22 Things That Keep Me Sane

In the spirit of yesterday’s 21 things that make me smile, I bring you 22 things that keep me sane. These things work together to keep me healthy, happy and at peace most of the time. And when I am out-of-whack and off-balance I can come back and read this blog post to remember, oh yeah! That’s what I’m missing. Believe me, these are not all things that I ever have going all at once (especially now that I have entered the wild wild world of parenthood), but when at least MOST of these things are a part of my life MOST of the time well that makes for one joyful, peaceful, calm Miss Meliss.

One of my mixed media pieces titled Good Things To Come. I was definitely in a state of 'flow' while working on this: lost in time and space and calmer than ever because I was immersed so deeply in my work that I was submerged into practically another universe.

1 – My flylady Timer

2 – Weight Watchers

3- Reading

4 – Drawing/doodling

5- Freedom (Click link if you have IADD – Internet ADD – and cannot focus like yours truly)

6 – Walking

7 – My moms group

8 – Martha Beck

9 – My gratitude Journal

10 – Taking a shower first thing in the morning

11 – Getting into ‘flow’ with my artwork

12 – Stretching

13 – Having water readily accessible and drinking lots of it

14 – Having readily accessible snacks, I love snacks

15 – Chai made with almond milk and the time to drink it in peace

16 – Mr. P’s morning naptime

17 – Mr. P’s afternoon naptime

18 – Structure with some flexibility in there

19 – Something to look forward to

20 – Sirius Radio Channel 107 – Oprah Radio

21 – Mr. P’s bedtime routine

22 – The commitment to writing this blog

What keeps you sane? Tell me tell me tell me!

Good things, darlings. Very good things.

Melissa

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This post is day 22 of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.

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21 Things That Make Me Smile

Here we are 21 days into the commitment to write and post daily. Someone somewhere said do something for three weeks and it becomes a habit. Well my friends, I am proud to say, a blogging habit has been made! Doesn’t it feel good to start a new habit? YES!

In honor of celebrating this 21 days of honoring my commitment to blogging, I want to share 21 things that make me smile. Why? Because I feel like it and that’s the name of the game. What’s even better than writing what you know? Writing what you FEEL in that moment. And right now, I am smiling.

1 – Seeing my baby angel Mr. P’s little body pop awake each morning! No matter how early he rises and shines he wakes up so happy. Contagious smiling all around!

2 – Hugs. I love hugs. Before Mr. P, Bob and I would always have hug breaks. Now we have family hug breaks. While we say “Family hug! Family hug!”

3 – My Flylady timer – she reminds me that I am not behind and to just jump in whereever I am and to do something is better than nothing at all. And in this moment, I relaize that in order to finish this list in a timely fashion, I gotta be short and sweet. So here goes the rest in short and sweet form!

4 – My first cup of coffee in the morning, with almond milk, most often brought to me by Bob and sometimes with the help of Mr. P who pours the almond milk.

5 – The day my O magazine comes in the mail. (I have a stack waiting to be read, but still I get giddy when a new one arrives.)

6 – Ergonomics – like right now I setup my ergonomic computer setup for the first time in forever and the way my body and back and feet and elbows and wrists feels is so right that I don’t even feel them at all, instead I just write in peace.

7 – My Aladdin straw cups that came in a 3 pack with 6 colorful straws. I drink sooooooo much water especially as a nursing mom. And having water readily available makes me smile. And the straws are so happy.

8 – Getting surprise emails or texts or calls or facebook messages from old friends I haven’t communicated with in a while.

9 – Babies in general. My baby, our baby friends, babies on the street, babies on TV. Babies everywhere make my heart smile from the inside.

10 – My Uncle Bob – he has the biggest smile that erupts into his whole face pushing his cheeks out which in turn lifts up his eyes and then his eyebrows. We facetimed with him the other day and him seeing the baby made him smile and in turn it made me smile.

11 – Reading on my iPad. I just finished my second book since baby. And it’s the first I’ve ever read on the iPad. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. It’s a memoir.

12 – Memoir in general. It’s the most amazing peek into someone else’s world and I aspire to publish one one day and it will be called Good Things Darling.

13 – Silence. I love the peace and quiet. It lets my heart rate drop to a slow calm beat and lets the whole world slow down so I can think or not think and just be. Silence is where I reflect on the world and where ideas come to me from seemingly out of nowhere. These days my silence is rare, I mean extremely rare, but right now, as I write this, it’s almost silent and I am in heaven.

14 – Being on a deadline, no matter how big or small. I love deadlines. I love the adrenaline that speeds up the creative process while helping keep it in check because you just can’t get too crazy and off task when you only have so much time, like right now, 10 minutes left out of my 30 total and my heart is starting to pump a little.

15 – S’mores. Oh it’s been a while dear chocolatey marshmallowey graham crackery slice of dessert heaven. Oh wait, no it hasn’t! I bought two mini s’mores cups at a bake sale on Sunday!! Deeeeee—lish.

16 – Friends that are like family. Sunday we went to a concert in the park with one of my oldest Cali friends (where I bought the s’more! can you see my train of thought?). Old as in one of my first close friends when I moved to California. Meeting this friend made me feel like part of something and less like the alien that I sometimes felt like in my new to California days (years). It’s been 12 years now in Cali and probably about ten of friendship with this dear friend I am writing. She now has a husband and a four year old and a beautiful house with a backyard. When we met we were both single living in studio apartments. Another world!

17 – Sparkling water – hello bubbles, I love you! Especially with fresh lemon.

18 – Watching Bob and Mr. P together when they don’t know I am watching. Being in awe of this family we have formed and in awe of the darling daddy that Bob has become. Amazed that we met at the Staples Center way back when by chance, by serendipitous chance, by destiny, by fate, by divine order, by following the invisible threads of life to exactly where we were supposed to be at that very second so the rest of our lives could unfold as they have and as they will continue to unfold revealing an abundance and a joy that we cannot even imagine.

19 – Writing. I love to write. It brings me such peace and perspective and reveals to me what I think and what I feel.

20 – Treasure hunting – Salvation army, goodwill, thrift shops, finding treasures on the side of the road, you name it, I love it!

21 – And last but not least with one minute left on my Flylady timer, you know what makes me smile, like really smile? YOU!

Thank you so much for joining me on this crazy wonderful commitment to blogging. A ride so wild I have no idea what I will write when I start each post but still you stick with me and I share with you thoughts on life as I know it. Or should I say, life as I feel it. Flylady is beeping. Gotta go!!

But first, tell me, what makes you smile? I really, really wanna know!

Good things, darlings.

Melissa

 

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This post is day 21 of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.

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Learn more about Good Things Darling.

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Visit the Etsy shop.

View more of my paintings on my Flickr.

Two Photos, Two Sentences

Earlier today, Mr. P climbing right into his empty bookcase that was bolted to the wall by a handyman we found on Yelp and mommy remembering the adventure where we (pregnant) found the bookcase on Craigslist and drove to pick it up from a lady whose home was now all Craftsman-inspired and the bookcase just had to go.

Earlier this evening, a family adventure to the farmers market where we stocked up on fruits and veggies and visited with our new neighbor who walked with us and heard children’s reggae and sampled peaches, nectarines and yummy greek spreads at the hummus booth.

(Ok, they were crazy long run-on sentences but I couldn’t resist. I almost didn’t post due to POOPED-NESS noted below but when you make it to 20 days the momentum really gets you and you just want to continue even more than you want to fall into your bed and hope that the baby doesn’t wake up that very second.)

Night darlings, this mama is POOPED!

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This post is day 20 of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.

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Learn more about Good Things Darling.

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Visit the Etsy shop.

View more of my paintings on my Flickr.

Never Say Never: Wisdom From A Stroller Walk With My iPhone

Well hello my darling readers! Here I am reporting live from a stroller walk with Mr. P.

Selfie from our stroller walk this afternoon. Normally Mr. P loves a good selfie, but here he's distracted by Mommy, which, of course, I love.

I’ve told you in many of my posts that writing really help me process. You know what else really helps me process possibly even more? Walking. As I walk, I am holding up my iPhone into the air and dictating this to you. So far on this walk I have accomplished a lot: I made plans with a dear friend, I sent a couple texts that I have been meaning to send and I started this blog post.

When I was pregnant, I used to see moms walking their baby strollers while looking at their phone. I remember saying to Bob I will never do that. Now that I’m a mom I would like to tell my pregnant self a thing or two. Like, um, hey Meliss, never say never. You never know from looking at somebody what their intentions are or what their needs are or what their situation is at that moment. As I dictate this to my iPhone, Mr. P is happy as an 11-month-old-clam kicking his little feet and watching the world go by from the cozy shaded comfort of his stroller. If I do say so myself, I am pretty sure he’s enjoying the sound of my voice talking to you.

I used to look at those moms and think that they were totally “checking out” while in the care of their sweet little darling. Now, I realize, as a mom 11 months into motherhood, I’m not “checking out” by being on my phone right now. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I am “checking in.” I check in with myself and the things I need to and want to do for “me” so I can be a good mama to Mr. P: like honoring my commitment to blog but being creative about it at this very moment. This “check in” is me gathering my thoughts, me making plans with a dear friend, me reaching out to family. And right now, as I dictate-write this, this is me having an aha moment courtesy of my ability to dictate into my iPhone while pushing my stroller WHILE I am getting my baby and I some much-needed fresh air and sunshine. And much appreciated exercise.

Here’s to me and my aha moment, my friends. Here’s to all the things I said I’d NEVER EVER do way back when when I was pregnant but now that I’m a mom on the front lines of motherhood all I can say to new mamas is these three little words: never say never.

Good things, darlings.

Melissa

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This post is day 19 of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.

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Follow the journey on Facebook. 

Visit the Etsy shop.

View more of my paintings on my Flickr.

Facing Fears and Having Fun

Taking Mr. P to his first swimming lesson: you would have thought I was going to MY first day of school. I was all nervous anticipation. How do I get there? Where do we go? Where are the changing rooms? Did I pack everything? What will the other students and parents be like? Will I like the teacher? Will the teacher like me and Mr. P?

That was about six weeks ago. It was fine. Not amazing or surprisingly wonderful or horrible. Just plain fine. Mr. P was kind of frozen the whole time, in shock. He did all the little exercises and we sang all the songs and he went under water the very first time, just like all the other babies. But instead of getting more comfortable in the water each week, he seemed to get less comfortable.

Each week his shock slowly turned into stone cold fear. He would be frozen with me and then when the teacher who take him he’d scream bloody murder, looking at me desperately to help him, reaching for me and wondering why I was putting him through this. It was kind of horrible. So much so that I thought of changing teachers. I thought of not giving him to the teacher for those parts of the class and just holding him myself. One week, the teacher got injured and the swim school called to cancel the class. Poor guy, but I was so relieved we didn’t have class that day. I couldn’t bear to put my lil angel through the “torture” that swimming lessons were slowly becoming.

The following week we showed up as normal, we had about 4 or 5 classes under our belt by now. Mr. P surprised me by giving the teacher the biggest smile on our way into the pool. The teacher gestured for Mr. P to give him a high five. And he did. (Daddy had been working on this ‘trick’ for weeks at home and it was so fun/awesome to see it in action.) We jumped right into the group welcome song fun – the Hokey Pokey where all the parents and babies stand in a circle in the pool motioning their babies hands and feet along with “swim-specific” lyrics. So adorable. And suddenly, I realized something. Mr. P wasn’t scared. He was comfortable. He was adjusting to the teacher and the water and he was even starting to have a little fun. Aaaaaaaaah, Mommy giant exhale.

Today he splashed for the first time all by himself. One day he will be a splashing machine and I will have to be reigning him in from all the splashing. But today, I am celebrating the simple joy that is my baby figuring out that moving his arms up and down on top of the water splashes water everywhere. He loved it. It’s kind of addictive, that kind of fun. That kind of reckless abandon. Seeing my lil guy go from shock to frozen fear to desperate tears to being so comfortable that he’s splashing and smiling. Happiness is…. this.

Today was also special because Daddy came to watch the swimming lesson for the first time. It was fun to peek at him watching us in action. He took a million pictures and video, too. Here’s a favorite. One of our favorite mommy and baby friends was in class today with us too. Such a good time! It’s official: Mr. P and Mommy both love swimming lessons now.

And I realize, it wasn’t necessarily the teacher he was afraid of. But the newness of it all: the pool, the teacher, going under water, the commotion, the noise. And week by week, it slowly become less and less terrifying. More and more familiar. Just like everything. And it reminds me to be willing to face my own fears, week after week, until one day they are so not scary anymore. Until they become fun. Thanks for the lesson, Mr. P.

What were you once afraid of that’s now become fun? TELL ME PEOPLE! I love love love hearing from you. And to all of you who like my Facebook posts, comment on FB and comment here below the blog, I love you. And those that text or email, I love you too. It’s so motivating hearing from you. I love it and appreciate it. And those who read but don’t comment, I love you too! XOXO

Good things, darlings.

Melissa

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This post is day 18 of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.

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Follow the journey on Facebook. 

Visit the Etsy shop.

View more of my paintings on my Flickr.

Mr. P’s First Red Sox Game

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Bob, Mr. P, Me and my Dodger Dog, as promised.

We Had a great day taking the baby to his first Red Sox game at Dodgers Stadium. I am wiped out from the adventure and from all of the time in the sun. I am even more wiped out from the past three days of writing our birth story. Off to bed early after a much-needed long overdue Epsom salt bath. That’s my idea of dreamy.

What do you do when you’re wiped out? What wipes you out?

Thanks for reading this and joining me on this journey. I appreciate it.

Good things, darling.

Melissa

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Day 17 of my commitment to blog daily in 30 minutes. This one took about 5. Sometimes we need to be short and sweet. Today is one of those days.

Birth Story Part 3: Finding The Gold In Our Story

So yes, here is the end of the story. The end that really is just the very, very beginning of life as we know and love it.

Mr. P was born at 5:39 am on Thursday September 20th. Sixteen days after the due date, exactly on time. Bob and I remember the doctors proclaiming “Well, here’s your 3 month old!” He was 8 pounds, 15 ounces and 22 inches long. The OB said he was holding onto the umbilical cord with both hands. This, now, gives me so much peace, visualizing his just entering the world newborn self holding onto his mommy womb home for one last hurrah.

Before I had even ever held him, here's Mr. P getting checked out as Daddy watched.

I watched from the operating room table as the doctors examined our little angel and then got him ready to hand to me. Bob, in all of his nervous, giddy, new daddy excitement snapped a million pictures and ran over to me to show me our baby on the camera. I turned away quickly and said no, I don’t want to see my baby on camera for the first time. They handed me my angel and my heart skipped a beat, it lept up into my chest as if it, too, were leaping at the opportunity to greet this sweet boy.

I held him for what felt like 2 or 3 seconds and then they took him back. It seems that he could not catch his breath, he was panting a little in quick short breaths. They did not want to alarm us, so they told Bob they were going to take the baby to the nursery for a bath. We later learned this is code for “we don’t want to freak out these parents but we need to do some tests.” Before they took him out of the OR, with Bob by his side of course, they took our first family photo.

Here I will summarize, as the next 50 hours are a blip in our new parenting journey. Mr. P had small tear in his lung that led to a pocket of air outside of his lung.

He had to be admitted to the NICU. He was there from Thursday morning until Saturday morning. They did a procedure almost right away, with Bob there by his side while I was still in the Operating Room and then the Recovery Room. They inserted a needle into his chest to suck out the air. Mission accomplished. But once admitted to the NICU, baby boy needed to be closely monitored so he wasn’t released until late Saturday morning. This may sound cold the way I have written this. It’s my best effort to be short and sweet and focused. To tell you the key points of what happened. If I were to go into how I actually felt, I could be here for another 24 hours writing.

I could tell you I felt like a failure and ashamed and embarrassed and so fried and bleary. Our birth had been so polar opposite of everything we had spent months planning, studying, researching, lining up with as many supporting details and characters as possible from the doula to the yoga to acupuncture to the visualizing and even the most hand-picked cheeses and crackers and almonds and chocolates and my best handwriting for the sweetest note for our nurses basket and still, here I was with sutures on my abdomen AND a baby with oxygen tubes up his nose and a little cast on his arm that was trying so hard to keep in the IV in that his 1-day-old determined self kept trying to rip off AND that same baby would not latch on no matter how many lactation specialists demonstrated, poked, prodded, squeezed and propped up pillows. I felt like a grade A failure who was trying to put on a smile for the new mommy pictures that were being taken. That’s how I felt.

And the hardest part of having Mr. P in the NICU :

-We did not get to have the golden hour, the famed time when mommy and baby lie together skin to skin and get to know each other. During this time, very often, the baby naturally roots for the mother’s breast, establishing the very beginning of the breastfeeding relationship. I know this by no means happens for everyone, and it certainly did not happen for us since Mr. P was whisked away so quickly. For a very long time both Bob and I mourned the loss of this magic time as a family.

-Having Mr. P in the NICU was really a setback in terms of breastfeeding. This is a whole other post that one day I will write. But basically, we ended up having to give Mr. P formula for a few days as he needed to meet certain requirements to be released from the NICU and waiting for mommy’s milk to come in and trying to get this little guy to latch on was not happening in a time frame that allowed his timely release. So we compromised our stringent beliefs that we really, really didn’t want to have to give formula to our little guy EVER and here we were giving it to him in his first few days on earth. Same goes with the pacifier. The NICU nurses gave him the ol’ paci. And you know what, in the end, I am glad they did. The little guy needed some comfort. And once again, who was I to stand in the way of that? (NOTE: Since those days, I have learned SO much about breastfeeding. If anyone is reading this and is ever faced with a similar situation, please know that La Leche League is amazing. It’s possible I could have found donor breastmilk to have fed him instead of formula. ANOTHER NOTE: My commitment to breastfeeding was very, very personal and if anyone is reading this and fed your baby formula, I love you and admire you and your choices too. I’d hate for any of this to come off as high and mighty. I was just trying to do the best with what I had. We all are, right?)

Here we are newly reunited in our room. Lil guy had just gotten released from the NICU. This is one of those pics that at the time I would NEVER have posted on Facebook but right now it’s my very favorite picture to show how I really felt. Totally spent, exhausted in every sense of the word with a layer of joy and relief at holding my new son. After 42 weeks and 2 days of pregnancy plus 2 days in the NICU at long last we were together for good. I look puffy and tired and spent and fried with bloodshot eyes because that is how I felt.

Skin to skin with my favorite angel inside my favorite pjs. Best thing I packed in  my hospital bag, by far. It was like going home slipping into those pjs. And I brought the lil guy ‘home’ with me.

In those first seconds, minutes, days of parenthood, Bob went from being Bob to being not just Daddy but Super-Daddy. I can’t think of a better parenting partner I’d rather have.

I remember lying in the hospital bed and being utterly struck by the sweetness of this moment, Daddy and son.

Here we are just about to leave the hospital. Mr. P in his famed ‘going home’ outfit that I’d obsessed about for weeks and months and that my parents treated for in a darling shop in Redondo Beach.

I’ve come to the end of this story and this post. We went home as a family. And while we missed the golden hour and the golden day and even the golden two days, since then we have had a golden life so bright sometimes I am blinded. The light of the smile of this darling boy I swear could electrify the whole world, or at least our whole world. Bob and I had some good cries since then in those first few weeks and I sure did in the weeks even after that navigating the new waters of motherhood and breastfeeding and days that last 24 whole hours. But when those hours are dark and tired and confusing and overwhelming and scary and just plain frustrating and annoying and poop-covered and achey and even when they’re silly and shrieky and laughy and high-pitched silly voicey and ‘honey look! look!’ and honey get the camera! and oh  my goodness, can you believe this is our son… We remember the journey that got us here and to quote dear wonderful Maya Angelou, “I wouldn’t take nothin’ for my journey now.” It’s our journey, our story, our golden life. Our third parenting lesson had been taught, and here we were just a few days as parents.

Aaaaaaaah. Great exhale, darling readers. I thank you for reading this, for being here. I thank you for your patience and your love. It’s good to get this story out of my heart and into the written words. I quote myself, in one of the lines from one of my Said The Butterfly paintings: “Put it into words, let it fly with the birds.” Now that this is in words I feel lighter than I have in a long time. Now time to quickly proofread this, publish and go to bed. It’s going to be time for our golden hour soon, first thing in the morning when Mr. P wakes up. His smile and eyes beaming like the golden sun is within.

Good things, darlings.

Melissa

PS – I also have to make a special shout of to the loving wonderful nurses in the NICU. They were fabulous. And also to the other families who were in the NICU much, much longer than us. Another whole part of my shame about this story was even sharing the NICU part because in my mind ‘he wasn’t even there that long compared to so many other families.’ But this is our story and we lived it and I am so relieved to tell it. 

PPS – This took forever to write, much longer than 30 minutes. Tomorrow will be short and sweet. We are taking the baby to his first Red Sox game at Dodgers Stadium. Tomorrow’s post will be a pic of Mr. P in his Red Sox gear and me eating my Dodger Dog. You just wait.

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This post is day 16 of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.

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Learn more about Good Things Darling.

Follow the journey on Facebook. 

Visit the Etsy shop.

View more of my paintings on my Flickr.

Birth Story Part 2: Surrendering To The Journey

As promised, the story continues… This is longer than I imagined so I thank you in advance for bearing with me. I just needed to write this. As I told you before, writing really helps me process. Oh yes, I processed. 

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We arrived at Cedars Sinai and parked exactly where we were supposed to. We knew because we’d done the hospital tour months ago and Bob, with all of his practical and logistical and navigational skills was able to get us where we needed to be. My belly and I were along for the ride, led safely by his calm, steady guidance. We walked in and met our doula. Now it was just before 1am in the very beginning of my 36th birthday. We were a little late, we were supposed to be there by midnight. But what’s a few minutes at this stage of the 42 weeks pregnant game? (Anything, I hoped, to get that labor going but still it had not.) I was starting to accept that there was a large chance this baby and I could share a birthday. Which seemed like it would be cool when he was little little but as he got older I my guy told me it would be so nice for him to have his own birthday. But really, could I really be pregnant for another whole day?

The plan was to start the induction with hopes that some progress would be happening by the time the OB came to visit in the morning around 6am or so. I remember a doctor who looked remarkably like what a young doctor on TV would look like, scrubs with shiny brown cowboy boots and all. We joked about this with his sparkling white smile as he placed “cervadil” on my cervix – the least invasive/intense on the scale of ways to induce. (I forgot to tell you yesterday that in my 41st week I went to an acupuncturist three times, still no labor. We tried EVERYTHING.) Still, I was planning our birth to be as natural as possible, given the timing.

The details and measurements and timing are a bit of a blur. What I can tell you is that the cervadil worked, but not really. So when my OB came in the morning slight progress had been made, but not enough. So she tried again with another cervadil. She came back hours later hoping for more results and still, none.

I had gone into a form of isolation (with Bob, of course, and our doula) in the hospital room, by choice, and really had for the weeks previous. I was avoiding Facebook, avoiding text messages and phone calls, trying to stay strong and focused on my labor happening without the added outside stressors of HAS THAT BABY ARRIVED YET? And even the worried looks/calls/various means of contacts of well-meaning friends who really were just checking in but to me felt like an intrusion on me trying to start labor. But, on this day, I made a little exception. Every few hours I’d ask Bob to fish my cell phone out of the hiding place where he hid it (at my request) so I could peek at my Facebook birthday messages. It was a ray of sunshine on this otherwise dreary room with no windows.

Cervadil take 2 was a bit of a flop. Progress was made, but not enough. So the OB came back suggesting a foley bag: a balloon, she explained, that was designed to expand with time inside my cervix and in doing so start labor. I remember joking that it was my ‘birthday balloon.’ Hip hip hooray! Well, foley bag expanded and we made a slight bit of progress, but nothing to write home about. Bob and I did laps around the hospital. Each time we passed our room we’d do a funny dance or move for our doula. We were still really optimistic and doing our best to enjoy this crazy ride. By the time the OB came yet again it was time to start Pitocin. The P word. I had come to fear nothing more than a Pitocin-induced labor. Nothing except for a C-section.

Well, the Pitocin contractions begun and progress started. We made enough progress that we were moved to the delivery room, the one with the gigantic window looking out into the Los Angeles night skyline and the Hollywood Hills. We had hope that this show was on the road for real. I was still hoping for my version of a natural labor – which changed as the hours beyond 42 weeks progressed. This means I was still rejecting the constant offers for the epidural. I had practiced and practiced and was saying no like it was my job. But as the artificial induced contractions began so did a kind of pressure/pain I could never imagine. I am not writing this to be a horror story or a war story, but to share what I went through and how I felt about it. I sobbed and screamed each time one came.

I walked the halls with Bob, doing my best to remain composure in between contractions but as the Pitocin increased the contractions intensified to the point where, during a contraction that almost knocked me over, I asked Bob ‘how am I supposed to take care of the baby after all this?’ I was exhausted in every sense of the word. I looked at myself in the mirror in the bathroom that had become a sort of safe place for me to gather my thoughts and tried to use the toilet to help me labor. It felt like I was never going to have the baby. It felt like the pain was never going to stop.

I had a sudden burst of clarity in which I told myself that my plans to have as natural birth as possible did not involve Pitocin. The game had changed so much and I realized I needed to, and was ready to, adapt at some point. I went out and told Bob I was ready for the epidural. This was not the immediate relief I had planned as I was having major contractions while the anesthesiologist was inserting the epidural. Once the epidural kicked in, it did allow me to get a few minutes of sleep. I took my contacts out. It was well after midnight. We’d been in the hospital 24 hours. My birthday had come and gone. It was now 16 days past the due date.

At some point, the OB broke my water to see if that would help the progress. When she broke the water, she told me that there was meconium, which means that the baby took his first bowel movement still in the womb.

Now that the epidural was in effect, the Pitocin levels were raised and raised. I remember the nurse grabbing the doctor rather quickly. The OB told me that the baby’s heart rate was going down every time I would have one of the high level Pitocin contractions. It was about 2:30am.

This part gets a little blurry, and literally, I did not have my contacts in so I was not seeing clearly. She quickly and calmly advised a C-section, acknowledged that she knew that it not what I wanted. She said we could stop the Pitocin and see what happened. At this point, Bob and I both agreed we had given it our all and THE VERY SECOND the baby’s health was compromised we knew the C-section was the way to go.

I was crestfallen. I never imagined using that word to describe this experience. But I imagine our 42-week-wave of joy and bliss and energy and anticipation all leading up to the vision of what we’d hoped for and I see the crest of that wave FALLING HARD. I was heartbroken. I was also, to be honest, just a little relieved. At 42 weeks and 2 days, I knew that a C-section meant that the end of the journey was visible.

It had been a longer journey that I had ever imagined. As I write this, the part of the post that I had really dreaded writing, I am tearing up. The part that got me was the line “longer journey than I had ever imagined.”

You can only do so much being positive and covering all your bases and hiring a doula and writing a birth plan and visualizing and learning and reading and STICKING TO YOUR GUNS NO MATTER WHAT. At some point, the journey takes on a life of its own that you cannot control and you have to be able to be flexible to adapt to a whole new reality, in that moment. In a moment that is a split second. At some point, you must surrender. At some point, you must surrender.

Yes, I typed that twice for a reason. I surrendered then, and I surrender now. I let go of the shame and the guilt and the fallen hopes. I put the story in writing even if it’s not the story I’d hoped for. Even if there are parts of the story I am embarrassed to say I cannot remember. Even if I may have gotten a detail or a medical phrase or birth term incorrect. It’s ok, Meliss. It’s all ok. I accept that by surrendering I allowed this baby’s destiny to unfold in a way that, in that moment, it was designed to unfold. Who was I to stop it?

We learned yet another lesson on parenting all before we’d ever even physically held our precious baby bee.

They scheduled the C-section for early that morning. They had Bob “scrub in” and he had them take this photo.

No matter how long we’d been awake, Bob was ready for action. I remember being like ugh, why is Bob acting silly right now? Now, I am thankful he had the energy and wherewithal to take this picture. And the energy and the resolve to be the super-daddy he was soon to become…

TO BE CONTINUED

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Well, my dear readers, this feels like one heck of a post. More than I’d hoped to write. But I am so glad it’s down. I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow. For now, I thank you for being here and reading this. It took an hour to write and now another 15 to edit (just a little for typos and sequence of wait, what happened when and to hit publish.)

Good things, darlings.

Melissa

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This post is day 15 of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.

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Learn more about Good Things Darling.

Follow the journey on Facebook. 

Visit the Etsy shop.

View more of my paintings on my Flickr.

Birth Story Part 1: Sticking To Our Parenting Guns

I’m sitting in the front seat of my car, with a sleeping Mr. P in the backseat. I’m parked outside our moms group half hoping he wakes up so I can go inside. Half relieved he is sleeping in the carseat. It took an hour of driving but finally, at long last those droopy overtired eyes closed. It’s quite possible we will miss the entire group but the act of getting here at least feels like something.

I am guessing they are inside sharing birth stories. We started last week and did not finish. I hadn’t shared yet, and honestly was getting anxious about sharing. I think in some ways I am still processing the birth and the days following. Maybe this is the perfect time to try to share. With the focus of an iPhone timer ticking, the closeness and peace of my sleeping angel sleeping and the force to be succinct since I am typing with one very determined finger.

Baby bee, which we started calling him at our very first OB visit, before we knew anything except that yes, in fact we were pregnant and there was a little human with a beating heart whose shape on the sonogram looked remarkably like a bumble bee, had a much anticipated due date of September 4. It was a Tuesday.

Well, September 4th arrived and I had an appointment at the OB. She wanted to schedule an induction. “Just get one on the books” she advised. It seemed harmless enough in her eyes, but in mine I was in shock. I so wanted a natural birth and an induction was not in my birth plan by any stretch of the imagination. This very quickly became the first parenting decision Bob and I made. We said no. Our OB scheduled a follow-up for a few days later and here begins the run around of doc recommending we schedule an induction and us saying no.

“As long as mom and baby are healthy” was our mantra. We stuck to our newly formed parenting guns day in and day out. During this time, the OB scheduled regular ultrasounds and fetal heart monitoring tests so we could be sure mom and baby were still okay. Each time we were fine, more than fine. So we persisted. And meanwhile, we perspired, too. Did I mention it was a Los Angeles heat wave? As my body and belly grew days beyond the due date, so did my resolve to do everything in my power and everything in my faith and optimism that I could to get this baby to come naturally. I climbed stairs and hills daily. I walked for miles and miles. I took evening primrose oil and drank the special tea that my doula recommended exactly when I was supposed to. I visualized my happy healthy baby. I visualized labor starting. I napped, I rested, I pumped the two window unit air conditioners a d the trusty fan to attempt to cool down our stuffy condo that was easily ten degrees hotter inside than it was outside. I even watched the entire series of Breaking Bad. Still, no signs of labor. And always, by my side, my trusty sidekick and parenting partner, Bob.

During all this time, my parents were here from the east coast. My brother had flown in from Hawaii and stayed a whole week. No nephew just yet, Uncle Mike. Bob’s parents, understandably, we’re chomping at the bit to hop on a flight. We were all holding our collective breaths. But this baby, who I now know and love as my dear sweet angelbaby wildman Mr. P wanted nothing to do with all of my plans and nothing to do with his daddy’s plans, he was already asserting his independence and teaching us that in his own time, he would come. But I was not ready for the lesson. Only now am I seeing the lesson.

Tuesday September 11 came and went. As did the 12th, 13th, 14, you get the picture. Finally we arrived at Tuesday September 18th: the day before my 36th birthday, 2 full weeks after the due date. Never in a million years did I think we’d get this far along and still no baby! But alas, here we were. I did my usual Tuesday routine including my prenatal Iyengar yoga class that I’d been going to since 8 weeks pregnant. Here I was, 42 weeks pregnant in yoga class. There was not much PRE left in that PRENATAL but I went nonetheless.

Iyengar Prenatal Yoga exactly two weeks after the "due date"

I visualized going into labor. I did not. Bob and I met my parents and sister for an early birthday lunch afterwards at a place in Mar Vista that I’d recently discovered. It was exactly two weeks past the due date and we were entering the point where Bob and I both agreed if it came to this point, we’d go in for the induction. It was set for that night at midnight, just as September 18th rolled into the very beginning of the 19th, my birthday…

TO BE CONTINUED

Darlings! This post had the cards stacked against me: typing on my phone with one finger, almost losing a saved draft, an internet outage and finally sitting on my balcony after 10pm borrowing our neighbors wifi (with permission!!) to finally figure it out and finish up and still I posted. Feeling proud!

Good things, darlings.

Melissa

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This post is day 14 of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.

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Learn more about Good Things Darling.

Follow the journey on Facebook. 

Visit the Etsy shop.

View more of my paintings on my Flickr.

Becoming An All Or “Something” Kind Of Person

I started three different version of this post before landing on one that feels right, and as I write this I still don’t know what it will become. Where to start when the heavy weight of exhaustion of a day well spent weighs like a wet blanket on top of any desire to write right now?

I’ve committed to this, so I will. I start by going to my phone, peeking at the photos from today. Getting more tired realizing how long that day actually was. And good. And full. Mr. P’s eleven month birthday, a photo shoot with Daddy, a nap, a babysitter came, a trip for mommy out solo but fast to maximize her solo time then a quick grocery run and home and farmers market and seeing friends and dinner and bedtime and here. I. Am. Pooped.

I found a picture to inspire something to tell you. Mr. P’s bright eyes and sweet face. The joy and wonder of unpacking the groceries that I’d left on the floor. The passion of pulling out the olive oil, reaching for the quinoa, pulling it out, handing it to me with pride and delight. Then the coffee! And the can is round and it rolls! Like the wheels on my red toy car. And oh my goodness it shakes like a maracca, the beans jumping up and down inside the cylindrical container each time I shake it shake it! I shake it, mommy! See me? See me?!

I’m feeling tired tonight, my contacts dried to my eyelids, my pjs already on, my mind looking forward to episode of Breaking Bad, my timer tick tick tocking. Feeling like being a little light tonight, a little less than normal. This is good and ok. I tend to be an all or nothing kind of person, giving my all or nothing and I need to let the something part of me be just right for tonight. So that’s all for tonight, my friends. I thank you for being here with me on this journey.

Good things, darlings.

Melissa

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This post is day 13 of my 7 day commitment to fully write and post an entry from start to finish within thirty minutes, two sessions of 15 minutes each right in a row using my beloved Flylady timer.

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Learn more about Good Things Darling.

Follow the journey on Facebook. 

Visit the Etsy shop.

View more of my paintings on my Flickr.