29 December 2011

Announcement, I Think?

Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap…

I have spent the last hour writing. It's yielded only a page thus far, but it's a page.

Holy crap, I have a page. Of a book. I've written a page for a book.

I'm crazy, stupid, out of my mind. It'll never be published, and I'm pretty much OK with that. But I've started a book. Nay-sayers and non-supporters, I'll end up telling myself exactly what you're thinking somewhere along the way. I'm going to [try to] be positive.

2012, you now know my resolution. I want to write more than 200 pages on one topic. Not for a grade, but for the sake of I-have-to-know-if-I'm-even-capable. And I'll give myself the whole calendar year to complete it.

Probably would have been easier to resolve to flatten out my post-pregnancy gut.

Oh, well…here I go...

Write-A-Caption Wednesday…on Thursday

Sorry this one comes a day late.  Michael took this blackmail pic late last night.  I tried feeding Mallory her last bottle before putting her in her crib, but she was too tired to eat.  Looks like Mommy was tired, too!  So what captions will you give me on this one? :)

18 December 2011

Nerd in the World Project: Month Two

"I can smile now!  Get ready for me to ham it up!"

Proof that stripes and polka dots can go together.

How many chins can you count?

Age: 2 months
Weight: 12+ lbs. (That's right--she's put on more than HALF her birth weight!)
Length: 22 in.
What can she do now?

  • focus on face or an object and track it as it moves
  • SMILE! (this is my favorite new development)
  • coo (this is my second favorite)
  • sleep 6+ hours
  • sleep in her crib
  • lift head off ground and turn it once lifted
  • lift legs off ground while on tummy
  • respond to a sound by looking toward it (or jolting if it's loud enough)
Celebrations from the past month:

  • We had another play date with Patrick.  It's so fun to watch them grow together.
"And I punch you in the face!"
  • We hosted a Christmas dinner at our house with Michael's family.  We ate roasted chicken and crab cakes, opened gifts, and passed the baby around.
  • Our friends Lee and Jenna Lea announced their pregnancy!  They are due on 31 May 2012, which is our 4-year anniversary.
  • Friends of mine from elementary school on up through graduation, David and Leanne, announced their pregnancy, too.  They are due in June.

Dorky Mommy Moment (DMM):
When Mallory stared in amazement at my black tank top the other morning, I stopped to explain to her the difference between black and white as pigments.  Then I explained the difference between them in terms of light.  I couldn't help myself.

    A mother's thoughts from this month:
    It's amazing how much changes in just two months post-partum.  Your body is no longer swollen or in pain.  Your baby's newborn wrinkles have smoothed.  Your daily routine has started taking shape.  Although, you consider yourself lucky when you get the chance to brush your teeth or find the courage to take your baby to a venue that scares you…like Wal-Mart.  But that is what the super cool car seat canopy is for: to keep over her so that strangers won't put their nasty fingers near your baby's face.

    But two months?  Holy moly, has it really been that long already?  I've been fortunate enough to have had every waking moment with our little Mallory.  That's what 8 weeks of maternity leave and 3 weeks of holiday vacation will do for you.  I get to see her hit the developmental milestones (and then text Michael at work when she does).  I take mental note of what shows up in her diapers.  I prepare all of her bottles and take charge of all costume changes.  And when you fall into some semblance of a routine, you start to forget some of those day-to-day moments, those brief instances from the first few days of being a new parent where you could not stop staring at your baby.  Making wishes for her future.  Mapping the bright blue veins on her scalp.  Counting and recounting her toes.  Whispering the secret to happiness in her ear.  While it's somewhat unfortunate to have lost such moments to an already overcrowded memory, I'm grateful for the memories that I can recall and for photographic evidence of our little girl's growth.

    Wish us luck on Monday.  Mallory goes to the pediatrician for her first shots.  Not too excited about those!

    "A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."
    Carl Sandburg

    17 December 2011

    Rockin' a Newborn Around the Christmas Tree

    This is our Christmas tree.

    And cue the children's choir.
    And it's not just ANY Christmas tree.  It's Mallory's first Christmas tree.  I was more excited about decorating this tree than the cracked-out track-suit-wearing lady in the Target commercials is about Black Friday.

    I just didn't think it would take roughly 3 days to decorate this sucker.

    Day One, Erect the Evergreen: It started at Home Depot.  Since fir trees can't grow in Georgia (stupid red clay), and we weren't willing to drive all the way to North Carolina with a newborn to cut our own, we turned to the Commerce location of the megastore for their selection.  Mallory, all snug in her car seat nestled inside a bright orange shopping cart, rode up and down the garden center aisles while we browsed.  Michael and I picked one that would fit in our music room and had one of the employees shake it out and wrap it in netting.  We threw it in the back of the truck, hit the Zaxby's drive-thru for some dinner, and made our way home.

    "I'll take the tall green one that smells like a lumber jack."
    It was dark outside by the time we pulled into our driveway.  And since we had a baby to tend to, we had to devise a plan to get the tree in the house and consume our chicken dinners before bedtime.  Eating took first priority.  You parents know the routine with a newbie: one parent holds/feeds/burps the baby while the other eats, and then you swap.  Except, the baby is already full by the time the second parent gets the baby, so they end up doing diaper duty.  Everybody wins!

    With everyone fed and the baby's butt clean, I put Mallory in her swing and Michael valiantly commandeered the bringing-in of the fir tree.  We crossed our fingers that we would be able to cut the tree out of its stretchy netting, stand the tree, trim back the loose limbs, vacuum up needles, and add water to the base before Mallory decides she's through with the moving-to-and-fro business.

    "A little more to the left, Daddy!"
    And success!  Barely a whimper from the swing, even after I ran the Dyson around little Mallory.  We get the baby bathed and jammied up, and then we make our way to bed with somewhat elevated hopes that decorating will go smoothly the next day.

    Day Two, Haul out the Holly: Shortly after breakfast and walking the dog around the yard, Michael brought down the boxes of Christmas decorations.  I'm usually in charge of this, but splitting responsibilities is the only way we would get this holiday fun running.  Mallory was dressed for the occasion--a pink snowman onesie.  Again, she was fed and put in her swing.

    "I'm starting to notice a trend…"
    We tuned in at channel 801 on our satellite for the holiday music to get us in the spirit.  Taking a swing at who was singing each piece, I batted somewhere around .500.  Too many inept pop singers for me to keep up with each year.  They merely ruin the standards I grew up with on my parents' records.

    I emptied the boxes of the decorations that were to go on the tree, setting aside mystery ornaments for the Goodwill and broken ones for the trash bin.  Then Michael and I dizzied ourselves stringing the colored lights through the branches.

    "Lookin' good, guys!"
    We glanced over at the swing, smiled at our butterball wonder, and decided to march on by hanging up the silver balls and glittered icicles.  I grumble about the glitter getting ground into the carpet, but I excuse it because it's Christmas and I have a vacuum.  Thinking that we've only spent, like, 30 minutes completing these tasks, we hear…


    Yep, it had actually been almost 3 hours.  Mallory obviously kept tabs on the clock.

    Mal: "I'm HUNGRY!"
    Me: "I just wanted to decorate the tree all pretty for you!"
    And, of course, I thought, "Oh, it's no big deal!  Feed the baby, do a little tummy time, and you're back to the decorating festivities!" as normal feedings last roughly 20 minutes.  But then there are feedings like this one where the formula doesn't want to stay down and it ends up all over Mommy's neck.  So almost an hour later, we're wearing hazmat suits to avoid another eruption, even with Mallory on the changing table.  Projectile spit happens even in this position.

    We have a spitter.
    Mallory's belly was full (well, almost full since she spit up), but Michael and I had to eat lunch.  You eat, I hold Baby.  I eat, you hold Baby.  Someone take Mojo out and get the mail.  Change the channel because ESPN is only talking about NBA crap.  Am I going to be able to clean up where Christmas vomited in our living room before dinner?  Another three hours are gone…  Seriously?


    Feed.  Burp.  Change.  Lay the nerd down for a nap.

    While Mallory slept, I managed to get the rest of the decorations on the tree.  Michael made an attempt to balance the star I bought half-priced after the holidays last year atop the gangly nose-picker limb.  It did not want to comply, even after cutting it back a hair.  We decided to revisit this important step in decorating at another time.  Decorations for the house come out of the boxes so Michael can put them back in storage, but...

    Baby wakes, eats, gets changed.  Mommy and Daddy take time on the floor entertaining her.  Mojo has to go out again.  Time for dinner to be made.  Eat dinner.  Put boxes away.  House decorations are still out of place.  Star is on the Victrola rather than the tree, getting glitter all over the cracked wooden finish.  Curse the glitter and all its evilness.  Put the baby down for a short nap.  Take a picture...

    "Decorating a tree is exhausting."
    Day Three, Finishing Touches:  It was Monday, and Michael went to work.  I managed to set out the candle holders and holiday dish towels.  The nose-picker limb was cut back to the nub so the star could securely rest on top.  Our wreath was hung on the door.  Excess glitter was vacuumed up.  Lights were strung across the mantle and stockings were hung underneath the silvery letters of "NOEL".  I walked Mallory around the fragrant, multi-colored beauty so she could marvel over her parents' hard work.  The old tree skirt had been put in the donation pile, so a couple of bunched-up dark green towels collected falling needles from underneath.  I promised my little girl a newer, shinier skirt in just a couple of days when we would take a shopping trip to Hobby Lobby.  She stared at the lights, probably fighting the stimulation overload in her developing brain.  I pointed out the "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments that friends had bought for her.  Again, neurons are firing, but baby no understandy.  At least, not yet.  This will always be her first Christmas tree, and it was worth enduring its progressive interruptions.

    Merry Christmas, Baby Nerd!

    01 December 2011

    Woe is Mojo

    The Mighty Mojo!
    Mojo.  Sassy, snuggly, attention-craving and selectively obedient Mojo.  He was the first bundle of joy we welcomed into our family.  Rescued from the menacing streets of Alabama and later discovered by us in an ad posted on Pet Finder, he came to find tranquility on our semi-out-in-the-country property abounding with squirrels, deer, and feral cats.  Our windows are scribbled with his nose art and the corners of every room collect what he sheds.  But we don't mind--he has a personality unmatched by any pooch we've ever met.  Even his apperance is unique: a 30-pound shrinky dink German shepherd with giant bat ears and a nub where his tail should be.  Ol' Mo can be instructed to wait for a treat lying within snapping range for over a minute.  He understands the difference between "upstairs" and "downstairs".  He even knows how to use his "inside voice" when commanded to do so.  We have spent much of our time, energy, and attention to bring happiness back into this mischievous mutt's life, and he returns the favor ten-fold.  Life in the Wynne home is good.
    Wynne, family of 3.
    He wasn't a natural swimmer when he was introduced to the ocean, but he sure loved running through the sand and surf!
    "This is how I curl up in front of the fire.  It's also my 'come hither' pose."

    And all it took was bringing home a baby to cause the walls of Mojo's little Utopia to come tumbling down.

    Mojo went on a mini-vacation at his favorite dogsitter's house while Michael and I were in the hospital delivering Mallory.  Tamela, who is also one of my co-workers, trains dogs on the side and is quite the Mojo fan.  At Tamela's place, Mojo can run free in her fenced-in back yard with her three dogs and is even allowed to cuddle up under the covers with her and her husband in their bed (he's not allowed on the furniture at our house).  She has to nip his behavior, though, when he goes near her cats.  He would most certainly try to nibble on a feline if she didn't draw a distinct line in the sand for him.

    But since Tam had to jet to Tennessee for her son's wedding before we returned, she dropped Mojo off at our house just a couple of hours before we came home with our still-steaming baby girl.  Michael and I had speculated how the meeting of canine and neonate might go.  Would Mojo greet her excitedly because that's how he greets us when we come home?  Would he suspiciously sniff her and turn up his nose?  Would he make for the hills, where he could live in peace and harmony with his little squirrel companions?

    Let's just say now that we're 6 weeks into this parenting thing, Mojo probably would benefit from a combination of psychotherapy and a hard cocktail.

    While we spent the first several days with Mallory trying to figure out what each cry meant and how to handle real-life sleep deprivation, Mojo's behavior spiraled from sunny to sullen.  He sought refuge in the folds of the sleeping bag we lay out every winter for him, piling its puffy flannel layers over his body to shut out the disparity in the doling out of attention.  Every time we would look up from a feeding, there was Mojo's butt, hanging out of the sleeping bag, his pitiful sighs gently expanding the fort around him.

    "At least my sleeping bag loves me..."

    We carried out our pet parent duties as we should: fed him, took him out for potty breaks, gave him treats to reward good behavior.  We'd pat his head if we walked past him and tell him he was a good boy from across the room.  Yet, Mojo carried himself around the house in a depressed state that would make Eeyore turn to his Hundred Acre Wood buddies and ask, "What the hell is wrong with that guy?"

    Well, Mallory was what was wrong.  (Yeah, I know that sentence reads weirdly).  But it was the truth.  Mojo, who had been the proud owner of all of our attention, was now feeling jipped.  He had been the "only child" for two years before Baby Nerd came along, and he did not enjoy sharing the spotlight.  Excuse me: giving up the spotlight would be more accurate.  Mojo did not understand that a baby's needs would take priority over his while we learned the ropes.  His little doggie mind did not comprehend that all of this was merely temporary, that once we hit our stride, we would have more time for him.  We were doing our best to meet his needs, but it wasn't even close to good enough by his standards.  He sure let us know how he was feeling...

    For each time we'd hold a napping baby: "I'm going to sleep in my sun spot in the office."

    For each time we promised, "Just one more minute, and I'll take you outside!": "That's what you said 5 minutes ago…"

    For every meal we set down for him: "You snuggle the tiny human while you feed it…"

    And every time Mallory made herself heard, Mojo would give us the stink eye and a piece of his mind.

    If she cried: "Make it use its inside voice!"

    If she was being held by one of us: "You used to hold me like that..."

    If she soiled her diaper: "But I'm not allowed to poop in the house…"

    It didn't stop there.  A pile of baby socks under our bed.  A shredded (but not soiled, thank God) diaper on our bedroom floor.  Toilet paper from the guest bathroom trash can shredded in a trail.  Mojo was acting out.  At this rate, it wouldn't have surprised me if we had woken up one morning to Mojo standing at the door with his sleeping bag rolled up and a hobo bindle over his shoulder.  We needed him to feel wanted and loved again.  We would have to use the baby to win him back.

    So from where our butts were making imprints on the couch as we held our newborn, we started calling Mojo over.  We let him smell her and lick her ears.  Every time he acted calmly around her, we'd rub his ears or chin and tell him he was a really good dog.  His chest puffed out at the thought.  "I AM a really good dog!"

    Then we started engaging him during Mallory's tummy time.  Actually, we didn't have to make much of an effort to get him interested.  You see, Mojo considers the floor and anything that touches it to be his possession.  We believe this is why he steals socks.  So once Mallory was laid on the floor with her blanket and a couple of toys, Mojo came running over to see what had entered into his world.  Michael and I carefully monitored their encounter.

    Mallory wiggled on her blanket, arms and legs poking the air.  Mojo was instantly spellbound, and his excitement showed via the wagging of his stumpy tail.  He approached her little pink face, smelling every inch of her head.  When his tail wasn't accurately broadcasting how excited he was, his tongue would do so by thrusting out of his muzzle and covering her cheeks.  Mallory just squinted and continued to kick.  Mojo circled her, licking her arms and legs until we finally told him it was enough.  He then laid down next to her, deciding it was time to vocalize his feelings through high-pitched howls and yelps.  It was hysterically funny to watch.  Mallory couldn't play with Mojo or show him affection, but he was absolutely smitten with her.

    We had our jolly mutt back.

    Now when the baby cries, Mojo shows a look of concern or runs to her playpen.  He finally realized he's just tall enough to prop himself on the side of the playpen so he can sneak a peek at her.  When we have tummy time, he lays on Mallory's blanket (which we usually have to ask him to move over to make room for us).  The cutest effort he makes for Baby Nerd is when brings her one of his toys.  After all, she has her trinkets.  I guess he figures playthings are for sharing.  Mallory is going to give him a run for his money when she graduates from tummy time to toddling!  He will love her more because she'll finally be mobile.

    And in the middle of the night, when the room is dark and I am up feeding and changing Mallory, Mojo strains his tired eyes to watch my every move.  He lets out a sigh from his bed as if to say, "I'm still here."  After putting the baby back down, I walk over to his corner of the room, kiss him on his forehead, and tell him he's a damn good dog.  He's going to make Mallory one happy little girl as they grow up together.

    "The tiny human cried!  Let me see what is wrong."

    "Is it tummy time again?  Want to play with my hippo?"

    30 November 2011

    Write-a-Caption Wednesday

    Let's try something new for the nerd: Write-a-Caption Wednesday!  Write a caption for the posted photo in the comments section.  Be funny, cute, etc., but keep it clean. :)

    18 November 2011

    Nerd in the World Project: Month One!

    "What's this? Mommy put a bow on my head?"

    I cannot believe an entire month has passed since I gave birth to this little miracle.  She is so awesome.

    Sticking out her tongue at me.  Guess I deserve it for the whole "bow on the head" thing.

    Age: 1 month
    Weight: 9+ lbs.
    Length: 22 in.
    What can she do now?
    • focus on a face
    • lift head and turn it once lifted
    • make lots of crazy noises (including burping loud enough to peel paint off the wall)
    • sleep 5+ hours at night
    • feed on a more "normal" schedule than the first two weeks of life (those once-an-hour feedings in the middle of the night were so straining!)
    Celebrations from the past month:
    • Many people have new roles in our family.  Michael and I are now PARENTS!  My mom is finally a grandmother.  My brother, an uncle.  Michael's sister is a first-time aunt.  My grandparents can officially put a "great" in front of their title.  :)
    • Katy and Ryan welcomed their baby boy, Patrick, into the world on 9 November!  Patrick weighed 7 lbs. 12 oz. and was 19 inches long.  Here are some photos from Mallory and Patrick's first play date.  Can't you tell they are smitten with one another?
    We put the babes to sleep in Patrick's playpen just like this.  Then we went to the kitchen to enjoy a tasty meal from Chick-fil-A.

    When we returned to the playpen to hold and feed the babies, we found them like this.  No joke--they positioned themselves this way while we were busy eating chicken.  I think they love each other.

    Presenting: the mommies!  The babies are almost 3 weeks apart.  What a fun journey it's been together.
    • Our friend, Jeremy, got a new job in South Carolina!  Jeremy, his wife, Sara, and their baby girl, Sophie, moved to Mount Pleasant to start a new adventure on the Atlantic coast.
    • Our Georgia Dawgs beat two very important SEC teams: Florida (Mallory's first football game) and Auburn!
    A mother's thoughts from this month:
    We count our blessings each and every day.  It may have been a struggle to create this little person's life, but we couldn't have asked for a more perfect pregnancy and delivery.  Our hearts bleed for those who experience difficulties with their pregnancies or have grieved over the loss of a baby.  When I hold sweet Mallory, I am overwhelmed with love for her.  What have I done in my life to deserve a loving husband, a healthy child, a psycho mutt, and happy home?

    Even though my body is still recovering from the delivery, it's hard to believe that just weeks ago I wasn't able to bend over to pick things up or even stand for more than 10 minutes.  I was that huge.  Now I can see my feet again and get up and down from the floor for tummy time with Mallory.  It shouldn't be much longer before I can fit into my old clothes and put the maternity jeans in storage.  Is it strange that I miss being pregnant?  I loved growing our baby, despite the joint pain, swelling, and peeing every 5 minutes.  But I love our baby more.  She is just so awesome.

    What I find terribly interesting is how after you bring home a newborn, you have to learn how to do everything all over again.  Making meals.  Eating those meals.  Driving a car.  Getting ready for bed.  Heck, the first time I climbed the stairs with Mallory in my arms was absolutely terrifying.  All I could imagine was taking a tumble and dropping the baby.  I wanted to install an elevator to go upstairs for diaper changes.  And then there's the separation anxiety.  Where do I put the baby when I need to go to the bathroom?  Will she miss me?  What if she starts crying as soon as I shut the door?  Should I shut the door?  Is she going to roll over or smother herself with her blanket or spit up all over herself?  It takes time and practice and talking to other mothers who have gone through exactly the same set of emotions.  Each day brings a little more confidence.

    Happy one-month birthday, Baby Nerd.  Your parents love you more than you'll ever know.  Can't wait to see what you will one day become.

    “I know one day she'll learn to make up her own rhymes.  One day, she's gonna learn how to fly.  Oh, that I won't deny.”

    --Jimmy Buffett's "Little Miss Magic"

    08 November 2011

    Packing to Have a Baby: Your Hospital Stay

    Every pregnancy website and magazine will provide you with a list of things to pack for the hospital, but we learned a few things about this packing list we wish we had known before we threw a week's worth of stuff into our suitcase.  Just be aware that this entry is based on our particular experience at the hospital: being induced, having a vaginal birth to a singlet, and only nursing once our baby arrived.  If you are reading this and had a different experience in labor/delivery (C-section, baby stayed in NICU, birth to multiples, bottle feeding, extended hospital stay, etc.), post your "what I wish I had thought of" ideas in the comments section below!

    What we SHOULD have packed:

    • Laptop or iPad.  We don't have either one of these, but it would have been nice to have access to the hospital's wi-fi to email the first photos of our newborn to those without Facebook.  Our cell phones had to suffice for most of the contacting we did with the outside world.  Plus, if your hospital has a photography service, you may be able to access the pictures online within hours of the photos being taken and want to show them to your visitors.
    • A pen.  Sounds kind of stupid, I know, but you will be signing and filling out a lot of paperwork.  It's best to have one or two handy.  Thankfully, my father-in-law had one on hand when I filled out Mallory's Social Security papers.  I would have been too embarrassed to page our nurse for a writing utensil.
    • Body wash.  I don't know how this was forgotten.  I would have rather had my own cleansing gel than the bar of hospital soap we ended up having to use.  I blame pregnant brain for this one.
    • A button-down shirt for Daddy.  Dads need skin-to-skin contact with their babies, too.  Michael wanted that with Mallory, but was uncomfortable going sans shirt in order to do so.  His wish?  That he had brought a button-down shirt so he could stay fully clothed while experiencing this special bonding time with his daughter.
    • Packing more than one shirt for Daddy.  He wore the same T-shirt the entire time we were at the hospital.  Wives, you might want to check behind your man to make sure he has enough to get him through your stay.  There's no telling what could get on your man's clothes while he's holding your newborn, and he's not going to want to wear a pooped-on tee for 2 days.
    What we wish we had left AT HOME:
    • Books.  Michael and I both packed books in our suitcase, thinking we would have time to enjoy a few pages.  Yeah, that didn't happen.  During our labor, I was in way too much pain to want to read, and Michael was spending his time doting on me.  Once the baby arrived, our time was devoted to greeting guests, learning to nurse, changing diapers, signing papers, and trying to get some shut-eye.  I promise you won't get any dumber because you left a stimulating page-turner at home.  There's just too much going on with your newborn, and you won't want to spend it reading a bestseller.  Heck, who wants to hold a book when you could hold one of these?
    Hold that newborn.  They're this size for what feels like only a nanosecond.
    • iPods.  OK, so I'm sure there are those of you out there that simply cannot do without your tunes.  Some women in labor want music to help them focus.  Others need music to help lull them to sleep.  But my iPod was not always within reach, and it just wasn't worth an extra trip out of my hospital bed to find it, make sure it was charged, pop in my ear buds, and search for a playlist.  Not only that, but listening to music via earbuds would mean you're not tuned into your baby's vocalized needs.
    • Non-nursing tops for Mommy.  Enough said.  They were never worn until after I got home.
    • Diapers and wipes.  I packed them in the diaper bag, but the hospital provides them for every new mom.  Why?  They have to be prepared for someone walking in off the street to give birth with nothing in hand.  PS--Take the unused ones the hospital provides home with you.  
    What we COULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED without:
    • Your camera.  Duh.
    • Infant car seat.  Double duh.
    • Boppy/nursing pillow.  Not only did I use it to assist me in holding my newborn for extended periods of time or to keep her steady while nursing, it also made a great between-the-knees pillow when I slept.
    • A nursing gown (or a top making those milk tanks accessible).  The hospital gown makes you sweaty and uncomfortable, and I was more than ready to be in something that wasn't a one-size-fits-all garment.  Not only does a nursing gown give your neonate easy access to their version of a salad bar, it also makes it easier for you to change out the padding you'll be wearing around your nether regions.  The nursing gown I purchased also came with a robe, helping me regulate my body temp.
    • Lanolin cream.  Your nips are going to be sore after you start nursing.  This stuff sure does help.
    • Lotion.  After your belly starts its deflate mode, your skin will be incredibly itchy.  I could not stop scratching my belly skin--even before the epidural completely wore off.  Don't bring the really smelly kind that has alcohol in it.  You'll only make it worse!  Bring a lotion with healing ingredients, like vitamin E or colloidal oatmeal.
    • A girlfriend's take-along kit.  Let me explain this one because it includes a heck of a lot of good stuff.  My teammates bought me a cute tote (red and black in color, of course) and filled it with items I would need in the hospital.  I can confidently say we used everything in it.  The items included: ChapStick (used a lot), lotion, my favorite snacks (Goldfish, almonds, granola bars), hair ties and clips, chewing gum, and quarters for the vending machine.  All I had to do was throw in my wallet and compact!
    • Baby blankets.  Whether they are used for burping baby, swaddling them in their bassinet, or to have as a background for photos, you won't want to be without them.
    • Baby clothes…and lots of them.  Your newborn doesn't know if she's wearing the brilliantly monogrammed onesie your neighbor had made for her or the $2 consignment store find.  Be ready for many wardrobe changes after she spits up or her diaper leaks.
    Have it ready at home:
    • Maxi pads.  You'll get some in the hospital, along with the chance to wear their super fashionable mesh boy-short panties to hold them up.  Be prepared to bleed and pass clots for the next 6 weeks.  Since your bleeding will taper like a normal period, make sure you have a variety of absorbencies.
    • Stool softener and/or fiber supplements.  I thought I'd be one of those lucky new mommies who didn't get hemorrhoids after squeezing a human out of my hoo-ha.  Boy, was I wrong.  It's no fun to have them, but using these supplements is a way to give your pooper some much-deserved TLC.
    • Witch hazel wipes (aka--"Tucks").  Your hospital will most likely provide you with some, especially if you have an episiotomy like me and are given Epifoam as a topical analgesic (applied to the wipe, it holds the foam on your lady parts and gives you relief right where it hurts).  But in all things swollen, Tucks are great to have around for your distended derriere.
    • Pain reliever.  Whether it's prescribed or something OTC (make sure it's doc-approved first), you will most likely need it.  When my epidural wore off and I could feel my stitches, a couple of ibuprofen each day helped ease the pain.
    • Plenty of groceries.  Seriously.  Do yourself a favor and stockpile your cabinets and fridge as if you're ready for Doomsday BEFORE you go to the hospital.  Once home, leaving the house may not be an option for a very long time.
    Final words of wisdom:
    • Be nice to your nurses, doctors, technicians, etc.  As Jim Croce so eloquently put it, you don't pull on Superman's cape or spit into the wind.  The hospital staff involved in your care are trained and experienced.  Thank them for any little thing they do for you during your stay.  This includes the tech who helps you into your first pair of post-baby mesh panties and makes you try to urinate in front of her to make sure the epidural wore off properly.  For so many of them, they chose this career because it is their love and their passion.
    • Don't be afraid to ask questions or for assistance.  Doctors and nurses realize that this can be an incredibly overwhelming time for new parents, so they are prepared to be on broken record mode if they have to be.  I called my nurse to ask if I was allowed to take a shower.  I was permitted, but I didn't realize I would need my IVT covered so as not to get it wet.  With any question or concern, it's better to be safe than sorry.
    • Don't be afraid to turn visitors away.  You might be nursing and don't want to do so in front of your husband's best friend.  You might be napping.  You might be throwing up because you had a bad reaction to your medication.  You might just not be in the mood for company.  Your visitors will understand.  They can always come back another time.
    • It's OK to cry.  Whether it's tears of joy at the sight of your neonate or tears of feeling frustrated by the massive amounts of information you fear you'll forget once you leave the grounds, let it out.  It certainly won't be the last time you'll cry as a parent!
    • It's normal to be afraid to leave the hospital.  Leaving the hospital as a new parent must be how animals in captivity feel when being released back into the wild: unsure and feeling lost without their caretaker.  I mean, who gave us permission to go into the world with a newborn?  We had never done this before!  I was perfectly happy having a nursing staff tend to my needs any time of day.  Food was brought to me either by the food service department or by family members.  My hospital bed was comfortable and had all those light-up buttons to transform it to my liking.  Now we are 3 weeks into being parents, and so far, we have made it without a fancy schmancy robotic bed.  Even though we are much more confident in our parenting skills than the day we were kicked out, we are no longer terrified to the point of wanting to call 9-1-1 every time the baby farts.

    27 October 2011

    Nerd in Utero Project: Induction and BIRTHday

    7:00pm, Monday, 17 October 2011
    We're checking into the hospital with a woman named Mary Moore in Labor and Delivery.  She has a mid-western accent, and I'm loving the fact that she's wearing butt-shaping shoes with her blouse and slacks.  She gathers all the necessary info from us before we are admitted.  After scanning in all signed paperwork and my driver's license, she has printed our wrist bands.  Real-life "I'm-going-to-be-a-parent-soon" hospital wrist bands.  Not the kind for being admitted to the ER with gastroenteritis like the last time I stayed in a hospital bed.  Mary Moore asks us if we are nervous.  I'm feeling pretty relaxed and ready to get this show on the road.  Michael is more anxious, praying for the upcoming events to go smoothly so that I'm not uncomfortable and for our baby to be delivered safely.

    8:00pm, 17 October: Ready to hit the runway in this 2011 designer hospital gown.  Do they make matching heels?

    8:01pm, 17 October: Last photo together before parenthood.  We were in for a long night.

    8:30pm, 17 October: I can handle getting shots, but I really hate IV needles in my arm. 

    8:30pm, Monday, 17 October 2011
    Our nurse for the night was Marcy.  Cute, blonde, gentle Marcy.  She was exactly the kind of nurse one dreams of when you are in the hospital to have a baby.  She found it funny that I wanted to watch ESPN and Monday Night Football with my husband during the induction process.  Everything she did was by the book, but she was all smiles and laughter.  My veins impressed her as she was trying to decide which one to insert the IV needle into, even giving me 3 choices of where I would like wear the needle for the next few days.  But when the first vein rolled, she apologized and had to move to one on the side of my wrist.  She also apologized when she had to insert the Cervidil that would induce my labor.  Apparently, you needed GPS to find my cervix, it was so high.  Marcy felt bad for my discomfort, but I was too excited about what our end result would be to let a little cervical pain bother me.

    Then Marcy explained the 3 scenarios that could play out once the Cervidil was in place.
    1. Nothing could happen at all.  No contractions.  No dilation.  Perfectly good hormone insert wasted and Pitocin would have to be given through my IV line instead to induce.
    2. Contractions would begin and last for several hours.  Baby would arrive sometime the next day.
    3. Contractions would come on so quickly and strongly that we could have the baby within 4 hours of induction.
    We were fortunate to have experienced Scenario #2.

    The fetal heart rate monitor was strapped low across my enormous belly bulge.  It was no bother.  Marcy warned me, though, that the contraction monitor would feel as if I was being poked by something sharp and would most likely leave me uncomfortable.  She couldn't have been more right.  I still have an irritated imprint on my skin.

    Somewhere between 3rd and 4th quarter of the Jets vs. Dolphins game
    The first few contractions registered on the screen, and I couldn't feel them.  But when the contractions had be sitting straight up in my bed, we called for Marcy to bring me a half dose of Nubain.  Talk about insta-drunk.  Watching the Jets run the ball on a screen that was now fuzzy through my eyes was rather tricky.  It was merely a matter of minutes before the intensity of my contractions could hardly be felt and I was able to doze off.

    All Night Long...17-18 October, 2011
    Eventually, the Nubain wore off and extra doses weren't helping to relieve me of the pain of my contractions.  Michael tried his best to get sleep on his pull-out bed beside me, but the fact I had to vocalize my pain kept him from getting much at all.  He fetched me ice chips when I was parched, dug through my purse to give me ChapStick when my grimacing cracked my lips, and rubbed my back when I needed a distraction from the pain.

    With all the pain endured during the night, we hoped the morning would bring news of significant dilation.  Marcy removed my Cervidil just before 7:00am.  After several hours of contractions, I was at only 2cm.  Ugh.

    8:00am, Tuesday, 18 October, 2011
    The nurse staff changed, and we now had nurse Pat and her shadowing nursing student, Kim.  Nurse Pat was easily in her 60s, so she was a master in delivering babies.  Kim was maybe 22, quiet, laughed nervously when someone cracked a joke.  Pat would ask Kim to do something, and then change her mind and do it herself.  They would be by my side for the rest of the day.

    Received epidural and started Pitocin in my IV.  Relief.  Contractions intensified.

    Baby Nerd wasn't liking the sudden changes, and her heart rate was showing her irritation.  So Pat put an oxygen mask on me and turned me on my side.

    Dr. Goggin came by to check my progress (4cm…things were moving slowly…) and to break my water.  Even though I was I numb, I could feel the pressure being released from my swollen body.  And just as the great doc had predicted, I was a gusher.  Even Pat--with all of her years of experience in L&D--was shocked by the amount of fluid.

    The baby was still irritated by everything going on with my body.  The oxygen mask that had been removed before breaking my water was replaced.  They turned me on my side again.  Baby Nerd's heart rate did come back to a normal range, but with these warning signs she was giving us, there was now talk of the possibility of cord wrap.  We were starting to get edgy, but they encouraged me to rest a while since the most taxing part was yet to come.  Our TV was still tuned to ESPN.  We watched Skip Bayless host First Take while we tried to relax.

    Hooked up to the oxygen to calm little Mallory.  It helped, and I was able to rest.
    Nurse Pat checked me again.  We were 8-9cm.  How did we progress that quickly?  Pushing would begin soon.  When the nurses walked out of the room to call Dr. Goggin in an attempt to get him to the hospital earlier than anticipated, I turned to my husband and said, "Hand me my compact.  I want to look presentable for our baby when she arrives."  Time for my game face.

    Fully dilated.  Started pushing.  Pat was on one side, Kim on the other.  Michael stayed near my head, continuing to be the rock star husband he had been all night.  Ice chips, ChapStick, more ice chips.  Deep breath, push, count to ten, repeat for an hour.

    Charge nurse walked in looking for Pat.  She needed help delivering a baby in another room.  Seeing that I was in the middle of pushing, the charge nurse said, "Nevermind!" and backed out of the room.

    Pat asked me to push harder.  It was difficult to tell just how hard I was pushing, so I just scrunched up my face a little more than before.  It must have worked.  I was commended for my efforts.

    Dr. Goggin finally arrived for the homestretch.  Based on the fetal heart rate, he was also expecting cord wrap.  He carefully instructed me on how he wanted me to push so we could avoid causing fetal distress.  He also announced he would have to make room in order to get her out, but not much (I would require 2 stitches only).  I followed all directions.  Michael watched and held my hand.  Dr. Goggin's glasses showed the reflection of what was going on down below, and since my belly was blocking my view from up top, I occasionally watched the action in his spectacles.

    The nurses got fed up with ESPN being on in the background.  They turned it off.  Bye, bye, interview with Hines Ward.


    Baby Mallory Olivia enters the world! Just as predicted, she had cord wrap: around her neck and her thigh.

    Mallory poops all over Dr. Goggin.  He's laughing, holding a newborn covered in meconium all down her front side.  He exclaims that 2 ounces of birth weight were in that poop.

    Daddy cuts the cord.

    Michael does his first job as Mallory's daddy: cutting the cord.

    A cleaned-up Mallory is placed on my chest for our first skin-to-skin contact.  Tears in our eyes, we are finally holding our long-awaited baby girl.

    She's here!  And we're in love!

    Get those footprints for the baby book.

    7 lb. 13 oz.; 20.5 in long.

    Daddy-daughter time.  A grown man wrapped around the tiniest of fingers.

    16 October 2011

    What Pregnancy Taught Me

    Our nine-month journey has taught me many things...

    • A woman finding out that she's going to be a first-time grandmother can scream quite loudly.
    • One's girlfriends are more valuable than gold.
    The ladies of 5th grade.  Honestly, I don't know what I would do without them.
    • My doctor's nickname for "linea negra" is "the racing stripe".
    • Bending over the bathroom counter to pluck your eyebrows is impossible with a baby bump.
    • Swelling is way more painful than predicted.
    • Having a 6-page birthing plan is not for me.  I trust that my doctor, my body, and our labor will guide us through each step of the delivery.
    • The view of the TV has changed quite a bit…
    Football Saturdays--not what they used to be.
    • When you have convinced yourself that your students find you strict and ready to see you take your maternity leave, they throw you a going-away party, shower you with gifts, and cry their cute little eyeballs out at the thought of you not being there for the next 9 weeks of their learning.
    My current 5th graders after chowing down on pink-iced cupcakes and cheddar popcorn.
    Wait…they're going to miss me?  Their tears are sincere!

    • The Asian women you meet out in public don't ask, "What are you having?"  Instead, they inquire, "Are you having a boy?"
    • Being "checked out" when you're not expecting can be flattering.  Being checked out by 3 dudes in a local Chick-fil-A when you are obviously pregnant?  Kinda creepy.
    • Shaving your legs while pregnant should be an Olympic sport.
    • There is nothing more thrilling than feeling your baby kick inside your womb.
    • Trading in your beloved pick-up truck (yeah, the one used for fishing trips and off-roading) for a family vehicle is tough.
    My brother bought my truck before we purchased our station wagon.  At least it's still in the family!
    • When you are in the homestretch of your pregnancy, folks don't look at you with the same smiles and excitement as they did 2-3 months ago.  Instead, they laugh at your waddle (ahem, excuse me…pregnancy swagger) or expressions of, "Bless her heart--she looks simply miserable!"
    • Flushing public toilets with your foot doesn't happen anymore.  You're lucky enough to lift your feet high enough to put on pants and shoes each day.
    • The things you used to put all kinds of energy and effort into (like cooking or cleaning your house) are replaced with as many naps as your schedule allows.
    • A husband becomes invested in his genetic creation long before she's born.
    Already doting on his little girl.
    • No matter what kind of baby budget you put yourself on, you end up spending a little more than you would like to admit.  I mean, who says "no" to an infant-sized collegiate jersey, even if it costs more than a pack of 5 onesies?
    • Diapers and wipes as gifts RULE!
    • (So do offers of friends and family bringing you meals to your house.)
    • Being sick while pregnant is the absolute pits.  Two separate viruses brought me to my knees (literally--over the toilet with convulsions), and I'm grateful to have recovered from both.
    • Keeping a blog on your TTC life and pregnancy progression can bring you closer to friends and introduce you to some pretty awesome new ones.
    • I actually CAN get pregnant.  I just needed a little help.  :)
    Our very first positive PT.  It feels as if we read this just yesterday!
    • Lots and lots of pink still scares me...


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