Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's been a year!

Well, my parents come tomorrow, the packers come Tuesday, movers Wednesday and then on an airplane (with husband, 4 cats, and baby) to Atlanta. Due to this chaos (and have I ever told you how much I hate chaos?) this is probably my last post of 2009.

So, I just wanted to take a moment to look back on this year.

For most of 2009 I was pregnant - almost 9 full months. This meant lots of doctor's visits, lots of blood tests, and a surprising love affair with my body (which sadly has not lasted as long post-partum). It also meant stress for my husband, strangers poking and prodding, and an amazing amount of fluid weight gain. I saw pictures of myself the other day and was in complete shock. I honestly don't remember pregnancy being anything other than blissful. I suppose this is how the earth is populated.

Then came the monkey. Look at him. It's okay, spend some time staring - he is that beautiful:

Evan has brought with him some amazingly unexpected (for a first time mom) gifts. He is complete joy (most of the time). He has an interest in life that re-energizes me and I want to share this entire world with him and watch him as he learns all about it. He has taught me to trust myself in a way nothing else ever has and of course, the ultimate cliche, he has made my ability to love grow exponentially.

Of course, he has also brought dirty diapers (and my own conscience trying to come to terms with using disposable diapers), bottles (again, my conscience struggling with not being able to breastfeed longer), and lots and lots of laundry. I think I've mentioned the laundry once or twice before.

And, because of Evan, I'm now a stay at home mom. I do love my new job and I seriously wonder why people would think I am not busy... like all the time. I mean, the laundry alone...

And now, to finish out 2009, the Castruccis are starting their next adventure - Atlanta and city life. Right now I'm too stressed to even feel excitement. Oh wait, I think I feel something... no, that is just exhaustion - sorry, still no excitement. But I know it's there, waiting under the surface and it will surface soon.

Another change in life - gotta run, baby is having a meltdown. Have a happy new year and I'll check in next week.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Where in the world are the Castruccis?

Wondering where I've been? Still in Austin, getting the house ready.

For instance, this is (was) my den:

Looks a little empty... huh? But as you can see, we've decided to keep the cats.

The den is one of the more soothing rooms as of today. Get a look at my kitchen:

What you can't read is that each post-it note either says "loft" or "storage." Just to complicate our move more, we are spending our first 6 months in Atlanta in a 1000 square foot loft (as compared to a 3200 square foot house). So, I have to go through all of our stuff and indicate what is coming to the loft and what goes to storage so the movers/packers/designated lackeys who will help me coordinate the movers and packers will know what is going on.

Every time I walk in to this room I get over-stimulated. Here is another view of the room where I spend most of my day:

It's never ending. And, to make this worse, I had to move stuff around so every morning I'm looking for a spoon and I end up with barbecue tongs. But I'm not trying to get used to this new layout since in a week everything will be in a new location in a new kitchen anyway.

Here is the number one thing I've learned about moving - we all have too much crap. Now, keep in mind that I supposedly learned this lesson 4 years ago when we moved from New Jersey to Austin. This time things are a little different because now I'm deciding whether or not something is important enough to pay for in storage... and most things aren't - it's amazing.

And I know, you are reading this thinking that you are a thrower-outer... but you aren't. You might be good at throwing out someone else's crap, but when it comes to your grandmother's table cloth or the first gift your husband gave you, you've kept it. You probably thought just keeping that one thing was no big deal, but you kept more than that.

You probably kept your towels from college in case you have 18 people come to visit so you would have a towel for each person. You probably kept the queen sheets you love even though you don't have a queen bed anymore because someday, you might get a queen bed again and then you will have sheets. I bet you even kept all of the doll clothes you had as a child so that someday your child could play with them... and then you probably had a boy, gave in to the stereotypes, and realized you don't have any of the dolls anymore anyway. Oh wait, all of this is me. Apparently I'm not a thrower-outer... I'm just a semi-organized keeper.

And so Goodwill and the Salvation Army are making a killing. I've even been able to fill the shelves at the local Food Bank - I hope someone really appreciates the artichoke hearts and capers.

Maybe this time the lesson of keeping everything "just in case" or for "someday" will finally sink in and I won't be going through this in another 4 years. Somehow I doubt it though, because I might need to sew a button on as shirt someday and I wouldn't want to not have that button laying around somewhere.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Something Completely Different

I was going to write about something completely different this evening (per Brian's request) but some things have occurred that changed my mind.

Before I jump right in and start to share my thoughts with you, there are some facts you need to know in order to understand this post.

Fact #1: My husband works in the area of maternal child health and is a strong public and private advocate for breastfeeding.

Fact #2: For some time I worked with my husband in the state health department (even though I worked in Medicaid) and so the same people know of us.

Fact #3: I breastfed Evan for approximately 12 weeks (combination of from the breast and pumped milk). I don't know why (and I'll muse more on it later) but breastfeeding didn't work out for Evan and I.

Fact #4: I attempted a drug-free natural birth and ended up having a heavily drugged c-section.

So, since you now have the pertinent background information - let me share. Earlier today Brian went to work for a going away party (this is his last day before Atlanta). I came as everyone wanted to see Evan and I'm Evan's minion in situations like this. While I was there, 3 different people asked me if I was breastfeeding. Due to facts #1 and #2 above this really isn't an odd question for people to ask even though I find it to be kind of personal. Almost similar to them asking me my bra size.

So, being an honest person, I said I wasn't breastfeeding any longer. To their credit, no one came down hard on me, but they did give me the look. Come on, you all know the look (and this isn't paranoia). And, even though I had promised myself I wouldn't ever explain my actions as a parent I heard myself telling them that I had breastfed for 12 weeks but that things went awry.

Next, when we came home, I checked my blog. Often, when I go to my blog, I click on the "Next Blog" link at the top left of the screen. Since my blog is about family and pregnancy I'm usually taken to another blog with a similar theme. Today I was taken to a midwife's blog and her topic of the day was breastfeeding. More specifically about how she is sick of people saying things like "I didn't breastfeed and my baby turned out okay," or "I had drugs for my birth and it was just fine." Well, probably due to my earlier interactions in the day her blog really got me going and I left a comment (something I rarely do). There were TONS of comments to her blog and sadly most of them agreed with her.

Because her post annoyed me so much, I'm going to share with you all some of my belief.

First off, the writer based her argument on the fact that breast milk is the natural drink because "in the wild" that is all we have. I have to state that I DO believe that breast milk is the best milk for a baby and I will definitely try to breastfeed any other children I have. That is not the part of the argument I have an issue with - it's the "in the wild" argument.

Here is the sad truth. If we used the "in the wild" argument then I would never have Evan and millions of other women would never have been able to conceive or give birth. In some cases babies would have died that survive today (my niece probably being one of them) and mothers would be dead who are healthy today. "In the wild" if I had conceived I would have eventually died since I never went in to labor (even with modern medicine). I don't know the reasons why, but I know that modern society is far from "in the wild" when it comes to childbirth. And judging people based on this mentality leads to divides that shouldn't exist.

I don't know why breastfeeding was difficult for me. I had the lactation nurse in the hospital and 2 post-partum doulas who tried to help me out. Maybe I couldn't learn, maybe Evan couldn't learn, maybe my body, since it has trouble conceiving and giving birth, also has trouble providing milk for my offspring. Either way, no one who simply asks me if I'm breastfeeding knows the reason I'm currently not. But, people are comfortable making assumptions.

I ask that we create a society in which breastfeeding and natural childbirth are supported as a choice for mothers. But, I also ask that when we find someone who didn't take that path we don't make assumptions about the reasons why. Yes, breast milk is best, but formula isn't evil. Yes, a natural childbirth is best for mother and baby, but if the only way a woman can have a peaceful birth is through drugs then she isn't evil.

Fact #5: I love my son and attempt to make choices for him that are the best.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Saying Thanks

As I was putting monkey to bed, I was overcome with how lucky I am to have him in my life.

And, I realized I don't know if I ever thanked those that made this journey possible:

Thank you to Brian for being willing to go on this wild ride of conception and parenthood with me.

Thank you to my amazing OB, Dr. Sebestyen, who calmly walked us through this process, always had another solution, and identified my thyroid issue. And for being the first person to welcome my son in to the world.

Thank you to Dr. Casaubon (fabulous endocrinologist) for monitoring my thyroid levels with vigilance and always sticking around to answer any questions.

Thank you to Metformin for helping me to ovulate, to synthroid for making up where my thyroid left off, my progesterone suppositories for supplementing my natural progesterone, and for the pain killers that made the incision pain free. I've made peace with my medications.

Thank you to family and friends who listened to me and put up with my silences or moods when I wasn't ready to talk.

And thank you to God (I would hear it from my mom if I forget this one) for putting all these people and things in my life to make this happen.

It was definitely all worth it.

Enough mush... time for something humorous tomorrow.

We All Have Responsibilties

A move this big means that everyone has responsibilities - including the cats.

Bubba fulfilled his responsibility yesterday - he had to get shaved:

I know - he looks adorable. It's okay, you know you want to pet him. Don't fight it, he will galdly welcome any love you want to give him.

Look - he's commanding you. Pet him now!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The One Thing I've Been Ignoring

This is what is currently sitting in front of my house. It's red, white, and blue and comes with a lot of stress.

In case you haven't figure it out yet, we are moving... to Atlanta, GA. Brian is going to be the Director of Maternal and Child Health for the state of Georgia (fabulous promotion - so proud) so, yes, we are packing up our 4 cats, 1 baby, house that seems to hold more crap than anyone needs and moving back to the East coast.

Rather than have some long rambling post about the move, I thought I would share with you a "Pros and Cons" list. I'm going to start with the "cons" so we can end with the "pros." Of course, these are the "pros and cons" for today - check back tomorrow, it might be something completely different.

Cons and Pros of Moving to Atlanta
Disclaimer: All opinions are those of Ellen and do not reflect the opinion of anyone else in the family.


  • Moving 4 cats. I know, as my mother is always reminding me, we could always leave some behind in a deserving home somewhere, but would you do that to your grandmother (and I'm assuming you aren't the Griswalds)? So, that really isn't an option. Instead, I have to drag all 4 of them to vet appointments to get certificates of health, buy 2 more cat carriers, schlep them to the airport, deposit them in the loft in Atlanta, visit them daily until our furniture shows up so we can live with them, etc, etc, etc.
  • Waiting for the furniture. I remember this well from our move to Austin (and you can read about it if you so choose). What I don't understand is that if I drove to Atlanta it would take me about 15 hours straight... but it might take the movers one week? So, we had to choose to be homeless in Austin or homeless in Atlanta and we chose Atlanta (start out the new year in a new city and all that). We will be staying in a hotel/suites while we wait.
  • Staying in a hotel/suites while we wait. Yeah, this sounds like a lot of fun with a 4 month old baby. It will be similar to our stay in the hospital with one small room holding tons of people and equipment - only both sets of parents won't be there and Evan has a lot more stuff now.
  • Anything that is going to involve moving with a 4 month old baby. Now, I know I'm not the first person to do this... but good lord - what were we all thinking. The stuff that Evan "needs" with him is enough to just push me over the edge - never mind the logistics of diaper changes, bottles, etc. Oh my, how many diapers do I need anyway?
  • Fighting with my husband. It's inevitable, we will fight. Mostly because we deal with big events in two very different ways. Because I hate planning (and what else is a move but one giant plan) I have to be organized. So I start by making lists. Then I make some lists for my lists, then I color code my lists, and then I start crossing things off my lists. Yes, I am that insane. Apparently, Brian waits for me to tell him what to do and if I don't tell him he thinks nothing has to be done (even though I'm running around with color coded lists). So, we are going to fight.
  • Leaving Austin. I really do love this city. I love that the people who live here care about their environment and I love that this is a place where cowboys and hippies have found some sort of peace with each other.
  • Leaving the Texas Sky. Aaah, my Texas sky, how I will miss you. You are so vast and so blue that you make me want to just stand underneath you and inhale, then exhale, then inhale, then exhale. You are my own personal yoga class.


  • New city means new adventures. It is quite possible that even though I will miss Austin, that it is all played out for me. I'm sure I've said this before - I get bored easily (Brian is constantly surprised I'm not yet bored with him). And I'm a little bored with Austin (or at least my Austin, this is nothing against the city). I'm looking forward to having a new city to explore - in fact, a new state and a new part of the country.
  • Lessons learned. When Atlanta became a reality I made it very clear to Brian that I didn't want to move to a suburb and thankfully he agreed. I grew up in a pristinely white suburb and while I have incredibly fond memories of my childhood, I don't want to live there again and I want to give Evan something different. When we moved to Austin I think it was such a big change for me that I wanted something the same so we moved to the burbs. In Atlanta, we are going to live in the city. We are going to live around people that don't drive mini vans, that don't assume people are Republicans, and that don't expect me to hang out in a cul-de-sac. I am honestly so excited.
  • Building a house - kind of. Brian found the most amazing Real Estate agent in Atlanta (another Internet search, I swear for Brian the Internet is like prospecting and he comes up with gold a lot). For the first 6 months we are in Atlanta we are staying in a loft with 1/3 of our furniture (the rest is going into storage). During that time we are going to build a house on a lot we are buying in the East Atlanta Village. While there is a standard plan we will follow, we can add customization where we want it.
  • Having a basement. I never thought I would miss a basement as much as I do. The main reason I miss it is because without a basement - where does the litter go? In our current house the cats actually got one of the bedrooms (and yes, that is just wrong). In Atlanta we will have a basement.
  • Packers. I love my husband simply for turning me on to packers from our last move. I used to be stubborn that only I could pack my things. Well, not so much anymore. I don't care who packs my stuff now - bring on whoever (I would even let GW do it if he needs a job in his retirement).

The most exciting part is that by the 2nd week of January when we are in the loft and more settled, most of the cons will be moot and I will have all the pros to look forward to.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What Monkey Has Learned...

Since I took some time off from posting, you might not be aware of some of Monkey's new tricks, so let me share them with you:

1. Rolling Over. Yup, my big boy has learned to roll from his back to his front. Sounds exciting, but there are some caveats. He can only roll to his right side, he can't roll back, and he has no control over his rolling (I mean it, it's hard wired in him that he must roll over no matter how tired he is). So, what we've learned is that no matter what you think, no matter how impossibly small the space seems, Monkey will roll over and then he will cry because he can't roll back. Oh, and goodness me, don't EVER lay him down until at least 60 minutes after his bottle. Hmmm, he is kind of like a mogwai (come on 80s kids... you know the mogwai - pre-gremlin) in that he has 3 basic rules: 1) Don't leave him alone anywhere, 2) Don't lay him down after feeding for at least 60 minutes, and 3) When he rolls over be prepared to roll him back.

2. Grabbing. He can unclench his fist and grab things. But since Monkey is my son he is rather peculiar about this grabbing thing. He will only grab things if they are dangling from the bar on his bouncy chair, dangling from my head (my hair), or hanging off Daddy's chest (his hair). He isn't interested in grabbing any old thing you know. And when he does grab, make sure it is something you don't need because his grip is serious and pray that I've cut his talons.

3. Smiling. Oh my, we smile at everything. It's that giant toothless grin that is just awesome. His three favorite things to smile at are (in no particular order): 1) Mommy's hair - the curls must do something to the light because he LOVES it, 2) The sounds of the letter "W" - it's a no-fail - who knew, and 3) Pretty much anything Daddy does - he is a funny guy.

4. Evading Sleep. Apparently, sleep is for the weak and Monkey is not weak. This child will fight sleep up to the very end. I kid you not when I tell you he almost fell asleep sitting on someone's lap the other day. And the worst part is that he won't always cry, he will just pretend all is well. This is why I have pictures of him sleeping in his bouncy chair, floor, and swing. These are the places he lost a battle... but he is still waging the war.

5. Watching TV. Much to the chagrin of his parents, Monkey watches TV. No Monkey is enamored with TV. And what does he love the most - football (E-A-G-L-E-S). I make myself feel okay by saying it is really just the movement and the colors that he likes but I am secretly (and now not-so-secretly) concerned that he will turn into Mike TV from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

6. Thumb Sucking. Yay for self-soothing. No more looking for pacifiers, putting in pacifiers, holding in pacifiers, losing pacifiers, well - you get the picture.

(This picture shows both thumb sucking AND watching TV - possibly even evading sleep)

7. Manipulating Mommy and Daddy. Now, this is advanced thinking ya'll because the manipulation is not the same for the both of us. To manipulate Daddy all Monkey has to do is cry. It doesn't have to be a wail, a simply cry to indicate that he doesn't like whatever is currently happening (sleeping, in bouncy chair, not being fed - whatever) and Daddy will immediately remedy the situation. Mommy however, has a very specific manipulative factor. When Monkey doesn't want to sleep (see previous point) he will cry in his crib. Mommy will go upstairs with the intention of patting him, telling him it's okay, and then leaving him there. But, what happens is that when Mommy bends over to pat Monkey, he locks eyes with Mommy and delivers a GIANT toothless grin. Mommy is completely powerless and Monkey gets to come downstairs to fall asleep in his bouncy chair, on the floor, or in his swing.

There are other small things that I won't bore you with and there are new things every day. It is a complete joy to watch his personality emerge. Now, if he could just learn to roll back all would be perfect (but then this blog would be called This is Perfect).

Bonus Post

Okay, since I was gone for so long (and since Mr. Monkey Pants is still sleeping off yesterday's party) I'm going to throw in a bonus post for today, but don't get used to it. I already did my obligatory "story about my life" post so now it's time to do a "sharing" post. I'm going to share with you one of my idiosyncrasies... one that is so weird you won't even know what to do with yourself. I change every one's and every thing's name.

You already know two of my targets. Brian, my wonderful husband, quickly became "Bubs." Evan, my amazing son, has almost always been "Mr. Monkey Pants" (credit to my mom but I don't think she realized how far Brian and I would take it) and now he is simply "Monk." I can't wait for the first day of school when the teacher calls out names and my son has no idea that his name has been called because I will have to register him as "Evan" for school.

I've also renamed every single cat... and we have 4.

This is Bubba Cat Castrucci (nee Assisi). Bubba came to me through a friend's fiancee who was a vet. Someone found Bubba on the steps of a church, St. Francis of Assisi, and thus his original name. It took a few months of me living with him to see how sweet and laid back he is (I hum "dum de dum de dum de dum" whenever he walks) to realize he needed a different name. What was more perfect than Bubba? And he has been that ever since. Sadly, he will only came when I call him "Assisi" so he hasn't embraced his new name the same way Bubs did.

This is Lucy. Brian found her on the Internet (different website from where he found me, but doesn't he have some mad Internet skills?). She was an alley cat and when she was "rescued" her foster mom named her Lucy because of her red hair. Then she came to me and I starting calling her "Lucy Goosey" which quickly became "Goose." Poor Lucy, she became a whole other animal.

These are the kittens (almost 4 years old now, but they will always be the kittens, the same way the first two cats, the fluffies, will always be the classics). The gray one was originally named "Saber." What?? She was so not a "Saber" so we (I use "we" out of respect for my husband because I totally chose the name, but he claims he did, so I'll say "we" did) changed it to Isabella and now she is Bella, or bel-bel - depending on if she is being bad or goo. Or, more often, I refer to her simply as Gray Cat.

Her brother (literally, same litter) was named Socks because of his white feet - how original. And he has pretty much kept that name except I started calling him Socksie-Biloxi which eventually led to just calling him Biloxi. Unless he is trying to get Brian's attention and knocking things off the counter, then he is Bad Cat.

So what does all this mean? At first I didn't care, I just thought it was odd. But then I realized it had to mean something... I'm thinking it's purely an ownership thing. I think, for me, in order for me to "own" you I reserve the right to "name" you. And the naming comes from your personality. In this way, God help me for what I'm about to say, I'm kind of like Michael Jackson. He didn't want to name his children until their personality shone through. The only difference is I'll give you a temporary legal name until I figure out what I'm going to call you.

Oh, and in case I haven't said it recently, the fact that Brian and I have a wonderful son, 4 kooky cats, friends to say goodbye to, and a move that doesn't break our bank... well - this is as good as it gets!

The Morning After

Thanks to everyone who came to our brunch yesterday. I had a really good time and I appreciate the work you did on emptying out my refrigerator.

For those of you who didn't attend, this should make you jealous:

This was the "br" portion of the brunch. There were bellinis, juice, frittatas, a crustless quiche (which tasted a lot like ricotta cheesecake... yummy), some sort of puff pastry thing I made and tons of other yummies.

This was the "unch" portion and the dessert portion - not included in the word. We had London broil and roast beef, salad, cuties, raspberry thumbprints, pizzelles, and other good sugary stuff.

And this beautiful sight is my almost empty fridge (yeah) and I'm happy to say that very few things went back into this fridge. What a beautiful sight.

But the one thing I can't figure out how to manage is visitors and Mr. Monkey Pants (who has know been completely abbreviated to Monk - poor child). He didn't take his morning nap yesterday so he was exhausted when people showed up. But I know they wanted to see him, so I left him up. He feel asleep on my old boss, then on me, then he went down for an hour and that was it for the entire day.

He may seem like he is happy playing here, but look closely. Yes, those are bags under his eyes. My baby has bags under his eyes. Oh, and this picture was taken about 5 seconds before complete meltdown.

The poor Monkey - it's tough being the cutest baby in the greater Austin area.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

All at Once

Something you should know about Brian and I is that we tend to do everything at the same time. Like how we got married and bought a house within months of each other. I think he thrives under stress and at some point stress just makes me laugh so the more the merrier.

So, what are we doing all at once this time? Not only did we just have a baby... but we are moving to Atlanta. Yup - Brian and I, Evan, and the 4 cats are all packing up and shipping out. For some reason this move feels much more complicated (more on that in a later post) and so I figured why not also throw in a going-away party? Since we have friends all over the place, it would make more sense for us to do it. Oh yeah, and I'll make everything since I want to clean out my fridge and pantry.

And so, here we are. It's noon-thirty the day before our brunch, thankfully Evan has decided to take some sort of nap today (failed at the first attempt but the second one was definitely successful) and I want to share the insanity with you, because that is really the point of insanity - to share it.

To clean out my pantry and refrigerator I had to scour the Internet for recipes. Some, like the London Broil marinade, are tried and true, but some are new. But those of you reading this who will get to eat it, don't get too excited - for me, recipes are more of a suggestion. I've already altered one of the frittata recipes - yummy!

And this is the inside of my fridge. Look at all those eggs - lots of frittatas to make. My goal is to have all of this gone (or most of it) by Monday. I hope everyone is hungry!

This is my kitchen counter top which will become the coffee station. I'm a little anal about parties. I list out all of my dishes and drinks and set everything out as soon as possible to get it positioned and cleaned.
And the pear nectar will become Bellinis.

This is my dining room - more dishes waiting to be filled. Not sure where I'm going to put everything tonight but I'll know before I go to bed.

I'm sure a normal person would have just donated their food, had a few dinners with friends and moved on to their new city. But, I'm not normal and I believe in sharing food. Hopefully I can post pictures of an empty refrigerator on Monday.

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's Been a While...

Wow, it's been a while since I posted and a lot has happened (hence while it's been a while). I am going to try and be better about posting but don't look for a daily post.

To commemorate my return, I wanted to provide you with the top 10 reasons why I haven't been posting:

10. Laundry. Oh my goodness there is a lot of laundry. Burp bibs, onesies, towels, sheets, changing table pads, and anything else that can be pooped on, peed on, or spit up on. Laundry takes time.

9. Visitors. Apparently, when you have a baby people want to meet said baby. And while people will give you a break on your cleaning standards since you recently gave birth, they still need a place to sit and a bathroom to use. This all takes time people.

8. Sleeping. Sorry, but when baby slept so did mommy. There was no posting going on.

7. Leaving the house. This takes time and preparation when you first start you. You have to remember to get the diaper bag ready, get the baby ready, put the baby in his car seat, bring the car seat AND the diaper bag out to the car, go back in to get your car keys because you forgot them inside... etc.

6. Being with baby. Contrary to what anyone tells you, there is a lot to do with a newborn. I had to stare at him in awe for hours. I had to touch him to make sure he was real and check to make sure he was breathing and make sure I didn't miss one cute thing he did.

5. Routine. His changed. I used to blog at the same time everyday and then that time became an awake time. I never gave blogging a new slot.

4. Laundry... did I mention that there is a lot of laundry.

3. Computer. Ours is in our den. About 50 feet away from where Mr. Monkey Pants hangs out and there is a wall between. Therefore, I can't watch him and blog at the same time.

2. Life. Yeah, it's this little thing on my "to do" list every day. It includes cooking dinner every night (or almost every night), cleaning, running errands, taking care of 4 cats, 1 baby, and 1 husband, having fun, and all those other miscellaneous things.

And the #1 reason is...

1. You tell me, when you have free time would you rather post or spend it with Mr. Monkey Pants:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Aunt Amy Comes to Visit

(As narrated by Evan Brian)

Aunt Amy came to visit this week. She said she came down to help Mommy, but I know she came down to see how incredibly adorable I am. They all succumb to my good looks and charm.

Aunt Amy sounds a lot like Mommy... but only if Mommy took speed. I'm not sure I understood a word she said but I liked listening to her! People also say she looks like Mommy but I can tell the difference. Mommy is the one that smells like milk.

We did a lot of fun things while Aunt Amy was here. Aunt Amy and I went for a long walk while Mommy was getting an ultrasound (for an alleged abcess around her breast infection - there was nothing). We sang lots of silly songs together and we played on my play mat.

Here are some pictures of her visit:

Aunt Amy did a good job at changing my diaper and changing my clothes (I think we had to change my clothes this time because I peed all over myself - come on, I'm only 6 weeks old and it's a lot of fun).

I bet Aunt Amy has children of her own.

Aunt Amy gave me a bath in the big bath tub (comparable to my size). And look - no hammock. I was able to sit directly in the tub.

I love bath time. It reminds me of mommy's womb with all that fluid.

Aunt Amy was super comfy to take a nap on. How could I resist? I'd just had a big meal, my diaper was clean, and she was warm and willing.

But the most exciting part about Aunt Amy's visit is that I tried to sleep in my crib (instead of the bassinet, or swing, or vibrating seat). Aunt Amy was able to convince Mommy to let me try out my bedroom all by myself. I didn't like it so much the first few times, but I've been napping in there since yesterday.

It's kind of cool how Mommy can watch me sleep. Thankfully she has moved me down in the crib so I'm no longer a headless baby.

Aunt Amy left yesterday to go back to her own family. I'm sure glad she was able to visit. Maybe the next time she comes I'll be imnunized and swine flu will be gone so Mommy and Daddy will let me go out to fun places and we can all go together.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Favorite Thing... So Far

My baby sleeps... I mean he REALLY sleeps. In fact, he sleeps so much that from the beginning I have had to wake him up to feed him. I know, this goes against the fundamental belief to not wake a sleeping baby, but to make sure he gets the nutrients he needs and doesn't go into some insulin shock or something, I have to wake him.

This has quickly turned into one of my favorite things. No, I'm not sadistic, but I am truly entertained by the faces Evan makes as he leaves his cocoon of sleep to feed.

I mean, look at this face. Here he is, just placed on his make-shift changing table and starting to stretch.

For some reason he LOVES to pucker his lips. I'm not sure if this is something I do a lot and he is mimicking. But he is damn cute!

And it continues. He has to stretch on both sides you know.

And we are still stretching but starting to become aware of the fact that waking up might not be all it's cracked up to be (and now Evan knows how Mommy feels at 3:00 in the morning with a crying baby).

And here it comes, cranky face. This is the face I get to let me know that Mr. Monkey Pants is NOT happy about waking up.

But just as quickly as it comes, it passes. And acceptance leads to peace. Right after this he opens his eyes, but that part isn't as cute as the stretching.

Hey - where did that snot go?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It Happened

This past Friday, it happened. Everyone said it would. And it isn’t that I didn’t believe them, but it just didn’t seem possible. Everyone’s story had similar threads, but I just couldn’t see how Evan would be able to play the starring role. The role that would cause him to be the hysterical screaming inconsolable baby. But, he did it and he earned an Oscar.

He had been getting progressively fussy all last week. I had absolutely no idea why, but he was still mostly sleeping through the night and when he did get fussy Daddy was still the magic potion. And then Friday came and it was as if he was just rehearsing all week for that moment.

It started around 9:30 PM. Brian had just fallen asleep on the floor (he has been finding it difficult to fall asleep) and Evan started to cry. At first there was nothing alarming about the crying, it seemed pretty normal. I woke up Brian and sent his behind to bed. I figured I would feed Evan, settle him and be off to bed myself soon. Wow, was I wrong.

Almost immediately after Brian went to bed, Evan let out his first blood curdling scream. On Friday, he was 30 days old and I had not yet heard this cry coming from him. His body was acting gassy (legs pulling up, hard abdomen, etc) so I figured it was gas and it would pass. I sat him in my lap (one of his favorite positions and a gas remover position) and he continued to scream. I put him on my shoulder, abdomen hard against the bone, and hit his back to help him release the gas. He continued to scream. I paced back and forth with him throughout the first floor, rocking him as I went. He continued to scream. I put him in his bouncy chair, turned on the vibration and now his screams had a vibrato effect to them. I took him into the guest bedroom and lay down with him on the bed. He continued to scream. Finally, I whipped out my fail-proof weapon, the boob. He didn’t even blink, just continued to scream. And, it was 11:00 PM and I was all out of bright ideas on how to soothe him, so I did the only thing that came naturally to me and started to cry.

Let me try to explain this to the few readers I have who don’t yet have children (because I know anyone who is reading this with children is shaking her head in understanding right about now). Society and nature teaches mothers that when babies cry, mothers respond and soothe. In most cases the mother does have the secret sauce (or whatever you want to call it) that will soothe their child. This feels natural and right. So, when you face a situation in which your powers have no effect (or at least no discernible effect) it rattles your confidence as a mother. Put on top of that the beautiful face of your baby, scrunched in pain, all red, with tears being squeezed out of the corner of his eyes and your heart starts to crack. Add the final piece de resistance of the scream, primordial and pain filled, and you are done. There is nothing quite like that. The worst part is you can’t tell if your baby knows you want to make it better and you wonder if he feels you just don’t care. Hence the tears.

And so we cried together, we walked together, and we rocked together on and off for about an hour. And yes, your math is correct, it is now about 12:00 PM.

So far we had gone through 2 stages of the inconsolable crying. Stage 1 was that I still believed as his mother I could make it better. Stage 2 was accepting I couldn’t make it better and crying out the emotions. I was about to enter Stage 3 – acceptance of the crying and emotional distancing.

The emotional distancing happens fairly slowly until you all the sudden realize you’ve been holding a screaming baby and watching TV but for the last 15 minutes all you heard was the TV. You realize nothing you do will make it better so you do nothing but be there. You have convinced yourself that your physical presence means something even if you can’t emotionally empathize anymore. Of course your 30 day old can’t tell you if you are right or wrong because he is too busy screaming.

And now we enter the final stage – exhaustion. At around 1:00 AM Evan had started to tire himself out. He would scream for 10 minutes and fall asleep for 5 minutes. I found that I too was falling asleep for those 5 minutes and then startled awake by his screaming. I was concerned that the startling would turn into dropping and I knew I had to call it a night. I had calculated that Brian had slept 3.5 hours and could sleep in tomorrow so it was time for tag team parenting. I went upstairs, woke up Brian, told him I didn’t care if he let Evan cry all night but someone had to make sure he didn’t fall on the tile and crack open his head and I went to sleep.

When I woke up, Brian told me Evan had pretty much pooped himself out and would sleep as long as Brian held him. IF Brian tried to put him down, bloody murder would return. And you think to yourself, how am I going to react to this baby today? How will I get over the frustration from last night?

And then you see this:

And you no longer care what happened because the only thing that matters is that your precious is no longer in pain.

Incidentally, last night was the first night we all slept through the night again. Recovery was a little bit longer than expected.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Before Evan, I was very time focused. I never left the house without a watch and was never far away from a clock within my house. I was never late anywhere and even grew up in a family where being on time meant you were 5 minutes early.

My typical day started with my alarm going off at 5:50 AM. I would hit snooze for 8 minutes and it would go off again at 5:58 AM. This continued until I got up at 6:14 AM. I would get ready for work and then go downstairs for breakfast. If I was downstairs by 6:40 AM I would have eggs for breakfast. Any later and I would have cereal. I at breakfast, read the paper, and left the house around 7:15 AM for work. It took approximately 35-40 minutes to get to work and my day started at 8:00 AM. Throughout the day I had meetings dictated by the clock and an hour for lunch. At 5:00 PM I would call Brian to see if he was ready to leave and we would usually leave work around 5:30 PM. We would get home about 6:10 PM, I would get changed and start cooking dinner at 6:30 PM. We would eat by 7:00 PM and all would be cleaned up by 7:30 PM. We would watch TV until 10:00 PM and then off to bed.

Just imagine how many times during the day I had to look at a clock/my watch to be able to give you those exact times.

And then I gave birth and time became something completely different.

The first difference is the concept of “AM” and “PM.” These abbreviations were very important in my life before Evan. They dictated my schedule - where I was supposed to be, how I was supposed to dress, etc. Now, they only dictate what I eat. For instance, at 7 AM, I eat cereal and at 7 PM I eat meat.

The next difference is how I use the clock. Before Evan, 7:15 AM meant I was supposed to leave the house for work. There was an action associated with a specific time. Now, the time is only used to measure hours in between. I am not interested in 7:15 AM as a point of time, I would only be interested in it if I had fed Evan at 4:15 AM and therefore would need to feed him 3 hours later at 7:15 AM (after I ate my cereal at 7 AM). My clock has been split into 3-4 hour segments and not big hands and little hands.

I know that outside of my house, time still means something to other people so I try and keep track. I have doctor’s appointments and try to get there on time (I haven’t yet, but I’m working on it). I need to call a very busy friend and I keep trying to follow her schedule and call her at a time she is home, but I still haven’t been able to accomplish that (if only she was up at 4 AM, that is my most free time).

I imagine that at some point time will creep back into my life. I’ll sleep through the night which will create a distinction between day and night. There will be play dates, school start and end times, and a myriad of other clock related items.

I can’t say I’ll miss this weird cocoon of timelessness. It makes you feel as if you are watching everyone else as they ride the merry-go-round. They get to go around and around and all I get to do is watch. It’s nice when someone comes to visit and after a day or two they find themselves standing next to me, watching the merry-go-round. Or the days when Brian is home and not working and he abandons his plastic horse to come and stand next to me.

Well, it’s 8 AM, baby sleeping and doesn’t need to be fed until 9:30 AM. Time for some cereal.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Here is how I know I’m a mother…

When we first came home from the hospital, I spent a lot of time waiting for Evan’s mom to show up and thank me for babysitting. Just because someone at the hospital said I was his mother didn’t mean I could fully grasp that.

But, no one has come for him yet so I guess it’s up to me and I’m even beginning to believe that I’m his mother. It’s only occasionally now that I look for a strange car outside my house.

There are a few events that have occurred that make me feel like a mother....

Bodily Fluids

I can’t say I was ever the squeamish type but I definitely tried to avoid bodily fluids. Now, however, they have become so a part of my daily life that when my beautiful baby boy vomits all down the front of me after a big bout of breastfeeding, it doesn’t even bother me that I’m wiping vomit out of my cleavage with a dishtowel because that was the most handy.

And it’s gone beyond bodily fluids not bothering me, I find them humorous. The other day I was changing a dirty diaper. While I was wiping his bottom, Evan decided he wasn’t finished. And as some projectile poo came out, I just started to laugh. Then, while I was still chuckling, Evan decided to raise the hilarity ante and peed all over himself, me, and the kitchen table (no worries for those of you who eat at my house, the table has been sanitized since then) and I couldn’t control myself for a few minutes. Maybe you had to be there but my God, it was super funny.


I now have the ability to sleep anywhere at any time. I swear – it’s become a gift. For example, after running an errand the other day, Brian, Evan, and I stopped by Brian’s office. Brian had to pick something up. I sat down in one of his office chairs and an hour later Brian was waking me up. I had no idea I fell asleep but I was super refreshed.

I have also perfected sleeping through his late night feedings. I get in to position, give him the boob, and nod off. When he is ready to switch he lets me know. And when he is done, we often sleep together in the chair before going back to bed.

Every Child is Evan

I was warned about this, but I didn’t truly understand. The other day I was reading an article in the paper. A man had realized, after 6 hours on a 100 degree day, that he had left his son in the car instead of dropping him off at daycare. His son had suffocated in the heat. This story is not new and I have read it many times before but this time I burst in to tears. Because as I read it, I could see Evan in the back of the car, crying for someone to come and help him… and there I go again. Brian thinks I’m nuts, but now all stories about children are stories about Evan.

But the main reason I feel like a mom is because I have no idea what I’m doing and all I want to do is give Evan peace and I know I would try anything to do that for him. That and sometimes I feel like Goldie Hawn in Overboard when she cracks and they find her sitting on a chair saying “blub blub blub blub blub blub blub…”

Friday, September 18, 2009

What I learned at the hospital…

So, I gave birth to Evan on Wednesday, August 26. Since I had a c-section, I knew the earliest I would be able to go home was Saturday. For 4 days, all I had to do was sit back and learn about my new baby and my new life.

Here are some things I specifically learned from the hospital staff:

1. No one will agree. Not about when or if you should take your meds. Not about how active you should be after a c-section. Not about the appropriate weight of your child and how to maintain that weight. And definitely not about breastfeeding. The only thing to do is to use your intuition – find the one person you trust and only listen to them. Politely nod to everyone else.

2. Since no one will agree, it is inevitable that you will be told you are doing something wrong. It might be that you are keeping the room too hot (or cold) for the baby or it might be that you aren’t trying enough different breastfeeding positions. This will make you feel like shit (partly hormones, partly insecurity). Refer back to my solution in the previous comment. Hopefully, whoever you choose to listen to will not be judgmental.

3. Just because someone is a nurse or a physician, it doesn’t mean they aren’t crazy. I had a nurse tell me how immunizations are related to autism in children. Yes, this is a belief held by some people, but held by very few people in the medical community. Of course she told me about this after she spent 15 minutes telling me why she would never have children.
4. Apparently, according to hospitals, sunlight is not necessary to speed recovery. I had an interior room for 4 days with artificial light in a fake window. I never knew what time of day it was or what the weather was. When I left, it felt like an escape.

5. If you need medication, more maxi pads, and yes, even tissues, call your nurse. No one else will be allowed to fetch you anything.

6. If you are modest, pray that you have a vaginal birth so you are in and out. Otherwise, get over it. While you are breastfeeding you may have any type of visitor from a nurse to the food delivery person. When the nurse comes to check out your incision, whoever is in the room will also get to see your incision (and remember where your incision is). And, not all personnel knock so always shut your bathroom door even if you are the only person in the room.

And perhaps the most important thing I learned about the hospital:

7. A hospital is simply a place of policies based on risk assessments. No one will agree on how best you should feed your child, but everyone will agree that if your child gets close to losing 10% of his birth weight there is a problem. Everyone will also agree that you can only take your baby out of the room if he is in his mobile crib. And God help you if you try to leave the hospital without the baby securely (according to the discharge nurse) fastened into his/her car seat. All of these things are cardinal sins (read – high risk) and you will get tagged as a lacking (not yet bad) parent.

And the final thing I learned about hospitals:

8. You will leave them. And when you do, whatever happened in that small, cramped room with one bathroom, one sink in the main room, 2 sets of grandparents, one bed and a cot won’t matter at all. You will have your baby and you will get to decide what is best for him.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Introducing the Evan: Part 2

Disclaimer: From here on out, the actual timing of things gets a little fuzzy in my head so I apologize to anyone who reads this and was keeping track of every minute and finds my recollection lacking.

So, noon on Tuesday, August 25 the devil drug was hooked up to my IV and started to enter my body. I sat and waited for the contractions to begin. While we wait together, let me take this moment to explain to you why I don’t like Pitocin. As a drug, Pitocin is extremely effective. It is used to induce labor or in some cases speed up labor. And it does both of those things amazingly well. Simulating natural labor is NOT one of its purposes, as you can tell since it was left off my list. This means that the labor Pitocin induces or speeds up is like labor on steroids – the contractions are stronger and faster than natural labor. By stronger I mean that most people find it difficult to use Pitocin and not have an epidural. By faster I mean the resting period between contractions is shorter than in natural labor. So, my beef with Pitocin is not with its effectiveness, but its impact on a natural labor.

Of course, at this point I’m not sure why I care since there was nothing natural about my labor. The Foley balloon, water breaking, IV, fetal monitor, blood pressure cuff, and newly added Penicillin (I tested positive for Group B Strep so in anticipation of a vaginal birth, I had to be dosed with Penicillin so my baby wouldn’t be impacted – IV Penicillin felt like nails being injected through your veins, over and over again) – none of those things screamed natural birth.

At some point, the Pitocin kicked in and contractions began. And, I was hypnobirthing through them – breathing, imaging, and it was okay. Again, time is fuzzy so I don’t know when the contractions began or when the first pain shot through my back – yes, my back. Apparently there is such a thing as “back labor” – look it up. To me, it felt like I was trying to pick up a 100 lb weight and my lower back was telling me it wasn’t going to happen.

I got on my birthing ball, Brian applied counter-pressure when the contractions began, I imagined and tried to relax. I lasted probably about 15 minutes of this type of labor (at least that was what it felt like to me) before I threw in the towel and called for the epidural. I got into bed, was drugged up and now the day starts to become even more fuzzy. I know at one point my physician came in and checked my progress. I had dilated to 6 cm, I was 80% effaced, but the baby had not settled in to my pelvis – apparently Evan was still bee-bopping around. But there was progression so we were hopeful. My OB said she would be back in later to check again.

I slept on and off, watched TV, talked with the parents, and basically floated along on my epidural. Later that night, I think around 7PM / 8PM, my OB returned to look at my progress and announced there had been none. I was still at 6 cm and 80% effaced with no head in my pelvis. The Pitocin had done all it could do in the time period we had given it (remember, my OB broke my water which meant I had to deliver within 24 hours to reduce the risk of infection). The Pitocin was turned off and I was going to have a c-section. The only catch was that another patient of my OB was ready to deliver any minute so my surgery would wait until that delivery was complete (since I wasn’t an emergency). And so, after another delay because a woman was in distress and needed the OR, I was prepped for surgery early in the morning on Wednesday, August 26 and eventually wheeled into the OR.

Before I tell you the scant moments I remember about my c-section, I need to take a second on my soap box. Those who were part of this story but not the star (the parents and Brian) seem to share the opinion that my OB prolonged my labor too long – that the c-section should have been done a lot sooner than it was. I honestly can’t imagine what their experience must have been, just waiting around and watching me go through this, but I have to vehemently disagree with them for 3 main reasons:
  1. At no point was I or the baby in danger. Our bodies were doing what they could do with little to no strain on either of us. I don’t blame us that vaginal birth didn’t happen – my body wasn’t ready which meant the baby wasn’t ready. If I had naturally progressed through labor it could have lasted days (as long as there was no harm to me or baby) so a few hours was nothing.
  2. I was not the only patient giving birth and was actually the least imminent. How could I blame my OB for attending to an imminent vaginal birth when I could have waited until almost until 8AM before I HAD to have the surgery?
  3. My physician knew what I wanted and was giving me every opportunity to have it. I wanted a vaginal birth. I had discussed this thoroughly with my physician. Therefore I appreciate everything she did to give me the chance to have that birth.

And now back to my c-section. I received my epidural for the c-section and here is what I recall:

Trying to desperately stay awake because Brian was freaking out that my falling asleep was really me falling into a coma. Brian wearing some sort of space suit to be able to go into the OR. Being wheeled in. Seeing my OB and wondering if she had to stand on a stool to cut my belly (she was 33 weeks pregnant and actually gave birth 2 days after me). Thinking how weird it was that I didn’t feel anything. Trying to stay awake. Hearing a very faint cry and wondering what that was. Someone telling me the cry was our baby. Brian going away with the baby. Turning to my left to see Brian holding the baby – very far away, hardly able to see anything, but I knew he was beautiful. Trying to stay awake. Wait a second, what was that. All the sudden searing pain across my stomach. Brian coming back to see what was happening. The anesthesiologist asking me if I was feeling a sensation or pain and my responding pain. Grabbing on to some bars and feeling more pain. My physician telling Brian I was just feeling sensation and me telling them all I was feeling pain… and lots of it. The anesthesiologist giving me more drugs and still feeling pain. The anesthesiologist going to some closet to get me even more drugs. My physician telling Brian that they were going to have to put me under. Pain gone away. Floating, flying, wait a second, how did the Pigs in Space from the Muppets get here – aren’t I having a baby? Being rolled away, away from the Pigs in Space. In a different room, Brian next to me, someone saying tachycardia, trying to surface. Trying to talk, my God when did my lips get so big. Brian telling me the baby is fine. My OB showing up and telling me I didn’t need to talk. Sleeping and then not sleeping. Being wheeled back to my labor & delivery room without the baby. Sleeping and then not sleeping. Brian there. Nurses there, moving the entire bed, wheeling me to the post-partum room. There is a baby, the parents arrive, and I sleep.

And now I have this amazing, beautiful, wonderful creature that somehow I’m supposed to believe came from my belly. He is too perfect to have come from there. And, I do think that having the c-section made him almost a little more foreign to me. He was born at 3:19 AM and I don’t remember seeing him for the first time for hours and hours later. I didn’t get to experience his entry into the world – thank God Brian was there and lucid enough to welcome him! And so the end justifies the means. He came to this world, healthy and happy and I can’t regret anything.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Introducing the Evan: Part I

So, it’s been 3 weeks since I last posted. Needless to say I’ve been a little busy, but I’m back and ready to share with you the next event… Evan’s birth. Sorry for the delay, but I promise that Evan is worth it (and this isn’t just a biased opinion from his mother either… I have a lot of people who agree with me).

When last I left you, I was getting ready to go into the hospital for my induction. So, at 5:30 on Monday, August 24, Brian and I made our way to the hospital. Meanwhile, my mom and Brian’s parents were on their way to Austin. They were arriving at times that would make it difficult for us to pick them up and be at the hospital so luckily our friend Huey was willing to pick them up and drop them off (thanks again Huey!).

Brian and I made ourselves “comfortable” in the labor and delivery room and met our first of 1000 nurses that we would meet while in the hospital (well not 1000 really… but they all start to blend together after a while). This was our “check-in” nurse and while I was answering tons of questions about me and about our birth plan, the nurse realized that I was only 38 weeks and 6 days pregnant. Why was this an issue? Well, as it turns out, it is hospital policy that you can not be induced before 39 weeks without a valid medical reason (and macrosomia – or suspected giant baby – was not considered a valid reason). And since someone early on in my pregnancy chose an arbitrary due date of September 1 for me, I wasn’t getting induced until midnight and one minute on August 25.

In the meantime, the hospital was able to make me feel extremely at home by hooking me up to an IV of saline, a blood pressure cuff that took my pressure every 15 minutes, and a fetal monitor. The IV just made me had to pee, the cuff hurt my arm over and over again, and the monitor stressed out Brian. It was literally tracking every movement of our baby – sometimes his heart was fast and then it would slow down tremendously. While this was all normal, apparently Brian’s medical education (or lack thereof) had not made him aware of what was normal and what wasn’t. Sadly, once Brian’s dad arrived (a former Pediatric nurse and current ER nurse) his main job was to watch the monitor and tell Brian everything was normal.

And so there we were… Brian and I, his parents, and my mom sitting in the labor and delivery room with no labor being induced and no delivery imminent. Thankfully, I was able to fall asleep (in preparation for labor the next day), there was a place for Brian to rest, and the parents were able to find their way back to our house so they could get some sleep before they returned to the hospital the next day.

Around midnight, my midwife woke me up to start the induction. The first phase of my induction was to use a Foley balloon (on a Foley catheter) to dilate my cervix (by the way the picture below is the first I’ve seen of this catheter and I swear it looks much more ominous than it feels). The idea is that the balloon portion of the catheter would be placed between my amniotic sac and the bottom of my uterus and then inflated. The goal is that the balloon would cause my cervix to open and hopefully induce labor. The plan was to keep it in there for the night and then check me around 8:00 AM. I swear I went right back to sleep and didn’t even know the balloon was in there.

The next morning, the midwife came back to check on my progress. The Foley balloon fell right out which meant that it had successfully dilated me to 4 cm. Now since I was dilated, the next step was to break my water to induce labor. My physician showed up around 9 AM and used some tool to break my water. I didn't see this tool either - my main belief in life is to let professionals do what they have been trained to do. The only thing that would have happened if I saw the tool (or the Foley catheter) is I would have anticipated horror. Instead, I didn’t feel much of anything, but I did hear the fluid. There was A LOT of fluid. Seriously, I think I lost 10 lbs right there. Even my physician was impressed.

Now all we had to do was wait. Since we broke my water, the only thing I knew for sure was that within 24 hours I would have a baby – how I would have that baby was still up in the air.
My physician gave me some options. She said that we could wait as long as 6 hours or as short as 3 hours to see if breaking my water would induce labor. If nothing was happening our next step was Pitocin (a drug I like to refer to as the root of all evil, but more on that later).

I ate breakfast, chatted with the parents who showed up in the morning, napped on and off and was checked by a nurse about every hour. Around noon I was still only 4 cm dilated. At this point I had to accept a few things:
  1. Breaking my water was not going to induce labor.
  2. The next step was Pitocin… and I had gigantic doubts about my ability to stick to hypnobirthing with the unnatural contractions Pitocin would induce.
At noon I made the decision to get this labor going and okayed the Pitocin. I was hooked up through my IV and waited for the contractions to begin.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

3 More Days

Well, in 3 days Evan Brian Castrucci will be here. I’m full of a lot of different emotions but am basically focusing on what needs to get done: putting together his room (furniture finally came yesterday), laundry, getting ready for guests, cooking so I can have food ready to go in my freezer, and trying to give my cats TONS of love to bide them for a while.

This will be my last post for some time, but I wanted to share one final thing with you: Natural Childbirth.

Even though it’s highly likely my labor will end in a c-section, I’m going to try and give birth vaginally and I will be trying to do this naturally. No, I didn’t just say I’ve been smoking crack the past 6 months (even though that is how people usually react when they hear what I’ll be attempting to do) I simply said that I’m going to try and let my body do what it knows how to do (although it supposedly knew how to get pregnant and I needed medical intervention for that). For this, I wanted to share with you why I chose natural birth as what I wanted to do.

Throughout the first 20 weeks of my pregnancy, I conducted many highly unscientific and unreliable surveys with women who have given birth. Basically, I asked them about their birth stories and I asked them to be as honest as possible (I don’t believe in not telling pregnant women your truth, we should know possible outcomes).

Here is what I remember hearing from women who chose to give birth with an epidural. For them, birth was:

  • Something they got through
  • Not as bad as they had anticipated
  • Barely a bother since they were high from the epidural
  • Worth it because they got a baby at the end
Here is what I remember hearing from women who chose to give birth naturally. For them, birth was:
  • An amazing moment where their bodies worked in conjunction with the baby to give birth
  • Uncomfortable, but being able to be in the moment, to feel their child emerge into the world was indescribable
  • A moment filled with love and awe

So, from my poorly planned and epidemiologically flawed survey, what I gleaned was that the women who gave birth naturally had an experience with their baby (they first crew only ever mentioned the baby as an after item) that they remembered as wonderful, not as a trial. Having this information and already being someone who leans towards the non-medical, I felt there was no other choice for me, I would like to be there with my child when he enters the world.

For me, it’s that simple. I don’t necessarily believe that naturally birthed children are smarter or less traumatized, or any of that. I simply believe the experience is something than can transcend.

But… remember those clich├ęs I had at the bottom of my “Intermission” post from August 13? You don’t? Well… take a second, scroll down and look at it. I’ll wait for you.
Welcome back, now let’s see how those play into this situation (mostly the one about God’s bizarre sense of humor).

Once we decided on natural birth, we enrolled in a class and started planning… can you hear God laughing in the background? I, who hate planning, needed to plan to be prepared for my choice. Well, here we are now, 10 weeks later, and my baby is so big that I’m sure my birth will be about medical intervention – not natural in any way. This is the main reason I hate planning, the let down when things out of your control mess with your plan.

And yes, I know that however Evan comes in to this world is the best way… but that thought process doesn’t follow my plans.

Anyway, when I get back with a baby and find some time to write, I have no doubt there will be entertaining stories from the hospital. It just doesn’t seem possible for Brian and I to do anything without it turning into a sitcom… hmm – is this reality or our perception – perhaps something to explore later.

Wish me luck and thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Third Trimester: Almost There

I’ve been in the 3rd trimester for the past 10 weeks. To quote Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…” and all the other stuff. That pretty much sums up the third trimester.

Here is what was/is good about the third trimester:
  • Fetal movement: I don’t care what anyone says I will never bore of feeling Evan. And I know that once he is no longer in there, I’m going to feel a little empty.
  • Looking pregnant: It really wasn’t until the third trimester that I finally went over the “is she fat or pregnant” hump. Looking pregnant is nice because it is an immediate excuse for why you are a little more cranky than usual, you are sweating more, or why you fall asleep in a meeting. You really don’t have to say anything, just point to your belly.
  • Viability: Basically, by the third trimester, the question becomes when you are going to have a baby and not “if.”
  • Baby Showers: What isn’t fun about having people give you gifts? I’m not the biggest fan of being the center of attention at showers, but I do love the gifts.
  • Husband perks: foot rubs, belly lotion, pedicures and all the other pampering things your husband is all the sudden ready to do for you.

But, as Dickens points out, the third trimester is also the worst of times (at least I think that is what he was referring to in the first line of A Tale of Two Cities. And so now let’s take a look at some of my not so favorite things about the third trimester.


Yes, I was told sleeping would be difficult but was assured that as long as I stayed on my side and bought a body pillow, everything would be okay. Well, they lied. There has been nothing “okay” about sleeping since week 28. Yes, I bought the body pillow, yes, I tried to sleep on my side, but I couldn’t last for more than 45 minutes at the most. So, I finally gave up and decided to sleep on my leopard print chaise lounge. I can get 2-3 hours straight on the chaise lounge, then I go to the bed for a few hours, then I return to the chaise and back and forth all night. The one thing I can’t do on the chaise is stretch out. I really miss stretching out.

So, everyone says that this not sleeping thing is God’s way of getting me prepared for when the baby comes. Okay, fine… but did He need to prep me for 10 weeks? Couldn’t I have learned the same lesson in like 3 weeks at the most?

Carpal Tunnel / Tingly Sensation

I don’t know if you are aware of this… but apparently carpal tunnel syndrome is a common side effect of pregnancy and it is no joke! I have to admit that in the past, when people would complain about carpal tunnel, I thought they were over-reacting. I’m here to tell you now, THEY ARE NOT KIDDING! I am a pretty independent woman and so far, Brian has had to cut up my food twice out in public (and more than that in private). I choose meals to cook based on how much cutting there is in the prep, I wear a brace as often as possible, and I spend a lot of time resting my wrist. It really really hurts.

In addition to the carpal tunnel, my hands are so swollen (which causes carpal tunnel) that my fingers are constantly tingling. I have to often stop what I’m doing, make and unmake a fist, let the hands hang and let the blood flow. More of an inconvenience than the pain of carpal tunnel.

Ankles (or lack thereof)

Yes, I’ve heard the rumors of swelling – that it happens to some women. But I don’t know that I really understood what it would look / feel like. It started slowly, I was able to wear my normal shoes for a while, it just looked like I was baking bread over the tops of them. At night the swelling would go down and my feet would look normal by morning. And then one day my normal shoes felt very uncomfortable and I accepted that I had to move on to flip-flops (this was about 5 weeks ago).

Once I started to wear the flip flops, I noticed some other changes. My ankles completely disappeared – I have a stump that meets my foot at a right angle. In fact, they now swell so much that there is a permanent crease where my left and foot meet. The swelling no longer goes down and it’s been weeks since I’ve seen my ankles.

The scariest part? I put on my flip flops the other day and I can barely wear them anymore. I have to think that at some point my feet will just have had it and boycott. I don’t know what that will look like, but let’s hope it doesn’t happen before the 25th.


At 24 weeks, back in the second trimester, I, like every other pregnant woman, went and got my glucose test for Gestational Diabetes (GD). Since I had been diagnosed with PCOS and since I was overweight before I got pregnant we (at least my medical practitioners and myself) were all in shock when it came back that I didn’t have GD. So I continued with my normal diet into the third trimester.

Then, giant baby came on the scene. I had been measuring big throughout my entire pregnancy. This is no surprise considering the fact that I’m almost 5’ tall and the average woman has about 5 inches on me where she can put the baby. But then, over the last few weeks, I’ve ballooned. Last Friday, at 37 weeks, I was measuring 44 weeks (3 more centimeters than the previous week). My doctor thought that maybe I do have GD which would contribute to his size (either that or I just grow giant babies).

Since I’m giving birth in a week, it’s important to know if I have GD so that they can address the baby’s blood sugar levels once he is born. So, since Saturday, I’ve been pricking my fingers 4 times a day to test my glucose levels (fasting, 2 hours after breakfast, 2 hours after lunch, 2 hours after dinner) and will be doing this until at least Friday when I have the next appointment. Just to add fun to my medical prognosis, the last 4 days I’ve been well within the normal range. Today, my fasting and my after breakfast levels were high. I swear I’ve done nothing different. But, I mean come one, why not throw a curve ball… juts for fun?

Doctor’s Appointments

Read my post from yesterday. Now think about the fact that in the third trimester, I’ve seen a midwife or physician EVERY WEEK. Nothing has changed about what happens in the appointments, just how often it happens.

And it might seem like the bad outweighs the good, but that really isn’t true. It’s just that there is always more to say about the bad. This is why Dickens didn’t write : “It was the best of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the epoch of belief …” No one would have read it.

I have loved being pregnant – all parts except for the anxiety, carpal tunnel, and sleeping – but I’m ready for the baby. I think the gestational period works very well and I know that this is as good as it gets.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Second Trimester

Medically speaking, the second trimester was of no consequence for me. My thyroid was under control and there were no new drugs to take. However, for the pregnancy, the greatest things happen in the second trimester.

Once we hit week 14, Brian and I had accepted that I had a viable pregnancy and we began to tell people. We knew we wanted to find out the sex (we are two extremely impatient people) but we had to wait until the 20 week ultrasound. So, from week 14 to week 20 we waited. The only thing that happened in those weeks is that I started to go to the doctor twice a month and the exhaustion of the first trimester disappeared. From the outside view, I didn’t look pregnant at all.

Brian had more anxiety around the pregnancy than I did. Probably because 1) the pregnancy was physically happening to me, and 2) he is a worst-case scenario man. Because of this, our lives settled into a nice pattern of anxiety in between visits as shown by the picture below.

We would go to an OB visit, Brian would hear the heartbeat and his anxiety level would be extremely low. Then, over the next 2 weeks, his anxiety would spike until the next visit when it plummeted back down when he heard the heartbeat again. He talked about getting a home Doppler but I adamantly was against this because I knew he would want to do it every 5 minutes and I had other things to do, and I knew that if we couldn’t find it right away, we would be at the ER – me so they could find the heartbeat, and him so they could give him some anti-anxiety medication and get him breathing normally.

The 20th week came and we were ready to find out the sex. Loopy ultrasound lady was showing us all the different parts of the baby (to this day is she hadn’t labeled the pictures I would have no idea what I was looking at) and she was telling us about the DVD she as making (yes, we have a DVD, that is pretty cool). All the sudden she said she couldn’t want anymore because she is sure we saw that it is definitely a boy. Brian claims that he did see but I had to take her word for it. At this point Whoosha Pupo became Evan Brian.

We had already picked out names for either sex. We couldn’t decide on any family names (because let’s face it, “Tom” and “Joe” were all played out on my side and even though we had thought about “Ydolo” from his side, it didn’t seem to play as well in Texas) so Brian recommended we look at the pregnancy. He mentioned that the earliest sign of the pregnancy was on Christmas Eve so if it was a girl it would be “Eve.” The only male equivalent we could think of was “Evan.” It felt weird to start calling him Evan, but we did immediately.

There was one thing left for the second trimester that hadn’t happened – feeling fetal movement. I was often on the boards on reading about how and when people felt fetal movement and on to learn it was “normal” to feel it anywhere from week 18 – 22 for a first pregnancy. Everyone kept trying to explain to me what the first flutters felt like but no on really could be specific. This was the one time I started to get anxious and couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t feeling him. Then, one night as we were watching TV, my stomach felt like it had been on a roller coaster… there was a light fluttering and I knew it was Evan. I was 22 weeks – he was pushing it to the very end. And soon after the first movement, he was moving all the time – bouncing around in there. I’ve been told that fetal movement is not an indicator for the activity level of the baby once he is born… but if there is even a small correlation, I’m in trouble. The boy has not stopped moving since week 22.

The rest of the second trimester came and went quickly. We bought baby furniture, registered at Babies-R-Us for anything that seemed remotely necessary (after we had our panic attack about an entire wall of bottle choices), and I continued to get blood taken monthly for the endocrinologist, go and see the nurse at the endocrinologist every other month, and saw my OB ever 2 weeks. And before I end this blog, I would like to take a minute to discuss these doctor’s appointments.

I have heard people say, mostly people in public health, that pre-natal care is important as a concept but not from a doctor’s visit point of view. There is a huge push right now for group pre-natal care. Before I got pregnant, I was against this concept. Now, I would actually go so far as to advocate virtual care.

Here is what happens every other week in the second trimester at the doctor’s office:

1. I drive 20 minutes to the office.
2. If I’m seeing the midwife, I’m called back pretty quickly. If it’s one of the physicians I could wait up to 25 minutes.
3. I get called back. The nurse takes my weight and blood pressure. I pee on a stick to check my sugars and proteins.
4. I get put in a room to wait for the midwife / doctor.
5. The midwife / doctor come in, listen to the heartbeat, measure my uterus (the measurements didn’t even start until after week 20).
6. The midwife / doctor asks if we have any questions.
7. I make another appointment for 2 weeks.
8. Drive back to wherever I need to go (work or home).

As long as the pregnancy is “normal”, here is what I would like to see:

1. At home, I pee on a stick, take my weight and blood pressure and either call in or fax in the results.
2. If there are concerns, I make an appointment ASAP.
3. Otherwise, I attend monthly (or even less often) appointments in a group to learn about something in pregnancy and ask any questions – also hear the heartbeat here.

Look at the efficiency of my way and the time savings. And, I might actually learn something. Because, even though my practitioners are amazing, being new at this, I don’t always know what to ask so having other people ask questions around me will definitely help. But, it’s healthcare, and by necessity (due to insurance companies and malpractice suits) it’s become a racket.

Beyond the constant and useless appointments, the second trimester was blissful – this definitely had to be as good as it gets.