Friday, May 23, 2014

Ryder's Birth Story

Dear Ryder,

I am late in sharing your birth story with the world, but I wanted you to know that shortly after returning home from the hospital I did sit down with Daddy and Nana so that we could write down the whole experience. I didn't want to forget a single detail about your birth day. 

But now almost three weeks have passed, and already the memories and scars have begun to fade as we transition into the crazy whirlwind of being your parents. So I'm glad that I took the time to document how I felt so shortly after your birth. Because nothing went as planned, and I think it was quite a bit more traumatic than any of us anticipated. But it was all worth it once I was able to see your beautiful face.

Love Always,

Ryder Steven's Birth Story...

My water broke on Sunday, May 4 at around 9:45 pm, just as Stewart was putting the finishing touches on our hospital bag. Earlier that evening we had gone out for dinner, and I had joked that it may be our last meal out with just the two of us. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I had climbed into bed a little early, and as Stew placed the final item into our suitcase, I felt a rush of fluid and cried for him to help me out of bed. I stood there, shaking excitedly and trying to remember what was supposed to happen next. We called the the doctor, and since my membranes had ruptured we were instructed to proceed to the hospital even though I wasn't having contractions... yet.

In a bit of disbelief, we called my mom to give her the news, gathered up our things, and loaded ourselves into the car, glancing excitedly at the empty car seat in the back. Our lives were about to change forever.

By the time we reached the hospital ten minutes later, I was having strong contractions just a few minutes apart. They were a little bit more painful than I expected...

We entered through the emergency department at 10:45 pm and were taken to triage, where a doctor confirmed that I was, in fact, leaking amniotic fluid and needed to be admitted to the hospital although I was less than 2 centimeters dilated. We knew we were in for a long night. 

I labored in the birthing suite for several hours, and my mom arrived at around 1:00 am. I was dressed in a hospital gown and hooked up to portable monitors that tracked both my contractions and the baby's heart rate. The contractions were so strong and painful, only a few minutes apart, that I couldn't sit or lay down... I just paced back and forth in the birthing suite, moaning in disbelief. I definitely wasn't prepared for how much this stage of labor was going to hurt. Eventually the contractions became so painful that I began vomiting.

Stew began pacing around the room, too, which I found incredibly annoying and had to ask him to stop. The nurse ran me a bath to see if that would ease the contractions, but I couldn't imagine getting into the tub and instead continued to pace. Around 3:00 am, with contractions about 1-2 minutes apart, I began to mentally panic. I knew I couldn't take much more of the pain and exhaustion, so the nurse offered me a narcotic to take the edge of the contractions, and I accepted. The medicine didn't do much to ease the pain, but it did calm me down enough so that I could lay down in bed and breathe through each contraction. 

For a couple more hours, Stew and Mom sat at my sides and talked me through the contractions. I would look directly at Mom when I felt like I couldn't take any more, and she would look at the monitor and let me know when each contraction had peaked. Stew rubbed my arm and held my hand, but I didn't want to be touched by anyone else. Poor Stew was exhausted, and at one point he even fell asleep mid-sentence while talking to a nurse.

Sometime in the early hours of the morning I decided I definitely wanted an epidural, and it was administered at about 6:30 am. The epidural itself wasn't too terrible. I sad on the edge of the bed basically hugging my labor and delivery nurse (any sense of modesty had left me at this point), and began to feel the effects almost immediately. I stopped feeling any contractions at all, even though they were still showing up steady and regular on the monitor. I was given an internal fetal monitor and a catheter, and finally I was able to get some rest after so many hours of unending pain.

At this point I also began to receive Pitocin at regular intervals, in the hopes that my labor would progress. I was still at only 2 centimeters.

Hours went by. I was able to move my legs slightly if I wanted to, but I hated the numb feeling of them, so the nurse turned down the epidural for about 30 minutes so I could regain some feeling. Eventually my back began to hurt as well, so Stew and Mom took turns rubbing it for me. We all dozed off for a while.

My sister arrived at 9:00 am and the nurses changed shifts. My new nurse didn't like the look of my IV line and decided to re-do it, which turned out to be a huge ordeal. It took about an hour, three people and five different attempts before they were able to get a good line in; my arms were sore and black and blue for a week afterward.

I continued to receive Pitocin in increasing doses, but my progress hadn't been evaluated in hours... they didn't want to check my cervix too often due to the risk of infection. When your membranes rupture, a clock starts, and I knew that I only had 20 hours from the time my water had broken for the baby to be born vaginally, otherwise the risk of infection would become too great and I'd need to move forward with a cesarean section.

My primary doctor arrived at about 9:30 am and confirmed that my cervix was thinning, but that I was still only about 2 centimeters dilated. However, she said that slow progress up until 4 centimeters is normal, and I shouldn't worry about anything at that point.

Several more hours went by. My dad and father-in-law arrived, and I was actually starting to feel hungry so I had some apple juice, jello, broth and water (the only things I was allowed). The birthing suite was huge, and everyone lounged around, dozed, and watched a movie while we waited. I progressed to 4 centimeters, and really expected things to start moving along.

Sometime in the mid-afternoon my doctor checked my cervix and excitedly exclaimed, "Oh, you're at 7 centimeters! No wait... I'm feeling something else. Sorry, still only 4 centimeters." At this point I was starting to feel fairly apprehensive. I could sense concern on the part of the doctor and nurses. They started a sort of "amniotic bath" which re-introduced fluid into my uterus and was supposed to make the baby more comfortable and encourage him to move into position.

We watched the clock. The doctor had planned to come and check my cervix again at 6:15 pm and I was really hoping for good news at that point. However, the doctor arrived 15 minutes early and I could tell something was wrong. She explained calmly that the baby's heart rate was beginning to drop to a concerning level, and unfortunately we needed to move forward with a c-section.

 I felt disappointed, unprepared, and scared. I had not mentally prepared myself for a surgical delivery, and had never had ANY sort of surgery before. I am extremely claustrophobic, and was terrified of being awake and panicking on the operating table. Luckily, there was enough time to provide us with lots of explanations and answers to all of our questions. I was given an oxygen mask, but it made me feel like I was suffocating and I fought the urge to panic. I was so terrified of being awake and numb from the chest down, unable to move.

Mom brushed my hair, put it into a ponytail, and covered it with a horrible cloth medical cap as the nurses prepped me for surgery. They came at me several times with a razor and continued to exclaim as they realized I had recently had a Brazilian bikini wax (is this not typical?) We signed release forms and Stew put scrubs on over his clothes. Mom kissed my forehead as they wheeled me out of the room, and I started to cry silent tears. I have never been more terrified. 

Compared to the dim, calm, quiet birthing suite, the operating room was blindingly bright, freezing cold, and filled with about 10 hospital staff members in scrubs and masks. As I helped transfer myself to the operating table, I tried not to look at the table of sharps that was being prepared next to me. As the anesthesiologist administered the numbing agent, the doctor explained that I would feel pressure and tugging sensations, but not pain. She pinched my stomach as hard as she could to demonstrate, and I felt just a bit of pressure, which calmed me slightly. I tried to stay calm and focused as my arms were strapped down.

As the surgery started, so did a digital clock on the wall above the door, which I could see just beyond Stew's head. I tried to focus on that and his face. Unfortunately, if I looked directly up I could see a slight reflection of the surgery in a light fixture above my head, which was absolutely horrifying. I kept asking Stew to move the curtain so I wouldn't see red in the corner of my eye, but there was nothing he could do.

Even though I had been warned, I was surprised at how much I could feel. The pressure and tugging sensations were intense, and I kept watching the clock, wondering how long it would take them to get the baby out. I started to feel more than just pressure... PAIN... and I started to panic, whimper, and shake uncontrollably. The doctor tried to explain that what I was feeling was normal, but eventually the pain and panic overwhelmed me to a point that the anesthesiologist was forced to give me a strong dose of medication that essentially knocked me out for a while.

Stew stayed by my head, holding my hand, periodically standing up to look over the curtain at the surgery's progress. They were having a hard time getting the baby out because he was up so high, and at one point someone had to actually get up on the table and physically push him down and out.

Ryder Steven was born on May 5, 2014 at 6:59 in the evening. He was a perfect 8 pounds, 3 ounces and 22 inches long.

Once he was delivered, one team took the baby while another worked to close me up. Stew stayed with me while they worked on Ryder, and after what seemed like an eternity we finally heard his first wailing cry. It took me a few minutes to convince Stew that it was okay for him to leave me for a moment to go meet our son. He went back and forth between the two of us, checking our progress.

I began to become extremely upset at how long things were taking. I could still feel pain and smell burning flesh as the team cauterized blood vessels in my uterus, and I begged to see Ryder, beginning to sob, "He should be with me!" Finally, Stew brought him over and they unstrapped one of my arms so I could touch his precious face -- the only thing I could see so far. Ryder had stopped crying and looked at me quietly, and all I could say was, "Hi... hi... hi!" as tears streamed down my face. I remember Stew just looked and looked at him. It was the very first moment that we were all together as a family, and probably the most important moment of my entire life.

Happy birth day, sweet baby boy!

Family photo with very tired Mommy and Daddy.

Grandpa Russ.

So excited for another generation of Always!

Grandpa and Nana love.

Aunt E adores you already.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Live & Learn -- The Home Team

I've never been a huge baseball fan... the game is just a little slow for my taste. But I've been known to pay attention here and there, and I definitely enjoy an afternoon in the sun at the ballpark. And every once in a while I'll pay attention to a game on TV, mostly because the men in my family are watching it.

The Mariners happened to play on Easter Sunday this year, and at one point I glanced up at the TV and wondered aloud, "Oh, are they playing at home?"

Apparently there is an easy way to tell. In sports journalism for all sports in the United States, the home team is always listed second (to the right), or below (if you're listing them vertically). The rule of thumb is that you're saying "at" in between them:

Mariners AT Marlins

Therefore, it should have been clear to me that the M's were playing in Miami.

Interesting... You learn something new every day!

Thanks, Dad.
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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Live & Learn -- Strawberries

Last month Stew and I started to notice that strawberries in the grocery store were really starting to look and taste better. Strawberries with fat free sugar free Cool Whip or fat free Greek frozen yogurt is basically our go-to healthy dessert, so we were pretty excited. This sparked a conversation about strawberries as we were having breakfast on Easter morning...

According to my mother, you can tell the origin of strawberries based on the color you see when you cut them open. Strawberries that are white on the inside typically come from Southern California/Mexico, and strawberries that are red all the way through come from the Pacific Northwest (usually later in the season).

I thought that was pretty interesting, and immediately made a mental note to write a Live & Learn post to share my newfound knowledge.

However, when I went online to find some more information and possibly a source, I couldn't find anything! I'll have to ask my mom where she came up with that little tidbit.

But in the meantime, I did learn some other interesting facts about strawberries...

Strawberries are the only fruit that wear their seeds on the outside.
The average berry is adorned with some 200 of them.

Strawberries aren’t true berries, like blueberries or even grapes.
Technically, a berry has its seeds on the inside. And, to be extra technical, each seed on a strawberry is considered by botanists to be its own separate fruit.

Strawberries are members of the rose family.
Should you come upon a bush of them growing, you’ll see: they smell as sweet as they taste.

Americans eat an average of three-and-a-half pounds of fresh strawberries each per year.
It’s closer to five pounds if you count frozen ones.

California produces some 80% of the strawberries in the U.S.
They grow about two billion pounds of the heart-shaped fruits per year.

 So there you have it. More than you ever thought you'd want to know about strawberries. 

Live & Learn, my friends! 
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sh*t (wo)Men Say v5

Last month I used my Quote Book to take things my guys friends have said on drunken holiday weekends completely out of context, and paired them with ridiculously embarrassing photos for one of my favorite link ups: Sh*t Men Say with Amanda and Danae.
So ladies, you had to know this was coming...
It's only fair.
This time I'm sharing my favorite quotes from my favorite GIRLS!
Sorry not sorry.
Just too much fabulousness. As I said... 

Sunland = Funland, every single time.
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Voyage of the Mee Mee

Monday, May 12, 2014

Adventures in Cooking -- Pizza Quinoa Casserole

When I saw this recipe on my friend Erin's page I just knew I had to try it. It seemed simple, delicious, healthy, and like something Stewart would actually eat.

Pizza Quinoa Casserole
1.5 cups dry quinoa
1 medium onion
1 green bell pepper
3 roma tomatoes
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
3 tsp minced garlic
15 oz can tomato sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1 lb Italian sausage (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.
Cook your quinoa (remember to rinse first). Add 3 cups water and quinoa in a saucepan (it expands, so use a large one). Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until water is absorbed.
While quinoa is simmering chop onion, green pepper, and tomatoes.
In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onion and green pepper with a little bit of salt until softened (about 10 minutes).
Add garlic to the skillet, stir, and heat for another minute or two.
In another skillet, brown Italian sausage until it's cooked through.
When your quinoa is perfectly cooked, place it in a large mixing bowl and add tomato sauce, tomatoes, spinach, sausage, 1 cup mozzarella, sautéed vegetables, basil, and oregano.
Stir it up!
Lightly spray a 9x13 glass dish and spread your concoction into the pan, gently pressing down.
Top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes while drooling over the amazing pizza smell coming from your oven.

Erin's recipe did not call for sausage, but Stew and I like meat on our pizza and the recipe seemed lacking in protein a little bit to me, so I decided on my own to add the Italian sausage and think it came out really well. We loved this dish! It really did taste like pizza, but it's got to be much healthier (although I didn't do an actual calorie count). We ate it for lots of lunches and dinners throughout the week, but it was a LOT of food so we did start to get sick of it near the end. I think next time I might put half of it in the freezer.

But overall it was a pretty quick and easy recipe, and I will definitely be making it again!
Enjoy, my friends!
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Friday, May 9, 2014

Dear Ryder... 40 Weeks

Dear Ryder,

We did it!!

Well, we didn't quite make it to your official due date, but I thought I would go ahead and round out our first 40 weeks together.

You were born on Monday, May 5, 2014 at 6:59 in the evening. I went through more than 20 hours of labor before you were eventually delivered via cesarean section. I don't know how the whole experience seemed to you, but things got very scary for Mommy and Daddy for a minute there! But that's all in the past now, and ever since the moment you were born we have been busy getting to know each other and falling madly in love with you.

Everything has been such a whirlwind, and I promise that someday soon I will document all the details for you here, but for now this is all I am able to accomplish... even being away from you for a few moments makes my heart ache. I never knew you could love another human being this much.

Happy birthday, my precious, darling, amazing, angel first born son!

Love Always,

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Live & Learn -- Pottery Barn

Did you know that Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids are NOT the same store? I learned the hard way...

I saw this great storage system in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog that I thought would be absolutely perfect in our media room. It had drawers, cabinets, cubbies... everything to keep all our movies, games, toys and sports memorabilia all organized and displayed neatly.

However, I wasn't sure about the finish. I wanted a black/brown color to go with our media center and coffee table, but the "Espresso" and "Tuscan" finishes didn't seem quite right from what I could see online. So I thought I would call the company and confirm that the finishes shown online were a pretty accurate representation of the colors (we've had problems with this in the past).

The customer service rep I spoke to said that one of the finishes might actually be very close to what we were looking for. She suggested that we stop by one of the local stores to see the finish samples in person to confirm. Perfect.

So one afternoon Stew and I drove into Bellevue (the closest Pottery Barn to our house), fighting through traffic, a crowded parking lot, and a bustling shopping mall, to check out the finishes.

But when we walked into the store, the sales person seemed quite confused. She did not have any finish samples called "Espresso" or "Tuscan" and wondered why we had been told that over the phone. Finally we figured out the problem.

Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids are NOT the same store.

We had gone there for nothing, and Stew was not at all pleased to have had his time wasted. But how the heck was I supposed to know?!

The closest Pottery Barn KIDS was another 30 minutes away, but since we were already out and determined to finish our errand, we headed into the city. I even called them on the way to confirm that they had the finish samples we wanted to see.

At this point rush hour traffic was really working against us, but we finally made it to the store and saw the samples, which were absolutely NOTHING like what we were looking for. I think Stew really wanted to throttle me at this point.

However, once we saw the unit in the store, we ultimately decided to go with white, and an extremely nice sales person ended up giving us a great deal on our order, so I still think it was all worth it in the end. And now that the whole thing is set up in the media room I'm SO happy with how it turned out.
Pottery Barn catalog photo since I haven't taken one of my own yet.
But yeah, next time I'll be sure to do a little more fact checking before dragging my husband all over town... Live & Learn.
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Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Surprise Shower!

Have I mentioned before that I'm OCD a planner?
I pride myself on being incredibly organized; I depend on calendars, checklists and schedules to bring order to the chaos that is my life. So I wouldn't generally characterize myself as someone who is a huge fan of surprises.
Typically when someone at our office is expecting, that person's team will plan and host a baby shower. So as the weeks went by and Baby Boy's due date loomed closer and closer, I became increasingly anxious that no one had talked to me about a date for an office baby shower. But of course I couldn't be the selfish jerk who asked about a party for myself, so I kept quiet. But I sure was wondering...
Finally, a few weeks ago, I gave up hope and decided that my team must have chosen to perhaps wait until the baby was born to have a shower (I've heard of this type of thing before -- a shower combined with a baby meet-and-greet). So I began bugging Stew about the fact that we needed to buy out the remainder of our baby registry. He brushed me off day after day, which was extremely frustrating!
Finally I found out why...
Stew showed up at my office about a week and a half ago at the end of the day, and somehow lured me over to a conference room on our floor. There, a group of my co-workers was waiting to throw me an absolutely lovely surprise baby shower! I definitely almost cried.
The room was filled with all my favorite people, delicious food, and absolutely gorgeous decorations. It was clear how much time and energy had been put into the whole thing, and I felt super guilty about ever questioning their intentions. The generosity was overwhelming.

The shower was such a wonderful surprise! And we received so many thoughtful, personal, and beautiful gifts. The food was delicious and it turned into an absolutely wonderful evening. I am so lucky to work for such a wonderful company with such amazing people. I really will miss them while I'm on maternity leave... but not too much!
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