Sunday, December 29, 2013

Why I (pretty much) Quit Social Media

It's not entirely encompassing, but this piece does a fair job of putting into words the realization which I instinctively and experientially came to after too many years as a faithful Facebook 'early adapter' and a passionate Gram'er. I can't comment on Twitter, because I have never been (and will never be) a user.

Good food for thought, this. (And yes, I'm a teensy bit of a hypocrite, because blogging is social media too, but it has always felt and functioned as more like a two-way conversation and a shared experience than a simple vomiting into the void of 'look at me.' Maybe I'm wrong, but don't tell me if I am.)

My Pinterest policy is decidedly don't ask/don't tell. :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Genevieve Therese: a birth story (2 of 2)

(Part 1 here)

**As a disclaimer, I should really be sleeping right now. All three kids are napping simultaneously, and the house is awash in white noise via the washer, dryer, dishwasher, and sonic spa 'ocean waves' setting pumping out tropical vibes to the dormitory wing. Basically we're living high on the energy-consuming hog as we ring in day 2 of Christmas…God bless America.

I don't desperately need a nap, however, because my angel of a third born slept for seven! straight! hours! last night (Knocking frantically on wood as I type this) and I feel good. Reaaaaal good. Listen up readers, if any of you out there in blogland are on the fence about baby number three, go for it! I honestly and truly feel like God has patted my dear head and handed me a human/angel hybrid to raise, perhaps as a reward for the two sleepless wonders who proceeded this latest edition? Perhaps I've just hit the genetic lottery? Perhaps I'm too stupid to realize it's only day 11 of this honeymoon, and hard times are a 'comin?

Whatever the case may be, this baby is amazing, and I am completely and utterly obsessed with her. I would go so far as to say she has given me a greater capacity to love her two older brothers as well, but they have each woken up at least once per night since she arrived, so I won't give them any such shout out. (But it might just be true.) So third baby…do it! Just do it and don't look back, it's joyful chaos, I tell you. And I can already feel and see myself relaxing/lowering my standards/calming the eff down … this baby is all around good for my soul, good for my marriage, and good for our family. End PSA.

So the birth story, where were we? Oh yes, the anesthesiologist. She finally showed up, and wouldn't you know it, so did my 1 minute apart, 90-second long contractions. Do you know what my least favorite thing about labor is? Aside from the hideous expression 'second degree tear,' that is? It's that 3 minutes of hell on wheels where you are supposed to 'arch your back like a cat, that's a good girl, push your back toward my hand, now hoooooold still.' 

Oh, I'm sorry,

seismic tidal waves
are slamming through my body
tearing me apart (labor: a haiku)

And I should hold still for you? Maybe if you had arrived 2 hours ago when I had requested your presence, milady. So we did the epidural dance, she and I. A jab here, a shuddering jerk there, and a whole lot of writhing and sweating. At one point once she'd placed the initial line I felt a hideous electric shock travel down my left leg, which started involuntarily twitching, Riverdance style, and it was at this point I found the only true moment of terror in this labor experience.

Oh God, what's happening, this is that rare 'reaction' they warn you about on, the epidural isn't going to work, I am going to feel everything, I just sustained major nerve damage on my left side, they can't cover up my pain, aaaaaaiaiiiiiiiiiii…..

Or something along those lines. Undeterred, the good drug doctor proclaimed my reaction 'weird,' before asking if I had any inflamed or injured discs in my back (I didn't until you just skewered one with your needle, lady) and then telling me she was going to 'back up' and 'try another point of entry.' One more cat curl, one more stick, this one not directly into some sensitive nerve junction in my spinal cord, aaaaaaaand sweet, cold relief. So sweet and so cold, in fact, that I shook for a good 15 minutes after she left, and I ended up feeling a bit on the numbish side from about the sternum down, soooooo, effective, but not my best anesthetic experience to date. (I was, however, able to hop out of bed 40 minutes after delivering and walk to the bathroom like nothing had happened, so it wore off quickly.)

So I'm drugged. I'm feeling the burn as the second round of my strep B + antibiotics course through my IV, I'm strapped into multiple monitors and I have a rolled up towel under one side to distribute the happy juice evenly…and I'm so, so calm. It certainly isn't the empowering warrior-princess birth I've read of countless times on crunchier websites and in Ina May volumes, but it is wonderful in its own right. I was just so, so grateful and aware of the blessings of every detail of this delivery, from being in America with a vehicle to take me to a hospital with real, certified doctors (and an effective, if somewhat inexpertly applied, epidural) and a private birthing room and room service and my good, holy doctor and I could have gone on and on (and I probably did, poor Dave) but let's just say that it was one hundred million times better than the Italian medical immersion experience we'd been planning on. To infinity and free cable and beyond.

Back to business. I was approaching 'complete' and the nurses started a little confusing argument about whether or not my water had broken. It has always been a fairly obvious event for me, so I was confused over there confusion, and they were confused over not being able to determine whether Evie was still living in her bubble world or not. When my doctor finally arrived (toting a gorgeous icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whom he positioned at the foot of my bed) he assessed the situation, looked quizzically at the nurses, told them he was going to break my water as it was very much still intact, and went ahead with that plastic knitting needle I've heard so much about. Both times before my water had broken on its own, so this was kind of a weird new sensation. Not unpleasant or painful, just odd. Afterwards everyone kind of set things up in the room and then turned to me expectantly.

Dr.: So, should we start pushing?

Jenny: Um, if you want me to?

Dr.: Do you feel like pushing?

Jenny: I mean I don't have a lot of feeling, but I could try to push if you want me to

Dr.: Would you like to have the baby now?


It was as weird as it sounds. I laughed and decided that yes, now would be a fine time to have a baby, and, warning the entire room that I was a 'bad pusher,' we commenced.

I think, all in all, it was around 30 minutes, maybe less, but it was the strangest sensation. My babies tend to hang out super high until the very last minute, so it's only right as they're about to crown that I feel anything close to a real 'urge to push.' This time, however, I felt it much more acutely than with the boys' deliveries. I had instructed Dave to put Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" on a few minutes earlier, and now Dave Matthews was playing into the otherwise quiet delivery room. Really touching details, these, but they're ones that stick with me. All of a sudden my 'bad' pushing became quite effective, and in one contraction out came half a little dark head of hair. All the nurses oohed and aaahed over her luscious locks, and I determined that it would not be pleasant to wait 60 seconds for another contraction and went ahead and delivered the rest of her by sheer force of will, I think. My doctor laughed and said something like, 'Oh, she's going for it!' and then, oh that wondrous moment, she was here.

I couldn't believe it, even after 3 kids it's still the most shocking thing in the world when they put that squirmy, squishy baby on your chest (well, stomach, her cord was so short she couldn't even reach past my belly button!) and you realize that there was another human being inside of your body. And all you really did was cooperation with God's timing and His design plans. And okay, maybe upped your caloric intake and popped a few prenatals. And then boom. Baby. Perfect little slippery naked baby, not even crying, just looking around and grimacing and blinking her dark, dark eyes under the harsh fluorescent lighting and wondering what she'd gotten herself into.

She did eventually cry, and she also looked straight at her daddy as he whispered to her while they checked her stats.

Apgar of 8/9, weight at 6 lbs 6 oz (my smallest by more than 2 lbs!) and a petite 18.5 inches long. They brought her back to me and she nursed like a champ for more than an hour, hooting and squeaking in between sips like she'd been doing it for years, as if she hadn't just miraculously transitioned from living under water, breathing liquid, and receiving nutrition through a feeding tube in her belly button for goodness sakes…what a miraculous, intricate and immensely effective design. Who could have written this program?

Only Him. There's no other sufficient explanation for the miracle of new life, whether it transpire in a hemp-oil scented hot tub in London, a yurt in Siberia, or a LDR suite in North America. Miraculous, tiny Genevieve, we're so glad you're here. And mommy is so happy you came 10 days early and 2 lbs light. What a sweet, considerate little girl. I love you to the moon and back, and I'm so glad I get to be your mama. Remind me of all this in 12 or 13 years.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Genevieve Therese: A birth story

My little daughter, my first ever newborn with a 'sleep' setting, is nestled into her rock n' play (infinitely superior to a pack n' play, thanks Holly) peacefully dreaming at my bedside, and I figured why not bang this birthing tome out before Advent comes to a close. I'm still kind of reeling from the pleasant surprise of having another early bebe (Joey came at 37w5d), and at one week post partum exactly, I feel surprisingly good. It might just be that Christmas time is the best time to have a baby, because the whole world is gearing up for a glorious party, and nobody has to be in swimsuit shape any time soon.
Not in swimsuit shape. Not a problem.
So last Friday night. 38 weeks, 3 days, and feeling every minute of it. I had spent the past week helping my sister move into and arrange her new house, and while I avoided heavy lifting etc like an obedient little lady, I still did way too much and worked way too hard for far too many hours, so I was feeling like a train wreck. Dave was away for the night at a Nugget's game, (with my blessing, I had a hunch it might be his last night of 'freedom' for a while), and my sister had agreed to repay my manual labor with a few hours' of free babysitting, so off I trotted to my favorite Asian masseuse for a little induction massage. I can't even call it anything else at this point, since I've now had 100% success of induction via foot massage.

I heaved my weary body into the chair and Ying looked me up and down appraisingly,

"You ready?"


"You go to hospital now?"

I cocked one eyebrow in mild alarm,

"Well, yeah, if labor starts."

"Okay then, you tell me if it too hard."

And we were off.

Now this isn't some kind of tortuous, violent pummeling we're talking about here. It's actually a fairly relaxing and somewhat gentle head/neck/shoulders/foot/leg/back massage. But the money is in the 15-20 minutes spent on the foot/ankle region. That seems to be what kicks my body into baby town, every time.

I was having mild feelings of conflicting guilt while she worked my feet, realizing that 7 pm on a Friday night with my husband all the way across town at a major sporting event was probably an inopportune time to start labor. But, I was so tired. And so sore. And I just didn't have the heart to stop her once she started on my swollen ankles. Once the massage was over and I was waddling out to my car I realized that I was already having mild contractions, but that overall my body felt good for the first time in weeks. I decided to go home, hit the warm bath, and see if anything came of it.

Dave rolled in around 11 pm, and the contractions were still coming at fairly regular intervals, but they were mild. I told him to try to sleep and I wandered the house, ping-ponging between the living room and the family room, trying to decide if the lumpy microfiber couch was more comfortable than the sweaty pleather number. Around 5 am I was convinced that we needed to head to the hospital, as my contractions had been 5 minutes apart for about 6 hours at this point. Never mind the fact that they still weren't terribly painful and that I insisted we hit up the Starbucks drive thru en route. (Note: if you are interested in coffee and/or sausage breakfast sandwiches, you're probably not in active labor.)

A couple snooty nurses, one very friendly and compassionate one, and 3 odd hours of monitoring and walking the halls later, our sweet nurse Katie sent us home with instructions to walk or rest up, and that she'd see us back later that night. Heads hung in shame, we shuffled out of the ER entrance at a paltry 3 cm and drove home to catch a quick nap before my baby shower. By the time my mom and sisters arrived to decorate and lay the spread for a very late-in-the-game celebration, I was having much more painful and regular contractions but I was determined to 1. eat that cake and 2. stay the hell away from the hospital until I had something to show for myself.

I mean, come on, who has a false start with baby #3?

Anywho, cake was consumed, presents were unwrapped, and friends were mildly amused/lightly traumatized when I paused to breath through particularly painful contractions during the party. The rest of the day is pretty hazy, but I did manage a nap at some point, and like 3 more baths. Damn I love baths. Around midnight that night, after a couple hours staring at a plastic image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and realizing I will never, ever attempt an unmedicated birth and that I most definitely would have died in childbirth had I belonged to any other century, I knew it was go time. For real, this time.

Back in the car, back to the hospital, back to the nurse's station with my head hung in shame…or was it in a painful contraction posture? It must have been the second, for they put me into a real LDR room and skipped right over triage, glory! And then, the moment of truth, the cervical exam. I mentally held my breath as my nurse winked and pronounced me a "conservative 6.5 cm" while assuring me that she had chubby fingers and I was probably further even than that. Weird. And awesome. Dave and I started high-fiveing each other because holy crap, 3.5 cm at home with relative 'ease' on my part, and I wasn't even screaming for my drugs yet.

Our sweet nurse inquired about my plans for pain relief and I told her they involved regulated substances and later, beer and ice cream. She told me now would be a wonderful time to get an epidural and I laughed with delight, because it didn't even hurt that much yet, and yes please, send that wonderfully overpaid doctor up right away. She mentioned something about sending my blood to the lab to check my platelet count and quoted us 30 minutes till party time. And then she left. 30 minutes later, no doctor or nurse in sight, I wondered if maybe I had misheard her. An hour later, with pain started to become kind of a teensy bit on the unmanageable side, I wondered if we maybe should call somebody. Nearly 2 hours later, I had Dave by the collar during a contraction and told him to go out into the hallway and yell her name, where in the hell are my drugs?

Apparently my wonderful doctor had fallen back asleep? Forgotten? To order my labs, and so while the contractions intensified and labor mounted, nary a platelet was counted. And to think I'd been worrying about whether I'd have the chance to offer anything up during this birth. As it turned out, yes. But I'll have to leave you hanging here because somebody is demanding a latte. To be continued…

(Part 2 here.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Five Favorites

Can I cheat and just put 5 different pictures of my baby girl? No? Okay, maybe 5 pictures of her plus five things I am really loving about newborn-ness this time around?

1. Her head smells like heaven. Which is weird, because she has had exactly one shower in her brief ex-utero life, so really her head should smell like crappy Johnson and Johnson hospital grade baby soap and the inside of my uterus. Which doesn't strike me as the aroma of sanctity. But. Still. Heavenly breaths of sweet, sweet baby smell…and she hasn't even been swabbed with chrism yet.

Spa day.
2. I don't care that I still look 5 months pregnant. Seriously, I don't. I just ate a mug full of Blue Bell Rocky Mountain Road ice cream at 9:30 pm because I can, and I'm still all like, daaaaaaamn, I look so much skinnier than I did 3 days ago. Go me. Let's eat fudge! 
Daily weight checks for littlest ladies, only.
This post partum period, so far, has been so very much more joyful and peaceful than either of the boys' arrivals. With Joey I was a nervous wreck and nursing was an awful oddessy of dread and tears, and I was so depressed after JP was born I could barely get myself out of bed in the morning, let alone go skipping around the house hanging up Christmas decorations and rearranging the cutest wittle pink blankets on the most darling changing table you've ever seen. Also, I weighed myself after both of deliveries. Frequently. This time? Ignorance is bliss. Sheer bliss.

3. My boys are at grandma's house. I miss them so much but I am baby mooning like a boss and all my laundry is caught up and Dave is off work and it is so, so nice to have the combined effect of the perspective of third-time parenting (hint: newborn stage is short and sweet, drink it up) coupled with the absence of those other offspring who gave you your crash course in newborn nurturing. They'll be back tomorrow though, and I'm sure it's about to get real up in casa de Uebbing. But for now I'm reveling in my sparkling clean house, full fridge, and darling pink accents strewn artfully about.

I'm a darling pink accent.
4. Christmas is coming, it's already day one of the O Antiphons! And I'm not pregnant any more! And I have a wee little lass to dress all in ruffled red, and I just joined the 21st century and pledged my allegiance to Amazon prime so I might actually get the remaining shopping done and delivered on time. This is by far the best case scenario I had dreamt up way back when in Bella Roma while staring at those two pink lines…God is good. And so is 2 day free shipping.
Epidurals. Only slightly more amazing than 2-day shipping. 
5. My sisters planned my baby shower for this past Saturday. I went into labor last Friday night. But it was a sloooooow moving labor. And upon showing up at the hospital a tad on the early side, I may have been given the option to walk the halls or go home and try to prod things along/get some rest on my own. Which may have resulted in my attending my own baby shower while in labor, pausing only occasionally to wince through particularly effective contractions while drinking mimosas and opening presents. It was 2 parts awesome and 1 part bizarre, and I promise I'll get my typing fingers warmed up and bang out a birth story before the week is out. But let's just call that a teaser trailer…
Worth the wait, I promise.
Thank you for all your sweet comments and well-wishes. I can't express how much this little girl has filled our hearts and our home with joy. Now off to sweet Hallie's with you.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Joy to the World

Best Gaudete Sunday ever.

I love Advent. And I love that Christmas came a little early for us this year - 10 days early, to be exact. And an impressively petite 6 lbs, 6 oz, and 18.5 inches. Quite a downgrade from the 8 lb masculine models I'm accustomed to. And quite an easier recovery, thus far.

We decided to take the one night option and stay at hotel hospital tonight, because the L & D floor is empty, people keep bringing me chocolate and taking away my dirty laundry, and I haven't been woken up once by a pesky vitals check. They have the uncanny ability of popping in just when I'm cuing up some e HGTV…

A few photos to tide you over until I can bust out the birth story. A cliffs notes version: Labor started around 11 pm on Friday night, we popped in on Saturday morning around 5 am to do the walk of shame up and down the halls at only 3 cm, I checked back out and attended my baby shower amidst semi-painful contractions and a healthy dose of perspiration, naps were had, baths were drawn, babes were fed, and at about midnight Sunday morning we headed back out into the dark to try our luck at checking in. Again. Of course my contractions slowed down on the ride over and I was so ashamed to be checked upon arrival but…glory, 6.5 centimeters!

They let us stay, they eventually jammed the needle into the right space between vertebrae, and at 7:01 on this beautiful 'pink Sunday' I met my little pink cheeked baby girl with Fleetwood Mac and Dave Matthews playing in the background. She is so very beautiful and so teeny, and we're just so in love. John Paul kissed her head when he arrived to meet and greet later in the day, and Joey basically ignored her and complimented the 'awesome couch' in our room. It's gonna be a great first Christmas as a party of five.

Enough crazy thick black (whaaaat?!) hair for bows and clips already.
Bow hat courtesy of our wonderful night nurse
Our amazing doctor.
Love this little face. 
Our hearts are full. Rejoice, He is coming.

Friday, December 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes

I can't coast forever on the fumes of my resurrected 'new' posts showing up en masse this week, I suppose, so I'll take the lazy mom's hack and join Jen for a few.

1. I had the craziest conversation with my fantastic masseuse tonight, who may or may not have started JP's labor last time around. This time around? I didn't beg her to pull out the big guns yet, but I definitely feel closer to the finish line after a good 60 minute pummeling. If you have a Chinese reflexology place in your vicinity, I implore you to go check it out. A-mazing. And 30 bucks. For an hour. I would literally pay somebody 100 for the incredible work she does, but I don't have to. So I just tip her ridiculously well and send aaaaaaall my pregnant/stressed/injured/breathing friends her way as referrals. Eastern medicine for the win, at least in this arena. But her story … just stay tuned, because it's worth an entire post - hell, an entire book.

2. John Paul is so adorable this week. And so snuggly. Actually it's borderline obsessive snuggly.
In my bed, inches from my head, no better place to be.
I think if he could, he would crawl back into hotel uterus, grab his sister by the scruff of her neck, toss her into his crib and settle in for the winter. He wants to be lying on me all the time, nuzzling my neck and breathing up my nose and I honestly think he would ingest me if he could somehow figure out how to. He also has a sweet, sweet devotion to Mama Mary and points her out at every possible opportunity, going so far as to sleep with a little figure from one of our nativity sets in his bed. I can only presume that baby is indeed imminent, and he senses it, and that he is most likely going to be Pope one day. Nicely played, John Paul Franics. You needn't even take a new name. Though Benedict XVII has a nice ring to it…

3. So many carbs. I can't stop eating, and the scale is recording my every transgression. I always forget about this last 2-5 week period where all bets are off and even if I've managed a very reasonable 30 something increase up to this point…well, de nada. Because the last month of pregnancy for me is like the fatty fall round up of all of nature's hibernating beasts. And I'm the one eating all the acorns and drinking all the honey and you just never know when you're going to need that extra burst of energy so yes, I will eat that peanut butter sandwich at 3 am. And then I'll wonder why my belly enters a room 4.3 seconds before I do.
I'm giving these credit for 33% of my November/December weight gain.
4. My dad casually mentioned to me in conversation the other day that my mom was, quote, "reading your blog in bed last night and laughing so hard that he was concerned," and that "he was just trying to finish 'Mockingjay' but she kept interrupting him to read him excerpts." I honestly just, don't, … no words.

5. I took the plunge and moved all my kids' toys (except for a single basket of books and a small ottoman full of a few select items) to the basement today. My main level looks amazing, and I spent at least 23 cumulative minutes going up and down the basement stairs breaking up fights/checking for the blood that must surely be accompanying that gawdawful noise/resetting the damn Curious George episode to minute 1. So I think at this rate, I can plan on having a much less cluttered and beautiful living space, and possibly canceling my gym membership also. And maybe having a home birth on the basement stairs.

6. We had a local tragedy today that ended about as well as something like a school shooting could have ended, but is still cause for great sorrow. Arapahoe high school is about 2 miles from our house, so we were effectively on our own lockdown all afternoon from the resultant traffic of the emergency response at the school. Please pray for all the students involved. And please don't think Colorado is some batshit crazy cowboy country filled with crazed gun-toting teenagers out for blood. I know our reputation is not super stellar, but I wish I could convey the reality that this is a safe place, a good place to live, and that a few lunatics do not a society of bad apples make. I do think our public schools could benefit from a little good 'ol fashioned catechism and discipline, however, because if they're not getting it at home and they can't have it at school, then when exactly can we expect character formation, personal responsibility, basic moral instruction and a rudimentary explanation of good vs. evil to take place in these kids' hearts? Are we hoping the hours of daily media intake coupled with absentee parents will do the trick?

I'll never forget the day Columbine unfolded. I was a sophomore in high school about 50 miles south of Littleton (ironically we live about 5 miles from Columbine, now) and our gym teacher pulled us into the wrestling loft to tell us the news. I remember her very seriously explaining that something like that would never, ever happen to us at our school, and that if anybody did try to hurt us, she would die before letting them get past her. It was both traumatizing and deeply moving, and it stuck with me. I hope the kids at Arapahoe High School today had a similar encounter with the heroic faculty and staff who helped to keep them safe by following the unfortunate protocols we've developed and perfected since that dark day in April 1999.

7. Ending on an insipid up note - meet my new bff:

I did not pay full retail for this beauty, but the sale I availed myself of has passed.
When I was pregnant with JP I won a Timi and Leslie bag at a fancy baby store open house, and it was the cadillac of diaper bags. Sadly, it met its maker in bella Roma, but only after being schlepped across multiple borders of many countries, enduring blistering heat, freezing rain, and sweltering trips to the beach, and carting the worldly goods of mama +2 all over the US and then Italy. I vowed that one day I would again own a diaper bag that didn't look like a diaper bag, and then, clicking around the inter webs on cyber Monday, I found my new partner in crime. My favorite part of it is the cross-body strap. My least favorite part is the unstructured-and-kind-of-a-cellphone-and-keys-black-hole-main-compartments. But really, I could buy a diaper bag organizer insert. Or I could just put my keys/phone/wallet in the same place every time like a responsible adult instead of vomiting the contents of my center console into the bag whenever I exit my mom chariot. Only time will tell.

Now that you've digested thee most random of the week's takes (I'm taking liberties and bestowing that honor upon myself) head over to Jen's for more coherent lists. Or endless examples of holiday gift giving guides and gingerbread recipes. It really could go either way…

p.s. Did you see, Baby Lily is going home tomorrow, sans feeding tube! She even nursed successfully during two of her feeds today - praise God! Our Lady of La Leche is coming through for this little lady big time, keep your prayers coming.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Wish and a Prayer

So the stupid blog and the stupid RSS feed and the stupid new URL all work now. And I only shed like, 3 stupid tears each day of the saga over it all, so…all's well that ends well. The moral of this story is, I suppose, that people like me who rely on the internet for work and play should maybe learn a thing or two about how it all works, or else have some IT savvy friend in their inner circle, lest one find oneself on the phone with Chet from Phoenix late one Monday night, using techie words in inapplicable instances and trying not to heave pregnancy-induced sobs into the phone because it's 10 pm and I just want to take a bath. Wah. I wish I'd taken a computer class in college.

Moving on.

My friends, there is this little baby. I know there are so many little babies in need of prayers right now, both in the womb and outside of it, but I am asking for specific prayers for the same little girl I introduced you to last week (when my was still broken). She is making great strides and is off all her tubes and monitors and even taking a bottle…but (and this is a big, ugly but) her parents just had their most recent consult with her neurologist and his diagnosis is not a hopeful one. Basically, due to the trauma and loss of oxygen at birth, her cerebrum was catastrophically damaged and he expects her to suffer from cerebral palsy, which can mean an absence of speech, motor skills, limb control, expression of feelings…in a sort of any or all combination.

I know a thing about cerebral palsy, because my uncle, my dad's little brother, also suffered it due to a traumatic birth and was wheelchair bound and institutionalized for most of his 49 years. He used a computer to communicate and while he had full intelligence, he was basically locked inside of himself and a body that would not cooperate with his mind. I don't want that for baby Lily, and I can't believe that God could refuse the petitions of her family and friends if we storm heaven on her behalf.

I know a lot of us are pregnant right now, and I know that sucks sometimes. From morning sickness to back labor to actual tearing of flesh that ought not to be torn…it's a grueling process, giving life. And if you're in my camp then you'll probably be searching for remedies to alleviate some or all of the suffering entailed on a physical level. I guess what I'm asking is that you take a tiny amount of that suffering and offer it up on behalf of Lily and her complete and miraculous healing. Whatever that looks like for you, whether it be waiting 10 minutes to pop a Tums when the heartburn kicks in or offering up those early pre-anesthesiologist contractions upon admission to Labor and Delivery, let's use our occasions of motherly suffering to call down graces and prayers upon this little baby girl and her family. And if you feel compelled to help in another very real and tangible way, God bless you for it.

I know I complain far too often about my beautiful, healthy children and the imaginary traumas they inflict on me all the live long day - I know! I'm in the least likely position to advocate for some kind of heroic redemptive suffering. But I can make little efforts here and there, I know I can, and I can pray that they have some effect on Lily's healing and recovery. I hope you'll consider joining me to do the same.

Thanks for hanging with me during the techno-saga of Advent 2013, and I pray your hearts and your homes are being beautifully prepared for the Big Event in a couple weeks' time.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Weighting Game

Still here, still pregnant, still trying to figure out why I thought it might be a good idea to slap a legit '.com' on the 'ol small time blog and then end up with 3 weeks of missed posts, dropped subscribers, and finally a really fun 2 days where both the old and new addresses disappeared completely. I may or may not have shed a tiny tear to the husband yesterday that I had ruined my beloved blog and therefore had no avenue through which to vomit my thoughts and feelings onto the internet. And at 38 weeks pregnant, believe me, I have a lot of feelings. I also cried because yesterday John Paul tracked snowy mud into the master bath which I had painstakingly scoured on all fours with a dish scrubber this past week, so go figure.

In short, I look amazing, my family is basking in the hormonal love-fest that is the late third trimester, and I'm locked in a deadly daily ritual of "consume most of an entire bag of Salsa Verde Doritos/swell up like a blowfish/deflate in a lavender epsom salt bath for 45 minutes to an hour. Repeat."

I think I've also pulled late nights the past 3 in a row trolling Grace's infamous birth story linkup, so I'm feeling simultaneously at peace and very, very disconcerted about giving birth a third time. Yesterday I casually mentioned a birth plan for this go-round to Dave, and offered him two slightly differing scripts to present at registration:

1. "Hi, I'm in labor. Please instruct the anesthesiologist to meet us in our room."

or the slightly more upbeat,

2. "Hello, this is my third delivery, and I don't want to feel anything but joy."

I think depending upon the date, we'll opt toward #2 for a holly jolly birthday but stick to the more direct #1 if she doesn't debut on Christmas proper.

Needless to say, I'm not planning on trying for anything close to approaching a 'natural' delivery this time around, unless by natural you mean the baby exiting the intended route rather than ala scalpel. So from that perspective, hell yeah, natural all the way. Just so long as the joy is undimmed by anything approaching back labor, persistent posterior presentation, or tearing/episiotomy slicing of any degree.

Our Advent has been so, so good this year so far. I am loving how much the boys - especially Joey - seem to be soaking in the different little ways we're observing the season, and I'm surprisingly really, really enjoying being "pregnant like Mama Mary was" during the most wonderful time of the year. Plus, it's been like 7 degrees here for a week straight, and I'm finally not sweating like a linebacker. I have gotten many a raised eyebrow whilst prancing about town in a sundress layered with a cardigan, sans tights, but I feel like I'm finally in a climate controlled body for the first time in months, so…winter babies for the win!
Fall babies are cute too, though. (Plus, look closely, he came with an owner's manual.)
This week is promising to be a flurry of fun, family reunions, moving days, girl's nights out, and various impromptu "only child(ren)"trips to Dairy Queen/Starbucks/whatever because 1. I feel like it and 2. The boys are just so cute right now, and I'm trying to soak up these last few weeks of the pair of them as a twosome, and big bertha mama with a baby on board and no cumbersome carseat on my arm.

To end on a technical low note, I'm hoping to have the IT issues resolved sometime this week, but in the meantime, the old address is the one that's functioning, and bloglovin' is unable to pull from my old or new rss feed, so you'll have to come visit the old fashioned way by typing in Vom. I hate technology and it hates me back.

Happy Second Sunday of Advent, and go Broncos!

Thursday, December 5, 2013


I've noticed - and been notified - that bloglovin' is having trouble porting over followers from to the new address, They're working to make the fix, so thanks for your patience if you usually read on bloglovin' and have missed a few posts. It should be updated sometime this week.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

5 Favorites: Hospital Bag

So I should proooooobably pack something to take for the dreaded overnight at hotel hospital for this little lady's imminent arrival, but I find myself at something of a loss.

Firstly, if I pack a bag that means I'm expecting to go into labor soon. At least in my mind, bag preparedness = imminent birth. I'm 'full term' at 37 weeks now, and indeed, Joey was born at 37w 4d, so it's not completely beyond the realm of possibility. But. But… John Paul debuted at 41 weeks and some change. So, yeah. If you're counting, that's around a month's difference in gestational time. They were both spontaneous labors, and Joey was actually 10 oz bigger than JP, so…who knows. And yes, we knew our dates were right, both times. Particularly with our almost-honeymoon baby Joey, ahem.

So that means I may be pregnant for like, another 2 days. Or else for another month. No big deal, right? Well, except for the extra 2-3 lbs I seem to be piling on every single week still. And the fact that I had to buy a new maternity shirt yesterday in this, my 9th month of pregnancy, when I'd really prefer to be saving my pennies for something not designed by Madame Lange and consisting of a 97/3 lycra poly blend. I don't know, maybe pants with a zipper? Something crazy.

But back to the bag. For our firstborn's delivery, I had a full size suitcase packed with aaaaaaaall the recommended Bradley business you can imagine, and then some. Tennis balls. Scented candles. Essential oils. A birthing ball. Literally made Dave stuff a 55 inch fully inflated birthing ball in the backseat of our Honda accord before driving my laboring, broken-watered self through rush hour traffic on a Wednesday evening to our hospital. Oh, and a Boppy. And a blow dryer. And 3 outfits for all three of us, I'm pretty sure. At any rate, 80% of it never made it up from the parking lot to the birthing suite, and I'm almost positive that I wore the same pair of his and his gym shorts and a ratty nursing tank for the entire 3 day stay. We may have even done a leave-behind on the birthing ball in the hospital parking lot when we discovered we couldn't get Joey's carseat strapped into the back seat due to it's massive girth…

I did a little better packing for JP's debut, but not a lot, and I distinctly remember looking around our teeny teeny teeny recovery room and freaking the freak out because there was clutter everywhere: clothes, balloons, half empty bottles of champagne, diapers, makeup…it was so not zen-like.

This time I would looooove to strike the perfect balance between prepared and spartan chic. I'm talking one bathrobe for mama, a handful of footie pajamas and onesies for baby girl, and maybe Dave's contact solution and toothbrush. Maybe. (I'd love to not have to stay a single night this time around, fingers crossed!)

So I throw the floor open to you, mamas. What are your go-to items/products for birth day? Here are mine:

1. Earth Mama Angel Baby new mama bottom spray. I can't/won't really go into further detail, but, yes. Essential. And much nicer smelling than lydocaine.

2. Bravado nurisng bra. Just picked this one up at Target to rave reviews from my 2-person try on panel in the family sized dressing room. Praying it lives up to the hype, and that they both wipe that memory clean from the delicate slate of their formative young souls…

3. Arbonne FC5 moisturizing day lotion. I use the formula for normal/dry skin, and I feel like a huge troll if I don't put it on morning and night, even though I'm probably not reaping the full SPF benefits in the midnight hours. It feels better than any lotion I've ever used, and I happily cough up the 30-something bucks every 6 months to reorder it.

You can buy some from my bff Elizabeth here.

4. My MacBook. Oh internet, the thought of sitting in a hospital recovery room without you by my side is too sad to bear. Plus, birth story writing. Maybe a little ambitious, we'll see.

5. Our San Damiano Crucifix. I bought it at the FUS bookstore before graduation and had it blessed by my old spiritual director, a wonderful T.O.R. with a rocking beard. Since then it has accompanied us into every delivery room, and I made sure to bring it to our last general audience with Papa Francesco before we departed Roma, so now it's layered with a thick layer of papal blessing, too. (Freaked out yet, non-Catholic readers?) My wonderful doctor also brings a beautiful icon of the Blessed Mother and props her up somewhere in my eyeshot, and I love begin able to look around our sterile and hideously-late-90's-oak-panelled delivery suite and see some actual beauty.

So tell me, what's in your bag? What am I missing? And head to Hallie's house on your way out.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

How We Deck Our Halls

When Dave and I were first married, we arrived home flushed and tan from our Hawaiian honeymoon to our adorable apartment just as the calendar was turning over to December. I think I may have mentioned stopping at a grocery store en route from the airport to snag our Christmas tree, so far behind schedule had our late-November nuptials put us. He probably laughed, but then he looked at my face and realized, ohhhh…and thus our first marital conflict was born. Just kidding. Well, sort of.

To say that we were raised in different liturgical traditions wouldn't be accurate, because we were definitely both raised Catholic. But let's just say that one of in-laws were balanced on ladders stringing lights and hanging tinsel before the Thanksgiving turkey had even hit the table, while the other were peacefully contemplating which Christmas tree of the 4 remaining on the lot on Christmas Adam (Christmas Eve eve, y'all. It's the best non-feast day of the entire year) would suffice for the family evergreen.

So we were at an impasse. I think because we were like 17 days man and wife and because he is a wonderful husband, I won the great tree debate of 2009. Obviously we bought a real tree, and obviously we strung and lit that sucker up before the wax had melted on our Advent candles for that year, and obviously it died a cruel, painful death after a few days in our dry, indoor Denver air. But whatever, we kept that bad boy vertical until Epiphany and then kicked it to the curb in an explosion of dry needles and pine pollen. And possibly sparks of actual fire, because it was d.r.y. and dead as hell.

The second year came, and the second dead-before-Advent-commenced Christmas tree followed. Also, Dave accidentally caught our mantle and part of the garland and stocking situation strung there on fire. Because that dead Christmas tree was prime firewood and not to be wasted. (Our landlord never found out, and we managed to scrub all the soot off the walls by the time our lease was up.)

By last year's Christmas, our third of wedded bliss, we had finally devised something of a blended family tradition all our own, and by golly, it looks as though it has stuck. Don't get me wrong, the tree still died a cruel and miserable death far too early into the season, but it wasn't killed by overzealous decorating or liturgical precociousness. It's still just really freaking dry here.

Christmas 2011, pregnant with John Paul and probably in need of a longer hemline.
So our new 'tradition' was born. This year it feels even more effective, if you will, because I have had to be super picky about what we can commit to and what I can reasonably handle with a giant belly and the looming specter of yuletide newborn sleeplessness. Hence, lowered expectations. Here's how it breaks down:

Pre-Advent/last week of November: Begin and (mostly) finish Christmas shopping. We're blessed in that both our families are content with simple 'Secret Santa' exchanges, so each Dave and I are responsible for buying gifts for 1 member of each of our original families, if that makes sense. So that's a total of 4 gifts. In addition to that, we get each other one gift each, and we sometimes decide to give something additionally to our parents. The boys get two gifts each this year, we decided, because we basically bought them the earth and then some in our relocation back to the US earlier this year, and we have a pretty minimal toy policy around here. I also assemble the necessary ingredients for an Advent wreath and we make some kind of game plan for how we're going to keep the penitential aspect of Advent in the forefront. This year it worked out that we could both go to Confession before Mass this morning, so that was perfect.

First Sunday of Advent: We light up the first candle in our wreath (we're going to try to light the appropriate candle every day and say a very, very brief prayer each day this Advent, we'll see how it goes), and we go out and buy the tree. It's sitting decked out with lights in our living room, but we compromise and only light it on major feast days and during Sundays in Advent until Guadete (the pink candle) Sunday. Then it's lights ooooooon till Santa touches down. We also set up our Nativity set, leaving baby Jesus hidden somewhere else in the house, and putting the Wise Men east of the stable (like that?) and Mary and Joseph heading in from the west side. The cows are already chilling crib side. And speaking of Santa Claus…

I still believe. I also love St. Nicholas, so this year for the first time, we had the boys write letters to Santa/St. Nick (totally interchangeable in my twisted mind) asking for prayer intentions to be brought before the baby Jesus and okay, a couple present requests. It's not theologically perfect, but it's better than secular Santa who has basically been relegated to the role of kiddie crack dealer.

We've also told them that if they put their shoes out Thursday evening on the eve of St. Nicholas' feast day, he will take their letters when he drops off their treats. He'll also leave them a little note of encouragement for how they can help prepare their hearts and our home for baby Jesus' arrival. How cool is that? No pretend trip to the mail box or postage to the North Pole. Bam.

(One year I concocted an elaborate Christmas carol/epic poem of sorts involving Santa-ala-St. Nicholas, bishop and mighty defeater of heretics, capturing and subduing with his sleigh-driving whip all our notorious dissenting "Catholic" politicians. Nancy Pelosi was turned into an enslaved reindeer and forced to pull the sleigh as part of her penance. It was all very disturbing to my audience, I'm sure.)

Second Sunday of Advent: We add ornaments to the tree. By this point our parish usually has their giving tree ornaments up too, so we select a family to sponsor and take a really, really fun trip to Target where we buy presents for 'our' family. I love the way our parish does this ministry because 1. you get to choose the family size you can sponsor (we like to pick a family the same size and in close ages to our own kids) and 2. you get to wrap the presents you buy for them. We also like to write Christmas messages to our family and maybe this year I'll actually think to write down all their names so we can pray for them all season. Work in progress here. We generally spend a decent amount of money doing this, which is part of the reason our gift-giving within our own home is limited. It helps bring balance to the season for us, and I hope it gives the kids a more realistic view of what Christmas really stands for.

Third Sunday of Advent (Guadete): Rejoice! He's coming! Lights on, presents all wrapped and stashed, remaining shopping odds and ends finished up, and perhaps another trip to the Confessional if necessary to prepare for Christmas.

Fourth Sunday of Advent: We top the tree. This year we'll need to buy a new star, and actually our 8 foot Costco beauty is already scratching at the ceiling, but I'm sure we'll come up with something. From here on out it's game time, and any remaining details will most definitely need to be checked off the list, because I plan on being in labor at this point. We shall see.

Christmas Adam: (it's a real holiday in my family) Christmas begins a teensy bit early. Crank the speakers, it's time to play Christmas music and drink awful mulled wine (gluvine, if you're being technical.) I am going to try really hard not to listen to Christmas music during Advent this year, to the extent that I can control it, and I'm looking forward to breaking that little 'fast' on the eve of the big Eve. Get it? Christmas Adam.

Christmas Eve: Candlelight Mass, stockings hung, Mary and Jesus arrive at hotel nativity, and kiddos are slammed to bed in anticipation of baby Jesus' arrival, heralded by Santa himself. Candlelight Mass is probably wildly optimistic this year, but we'll see how much longer this gestational situation can drag itself out.

Christmas Day: Party up in heeeeeere. Mass in the morning if we didn't make it the night before, followed by stockings and presents. I'll be celebrating with adult substances for sure, either via a narcotic dripping into the space surrounding my spinal column or a huge glass of wine perched on my lap, along with my already 2-week-old daughter who is definitely going to be sleeping through the night. Ha ha haaaaaaappy holidays to you all. That's how we do. Congrats if you made it to the festive end.

p.s. Thank you for your prayers for baby Lily. She is improving every day so keep them coming!