Sunday, December 9, 2012

What's On Your Face?

1.) Nude 2.) Base 3.) Shadow 4.) Finished

I get a lot of questions about what sort of make-up I wear and I always say, "I'll tell you guys later," but then never do. Not to keep it a secret or anything like that, but because I wind up blogging about something else entirely and simply forget. I've been wearing the same few things, when I'm wearing anything at all, for about as long as I can remember. It's a quick polished look that can be lightened or darkened depending on circumstance and is altogether cheap.

I have used top of the line cosmetics that will run you an entire paycheck and dirt cheap cosmetics you can find at any convenience store known to mankind. Honestly aside from a couple of things (longevity, color intensity -- both of which can be worked around) I've noticed no true difference. In fact, some of the cheaper brands have actually not only out-performed their expensive counterparts but also improved my skin.

For daytime wear I apply:
  • Physician's Formula Mineral Wear Pressed Powder
  • Bonne Bell's Shadowbox
  • Revlon's Colorstay Liquid Liner
  • Bonne Bell's Lipblush

For evening wear I apply:
  • Physician's Formula Mineral Wear Pressed Powder
  • Wet n Wild's Coloricon
  • Revlon's Colorstay Liquid Liner
  • Clinique's Different Lipstick
This is a very simple, natural look. As such it should only take 10 minutes. Natural is nice because it isn't false advertising. When you wash your face you're not going to look like a totally different person afterwards. I did this with a compact mirror while breastfeeding, it's that easy. Seriously.

I start with a simple mineral pressed powder, forgoing any sort of primer or foundation. My powder of choice is Physician's Formula Mineral Wear in translucent light, because I have the complexion of a ghost. Rather than apply it with the included brush, I use a third party kabuki brush, tapping off excess powder before application. This way I recieve lightweight, even coverage. Enough to protect me from the sun, but no where near enough to hide my freckles. Why mineral rather than talc? Because mineral powder is lighter and happens to also improve the quality of your skin when applied. Rather than dry it out or clog your pores, like talc often does.

I haven't noticed any difference applying my cosmetics over a primer and foundation just clogs the pores. If you need it, use it -- but if you can go without it, I highly recommend that you do. In the rare case of blemishes, I apply just a little foundation to the spot only, not all over. The idea is to minimize the appearance of the blemish without aggravating it or making the issue worse. My foundation of choice is Neutrogena's Skin-clearing Foundation in Fair which not only sits lightly on the skin but also works to help correct the cause of blemishes.

On my eyes I usually wear Bonne Bell's Shadowbox in Cafe Classics combined with Wet n Wild's Coloricon in Silent Treatment. I use the lightest color from the Shadowbox along the brow bone and the shimmery peach color over my lid. For formal or evening wear I mix the medium brown and the darkest color from the Coloricon and apply it to the crease of my eye. For a more dramatic look, apply the shadow wet rather than dry.

I pull the look together with a thin line of liquid liner along my lashline. My preferred liner is Revlon's Colorstay Liquid Liner in dark brown, not black. It's waterproof but easily comes off when you wash your face -- unlike many liquid liners I've tried. It's also light, so your eyelids don't feel weird with it on. My lashes are naturally long and thick, so I tend to go without mascara.

For my lips I wear Bonne Bell's Lipblush in any color, because they're all nice and glossy with only a little pigment. They also happen to soften my lips more than most glosses I've paid five times s much for. If I want more color I opt for something a little costlier. Only because of all cosmetics, lipstick is the only one where it is absolutely imperative it stays in place. You do not want it smeared off of your lips or caked on your teeth when you smile. I like Clinique's Different Lipstick in Water Violet, but I don't think they make it anymore. I smooth it on and press my lips together, blot with a square of tissue paper and then reapply to my top lip and press again.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Profound Sadness

Peace + Peace = 4
As many of you recall, my mom could not make the 3000 mile journey to be at my side when I had my son in October. Originally it was a question of spontaneity. Airplane tickets tend to be absurdly overpriced if you have to purchase them last-minute (especially cross country) and since you seldom know exactly when to expect labor, that's how she'd need to buy them. Even so, she was going to do her best to stash some cash so that she could be there.

It was really important to me that she be there. I've been in the hospital a lot and she has always been by my side. Being admitted without her seemed like a frightening and to be absolutely candid, saddening idea to me. I was a little bummed by the mere prospect that there was even a remote chance she'd be unable to make it. Finding out I would likely have to be induced was almost a relief, even as much as I did not want to be induced, simply for the fact that it would give my mom a heads up to make arrangements to come out here.

So when I called to let her know there was an official deadline in place as to how far my doctors would allow this pregnancy to continue, I was excited. When I dialed her up on the telephone there was something in her voice that suggested something was amiss, but her boss' wife had been being especially cunty lately and I attributed it to that. Looking back, I should've known better. The good news was that my grandfather had plenty of free miles to fly with and could very likely fly them both out here for next to nothing.

When I went into labor naturally the next morning, I texted her while waiting for my contractions to reach the five minute mark to let her know she should grab my grandfather and hurry to the airport. That's when, as recounted in my blog about my labor experience, she informed me she would be unable to make it due to having the flu. I was upset by this but had bringing a new life into the world to distract me from how sad the idea really was -- for her to miss the birth of her grandson. She promised to make the trip to meet him as soon as she could.

The days after delivery all sort of blurred together. One week turned into two and before I knew it, it was Halloween. My favorite holiday next to Thanksgiving. My grandfather was at my mom's house, so we decided to Skype. He doesn't know how to operate the program, so the only time he gets to see me is when he visits my mom's house, two states away from where he lives normally. I was really excited to introduce them to Jude in real-time. It was also nice because I could also introduce them to Aaron's parents, who were over at the time. They've been wanting to meet for a while now, so this would be perfect. Unfortunately with company over and with mommy duty never ending, I ran out of hours in the day and we had to postpone the call until the following day.

The next day, I got my mom and grandfather on Skype. I was so happy to see them both. It had been a tough few weeks postpartum. Adjusting to life as a parent is no easy feat. Seeing my own parent was extremely comforting. She did it alone. Immediately I knew something was off. My mother, who has never worn a hat in her life, was in one. "You're in a cap," I remarked curiously.

"I am," she responded. I shook the strangeness out of my mind, because she's not opposed to trying new things and introduced her to new grandson and Aaron's parents. Then she teared up a little and apologized for having to tell me this way, with company present. I boggled for a minute, wondering what she meant, and then she simply blurted out the news, "I have cancer."

Anyone who knows me knows how rarely I cry. Especially in front of other people. Yet the moment that word left her lips I just burst into tears. Unable to hug my mom, I hugged Aaron's. Aaron appeared from the back room and guided me into the bedroom for some privacy, baby in one hand, phone in the other. There my mom and grandfather tried to console me and the only reason I was able to regain composure was due to this singular thought: she has cancer and yet she's the one trying to comfort me. How ridiculous.

She assured me she was responding well to treatment and revealed that she had known for some time now. She made up the story about having the flu because she didn't want me to relate the birth of my first child to her having cancer. Then she removed her hat to show her bald head, having already lost all of her hair to the chemo. All of her lovely red hair. She looked good though. Her skin was luminous and her eyes were bright. Illness and radiation hadn't made her any less beautiful.

Since then I've learned it's lymphoma, a very aggressive form of cancer, but also completely curable if caught in time. So there is hope. It will be a while before she can come out here, since she has to plan the trip around the breaks in her chemotherapy, but with any luck I'll be able to hug her directly after the holidays.

In the meanwhile, anyone have any particularly delicious recipes with ginger as the main ingredient? Cookies, tea, muffins, etc.? Easing her nausea from the radiation would be a fabulous gift. More  immediately useful than prayers or wishes (though please send those too).

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mom's A Wizard

Usually I only sing or hum to Jude when he's on the brink of sleep, to help facilitate the process. Last night while Aaron was running out to grab us a bite to eat I decided to sing to him while he was fully awake. Best decision ever. No, really. I am a master of decision making.

Never before have I felt that amazing, like some fantastical creature of myth and legend. His eyes opened like little saucers, and I could see he was trying to figure out how the hell I was doing what I was doing. He grew completely still, watching me with intensity and drew in his bottom lip. Such an expression of wonder! I laughed until I cried. He looked like a curious owl. Then he cracked the biggest smile and didn't quit smiling.

Fast forward to this morning. Reflecting on it while looking at the picture above on my phone, I decided this was something that needed to happen. Maybe it was because Jude had woken me up so early and I was suffering from a touch of deprivation, or maybe I'm just a mad genius -- this was how I decided to spend the morning: transforming Jude into an owl using my phone and its stylus.

You're welcome.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

RE: Tony Stark -- I Mean Tony Harris

"Oh good," you must be thinking, "Yet another blog post concerning Tony Harris' recent outburst." Yeah, well, it happens, but you may find this isn't what you're expecting at all.

I want to start out by saying I am both a woman and a huge geek. I also want to start out with a disclaimer, because I think had Harris done that, he'd probably be in a different boat right now and not up Shit Creek without any paddles. In case this is the very first time you've ever read my blog: I deliver with a lot of hyperbole. So if anything that follows seems excessive, it was likely written that way intentionally for just that purpose. I also have a tendency to pepper my posts with accentuating swears. So if words that mean the same thing as their acceptable PC counterparts offend you, well, you should probably think about why that is.

When I heard of this now infamous Facebook post I went in wanting to get my feminism on. Everyone I know, male or female, was outraged by what this guy said and I get so few chances to exercise legitimate feminism. Much to my surprise however, upon reading what Tony Harris wrote -- I couldn't help but agree with him. Sure his delivery was lack luster and he certainly could have benefited from spell check, formatting (R.I.P. paragraphs), and possibly a stiff drink, but hey we've all been guilty of a rage induced tirade or two.

The common outcry from most people seems to be, "How dare you judge us!" while in the very same sentence calling him an asshole at least and at worst demanding his public castration. For his opinion. Castration. Now, firstly, I am damn proud to live in a country where expressing my opinion is not only allowed but encouraged. Opinions can't be right or wrong. They aren't fact, they're how you feel. People seem to forget that. You can no more accuse him of being wrong for what he said than you can accuse me of being wrong because I dislike summertime. It's how we feel. I don't know about you guys, but I feel that using people is wrong too. Maybe you don't, but it's whatever.

Second, you said it yourselves over and over again: how dare you judge? How dare you? You can object to an opinion, but it's kind of a dick move. It's far better (read: persuasive) to simply counter with your own feelings on the subject, in a calm and reasonable manner without damning anyone to the fiery pits of Hell. Judge not lest ye be judged, and guess what? We're all judging now, you and him. Not cool, man. Chillax. Go take a hot bath, drink some tea, and if you absolutely must, pop a frelling Prozac. I assure you the world is not so angry a place as you're making it out to be when you read one sentence, ignore the rest, and then fly off the god damned handle.

One of the very first things Harris says is that he is:

  • Referring to a very small group of people.
  • Knows there are exceptions.

He is not saying all women are cunts, or that all cosplayers are bitches. He's not even saying you, as a vag-wielding citizen of Earth need to prove your geekdom. Let's face it, if you're there because you can't live without the next issue of Spiderman, it's pretty fucking obvious, there's no need to prove it. He's saying if you show up to a con, be there because you absolutely love the content for which that con is about. Regardless of whether or not your titties are on display. Most of all, he's saying not to manipulate and use people, because that makes you a shitty person (no matter what's between your legs).

These are all very reasonable requests, despite having been presented in a very unreasonable fashion. There's nothing to disagree with there.

Keep in mind that as a comic book artist, he spends a lot of time at cons. Seeing this kind of thing (greedy women* manipulating naive men with their bodies) so much is probably ulcer inducing. Reaching a boiling point was inevitable. Granted, boiling over in public could've been avoided. We all make mistakes. As much as we'd all like to be from Krypton, we're human.

People seem to be getting hung up on all the words that would make Thumper's mom disapprove without bothering to consider the actual point. Which isn't entirely their fault. Incendiary words have that effect. You may be a very logical individual, but as soon as you see someone imply that even a handful of your sistren/brethren are rude cows, all that logic dissipates into a seething rage. Then you're both saying stupid shit trying to make your point while incidentally making your point lost, because the moment you respond in the same caustic manner everyone else just gets mad as well. It becomes Them vs. Us for no reason whatsoever. Way to go perpetuating a problem that wouldn't exist otherwise.

Should he have taken a deep breath and counted to ten before hitting post? Probably. Not because it may be construed as sexist or misogynistic but because your argument is invalidated by most readers the moment you start name calling. You may as well forget your entire point and just start screaming colors of the rainbow because it'll be just as effective.

You want to know what is truly ironic? All the White Knighting going on. Men being offended on our behalf because we have ovaries -- because a big scary man said something mean about some other people with ovaries. This is just as sexist as whatever might have been said to begin with! But I guess polite sexism is okay? Huh. Good game.

tl;dr: Stop being reactionary d-bags. If you're a nerd and I'm a nerd, what's the problem? Benefit of the doubt, exercise it.

*Secondary disclaimer: I know not all women are greedy and manipulative. I am, afterall, a woman myself.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Thanks For...

Jude's first Thanksgiving!
So people have been doing this, "Say one thing you're thankful for every day of the month..." thing all through November. I decided I'd rather just wait until November ended and post all of mine at once though, in no particular order. Efficiency!

30. I am thankful that there is always food on the table. If ever I am hungry, it's by choice.
29. I am thankful for the existence of video games.
28. I am thankful for owning our own vehicle. Walking is optional.
27. I am thankful for parcel services such as the USPS, Fedex, and UPS.
26. I am thankful that I can sit here making a list about what I'm thankful for.
25. I am thankful for our dishwasher, saving me time.
24. I am thankful for hot tea.
23. I am thankful for good, thought-provoking television shows.
22. I am thankful for hearing aids. The world can seem like a very lonely place when it's silent.
21. I am thankful for having a home of my own, but being welcome elsewhere any time.
20. I am thankful for Neelix and Intruder. They create quite a dynamic.
19. I am thankful for rainy days.
18. I am thankful for medicine, despite its cost.
17. I am thankful that nonprofit charities are a thing that exists.
16. I am thankful for lightly scented candles creating an atmosphere of calm.
15. I am thankful for public education, regardless of flaws.
14. I am thankful for the clothes on my back (and my feet -- nothing beats warm socks).
13. I am thankful for lanolin cream! lol.
12. I am thankful for books and the chance to enter another world for a time.
11. I am thankful for the ability to put pen to paper and create something lovely.
10. I am thankful for antiques.
9. I am thankful for the Internet: making a large world comfortably small.
8. I am thankful for democracy. Not everyone has a say in their government.
7. I am thankful for my friends, whether I know them face-to-face or not.
6. I am thankful for my health, as peculiar as it is -- I am alive.
5. I am thankful for holidays that bring us all together.
4. I am thankful for my family. My grandfather, my mother, and my second mother. My sisters, and my nieces and nephews. Without them I am incomplete.
3. I am thankful for the generosity of others.
2. I am thankful to have created a new life, and to have welcomed Jude to the world.
1. I am thankful for Aaron, who loves, inspires, and supports me. My life is enriched simply for having him in it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rough Start

Sleep Deprivation Unit activate!

Motherhood is a magical experience. Normally it's a lot like playing The Sims. So long as baby's hunger, bladder, sleep, social, and entertainment meters are full -- baby is content. Little toothless smiles up at you after a good nap and happy cooing when baby notices you've entered the room are priceless. That said, it's not all adorable. Being a mom is hard fucking work. For every good day you and your newborn have together, there's bound to be a bad one around the corner as he adjusts to life in the world. I could just spew all the good tales at you, but that's not fair. It's not honest. So, here's the story of this morning.

I've been battling a cold for the better part of a week now, and this morning was no different. Around seven AM, after having only been asleep in his bassinet for thirty minutes or so (par for the course), Jude wakes himself up farting, realizes he's not in mommy's arms and that he has wet his diaper and decides this combination of things are the worst that's ever happened (circumcision aside). Sniffly and exhausted I get up to soothe him so that I may wash my hands, but he is far too sleepy and upset to be truly soothed. So I just have to wash my hands while he fusses and cries about life in the living room.

Hands germ free, I get him on the changing table and alert enough to realize dingos are not eating him, so he's finally calm and content. Until... he pees on himself. The world ends when you pee on yourself. Lets be real, this isn't mere crying like before, this is a true wail fest. He's also peed on me, so I have to go wash my hands again before I can finish the diaper change. Now he's crying even harder to the point of near screaming because not only has he peed on himself but mommy is gone. Dingos must have eaten her. It's a dingo apocalypse up in here.

I return, hands germ free again, and try to soothe him but he is so worked up by this point that it cannot be done. I can't be mommy! I must be the ghost of mommy because dingos ate her two minutes ago! I proceed with the diaper change while he's flailing and crying, cleaning him up, applying the Vaseline to his healing incision, and finally closing the diaper (after several tries due to kicking legs). Once I scoop him back up into my arms everything is right in the world and the wailing instantly stops. I take him back out into the living room and nurse a smiling little boy as if none of this morning really happened and maybe I'm just a crazy person.

Lets hope this isn't an omen as to how the remainder of this day will play out.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I write this under the same disclaimer as my last post.

The days following the birth of our son are hazy to me. Many encounters I had, I've forgotten entirely while others manage to remain in my mind fairly clear. For instance, I was completely unaware that I had partaken in a rather thorough explanation of the hospital's food services and menu options with a cafeteria representative. I thought you just received whatever was on the menu for the day and it was a complete surprise.I didn't know you could order food beyond breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and even change your entree from what was on the menu to whatever you wanted so long as you notified them in time enough prior to the meal's serving time.

I do remember shaking uncontrollably after birth, probably from pain, adrenaline and blood loss. No amount of warm blankets helped. I remember how proud Aaron was. I remember that the nurse who weighed Jude had to weigh him a second time because she couldn't believe it. I remember not being able to move my right leg from the epidural for a long, long while. I do not remember Josh and Melina being in the delivery room with me for a little bit after birth before I was taken upstairs to the recovery room. Which means I also didn't remember the photos they had taken -- thankfully I was wearing clothes!

I remember that all of the nurses were amazed by how long my delivery took and even more in awe with how long I pushed. They also kept warning me that Jude would be a night owl and I should not expect him to sleep much during the night, only for him to sleep like a champ. Had nurses not come to wake him up for a feeding, he would have slept the entire night! I remember they wanted to give me a room mate but (thankfully) decided not to because Aaron was rooming with me in a cot. I do not recall the social security representative or the birth certificate one coming in to brief us on how to receive official copies of each. I do not recall the vaccinations or the speeches preceding them, only that I received two and Jude received one. I vaguely recall the hearing screening a-okaying Jude's hearing.

I remember a day or two later that my doctor came in surprised I stuck it out so long. The average birth takes six hours and the average time spent pushing is roughly an hour. I labored for twenty-nine hours and pushed for four! I remember him saying that after two hours most women opt for an elective c-section. I was far too stubborn for that though. I remember a pediatrician coming in but I do not remember what he talked to us about.

I remember a nurse briefing me about when I am finally checked out, how I'd receive a prescription for two different types of pain killers. I also remember how, when it came time to check out a day or so later, that one of those prescriptions magically disappeared and they were going to send me home with Motrin alone. After a bit of confusion they finally sent me home with a new prescription for a lesser pain killer, but at least it was something. I still have no idea what became of the original prescription (it was being kept at the nurse's station), I don't think anyone does. I don't remember the process of checking out, only the journey down to the car escorted by a nurse.

The car ride home was nerve wracking. It seemed like every other car on the road was driven by a mad man. The first twenty-four hours at home were spent nursing and napping with absolutely no time for anything else which left me sleep deprived and starving. Jude had developed an appetite but I was still only expressing colostrum. A combination of my milk coming in late, and little time for rest leaving me with little supply once it had, meant by Jude's Monday doctor appointment he'd lost an entire pound from his birth weight. Far more than the acceptable ten percent that's expected. So we had to introduce him to a bottle and formula supplement. Luckily introducing him to the bottle didn't effect his ability or desire to breast feed.

I had planned on remaining enrolled in classes after birth, doing my work from home for a few weeks and going in for exams and such. Unfortunately I did not consider a difficult birth of a large baby. Ultimately, I wound up needing to drop them. After merely taking a casual stroll with Aaron and Jude a week later, I passed a blood clot the size of a chicken egg followed by an increase in bleeding. Nurses instructed me to get as much rest as possible and if the bleeding didn't begin to taper off again in twelve hours or increased at all to go straight to the emergency room. So that ended that. Only now, nearly five weeks later am I beginning to feel any better physically though lack of sleep certainly hasn't sped along my recovery, that's for sure.

My pregnancy anemia is worse due to the amount of blood lost during childbirth, resulting in spontaneous bruising, fatigue, and headaches. My hip can barely support my weight, making walking painful and difficult. Naturally, it goes without saying that it feels like someone kicked me in the uterus and the rearrangement of one's organs is never pleasant. We'll see what the doctors say on the twentieth. Hopefully it's all going well, even if slow. Still wouldn't trade it for the world.

Jude's up to ten pounds as of his circumcision, having regained all of his birth weight and then some. As such, we've weened him off the supplementing to see if I'm producing enough milk to sate him now. I think it may be ideal to continue giving him one bottle in the evening so that he sleeps a little longer, so I don't deteriorate due to deprivation again. Breast milk is easier to digest than formula, so babies get hungrier faster. Jude only sleeps for a max of two hours after breast feeding, usually less. He'll sleep for four or so after a bottle of formula at night. We'll see how he's doing post circumcision tomorrow at his one month well-check. I'll keep you posted.

Other than these things, I don't recall anything else. I know Jon and Sean came to meet Jude when we got home from the hospital, but I don't actually remember this taking place. It's all very surreal.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I type this single handed, as the other hand is occupied by a baby, so pardon any typos or inconsistencies in style as every now and then I have to take twenty to forty minutes to breastfeed rather than write.

Jude & Daddy.
On Tuesday October 9th I went to the OB for my weekly check-up. By this point I was as many as forty-three weeks pregnant or as few as forty weeks pregnant. Either way, it was about time for Jude to make an appearance. By this point I'm seeing the doctor once a week and having Fetal Nonstress Tests every three days. The nurse takes my vitals and asks me if my blood pressure is always high. Given that my chart is in her hands I kind of want to direct her simply to look at it and find out, but that's the remarkably pregnant part of me thinking. I inform her that, no, my blood pressure is normally chronically low. So she double checks and confirms it's high today.

The doctor comes in and examines me, noting I'm still only one and a half centimeters dilated, and mentions briefly the possibility to need to induce labor, but she presents it in a way where it doesn't seem likely. To be sure, she leaves to confer with the attending. When she returns with intent to induce in a couple of days, I'm genuinely surprised. So much so that I forget to express how direly I don't want to be induced. Not that I just want Nature to take its course, but inducing labor in first time pregnancies often makes labor take longer once it's begun. Aaron reminds me to stick up for myself, and I resolve to go out there where they're setting up the appointment to delay it as long as possible.

I understand the judgment call being made, post-term and high blood pressure set the stage for preclampsia -- which my mother had experienced, making me more likely to experience it as well. I just felt, given a little more time, Jude would come on his own terms.

Once we're out there we discover "a couple of days" is actually "tomorrow at 7:00 AM." Uh, whoa there Nelly. I express my concerns and ask if we can delay it to at least the weekend, to minimize missing classes. The clerk making the appointment cannot defer to my whims or even the nearby midwives who seem to agree with my choice. So we have to wait for the attending to finish up with the patient he's in with to yay or nay it. Patience is something I possess in droves, so we wait. It doesn't take him long to emerge from some examination room behind us. Much to my surprise he's very laid back and cool with my decision. He agrees that we can hold off on inducing labor for now, so long as I make my Nonstress Test on Thursday, and has the clerk schedule me in for induction 7:00 AM Friday.

Relieved, we go home and let everyone know that at the very least there is now an end in sight. Much to my dismay, my grandfather and mother won't be able to make the 3000 mile journey to be there with me at the hospital. According to my grandpa, my mom has the flu. While she'd be fine with the miserable sick trip, you're not supposed to have sick visitors in the maternity ward. So they promise they'll come out as soon as they can thereafter. It's a bummer, but it is for the best.

We plan our week around this new deadline. Wednesday we're going to finish cleaning house, do the laundry, and go to class. Thursday we're going to go shopping and have our last "Date Night" before baby is here. I even tough it out upright at my computer for a few hours to socialize and game a while. Sitting at my desk for any stretch of time has been increasingly difficult for me this last month, as I'm so pregnant I'm only comfortable laying on my side, so it's a bit of an effort but I manage. After a while though I assume I have overdone it, because I'm remarkably uncomfortable, and I resign myself to bed.

The next morning, Wednesday October 10th, I wake up crampy at 11:30 AM, which has me a little nervous (given the previous day's doctor visit). I roll over to see if changing positions helps at all, but it doesn't. I then have a contraction. Okay, that at least puts me at ease about the cramping. I've had false contractions in the past, so I really think nothing of it and get up and start getting ready for school. Seven minutes later, while in the shower, I have another one. I grab my watch from the counter to time it: thirty seconds, and then go back to washing my hair. It's still entirely likely to be Braxton Hicks contractions. Then, exactly seven minutes later... another contraction! Huh. This must actually be it. Good thing we postponed inducing, what a waste that would have been -- inducing me just a few hours before I would have gone into labor naturally!

I remain calm, knowing we don't even go to the hospital until contractions are five minutes apart and lasting over forty seconds for an hour, and finish up in the shower. I then go and wake up Aaron, informing him that, "It looks like we're going to be missing class today anyway." He is groggy and confused, so I explain my contractions. We lay all cudddly together in bed for the next contraction and then he goes out into the living room to inform his mother (who's come up early to help us prepare). Unfortunately, since today is the day I was going to do laundry, my options are kind of minimal. I wind up in sweat pants a tank top, and a lacey thong. Yes, a smexy thong is what I wore into the maternity ward. Aaron gets a shower, Eileen gets a shower, and then Aaron has an egg, bacon and cheese bagel for breakfast. I cannot eat something like that in under seven minutes so I just nom a power bar. We hang out for the afternoon, monitoring my contractions, and luckily by 4:00 PM they're close enough together that we can leave for the hospital without having to worry about rush hour traffic.

My contractions started off really mild. I had no problem at all just breathing through them. I couldn't walk through them though, and Aaron forgot to let me out at the door, so we sat in the car to wait for my next contraction before bee lining into the hospital where a wheelchair was procured. They rolled me upstairs and asked me if I could walk into a nearby delivery room. I don't know why they asked me this, I can only assume the wheelchair might not have fit? Not that it mattered, I was having another contraction right then, so the answer was no. They took me to a different room instead where I was hooked up to all sorts of monitors which thankfully confirmed that I was in actual labor.

Aaron asked if he, as a registered EMT, could assist in the delivery of our baby. The nurse was doubtful, but went to ask. Much to everyone's surprise, the doctor agreed. Which we'd find out later, is apparently not something he's ever done before. Even in cases where the father asking was an actual doctor, he never lets anyone assist with deliveries.

I was four centimeters dilated upon arrival, big difference from the one and a half I had been only the night before. When it came time to start my IV, I opted out. Agreeing if it was later needed, they could go ahead and do it, but since it wasn't currently, I'd avoid any unnecessary sticks. This meant they had to send up a lab tech to draw bloodwork, but that was fine with me. There's a huge difference between the butterfly needle he uses and the thick pen cartridge size needles they use for a labor IV. At this juncture my contractions are about every four minutes, lasting forty seconds. The nurse tells me I should go for a walk, while I still can, so very carefully Aaron guides me through the hospital halls, stopping to hold me tightly (and keep me upright) during contractions. He has to go register me though, so Eileen takes over walking with me. In just the few minutes he is gone my contractions go from uncomfortable but tolerable to intense and agonizing. They also jump to two minutes apart for upwards of fifty seconds each, which leaves me little reprieve.

I had chosen not to have an epidural upon arrival, when they offered me one basically the same time they offered the IV, a decision based on high pain threshold and stubbornness. However Aaron later brought up a good point. I have PMDD -- if the mere monthly shedding of my uterine lining causes paralyzing cramps OF COURSE something like childbirth would cause even worse ones! We should've seen it coming and accepted the epidural to begin with. Ladies with PMDD: keep this in mind.

So I asked for an epidural, at least I think I did. Maybe Aaron asked, I gave him that power. Before they'll start an epidural though, you have to empty your bladder. So Aaron had to walk me into the bathroom so I could pee. Unfortunately once I got in there my contractions sped up again and I wound up stuck in there with him unable to move for a good while. Just writhing and trying to pee so the ordeal would at least not be in vain. We finally managed to escape the bathroom but I could barely make it the three feet back to my bed before the next contraction hit.

Before they'll start an epidural, they also have to start an IV. So in the fifteen to twenty seconds I had between contractions the nurse had to find a vein, prep my arm, and then try to successfully stick me. Which did not happen on the first try. Thanks to amazing skin elasticity, she had to basically use all her might to puncture the skin on my forearm. It was a lot like trying to puncture cured leather with a Taconderoga pencil (seriously the needles are so big they inject you with lydocaine first). When she finally got it in, she could no longer access the vein, producing a large painful lumpy bruise. She wound up having to go in through the back of my other arm. Luckily with far greater success.

This is that bruise two weeks later. Fuuu.
Looking back, due to the intensity of my contractions, I'm a little unclear if I peed first or if they started the IV first, not that it really matters. In fact, thinking about it, I'm actually pretty sure the IV came first because I remember having to have the IV in for a set amount of time before the epidural could be given, and clenching onto Aaron's hand to get me through contractions in the meanwhile. I may get the order of things confused here and there, but most of this is a blur to me, remembered in fragments rather than a timeline of consecutive events.

Up until this point I had been keeping friends and family up to date via Facebook, since most of my friends and family live three thousand miles East of here, but things went dark for several hours during this period where I was in too much pain to update anyone and then asleep. My mother, worried about the lack of contact called the hospital to make sure everything was okay. So from that point on, Eileen made sure to keep my mom updated for me, when I couldn't.

Then the anesthesiologist was there like an white knight to save me from these back-to-back contractions. I felt incredibly rude because they were casually taking the time to introduce him to me, but at the time I was incapable of giving a damn. Luckily I apparently did not vocalize half the things I was thinking, so I came off far less caustic than I felt I had been. This was incredibly difficult though, being stabbed between the vertebra is painful and not easy to begin with. During nonstop contractions, oh boy. I kept asking them to hold on a minute, hoping there'd be a window of opportunity between contractions, but they were happening to quickly now that there wasn't. I wound up just doing my best to hold still so I wouldn't be paralyzed forever while being stabbed during a contraction. Relief was almost immediate. If I were Mormon I'd have asked the anesthesiologist to be my second husband.

At first the epidural worked a little too well and I couldn't feel anything at all for a few hours, which gave me time to get a little sleep. Not good sleep though, since every fifteen minutes my blood pressure cuff would inflate, and they had to put it on the arm they had created the giant bruise on. So every fifteen minutes my arm would throb with pain and disturb my Z's. I could only lay on my left side for all of this because laying on my right caused my blood preasure to plummet and alarms to go off, and laying on my back made the baby's heartbeat slow and alarms go off.

Eventually the effects of the epidural lessened a little though and I was able to feel my contractions again, though my water had not yet broken, so I was no where near pushing. This went on all day and well into the night. To the point where they offered to puncture my "bag of waters" for me, but I kind of wanted Jude to take things at his own pace still so I declined. And sure enough, several hours later, while I was asleep, my water had broken... but I had no urge to push, so it was not yet time to push. I was also only about eight centimeters dilated, need to be ten for pushing, so we resigned to more waiting through contractions, epidural making them tolerable. Of course since time continued pressing on, as did my IV fluids, I had to be catheterized, since it had been hours since I could feel my right leg for some reason.

I'd had only that single power bar to eat. From the moment I checked in was not allowed any solids and only clear liquids -- which meant I couldn't have the orange juice Aaron had packed for me. He did however sneak me a few bites of additional power bars or some peanut M&M's when the nurses weren't looking. Much to my delight.

Can't blame them. I can't be  trusted with orange juice.
After an examination the following morning, on October 11th, it turns out my bag of waters had not broken. Not really. I had two, or something. So we had to wait even longer, through more contractions and hunger pains,  for my water to actually break. Which it didn't wind up doing until a later pelvic exam that determined I was nine centimeters dilated. By this point I had been in labor for over twenty hours already and it would be several more hours to go yet.

A little after noon I finally felt the compulsion to push and was thought to be fully dilated, so we began. Not long after, during another pelvic exam the nurse noticed my cervix was not in fact fully dilated. So I had to stop pushing and the waiting game began again -- through contractions and hunger pains. We had the anesthesiologist back to turn down my epidural so that when I was fully dilated I'd better be able to feel my contractions and know when to push. Which meant more painful contractions but nothing like the first day as there was still some anesthesia.

Some time around 1:00 PM I was finally fully dilated for real and we could begin in earnest. Pushing anew, it didn't seem to take long before you could see the top of his head coming down. An hour to an hour and a half the nurse predicted, as I continued pushing away, with contractions sometimes as frequent as back-to-back. Alot of people seem to be under the impression that, as a defense mechanism, the female mind blocks out the pain during recollections of labor. So while they know it hurt, they can't recall just how badly. Let me just say: this is absolute bullshit. At least it was for me. I remember every second of the pain with absolute clarity. One of the few things I do.

An hour came and went without rest. Then another. After the third hour, and many thoroughly soaked bloody towels, I was beginning to feel faint. It made pushing extremely difficult for me as my vision started to tunnel and I was sure I was about to black out. The nurse paged the doctor, as three hours of pushing is the cut off and then they start prepping for cesarean section, but I wasn't about to give up. Not even if the doctor was on his way to cut me open. Thankfully the nurse didn't expect me too, so I labored on.

I'm not sure what was taking so long. You could see his head almost out for like two hours of the time spent pushing, he just quit moving down at that point. Like perhaps he was stuck behind my pelvic bone or something. Then, as if someone flipped a switch the pain was so much that my mind sort of snapped and I wasn't even able to produce words. All I could do was utter a pathetic, "ow..." to Aaron between screams of pain and tears. Never before had I ever felt that much pain and this is coming from someone who has experienced a variety of physical pain. The epidural was doing nothing at all anymore. I was incapable of pushing through the pain, though I kept trying. I know I didn't make any formal requests so it was either Aaron's concern or the nurse's that the anesthesiologist was called back to fix the issue. But it couldn't be fixed instantly. It'd take twenty minutes to kick in, whatever it was. Just as I was sure I was dying, I started pushing with all my might, the baby crowned, then the doctor arrived.

Aaron scrubbed up and delivered his son into the world. The doctor even gave him his seat, standing off to the side to guide him through it. When Jude was finally out they placed him skin-to-skin on my chest and the first thing he did was lift his head up, unassisted, to look around. Talk about fantastical. To look down and see Aaron deliver our son into the world, then be handed our healthy baby boy... just wow.

Not smooshed at all!
They then took the baby to weigh him and actually weighed him twice because no one could believe it. Eight pounds, thirteen ounces. They've no idea how tiny me managed to birth that! And thanks to that amazing skin elasticity, only a single stitch was needed and that wasn't even from pushing so much as it was from having to be recatheterized while pushing. I then lost all color and began shaking uncontrollably. Doctor's wouldn't tell me anything and seem not to want to mention it now, but I'm pretty sure I almost went into shock. While I didn't lose consciousness, I don't really remember anything else from that day other than Eileen, Josh, and Mina being there. That and for some reason they brought me Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans, gravy, cranberry sauce, and a slice of pumpkin pie) for my first meal. Which after more than 29 hours was fucking delicious despite being hospital food.

Overall I'd spend three and a half days in the hospital.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sapphire or Opal? Not An Exact Science

Pregnancy is not an exact science, not that much really ever is. It's a day past my due date now and there's still no sign that our little bundle of joy intends to join us outside of my womb any time soon. So I just lay around (read: wallow) growing more rotund and uncomfortable by the day.

It's not uncommon for first pregnancies to run up to ten days late, but here's the kicker -- since no one knows when precisely we conceived, my due date is just an estimate anyway. Essentially give or take two whole weeks. This means I may be pregnant for up to three more entire weeks! Or, I could go into labor while typing this. No one can say for certain.

I am 75% effaced though, and if I continue progressing at the rate I have been, that'll put me at 100% effaced by this weekend. After which point I can go into labor at any time.

It's a little funny because a couple of weeks ago, I'd have been happy with the baby taking his sweet time to arrive. Halloween? Sure, whatever. Stay in there as long as you want to, dude. Mostly because the thought of child birth is somewhat terrifying, notably the anticipation of pain and the absolute spontaneity of labor. I could be sitting here, fine, one minute and writhing in the throes of a contraction the next! There's no way to know.

However as time goes on, I become more and more uncomfortable, and am now to the point where I kind of can't wait to have this baby. Not simply because I'm excited to hold him and introduce him to the world, but because I'm also excited to not exist in a constant state of discomfort.

He sits so low right now that I experience intense pain in my hips whenever I stand up or roll over in bed. I think at times that my legs may actually fall off. No, seriously. It's that intense. From what I'm told, this is only going to get worse as he drops lower in preparation for birth. Oh boy.

My feet are swollen more often than not, making walking a challenge. Granted the pitting edema is kind of neat, like my feet are made of Play-doh -- you can push it around and leave indents with your fingers. Even if I elevate and ice them for hours they're swollen again within fifteen minutes of resuming normal activity.

Add to these things the fact that when he decides to roll around and kick he now consistently hits my cervix (a pain you can't comprehend unless you're a female) and it's like a trifecta of discomfort.

I can no longer tolerate sitting at my desk for any real length of time, which means significantly less video games and writing. Luckily I now have a smart phone (yay the future!) so I can at least browse the internet and keep in touch with people. I can't sketch because my hands are too achy to reliably hold a pencil. The mere act of taking a shower exhausts me. I'm alright laying in bed or on the sofa. I've basically become dependent on Netflix and reading to cure my boredom.

I've missed my first day of class because of it, something I hoped not to do until actual labor, but oh well. I'm not sure where my ASL2 professor stands on the issue, as he's yet to get back to me, but my ECE instructor has been very understanding and I'll be able to complete her coursework from home if I need to.

Granted every second of pain is worth it. I am creating a human being. It's just an overwhelming experience, sometimes. I'm not accustomed to having to lie down and take it easy. That's a foreign concept. I'm used to just go-go-go.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Disclaimer & PSA To Social Media Moms

As I prepare to join Club Motherhood I just wanted to take a moment to reassure you all of something: I won't smother you in baby photos and updates constantly.

There's been a recent increase in such topics lately but that's more because I went from having four months to share the ups and downs of pregnancy with you to one month, so if I intend to share anything at all, it kind of has to be condensed.

This is something a lot of new mothers tend to do once their child is born, go into overload mode sharing anything and everything about baby and rarely if ever anything about themselves. As if their individuality as a human being no longer matters. I'm fully aware that once you've reproduced your entire outlook on life changes drastically. That tiny person will always, always come first in every little thing you do. That said, you as a woman, are still important. What you have to say is still relevant.

Friends and family all still want to know how your day was. They still want to know your opinion on things. Ten thousand updates about nothing but how the baby is sleeping right now, or how you fed the baby an hour ago do not tell them anything that isn't already assumed. They know your baby eats and sleeps. What are you up to in those welcome moments that you've found time to spare for yourself? Now sure, if baby is doing something particularly interesting, by all means share the hell out of it. People will be stoked. Just don't lose sight of yourself in the process.

It may at times feel like you've nothing interesting to write about, especially at first, since your world shrinks considerably in the months following delivery -- but trust me, there's something you have to say about yourself that we'll all be glad to hear.

Originally this blog was going to be about something else entirely (college) which I suppose I'll just get around to writing later, since this topic's already taken precedence. The disclaimer was only supposed to be a sentence or so, but then I felt obligated to follow it up with a public service announcement, because we all have "those friends" who suddenly never say anything that isn't baby-related.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Unspoken Pregnancy Symptoms

I'm probably not alone in this. There are a lot of whacky changes that take place during pregnancy that produce a whole range of symptoms. Some of which you've undoubtedly heard about, such as:
  • breast tenderness
  • swollen ankles or feet
  • back pain
  • rashes
  • morning sickness
  • frequent urination
  • constipation
  • exhaustion
  • skin discoloration
  • cravings

Those are what you can pretty much expect anyone you've ever known who has had a baby (or their significant other) to tell you about. They're like, the staple of pregnancy for almost everyone, I guess. While I experienced a few of those, notably having to pee once an hour every hour, I skipped over most of them. No morning sickness, no constipation, no rashes, no change in my skin, very little tenderness, hardly any cravings, no foot swelling, etc., etc. Lucky me, I am told!

Instead, however, what I've experienced mostly is the following:
  • groin pain
  • swelling of the hands
  • headache
  • heartburn
  • hot flashes
  • excessive hunger
  • rib pain
  • food avoidance
  • insomnia

No one has ever mentioned any of those things to me as pregnancy symptoms, with the exception of late third trimester heartburn. I'm on prescription strength Prilosec due to a preexisting medical condition (cleared by my OBGYN) and cannot fathom a woman going through pregnancy without it. Even with the Prilosec I experience extreme heartburn (if I lay down without care, there's stomach acid in my throat) daily and Tums have become a staple of my pregnancy diet. A side note there, who decided citrus was the best flavor to make an antacid? Citrus is the last thing you want to consume when you've got heartburn! I know it isn't actual citrus, but still. Totally unappealing.

Excessive hunger and food avoidance seem contradictory, but they're really not. I am hungry all of the time. I do not get many cravings, I'm just always hungry. I can eat a bowl of oatmeal with a glass of orange juice and two pieces of multigrain toast with butter and jam and still be hungry enough for eggs and potatoes afterward. I don't (usually) eat two full meals back-to-back, but I could! It's not a nutrient requirement thing either. I take several varieties of supplements per day and have had my blood checked -- there's no deficiency present. I just want to eat like a fat kid.

Meanwhile the food avoidance is more like, certain foods just completely disinterest me or seem repulsive now. I haven't eaten a tamale in months and generally I really like tamales. It's just every time they are brought up as a food option, I'm like, "Ugh, no thanks." I have absolutely no desire for them anymore, even when I'm really, really hungry. I'm not a picky eater normally. I am willing to try anything once, sometimes even more than once just to be sure. So this is strange to me.

Hot flashes are particularly annoying because it's summer time and already hot. We've had a heat wave out here for several weeks now (temperatures of 100 degrees or more) which certainly has not helped either. Even with the AC blasting, I'm uncomfortably hot all the time. Sometimes so much so that my only relief is to either hop in the shower or lay down all sprawled out naked fanning myself. Or a combination of both.Which might sound kind of attractive, but at nine months pregnant probably isn't so much. And I'm not saying that in a moody pregnancy low self esteem sort of way. I know I'm a foxy mama, but when you take hot and stack it with more hot and wallowing, that's just not sexy at all.

Your baby will kick the shit out of you. I know most people talk about being kicked by baby as a fantastic thing, and usually it is! It is an amazing sensation to feel and even see a tiny human live inside of you. But sometimes you will either get kicked someplace really sensitive (like an organ), or just be kicked in one place repeatedly until it's sore. This is not so great.

I don't think I'd have much rib pain if the baby didn't continuously kick them. Which, by the way, feels a lot like when you bang your funny bone. Only inside your chest, completely beyond your control. I can't blame him. He has no idea what the hell he's doing in there. My bones probably seem fascinating in his world of juicy squishiness. It's woefully uncomfortable though, and on particularly bad days can leave you quite sore afterward. Sometimes I go to bed feeling like my ribcage is on fire. Not exactly conducive to sleep.

The headaches aren't frequent, thankfully, but I included them anyway. Mostly because when you are pregnant you're not allowed to take most headache expunging medications. Advil, Aleve, Motrin, Execrin, and any type of Aspirin are all taken off the table. You're allowed only very low amounts of Tylenol, which isn't typically enough to thwart a headache. At the very best it just takes the bite out of the pain. I'm the sort of person whose headaches always gradually progress into migraines if left untreated. So on the rare occasion a pregnancy headache crops up, it winds up restricting me to bed all day. My midwife says taking walks and drinking lots of water can help with pregnancy induced headaches, but in my experience this only helps a little and if the headache gets to migraine level walking will be the last thing on your to-do list. I've found laying down seems to help me more, if only because it usually changes the position of the baby and gets him off whatever he'd been sitting on that probably caused it.

Groin pain took me completely unawares and is probably the only symptom I'd wish out of existence if I had a magic lamp. For the last month or more it has felt like I've pulled my groin. I haven't, but the pain is there regardless of that fact. I cannot lift my feet more then two inches from the floor without sharp pain radiating through my pelvis. I have to sit down to put on pants and if I want to prop my feet up on the sofa, I need to pick up my legs with my hands in order to get into position without wincing. Mind boggling realization? This happens to a lot of pregnant women and will disappear after delivery. In the meanwhile, the only thing I can really do for relief is sleep with a body pillow. Which is kind of like having a third person in the bed. Or I guess, a fourth person if you include baby. I haven't gone to sleep without a body pillow tucked between my knees and under my giant belly in weeks. Because if I do the pain I described above is so intense I can't even walk without experiencing it. This is all caused by the weight and position of the baby as well as the muscle and joint loosening hormones being produced by your body and there is really nothing to be done about it medically. A long soak in the hot tub would probably help, but those are forbidden to pregnant ladies as well. Ho-hum.

Swollen fingers is a new one to me, something I woke up with for the first time yesterday. I've been waiting for my ankles and feet to swell but it just hasn't happened. Not even when I walked from one end of campus to the other and back again while hopelessly lost. So the fact that my fingers of all things have now taken to swelling is just bizarre to me. I get up in the morning and they're so puffy my grip is weak and my knuckles hurt (the ones I can feel anyway). I can only imagine how much worse this would be if I didn't have peripheral neuropathy. I find it a little funny that my preexisting medical conditions have thus far all been boons to my pregnancy experience.

Insomnia, for me as a narcoleptic, is just surreal. I've experienced it before, on rare occasions, but nothing so frequent as this. Sometimes I'll just lay awake in the dead of night, totally exhausted but unable to actually sleep. I imagine it's some primal motherly instinct to prevent my babies from being eaten by predators or something, but it's really annoying. There are no leopards in my house. We reside in a nice neighborhood, so there probably aren't even any burglars anywhere nearby. There's really no justification to be set to "can't let my baby be eaten" mode. Yet at least once a week, there we are. Four am, tired as a dog, staring at the clock, waiting for the moment when I need to fend off a pack of wolves with nothing but my hands and teeth.

And all of this? Completely normal! Just seldom mentioned by anyone, including doctors, until you yourself bring it up. Why? I have no idea. I certainly would've appreciated a heads up about feeling like I've been kicked in the snatch.

Don't let any of this deter you though. I know it might sound like a lot of complaining, but if you want to bring another human into the world -- it is absolutely worth it.

P.S. Adema is neat. I can leave hand prints on my skin, or draw pictures with pressure.

P.P.S. Someone just pointed out that I myself forgot one: leaky nipples! While you do not produce milk until days after delivery, for four or more weeks prior to delivery your breasts begin to produce and at times secrete pre-milk called Colostrum. A clear (sometimes cloudy) nutrient rich substance that will keep baby nourished until your actual milk comes in. It's usually only a small amount (a few drops worth), unlike actual lactation, but can be more at times. So you should invest in nursing pads ahead of time, just in case! It may be tempting, but you should avoid expressing before delivery as doing so may cause uterus contractions as well as leave less nutrients in the pre-milk for baby when he or she arrives. Expressing won't make you leak any less, anyway. So there's no point.

P.P.P.S. I've been told due to Ph changes you should avoid colored panties, mostly because you might find that you bleach them!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Clock Radio

What is it about happy songs that makes them so disturbing to wake up to in the morning? Maybe I'm a weirdo, but I'm more comfortable waking up to Mushroomhead than I am waking up to The Beatles, even though under normal circumstances I like both bands. When I awoke this morning, R.E.M.'s Shiny Happy People was on. I rolled over and glared in the general direction of the clock radio.

"Shiny happy people holding haaaaaaands!"
"Shiny happy people--"

It certainly doesn't help that our clock radio is set to both blare music at you first thing in the morning and buzz obnoxiously. Or that the reception on it is so poor that it generally picks up two or three songs from different stations simultaneously. So it's really just buzzing and NOISE. Which you would think would surely wake a person up for good, but no, not really. I get up and hit snooze at least five or six times. Every day.

Except today. That one song came through with crystal clarity and it alone was quite enough to make certain I'd not be falling back asleep. I tried, mind you. However ultimately I just laid there wondering why anyone would play that so early in the morning until the alarm went off again. Then I got up.

It was like in Groundhog Day when Bill Murray keeps waking up to Cher's I Got You Babe. You just have to make it stop. You can't turn it off fast enough. Even once it's gone you're left in a general state of, "Why did that just happen to me?" The sanctity of your morning has just been violated and there's really no fixing it. That song will be in the back of your mind for the remainder of the day.

There's no escape.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Comic Con, Cats, And Toast

I'm one of the rare few that can say, "I've never had a nightmare." I have, however, had bad dreams. Not in any sort of scary way, mostly in the aggravating way. Dreams where I actually wake up momentarily annoyed or angry. This does not happen very often, just on occasion.

It helps that I'm a lucid dreamer, so when things are going awry in dreamland, I simply say to myself, "I'm not dealing with this bullcrap," and wake myself up. But it's still obnoxious at times to have a bad dream, especially when you're not having a great deal of success sleeping in the first place. Waking up to end the annoyance means laying there for who knows how long to fall asleep again.

Take the other night, for example. Normally it takes me about three minutes to fall asleep. Hurray narcolepsy! I sleep straight on through until morning like a gd champ. Sometimes even longer if I'm not woken up by an outside source (Neelix, Aaron, alarm clock). On this night, for whatever reason, me and sleep were like pickles and whipped cream -- we just didn't go together very well. It took me more than an hour to finally fall asleep and then once I had, I was awake again just about once an hour, every hour all night.

It's not like I was just waking up out of the blue. No, it was just a bunch of little things that I'd normally either sleep through or recover from easily. Such as baby moving around like a hyperactive Olympian, having to pee, cat on my face, etc. Taking fifteen or more minutes every disturbance to fall back asleep. So when the bad dream happened, I tried really hard to just suffer through it.

Just what constitutes a bad dream? Comic con. I've never been to a convention before, so I was super stoked to be there with all my rad friends. Unfortunately, I was far too pregnant to keep up with them as they walked, so I fell behind until eventually I was wandering the convention floor all alone. This was the initial source of my discontent in the dream. Then, I had to talk to and deal with thousands of strangers (read: fan boys), making the aggravation expand exponentially.

I'm not sure which bothered me the most... the spoiled first experience at a con, being ditched by my friends, or having to talk to all those frothing fan boys, but the three combined served well to absolutely spoil my mood.

Eventually it got to the point where I had no choice but to wake myself up, because it was just too annoying. I didn't account for what time it was back in reality though, so I had no way of knowing that my difficulties were only going to get worse. Transforming my dream aggravation to real aggravation.

By then it was almost time to feed the cats, or more aptly, the cats thought it was almost time to feed them. They eat on a schedule, 8:00AM and 8:00PM. Otherwise Neelix will eat himself to death like a goldfish. For some reason, in the mornings especially, Neelix loses all concept of time and starts begging for food at 6:00AM. Typically I can roll over and ignore him long enough that he'll give up. Not the case this time, I wasn't asleep enough to ignore being poked in the face 1000x times by his giant paw. So I basically existed in a twilight state, being woken any time I neared actual sleep by pestering cats for two hours until it was actually time for them to eat.

Then, I got up to feed them and laid back down hoping to sneak in at least another hour or two before everyone else in the world was awake. Only by this point baby was convinced it was work-out time again, since I'd basically been up for two hours, and I couldn't fall asleep because he wouldn't hold still long enough for me to get comfy. Baby moving is always cool, even when it's uncomfortable, but it was goodbye to sleep for certain.

I wound up just getting out of bed and begrudgingly eating toast. Fortunately I wound up catching a nap at like 11:00AM.

Friday, August 10, 2012

There Is A Ninja Inside of Me II

Three weeks.
As you heard in the last installment of Ninja Baby 2012, we went from "maybe baby" to "5 months along" in a week, according to my primary care physician. Okay, halfway through, that's still plenty of time for preparation. Then from "five months along" to "more like seven months along" the week after that, according to our midwife. Alright, a little less time to prepare than we'd like, but we'll manage. And then from "seven months along" to "you're due next month" a week or so after that, according to the ultrasound technician. Holy crap.

I'm like a turtle on its back!

With gestation like that, I might be an alien of some kind. Not that that would make me any weirder, really.

So obviously, we've had our first ultrasound now, which was super amazing. Getting to see the baby for the first time, moving around and stuff. Really cool. Of course, being my offspring, it rolled over as soon as the technician started the ultrasound, making the woman's job more difficult for her. Not that I minded, since it also meant the whole process would take longer, letting Aaron and I see our baby longer! The baby was very active on film, making faces, kicking me, and then pulling his foot up to his face to use like a pillow.

We also found out what we'd be having! Are you ready? Just in case you're not, I'll put a picture here of the baby making adorable kissy faces. If you'd rather be surprised in September, then stop reading here (and probably avoid looking at our baby registry, it's got spoilers).


Are you still here?


Then that must mean you really want to know whether we are having a boy or a girl.

Then know you shall:

At the end of September, Aaron and I will be welcoming a baby boy into the world!

We met with the midwife again on the 8th, but she didn't have all of the results back yet so we won't meet with the actual MD until the 22nd. I really like our midwife though, she'd very warm and friendly. My bloodwork and such came back good. No gestational diabetes or anything, however I was a little anemic so they've added additional iron supplements to my prenatal vitamins. We've another ultrasound scheduled for the 15th!

Baby shower (for local friends and family) forthcoming, online registry (for those of you too far away) to come soon. I want to say thanks for all the support and assistance you guys have reached out with. Finding out you are pregnant and basically due any time is a lot to take in!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

There Is A Ninja In Me

Back in May Aaron and I noticed that, due to eating poorly and lack of exercise, we were putting on a little weight. Nothing out of control mind you, just a few pounds. It's not like we were eating nothing but deep-fried butter and laying on the sofa all day. We resolved to pick our exercise routines back up.

In June we noticed that my weight gain was not normal... Aaron could now see the end of my belly button (which had always been a bottomless void before) and my abdomen was firm, not soft like fatty tissue. My period was also a day late, not unusual but strange enough in combination with those other two things for us to venture out for a home pregnancy test. Just in case.

I had absolutely no signs or symptoms of a pregnancy and had been taking birth control religiously for years. I immediately suspected something else was amiss. Like a cyst, a tumor, or something gross like worms. So imagine our surprise when three minutes had passed and the test seemed kinda-sorta positive! Now we were baffled, excited, and understandably a little nervous. It wasn't a bad time for a baby, it was simply unexpected.

Way to be conclusive there, middle line.

I called the doctor to set up an appointment to confirm but couldn't get in until the following week, so we went ahead to L.A. for our planned trip to visit family. During that week I went from "maybe baby bump" to "almost assuredly pregnant." So much so we had to take a trip to the mall to buy me new clothes because my extra small shirts which normally left plenty of room were now definitely several sizes too small for me. By the time we got home, the message I had left for my doctor was going to seem absurd!

We would have to explain to her, that all of this change had seriously happened in seven days. Which was something she found pretty amusing. She felt around, listened for the baby's heartbeat with her stethoscope, and then did another test just to confirm. It was now officially official: I am pregnant. Up until that day we assumed I was two months along, maybe three, since I had been having normal periods up until June, which had been abnormally light. However the doctor suspected I may be as many as five months along. What? I'm such a freak of nature. She prescribed a prenatal vitamin to add to my already existing vitamin cocktail and had us set up an appointment with an OBGYN in a week's time.

Of course her staff was awful and I had to call my insurance to arrange this myself, otherwise I'd probably still be waiting for approval... but I digress on that.

I was scheduled to meet with a midwife who, after taking my extensive medical history, decided I should consult with the actual MD instead. Since she, "deals with normal low risk pregnancies" and I was anything but. She at least got us started though, doing another physical exam which concluded I may be even further along than my original doctor estimated. As many as seven months! Seven months and not a single instance of hormonal moodiness or morning sickness. Not a single sign or symptom.

We also got to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time though, which was amazing! The midwife seemed to think everything sounded and felt good, so she had us set up an appointment with the MD in two week's time. We'll be seeing him on the 8th of August. I can only imagine how huge I'll be by then, because in the week since I saw my primary care physician to the day I saw the midwife I have doubled in size!

This happened in a single week!

In the meanwhile I'm being ruled by a tiny person who controls me from the inside like a Gundam/mech/Gear (pick your nerdiness), left curious as to whether this person might be a boy or a girl. Naps, orange juice intake, and what I eat are all up to it. And let me tell you, this baby is kicking and moving around like a champ. When it's time for orange juice -- if I don't get up quickly enough, sometimes I think the baby might walk me there itself. I don't know where this ninja has been hiding for seven months, but it's definitely here now!

Not much time to prepare, but we're pretty thrilled!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hiatal Insomnia

Anyone who's been reading this blog long enough knows that, amongst other things, I suffer from a Hiatal Hernia. Essentially my stomach moves up and down through my diaphragm like a spry Olympic gymnast competing for the gold. Or something. Which is, extremely uncomfortable. It doesn't move all of the time, just sometimes, but the distribution is never quite right. There's always some stomach resting above the diaphragm where it should not be. Like so:

Grey's gd Anatomy right there.

Even when my stomach is holding still, I still experience discomfort in the form of nagging nausea and heart burn. I'm currently on medication to help diminish these symptoms, but one day they'll eventually have to fix it surgically. The worst part about all of this though, as someone who loves food, is that sometimes my stomach is so strangely divided that I can simultaneously feel totally full after two bites AND yet be starving -- as I wait for food from my "top stomach" to fall into my "bottom stomach." 

That's not really what this blog is about though. Now that you're all sufficiently aware of what a Hiatal Hernia is, I can continue.

Usually when my stomach does move, it's maybe once during a 24 hour time period and then it chills out. For some reason last night it kept sliding up and down constantly. I wasn't even doing anything strenuous. I was merely laying in bed trying to sleep. It moved so much that it actually started producing sounds like a bad DJ. Sounds that Aaron could hear beside me. I guess the best way to describe them would be... someone quietly rubbing an under-inflated balloon. Or maybe a drunken underwater cricket.

Repeat this sequence forever.

Up until that point it was just misery because, as I said, when my stomach decides to change position inside of my body -- that hurts. However once it started squeaking at me, I really couldn't help but find it kind of funny. Much to my dismay this went on practically all night, alternating between ow and giggling, so I didn't get much sleep. I'm pretty sure it continued even after I finally managed to doze off. It went on for so long that my stomach is sore today. Which is just... all kinds of special.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Follow Me!

Aaron brought something to my attention a while ago and I've been meaning to write this since then. I've just been going through a lot and haven't had the chance or drive to really sit down and type it in any sort of coherent manner that isn't just me going, "AHMERGERD DO THIS PL0X!" So this is me attempting to not do that. Though be forewarned: I've had incurable writers/artists block for over a month now, so I could very well fail in that.


What he brought to my attention was that while I have tons of unique viewers each month, most of you do not follow my blog publicly even though you read everything I write and check back frequently. You also do not make a habit of commenting on the content publicly, you email me or contact me privately through some other means to agree/disagree/share stories. I really appreciate your support, even if it's private, don't doubt that for a moment! However, this makes me look like some sort of crazy person when I write a new blog and make statements such as, "So you guys have wanted this for a while, here it is..." Like maybe I've got a few imaginary friends, or a couple extra personalities.

So basically what I'd like, just so I don't wind up trying to write blogs in a straight jacket, is for you guys to take a few seconds of your time to click the little Follow button. And when you feel compelled to comment on the things I write, do so here rather than elsewhere. I believe I have it set so that you can comment on everything even without a Google account (so long as you can prove you're a human being and not Spamtron 9000).

You don't have to. Nothing will change if you don't. I'll continue to write nonsense about my life, review video games, draw ridiculous pictures, and talk about delicious food. I won't hate you and leave forever or anything. I understand some of your are web-shy. It'd just be nice to not look like someone who might lick pennies and talk to herself on the internet.

I feel like I should draw a picture for this, but I have no idea what.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gummi Bear Juice

I was going to write a blog about Aloe Vera juice, but you know what? This is all that needs to be said:

I don't know why this photo looks like I took it in the shower.

It tastes like someone threw a bucket of Gummi Bears into their Jack LaLanne Power Juicer. Delicious!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Booka's Tale

Talking with Booka.
In the late spring of 2001 my mother and I were driving home from Kent. At the main (nonresidential) intersection of the tiny city we live in we encountered a litter of puppies running for their lives across five lanes of busy traffic. No one was stopping for them. No one was even bothering to slow down. Like where ever they needed to be was more important than what was going on right in front of them.

My mom and I stopped, holding up traffic behind us, and corralled the puppies into the back seat of her car. Our living arrangements were tight at the time and we didn't have time or space to actively raise a litter of puppies. In our modest three bedroom abode lived four people and three cats already. We didn't have a fenced in yard. The means to provide for them all just wasn't there.

Unsure of what to do, but not wanting to condemn them to the pound, we drove to a nearby family-run pet store to tell the owner of our dilemma. En route, one of the puppies wiggled her way from the back seat into my lap where she promptly laid down and hid her face in the palm of my hand. The puppies were unharmed, but terrified. Someone had not only abandoned them, but had probably thrown them from a moving vehicle.

Arms full of puppies, we entered the local pet store. The owner was very understanding of the situation and eager to help. He agreed to keep the puppies on site, see they were taken care of and house broken, and sell them to people in the market for a family dog once they were old enough and had been to a vet. It was more than we could've hoped for, really. He could have just as easily turned us away. These weren't purebred champion stock dogs or anything he could make good money off of selling. They were quite obviously just mutts.

I'd only ever had one dog in my life, truly. A German Shepherd I had grown up with as a baby and lost tragically around the age of thirteen to bone cancer. Her loss was still fresh in our minds even so many years later and we were not interested in 'replacing' her. Yet here I was, holding this last puppy, unwilling to put her down. My mother turned to look at me like maybe I'd lost a little bit of my mind, but still I refused to put this puppy down. In the short drive over, with her face nuzzled into my palm I had absolutely fallen in love. Putting her down to a fate unknown would break my heart. So I began pleading.

My mother was more adamant about not being ready for another dog than I would have liked, and though I understood completely, I could not give up. I promised to take care of her, all by myself if I had to. It was only a couple of years until I'd be 18, and I swore to her that as soon as I moved out I'd take her with me. I'd do chores, homework, whatever. I swore all kinds of things. Finally, not wholly convinced but willing to give it a shot, my mom relented and we drove for home with a puppy in my lap.

She was a cute thing, half Golden Retriever and Half German Shepherd by the look of her, with long, soft black and brown fur. Normally it takes some time to name a new pet. You need to get to know them a little. But I could think of only one name for her, due to her little brown face and fuzzy body: Booka. No one could argue with me about this. Upon sight of her, they immediately understood and accepted as fact that this animal's name was Booka. As if it had always been so.

Booka. And that was that.
Everything was going splendidly until we walked into the house and my mother's husband-to-be saw what I had in my arms. "NO!" he boomed, "Not in this house!" But by this point, we had no where else to take her, so we managed to argue with reason she should be allowed to stay at least until we could find her a new home. I was devastated and angry. Who the hell was this guy, this newcomer, to tell us what could and couldn't stay in our house? And why were we listening?

He was angry and mostly without reason, threatening that he would throw her out the second he heard any noise from her whatsoever. The cats had reacted better to the dog's presence than he had. So I sat up, diligently, all night with this puppy in my bedroom to prevent her from making any noise. I fed her promptly, kept her entertained until sleepy, then watched over her as she slept. Just in case. The moment she woke I snuck her outside to go to the bathroom, so she wouldn't have to whine to tell me. This went on for days. I was thoroughly exhausted. The tiny dog sleeping in my lap, on my bed reminded me what I was fighting for and I stuck it out.

My mother's husband-to-be put ads in the newspaper to be rid of Booka. There was mild interest but ultimately only one person came to see her. We'd spoken to him briefly over the phone about it, at least ensuring that she would be going to a mature home where she would not immediately be carted off to the pound for growing to a size unexpected or barking at rabbits.

I was very upset the day the guy came for her, but I'd been assured it was for the best and so I was doing my best to be understanding. I was with her in my room, as usual, when the man arrived. He was speaking with my mother and her husband-to-be when I came out to meet him. All seemed to be going well until the man mentioned wanting to modify the dog. Have her ears clipped and the like. I was over joyed. This, for everyone, was a deal breaker. The man was sent away empty-handed.

My mother's husband-to-be gave up trying to find her a new home. Booka was staying. I couldn't have been happier. I saved up money to have her taken to the vet. She needed her shots and to be spayed. I saved up for those too. I chipped in for dog food. I walked her since we didn't have a yard. She was my responsibility. I met her needs to the best of my teenage ability.

At no time did I expect her, as a puppy, to repay my effort. She was happy and healthy and that was good enough for me. Yet one night, she was presented that opportunity. It was shortly after September 11th, very late in the night. I had just come home from a concert and decided to take Booka out since I had woken her up coming home.

While outside, I heard a ruckus from our shed. My brother had a lot of questionable friends, so I expected to find one of them trying to break in for a place to sleep. It had happened before. I looped Booka's leash over the hand rail at the bottom of the stairs and went to investigate. What I found however was a crazy guy with a knife at my ribs (because honestly if you're willing to stab another human being you're insane). I was crippled with fear, certain that this guy was about to stab me in my own yard and no one would even know what had happened until morning.

Then Booka, impatient and curious as puppies are, started protesting her tether. The sound made the guy think twice, buying me precious time to not immediately get stabbed. He probably mistook her noise as someone coming. This was Ohio, most people in Ohio have guns. He backed away, though the knife was still pointed at me and then booked it when headlights from my brother's car hit the end of our driveway.

I have very little doubt that the only reason I did not get stabbed is because of that little dog. Because in those few minutes before my brother arrived, there was nothing else to stop him. As if I needed a reason to love this animal any more. We were inseparable after that. If I was outside, Booka was with me. If I was inside, Booka was right beside me.

We moved out of that house shortly after that incident, to a place with a nice big, forested yard. Booka loved it. In the morning we'd get up really early to watch the birds and the deer parade through, undoubtedly while eating pancakes.

A shared love of syrup.
After a time, my mother and her husband-to-be got a second dog, from the Animal Protective League. An Aussie/German Shepherd mix we named Ruby due to her bright pink nose. She and Booka became fast friends. Ruby was, for want of another word, neurotic. Probably due to whatever circumstance she had been in prior to the animal shelter. Booka kept her calm. Such a part of the family did she become that when my mother and her husband-to-be finally got married, Booka was a bride's maid. Which she showed her appreciation for by following my mom around sitting on the train of her expensive wedding dress.

When it came time for me to actually move out, my mother didn't want me to take Booka with me. Understandably, though I didn't like it. Removing her from the household would devastate Ruby, who could not remember a time before having Booka as a constant. Regrettably, when I moved out, I left her behind. I did not move far however, and would visit every weekend, making both Booka and my childhood cat Odin's week.

Every Sunday afternoon, without fail, the two of them would move to my mother's large picture window at the front of her house and wait for me to arrive. No matter what. Over the years she got a little slower with age and gray hairs started to crop up along her face, but she would always be a puppy in my heart. I could see her no other way.

Eventually I moved out of state and could not visit but a couple times per year. During that time I think I missed my dog and my cat more than anything else from Ohio (family aside). When making my decision to finally move back home again, she was a deciding factor. When I met the love of my life and was faced with moving out of state again, she remained a deciding factor. I wanted more than anything to take her with me, but could not. I did not have the space or the means to get a dog that size (she had grown quite large!) 3000 miles, and her reason for not going with me the first time was still in effect. Ruby needed her. The guilt of removing her from her 'pack' and the yard she loved so very much wasn't something I could bear selfishly.

So I made due with what I could. Visiting when able and a surplus of photographs sent by my mother to update me about her well-being. Last November I nearly flew back East when I was notified that someone had shot Booka while she was out sitting in the yard.

Who does something like this?
My mother insists it must have been an accident, as people are fond of hunting in Ohio. But I fail to see how a hunter could have possibly mistaken a dog her size and coloration as anything but in the middle of autumn where the ground is clear and there are no leaves on the trees to obstruct your view. While furthermore she was in someone's nice open yard midday. Perhaps I'm just something of a pessimist when it comes to people, but I'm confident some jerk just decided to shoot whatever animals they could find nearby and trusting, relaxed Booka was a perfect target.

Thankfully it was not a mortal wound. The bullet had gone in through her flank and stopped just short of her spine. Recovery was slow, both physically and emotionally. This big fluffy dog that never knew fear beyond that of thunderstorms, was now scared of the unknown. She did recover though and fully. Police never found out who shot her or why.

I was so close to just blowing through my savings to have Booka brought to me. To a place where I could keep her safe. It was an illogical impulse, but one I had none-the-less. There was nothing anyone could have done to spare her that bullet, aside from predict the future and jump in front of it first.

Everything returned to normal and was great again until April 15th, this year. My birthday. On April 16th I received a voicemail from my mother sounding concerned telling me to call her.  She had waited to call until after my celebrations, which should have spoken volumes as to the severity of her call. Though it's something I am grateful for.

My mother's voice has a typical Irish-mom sort of ring to it where she often sounds far more serious than she needs to, so I kind of thought maybe I was over reacting when I got that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Then I called her and realized quickly it was legit. I could hear the sorrow in her voice in her hello and knew whatever she was about to tell me was going to break my heart. Booka had suffered a severe stroke and was too far gone by the time they'd gotten her to the emergency vet to be saved. She had died on my birthday.

The stubborn Irish part of me refused to acknowledge my grief over the phone. My mother was upset and it was my duty as her daughter to be strong for her. So I was. Immediately afterward though I basically hung up and shriveled up on the bed in a mess of weepy tears. This lasted all night. So complete was my sadness that it had the ability to make other people sad just by proximity. I am still sad. There are days where I can be nothing but, despite best efforts to be productive.

I'm sure it will pass, as all things do. Time makes it easier. In the meanwhile I just need to distract myself and work around it. This entry is in memory of Booka, who was a good dog. No, a great dog.