Friday, April 7, 2017

Ten Years Ago, We Got Engaged

Written 4/11/2007

What I'm sure you are all dying to know is how'd he do it?

Let me back up to Friday. Friday we went down to Houston to celebrate Good Friday at Cirque du Soleil's Corteo with my parents. It was fantastic, by the way.  We bought tickets for that months and months ago, acknowledging that the following day would mark a year and a half since our first date, but we didn't really care. I didn't think it'd make any difference whether we spent it in Houston or Austin. But, as the date got closer, I kept asking Henry what he wanted to do for our semi-anniversary and he said he'd like to do something in Austin. That made it easier on me because I was scheduled to work and driving back on Saturday would mean I wouldn't have to find someone to take my shift.

So, that's what we did. We drove back to Austin on Saturday morning, and I went to work at 1. After I got off work at 6 we were both hungry and I was craving Madam Mam's fried rice, so we went there and got some. Now that I think about it, he kept trying to persuade me to cook something at my apartment instead of going out, and I wonder if I messed up part of his surprise...hmm. I'll have to ask. Anyway, it was getting close to 8 o'clock by the time we left the restaurant and here I was still in my work clothes. I began to wonder if we were really going to do anything special at all, or if we'd just go watch a movie or something.

Then we got back to my apartment and he told me to wait in the living room while he did something in my bedroom. A few minutes passed and he told me to go look. There sitting on my desk were purple hydrangeas and a card. The card was sooo sweet! It said all of these mushy things that I'll spare you on and then at the very end it said, "Put something nice on I want to take you somewhere special...."

So after some hemming and hawing over what to wear, because believe it or not it was like 34° F outside and really rainy! he took me down to the car and blindfolded me (my idea because I wanted to add to the surprise as much as possible) and took me to the secret location. It was so funny because even after multiple turns somehow I still figured out that we were on Congress, so then he tried to mix me up by driving in circles through parking lots and through neighborhoods. Even after all this, I still guessed that we were on Congress and I was right!

Anyway, once we arrived at the place and got out of the car I tried to walk along with my blindfold on, but because I was afraid of tripping over something, I was walking at tortoise speed. Henry picked me up and carried me on his back to the place and when we got up there he put me down and told me I could open my eyes. I did and I saw a park bench and not much else because I was blind! Henry had forgotten my glasses in the car!

So he said, "Be right back," and ran back to the car. Then of course when he tried to put them on me he missed and put the arms in my ears. It was so cute.

Once I could see again I was still a little disoriented and I think I asked him where we were. Then I turned around and I could see the buildings of St. Edward's University, the place where we had our first date. We were at the top of a hill that had a great view of downtown Austin. It was pretty. I just couldn't enjoy it too much because it was so dang cold!

I think we were standing there for all of 30 seconds when he dropped down on one knee (onto the wet ground! what a trooper!) and asked if I'd marry him. I said yes, he asked which finger he was supposed to put the ring on, we hugged and then I ran back to the car. haha. Now he likes to tell people that I ran away with his ring when they ask if I said yes.

It was sweet and simple and definitely memorable! Henry was kind of upset about the weather and things not going quite like he'd planned. He asked me, "what does that say about our relationship?" My reply:  "It can weather any storm."  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

E's Birth - Part Two

Originally written on October 9, 2014. 

Our E boy is 2 weeks old today, so I think it's definitely time to finish up his birth story. Is it just me or is it long?! I have been working on it for over a week. Everything seems to be moving in slow motion...

They took me back to the L&D room, I changed into a hospital gown, and they hooked me up to the monitors. Not much else happened before Henry arrived. It seemed to me like he got there really fast considering it was late in the afternoon. I was surprised and thankful he arrived so quickly. He caught me up on Elle's whereabouts; we were taking dinner to some of our friends that night and they offered to keep Elle until Henry's mom could come from San Antonio. She also arrived much quicker than I expected. Tender mercies.

The nurse did all of the fun stuff they do to get you set up at the hospital: insert an IV (took 2 tries because my first vein blew), ask a bunch of medical hx questions, initial your life away, etc. Shortly after 6 PM, Dr. Loar came in and introduced herself while we were midway through this process. She seemed eager to get the show on the road. She asked me if I had a birth plan. Ha! I'd jotted down some wishes in my planner minutes before: primarily, I wanted to do it without an epidural, and I wanted to let the cord finish pulsing before clamping. 

At 6:25 she did an internal check and broke my water. I couldn't believe it when she said I was 8 cm dilated and 100% effaced! I'd progressed 3 cm since my doctor's appointment 3 hrs earlier! I asked Dr. Loar about the baby's station, and she told me he was super low. She said I should be fine without the epidural and could probably push the baby out in "two pushes" (wrong, but that's ok).

There was lots and lots of amniotic fluid. Every time I'd shift in the bed, more would gush out. I stayed on the bed for a little while without much else happening. In fact, the nurse was still rushing to complete the intake paperwork after my water was broken, and I was still comfortably answering her litany of questions. But almost as soon as she left the room to gather whatever instruments they round up for delivery, my contractions got REAL. They were INTENSE, but also shorter than I remember them being when I was on pitocin with Elle. 30-40 secs in duration with a rest in between. I was so, so grateful they weren't any longer.

So at this point laboring becomes a blur. Details get fuzzy when you feel like your bottom is going to fall out. But... I labored in the bathroom. I labored in a chair. I labored with a Breathe Right strip strapped to my face because I went into this party congested. I labored with a ladybug massager vibrating on my lower back and Henry at my side. He did a good job again of helping me keep my breathing as steady and as calm as it could be given the circumstances.

I also had "Hypnosis for Birth-Empowering Yourself" blasting in my earbuds. This is something I wanted to try this go round, and my friend gave me the CD at my baby shower. Let me tell you, I was NOT hypnotized during his birth, but the woman on the CD had a soothing voice and maybe the affirmations helped me stay somewhat calm? I used the affirmations of "surrender," "once a contraction is over it'll never come again," "every contraction brings me closer to meeting my baby," and "my body is doing the work it needs to do." More power to you if this really, really works for you, but I'm not 100% sold. 

One other new thing I tried this labor was having Henry sway my thighs from side to side during the contraction. It's also difficult to say if this was super helpful, but I think in the beginning it felt like a way to counteract the pressure.

Around 7:50 I climbed up on the bed between contractions because I felt like I might be transitioning (read: I was having crazy painful contractions and starting to feel like I couldn't take many more). Basically, I wanted the doctor or nurse to check me and tell me I was ready to push. Dr. Loar came in with surprising speed and said I was 9 3/4 with the slightest lip on the cervix. She then said words that killed me: "You'll probably be ready to push in 15-20 minutes." Nooo! I did not want to endure those contractions for another 15-20 minutes; I wanted a way to fight back right then! 

Luckily for me, it didn't take that long. Ten minutes later I had the urge to push, and it was STRONG. I don't remember feeling that way with Elle. With her birth, I just got to the transition stage where I felt like maybe I really, really needed that epidural after all, and then the nurse told me I was fully dilated and could push. This time they told me I could push with the contraction or between contractions if I felt the urge. 

Dr. Loar returned. She told me to take a deep breath and hold it in while I pushed. It took a couple tries because holy pain! But eventually I calmed down enough to coordinate my breathing and my pushing. Within 20 minutes, what felt like several rings of fire, an estimated 8-10 pushes (really I have no idea how many times I pushed because I just did what needed to be done to get.him.OUT), and screeching from me, our little E was born at 8:18 pm. He weighed 7 lbs 7 oz, a full pound and 3 oz more than his sister. 

E didn't cry right away. He also had an EKG on our last day in the hospital because his resting heart rate was low. I'd say he's a pretty mellow little guy. Thankfully he has checked out to be healthy in every way. It just takes a little effort to get a rise out of him. ;) 

After they got some good cries out of him, I was able to hold him skin-to-skin and breastfeed him. It wasn't exactly a butterflies and rainbows bonding moment for me because...stitches (ouch). After that was done though, then the real bonding could begin. My first thoughts about E were that he looked like Elle did at a week old but with no eyelashes or eyebrows! (Upon later inspection, they're just very blonde. He does have hair.) and his nose might be bigger. He is a handsome little guy with the softest skin. I forgot how deliciously soft baby skin is. I could rub his head all day, but I probably shouldn't. 

Henry cut the cord this time. We didn't talk about if he'd do it or not, but he said he felt pressured by the hospital staff. I have no recollection of that whatsoever. Must've been probably didn't help that I felt super shaky after the delivery. I felt so shaky for so long after the delivery that I was worried something was wrong, but no one seemed concerned. Adrenaline I guess? 

Right after E was born, I wrote, "I forgot how crazy that whole 'birth without pain meds' thing is. Wow, our bodies are amazing. I also can't believe I have a SON! And he's on the outside now. Phew! Not gonna lie, I was pretty uncomfortable the last week or two. Glad the pregnancy is done." 

And just like that, our lives are changed forever. We love our little boy so much.

Friday, December 12, 2014

E's Birth - Part One

So. It's been awhile. I had a baby 2 1/2 months ago. He's a precious, snuggly baby boy. I'll be ordering a printed copy of my pregnancy journal soon, so tonight I sat down to finally edit the birth story I pieced together in the middle of the night in those early weeks at home. I love reading birth stories, so I thought I'd share. First draft completed on October 6th.

Henry and I both had our suspicions that we'd have the baby before the end of the week (September 27th). Henry actually told his supervisor he needed to have his performance appraisal completed by Thursday (the day E was born) because he felt so strongly that he wouldn't be at work on Friday. It had been 10 days since my last appointment when they'd declared me still 3 cm dilated, and judging by a couple successions of good, steady contractions, I was pretty sure I was more dilated. My guess was that I was probably at a 5 based on how I progressed with Elle.

Normally I have free time on Thursday mornings because my SIL watches Elle for a few hours, but on the Thursday E was born, she and her kids were sick with a stomach bug. We decided we definitely didn't want to risk catching that, so Elle stayed with me that day.

On Wednesday night I'd been disappointed that I wouldn't have the chance to get a pedicure before my doctor's appointment (my feet were really gross and I wanted some R&R!), but things turned out for the best because I got something better: one last morning running errands with my girl as an only child. Looking back, I wouldn't trade that experience. We went to Ulta where she unzipped kits and caboodles and eyed the nail polish colors, and I quickly picked up more foundation. Then we walked around JCPenney just to get Shopkick points. She enjoyed seeing all the mannequins, touching some of the kiddo-sized ones. She made more than one salesperson smile by loudly and excitedly declaring "they're naked!" as we walked by the mannequins in bras and panties. She thought it was so cool that their underwear matched. And she loved looking at all of the character costumes in their children's department. 

We went to Target after. She was perfectly well-behaved even when we had to cut our walk down the toy aisle short, and I wouldn't bend down to pick up large toys from lower shelves. She charmed me that morning, and since I've felt a bit disconnected from her following E's birth, I'm relying on that memory to let me know that things will be ok again.

My OB appt was scheduled for 3 o'clock that afternoon, and Henry planned to come home at 2 o'clock to watch Elle. Elle and I had lunch at home and passed the time until Henry arrived by reading books and doing some low energy (for me) activities. I remember parking myself on the floor of her room, feeling like a beached whale, as she made "lily pads" by spreading blankets, lots and lots of blankets, around her room. Whatever to keep her occupied at that point.

I tried to catch 10 mins of shut eye before leaving for my appointment, but I wouldn't exactly call it "beneficial rest." Off I went, grabbing my hospital bags as I headed out the door, just at the off chance of induction.

My doctor came in to examine me around 3:30 PM. She said I was 5 cm dilated and asked if I was having contractions. I said yes, that I'd just started tracking them for the last 35 minutes, but they seemed to be 5-10 minutes apart. She asked if the contractions were painful. I said no, but they were just uncomfortable enough to make me take notice. At that point we must've discussed the option of going to the hospital for observation. At first she left it open to me, but then what I clearly remember her saying next is "where do you live?" "South Austin." "Ok, I do care. I don't want you going home. From how comfortable you are, I don't think you're in active labor now, but I think you'd likely go into labor tonight." She then explained that she'd call over to the hospital to arrange for my arrival. She gave me the choice of 1. being observed overnight to see what my body would do on its own & being induced the next morning if I wasn't progressing or 2. getting induced that evening. You will note that both options involved going straight to the hospital.

I told Dr. M that I didn't like the idea of just hanging out at the hospital overnight because I was afraid of a terrible night's sleep and food deprivation wherein nothing would happen and the next morning I'd be starving and exhausted at the start of induction. I will always say no to that, so option 2 it was! She explained that she was about to go off her hospital shift, so Dr. Loar would be the one to deliver our baby. She asked where Henry was and then said that nothing had to be done until he got there; I was just to go over to the hospital when I was ready. She then asked if I was ready to have the baby, and I think I said "I guess so!" I felt very anxious about the whole thing. This time I didn't have the luxury of leaving and going about my business with a day to prepare and mull it over. I worried I was making the wrong decision. 

Dr. Meritt told me she'd see me and baby the next morning and left me in the exam room. I immediately texted and then called Henry. He asked me to call two friends from church to see if either of them could watch Elle. (Like I mentioned before, Henry's sister's family was sick, so we really wanted to find someone else to take her if we could.) After getting no answer from either friend nor my parents, I started to freak out. I called Henry back, crying. He said not to worry, that he'd figure something out, and he suggested I get something to eat before checking in at the hospital. Wise man. With everything running through my mind at that moment I wouldn't have thought to do that. I was just going to have the granola bar I packed in my hospital bag, but getting an actual meal seemed like a much better plan. I went through the drive-thru at PTerry's and ordered a cheeseburger and a cup of ice water, which I ate in the women's center parking lot.  

Sitting there eating in the quiet helped me calm down and make peace with what was about to happen. I gave myself permission to dilate, and the contractions came. They weren't terribly strong, just slightly uncomfortable still, but they consistently came for that hour or so that I sat in my car. I called and left a voicemail for Henry letting him know I felt a lot better after eating and having time to process, and then I finally reached my dad. He said he'd call the main number at my mom's office to fill her in. I started to feel at peace. I remember even being a little amused at the thought of eating my "last meal" in the parking lot, having a nice conversation on the phone with my dad during contractions.

If I remember correctly, it was around 5 o'clock when I finally went into the hospital, calmly carrying in all of my bags. I thought I must look a little odd walking into labor and delivery by myself. It did feel odd walking up to three different desks and announcing that my doctor had sent me over to be induced. I finally got back far enough to meet my nurse, Leah, who said, "So you're the one who's 5cm?!" Yep, that's me.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mighty Fine

It seems like almost every time we visit Mighty Fine Burgers and Fries something interesting happens. When we lived near the North Austin location, we'd randomly see church friends there all the time. Now that we're patrons of the South Austin location, we haven't seen any church friends there, of the first times we ate there an old lady told us that we were good parents (so nice!), and the last time we ate there a middle-aged woman gave us five dollars for our "angel girl." Henry and I joked that we were finally capitalizing on Elle's cuteness.

Tonight there was a group of 12 year old boys that stood in line in front of us and then sat at the table in front of ours. I'm pretty sure the birthday boy took a picture of me with his cell phone (and then played it off by saying he was trying to get a selfie of his friends when I said, "did you just take a picture of me??") because later he turned and yelled "you're a hottie!" in our general direction. I can only guess that the message was intended for me and not my toddler or husband, so thanks, kid. I was feeling particularly bulbous and unattractive today. Mama's still got it at 4 months pregnant.

The cherry on top: I'd be willing to bet that the birthday boy goes to the same church as us (different congregation, same building or a different congregation in our stake). My Mormon-dar immediately went off when I saw the parents, while chatting in line the mom told me they have six kids, and Henry overheard a friend of the parents talking about the Barton Creek ward. That'd be fun to cross paths in the hall.