Friday, April 30, 2010

Stylin' and Profilin'

I'm the kind of girl that knows 1 makeup trick and wears the same hair style for years because I'm not very trendy. I want to be trendy, I just don't know how. Or maybe I don't have the guts to try something new, who knows. 

Now that I stay home to raise Beatrice, my wardrobe consists of tank tops and cut off shorts. I need some style. 

That's why I bought these.    
My new Ray Ban Aqua Wayfarers. I think they're awesome.

Beatrice likes them too. 

Thursday, April 29, 2010


The pediatrician's office called this morning to confirm B-Trice's appointment.

That's how the nurse pronounced it: B-Trice, with 2 syllables, rhymes with ice. This happens all the time at the doctor. Someone is always pronouncing her name very wrong. Say it with me, Bee-uh-triss. Not B-Trice.

As soon as we found out we were having a girl, we started going over names. We agreed that her name needed to have a good meaning and it wasn't going to be a "trendy" name. It also needed to be a name that didn't have a popular nickname attached to it because we wanted to call her by her full first name. Penelope, Margaret, Lola, Claire, Beatrice, Isabella, Zeta and a few others made the list.

Names are important. I went 3 days without a name when I was born. When they finally decided, I was an Aly and my parents only called me Alyson when I was in trouble. I never liked my name growing up. At the beginning of the school year my mom always told my teachers that I preferred to be called Aly, but somewhere during the year I became known as Alyson. It felt like I had 2 names; 1 my parents called me and 1 the rest of the world called me. When I got older, I hated how young Aly sounded but still hated to be called Alyson. JD loves to call me Alyson....he is foolish.

Names are important to God too. Several times in the Bible He changes the names of people to something of greater/different meaning or instructs parents what to name a child he has a mighty plan for. He says to "call those things that are not as though they are" Romans 4:17. Calling her a name that had a lovely and beautiful meaning was important for her future. We didn't want to give her a name that meant "evil seductress" or "lazy slob" or something horrible.

Beatrice Claire means "giver of happiness," and "clarity." It has positive things attached to its meaning, it's an old family name on JD's side, it's pretty and it fits our style. The perfect name for our girl.

We never thought it would pose such pronunciation problems though. We get the Bee-uh-triss vs. Bee-at-triss, but B-Trice? I know it's old fashioned but I would never look at it and think, "oh yeah, those people named their baby B-Trice." BECAUSE B-TRICE IS NOT A NAME!!! Beatrice is.

So tomorrow I will take ol' B-Trice to the pediatrician and will once again correct the nurse. I have a feeling she will always be called this at the doctor though. Maybe we should just call her Claire.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Cat

Soon after we got married, I started begging JD for a cat. The cat I had for 9 years had recently disappeared (I got word she is in the Great White North hunting caribou) so I was feeling the need for a new furbaby.

After a few months, I finally convinced him and we picked out a black kitten. The caregiver at the shelter told us that black cats get adopted last because so many people are superstitious and afraid of them. He was the oldest kitten there and had been there the longest. We had to help this kitty.
Heathcliff Ferdinand came home in a cardboard box at the end of June. He was scraggly and awkward with a face only a mother could love. We bathed him and showed him his new digs. He was perfect.....for about 2 hours. Then he had explosive diarrhea on JD's laptop. The honeymoon was over.

JD wanted to get rid of him right away, this was not what we had in mind when we wanted to add to our family. I begged and pleaded for the chance to get him checked out at the vet. Surely it was something in his system that could be cured instead of a behavioral issue.

The vet ran every test, treated him for every possible worm/intestinal bacteria and nothing worked. Heathcliff never pooped on the computer again, but his litter box was a nightmare. We had to get up with him every time he needed to go and quickly lift him out so his paws wouldn't get "soiled." The diarrhea never got better (think milkshake consistency, only with poo).
JD and I lived in constant fear that we would come home to a house that was covered in poo. It was taking an emotional toll on us. We debated on keeping him but realized it would be nearly impossible to find someone who wanted a gastrointestinally challenged black cat.

The vet finally diagnosed him with chronic feline juvenile diarrhea (are you dying yet?). Seriously. He was perfectly healthy, very playful and incredibly affectionate. But, he had the runs. The vet said he would eventually grow out of it. For 9 months, we escorted our cat to the litter box at all hours of the day and night. We had to feed him $40 a bag special gastrointestinal sensitive food and see the vet pretty frequently. It was a very trying time in our young marriage (and on our wallet).

And then one day, he pooped a hard poop. It was as if the heavens opened up and angels were singing (I sure was). I took a picture and text messaged it to the vet (a picture of the cat, not the poo) saying "I make hard poop!" We were so proud of our boy. He was finally better and now we could begin our lives as a happy, normal family. And we were. I mean, we weren't the type of pet owners that dressed our cat up in holiday outfits or anything......
Okay maybe we were. But he was our baby. He completed our little family..... And then I got pregnant.

I cried a lot when I first found out I was expecting. It was partly hormones and mostly fear of not being ready. When I stopped crying and started being happy, everyone told me that as soon as that baby arrived I would forget about "the cat."

Blaspheme. I could never forget about my boy. I secretly wondered how I would ever love a baby as much as I loved my furbaby. The entire pregnancy, I held Heathcliff and rocked him in the nursery (JD caught me and told me to cut it out and to stop being weird). He was going to have a baby sister and I just knew he would be mommy's good helper.
Well, I had Beatrice and at first Heathcliff was very curious of this noisy new housemate. His curiosity soon grew to contempt and it wasn't long before he grew depressed. He lost weight, his fur was falling out, and he acted pitiful. As a new mom exhausted and a little depressed myself, taking care of another thing was the last thing on my mind. JD spent as much time as he could with him, but once he went back to work the cat was neglected yet again.

His depression turned into weird behavior. He tried to lay on Beatrice while I nursed, he would howl when I held her, and he would try to climb walls. Weird yes, unbearable no. Until he pooped on my bed. That is the day my boy became "the cat."

Please click to enlarge and see the cat's expression
I went a little ballistic because A) it's my bed and B) I had so many other things to deal with. We had been down the poo road with this cat before when he couldn't help it and I was not about to do it again because he was mad about the baby.

More crying ensued and numerous calls were placed to adoption shelters, but no one wanted an adult male black cat with litter box issues. We were stuck with him. A very helpful rescue shelter called me and gave me great tips on altering his behavior. I tried them with a bitter attitude (because I now hated the cat), never thinking they would work. But alas, he began gaining weight and his fur became shiny again. The bad behavior stopped. The cat was rehabilitated.

I now have a love/hate relationship with the cat. I don't really hate him, but I don't trust him. He still tries to lay on Beatrice every now and then, but she is so wiggly he doesn't try for long. He mostly wants to be apart of whatever we are doing. He lays on the blanket with us for bedtime stories, he brings his ball on the play mat, and he sits on the arm of the chair while I nurse. His new hangout is behind the curtains in the nursery. It is kind of cute.
Beatrice loves him and I guess as long as he is gentle with her, we can't ask for anything more. However I have a feeling this will be our last cat. He is officially Worst Case Scenario Cat and we are in no hurry to prove him wrong.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The New (Used) Model

We leave for the beach a week from Friday. That means baby's first swimsuit, lots of sand in her diapers, tons of gear to remember to pack and our first family vacation. Hopefully we will avoid baby's first sunburn and baby's first road trip tantrum....

It also means my first time in a swimsuit postpartum. Oh the fright.

I actually don't hate my postpartum body. It's not all that different from before I got pregnant, gained 48 lbs, carried a baby to term and nursed for 6 months and counting (good genes I suppose). I was one of the lucky ones that never got a stretch mark or the dreaded muffin top that plagues most mommies (if you're starting to hate me, remember I gained 48 lbs. That's a 2nd grader).

What I love the most about my body is what it is capable of doing. I grew a human folks (well, God grew her. I just housed the equipment needed for His project). My body sustained life for 9 months, then birthed that life without any trauma to either of us and now continues to nourish her little body. And I have nothing to do with it (well, technically I do since it's my body but you know what I mean). That makes me love my postpartum body more than any abdominal definition I had prior to pregnancy ever could.

This new (used) body can do more on less sleep than my pre-baby body ever could, and still have energy left over. I stay amazed at this because I AM SO TIRED.

So with all of that in mind, I plan to don my swimsuit with the confidence that "I am wonderfully and fearfully made" Psalms 139:14. And hopefully encourage all mommies to embrace their new (used) bodies as well, whatever condition they may be in. Because no matter how much wear and tear they may have, we grow humans. And that is awesome.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What Would Michelle Duggar Do?

Today has been one of those days. Beatrice woke up several times during the night looking for her paci. Needless to say, 7am came early and I was cranky. Beatrice was whiney all day and being exhausted, I had a short fuse. Taking care of a 6 month old while JD is away is tough enough, but throw in endless fussiness and a tired mama and you've got a recipe for a meltdown.

It's days like this that I ask myself, "what would Michelle Duggar do?"

I love Michelle Duggar (of TLC's "19 Kids and Counting"). Not only is she a mother of 19 (yowzers), she home schools them all and maintains her home seamlessly and orderly. She has such a sweet spirit and gentleness about her. Even when one of her brood is bouncing off of a couch or hanging from a chandelier, she calming corrects them with her "children, please don't do that." And they listen.

I find myself asking "what would Michelle Duggar do" quite often. When I am on the verge of losing my temper when Beatrice won't nurse and the cat has shoveled kitty litter all over the freshly vacuumed floor, I ask "what would Michelle Duggar do?" When I burn the garlic toast and end up eating a cold dinner because Beatrice pooped on the couch, I think of Michelle. When I am forced to change clothes for the 3rd time in 3 hours because I am covered in barf, Michelle is on my mind.

Since I have a strong tendency to freak out, she is my meltdown barometer. If I find myself in a situation where I want to lose it, I take a few moments to breathe and choose another way to react. Because whatever crisis I may encounter, Michelle does too times 19. And she keeps her cool while getting through it.

So today while my baby fussed and cried, I did not. I vacuumed cat litter twice and ate a cold dinner with a positive attitude. Tomorrow is a new day and I'm sure there will be another batch of crises, but I will keep my cool and think of Michelle.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Training Day

Train up a child in the way he should go and in the end he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Before Beatrice was born, JD and I were already discussing how we wanted to raise our children. We both had love, we both had consequences to bad behavior, and we both had respect for our parents (and the pain they could potentially administer if we were out of line - eek). For the most part, our upbringings were pretty similar. We knew we wanted to bring up our children in a Bible reading, faith based, church going household. And we wanted to have fun doing it. And keep our marriage before our children......shudder at the thought, such antiquated notions!
Rearing a child is the biggest responsibility ever. I love the way our pastor puts it. He says that children are not our possessions. They are loaned to us by God and we have to return them back to Him. It is our responsibility to make sure that the next 18 years are spent teaching her to know Him so when we give her back, she knows how to live a life that honors Him. The only problem is, we don't know how to do that. We have never raised anything other than our cat, and he has major behavioral issues. So we read books.
The first book we read was Babywise. I loved this book. It promised to have our baby sleeping through the night by 12 weeks and our family life structured around a predictable routine with the marriage and God at the center. JD and I loved the biblical principles in the book and were committed to adopting this plan for our new baby's upbringing blueprint (for her infancy at least).

Well, Beatrice was born and on week 2 of her young life we were ready to put our plan into action. The basic principle of the book was to establish an eat/wake/sleep cycle for the baby to regulate her metabolism and teach her to go to sleep without having to be fed (nursed in our situation). We just knew it was going to go off without a hitch. After all, we read the book and did the study guide. We were prepared.

Um, yeah. That week was a big fail. And so was the next week, and the next. Every week was a fail which only made me feel like a failure. I never took into account that Beatrice was not just a chubby little blob that I can mold; she is an individual person with her very own (strong) will. She fought me on every nap, fell asleep during every nursing session, and only when I stopped trying to force this system on her, she slept through the night. Sigh.

Sigh, you say. Wasn't getting her to sleep the point? Well, it was part of the point. The big point was finding a clear manual on how to approach parenting in a way that honored God. If Babywise failed us when we were so confident in its methodology, how would we succeed at the rest of her life????
Note: many of our friends have had success with Babywise. Don't let my failure deter you!

I began sending frantic emails to pastors and begging grandmothers to impart on me their wisdom (or simply tell me what is right). Will letting her cry make her develop attachment issues (or send me to hell for child abuse, or worse: lazy parenting)? Will giving her a pacifier disrupt her ability to self soothe and teach her to rely on objects for comfort? Will bringing her into our bed be the end of intimacy and the downfall of our strong marriage? Will forgetting to put socks on her really redirect all of the blood away from her feet causing them to fall off? I kid. But with all of our hope in Babywise diminished, our wisdom went out the window too.

I still don't know the answers. What I do know is not to put our faith in a book or a person, instead I am looking to The Book and The Person. Surely the Word of God gives clear instruction on how to raise children (and what happens if you do it wrong: "if anyone causes one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck" Mark 9:42). Bottom line, I don't want to screw up.

So I am reading a new book, "Parenting by The Book, Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child" by John Rosemond (alongside studying the Bible). I have only read the introduction and first chapter, but so far it is great. I will keep you posted on what I have learned.
In the meantime, we are doing what comes easy for parents. We are playing. We are snuggling. We are loving this little person.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Day(s) I Became a Mommy

At the discovery of our surprise pregnancy, I submerged myself in preparation for the perfect, natural birthing experience. Much of that preparation included prayer. Since JD was not sold on the home birth I longed for, I accepted that I was going to give birth at the hands of professionals. I was petrified of having a hospital birth full of interventions so I just prayed that my experience would be more organic and less medical. After all, God designed our bodies for this. I was made to do this, and do it without modern medicine. My constant prayer was for God to allow this baby to come on her own, without intervention, and arriving healthily in mind and body.

Miserable and so tired of being a human incubator with no signs of labor in sight, I wept in the bathroom at my office on the last day of work. I begged God to put me into labor soon (please dear Lord don't make me carry this baby past my due date). I got myself together, said my goodbyes to colleagues and the working world, and headed to the final birthing class.

It was the hospital tour class so there was a lot of walking and bed disassembly demonstrations. By the time we made it back to the classroom, I was having some abdominal pain. Nothing terrible, but it was definitely uncomfortable. The RN teaching the class noticed me holding my breath (and belly) every 15 minutes or so and joked that the class may witness a birth sooner than later. My 39 week OB appointment was the next morning so I knew I would be given the specifics of my situation soon. The contractions kept JD and me up all night. I cried, panicking about the experience that was before me, scared of how our relationship would change, but mostly dreading the hospital and its staff.

Friday morning at the OB, I was told that I was in active labor and to stay home as long as I could stand it since I wasn't getting an epidural. I was told to come to the hospital when I could not stand the pain any longer and the contractions were 3 to 5 minutes apart.

I went back home with contractions coming regularly every 10 minutes. I walked the neighborhood 3 times, climbed my stairs repeatedly, and bounced on that birthing ball until I was dizzy in hopes of speeding things along. By nightfall, the contractions had stopped completely and I was by myself eating my farewell cake from my coworkers. I went to sleep secretly relieved, but hoping God hadn't forgotten about my tearful pleading in the bathroom at work.

Early Saturday morning, I woke up to the worst abdominal cramping I had ever experienced. I did not know what labor pains felt like so I assumed my cakefest was the culprit. I went to the bathroom to discover I had lost my mucous plug. I made the mistake of showing my husband. DO NOT SHOW YOUR HUSBANDS GROSS PREGNANCY STUFF, it haunts them. We both kind of panicked. I was hurting really badly and forgot all of the breathing techniques I had learned so I just sat in the bathroom, swaying back and forth and crying. Luckily, JD remembered the calming techniques and got me back in the bedroom. He timed the contractions while I cried until we decided to head up to the hospital.

We called my mom, who was acting as my novice doula (she has 2 home births under her belt), and she met us there. I walked in and got to pick my room (the purple one with a huge window). The nurses hooked me up to the monitor and checked my progress. I was dilated 3 cms and 80% effaced. With 7 more cms to go before I could deliver, I decided to go back to the house to clean, fold laundry, and forget about what was happening.

As soon as we got back to the house, the contractions came back ferociously. All I could do was lie on the couch (crying) and watch JD clean and fold laundry. We were probably at home for 5 hours when I hit the pain wall that convinced me I no longer wanted to have the natural childbirth I had prayed for, but instead wanted all the pain relieving drugs I could get. I got hysterical and called my OB for "hypothetical" medication options if I were to come back to the hospital. Knowing how intent I was on doing this naturally, she suggested I return to the hospital to check my progress. Off we went.

There is something very horrifying and wrong about being in active labor while riding in a car. As soon as we pulled out of our neighborhood, I lost my marbles on JD. I demanded he call an ambulance to transport me the rest of the way (we live 5 miles from the hospital). He calmly kept driving and calling our family while I wailed like a banshee in the passenger seat. This time, I had to be wheeled to labor and delivery in a wheelchair because I could no longer walk or stand through the contractions (it hurts that bad folks).

The nurses checked me and I was 6 cms and fully effaced. They assured me it wouldn't be long now. But I still wanted to discuss my pharmaceutical options..... I was told that in lieu of an epidural I could have Stadol, a narcotic that would take the edge off of the pain and make me drowsy (and make the baby drowsy). I said I needed to think about it so they went ahead and prepped me with a Hep lock. Well, they tried to prep me. My veins would not cooperate and 2 different nurses could not locate or secure a vein. It was as if God made them invisible so I had no option but to follow through with my/our plan.

So I laid in the bed, stiff as a board while my mom and JD talked and carried on like there wasn't a woman having a baby in the room. My rules were don't talk to me and don't touch me. Oh, and open the blinds so I can focus on the birds, and close the blinds because the light hurts my body, and draw me a picture of a cat so I can focus my energy away from the pain, and don't make me laugh, and Mom for the love of everything good, PLEASE move your chair away from me. Not too many unreasonable requests I don't think.

I had prepared Bible verses months in advance that I was going to meditate on when the pain was intense and in the final 2 hours, that is what I did. I wept and read those verses aloud. During contractions, I called out to God to not let me die! I said His Name so often I had to clarify with JD and my mom that I was not taking His Name in vain, but asking for His help. I'm sure those nurses thought I was crazy.

Every time the nurse checked me I asked how much longer. Each time was shorter than the time before and when they wheeled in the bassinet, I knew I was in the home stretch. The entire time though, I wanted the drugs (and if my mom or JD had left the room I would've made those nurses sneak them to me). Until that bassinet was brought in, then all I could think about was my precious baby and her perfect body that never knew an artificial substance in her entire existence. That's when I got serious about my plan again and getting her out naturally no matter what. The plan was always about her, I just didn't realize it until I saw the bassinet.

Things happened very quickly, my OB checked me, I was at 9 cms. She broke my water (the only intervention) and within minutes I was ready to push. Nothing is scarier than having the bottom of your bed dropped and 5 people telling you how to push out a baby. Breathe in through your nose, count to 10, crunch your abs, push through your bottom, exhale through your mouth and go! Um, I know 1 push and it's the kind that we all do in the bathroom with a newspaper... But I was determined to do my push until that baby was born because then, IT WOULD BE OVER! So I pushed 5 of my special pushes and at 6:47 pm on Halloween, Beatrice Claire was born. All 8 lbs and 12 oz of her perfect little body emerged and it was OVER!!!!

The pain was gone the instant that baby girl was born. I still had to deliver the placenta (we had the nurse show it to us and explain the parts, so gross), but that was nothing compared to the previous 48 hours. Beatrice was perfect and healthy. JD went with her to the nursery for her first bath while my girlfriends and family came to see me. I hadn't eaten anything since the cake the night before so I was thrilled when my mother in law brought fried chicken. I devoured that meal!

My recovery was a breeze. The nurses gave me a Motrin that night, but I never took another thing. I was up walking around right away, took a shower, nursed my baby, and felt great.

I am always so excited to share this story because I just love giving God props. I prayed for 8 months to not go past my due date (I gave birth 3 days before) and for Beatrice to come on her own time without having to be induced (she did). He had a perfect plan all along for me and our family. I am still amazed at how He answered even the small things that I asked for (like good nurses who supported my birth plan). I have leaned on Him during the loss of my dad and on my wedding day (and several days during my marriage), but never have I depended on Him moment by moment like I did on those 2 days. It has strengthened my walk in a big way. Heck, it has strengthened everything about me. I know how to rely on Him in a way I probably always should have in every situation.

Welcome to the world, sweet girl!

Hello Internet

For ages now I have been contemplating jumping on the blogging bandwagon, however I didn't know what to write about. I mean, I LOVE to write but what would be interesting enough to share with the interwebs? I have strong convictions about my faith, mine and my family's health, learning how to make things, and being the green(ish)est person I can. So maybe I'll just write about all of that. We'll see how it goes.....