(Almost) 1 Year Later: My Birth Story

Zoe is 1 year old next week. I know. It's amazing. And I thought it was finally time to write out my thoughts on her birth. Chris wrote about her birth story last year, which I thought was just about one of the most wonderful things I had ever read. And although I wrote about how my first two weeks were hard postpartum, I never wrote about my experience giving birth. I haven't realized how traumatic it really was to me until recently when I was talking about it to someone and I just started bawling my eyes out. So here goes nothing (and it's pretty long, just get ready).

I was incredibly lucky to have an easy, complication free pregnancy. I chalk that up to several things - good genes, eating well and exercising, and luck. I was always afraid of giving birth - that I would completely suck at it - but I knew that DUH! it was coming. We went to birth classes and I started getting ready for how I wanted our birth to go: I wanted to absolutely TRY to do it naturally, but that if I needed to and it was more than I could take, I would get an epidural. I didn't want to feel bad if I needed it, or feel like I was less of a woman for some reason because I couldn't take the pain. Did I want a natural birth? Yes. Did I know that there were things that might happen that would cause that not to happen? Yes. Or at least that's what I told myself to get ready for.

I was pregnant, pregnant, pregnant, pregnant. Zoe just didn't want to come out. I was dilated at 3cm for weeks, Zoe was head down for MONTHS and every appointment I went to doctors and nurses assured me that, "Oh, this baby is coming, this baby is coming." That got my hopes up, and of course it never happened. People told me to take walks - I mulched our front yard by myself. I ate spicey foods. We had sex (yes, gasp!) But nothing worked. Imagine that, Zoe already had a little personality, "Ummmm, I'm not coming out yet."

about to go to the hospital to be induced.

Nowadays induction comes at 41 weeks, and I hate that. I feel like there is WAY TOO MUCH medical intervention. I was very healthy all through pregnancy, so we were able to push induction to 42 weeks, and our doctor was completely fine with it. But he said absolutely at 42 weeks we would need to be induced. Sigh. At our last appointment with him we set up an induction for the next day. We were to call Kaiser an hour before our appointment to make sure everything was still good to go, and then head to the hospital. We had toured and done all of our classes at the Oakland Kaiser (there are several facilities in the Bay Area) and had intended on giving birth there. Well, unfortunately when we called they said they were just about full and could we go to Hayward instead. I freaked out on the phone. I do not deal well with change. I was uncomfortable, upset that I was having to be induced, stressed out, scared and now you were making me change where I was giving birth?! It's actually not a huge deal when I think about it now, but I had everything set up in my head of what was going to happen and this threw a wrench in it to me. I politely got frustrated with the nurse and she said they'd see what they could do and we should call back in another hour. Sigh.

So what did we do? We went to HD to waste time :) An hour later we called and they said they had made room for us, so we made our way over. I was scared, nervous, and just full of question marks.

We arrived at  the hospital at 6pm, bags in hand, ready to have some shit pumped in me to force our baby out. That made me feel like crap. I was already feeling like I had failed because my body naturally did not bring Zoe out. I hated that I had to be induced. I don't know why it was giving such a severe feeling, but I just HATE HATE HATED it. Chris tried to reassure me that I had made such a good home for Zoe in there that she was so happy that she didn't want to leave. That perked me up a bit, but I was still sad

don't I look like I'm having the BEST time?

Most of our family came that first evening to say hello and watch the process get started. We had warned them that this could sometimes take DAYS and there would probably be no "fun" for many hours, if not a day or so. But they insisted :)

I was hooked up to machines and given medicine to try and help me dilate more. I had been having contractions on and off for a couple weeks - I would come in to get check ups because I was past my due date and the nurse would tell me I was having contractions and I wouldn't feel them at all, or I would go to bed having contractions and they would go away while I was sleeping. It was weird. The same thing happened that first night - some contractions, but every time I was able to sleep for a little bit, they would go away. The nurses thought that was kind of strange. Early on into the induction my blood pressure and heart rate were changing significantly enough during contractions that I was already put on watch as a possible c-section candidate, so my food intake was controlled a bit more and I got A LOT of jell-o. You know what sucks? Going through the early stages of labor and not getting a big fat hamburger. In all of the birth videos and classes we went to they never talked about when anyone got to eat. I mentioned that several times to Chris because I LIKE TO EAT and I had no idea why that wasn't a priority to anyone. HELLO, you need food!

After going through the night with the medicine to help me try and dilate (we were really trying to not have to take pitocin), I had not dilated AT ALL. So pitocin it was. Sigh. They started the drip and I started having more contractions, but again, couldn't really feel them. They gave me more little by little to make sure I was still okay. The contractions finally started to a point where it was uncomfortable, so I started walking around our room a little bit to keep my mind off of it. We watched Price is Right and a bunch of other crap on TV while I paced around, butt exposed in those lovely hospital gowns. Family came in periodically to see how we were doing. Slow and steady was the word

Then, Chris' dad came. He had driven up from LA and had just arrived at the hospital and came into our room to say hello. My contractions were getting worse, but it was still just uncomfortable. I was laying in bed on my side and Chris and his dad were talking. All of a sudden my water broke. Or at least, that's what I figured, because I assumed I did not just piss myself. And the SECOND my water broke the contractions got SO MUCH FUCKING MORE PAINFUL. It was amazing. Pre-water break: totally manageable. Post-water break: I thought my insides were being ripped out. I didn't want to start yelling or scream at Chris' dad, but I was all of a sudden completely 100% in a ton of pain and didn't really want anyone in the room, so I tried to catch Chris' eye so that we could be by ourselves. It took a little while, he saw, and Chris' dad headed out (I still feel bad about that, "Oh, hello! You came from LA, please leave, I may have just pissed myself.") My dad and step mom came in a little while later, and I felt much better being rude to them, so I said, "I hurt like a bitch, please leave." :)

After that we really kept the visitors out. I was in a ton of pain trying to manage contractions and the water leaking (oh my god, it was near constant and REALLY annoying). It hurt like a mother fucker. Chris was trying so hard to do anything he could to try and help me, but it had gone from completely manageable to so much pain within a literal 15 second span and I was just completely overwhelmed. I told him I didn't think I could do it naturally and said I wanted to try a narcotic to just stave it off for an hour and be able to regroup. They gave me the narcotic and let me tell you - it did NOTHING. Narcotics are used sometimes now as a temporary pain relief that usually lasts for an hour or so. They only give it in the early stages of labor and absolutely do not give it later when you are anywhere close to pushing because it's not good for the baby to be born with it in your system (it only lasts about an hour). I realized that I really needed the epidural. I told Chris I was so sorry, but that I couldn't do it naturally. I was already feeling like I failed needing to be induced and I HATED that I needed an epidural because I had wanted so bad to do it naturally. But that just wasn't in my cards

Almost 24 hours into induced labor I got my epidural. I felt fine for a bit, and then literally less than 10 minutes after I got it I felt really funny. I don't entirely remember what happened, but I told Chris I didn't feel good and my head started drooping down, like I was losing consciousness. Chris pressed the nurse call button, no one came in the 6 seconds he waited, and then he ran to the door and yelled out into the hall for help. The nurse we LOVED came rushing in and what happened next is a total blur, and actually gets me completely teared up thinking about it. My heart rate had dropped significantly - 65/38 - and I was terrified. I was awake enough to sort of get what was going on. All of a sudden a team of several people rushed into the room - doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists. They gave me medicine through my IV to bring my blood pressure up, tried to manually position monitors on me so that they could track Zoe's heart rate which was now 1/2 of what it was supposed to be. There were a lot of very serious, worried faces in the room.

I forgot how scary this was. I was terrified, and all I remember is just staring at Chris, asking if everything was going to be okay. Of course he had no idea and was terrified as well and alternated between telling me in a completely calm manner that everything would be okay and staring at the nurses and doctors trying to judge their reaction or get some sort of information from them. The frenzy lasted what feels like 2 minutes, though I honestly have no idea. I had an oxygen mask on, tears were falling, I was holding Chris' hand, there were monitors, many people in the room - if you told me everyone was there for 45 minutes I might believe you too

Someone finally said, "I'm going to call it," and within 15 seconds all the monitors, IV's, tubes...all that crapped was flying out of the room with me and down the hall. And Chris wasn't there. I was being wheeled through the hospital into an emergency c-section and the only person I needed wasn't there beside me. I was a wreck. At this point I was pretty aware of what was going on and the fact that Chris wasn't there with me was one of the most terrifying things. Of course he was given scrubs in the room we were just in and was changing into them and waiting for someone to get him, but I had no idea. I was in an operating room with what felt like dozens of people with monitors beeping, words being thrown out that I didn't understand and no partner there with me. I was sobbing, literally sobbing my eyes out asking where Chris was. And bless this doctor's heart - I have no idea who he is - he stood next to my table, holding my hand with both of his hands and just listened to me cry, told me Chris would be right there and that everything would be okay. I still sobbed though, asking where Chris was, if Zoe was okay and was just a MESS.

Then, Chris appeared. Oh my god, thank god he appeared. I don't know what I would have done if it hadn't been for Chris. He never let the worry come over his face. He never once looked scared, never once looked like everything wouldn't end up okay. I don't know how he did that, maybe he's magical. But if he hadn't been able to do that...man

There was running all around prepping me for emergency surgery, still monitoring of Zoe and making sure I was okay. About 30 seconds after Chris came in (that's my guess, I really have no idea) Zoe and I had stabilized. We were no longer in an emergency situation and we were okay. My blood pressure and her heart rate were back to normal. They asked what we wanted to do. We absolutely didn't want a c-section if we didn't have to, so we asked what our options were. We wanted to be checked to see how much I had dilated - I was only at 4.5cm. 4.5CM! After 24 hours of induced labor I had only dilated 1.5 centimeters. They said that I could continue to wait, but the truth of the matter was that it could be days before I was fully dilated enough to start pushing and the chances of us having a similar situation of my reaction to the epidural were highly likely. They understood that we wanted to have as natural of a childbirth as possible, but that it was probably the best decision for me and Zoe's health to have a c-section. So that's what we did.

Meanwhile, our entire families - all 4 of my parents, Chris' two parents, my brother and his wife and Chris' sister - were out to dinner. They had still thought we were up in our room, waiting through painful contractions and it would be a while till anything exciting like pushing came. We elected not to tell them anything. Looking back on it, I still completely agree with the decision. There were so many question marks and really no time to have texted or called them to tell them what was happening. And we didn't want them to be terrified. So we waited.

There I was, lying on the table, with Chris sitting beside me holding my hand, getting sliced open. It was really weird. And not what I had imagined would happen. But, that's what happens in life. It was a very strange sensation being able to tell that something was going on down there - tugging and pulling - but not being able to feel it. I was still scared that something bad would happen, but I was so happy to have Chris there with me now. The nurse we loved so very much was staying past her shift to stay with us and make sure that everything ended up happily. I loved her even more than that

Then, someone told Chris to stand up and he saw Zoe being born. I heard her cry. I was so fucking happy to hear that cry. And it just felt surreal. We had really wanted immediate skin to skin contact, but that obviously didn't happen. Chris went over to see her and brought her over as soon as she could. I loved her. I couldn't believe we were a family now. She was healthy (apgar of 8 at the first minute and 9 at 5) and just the best baby there ever was. I was scared to hold her though because I was having a reaction to the epidural of convulsions, from all the adrenalin, so I was honestly terrified that I would drop her. Apparently it's very common, but it was still a little scary. Chris held her right next to me, put her against me, and I marveled at how awesome she was.

Getting sewn up took a lot longer than getting sliced open. But once I was put back together and my convulsions stopped, I held her. And it was magical. We got wheeled to recovery with me holding her and Chris let our families know what had happened. Once we were in recovery they came in 2 at a time to see Zoe, and cry and give hugs that we were all okay. It was an enormous surprise to them all --- "Oh hey, let's go out to dinner. Ummm, the baby is born?"

It's amazing to think how long ago that was. In a way it almost feels like it never happened because it feels so long ago. I am incredibly nervous about what would happen if we had a second child - would I need to be induced again, have the same reaction to the epidural, have another c-section? It all makes me very nervous and scared. I'm SO happy that Zoe was born healthy and it was certainly an experience that made Chris and I stronger together. I don't know what I would have done if Chris hadn't been such a rock. He really is amazing that guy :) And we made quite a strong, smart and adorable daughter who I love more than anything

And it's crazy to think she's almost 1. I'm thankful we're all healthy, happy and fabulous :)


Drawers in, Ceiling Repaired, Art Up!

Well folks, the drawers are installed! OMFG the drawers are installed!!!


Of course we still need to install the drawer fronts and hardware, get the faux frames, stain and poly them, and then get them installed....but those fucking drawers are in! And if you can't tell, I'm really excited about it :)

Over the weekend Chris installed the last 3

And of course Zoe, again, found it incredibly necessary to help out

"Installing drawers is so much fun!"

"Oh, you need this screw I was chewing on?"

"I gave daddy the screw!"

"Flashlights are incredibly helpful"

"Oh, don't worry dad, I'm on the job"

"And you NEED this flashlight"

"Mom, mom! Dad's almost done installing the drawers!"

Do I take a ridiculous amount of photos of Zoe, or what?

But soon, all the slides were in and the drawers were installed

Is that exciting, or what??? SO EXCITING!!!

And now, MORE progress!

Chris has been working on repairing the ceiling in the nook, and after that work was done he applied a skim coat to the entire thing

The next step will be doing a light sanding, then applying the texture. After that we can PAINT and then install the light. We're oh so close!

Oh, and another thing that makes us closer to being done? We hung art!

Yay! It feels nice to have the clock and prints up on the wall. Afterall, they've only been hanging around the nook for a few...years...

 Zoe is completely fascinated by the clock and just stares at it while we eat in here. It's pretty hilarious. And having the prints on the wall is super awesome too

We've been eating fruit and veggies that are on the prints and talking about when they come in season, and what we should eat next because it's almost in season...it's pretty cool actually. I made these based on our region and used a couple sources to try and get them as accurate as possible. It's an aesthetically pleasing piece of art that serves a purpose. Awesome. And I remember the clock being on the wall from when I was little and my parents were divorced. I know that might sound kind of depressing to some, but it actually is really nice having it on the wall and reminds me what a lucky divorced kids my brother and I were because our families got along so well

Putting things on the wall always make a space feel more lived in to me. It finally makes a room feel like home. And I'm glad this one is nearing the finish line.


Meryl The Weed Whacker

I was a weed whacker this weekend, and I have burnt shoulders to prove it. Remember the veggie bed?

It took me over and hour and a really flattering picture of me...

But I weeded that motherfucker like nobody's business

Oh, why yes, and you may notice that we finished getting all the lattice installed, hooray!

Can you believe THIS is the evolution the back of our house has taken

when we first moved in

Door replaced, stucco patch, roof getting redone

Repairing the animal room (now Zoe's room)

All stucco redone, about to get painted

That's quite a crazy transformation. And one that I'm really proud of.

But anyway, back to the weeding...

When I was done with weeding Zoe was up from her nap and we elected to head to HD to get some plants, mulch, and another gallon of our exterior trim color because if you can see in the above pic the corner of the lattice wasn't installed yet because we ran out of paint and Chris needed to touch up a little.

This planting bed has always been a veggie bed. I like that, but unfortunately we just don't have time to tend to veggies anymore :( We have one veggie bed, and even that one we don't pay attention to nearly as much as we should. With Zoe and owning our own business and still working on our house all the time there are really only so many hours in the day we can devote to other projects, and this was just one that got neglected most of the time. So we elected to make this a flower bed, lay some good weed block and toss a good layer of mulch on top.

The bundle we picked up at HD

Planting went pretty quickly, and once I was done Chris came over to help - I laid down a very thick layer of weed block (again, the best we've found is newspaper) and he followed along with a very thick layer of mulch

Once things were planted and mulched we gave everything a really nice watering using water from our rain barrels

And voila!

I think it looks mighty pretty with the soon to be pretty flowers and nice, clean, painted, not falling apart lattice. Job well done. And TWO wedding/birthday fiesta items checked off the list :)

Oh, but my weed whacking wasn't done there. Then I decided to tackle this

Oh the horror.

The plan was to go at it with our weed whacker first, but that was quickly out of the question - it decided to be a fucking bitch and break about every 90 seconds. After fixing it 4 times less than 5 minutes into use I may have thrown it into the dump pile and stalked off.....It was back to me being the weed whacker. Which was not fun for this area because it has been so long neglected that those weeds were really in there good.

But after another hour there was success

Again Chris came to help once I was done with the weeding by bringing out the RoundUp and spraying the shit out of everything. Yes, I know, you can hate me if you want, but honestly nothing seems to kill weeds like RoundUp does and I buy organic produce, workout 4-6 times a week, double up on errands so I don't drive my car too much, we save all our onsite water so we don't contribute to run off, blah blah blah, so I'm sleeping fine at night that I'm not killing the world. If you can find something better that will kill my weeds and come over and do it for me, I'll take it, otherwise, RoundUp it is. (BTW, can you tell what a good mood I'm in this morning?)

This morning it's already looking better

I'll spray again tomorrow, then our goal is to plant this weekend. We're still deciding exactly what to plant, so hopefully we figure it out sooner rather than later. Alright, time to go spread aloe on my poor crisped shoulders (damn forgetting to put sunscreen on!).


Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day folks! I hope you're enjoying this fine day with your family, friends or whoever you choose to spend it with. Chris and I will be working on the house, of course. And although I'll share the projects we've been working on this weekend in a normal post tomorrow, here's a little preview

Yup, it's a veggie bed no longer. But it's looking pretty, so that's what counts.

And clearly we made Zoe work much too hard yesterday...

...because she's still asleep at 8am this morning. That girl loves her pillows.

I hope you have a great day!


Being a Working From Home Mom of a (Nearly) 1 Year Old

I wrote a post about my daily schedule with Zoe while still working from home when she was a little over 4 months old, so I thought it was about time to do an update. People often ask me how I get any of my work done while being at home with her, so I thought it was worth talking about. This may change a little bit once Chris has officially left his job (only 2 days left, ahhh!!!), but for the last couple of months, this has seemed to be our schedule.

6-7/7:30 - my body used to naturally wake up at 7, and now it has shifted to about 6. Zoe usually wakes up between 7 - 7:30, so during this time I turn my computer on, get caught up on email or write a blog post for the day. If it's a day when I'm not writing a blog post, I'll get a little bit of billable work done maybe. But usually this hour is to myself

7/7:30 - 9/9:45 - Zoe hang out morning time. Usually Zoe gets up by about 7:15. Chris will go in her room to play with her a little bit if he still hasn't left for work so he gets some morning snuggles in. She's quite a little doll in the morning - in a really good mood, handing you her books to read and just crawling all around being silly. Once she's up it's time for food. I'll let her crawl around and explore while I make breakfast. She really enjoys being independent and so she has the run of the house. We haven't really baby proofed much, mostly relying on trying to teach her what is and isn't appropriate for her to play with, and she's pretty good about it. It's funny hearing her noises and things fall on the floor while I'm cooking. Then it's time for breakfast and she sits at the table with me and eats. Breakfast for her is usually Cheerios, raisins, strawberries or blueberries, scrambled eggs and english muffin. Once we're done eating I usually pick up the house a little bit and get ready to work out. Zoe is again ready to frolic and play. 3-5 days a week during this time I work out. Sometimes we go for a run, but a lot of times I go on our stationary bike and do free weights. Zoe crawls alllll over me while I do free weights, crunches, etc. and thinks it's quite fun. If I don't work out that day we'll put away laundry or just play together

9-9:45 - 10:15/11: Zoe nap time. She usually goes down at about 9:30 for her first nap, but sometimes it's a little later and sometimes it's a little earlier. She used to nap for 30 minutes like clockwork, but now she'll go a little longer (thank GOD). It's usually about 45 minutes - 1 hour. It can still be 30 minutes a couple times a week, but she tends to sleep a bit longer now. Every once in a while it'll be 90 minutes or two hours (that's like one day a week if she's had a crazy exciting day), but she's pretty good about naps now. This is my billable work time. I try really hard to not be at my computer while she's up - I might run in to reply to an email while she's crawling all over the house, but for the most part I try to stay away. These days we have so many screens that we can stare at, so I try to limit the amount of time that she sees me staring at a screen.

10:15/11 - 1:30/2:30: We usually wake up to a snack and then snack a bit throughout this time of the day. She's good about eating in the morning and at night, but really throughout the rest of the day it's snack, snack, snack. This is also adventure time! Zoe and I usually go out and about and get stuff done. Every once in a while I have an early morning appointment that we'll do in the morning before a nap, but most of the time this middle of the day block of time is when we go on adventures together. We'll go to the grocery store, to the park, drive out to SF to check out one of my brother's projects, source materials for a new job, visit Chris at work and have a lunch date together, etc. I would say 95% of the time we have at least one outing in this time period, and when we're not running an errand we play at home together - go on a walk, play in her pool in the backyard, build with her blocks, roll around like silly crazies on the bed listening to music, etc. She's a little ham so it's pretty fun to play with her :)

1:30/2:30 - 2:45/4: afternoon nap time. She's a bit more firm on the time she likes to take her afternoon nap (2pm), but sometimes it's a little earlier or later. Again, usually 45-60 minutes, sometimes a little longer or shorter, but about the same amount of time as the morning. Again, here is my chance to get billable work at the computer in. I've got a lot of tracking, research, scheduling, invoicing, filing, managing various projects going on and mood board'ing that I do at the computer, so I try to make the absolute most of the time I have.

2:45/4 - 6: more time to play! Chris usually gets home at about 4:30, and she gets excited when daddy comes home. 50% of the time we hang out at home and play together and 50% of the time we've got an errand we need to run (getting stuff at HD, etc.), or she's got a swimming class. She really does love to crawl and discover things, so we try and encourage that a lot. She's our little explorer, and I love that about her

6 - 6:30: dinner time. We all eat together at the table and Zoe's usually fairly tired by this time. She's pretty hilarious at dinner and will ham it up with us. She's started to realize the things she does have a reaction from us, so she'll do funny things she knows make us laugh. That little one cracks me up.

6:30 - 7: getting ready for bed. If she gets a bath that day, she gets one during this time, and then it's time for a walk. We take a walk just about every night now and it's usually 15-25 minutes, depending on how late in the evening it already is. We still take her in the Ergo and she loves holding one of our hands while we stroll through the neighborhood. I love going on walks together. Chris and I get to catch up with each other and Zoe is very happy to snuggle. It's a really nice family time. Once we get home we read 1-3 books and then it's time to put her down for bed at 7pm. We've gone from 8pm, to 7:30 and now 7. She was just losing her mind when it was later, so we moved her bedtime earlier and she seems to have responded really well

7 - 9:30/10: Time to hang out, and maybe get some work done. Chris and I will send out a couple invoices, plan for future jobs, veg on the couch, craft away on some art project and sometimes do a little more billable work. Usually we mostly try to hang out together. Some people make fun of me that I go to bed by 10pm, but fuck, I'm tired by then and I need my beauty sleep :) We're usually in bed by 10, watch a little TV, then I'm usually asleep by 10:30.

One day a week my mom babysits, and on those days I usually drop her off at my mom's house at 8:30 and my mom comes and drops her off at our house at 4:30. Those days I get a lot done around the house, do a ton of billable work and maybe even go to the gym! :) Sometimes we have larger jobs for our business that need two sets of hands, and days when my mom watches her are the times we try to get that scheduled. My schedule with Elizabeth has changed now that Andi has sadly moved across country (mega sad face), but she comes and takes care of wonderful Zoe on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from about 10:30-2ish. With her playing with her and having adventures during that middle of the day, I'm able to fly around and get a ton done again

I talked about being a working mom and why it's been important to me to still work after we had Zoe, and I feel like I've found a really good balance - I get a lot of play time with my sweet little girl, and I also still contribute financially to our family. We have a pretty consistent schedule which I think Zoe responds well to, so I'm very thankful for that too.

So there you have it, our schedule as of Zoe being almost a year. I know things will shift and change as she gets older, and I'm excited about the new kinds of adventures we'll have :)