Thursday, November 30, 2006

Back on the Wagon

If you pay any attention to my sidebar, you know that I'm currently reading this little gem. I actually find most of it to be obnoxious garbage (more in a later post), but the chapter on addressing one's physical fitness motivated me to start eating well again and exercising (which I haven't done on a regular basis since before getting pregnant). Unfortunately, Jay was able to find my packed-away Pilates DVDs in a matter of minutes and I had no excuse not to use them.

As a result, I slept better last night than I have since before Joshua was born. I think I got 8+ hours of (nearly) uninterrupted sleep. I did have to go to the bathroom once since I drank so much water, but I was able to fall right back to sleep again.

Of course, I feel like I've been run over by a semi.

I assume this will get easier. I already feel like a new person.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Still Not Quite Thinking Like a Parent

We had an eat-in area in our kitchen in Joliet. We never furnished it because it was the perfect place to drop the baby and his gear everytime we walked in the door. A little dinette set would have completely cramped our style.

Our new house has an eat-in kitchen, too, and the decision to furnish it was easy. Joshua quickly mastered the art of flinging sweet potatoes and other brightly-colored foods past the boundaries of his gigantic Spongebob Squarepants underneath-the-high-chair-food-catching-tarp and onto the carpet in the dining room. A whole can of Spot Shot later and we decided that we needed to eat our meals on tile rather than on carpet.

So Joshua and I set out on our new find an inexpensive yet stylish dinette for our eat-in area. We hit several furniture stores in town and quickly discovered that you are no one unless you have a "pub table" in your kitchen. It took me a while to get used to the pub table idea but then I was sold, and it wasn't long before Joshua and I found the perfect one. It was a four-top round pub table, but the chairs weren't so high as to cause my feet to dangle. I tried to think of how Joshua would manage once he was old enough to climb in and out of his chair by himself and decided that these chairs wouldn't be any more difficult to get in and out of than any other chair.

I shared my discovery with Jay. I described it to him in detail and then said, "Or we could just get a plain wooden table," hoping that he would think that was a terrible idea.

But he didn't.

"Maybe we should get a plain wooden table. We don't want to spend a lot of money on a table that's just going to get huge gouges in it when he plays with his spirograph."

Spirograph! I hadn' t thought of that at all. And then thoughts of No. 2 pencils and crayons running off the edge of the paper began flooding my brain. And errant streaks of glue from art projects. And gashes from scissors.

A glass-top pub table? What was I thinking?

So we went to K-Mart and got this. It was originally $220 but had gone on sale for $150. The sale was over but someone had forgotten to remove the sign with the new price, so we got it for the sale price anyway.

Bring on the spirograph, the writing utensils, the glue, the scissors! And maybe one day I'll start thinking like a parent.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I am thankful that this Thanksgiving is not last Thanksgiving.

Last Thanksgiving Joshua was eleven days old. I was miserably sleep-deprived. I still had raging hormones coursing through my body. I was wondering if I shouldn't just give this squirming, screaming ball of baby away to someone made of better stuff than I. My dad, God love him, had driven up from Nashville to spend the holiday with us. He probably spent the whole time wondering what had happened to his happy, chatty, cheerful daughter and if she would ever come back to replace this hollow, lifeless, shell of a person who had taken up residence on the living room couch.

The only thing I remember about Thanksgiving dinner is that I ate about three bites while trying desperately to nurse Joshua. I chewed as quietly as possible so I could hear whether he was actually swallowing anything or just pacifying himself. Not that it mattered, of course, so long as he was quiet.

Both my mom and dad had reassured me that "this time next year he'll be sitting at the table eating turkey and mashed potatoes." It didn't matter. I couldn't see past the next month of writing ordination papers while trying to soothe this poor guy who would be happy to sit down by himself for about, oh, fifteen seconds before demanding to be picked up again.

Right now he just woke up after twelve hours of good sleep. He just finished "helping" Jay fix breakfast by pulling everything out of the kitchen cabinets and now he's playing in the living room with my dad. This afternoon we'll enjoy our Thanksgiving lamb and Saturday we'll do it all over again with my mom's family in Nashville.

I'm so thankful.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Queen of the Mountain

Our friend Christie, the wife and ranching partner of Montana Dave is now a blogger! She's a fascinating woman with lots of insight and wisdom. And she's also a fabulous writer. Go visit.

Warning: Her first posts are graphic, gut-wrenching, and not for the faint of heart.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Read This Book

I don't often recommend books to everyone, but you (yes, I mean you and you and you) should read this. Trust me.

Monday, November 13, 2006

One Year Ago Today -or- Joshua's Birth Story, The Final Chapter

By this time the nurses were well aware that I had a very clear idea of exactly how I wanted my labor and delivery to go, so they didn’t hesitate to ask how I wanted to push. I told them that I wanted to be as upright as possible, wanted to hold my own legs, and wanted to be left alone.

“You know how on all those birth shows they have people standing over the mother yelling at her to push?” I said and they nodded.

“Don’t do that.”

“And you know how they’re always counting to ten through the pushing?” I asked and they nodded again.

“Don’t do that either. I can count and I know when to push. I’d appreciate just being left alone.”

One of the nurses left the room altogether and the other one stood by the monitor while I pushed. I wasn’t sure of the protocol for this manner of pushing, so every time I felt a contraction I’d announce to the near-empty room, “I’m going to push now.” And when the contraction was over I’d announce, “I’m done.” And Jay would look to how things were going in my nether regions, and the nurse would come over and clean up that which needed to be cleaned up. It became clear after a few pushes that Joshua wasn’t enjoying ride. His heart rate would bottom out during each contraction, so the nurse suggested I push on my side. It wasn’t the most comfortable position, but I managed, and Joshua seemed to appreciate the change. However, when I changed positions, the contraction monitor at the nurse’s station went haywire since I had to contract my abdominal muscles in order to move. The doctor came running in to find out what was going on since he thought they were blasting me with Pitocin to spur on contractions. Once that was cleared up I was left alone again to push.

After about an hour Jay checked “down there” and said to the nurse, “Maybe it’s time to get the doctor.” She took a peek and agreed. After that things are a blur. The doctor came in, broke off the bottom half of the bed, rolled out his impressive array of instruments, allowed himself to be dressed and gloved by the nurses, asked if there were any residents who wanted to watch (Hello? Does anyone care if I want residents to watch?), called the pediatric team to the room (Joshua pooped in utero, which is common in overdue babies, so he had to be checked right away), and calmly gave me final instructions.

“OK, push with the next contraction, and then push again immediately after that.”

“You want me to push when there’s no contraction?” I checked. He nodded. We were cool.

Pretty soon he announced that there was a head, and a whole body attached. Jay describes it by saying, “His head came out and then he kept coming and coming and coming.” Joshua began to wail immediately. He was perfectly pink with a big pile of black hair. And he was whisked away to be checked by peds. It took me a minute to remember that I didn’t even know his full name yet. We had decided on Joshua months before, but I left his middle name up to Jay. I turned around to ask Jay what his name was. Through tears he said, “Joshua Christian.” Joshua is the name of one of my very best friends from seminary. Christian is the middle name of Jay’s grandfather. It was perfect.

I delivered the placenta, which was very pretty as placentas go, and the doctor pulled out his suture kit. It took me a minute to figure out what he was doing.

“Oh,” I said, “Is it bad?” My doctor also knows me well enough to know that certain information will just make me a basket case. He smiled and kept stitching.

Soon after, the head of the peds team came over and introduced herself. She explained why they had been called down and informed me that Joshua was perfect, with two 9’s for his Apgar scores. She thanked me for letting her team provide services, packed up, and left.

Joshua weighed 9 lbs., 5 oz. and was 21.5 inches long, pretty big as far as newborns go. Because he was so large the nurses needed to conduct some blood tests to make sure his blood sugar was stable. After what seemed like ages, they finally put a squirmy, naked Joshua on my chest. He proceeded to poop all over both Jay and I before any of us remembered that a diaper might be a good idea. Joshua and I tried out nursing and discovered that it wasn't so hard after all (although by the time a week had passed I was good buddies with the local lactation consultant). And then we went up to our room to get to know each other.

It's hard to believe that I've only known this kid for a year. It seems like he's been around my whole life.

One Year Ago Today -or- Joshua's Birth Story, Part II

It was a little after 1:00 a.m when we got back in the car. This time I was really uncomfortable and rode the whole way while lying down in the backseat. Jay did his best to coach me from the front, but I wasn’t a very good listener. We finally arrived at the hospital and Jay dropped me off at the door. As I walked back to the triage desk, Nurse Shortfinger looked at me like I was crazy. I panted at her, “My water broke” and I shortly found myself back in Hell’s Triage Room where the temperature was now somewhere around 110 degrees. That’s when things started getting messy in ways that don’t need to be shared via internet. One of the nurses did a test to find out if my water really broke (which I certainly appreciated after having made the huge mess on my bathroom floor) while the other nurse re-entered all of my information in the computer. (Apparently Nurse Shortfinger hadn’t bother to save everything so I repeated all the information I had given just hours before).

After informing me that my water had broken, the nurse then informed me that I was 2 cm dilated. Yes! All that work and I had made a whole centimeter of progress. Visions of labor lasting for days, even weeks, began darting through my head. I was admitted “for observation” and told that the doctor would call back at 6:00 a.m. to find out if I had made sufficient progress to stay in the hospital or if I needed to return home. Please note that at this point I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even roll over onto my back. The contractions felt like they were rolling on top of each other. I would’ve thought that I was actually in transition except that I still had 8 centimeters to go before I could push. But they would admit me “for observation.” There were a few things that I wanted them to “observe” but none would have been very appropriate.

I finally made it to my LDR room at 4:00 a.m. Lisa was waiting for me with an IV. Even though I intended an unmedicated birth, I was a Group B Strep carrier and needed at least two bags of penicillin before delivery. By that time everything I had learned in Bradley classes was out the window. I was too far along in labor to be able to relax. The room was too bright, the noises were too loud, I was sweating and shivering at the same time from the hormone surges, and I was fairly certain I was going to die right there. I apologized to Jay for wimping out, turned to Lisa, and begged for the anesthesiologist. She looked at me wide-eyed, giving me another moment to change my mind.

“Please,” I said.

I know the anesthesiologist was dressed in white, but I’m pretty sure she had a halo, too. It took a long time for her to place the epidural because she was being so cautious, but when she finished I felt better immediately. I had a little button to push to control the amount of medicine I was getting. I was able to regulate it so that I could still feel my contractions, but I wasn’t in mind-blowing pain any more. Right after the epidural was placed, a resident came in to check me and told me I was at 4 centimeters.

Observation. Ha.

Jay sat on the chair next to the bed for the next few hours and pretended not to doze off while I did my best to get some shut-eye. At 7:00 a.m. I was checked again and had made it to 6 cm, and at 8:30 a.m. I got a great surprise! Even though he wasn’t supposed to be working, my doctor came in to deliver Joshua, although he said that the deed had to be done by noon so that he could watch the Bears game. He checked me immediately and informed me that it was time to push.


I still hadn’t gotten my second bag of penicillin, so the doctor changed his mind about the pushing thing and went to the nurse’s station to read his novel while I got the second dose of medication. At 9:15 he came back and took one more look. He ordered a minute amount of Pitocin, despite Jay’s objections, as my contractions had slowed from 3 minutes to 5 minutes, and gave me the go-ahead to push.

This is getting long. I’ll finish the story in one additional post.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

One Year Ago Today -or- Joshua's Birth Story

One year ago today I went into labor. It was quite a surprise, really, even though I was already overdue. According to the doctor Joshua was due November 8, but according to my (much more accurate) calculations, he was due on November 11. When I went for my regular checkup on November 11, however, nothing was happening. He hadn’t dropped at all and my cervix was closed up tight. I was about 80% effaced, but I had been that way for several weeks. The doctor scheduled a non-stress test and ultrasound for the following Tuesday (the 15th) and an induction for the Monday after that (the 21st).

So it was a surprise when I started feeling crampy on Saturday morning. Jay had gone out for a run and I was sorting laundry, figuring I could use another Saturday to get things in order around the house. I called my friend who had given birth just six months before.

“I’m having cramps,” I told her, “Am I in labor?”

She gave me the short list of things to do: stand up, sit down, lie down, drink as much water as you can choke down. If you still feel crampy, you’re in labor.

I was, indeed, in labor, a fact that I doubted for the rest of the day. I was sure that the contractions were going to go away and that I would be pregnant forever. Jay came home from his run and showered, and then we started timing the contractions. They stayed about six minutes apart all day. We whiled away the hours watching football and trying to take a nap (in hindsight I should’ve done everything in my power to fall asleep, seeing as that was the final opportunity for pre-baby rest), but I kept alerting Jay to every contraction and neither of us could sleep. Finally I sent him out for Portillo’s, which we jokingly referred to as “The Last Supper.” At 8:00 p.m. I began doing laps around the living room/dining room/kitchen circuit in the parsonage, which shortened the time between contractions to three minutes. Finally we decided to call the doctor and head into town. If I knew then what I know now we would’ve just headed into town and gotten a nice hotel room rather than going to the hospital, but I was a first time mom and perpetually neurotic, so we went to the hospital.

It took a little over an hour to get there (we moved during my pregnancy but I didn’t want to give up my doctor) and I was only moderately uncomfortable. When we showed up I was sent to a triage room and given a gown to change in to. Several minutes later the triage nurse showed up and began her exam…or at least she tried to. The poor woman couldn’t have been more than five feet tall, and her hands were in perfect proportion to her height: She couldn’t reach my cervix. And that was not for lack of trying, mind you. Finally, she gave up (much to my relief) and called a taller woman in to do the job. Nurse #2 gave me the fabulous news that I was 1 centimeter dilated. I almost cried. It was about 90 degrees in the triage room, I’d been laboring all day long, I wasn’t terribly comfortable, and I had barely made any progress.

The nurse started to offer the possibility of admitting me and starting a Pitocin drip. About halfway through her offer she remembered my intention to have an unmedicated birth and stopped herself. She offered to let me walk around the floor to see if I could get things moving along any faster, and also suggested staying in a hotel nearby until I began making more progress (for those of you new to this, a woman isn’t considered “in labor” until she is at least 3 cm dilated). I was hot, miserable, embarrassed, and frustrated that no one could give me any indication of when I might “really” be in labor. I only wanted to be in my own bed.

Totally crestfallen, Jay and I got back in the car and drove back to Joliet. I crawled into bed, wondering how many more days I was going to have to endure in the relative discomfort that the contractions were causing. I asked Jay to sleep in the guest room so that he could actually rest since I knew I probably wasn’t going to be able to sleep. After about five contractions I had to go to the bathroom. As soon as I dropped trou', my water broke.

Jay has a strange gift for low-profile sleeping. He can be almost completely undetectable in a bed. I looked for him in the guest bedroom, but he wasn’t there. I went through the first floor of the house, but he wasn’t there either. So I went back up to the guest bedroom and noticed a slight lump under the comforter. I informed him that we needed to go back to the hospital, hopefully this time to have a baby.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Reflections

I have never felt as cynical at the polls as I did yesterday, even after listening to Copland's Lincoln Portrait (complete with narration by Katherine Hepburn) at lunch. Here's why:

  • Discrimination. This is the second time I've had to vote on a proposition to legislate discrimination. We lived in California when Proposition 22 passed, stating that the state would not recognize same-sex marriages contracted outside of California. As if that wasn't bad enough, now good old Tennessee has decided (by a landslide, no less) to write discrimination into the state constitution. The state cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation when hiring persons for state jobs. The state cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation when admitting students into state schools. But by golly now we've decided that the state can discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation when two people of the same gender want the same rights that married heterosexuals have. And we wrote it into the state constitution. Are you kidding me?
  • Dirty Campaigns and Demonization. Our senate race was dirty. It was mentioned on NPR no less than five times (that I heard) as an example of one of the nastiest campaigns in the country. And it wouldn't be so bad if I had really been able to get behind one or the other of the candidates. As it was, however, I felt that I was picking the lesser of the two evils. On top of that, I am so tired of the sweeping, demonizing generalizations. Republicans claim that the Democrats have no "family values" and that Democrats "hate our soldiers." Democrats claim that Republicans want America to be a theocracy. When it comes right down to it, nothing much is going to change regardless of who controls the House and Senate. As a nation, our priorities are still completely out of whack and it isn't the politicians who are going to put things back together again.
  • Screwy Priorities. And speaking of priorities that are out of whack, I am more than a little disgusted by the amount of money spent on the Tennessee senate race alone. (The figure I heard was in the millions of dollars). That makes my stomach turn. It is absolutely sinful (and I mean that in the most theological of ways) that there are children going to bed hungry in this state and yet there is that much money going into a political campaign. I'm disgusted.
  • Two Parties? Jonathan posted about Chris Lugo last week, which prompted me to consider voting for him (Chris, not Jonathan). But of course, "a vote for Lugo would be a vote for Corker" By voting for Ford, though, I essentially said, "Hey, Harold Ford, I agree with you! Or at least I agree with you enough to want you to represent me!" But I don't agree with him on a lot of things. He just happened to be the lesser of the two evils (who had a shot at winning). How many other people who would've voted for Lugo voted for Ford instead because "a vote for Lugo is a vote for Corker?" If they had voted for Lugo would it have sent a strong message to the Republican and Democratic candidates that, hey, a lot of us think you're both full of baloney? If we're voting for the lesser of the two evils instead of the person that we think is right for the job how are we ever going to break free of the two-party system? Are we just being cowards if we don't vote the way our consciences dictate? I don't know.
  • Stupid Voting Machines. The ones where I voted worked fine. I even got a lovely tutorial on how to use it properly. But it seems like everyone was just waiting for the machines to screw up. Ford started hollering early about how a polling place in Jackson had to turn people away because the machines were broken. Turns out that was wholly untrue. It seems that the voting machines are just another thing that the candidates can make a stink over if things don't go their way.
I'm done now.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my dad and to my godson David!

David is three years old today. My dad is a few years more than that.

We here at Bernheisel Central hope they both have wonderful birthdays!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Feeling Blue in a Red State

Just when I thought I had figured out who to vote for on Tuesday, Jonathan had to go and post about Chris Lugo, the Green Party candidate whom I didn't even know was running.

Life was much easier when Obama was one of my options.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy Halloween!

I would have uploaded this last night but Blogger was being cranky.

My dad and I have a long history of pumpkin carving together that I wanted to carry on for Joshua. Every year my dad and I picked out a pumpkin together and came up with a design. (There was usually very little variation other than how many teeth to include). Then I would clean out the guts and he would carve. We even did it last year when he was visiting for my baby shower!

This is my first time trying my hand at it all by myself, as gut-cleaner-outer, designer, and carver. I don't think it's half bad for my first time.

You can get a better view at Josh's blog.