Thursday, January 31, 2013

La Cucina

When it comes to DIY, I'm more wanna be than Queen Bee. Seriously, projects always seem to look better in my head (or on Pinterest) than the product.

Luckily, my husband is more gifted than I am in the handy department. The cabinets throughout our house have been the wrong side of ugly since I moved in 6 years ago. Charles was inspired by a visit to his sister last summer. We experimented with the tiny cabinet in the hall bath, moved onto the bigger cabinet bank in the master.

Then, at 6 in the a on Saturday, with rain pouring and me climbing back under the covers, Little finally asleep again, he decided that the time had come to tackle the big bad kitchen. Not being totally crazy, only the lower cabinets were done on this go-round, but now the uppers look even worse, so I'm sure they'll get the fix-up sometime soonish.

Step 1: remove cabinet doors, empty drawers and fronts of cabinets, deglaze

All our stuff out for everyone to see

Step 2: paint

So much better already

Step 3: glaze with rustic stain-y stuff (thanks Rustoleum)

Step 4: top coat (see: I did help!)

Yes, I always wear the grey cardi-thing. And yes, those are gingerbread pj pants.
Step 5: reassemble (corner cabinet hinge madness and all!)

I cannot express how happy we are with the outcome. It is so much more modern (yet rustic) and homey and warm. It's like a breath of fresh air every time we grab a spoon or open a cabinet door. Really. Truly.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Back to the Future

Does she look like a boy? This outfit sans headband seems to prompt lots of questions. Also, this is totally unrelated to the post. Je suis desolee.

I've really been struggling lately to live in the present. Don't get me wrong. I don't think there is anything wrong with having fond memories. I don't think there's anything wrong with planning for or dreaming of the future. But there is a problem when you become so future-oriented (or fixated on the past) that you struggle with the here and now.

Again, don't get me wrong, I keep the kitchen clean (dirty dishes, especially piles of dirty dishes, are my nemesis). My family is fed. The baby has a clean diaper and face and clothes (and totally slobbery fingers, but that's her own doing). I'm not somehow whiling my day away in fits of future-vision.

And when I hold my sweet baby girl, all I want to do is hold her and hug her and squeeze her and snuggle her and make her not grow up ever, ever, never, and stay cute and tiny and adorable and smiley and immobile for ever and ever and always. That is definitely the present. That is good. So good.

Then, Little takes a nap or Charles and I have another conversation about 4th year rotations or my mind wanders off and I find myself itching to hit the fast forward button. To get through the drudgery of talking about the future and just get there already.

Part of it is idol curiosity, I guess. It would be nice to know what comes next. I'm that girl who flips a few pages ahead in her book to see where things are going. I don't want to know the end, but I don't mind a sneak peak now and then.

Part of it is that, as much as I love having my sweet Little be little, I have found so much joy in watching her grow and achieve and change. I know it goes too fast.. It already has, but there is so much pleasure in it at the same time. I don't know how to articulate it, but I can give an example. I am scared to death of her learning to crawl. I mention it all the time. She's going to be the most curious and into everything baby. But I cannot wait for her to do it. I can't wait to share that accomplishment with her, to cheer her on, to see the look on her face when she realizes that the world is out there and she can get there by herself. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. But still, I canNOT wait.

Part of it is that so much energy lately is going into thinking about the future. Planning 4th year rotations and residency applications and Match strategy. Having so little personal control makes me itch for something predictable. I'm all about predictable. (Gosh, I'm so going to fail as a resident's wife. Anxiety.)

I'm trying to focus on today. On the good and beauty and challenge that is before me. I know I can only take it one moment at a time. But lately, man, it's hard.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Meal Plan Monday, Vol. 9

Woo hoo for a new week. We had a lovely, busy, rainy weekend. Today, Charles starts his first day of his psychology rotation, and we're optimistic about it: new experience, short commute, no tie. It's also his last shelf-exam-requiring rotation for the academic year, so we're excited for that, too. Miss Little is fiiiiiiiiinally feeling better and has renewed her interested in getting mobile by going from sitting to belly to get to her toys. She even managed all fours once.

The house is a disaster from our 3/4 finished weekend home improvement project (more later -- with pictures!), so I'm not yet sure what order we're going to eat these, but they're all easy and flexible, so we'll see as things go. This is my best guess!

Saturday - Sandwiches (home improvement)

Sunday - Ground beef and veggie soup, bread

Monday - Red beans and rice with turkey kielbasa

Tuesday - Baked Ziti, salad

Wednesday - Everything chicken tenders, spinach, couscous

Thursday - Chicken Teriyaki, brown rice

Friday - Spinach lasagne rolls, salad

Gratuitous, random, blurry baby picture. You're welcome.

Friday, January 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 9

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 204)

Yesterday's optimism has turned into a big pile of whiny.  Blah. Linking up with Jen and the rest anyway.

1. A good chunk of it has come in the form of sudden onset sleep regression. I don't know if it is the cough or Little's sudden desire to flip onto her tummy when she's going to sleep (v. occasionally when she's already asleep) and then start screaming as if this "tummy" thing is the equivalent of an unmedicated root canal, or mere manipulation based on us deciding that crying and coughing were not an acceptable mix. The last two days though have not been pleasant in the sleep sense.

2. Seriously, it's amazing how quickly the body gets used to having sleep again. Even with Miss Not Sleeping Pants, I'm getting way more sleep than in the early days, but am way more cranky about it.

3. Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a trip to the confessional, how bad would cheering myself up by baking off some frozen cookie dough really be?

4. Is it me, or is everyone in the world having boys lately? I have at least three inner circle peeps who are having boys in the next few months, along with many other acquaintances, but I can only think of one person I know who is pregnant and having a girl. No, wait. Two people. Last year, I was gestating the only girl-baby in my circle. At least Little will have a choice of pre-screened boyfriends if she is ever allowed to date, in-utero baby boy who is also a blood relative notwithstanding.

5. Seriously, the English language needs more descriptive words for relationships. "Friend" doesn't really clarify whether I mean bff or person I accepted on FB who I went to kindergarten with. "Acquaintance" is accurate for all for FB peeps, but sounds strangely formal and makes me wonder why I would know about their gestational status at all. I should blame the weird world of FB, but I'll blame English language vocabulary instead.

6. I don't want to get all political, but it's on my heart and mind, so I'll just mention that my prayers are with the March(es) for Life and participants today.

7. The benefits of having Student Dr. Daddy around:

After-hours health monitoring

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I think/hope/pray that we're on the road to recovery. Little's a little better today than yesterday. It's raining. There is leftover soup for lunch. Hubster is home studying for tomorrow's Family Medicine Shelf since his preceptor is off today. I actually managed to rock my baby to sleep for her nap. I have beans in the Crock Pot for dinner. I'm going to finish this and pick up a book. I feel full of hope and optimism and pensiveness. (Is that a weird combination?)

Life is good.

Food mouth

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Swamp Girl

Anyone remember the Swamp Girl story line from Days? Am I the only one who wasted too many hours of my youth glued to Days of Our Lives? Answer: no. I know that my sister was right there on the couch next to me. That's two of us. poor sweet baby girl lives in a swamp. At least that's Student Dr. Daddy's goal.

Her little stuffy nose from Thursday - turned little cold from Friday turned into a real, live, viral yuck on Saturday. I'll spare you the details involving nose suctioning and albuterol and coughing and the like. You're welcome.

Between prayers for healing and prayers of thanksgiving that things aren't worse (and they could be in so many way) and prayers that even if things don't get better right.this.instant they don't get worse, the humidifier has been running pretty much non-stop for days. And by "'pretty much," I mean, it's only been stopped to be refilled.

When we jinxed ourselves by buying a humidifier for in case she gets sick (and then found her sick a week later), we also obtained a digital humidity meter. It says the ideal humidity for coughs and colds is 60-80%. Never mind whether this is true. Never mind whether the thing is accurate. We must reach the Promised Land, by golly!

But we live in Arizona. It's a dry heat. And since it's January, even heat is relative. So the thing runs and runs and runs. Don't get me wrong. It actually seems to help her sleep and breathe while she's sleeping and stuff, so that's good. The problem is the obsession (and let's be honest, it's not mine). We reached 60% for about a minute before the open door caused all the humid air to escape and blend with the rest of the house. Most of the time, we've been languishing in the 50% range.

Which is actually kind of remarkable when you consider that 50% humidity usually freaks us desert rats out and prompts fears of the precipitation variety.

But I'm ready to turn the darn* thing off and get my smiley, crazy girl back.

What do we want? Crazy baby! When do we want it? Now!

* Not the word that is actually in my head.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

You know you're a mom when....


barely manages more of a reaction than, "I wonder how long that's been there." Then, you leave it on to make your husband take a picture, and realize that he hasn't noticed it either.

Fashionista. Right here.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Meal Plan Monday, Vol. 8

My meal plan consists of milk, water, lukewarm veggies and puffs!

Happy MLK Day! We'll be enjoying our long-weekend day by cleaning house and nursing our poor be-colded baby back to health.

This is also H's last week of his family medicine rotation, but it is going to be a weirdly truncated week: off today, work 2, off 2. His shelf exam will be on Friday, so we'll all be studying for that this week.

So, without further ado, ye ol' meal plan.

Saturday: chicken enchiladas, Spanish rice.
  For the filling, I used the leftovers from the cilantro-lime chicken I had last week.

Sunday: Brown sugar balsamic pork tenderloin, baked sweet potatoes, salad and French bread toast
  The recipe for the pork tenderloin is all over the internet, for example, here, and it was yum-my! Being me, I halved it and made it with half of a tenderloin, because that's a good amount for the two of us.

Monday: Chicken pesto pasta, garlic toast

Tuesday: Butternut squash soup, bread

Wednesday: Chicken and sausage "paella" over rice
  I use the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (it's old school, but I love it!). I call it "paella" because I use turmeric instead of saffron and because it is a CrockPot recipe, so it has none of the crusty yumminess of actual paella. However, it is still tasty, and in the end, that's what counts!

Thursday: Crock Pot pinto beans, tacos

Friday: Last pizza Friday for a bit

Friday, January 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 8

Linking up with Jen and the rest.

1. Someone who less than 3 feet tall and is not independently mobile slept through the night three night in a row this week! I didn't sleep through the night any nights in a row. Last night we fell off the wagon, but I feel like we've turned the corner toward regular sleep -- or as regular as parent-sleep ever gets.

2. Little has developed a fascination with sticking her tongue out. It is all kinds of adorable.

I found my tongue!

3. I have decided that every time I restack the stacking rings, Little thinks I've undone her hard work at scattering them all over her blanket. She totally gives me that look of, Mama, you're sooooo lame. Random mom-musing.

4. Seriously, this week has dragged. I felt grrrreat on Monday, because I got all kinds of stuff done. Then, Tuesday we had a great well-child check, but that comes with immunizations. Those always make her cranky, so we ended up with two days of extra-fussy baby-ness and shut-in stir-crazy mom-ness.

5. Now, I think she has a little bit of a cold. She's fine. I know because she seems perfectly content, just with a runny nose (that she does NOT want cleaned) and an occasional cough. I know I need to count my blessings and thank and praise God that she has had nothing worse than this in her 6 months of life, but my first time mom self can't help but feel a little bit ill at ease. Student Dr. Dad and his ability to give me a list of warning signs to look out for the worst-case-scenario doesn't help. Not one.little.bit.

6. That said, I need to see the sun, and will be hitting Target later, to get out the house if nothing else. I think I'm supposed to buy baby saline as well. While I'm there, I expect death glares from other parents who wonder why I would bring my (slightly) sick baby to a sterile environment like Target with the express purpose of getting their perfect, germ-free children sick.

7. Speaking of, my big illness-related pet peeve: when people speculate or are confused by where/how their kids got sick. Germs are everywhere! Put your kid in a bubble or expect them to get sick occasionally. Encourage good hygiene and eat relatively ok (yes, that was meant to be a low bar). Then live a life free of fear of not having used anti-bacterial wipes on the monkey bars. I mention this primarily to encourage people to smack me upside the head if I ever 1) speculate as to where my kid(s) get sick, 2) use wipes on playground equipment.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Meal Plan Monday, Vol. 7

Another exciting edition of Meal Plan Monday here in Coffee land. As I write this, Little has been asleep since 8, with just one teeny little midnight snack. Life looks good. And I've just jinxed myself into a 4-wakeup night tonight.

Anyway, lots of very little excitement at the homestead this week.

Saturday: Split pea soup Baja Fresh (We ended up getting take-out after our trip to Babies R Us to get Round 1 of baby proofing supplies.We got basics, then we'll see what we need once she's actually moving.)

Sunday: Pork tenderloin, oven-roasted carrots, baked potatoes, toast

Monday: CMA day. I'm sooo not cooking.

Tuesday: Little has a doctor's appointment (well-child), so it needs to be hands-off in case she gets fussy after her shots
   Cilantro-lime chicken and rice in the Crock Pot
   I use this recipe (via Pinterest), but I serve it over rice like a rice bowl.

Wednesday: Beef stew (Dutch oven), bread

Thursday: Potential play day with my cousin
   Chili (in Crock Pot) and cornbread

Friday: Pizza with C's parents, week 3 of 4. They are babysitting Little while Hubster and I take a mini-class at church, and we are all doing pizza before the two of us leave.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2012 in 12 Pictures

Linking up with Dweej, as promised, for a 2012 recap. So, here is my 2012 in pictures (and captions, 'cause I just can't resist and I wasn't blogging for most of it anyway).

Yes, that is the inside of Hubster's esophagus. He was showing this off for weeks.
It's a girl!
He didn't seem to get any bigger.
While I was getting bigger (and more annoyed with having my picture taken).
Good-bye from my sweet students
The nursery is ready to go!
She's here (and slept in that bassinet for like 5 minutes)!
My loves
Meeting Uncle Godfather Z, in town for her baptism
Lil Pumpkin
Forced to be a "turkey" on my good platter

Christmas with Mama and Auntie

Friday, January 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 7

Why yes, I have been a mom of an outside baby for a big 6 months and 1 whole day. Even so, I've learned a lot about myself and about mommyville in that time. Thus, for 7 Quick Takes today, I'm going to share my thoughts. Because I am clearly an expert.

I taught Mama everything she knows.

1. I have to take a shower and "get ready" every day. I learned a lot from watching too many episodes of What Not to Wear in college. Real pants take about as much time to put on as sweats. Having a 5-minute face (make-up routine) makes pulling yourself together easy-peasy. I just plain feel better if I wear real clothes (at least until I've been spit-up on), a smidge of make-up, and do my hair (even if it is just pulled into a ponytail). Right now, it's easy, because I can take a leisurely morning-nap shower. I know it will get harder someday. I'm enjoying the easy while I can.

2. Finding a way to drink an extra cup of coffee makes a huge difference. It might be after my nap-time shower while perusing blogs (what?). It might be sitting on the floor playing stacking rings. It might be while reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear yet again (already). It is a great pick-me-up emotionally as much as caffeine-wise.

3. On the topic of sustenance and how good it is body and soul: Eat! No matter how busy, how hard, how inconvenient, eating makes a big difference. Even if it is just PB&J. Seriously. It's a good thing.

4. I have to ignore the "experts" be it mommy bloggers or well-meaning friends and family or message boards. I have to synthesize information with reality and do things that work for this baby and for us now. So far, Little seems to be happy and healthy, so I think we're doing ok. If it is not what my family members do or what my friends do or what the mommy wars do, and the kids are safe, I think I'm ok.

5. I have to let go of my rigidity and be more flexible. If Solution 1 doesn't work, it's okay to move on to Solution 2 (or 22). For example, I've gone through what feels like a million "solutions" to ease evening fussiness (read: keep me sane from 5-6 pm). Finally, last week, I gave in to babywearing. I've never been opposed to babywearing or anything, I just had decided it my head it would be a good choice for someone else. Or maybe for the next baby. Even so, I gave in, strapped Little on and she "helped" me straighten the house with hardly a whimper, and has repeated it for a good week now. Fine, fine, fine...everyone else was right.

6. Similar to #4 and #5, I had to find a lot of self-confidence to be me. I have the dress my kid the way I want to dress my kid. I have to dress myself the way I want to dress myself. I have to raise and feed and love my family the best I can, and that might not be the way another does it. I found my voice, so to speak, and the joy seems to flow from that.

7. This will never stop getting to me. Ever.

Daddy-Daughter Time!
 Now that you've slodged through my rambling, check out Jen and the others.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Seis meses


She is six months old today. That's half a year. She's 50% of the way to her first birthday.

People said that time flies. People say to take it all in, because it will be gone before you know it. People say all kinds of stuff. You don't have any idea how true it really is until you see a little baby of your own gestation go from helpless little bundle of cuteness to all-over-the-place bundle of cuteness right before your eyes.

She's sitting up, people. Not for a second or two, but sits on the ground playing and laughing and eating her toys.

She's still not crawling and still hasn't cut that tooth. But those days are coming. And they're coming fast. Some kind of mobility is, at least. I'm currently convinced that she's going to teeth forever and finally cut teeth right around the 4th of July.

She loooooooooooves sweet potatoes (like her Daddy). And squash (like her Mama).

She's drinking water from a sippy cup. Not very much or very well. But she's doing it.

She's babbling. Yesterday, I swear she was saying umuhmuhmuh. She has no real idea how close that is to Mama or really have any thought in her little mind of actually saying my name, but it warms my heart to the point of melty goo all the same.

She loves her bedtime prayers. She can be a mad, screaming baby and as soon as we start, she quiets right down. She loves to hold (and eat) a Jesus holy card and cries when we take it away every night.

She loves people. She loves smiling and being held and loved and kissed. She has the sweetest smile and big brown eyes.

She is a daredevil -- she loves being jostled and tossed around. This gives me even more fear for her coming mobility and toddlerhood.

She is a problem solver. You should see the ways she finds to get what she wants, be it a toy or a pair of arms.

She is a thief, because she steals my heart day after day, time and time again. (Yes, I'm a huge sap.)

Les photos:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Meal Plan Monday Vol. 6

Since things are getting back to normal, it's time for getting back to my meal plans. I'm going to try and include occasional recipes and links and, eventually, pictures. Mostly this is so that when I'm having trouble figuring out what to make for dinner, I have some inspiration. I don't include seasonings, but obviously, everything should be seasoned to taste. I use Kosher salt, pepper, and garlic & onion powders in just about everything. I generally cook enough for the two of us, with leftovers for my lunches if it is a soup or stew or something of that nature, so any recipes I write reflect that.

This month, Hubster is doing a rural family medicine rotation that is great for experience, bad for commuting. That means that I'm focusing particularly on Crock Pot dinners and things that I can put in the oven while he is driving so that dinner can be ready or close to ready when he gets home. That also allows me to be with Little while she is at her fussiest.

Lastly, this week, we have some friends in town. We'll have dinner with them one night. I have it tentatively scheduled for Tuesday on this, but will do meal adjusting appropriately when we have plans firmed up.

Saturday - Hubster did a home brew with a recipe my dad gave him for Christmas, which takes over the kitchen, so we picked up sandwiches to keep things easy.

Sunday - Lemon chicken, couscous, green beans

Monday - Ground beef stoup ("stoup" tm Rachael Ray), bread
  1/2 lb ground beef
  1 can green beans, drained
  1 can corn, drained
  1 cup frozen peas (appx)
  1-2 cups frozen Southern Style hashbrowns (appx)
  1 sm can tomato sauce
  1 onion, chopped
  1 Tbs chopped garlic
  2 Tbs corn starch
  Combine all ingredients in the Crock Pot. Add enough water to cover all ingredients. Cook on low for 8ish hours.

Tuesday - Dinner with friends

Wednesday - Honey garlic pork chops, rice, spinach, perhaps roasted sweet potatoes
  Pork Chops - recipe here

Thursday - Ground beef enchiladas, rice
  Enchiladas: recipe inspired by this one

Friday - Pizza?

Friday, January 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes Vol. 5

1. Is anyone going to have Quick Takes this week that don't either begin or end with how ardently they are praying for Jen? You can certainly add me to the list of prayer warriors.

2. I feel like it should be 5 Quick Takes this week, because another huge chunk of us are going to comment on how awesome Grace's birth story link-up is. Seriously. I'm having so much fun reading through everyone's stories, it made last night's nursing go faster, and I have high hopes for more to come! I'm getting on Dweej's 12 pictures of 2012 link-up, but I'm still digging up pre-Little pictures. Apparently, before she came around my picture taking and storing was pretty sparing. I clearly have a link-up problem lately.

3. This week has been all kinds of wonky what with going to the Vigil on Saturday for Sunday and the Vigil on Monday for Tuesday and New Year's Eve/Day and C's brother in town for all of that and C going back to work/school on Wednesday and now it's Friday and I'm finally feeling slightly oriented.

4. In the last week, Little has turned into a champion sitter! C and I go back and forth between so, so proud of her and so, so scared at how fast it is flying by. We are seriously contemplating not feeding her or giving her any time to work on gross motor skills. I'm kidding. Mostly.

What? I've been doing this all along.

5. I mentioned that Little got a Bitty Baby for Christmas. Every time she plays with it, I am amazed at how she treats it like a person (touching her face, etc.) rather than like a toy (shoving it directly into her mouth).

6. I have a new goal of getting an about section going. I keep intending to do it, so by writing it down, I will make it happen. I will.

7. Daddy-Daughter time!

I think he's excited for when this will actually work!

Now, go visit Jen via Hallie for more! Thanks, Hallie, for hosting us! :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Little - Pro Hospital PIcs

C couldn't resist the overly expensive hospital pics. they are. I have to admit, having them made getting birth announcements out super-easy! And they are super-sweet.

Little's Birth Story

Why yes, this is very long. And no, the picture payoff doesn't come 'til the end. Oh well.

Little had a blessedly uncomplicated pregnancy and a blessedly uncomplicated delivery, but I want to record the memories anyway. I've actually had this sitting in draft form for months, but hadn't bothered finishing it or putting in pictures, but since Grace decided to link-up birth stories, I decided to finish, so I wouldn't feel so guilty/stalkerish about reading everyone's stories without giving a little to the greater good.

Also, it's a birth story, there will be no TMI warnings. TMI is a given.

We had 3 different due dates floating around. According to my chart, she was due July 17. According to my LMP, she was due July 20. according to an 8 week ultrasound, she was due July 13. None of it mattered, as she did things her way a few days early. We should have known then that it would be her way or the highway.
At a wedding the Saturday before Little was born. I was very puffy and pregnant.
The story really starts July 9, which was our wedding anniversary. C had a training in the morning, but then was off. We celebrated with mass, a ginormous (and ginormously unhealthy) lunch, and then had my then-weekly trip to the torture chamber doctor's office for said torture: a check-in/cervical check. I was at 2 cm and pretty effaced. We talked about when we would consider induction -- I was adamant not to make any decision until after 40 weeks.

After that, there was some normal (for me) post-exam cramping and spotting. We went on a walk. We had Mexican for dinner. We went to bed, because C had an early morning. I mean, it was cray, y'all. Sometime in the middle of the night when I woke up, I could feel that things were different. I can't describe how, exactly, I just could tell. I knew real labor was starting, but obviously didn't know how fast or slow things would happen. When C rolled over, half awake and mostly asleep (what, your husband doesn't do that?), I told him that Little was coming "either today or tomorrow." In my head, that was a reference to not knowing how long labor would last. In his mind it was a mere mother's intuition prediction.

At 4 am, I was wide awake in pure nesting mode. There was a list of stuff I needed to get done before the baby came, by golly, and it was going to happen. At 6, I was up and working on my list. By 8, the contractions were getting going. By 9, I was begging C to come home. Needless to say, my to do list was not done.

Praise be to God, C was rotating with a veeeeery understanding doctor doing outpatient internal medicine who had already given him the clear to head out when necessary for the impending delivery. Less luckily, said rotation was about an hour away from home.

While he was making his way home, the contractions got bad. They were never classically timeable, so 5-1-1 never worked for me. I had to go on the instinct that I was definitely in labor and I definitely needed to head to the hospital. Later, the nurse would tell me what I sort of knew by instinct/experience, which was that I would have a really big contraction that would be followed by several little contractions, sort of like aftershocks. Fun. While C was coming home, I was trying to get my last-minute stuff into my packed-a-million-years-early-because-I-was-a-first-time-mom bag, laboring on all-fours and in the shower, and praying for relief. I was hurting. Big time.

Clearly, natural birth was not for me. I never really thought it was, but the epidural seemed a little scary, so I said I wasn't going to make a decision until the day-of. Then the contractions hit. Decision made.

C got home, thew his things into a bag, loaded everything into the car, and handed me a granola bar. We both knew I wouldn't get to eat at the hospital, so he wanted to make sure I got as many calories as I could before the real work began. In the car, I was like the women in movies -- begging the car and the traffic to move faster -- begging for pain meds -- clutching the door handle through contractions.

Finally, I got checked in and into triage. Never mind the whole pre-registration thing not working at all. There, I was joined behind the curtains of doom by one mama on baby number 7 (or was it 8?) and coming quickly, and one woman who was very, very, very, VERY displeased with the care she was receiving. From what I could tell (and I heard every.single.angry.word she said), she had some legitimate concerns. But screaming, cussing like a sailor, threatening legal action, and planning to walk out of the hospital didn't seem like the way to go about getting answers to her questions.  Yeah, that was fun. And by fun, I mean I was virtually in tears wanting to get out, but was a lowish priority for the less-than-warm triage nurse. Speaking of said lovely nurse, at one point she begged me "not to ralph" on her. 'Cause laboring ladies have such perfect control of their bodily functions.

Finally, they told me I was 4cm and progressing, checked me into a L&D room, and made arrangements for that epidural I wanted so badly.

Soon enough, I was epi'd up, and the story gets pretty boring. I didn't feel anything except the obnoxious monitors digging into my skin. My right leg was totally numb, but my left leg could function. We quickly learned that the speaker for the in-room TV needed much, much improvement, so we passed hours watching Arrested Development on Netflix, praying, making phone calls, sending text message updates, scaring residents, etc.

What was that passing remark about scaring residents? Well, Little was born at a teaching hospital on July 10, so the two 1st year residents/interns we saw had been real, live practicing doctors for all of 10 days at that point, since the "medical year" begins July 1. In other words, they might not have been the most confident, experienced medical professionals at that point. Since C is a medical student and all, we were not concerned and found the whole thing something of a novelty. So, we found ourselves chatting with our poor resident and asking her what we perceived to be friendly questions that basically freaked her out (surely thinking that we were ready to complain about her incompetency). The situation peaked when she tried to use a 1 million year old ultrasound machine to be assured that Little was head-down and ready to be birthed and couldn't get it to work. She was clearly mortified, found a newer machine, and was pretty much terrified by us until her shift was over. We decided to be easier on the next resident (ie not ask any questions), but in retrospect, she seemed like she could handle it a little bit better.

Our families, meanwhile, jumped into action. My dad headed south. My sister made a split-second decision to come fly into Phoenix from San Diego on Tuesday, instead of Thursday or Friday or whenever she had planned to come. My aunt, cousin, MIL and FIL all began awaiting the okay to head over to the hospital.

By 5.30, I was at 9ish cm, still hadn't had my water break, and the crew was gathering in the waiting room awaiting the arrival of Little Miss Little. Never again. I really hate making people wait for me, and knowing that there was a group of people twiddling their thumbs, milling around the hospital (the most boring thing in the world) ended up causing me a ton of stress.

I really don't know where the next 2.5 hours went. My water finally broke when I was at 9.5 cm (my doc didn't want it broken before that, don't ask me why). There was meconium, so the precautionary NICU team had to be assembled. At about 7:30, I was deemed ready to push. Pushing was pretty uneventful. The epi was still totally in effect. They only had me push on the big contractions and gave me oxygen in between to be sure that Little was doing okay. It lasted a big, fat 40 minutes.

Our first family picture

At 8:12, she made her debut. I got to have a minute of skin-to-skin before she was given the weigh, wipe, and declaration of being aspirated-meconium-free. The docs did doctor stuff that I was too engrossed with Little to notice until later when the epi wore off and the pain set in. She took to nursing right away, and I let the paparazzi in between sides so that I could send them home and be done with them. Love the fam. Didn't love knowing they were outside waiting and waiting...

iPhone paparazzi

Anyway, Clare Louise checked in at 8:12 on July 10, 2012. She was 7lbs, 4oz, and 19.5 inches. And she was beautiful and healthy and perfect. God blessed us big time.

The next day, but pre-shower. :P
Also, new-daddy C couldn't resist, so you can see the pro pics here.