my snow quota for the winter. Along with Fall and Spring, one thing the South does right is thunderstorms. A few weeks ago we had the loudest thunderstorm with the brightest lightening. It woke me up in the middle of the night and our whole apartment lit up with every flash of lightning. Chris and I watched it out the window. It was magnificent. What does Tennessee do horribly wrong? Summer. The last month or so the humidity as been suffocating. I get dizzy when I'm outside for too long. Lungs aren't meant to breath water! And I've been told I'm lucky to be pregnant during such a "mild" summer, as last summer was much worse. So while the weather is beautiful 3/4 of the year, I think a summer home in Idaho would be required for any long-term Tennessee living.

4. People are remarkably friendly. One night Chris and I were shopping at Walmart. I was "showing" quite a bit at this point, and I had 4 conversations with total strangers about Lil and her impending arrival. Every conversation ended with well-wishes. The guy at the seafood counter even told me that he "prays that God will bless you and send you a healthy beautiful daughter". I was almost in tears. People were so sweet and sincere and just struck up conversations like we were old friends. There is still something to be said for Southern hospitality, though it certainly doesn't apply to all Southerners (though, I'll keep those stories to myself;-).

So one year down, one year to go in Tennessee. Chris has been looking into PhD programs, and they range from Michigan to Pennsylvania to Utah to who knows where else. Only time will tell what surprises are in store for our future, but for now, we'll enjoy whats left of our time here in Rocky Top Tennessee.