Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mary Poppins Was Full Of It

Just a spoonful of sugar my youknowwhat.  Sure, it's easy to clean up an entire playroom in the time it takes you to sing a song when all you have to do is snap your fingers to get the toys to fall in line.  Even better when you have kids to snap THEIR fingers instead.

But what about me?  I seem to have missed the part where I sign up for that finger-snapping power.  If anyone knows how to get that, I'll be first in line.  Shoot, I'll even skip the finger-snapping and just settle for blinking power like Jeannie, or nose wiggle power like Samantha.

Alas, I'm just little ole me.  With only two hands and half hearted motivation to clean.  I think I severely underestimated how much of an ongoing job housekeeping for a family of 6 is.  I try to remember what it was like when we just had one princess.  I was working outside the home full time at that point, and the hubs was in grad school and working part time as well.  So I'm not under any illusion that we had MORE time to ourselves.  In fact, we probably had less.  But there were only 3 of us (well, 4 if you count our boy-dog).  And no matter how you add it up, 6 is definitely more than 3.

I'll be the first to admit I'm not the best housekeeper (as my mom nods her head in agreement.  I don't think she ever got me to do my own laundry when I lived at home).  I manage the day to day OK, but there are some things that just don't make it into my daily (or weekly, or ever) lineup of chores.  I care about them, but I guess I don't care about them enough to spend my precious time on them.

I think I need a Mary Poppins.  Just someone who can waltz in once and awhile and work their magic on my house.  I don't need them to do much.  Just the things that have fallen to the bottom of the housekeeping priority list:  Dusting (uh, yeah, you can write your name in it), washing windows (who actually DOES this?), steam cleaning carpets (why oh why did we not buy a house with hardwood floors?!), cleaning toilets (OK, I do actually do this, but I don't like to so I think this would fall onto Mary's list as well).

So, ya hear that Mary?  You can fly your little black umbrella right over here and start snapping away.  The dust on my bookshelves await your arrival.

My friends, do you have a Mary to help you keep your head above the housekeeping water?  Or are you treading water with me and slowing sinking?


Friday, July 30, 2010

Flashback Friday: I Am Not A Soccer Mom

I Am Not A Soccer Mom
*originally posted January 2010*

There. I said it.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a soccer mom. In fact, I wanted to be one myself. At least, I think I did. But the reality is, I am not.

Growing up, I was an only child for 12.5 years until my baby brother came on the scene in a surprising whirlwind. My parents (dad a college professor and mom a stay at home mom) were not exactly "sports people". My dad watched college football and enjoyed going to basketball games, oh and I remember going to watch him play in the church softball league. But I wouldn't exactly describe him as athletic, just one who enjoyed sports from time to time. I'd say my mom fell into the "tolerated it" category. So, needless to say, my exposure to sports and playing them as a child was limited to a summer of gymnastics lessons taught at a local gym every Saturday morning for 5 bucks a pop.

I was more rounded in other areas. I began piano lessons in Kindergarten and continued through college. I took acting classes at a community college and voice lessons from a local college student. I thrived on stage and loved being in the spotlight. Unless, of course, that spotlight fell on a gym floor. Give me a ball and I became completely inept and clueless. I loathed gym class and was relieved to learn that the gym requirement to graduate high school was a mere semester. I hated volleyball nights with the youth group at church. I sat on the sidelines and lamely cheered on whichever boy I had a crush on, while I watched him high five and give sweaty hugs to the girls that were brave and athletic enough to actually play. How jealous I was of them! I learned real quick that while boys said they wanted the cutesy girl with earrings and poufy hair (hey, it was the 90's!) and short skirts, the girls that actually got the attention were the ones that weren't afraid to throw their hair in a ponytail, get on the gym floor and talk a little smack.

So, before I ever became a mother, I promised myself that if I ever had a little princess, I was going to make it a priority to at least expose her to playing sports. Not necessarily because I wanted her to have an edge with the boys (and now that I have four princesses I can assure you that I'm even further from that desire than I ever was before!), or because I was secretly hoping to one day magically groom the Next Big Thing. But more because I didn't want her to feel completely and utterly self conscious about herself when it came to sports. I just wanted to assure that she'd be OK. Just OK at playing sports, being on a team, having a ball whiz by her head.

With that in mind, we registered Princess #1 for soccer last spring. It went about as I expected. A clump of girls, gathered around a ball, running back and forth between goals with a few haphazard and probably accidental points scored from time to time. She had a blast. She made new friends, got to see them at practice and the games, got to jump and run around outside, oh and maybe learned a few (emphasis on FEW) things about soccer.

A year has passed since then and it's quite clear that it was right to not have HUGE expectations about Princess #1's career in soccer. We've just spent the past couple months with her playing on an indoor league, and after bringing in a demoralizing 2-8 season, I'm glad to say it's over. I just don't quite get the culture I guess. Yesterday, I sat next to a family from the opposing team. With voices so throaty it could only mean that they either A) go to so many games and coach from the sidelines at every one, B) smoke several packs of Marlboro a day, or C) both - they yelled and screamed at their daughter on the field. In between their exclamations they discussed their son's eligibility to play football, what position he should play, whether or not he would be allowed to move up an age bracket, etc. etc. etc. He was five.

It just seemed a world away to me. We put Princess #1 in soccer so she could have an experience, whatever it happened to be. We had no expectations other than she have fun. Would I feel differently if she turned out to be a whiz kid at soccer? Would I be there, hoarse myself from yelling at her to go after the ball? Did she turn out to not have soccer chops, simply because we were more laid back about it? I guess I'll never know. And I'm ok with that. Really. We did what I promised myself we'd do. We exposed Princess #1 to a sport. Hopefully when the kids on the playground decide they want to play soccer, or kickball, she'll feel confident enough to get out there with them. That's all I want. There is a place in this world for those soccer moms, like the one that sat next to me yesterday. Without them, we'd never have the Next Big Thing. And I'm happy to let someone else be that mom.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Birth Series: Chapter 2

With Princess #1, we were ready to be pregnant.  Knowing my cycles were irregular, I bought the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler (an absolute MUST READ for any woman, regardless of the state of her uterus) and threw myself into taking my temperature, charting and noting my (ahem) fluids.  It took one cycle (which, incidentally, was 88 days long) to get pregnant.  The getting up every morning at the same time to take my temperature was a bit draining, but I was highly motivated, so I dealt.

When the hubs and I started talking about having baby #2, I broke out the old basal thermometer and began the same routine.  I wasn't as excited about the "clinical-ness" of it all this time around ("oh honey, look I had a dip in temp" doesn't exactly inspire romance) but I was afraid given the length of my cycles we'd never "catch" the egg if I didn't.  But I needn't have worried.  I didn't know it yet, but I was pregnant with #2 before I even picked up the thermometer that first morning.

My first clue was the ever-present nausea.  I had been through this song and dance before so I was pretty suspicious right from the beginning.  An EPT confirmed it and the hubs and I began to wonder what we had gotten ourselves into.  #2!

Since we had Princess #1 we had moved to a new city and state, so I had the task of finding a new doctor.  We lived in a large city but in a rather isolated part of Oregon.  The only hospital there was very high-tech, serving as the main medical center for all of Eastern Oregon and Western Idaho.  Therefore, the maternity services there weren't known for their approach to "natural" deliveries.  I immediately contacted a local doula to reserve her services (the hubs and I thought we had the labor part down, but I thought she might come in handy as an advocate for us and our desires for labor).  I researched and researched (PLEASE ladies - don't skip this important step!!) before finally settling on a doctor in a very small practice (only 2 doctors total) who came recommended as the most likely to accommodate my requests for a natural delivery.

My due date was December 20th.  I didn't have any hopes of the baby coming early since Princess #1 came right on time.  And I was right.  December 20th came and went with no sign of baby.  I know most people with this due date would have just scheduled the birth at that point, to be sure to be out of the hospital by the time Christmas rolled around.  But I was stubborn and refused.  My baby would come when she was ready!

She decided she was ready on Christmas Eve.  It was about 9pm.  We had finished opening our stockings (family tradition) and eating pizza and sugar cookies (another family tradition) and were settling down to watch 'Jingle All The Way' (nothing says Christmas like Arnold Schwarzenegger).  The first contraction hit hard right out of the gate.  It sorta took me by surprise.  I had such a long build up with Princess #1's labor that I assumed this one would go the same way.  That was not the case.

The next two hours I watched the movie with my family (my parents were in town) on my birth ball, periodically losing interest to concentrate on a contraction.  They came very irregular both in occurrence and duration, but they were very hard consistently.  Once the movie finished my parents left to go to their hotel and the hubs and I called my doula.  I was fairly certain that I was in active labor or at least the early stages of it, even though I couldn't pinpoint a pattern.  My doula arrived around 11:30pm (on Christmas Eve, God bless her!) and began to assess my progress.

She immediately noticed the inconsistency and suggested I try a few different positions to try to get myself into a regular pattern.  When nothing worked we agreed to just pop in another movie and wait awhile to see what happened.  I *think* we put in 'A Christmas Story'.  I can't be sure as I was lost in my birth ball.  It didn't get much use during my first labor, but this time around it was a God-send.  As each contraction washed over me I sunk down into my ball, almost as dead weight, I closed my eyes and allowed myself to go completely limp.  As the contraction would release I'd open my eyes and continue with the movie.

I still had no pattern.  My contractions would come 20 minutes apart, then 45 minutes, then 10, then 55.  It was frustrating.  I felt like I couldn't gauge where I was at.  I was getting tired, having had to deal with hard contractions from the start.  Now coming up on 3am, my doula suggested we all lay down for awhile and try to get some sleep.  I think she was testing to see if my contractions would go away altogether once I laid down.

And they did.  The hubs was snoring the second his head hit the pillow.  My doula was asleep on the couch.  But I couldn't sleep (obviously!).  I felt completely out of control lying down.  As a contraction would hit, I had no way to make myself relax.  Laying down made everything worse.  And my contractions started spacing out big time.  A whole hour went by with nothing.  Already 5 days overdue and desperate I got up and went back out into the living room to labor on my own for awhile.

I managed on my own for about an hour.  The contractions hurt.  A Lot.  And they started coming more often (thank God!).  Still not consistent, but more frequent than before.  Finally around 5am I couldn't handle it anymore on my own and I woke up the hubs and my doula.  She observed me and agreed that the rate at which the contractions were occurring now indicated that I was indeed in active labor, although we still had no pattern to go by.

Hardly even realizing it was Christmas morning, my doula made the hubs and I eat something.  I barely managed to get down a granola bar between contractions.  By 10am things were getting pretty intense.  In training to become a midwife, my doula wanted to check me to see if we could figure out how far along I was.  We had agreed early on that I didn't want to go to the hospital until the last minute, to avoid all the routine procedures like IV's and continuous monitoring. When she discovered I was at 8cm, we were reenergized.  The hubs, remembering what a help the tub was in my previous labor, suggested I try that again.  So he ran a bath and I eased myself down into the water with a great deal of relief.  I labored there for a couple of hours when suddenly transition hit me like a bullet train.  Where we were trying to find a pattern in contractions before, there was no need to now.  They came one on top of the other, with no start or finish.  Just a long line of peaks and valleys.

Hubs and my doula helped me out of the tub, just as I threw up everything (awesome).  At that point I nearly lost control altogether.  I was shaking (a sign of transition) and crying and just desperate for relief. As I sat on the toilet to regain some control, my doula knelt over me and prayed a prayer of peace and encouragement.  It was just enough to get me back on track.  It was noon and we decided it was time to head to the hospital.

The drive was only 10 minutes, but it felt like a lifetime.  My doula was listening carefully to my vocalizations, watching for signs I was trying to push.  She had her birth kit ready, but fortunately didn't need to use it.  We arrived at the hospital and entered through the special Labor and Delivery door.  The floor was dead quite (no one plans to have a baby on Christmas Day) except for me.  My groans signaled our arrival.  True to the nature of the hospital, the nurse who greeted us asked me to change into a gown and pee in a cup (?!?!) and then get on a gurney in their triage room so she could asses to see if I was really in labor (REALLY?!).  Well, she got what she asked for.  As she was checking me she caught a glimpse of my intact bag of waters.  She mistook it for the baby's head.  Suddenly the triage room looked like a scene out of ER.  The nurse ran out yelling things like "Baby crowning!  Get the On-Call STAT!"  Another nurse came in and quickly wheeled my bed (with me on it) down the hall to a labor and delivery room.  I remember as I was being rolled down the hallway how relieved I felt.  If the baby was crowning that meant I wouldn't have to push for 2 hours like last time!

They got me in position and the on call doctor came in and examined me.  That's when they discovered that the baby wasn't crowning at all.  Everyone in the room relaxed except for me.  I knew I had a big job ahead of me.  My doctor finally walked in after all the hubbub died down, dressed to the nines in a black suit and cheerful holiday tie.  That's when I remembered it was Christmas.  We had called him out of Christmas Mass.  I still giggle when I envision he and his wife sitting in the pew as his pager goes off. I can almost see her rolling her eyes.  Hehe.

I began pushing immediately.  Once again, I sucked at it.  My water broke with the first push.  At one point the nurse started using her fingers to direct my focus and that helped immensely.  I pushed and pushed, and in between I panicked about being too hot and nauseous.  Thankfully my doula had packed a fan and set to work fanning me in between pushes.  I had been pushing about an hour when my doctor started dropping hints about using a vacuum to get the baby out.  I knew he had the tendency to like to use that, as a friend of mine had delivered with him using that method just a few months before.  At that point my doula earned her money.  She requested he give us just 30 more minutes, since the baby wasn't in distress.  He agreed and I got to work.

I remember at one point during pushing being highly irritated at my doctor and the nurses in the room.  In between my pushes they were just shooting the breeze, joking and hanging out as if it were another day.  I wanted to scream at them through my agony, "HELLO!!  See me over here?  This is all about ME!"  Fortunately, I refrained.

Finally, at 2:28, after 15 hours of labor and an hour and a half of pushing, Princess #2 entered the world.  She was tiny, weighing in at 6 pounds, 9 oz.  She was perfect.

I wish that was the end of the story, but it was not to be.  Shortly after delivering the placenta I started to bleed, alot.  My doctor later told me that my uterus was simply tired after contracting hard for 17 hours and it just didn't have the energy to contract any more.  Well, the uterus contracting after the baby is born is essential for the bleeding to stop.  And often women are hooked up to IV's already so giving them a bag of pitocin to aid in the clamping down of the uterus following birth is routine.  Since I came into the hospital ready to push there was no time to give me an IV.  A nurse had to open a line under emergent conditions.  She was terrible at it and had to try about 3 times.  While she fumbled around with that I was given a shot of methergine.  Once the IV got going I was pumped full of oxytocin and had to endure rough manual massage by 2 nurses.  Apparently the bleeding was very bad because the massage was graphic and worse than the 17 hours of labor I had endured prior.  But they finally got the bleeding to stop.  Following that experience the hubs and I decided that for any future births I would get a hep lock (an open IV line) just so I could avoid anything like that again.

Regardless of the aftermath, I was in love.  Another princess in the house.  And now a big sister too.  I was thrilled to have accomplished another natural delivery and under less than accommodating conditions as well.  My doula took some amazing photographs of the delivery (the only birth I have photos of) and I still love to look at them from time to time, to relive the miracle that occurred that Christmas day.  My Princess #2 was 5 days late, but she was born right on time.  She shares a birthday with her Nana (hub's mom) and her late great-grandfather.  Christmas is a special day in our home for many reasons.  We have much to celebrate.

More to come this week in the Birth Series!  


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Birth Series: Chapter 1

My first pregnancy had been relatively easy, once I got past the first trimester.  I puked more than I care to remember in those first few weeks and came to rely heavily on God's gift to the puking pregnant girl Zofran.  It's almost cruel that immediately after getting that plus sign the body starts rejecting everything.  I couldn't even enjoy the fact I was pregnant for the first 3 months.  After losing 10 pounds and a trip to the ER for fluids, things started to turn around and we began marching down our little pregnancy journey, headed toward the finish line.

I couldn't wait for labor to begin.  I was ready.  Most of my friends thought I was crazy, but I knew I wasn't.  I felt it in my soul.  I was meant to do this.  I had read and researched and practiced and was ready.  I just needed my babe to be ready.

The morning before my due date I was awakened at 5am.  It was a Saturday so I wasn't really thrilled with being up so early.  But the reason I woke up was intriguing: a tightness across my belly.  It didn't hurt, but it was definitely present.  It felt sorta like someone had put a blood pressure cuff around my abdomen and it was squeezing to take a measurement.  I wasn't completely sure what I felt was a contraction, so I laid in bed for awhile, waiting for another one.

It took awhile, but a couple hours later I finally felt another one.  The blood pressure cuff feeling again.  I felt a little thrill of excitement.  Maybe this was it!  I got into the shower and let the water run over me.  I had a little conversation with the princess in my belly, requesting she hold off for just a few hours.  My doula was out of town for the day and wouldn't be back until evening.  Although I felt like I was capable, I didn't want to venture too deep into labor without her by my side.

The rest of the day went by without event.  My blood pressure cuff feeling came and went, painlessly and routinely.  The hubs and I meticulously recorded their coming and going.  Finally, around 5pm we decided to head out to the mall to walk around for a little bit.  We wandered in and out of stores, pausing to chat with store employees (yes, yes, I'm actually due tomorrow... in fact, I'm in labor right now!) and to take note when my contractions hit.  While at the mall they got to the point where I had to stop talking to manage them when they hit.  We stopped at the food court and I got a pretzel to satisfy my growling stomach, then I called my doula (who had thankfully returned home) to let her know what was going on.  At that point my contractions were coming about every 5-10 minutes apart and were lasting about 45 seconds.  She agreed it sounded like I might be in early labor and she suggested we head home to rest.

We returned home and settled down to watch mindless TV.  We were in the middle of an episode of Trading Spaces (remember that show?) when things suddenly weren't very fun anymore.  I laid down on the couch and tried to get comfortable, but laying down made it worse.  We got out my birth ball and I sat on that for awhile, trying to manage the waves as they overtook me.  We called our friends to come over and pick up our dog (our "baby" at the time, had to make arrangements for him!) and I remember not being able to talk to them at all when they appeared at our door.  Once they left we called our doula and requested she come to our house, we were ready for some hardcore labor action.

And then began the part no one told me about.  (*Total TMI alert*)  I had to go to the bathroom, bad.  Alot.  You know how they used to give enemas to women in labor?  Well, sometimes there's no need...  I had no idea.  As I sat there, I began to panic that I was going to have the baby on the toilet.  All I knew was that they told me that the urge to push felt like needing to poop, so....

The hubs called our doula and told her we were headed to the hospital and would meet her there.  That was the longest 30 minute drive of my life.  For all I knew the baby was about to pop any moment.  Everytime I moved I lost my concentration and the contraction would get the best of me.  We finally arrived and went directly to Labor and Delivery.  It was just after 9pm.  My doula and nurse were waiting for me.  I was ushered into a room and given a gown.  I remember almost laughing in between contractions.  The gown was HUGE.  I was the size of a 15 year old with a basketball under her shirt and the thing wrapped around me about 3 times.

Hubs helped me get into bed and the nurse strapped the monitors on my belly.   I was checked then and was discouraged to discover I was only at 4cm.  All that for 4cm - and here I thought I was going to have the baby at home!  The hospital (and my doctor) only required 20 minutes of monitoring upon admission, so we patiently worked through contractions from my bed until we were released to go get in the jacuzzi tub in the bathroom.

That jacuzzi was heaven.  Truly.  The difference between managing labor in a bed and in a tub is night and day.  I floated as the water bubbled around me.  With each contraction the hubs lightly poured a stream of water over my belly, to give me a sensation to concentrate on.  I was doing fairly well, staying on top of things, when suddenly, I wasn't doing well at all.  Transition hit hard as the contractions came one on top of the other.  There was no break.  My legs ached and I writhed in the tub, struggling to grasp some relief.

My doula suggested I get back into the bed so they could check my progress.  I had only been in the tub for about 45 minutes and I loathed the thought of getting out, but I complied.  The nurse came and checked me and surprisingly announced me complete and left to call my doctor.  At this point I felt a tremendous amount of relief midst the pain of the contractions.   I was so elated to hear I had dilated from 4cm to 10cm in less than an hour.  I knew that was uncommon and I was grateful.  But I also knew the hard work was yet to come.

I got situated on the bed and my doula and nurse began to help me push.  I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  Trying to manage the contraction, take a deep breath, muster up the strength to sit up and bear down was almost too much to try to do at once.  I couldn't tell where to focus the push or whether or not I was doing it right.  The hubs, my nurse and doula were all encouraging, but there wasn't much they could do.  I remember feeling surprised at what hard work pushing was.  I felt like we sorta glazed over that part in my childbirth classes and I certainly didn't feel prepared.

I was fortunate that my doctor was patient.  I know now that had I had a different doctor, I probably would have been wheeled down to the OR.  But, he waited.  At one point, in the middle of a push I saw him walk into the room and stand at the back with his arms casually crossed, just watching.  After a few minutes he walked back out.  With a sinking heart I realized in that second that I wasn't even close.  I pushed harder.  I threw everything into it, even though I still felt like I wasn't doing it right.  At one point my doula suggested I try to use the squat bar, but I was so weak and worn out at that point I couldn't support myself on my legs.  So I stayed on my back.  Finally, FINALLY, after about an hour and 45 minutes of pushing, things started to pick up.

For a first timer, I didn't really know how this part went down.  Several nurses came into the room in a flurry and began breaking down the foot of my bed.  The warmer above the baby's isolette was turned on and blankets were warmed.  It struck me that in a mere matter of minutes my baby would be in those blankets.  That surge of motivation pushed me forward to the end.  My doctor appears and with the hubs and my doula by my side I gave the last few pushes I had left in me.

And that was it.  Princess #1 emerged shortly after midnight on her due date, 7 pounds 5 oz.  A shocking  weight given my size.  The back of her head was scraped up, presumably from passing through my pelvis, her nose was smushed and her ears were flattened, but she was beautiful.  She was mine.

I was on a high for weeks following her birth.  I felt exhilarated at having accomplished something as great as birthing my child all on my own with no aid of pain relief.  I had a goal set and I achieved it.  And my reward was great.  And that feeling followed me into motherhood.  The hubs and I embraced being parents and looked forward to growing our family one by one.

Stay tuned for more installments in The Birth Series this week!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Move Over Jillian Michaels

The Mom Arm.

Brought to you by the creators of the baby bucket carseat.

This too can be yours.

Seven years in the making.

Some serious heavy lifting involved.

No pain, no gain.

Worth every bit of it.


Monday, July 26, 2010

The Birth Series: Prologue

Birth is a defining moment a woman’s life.  Whether we like it or not, our body is not our own, acting against our will in many cases, controlled not by our own power but by the instinctive forces within us that were created to sustain and eventually bring into the world human life.  
Of course, as a young 24 year old, my thoughts were not turned to the wonder and awe of my body’s natural abilities, but rather to all the cute clothes I was going to get to buy my soon to be baby girl.
From the beginning of pregnancy, one question is asked in more frequency than I think any other question, and usually it’s asked by seasoned mamas, AKA. Ones Who Have Gone Before. 
“So, are you gonna use drugs?”
It looks hilarious to type out, as though these Ones are pushers.  And I suppose they are in a way, looking for one of like mind, some solidarity, a common bond in sisterhood:  Natural or not?  That is the question.
With my first baby in my blossoming belly, my response to that question was the typical, “I’ll go as long as I can without!”  And I truly meant that.  I think instinctively I wanted to do what my body was created to do, but the fear of the unknown with only terribly written labor stories on TV as my guide, well, I don’t blame myself for wanting a security blanket.
When I first got that plus sign on my pregnancy test, I eagerly called the first doctor I could find and scheduled my first appointment, with no concern given to the doctor’s labor and birth philosophy, or his epidural and C-Section rate.  I didn’t even know a rate existed.  I just knew that I had a plus sign and I was going to be a mommy!  I gleefully went to my first appointment and met my doctor and did all the required blood draws and guesstimating of due date.  As the hubs and I left that appointment, I gave little thought to the book now in my possession, given to me along with all the coupons, magazines and free samples in the office’s ‘Congrats on your Pregnancy!’ kit:  The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer.
It sat on my night table by my bed for several weeks.  Untouched.  I read many other pregnancy books during that time, but that book, it scared me.  It looked like a text book.    And I was cynical about what I might find inside, surely just a bunch of horror stories designed to scare me into not wanting drugs during labor.  Finally, in about the fifth month of pregnancy, having run out of other books to read, I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
I couldn’t put it down.  It wasn’t an overnight change of heart.  In fact, at first I was very reluctant and hesitant to even begin to believe I might be able to do this on my own.  Goer’s book didn’t sugar coat anything, and it really did read like a text book - just the facts on the effects of interventions in labor.  It gave no tips on exactly how to accomplish labor without them, just the details on what you might expect should you choose to use them.  It covered it all, from eating only ice chips during labor to C-Sections.  I was left thinking that I didn’t want to go down that road, but was uncertain how to get down the road it appeared I was choosing.
Fortunately, my doctor’s office was prepared for that.  Working alongside my doctor was an OB Specialist.  She was a L&D nurse of 25 years who left to become a doula and childbirth educator.  She provided classes to my doctor’s patients.  And it was she who made me believe I could do it.
For 8 weeks we met, learning about the physiology of birth, labor symptoms, coping mechanisms, interventions and the postpartum period.  Although a well rounded class, the weight she gave to going as natural as possible and allowing your body to take over and do what it was created to do left me feeling empowered and dare I say, excited to take on the challenge of labor.
We hired her to be our doula during labor, believing that having her there would further encourage our (my) efforts and would be a welcome source of comfort for myself as well as the hubs, who was jumping into his role as coach with gusto.  We practiced coping techniques.  We bought a birth ball.  We reviewed our birth plan and packed our bags.
At that point, all that was left to do was wait.  And wait.  And wait.

*next installments of The Birth Series coming soon!*


Friday, July 23, 2010

Flashback Friday: Someday

*originally posted September 2009*

Someday, when my princesses can spread the toothpaste without making a mess, will I miss them needing me to brush their teeth every night?

Someday, when my princesses can dress themselves, will I miss them needing me to lay out their clothes everyday?

Someday, when my princesses can open the refrigerator by themselves, will I miss them expecting me to drop everything to get them a drink of milk?

Someday, when my princesses can entertain themselves, will I miss dressing Barbies and putting together puzzles?

Someday, when my princesses can make their own food, will I miss nuking chicken nuggets and washing tons of grapes?

Someday, when my princesses can read chapter books on their own, will I miss spending the evenings laboring over 'Hop On Pop'?

Someday, when my princesses can bathe themselves, will I miss painstakingly washing their hair while not a drop of water gets in their eyes?

Someday, when my princesses can drive, will I miss them needing me to cart them all over town?

Someday, when my princesses can talk on the phone, will I miss them wanting to tell me every small detail of their day?

Someday, when my princesses decide that sleep is a GOOD thing, will I miss singing them to sleep?

Someday, when my princesses like boys, will I miss hearing their declarations that boys are "icky"?

Someday, when my princesses fall in love, will I miss being #1 in their life?

Someday, when my princesses are all grown up, will I be ready?


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mommyhood Memo #2

The Mommyhood Memos

You know your life has changed when a dinner out with friends means 6 trips to the potty, 2 spilled drinks, and more dropped silverware than you can count.

*Last week I was runner-up with my mommyhood memo and I thought it would be fun to give it a shot again.  Want to join in on the memo fun? *

1) Write a post with your own mommyhood memo one-liner. It must begin with “You know life has changed when…” And it must be no longer than one sentence. 

2) Add the mommyhood memos button to your post by going to The Mommyhood Memos and grabbing the button in the sidebar.

3) Link it up here anytime during the week while the linky is open. Important:please link up your relevant post (not your blog home page) so that the guest judge can easily find your entry!

Be sure to check out the other great entries!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Ode To Childhood

Oh American Girl

You do know what you're doing.

Bright red walls.

Cherry music.

Wall to wall dolls.

You prey on the weakness of a mama.

One who always wanted one as a child.

Just one.


That's all.

Good thing I have girls.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Flashback Friday: Party On

I've been blogging for almost 3 years now.  In the beginning I was talking mostly to myself.  I had a few friends find me over time, and my family, but I didn't really seriously get into networking my blog until this summer.  I have so enjoyed meeting new bloggers and sharing stories about our lives.  It occurred to me that during my early days of blogging, I had some really good things to say.  But no one got to hear them.  And I don't really expect anyone to dig through 3 years worth of a blog to find good posts to read.  So, I've decided to implement my own Flashback Friday.  Every Friday for the rest of the summer (so basically for the next 4 weeks), I'm going to post one of my favorite older posts.  I hope you enjoy!

Party On - January 22, 2008

I've recently been to hell and back.  And on Planet Pink, hell goes by the name of Chuck E. Cheese.  At 6pm.  On a Friday.

Seriously, WHY would anyone schedule a birthday party at 6pm on a Friday night at Chuck E. Cheese?  Your Majesty got the lucky job of chaperoning all 3 Princesses at this joyous occasion as my loving husband had to work (lucky dog).  Let me just paint this picture for you:

SIX birthday parties crammed into one tiny section of the restaurant, in front of the stage containing the sub-par automated animals somewhat resembling rodents that Princess #2 is terrified of.  An at capacity entertainment area full of games that are out of tickets and scores of unattended children running around in their stocking feet begging for more tokens off of any adult who happens to look at them.  A salad bar that has been ransacked - bits and pieces of lettuce and tomato are strewn all over the floor, which is already sticky from soda being spilled and not cleaned up.  A bathroom that... well, I'm just not even going to go there.  Use your imagination.  Now add in Your Majesty, desperately trying to keep tabs on all 3 Princesses since I don't even come close to trusting the teenager at the door to actually CHECK the invisible number that they stamp on your hand and your children's hands as you walk in and am pretty convinced it would be darn easy for some stranger to waltz off with my children.  I've got Princess #3 balanced on my hip (WHEN did she get so heavy?), Princess #1 and #2 running around from game to game, winning one ticket at a time and me running after them, silently cursing myself for not bringing along a bottle of hand sanitizer.  

After 30 minutes of game torture, the party gets underway, and Princess #1 (the actual INVITED) joins the group of kids squeezed around a party table, while Princess #2 throws a fit about wanting to sit at the table too.  Your Majesty sheepishly asks the mom of the Birthday Girl if they can spare a piece of pizza for Princess #2, which occupies her for 2 seconds and allows me to find an empty seat at the end of the table.  Within 5 minutes Princess #2 is begging for a drink.  Feeling bad about bringing her to the party but not being able to participate since she wasn't really invited, I cave and haul myself and the 2 littles out of the party area and toward the counter to order one kids drink.

Now, this should be simple, right.  Stand in line, order the drink, restore order to Princess #2's life.  Ha.  We join the line at the counter which is about 10 deep.  That should have been my first clue.  We stand behind a rather interesting family, specifically the dad who is sporting a wicked awesome mullet.  While I'm busy admiring his 'do, I fail to realize that the line is not moving.  Meanwhile Princess #3 is growing heavier on my hip (seriously, WHEN did she get so big?).  My arm is about to fall off when Mullet Man turns around and declares to me that there's only one register open.  Now I'm not in food service.  I have no clue what it takes to run a restaurant.  But really?  On a Friday night?  At an obviously VERY popular restaurant (God knows why)?  When there are FOUR registers on the counter?  And they're only working 1.  

We FINALLY begin to move a bit.  We're 3 people away from the counter (including Mullet Man) when Princess #2 starts tugging on my pants.  Yep, you guessed it.  Sometimes having a potty trained 3 year old sucks.  At this point I'm thinking I want the floor to open up and swallow me whole.  No way in the world I'm leaving my place in line, which has consistently grown longer behind me and a line has in fact begun OUTSIDE the door to the restaurant, of people just waiting to get into this torture chamber.  I express my frustration outloud and thankfully the woman behind me hears and offers to hold our place in line while we make a potty break.  I grab Princess #2, hike Princess #3 higher on my hip and make the brave trek to the bathrooms.  Let's just say that was the fastest potty break ever.  And I'm cured of EVER using a public restroom again.  EVER.

We rejoin the line and about 10 minutes later reach the counter.  A somewhat frazzled looking teenage girl apologizes for the wait and informs me that it will be a hour until pizza can be ready.  Thank God we were only in line for a kid's drink!  I place my order and she very graciously hands me a kid's cup and says no charge.  The one bright spot in the whole night.  We return to the party area where thankfully the present opening is nearly done.  I snag a leftover piece of cake for Princess #2 and polish it off myself when she only eats the icing.  As soon as the last gift is opened, I collect Princess #1 and we make way for the prize counter.  Ah yes, the magical wonderland of cheap plastic toys and Stuff That Will Be Thrown Away.  We count our collection of tickets - 57.  Just enough to buy one plastic pony tail holder and Tootsie Roll for each girl.  Lovely.  Even now, 3 days later I'm not sure where those stupid pony tail holders are...

Finally, FINALLY.  The party is over.  We leave the cacophony for the peace of our minivan.  I have never been more relieved to be driving on the highway, headed for home.

Now honestly, no offense if this is your idea of a great birthday party and are currently planning one yourself.  By all means, party away at Chuck E. Cheese.  But you might consider a different day or time.  Perhaps at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon?  You know, when the employees have more time to attend to things like cleaning bathrooms and keeping up with the salad bar.  Just sayin'.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This One

All my kids are awesome and I love them all.

But this one...

she kinda makes me hyperventilate a bit... in between the hysterical laughing and nearly peeing in my pants.

I would say she's got the Class Clown nomination in the bag.

And she's not even in school yet.

This kid could make us money.

BIG money.

Too bad we don't live in LA.

We could sock the money away to pay for my and The Hubs' inevitable and eventual admission to the loony bin.

I wonder if we can pay in cupcakes??


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

No Through Traffic

I think we've all probably heard the word "Roadblock" used as an illustration for when life doesn't go as planned.  You hit a roadblock, you have to go around, take a detour.  Some of us may see this as ordained by the One above, others may just simply see it as a cruel twist of fate.  Regardless of our belief (or lack thereof), I don't think any of us ever look forward to coming up on one.  Seeing those orange cones in the distance (literal or not) is enough to incite groans and an inward (or outward) stream of not nice thoughts.

But have you ever had a roadblock turn out to be a good thing?  A detour on your path of life that took you not to where you expected, but took you exactly where you needed to be?  Sometimes those experiences are life altering, and sometimes they're just an extra little boost of encouragement along the journey.

Today I ran into one such roadblock.   Literally.  The whole road was closed.  Orange cones and all.  Not good for my mid-morning outing with the princesses.  We were on a fairly tight time schedule.  I needed (needed) to get out to a store to get some sandals for Princess #4 before her feet permanently became malformed from stuffing them into her too small shoes.  But it was on the other side of town, and I was trying to be sure we could get out, get the shoes and get back home before the tummies started rumbling for lunch.

Driving down a familiar road in a not frequented part of town, I was surprised to see the big signs up ahead at the intersection:  NO THROUGH TRAFFIC.  Now, like any good, sane, literate person, I drove straight through the intersection, as though somehow the sign didn't apply to me.  It quickly became clear that the sign was in fact, correct and I was in fact, a dork for trying.  I then found myself looking for the closest drive to turn around in.  Much to my luck, a Starbucks appeared on my left (always there for you, that Starbucks!).

 A little bit agitated at my loss of time, I swung a quick left and pulled into the Starbucks parking lot.  And then I did something completely not like me.  Instead of pulling straight into the drive through (which I most normally would absolutely do - you know how much I love my cuppa joe), I turned to the left again, hoping to see a exit on the other side of the parking lot.  I drove forward slowly, and quickly discovered that no such exit existed.  But before I could get aggravated about having to turn around AGAIN and silently cursing myself for not just going through the drive through like a coffee addict normal person would, I spotted the reason that I like to think I ran into the roadblock at all.

Just two friends, walking out the door of Starbucks, after finishing up a meeting.  Chatting on the sidewalk as I drove by.  I slowed and got their attention and a spontaneous conversation lasting nearly 45 minutes resulted.  My literal roadblock led me to two friends.  Two friends that I needed to see and talk to (even though I didn't know it at the moment).  Two friends who right there in the Starbuck's parking lot helped walk me through a virtual roadblock in my life and gave me a boost of encouragement that I so desperately needed.

The parallels to life here are just rich.  How often do we plow through intersections in life, even though the NO THROUGH TRAFFIC sign is clearly visible?  And how often do we then become irritated at our inconvenience at having to turn around, despite the fact that we could have avoided it by acknowledging that the sign gave us fair warning.  But then, in that moment (grace? luck?), just when we are at our end, the clock is ticking and we're looking for a way to turn around, a Starbucks appears and standing right out front is exactly what we need.

My friends, grab a cuppa joe and mull this one over a bit.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on roadblocks in life.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Mommyhood Memo

The Mommyhood Memos

You know your life has changed when you find yourself standing and swaying back and forth to an invisible beat just as you do when you're holding your babe, yet there's no babe in your arms.


Sweet Dreams

There's something very sweet about seeing my "baby" curled up with a lovey from my childhood.
Hope this innocence lasts a long, long time.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Bit Of Housekeeping

Happy Sunday night!  I hope the weekend was smashingly wonderful for you.

I wanted to take just a couple of minutes to address a few bloggy things.

First of all, you've probably noticed my new commenting system, powered by Disqus.  I debated back and forth about switching to a new platform for awhile and ultimately decided to give it a go.  Some things I love about Disqus:

1.  If you look you'll see that the comments are threaded now.  I can comment directly back to you and it will appear under your comment.  For that matter, YOU can reply to any comment yourself in the same manner.  I love that this really facilitates discussion and community.  So feel free to comment and reply as often as you like!  You can also "Like" someone's comment, very similar to Facebook.

2.  You can log in with several different ID's. If you have a Facebook account, you can use that.  Or Twitter.  You can even use your Google/Blogger acct. (That's Open ID, which I didn't know until I started using Disqus - learn something new every day!).

3.  If you subscribe to the comment thread via email, you can respond via email and it will go straight to the comment section on my blog.  Very helpful, particularly if you are involved in a conversation.

Now for some bummers about Disqus:

1.  It's an extra log in step, particularly for those that don't have accounts anywhere (plus you have that creepy silhouette as your profile pic - working on changing that!).  I appreciate the extra effort, so I promise to give alot of extra bloggy love in return for any inconvenience (picture me batting my eyelashes here).

2.  The biggie is that when making the switch, I lost all my old comments that were made via the old system (*sobbing*).  According to Disqus, you CAN import old comments from Blogger, but I keep running into errors.  I have a support ticket open on it and hopefully it will be resolved soon.  So I have to say that although I love many things, if you are thinking about switching to Disqus, please be wary of my experience.

OK.  On to other things.  My pen name.  Since the beginning of this blog I've kept a certain level of anonymity.  I've loosened up some (ie, the pictures), but I've still refrained from sharing our names, location, etc.  From the beginning I've referred to myself as Your Majesty.  But it wasn't quite working for me.  It conjured up images of some regal Queen sitting high on her throne with a bemused look on her face as she oversees her subjects.  And while I AM often bemused, very rarely to I just get to sit and oversee.  So, my dear friend Melissa at Another Lunch proposed the name "Queenie".  And I think it fits just fine.  So, there ya go.

Networking - The blogging world is a big, big place.  I've found there are nearly as many communities and forums dedicated to discussing blogging as there are actual blogs!  I've had to pick and choose, because it's extremely overwhelming, not to mention time consuming.  So, if you're into the networking "thing", here are a few places out in virtual world you can find me:

1.  BlogFrog:  You can find me via my name (Queenie) or my blog address.  I do not have my own blog community, but I enjoy participating in discussions on several others.  I'm currently most active at Ingenue Mom's Community where I'm doing my part (via incessant chatting) to help get Cameron's community hopping.  If you're a BlogFrog member or are interested in joining, pop on over and say hi!

2.  Mom Blogger's Club:  You can find me here by searching for The Planet Pink.  I find this format to be set up much like Facebook, so find my profile and send me a friend request!  I've met alot of wonderful bloggers through this group.  I'm not as active on the forums there, but maybe at some point.  Have to prioritize right now!

3.  Twitter:  Let it be known that I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing.  But I'm there.  You can follow me at theplanetpink.

Finally, I just wanted to say thanks, for taking the time to visit my little corner of the blogosphere.  I know there are alot of different blogs out there to read, and I appreciate you stopping by (wow, did that sound like a knock off of the airlines pitch or what?).  Seriously though, thank you!

And that's the end of my boring housekeeping post.  On to bigger and better things tomorrow!

My friends, anything you'd like to add?  If I'm not following you on a networking site, please let me know so I can find you!


Coupon Confessions

It's time I came out of the closet.  The coupon closet.

I know what you're thinking.  She's got four kids!  That's six mouths to feed!  Six hiney's to wipe!  Six times the laundry!  Of course she uses coupons!  She has to!

Let me just get it all out there now:


Wow, that was therapeutic.

Now, before you all start throwing your neatly organized by alpha, type, expiration date and store coupon booklet thingys at me, hear me out.

I grew up with a couponer (is that what it's called?).  Every Sunday afternoon my mom would sit down with the Sunday circular and weed through pages and pages of coupons.  Back then they were worth it.  No "buy 20 and THEN we'll give you $0.50 off".  No reason to scour ebay and purchase multiples off the internet.  No communities of women (and men too I suppose, I'm equal opportunity) connected virtually through message boards for the sole purpose of swapping the best deals and scoring Buy 1 Get 1 Free's.  Just my mom and her Sunday paper.  And she did just fine.

I think couponing for my family back in the olden days 70's & 80's would have been manageable.  In one afternoon and in one place my mom could figure out the best way to get the best deal in the least amount of time.  In no time at all she'd have her list made and her little stack of coupons and be ready to head out to the local grocery store.  No store hopping was necessary (Wally World didn't even exist then, let alone Super Target, Walgreens, CVS, etc, etc, etc.).  Just in and out and under budget.  Simple.

I think that's where I get hung up.  Couponing just isn't simple anymore.  I mean, I guess it could be.  I could subscribe to the Sunday paper, clip the measly 2 coupons that are even in remote possibility of being used, make my list, head out to the store and save a whopping $0.75.  And I'm not knocking saving.  I know every penny counts.  But right now, I think my sanity counts more.

I've already got so many irons in the fire running this Planet Pink, just the sheer mention of couponing is enough to make me break out in hives.  The thought of collecting the coupons (it's not just the paper anymore folks), combing websites for how to get the best deals (and figuring out exactly how the heck to do it), compiling a shopping list that somehow incorporates all those great deals (what if I don't NEED 5 tubes of toothpaste and 2 bags of Werther's Original?) while staying within the budget and buying healthy food (there's the tricky part), then hopping between 2, 3 or even 4 stores to get it all done while most likely towing my crew of princesses around with me?  Sheer horror.

I have nothing against those who coupon.  More power to you.  I have nothing against coupons that happen to appear in my mailbox (hear that Super Target?).  But I do have everything against giving myself an anxiety attack while I try to keep Princess #4 from catapulting herself out of the cart, return the cheap plastic toy that Princess #2 swiped from the checkout lane, say "no" for the 50th time to buying candy, empty the contents of my shopping cart out onto the conveyor belt while simultaneously picking up full bags to put back in the cart AND fish through my purse for two measly coupons to save myself $0.75, only to discover that they are in fact not in my purse and instead sitting neatly on my kitchen counter right where I left them (probably next to my sunglasses).  It just ain't worth it.

My friends, are you a closet coupon-hater?  Or does the thrill of the chase have you feeling the coupon love?

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