Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 - Year of the Baby (and more!)

I figured right now would be a good time to do something no one else on the internet is doing - a year in review post ;)  I had a nice time doing one last year and enjoyed going back and reading it recently so here goes another one!

Obviously, there was one overriding theme throughout our year that was a bit consuming...we had a baby!  I found out I was pregnant right at the beginning of the year, two days before this post actually and gave birth to Miss Rio Rae on October 1st who we're just enamored with.  She's such a good natured little lady and we're lucky to have her in our lives.  I wrote a big ol' roundup post about all things pregnancy related (maternity outfits, nursery, preparing...) on here so I'll refrain from doing it again. 

I know we're only three months into this whole parenthood thing but reflecting upon it so far I can say this - things have come much more naturally than I ever imagined and really, things have been much easier than I thought they would!  People put the fear of God out there regarding pregnancy, birth and having a newborn so we totally planned for worst case scenario for everything.  Maybe that was the key, prepare for the worst and everything will be just fine!  ;)  So far I've learned that planning ahead helps tremendously but at the same time, you have to flexible and to be ok if things don't go according to plan.  I've also learned that as frustrated or tired as you may be, those smiles and laughs make it all worth it.  Oh, and pacifier clips are priceless.

My animal children still hold an incredibly special place in my heart and I took some time to spotlight each of them:  Vera, Pimmy, Sammie and Mondo.  They're all pretty spectacular with their new human sister :)

Creatively I had a pretty successful year as well.  At least in my opinion I did ;)  I only set up at three shows this year but they were three three-day outdoor shows in the Oklahoma summer while pregnant so I'd say that's pretty impressive!  Those shows were Blue Dome, Vintage Market Days and Woody Fest.  I debuted my pillow coverings at two of those shows and quickly became addicted to making them.  Speaking of sewing, I accomplished my one and only 2012 goal - learn to sew from a pattern.  I made several maternity shirts, a maternity dress, lots of baby clothes (including a jacket that I'm working on right now that I LOVE) and made my first quilt for Rio!  I never thought I'd love sewing as much as I do but man, I'm addicted!

Also in the creative realm, I had some wonderful press coverage this year!  Most notably, there was a wonderful article in Tulsa People earlier this year that made me blush followed by another feature there in December for Alliday.  I did a few TV tutorials on behalf of Make Tulsa (a group that I LOVE) and most recently did several live spots promoting Alliday.  My maternity leave was filled with diapers, spit-up, breastfeeding and Alliday planning! 

I started my fifth year of teaching English as a Second Language and can't wait to get back to it next month!  I also joined two boards this year - OKTESOL as the Newsletter Editor and StreetCats.  I couldn't be more honored and excited to be a part of these two organizations that I care about deeply.  In addition to this, I continued to work in my parents' office and produced my third annual Alliday Show!  Busy, busy, busy!

The mister and I celebrated our fourth year of marriage which I celebrated by highlighting different aspects of our wedding.  When I asked him what stood out to him from this year, he pointed to Rio of course.  When I pressed a little more for something other than the obvious, he noted the Thunder going to the playoffs which made me laugh!  It was notable though and reminded me of all of the games we watched together while I had a big belly and an O'douls in my hand ;)  Aside from the crazy trip of welcoming a baby into this world together, we also took a few road trips this year with the Dallas and Bartlesville trips being the most memorable.  We're already planning some camping trips next year with a baby in tow!

I can only imagine what 2013 will bring.  Life with a baby will certainly make things unexpected and exciting.  I feel like I've grown more than I ever imagined I could this year and grew in ways I never expected. So thanks, 2012, for being the year our family expanded, for being the year that taught us we can do it, for being the year of growth.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

One of Those Outfits: Blue Christmas

A few weeks back, my parents hosted a big ol' Christmas party at their house to celebrate being done with construction on their backyard lair (this has finally found its new home) so our crew got dudded up to celebrate with them! 

We did have the rug rat in tow but I brought along some frozen milk for the evening so I could have a few drinks and so I could dress in something that wasn't necessarily breastfeeding friendly!  It's amazing how I look at clothes completely differently now because of that.  
 
I didn't want to (or have time to) go out and buy anything so I sifted through my closet and put this together.  For some reason, I love the color blue during the Christmas season.  Our tree and house is blue themed with lights and I always tend to gravitate towards blue and green with holiday decorations.  I think of sparkling snow at night, a Christmas vision we don't see often in Oklahoma!  Anywho...I wore blue for the holiday party ;)  I bought this dress for $1 at an estate sale, the coat at Goodwill a few years back for a few dollars, the belt at another estate sale, the necklace at the Flea Market for a coin and the boots were gifted.  It was perfect for a post pregnancy fancy outfit and made me feel good :)

I even found time that day to curl my hair and make a rat's nest on top of my head!  ;)

We wanted to have a family photo shot together at the party but that little lady was quite popular so it was hard to get the three of us together without (a little) someone eating, sleeping or crying.  I did manage to snap a shot of the mister and Rio looking mighty cute before we left the house though!  Precious, am I right?  It was her first time to wear one of those fluffy dresses.  ;)

We had a great time getting to see family and friends that we don't see very often and I know that they loved meeting Rio.  It's funny, now when we arrive somewhere, she's the first one mentioned/noticed/greeted.  I get it though, she's pretty special and we're old news ;)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Feliz Navidad!

Merry Christmas from the Biff household!  We've had a pretty laid back holiday this year with false weather reports of a white Christmas causing us to postpone travels.  It's been a blessing in disguise though because we've had a wonderful time celebrating Rio's first Christmas at home as a family :)  Oh, and with ALL of the fuzzy kids too; Pimmy is home!
 
Happy Holidays from us, cranky Santa and all :)


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Heavy

Life has finally given me a chance to breathe again.  The show is done (!) and boy was it a wonderful blur.  Rio was a dream through the whole thing and I couldn't be more thankful for that.  I stayed away from the news purposefully during last weekend after hearing about the CT tragedy so I could focus on 'work' but it was constantly in the back of my mind.  Heavy, heavy stuff.  Hard to fathom and impossible to understand.

We've sadness in our house as well.  Pimmy, our fireball of an alpha cat, was diagnosed with renal failure yesterday.  I'm sure you've picked up on my love for our pets by now so I'm sure you can imagine how difficult this is for me.  For us.  I knew something wasn't right but never imagined that this was the problem.  She's spending a few days at our vet right now to try and get her balanced out and to find out what caused this as it all just came out of nowhere.  I'm optimistic but realistic.  I hate not having her at home and hate knowing that she's not well.  My first babies. 

With everything, life goes on.  I think that's so important in so many instances.  Keeps you healthy, keeps you growing, keeps you healing as hard as it may be.  Trying my best.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12/12/12

I thought I'd take a minute to reflect on yesterday since it seemed to be such a monumental day, at least according to Facebook posts ;)  I must say, when I heard it referred to as National Soundcheck Day, I had a good chuckle.  Anywho.  I thought I'd slow down my hustle and bustle for a minute this morning while the little lady is still sleeping and document the day.  Perhaps not the most interesting post but one more so for me :)

It was another news day for me, with two interviews lined up.  I got up a bit earlier than normal, got gussied, packed up the kid for grandma's and headed west while the sun rose for my first segment
 From there, I picked up some fast grub, got gas and headed to my next live segment, just an hour after the first one.  Of course I forgot my hairbrush that day so this wild mane was a bit untamed.  Sorry, Tulsa ;)
After that segment, I ran to return the goods I spotlighted on the shows to the stores that lent them to me; Made and Gleeful Peacock Mercantile.  I *may* have stopped into an estate sale after that.  Maybe.  A quick run into CVS for some randoms and back to my parents' house it was to stuff my face and grab Rio!  

After a short stop at my folks, Rio and I were on our way home where she did a little pigging out on her own and passed out for three hours.  When this kid sleeps, she sleeps!  I took full advantage of that nap to stuff 80 artists bags in our living room floor which was a huge thing to mark off of my list!

About an hour before she awoke, our doorbell rang immediately followed by banging on the door which, of course, set the beast into protect mode.  Ringing doorbell, banging, barking dog, sleeping baby.  I was flustered but the kid never peeped.  There is major construction going on down our street and apparently they hit a water main so it was a worker informing us we'd be without water for 24 hours.  Awesome. 

The mister was home shortly after that and Rio was back in awake-mode.  While he hung out with her, I was able to get some internet work done and ate a bit of dinner.  Then it was back to mom time.

A little while after that, I made a run to my parents' house for a short stop.  Why?  Remember, no water for 24 hours.  Some things require water.  Back home we had some family fun time in the nursery and then it was time to set up my workshop in bed while I fed Rio, watched some recorded shows and got the little lady to sleep where she slept 8.5 hours straight.  She's a rockstar.  I did a little more internet work and floor plan work and was out like a light myself.
So thanks 12/12/12, you were fun, surprising and memorable.  Too bad you didn't get our water turned back on.  Maybe 12/13/12 will be more helpful with that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Join Us, Won't Ya?

It's hard to believe I've been slinging this show for three years now.  I had no idea how things would go that first year and was amazed by the reception.  Tulsa, its artists and the community have embraced this show like I could have never imagined and now we're three years in.  Unreal.  I absolutely love it :)

As informal as it sounds on a blog, I'm personally inviting each and every one of you to the show THIS SATURDAY.  Rio and I have been working our tails off just for YOU. 

Some of the fun highlights are that the show is FREE, first 50 in the door get stuffed-to-the-gills swag bags, raffle prize for donating toys to the Salvation Army and handmade creations from 80 artists! 
Make sure you say hi if you see me flitting by!  :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

One of Those Outfits: Lights, Camera, Action!

Oh, hey!  Long time no outfit documentation ;)  As I'm sure you know I'm super-mega busy right now with last minute Alliday Show organization and life with a (fabulous) newborn!  During a time like this, most sane people probably wouldn't take on more but I'm far from sane so I agreed to do a live TV spot on one of our local morning news shows on behalf of make:Tulsa

I got up at 4:30, fed (the amazingly good sleeper) Rio, quickly got gussied up and was was live by 6:40 showing an easy way to make wooden spools into Christmas ornaments!  This was my first live taping with them and it was pretty fun!  I enjoy doing TV spots for some weird reason :)  I did a small segment for them this summer when I was 7 months pregnant (another thing sane people don't do - they don't go on TV when they are heavily pregnant! ;) teaching how to make magnets out of maps.  I'll be back there next week talking about Alliday, in addition to several other news shows! 

I decided to have a little fun with my outfit and dress like my ornaments :)  Everything with the exception of my tights and necklace came from estate sales.  Pretty sure this outfit cost about $4.  My dad brought the necklace back for me from South Africa and the tights came from Target, I believe.  These shoes are my go-to dress up shoes for vintage dresses. 

I filmed a second version of this which will air next Tuesday on Good Day Tulsa and will share it when I have the link!  Until then, I hope you've got Alliday on your calendar!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tis the Season...

...to be crazy busy!  I feel like I haven't written here in quite some time so I thought I'd give a little update.  Life's been fairly hectic but wonderful.  
 
For Thanksgiving, we took our first road trip with Rio.  I think I was more nervous than anyone; highways give me the heebies.  We visited Brent's dad and family in Okemah and did our first overnight stay.  We all stuffed ourselves silly, watched football (well, I sat in the same room with lots of football being watched) and passed around the baby.  It was a great and successful little trip away.

The beast and Rio had some good bonding time in the backseat while we traveled ;)

For the rest of the holiday weekend, we spent it hanging around the house and putting up our Christmas decorations.  We've discovered that Rio loves lights, Christmas lights to be exact. 

Sunday evening we attended the Glow on the Green at the new Guthrie Green which was wonderful!  We hope to make it a family tradition.  If you're in Tulsa, it's worth checking out.

Last night we spent the evening at my parents' house helping them put out their Christmas decorations in preparation for an upcoming holiday party.  
 
It's hard to believe that Christmas is right around the corner.  When I have that thought, I have a mini heart attack because that also means that Alliday is SUPER close.  The show is what's been filling nap times for me and I'm getting pretty stoked about it!  December 15th...I hope to see you there!

On Monday, the little one turned 8 weeks old!  I guess that means she's pretty much two months old now!?  She's pretty fantastic.  She's sleeping 6-9 hours a night straight, has a great disposition and today, she rolled over for the first time!  At my folks' last night, I 'borrowed' the photo album full of childhood photos of me.  I'm dying to start comparing photos of the three of us to find similarities :)

I hope the days are treating you just as well as they have been us!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Pregnancy Post Roundup

It's SO incredibly surreal to me that I was pregnant for most of this year, gave birth and now have a baby.  Going back through my old posts kinda makes it all seem real but just barely.  ;)  I'm mighty glad that I documented the process though and enjoyed going back through it all.  I took a little time to wrap up all of my pregnancy posts into one post, presented to you here :)

First off, the progression of the bump.  I can't even remember what it was like to have that big ol' bump now although I find myself sometimes with my hand on top of my belly like I would do when I was larger.  I'm also having to get used to not wearing my belts so high! 
I documented my spring semester outfits before I shared that I was pregnant which can all be found here.  It's REALLY bizarre for me to go back through those posts since I wasn't showing at that point and wasn't outwardly talking about being pregnant.

At 15 weeks along, I came out with our news
After that, I shared outfits and reflections randomly:   

Somewhere along there, we had maternity photos done, explained her name, had a crazy cook-a-thon to freeze meals (SO glad we did that!), were given some wonderful baby showers, set up a nursery that we're pretty proud of and finally, had our baby Rio and shared her natural birth story!
4 weeks old
She'll be seven weeks old on Monday and I can't get over how much she's already changed.  It's amazing to me that she was inside of me.  So strange.  We still can't figure out who she looks like.  She's a smiling machine and coos constantly, will sometimes sleep up to seven hours at night (!!) and has her mother's wacky fashion taste ;)  We're lucky to have her around and hopefully she'll feel the same way :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pants Party!

This past weekend I had some good one-on-one time with my sewing machine.  With little time to sew, it can be a little intimidating choosing what to make!  So much pressure making that time count!  Well, with cold days here and a baby with very few pairs of pants, I decided to make pants out of random jersey scraps.  And pants galore I did make :)

I came across this fantastic tutorial online a few days ago and bookmarked it.  I'm fairly new to pattern following but this one was beyond easy.  These were a breeze to make!  In fact, I've made six...so far :)
This was the pair that started it all, made from a dress that I have had since high school, affectionately known as the carrot dress.  One Halloween, my best friend wore this dress (long sleeve, long dress, alllllll orange) with a stuffed bunny pinned to the butt and a fake plant stuck in her hair.  She was a carrot and it was awesome.  Now the carrot dress has been reincarnated to cover my kid's tush. 
And what's a fashion post without a little modeling from a little model?!  In this photo, they are pulled up pretty far (a la grandpa stylin') which tells me that she'll be able to wear them for a few months to come! 
Next up on my baby clothes making list are t-shirts.  These t-shirts to be exact.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fuzzy Friday: Mondo AKA The Beast

Before we had a human baby, we had a canine baby.  Who am I kidding, we still have a canine baby!

I've always professed to be a cat person.  I was never really familiar with dogs growing up, even though we had a couple.  One we had when I was quite young who died an unfortunate death early on and the other we had in my teens and early twenties who was more of my parents' dog.  It's not that I didn't like dogs, it's just that I wasn't exposed to them as much as cats.  
The beast's first photo ever on the day he was found.
I always dreamt of having a dog though that I could have jump in the car with me and run around town with, go on runs with during pretty days and have sleep at my feet while I relaxed during the day.  When I met the mister, he shared this dream of one day having man's best friend join us.  We both agreed that we wanted a medium to large-sized dog and wanted to rescue one.  We half-assed looked for a pup here and there from the first day we bought our house but never jumped on any.  I've always been a firm believer that animals will adopt you and will come into your lives without you even realizing it. 
Amazing that I could ever pick him up!
During the summer of 2007, the mister and I took a road trip to Louisville, Kentucky for a friend's wedding.  While we were on this trip, I was contacted by two of my then-coworkers (now very good friends) that they had found us a dog.  You see, I used to work for an architecture firm that did much historical restoration work.  My coworkers were in Rose, Oklahoma which is basically a ghost town and houses the last standing Cherokee Courthouse which we were working on restoring.  While they were out there taking measurements, this black lab mutt puppy showed up out of nowhere and wouldn't let them be.  They said he kept picking up their pens, chasing them around and just had an all around wonderful demeanor.  He was quite emaciated though and was covered in ticks and fleas so my coworkers took it upon themselves to find the closest vet, drop him off to get checked out while they did their work and do what they could to get him well enough to bring back to town.  Meanwhile, we were still on the road wondering what this dog would be like and if he would be the one for us!
 

The night that we got back into town, our friend brought over the pup.  We agreed to keep him a night or two to see how things went and to see if we thought it was the right fit.  The vet that saw him estimated him to be about four months old and days from death.  He was absolutely covered with fleas and hundreds of ticks.  He was incredibly skinny and we weren't even sure he'd make it a week with us.  When he would sleep that first week, his breathing was shallow and labored.  He needed to build his blood back up which required us to give him special treats those first few weeks.  It only took us that first night to know that he'd found his home with us.
It took us a while to come up with a name.  We threw so many back and forth but the second that Mondo was mentioned, we knew that was our guy.  Just like his feline sisters, he needed a middle and last name so we went with Luis for his middle name since we were in Louisville when we got the call and Shepley for his last name which is a combination of our last names.  Mondo Luis Shepley, he's a swell guy.
We certainly went through those puppy stages with him (chewed up comforter, anyone?) but all in all, he was a fairly good puppy.  He trained ridiculously fast and does everything but speak and roll over.  He even gives hugs and dances :)  He never batted an eye at the cats and now he and Pimmy are certifiable best friends. 

I can't even begin to express the love I have for this guy.   He makes me feel safe, loved when I feel unlovable and brings a smile to my face when I need it most.  When I was recently beginning labor at home, he was right next to me when I went through more intense contractions.  He knows.  One time at the flea market, an elderly woman collapsed and, I kid you not, he would not leave her side until medics arrived.  When we first brought Rio home from the hospital, he was so concerned when she cried.  Now she is the only person that he gives licks to.  She doesn't seem to mind too much.
He's been with us since he was four months old and he's soon to turn six.  I can't imagine what our lives would have been like thus far without him.  I can't imagine what life will be like when he's not here.  If you've met him, you'll probably never forget him either. 
He's 90 pounds of awesome, a mile of tongue and the whiniest giant you'll ever meet.  He's family.
He's our Mondo; our beast.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Halloween Evidence

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  I love the creativity in it and get such a kick out of seeing what costumes everyone comes up with!  I also love dressing up myself :)  With Halloween falling on a weekday this year, we didn't do much of anything on the actual day of aside from handing out candy to 6 trick-or-treaters and dressing up those that depend on us for food. 

Exhibit A - A little monkey.  The photo immediately after this one caught her in the act of spitting up.  I figured I'd spare the internet that image ;)  This outfit was short-lived due to that incident.
Exhibit B - Our fuzzy Indian Prince.  It's amazing the things this guy will let me pile on top of him.  Last Halloween and St. Patrick's Day, for example.
The Saturday following Halloween, the mister and I went to our friend's annual costume bash.  My folks were going to keep Rio for her first overnighter which turned into just a three-hour stay due to being 5-weeks old, quite fussy and just not ready for that yet.  It worked out fine though - we got three hours out and had a great time!  

In keeping with tradition, I again threw together a last-minute, found-around-the-house costume.  I was 70's Dolly Parton.  It was no Zoltar but it was fun!  I figured with larger ladies, it would be the perfect costume but once I got suited up, they just weren't big enough so I stuffed three pairs of socks down there!  It was the first time I had EVER stuffed in my life!  A bit lopsided but effective!  Ha!  My hair wasn't quite as full as I would have liked and my make up was so-so (a talented make-up artist, I am not) but I was pleased :)
We're already looking forward to next Halloween with a kid.  Rio will be mobile and hopefully won't be spitting up on her costumes :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dirty Pillows

The day before I went into labor, I sewed out of anger and frustration.  I was SO over being pregnant and had expected to be done with that by then but nope, this kid was stubborn much like her mom ;)  That Sunday, I busted out some curtains and more pillow covers.  Perhaps angry sewing was the natural induction method that I needed to get things moving!  
 
I've yet to add these new covers to the shop BUT I have loads of other ones that are sitting in there for pennies waiting for their homes!  I'll get these guys in there as soon as this kid lets me take some proper photos :)  I hope to make some more soon, too.  Sewing is cathartic for me.  I have loads of killer fabric that I picked up right before Rio joined us (the new ones are made from some of that fabric) that are just waiting to be stitched up! 
And in the spirit of Halloween, did you ever see the movie Carrie?  Remember when her mom called her ladies 'dirty pillows'?  I can't say pillows without thinking of that.  :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One of Those Outfits: The Aftermath

To be completely honest, I haven't been wearing much other than the same pair of jeans and a rotation of shirts that make it easy and quick to nurse in.  I'm doing good to shower every other day and am running laundry like a mad woman because everything ends up with spit-up on it before I know it.  But all of that is ok. 
 
I'm finally getting out more and am much more comfortable with doing so.  The days (and nights) are becoming easier to deal with and I don't mind the crying *that* much.  

The other day I ran to the bank with the rug rat AND the beast.  Some thought I was crazy.  I thought we all deserved a trip out of the house.  And we did.  The beast barely acknowledged his backseat buddy and just enjoyed hanging his head out the window.  He's been fantastic through this transition, as have the cats.  
I wasn't shy about my worries regarding weight gain with pregnancy nor my concerns about the aftermath of my body.  I had NO idea how my body would handle either.  I put on exactly 40 pounds throughout my 'condition' and quickly dropped all but 10 of that once I had Rio.  How?  I have no idea.  Breastfeeding?  Forgetting to eat?  Who knows.  I'm at a point that I've been pre-pregnancy so luckily I have clothes that work just fine for me.  I've been pleasantly surprised with the physical aspects of post-pregnancy.

This dress in particular was one that I actually wore throughout much of my pregnancy.  It was long and billow-y enough to accommodate my growing belly and was comfortable enough for me to wear up until the end.   I bought it in LA last year and consider it a staple in my closet, already seen here.  My ladies don't allow it to be buttoned at this point though.  The belt came from an estate sale (and was also a pregnancy staple) and the undershirt is one I've had forever.  The birks are part of my warm-weather uniform.
 
As of today, she's three weeks and three days old.  She's already changed SO much which I know will never stop.  Her eyes are always checking things out, her smile is in attendance much more often and her hair is already growing like a weed ;)
I think we're all going to make it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Baby Steps

So we're 17 days into this whole parenthood thing and I've think we've got it down.  
 
That's a blatant lie.  
 
We're figuring out little bits every day, slowly but surely, which I'm sure will continue for the rest of our parenting lives. 
Brent went back to work last week which left me at home with Miss Rio on my own.  It's been good times at home but also unfamiliar times for me.  I'm not used to babies.  I'm also not used to not constantly going or being productive.  Sitting and just being is a new thing for me that I'm slowly learning to be comfortable with.  It's a good lesson for me to learn.

There are things that are making that change easier though.  She now weighs enough that I can wear her which frees up my hands and allows me to be somewhat productive.  I also finally got back on the road yesterday which was SO liberating.  I'm truly shocked that driving with her in the car doesn't freak me out at all.  I'm glad it doesn't!  Together we're road warriors.

I'm dying to sew something (I've had curtains laid out for at least a week now to cut).  I'm getting used to getting spit up on (often).  I'm loving seeing the animals act like she's always been here.  I love her little smiles.  I'm loving getting to know my new sidekick.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Rio's {Natural} Birth Story

There are many reasons why I want to share Rio's birth story.  When I was going through my pregnancy, I read birth stories left and right and found them to be inspiring, reality-checks and reminders that I could do this, however it happened.  I also want to preserve the story for Rio in the future, not to mention for myself.  I know the further away I get from it, the more I'll forget and there's much that I'd like to remember.  Finally, I'm proud of the way it all turned out and I want to perhaps help inspire someone else.

When I found out I was pregnant, I really wanted to deliver naturally but wasn't sure it was something I could do.  I was scared of the pain I had heard of for years and really had no idea how I would deal with it.  I also really wanted to deliver at home but most of those around me were nervous about that, which I understood, so we made the decision early on to see my regular doctor and deliver in the hospital.  I was concerned that nurses and doctors wouldn't be as supportive to a natural birth which wasn't the case BUT they weren't as accustomed to them.  All in all though, I didn't want to be a c-section, induction or intervention statistic.  I wanted to do it how nature intended.

Having said all of that, I was also fine with whatever happened, even though I had a preference.  I have known too many people that plan their labor and delivery out to a T and are disappointed when things didn't go according to that plan.  I tried to have an open mind that regardless what happened, the ultimate goal was to deliver a healthy baby safely, naturally or not.  To prepare myself I read.  Lots.  I read about what our bodies go through during labor and delivery, the emotional stages, how to prepare and more.  I read every night for months.  I watched documentaries and some birthing shows as well (although those shows were often more anxiety inducing for me).  I felt that educating myself was one of the smartest things I could do.  Did all of that help?  I don't know but I'm glad that I empowered myself on the topic. 

Fast forward to two weeks ago.  I was sure that Rio was going to come before her due date (September 25th) but that was not the case.  I was upset.  At my next appointment (September 27th), my doctor scheduled an induction for a week and a half past my due date (October 4th).  I was terrified of it coming to that but would do it if it came to it.  Once that notice came through, we started trying everything possible to naturally induce labor, short of drinking castor oil.  Nothing worked.  I REALLY wanted her to come on September 30th for a few reasons - it was my grandma's 85th birthday, it was a full moon and it was the last day my sister was going to be in town.  By the time I went to bed that night, she hadn't arrived.

While sleeping that night, I woke up more times than normal to use the bathroom and was having more notable cramps than before.  I had been having menstrual-type cramps for the last month of my pregnancy but they never seemed to signify anything.  Something was different about them that night though.  The next morning, I told Brent (the mister) to keep his phone close at work.  I spent the day in bed watching recorded shows and catching up on some internet time, all the while wondering if this was the beginning stages of labor.  I was definitely having cramping all day long but there was no consistency to them and they were nothing like what I had heard contractions would be like.  They never affected my back but just felt like crappy cramps.  I tried timing them which showed them lasting for different durations and happening randomly.  There was no rhyme or reason to them.  I talked to my best friend Rachel several times that day trying to decide if things were happening or not.  She has had two babies naturally and works in the medical field so she was a great resource for me (throughout the whole pregnancy).  She decided to come over after work to observe me for a bit so we could figure out what to do.

For the most part, I was fine.  It was hard for me to talk through them and I did some light breathing but really, they were manageable.  Brent got home from work around 3:30, quickly jumped in the shower in case we were going to be heading out the door and then we waited for Rachel who arrived around 4:15.  Within a short amount of time, we decided to go to the hospital based on how these cramps were affecting me and how my stomach would harden (even though they weren't affecting my whole stomach) during these cramps.  By 5, we were in the car on our way to the hospital, calling parental units to let them know what was going on.  We still weren't 100% sure what was going on but we knew it was something.

When we got to the hospital, I fought through a few contractions on our way to check in.  Wheelchairs kept being offered to me but I wanted to walk at that point.  I remember having one contraction just outside the hospital entrance and some guy was asking Brent if I was ok while I leaned over a parking bollard.  Yup, just getting ready to push out a kid!  We were in our room by 5:30 where they checked me to find that I was dilated to a three.  Just a three.  I thought for sure it would be more.  They didn't want to fully admit me so they observed me for two hours where they would check me again to see how I was progressing.  I couldn't imagine being sent home at that point.  They put two belts on my belly to monitor Rio's heart rate and one to monitor my contractions.  I HATED having these on.  For one, they were tight and felt constricting on my stomach and for two, I didn't like listening to the heart beats - for some reason, hearing them made it harder for me to focus through the contractions.  It was also strange for everyone to see what I was feeling on a monitor.  They agreed to take it off every 30 minutes or so where I took advantage to labor sitting on the toilet a few times.  I had no desire to walk at that point even though everyone wanted me to so they just had to be satisfied with me walking to the bathroom and sitting upright in there.  For some reason, I could take the contractions easier sitting in the bathroom, not hearing or seeing monitors. 

Finally, two hours had passed and they checked me again.  I was at a four.  They admitted me and I immediately asked for some pain relief so they started an IV drip of Stayitol.  It was a lifesaver.  I only had it for an hour and a half but it allowed me to relax and prepare for what was to come.  It also allowed my body to open up more and progress for labor.  I could still feel every contraction but I didn't feel the need to react to all of them until they got much more intense.  During this time, Rachel left to go take the beast to my parents' house and informed friends and family that it probably wouldn't be until the early morning that she would arrive.  Little did she know that while she was gone for that short while, my body progressed from a four to an eight.  I was almost there!  I was still loopy on the Stayitol so I heard them but didn't really react.  When Rachel returned, the mister failed to mention this dramatic change because none of the nurses let him know that this was a big deal!  He went down the hall to eat while she sat with me and told me that if I was going to get an epidural, that this was probably a good time to do so.  I figured if this old natural childbirth pro was saying that it was just going to get more intense for quite some time, that I should probably just go ahead and do it so I agreed and the nurses started to put that order for an epidural in when I asked if I could have more Stayitol in the meantime.  The nurse was telling me that I was too close at that point to get anymore and that it could affect the baby.  Rachel was confused and told them that they must have had me confused with someone else, that I was only at a four.  The nurse responded that I was now at a 9 or 10 and I groggily confirmed that.  Rachel freaked.  She ran down the hall to get Brent, fumbled with calling my parents to tell them to fly up to the hospital and gave me the encouragement that I didn't need that epidural after all to which I agreed and told the nurses to forget it.  I was there.  I was ready.

During this time, they kept asking if the resident could break my water.  I kept delaying that because I really didn't want anyone to do it except for Rio and me!  I guess I held them off long enough because during a contraction when I was at about an eight or nine, it broke on its own.  

Shortly after that, I had completely come out of my drugged fog and was fully immersed in these last contractions.  They were intense but in a different way than earlier.  It felt like my stomach was heaving and I kept feeling like I was going to puke with each of them but never did.  I kept that barf bag nearby though as a sort of security blanket.  I felt like I was making some crazy noises but Brent and Rachel didn't think they were that notable.  My throat hurt the next day from making them though.  I imagine that most of the sounds I was making were more internal.  The following contractions left me feeling the need to push which I so eloquently described to the nurses that I felt like I needed to shit.  They told me to not worry if that happened to which I told them that I didn't care if that happened but that I had that URGE to push.  Communication wasn't my strong point that evening.  After conveying that, they pulled out the stirrups and got me into the position to push.  It was at that time that one of the nurses asked if I minded if a medical student came in to observe the birth.  I was confused by this request to which she responded that they don't get to see many natural births in the hospital.  I was happy to have her there.  I remember welcoming her to the room.  I hope she sees many more natural births in the hospital during her career. 

Then I began to push.  The worst part about pushing was just getting into the position and not pushing when I was having a contraction.  But pushing was satisfying; it had a definite purpose and it reminded me that I was almost done.  I only pushed for fifty minutes until she was born.  Those fifty minutes felt like ten minutes.  I didn't feel like I was making any progress with my pushes so imagine my surprise when they told me her head was halfway out!  I had a hard time catching my breath between each push but I did my best to give it my all.  I was given some oxygen to huff on now and then which seemed to help rejuvenate me.  I never had the 'ring of fire' sensation and really didn't have any pain pushing her out.  Sure, I'm sore now but not then.  Brent's reactions to this part were really what helped me finish the job.  It was an exciting and surreal time.  I was shocked at how quickly it went and how much easier it all was than I had imagined it to be.  Five and a half hours after checking into the hospital and she was there at 10:59 p.m. on Monday, October 1st.  The first thing I said when she was out?  "I fucking did it!" in complete disbelief.  Classy, I am.  Brent replied to that with "Like a boss!"  I love that guy.
Right after delivery!  Not the most flattering picture ever but a PROUD picture.
Once she was out, Brent got to cut the umbilical cord (which is coming off today - gross!!) and they laid her on my chest while they cleaned her up.  They moved her to a warming bed to do all their business, waiting for her to belt out a big scream but she just kept grunting so soon after, they took her to another room to clean fluid out of her lungs.  No worries though, those lungs work WAY too well now ;)  I was floored to hear that I didn't really tear, just had a first degree 'abrasion'.  I attribute that to sitting criss cross applesauce for the past nine months (the most comfortable way for me to sit!) and being able to feel when to NOT push during delivery.
Just minutes old. 
Within an hour, we were in our room with Rio, our folks and two of my closest friends.  The whole thing seems like a dream.  Advice I have?  Educate yourself and be open to any of the possibilities.  Also, labor and delivery is a small chunk of time in comparison to the whole picture.  During my pregnancy, I likened labor and delivery to my dislike of flying but love of traveling.  When I have to fly, I always tell myself that the flight is just a small, shitty thing that I have to get through to reach a lifetime of memories and life-changing events.  To me, labor and delivery was that plane flight I had to get through.  It wasn't going to last forever and what it was taking me to would be priceless.

All in all, I was really lucky.  I was able to labor at home for quite some time, had no back pain with my contractions and had a ridiculously short labor.  Had I not had those cards in my favor, I probably would have gotten that epidural but I'm ridiculously happy that I didn't.  I'm proud of myself and amazed that it all happened like it did.  Grateful that it did.  Thanks for allowing me to share our story.   

Thursday, October 4, 2012

She's Here!

We welcomed Miss Rio Rae Monday, October 1st at 10:59 pm!  She came in weighing 7 lbs, 12 oz and was 20 inches long.  We were scheduled for induction today but she came on her own (yay!) and I was somehow able to do it naturally (yay!) but more about that later :)  

We're home now and are working on figuring things out while spending half of our time just staring at her (and the other half of our time trying to figure out how to avoid screaming fits ;)  For now, here are a few pictures of our little lady!
 

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