Friday, November 20, 2009

The Best Birthday Present Ever

Today, my Annie turns six. And while six years can be a long time--- and mean living in 3 different houses and attending 4 different schools- it feels like only yesterday that they placed her in my arms for the very first time. I was so lucky to have my friend Theresa, the best doula in the whole wide world, there for Annie's birth. Admittedly, I was a little distracted on the day Annie was born, and had no idea Theresa was keeping notes of all of the flurry of activity until she read this letter to us on Annie's first birthday. It makes me cry every single time.

November 20, 2003

As your Mom touched the top of your head while you were being born, the room exploded with emotion. Your Mom began - "is that my baby girl? Oh, our baby girl is here! She is here!" She repeated this over and over as you were placed on her tummy. She exclaimed how beautiful you were and how much you looked like your Daddy. As you started to cry she instantly tried to calm you - "hush, hush - I know it has been a scary day". She wished you a happy birthday and said - "we have our little family". Although your Dad was not as vocal as your Mom, he was just as emotional. They were both overjoyed as they met you for the very first time.

Annie - I was asked to be present at your birth to provide support to your Mom and Dad. It was an honor to witness such a wonderful moment. I was very moved by the way your parents received you. It was a welcome like no other I have seen. I tried to express the emotion that filled the room in my first paragraph, but my words are not able to capture the amount of excitement and love that filled the tiny delivery room. Aside from your actual birth - I recorded the events that lead up to that time. The following is the chain of events as I knew them. I hope you enjoy this story and hold it as a special memory for ever and ever.

Friday November 7th, your parents and I met for lunch to discuss their wishes about your birth and what role I would take. We talked a lot about the labor process. Your mother wanted to labor at home during early labor, but your father was sure he would take your mom to the hospital as soon as there was any sign of labor. I have to say - all the knowledge your Dad has about medicine - flew out the window when it came to your birth. I reassured both of your parents that home was the best place for early labor and that your Mom would know when it was time for her to go to the hospital. Overall, the conversation was full of excitement as we were all anxiously awaiting your arrival.

Sunday November 16th, your Mom called me at noon and said that she was experiencing contractions. Both your Mom and Dad were very excited that that day would be the day they got to meet you. They were going to enjoy a walk together - maybe for the last time before having their daughter in tow. At 2pm I checked-in with your Mom and she was disappointed that the contractions had stopped.

Tuesday November 18, your Mom emailed me that she had had a doctors appointment and her cervix had not changed at all. She was disappointed as it looked liked it could be a week or so before your birth.

Thursday November 20th, your Mom phoned me at 4 am and said she had been up since 1 am with contractions. Both she and your Dad were unsure if this would turn into your birthday or not. We joked that if it were to be your birthday - you were a punctual kid because the 20th was your due date. I asked your Dad to record the contractions for the next hour and call me back. At about 5:30 am I checked in again and the contractions were 5 to 12 minutes apart and lasting about 30 seconds. Your Mom seemed to be coping fine and both of your parents were thinking they would rest at home for awhile longer. I called again a little after 8 am and your parents were on the way to a bagel shop to get some breakfast. You must know that your house was under construction and there was no kitchen - that would be a whole different story. Anyway - your parents were still unsure if this indeed was going to be your birthday. I told them I would be very surprised if the contractions stopped at this point. I told them to call me as soon as they needed me. Your parents tell me that after breakfast they went to a park to walk around. When they arrived to the park your Mom tried to get out of the car and knew she was not going to be able to do the walk. They decided it was time to go to the hospital. They got to the hospital about 9:30ish. Your Mom was checked and found to have contracted 4 cm, she was about 50% effaced and her water bag had ruptured. She was in great spirits and was happy to have gotten so far before arriving to the hospital. Your Mom's goal was to get to 4-5 cm before having an epidural - she made it! Yeah Mom!!

I arrived to the hospital at about 10 am. To find your parents making a flurry of phone calls to let everyone know you were on your way. Now they knew this would be your birthday and they were very excited. Soon it was time for the epidural and your Mom was concerned about the procedure, but was very brave. She continued to cope with the contractions using her relaxation breathing. At 10:40 the attending anesthesiologist provided your Mom with the epidural and then she was able to rest. She called your grandma, but could not reach her as she and your grandfather were driving back from Arizona after having met your cousin John. At 11:30 am your Mom was checked again and was 5cm and 70% effaced. She was progressing well, but we still had some time. Your Dad ran out to get some lunch, your Mom and I listened to music and chatted. At 2 pm, your mother had reached 6 cm and was 100% effaced. At 2:40 pm your Mom's friend Nicola visited. Your Mom and she chatted for awhile, but soon your Mom started feeling a lot of pressure and needed to start focusing on her contractions again. At about 3 pm the nurse had begun trying to give your Mom pitocin, and at the same time the epidural began to loose its effect. The anesthesiologist was called to provide more pain medication, but the pain continued essentially until your birth.

At 3:30pm your Mom had reached 7 cm and was 0/+1 station. At 4:00 your Mom really began to feel pressure. The doctor seemed to hesitate to re-check your Mom, because it had only been a half an hour, but at 4:15 he did and found she was complete! Things started moving very quickly at that time. Your mom was really feeling pressure and had an urgent need to begin pushing. I did my best to talk her out of pushing, but she was getting vary anxious and uncomfortable. When the doctors were ready - your Mom was more than ready - she exclaimed, let's get this done! The doctors explained exactly what they needed for her to do and she listened intently and pushed exactly as they had said. Your Dad was up next to your Mom's ear - counting for her and telling her what a good job she was doing. Between several contractions your parents told each other how much they loved each other. Your Mom continued to work with ever contraction and very soon you could see the top of your head. Your Mom asked if your hair was black and when the Doctor said yes - she said she knew it. I knew your Dad was not sure about watching your actual birth, but when you were nearly here, I leaned over to him and told him it was time to look.

As he peered over your Mom, he could see the very top of your head. Within the next few seconds the room exploded with emotion. One of the doctors grabbed your mom's hand and put it on your head as you were coming out. Your Mom instantly began to talk to you. She said is that my baby girl? Oh, our baby girl is here! She repeated it over and over as you were placed on her tummy. She exclaimed how beautiful you were, how much you looked like your daddy. She began to calm you - "hush, hush - I know it has been a scary day". She wished you a happy birthday and said - we have our little family. Your Mom was so vocal and emotional, your Dad was overjoyed and taking it all in.

You were born at 4:41 pm, weighed 8 pounds 10 ounces and were 20.08 inches long.

At about 5:30 pm your mom tried to nurse for the first time. Soon after that many of your Dad's coworkers came by to visit. Again the room filled with excitement. Your Nana and Tad arrived. Your grandmother held you for the first time and her eyes began to well, she too exclaimed how much you looked like your Dad. Within the next hour you and your Mom were transferred to another room where your other grandparents had just arrived. They too were thrilled to meet you and gave you a special Raggedy Anne doll as a welcoming gift.

Annie - Thank you for the honor of sharing your first moments of life with me. It is a day that I will always hold as a special memory.

I wish for you to always have the love and excitement that filled your delivery room in your heart and in your life.

Love, Theresa

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Manly Men

Whenever someone finds out what my husband does, inevitably, I usually get a few wiggled eyebrows and a wink and a "aren't you lucky!" And I am. I love my husband. But his job? It doesn't immediately turn him into a Chippendales dancer. Now, admittedly, the first time I visited him at work (as a recent graduate from med school- on his 1st day as a surgical resident), I thought the blue scrubs and white coat were cute. Then, a week later, he came home covered in someone else's poo (people! there's a reason you're not supposed to eat for 12 hours before surgery!) and I suddenly changed my mind.

You know what job I find attractive? General contractor. Handyman. Anybody that knows how to fix things. Today, my handyman stopped by the house. He hasn't been here in six months. In the span of an hour and a half, he did the following:

1. Fixed a drawer that was jammed in the garage. This drawer houses all of my tools, batteries, flashlights etc. The drawer hasn't been able to open for 2 months.
2. The doorknob in the garage that kept falling off every time I'd go to take the trash out.
3. He put address numbers on the house. So now the fedex guy can stop taking antidepressants.
4. He unjammed the pocket door in my bedroom. (I didn't even know it was jammed)
5. My daughter's bedframe kept coming apart- he screwed it all back together.
6. He hung a Roman shade in the master bath so my husband can stop his 5am peepshow.
7. He hung a shade in my daughter's bedroom that I'm hoping will entice her to stay in her own bed. (yeah right).
8. He hung 2 shelves. 2 shelves that have been propped against the wall since we moved in. One YEAR ago.
9. He hung a 100 lb mirror that was also propped up on my dresser and that every night, I prayed wouldn't topple over and kill me during an earthquake.

Seriously, this stuff makes me happy. Giddy. It makes me look at my handyman, in all of his 61 year old, handlebar moustached glory, and say "What a man." God bless the guys that know how to fix things. And the other guys that know how to fix the guys that fix things when something goes wrong. Even if they do get pooed upon from time to time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stocking Stuffers

I'm here! I'm here! My life has just been a whirlwind of random activities that all seem determined to bring me to my knees.

Case in point? My beloved pooch somehow got his paws on some chicken piccata. Chicken piccata and black labs don't mix. At all. He basically imploded, and I spent the greater part of one night scouring carpets, inadvertently walking through poop and cursing like a sailor. The rest of the week was dedicated to steam cleaners, a God send of a product called "Nature's Miracle" and a test in patience when he imploded on my living room carpet when it was still wet from being cleaned. Sigh.

My husband then invited his whole department over to our house for dinner. On a Friday. He works late every Friday, and even though this was supposed to be his chance to cook for his work friends, can you guess who did the work? I really love doing stuff like this, but I'm not good at winging it at the last minute. Combine that with an insanely busy week, and I was a big ball of stress. For 20 people, I decided to do a "cozy after work dinner" and did the following:

huge cheese board (dill havarti, triple cream brie, smoked gouda & stilton w/ cranberries)
Cheddar corn chowder
Butternut squash & apple soup
mango glazed ham
green salad (w/ pears and blue cheese)
dinner rolls
apple crisp w/ vanilla ice cream

I figured with a couple of different pots of soup on the stove, the fireplace going and a few open bottles of wine, it might distract them from the heavy scent of Febreeze and a mopey dog that was only eating rice and boiled chicken. My house was a complete nuclear bomb site two hours before the party, and despite three guests showing up half an hour early (that 30 minutes is when all the magic happens, folks) we had a really good time.

So good in fact, that a couple of nurses that work with my husband asked me if I'd host a holiday party. Here's a little background. 90% of the nurses that I've met are lovely, lovely people. Truly dedicated to what they do, real nurturers, and have a calling to do what they do. 10% of them (and I've met most of these in Southern Cal, go figure) are products of breast implant operations, hair extensions and "travel" to exotic locations to try stints at different hospitals. I learned a long time ago to make these girls my friends--- it's always better to admire their plastic surgery up close, than to gossip from afar.

One very attractive nurse, we'll call her Nurse A, asks me if I'll host a holiday party- a party just for girls.

"I love it!" I exclaim. "How about a cookie exchange!"
They all look at me with blank faces.
"You know, where everybody brings a different kind of cookie, and we all trade- so you go home with a platter of different kinds of cookies?" I explain, slowly realizing these girls haven't ever eaten a cookie, or a carb for that matter.

"Ummmm.... ok, " Nurse A says. Then her face lights up. "I can bring my toys!" The other girls immediately dissolve into giggles. Now it's my turn to look confused.

Apparently Nurse A has a side business of naughty toys. Her clear footwear should have been a dead give away.
Ho ho ho. No. No way.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Good Morning

This morning, all before 10 am, the following things happened:

1. I found out that two little people that I hold most dear have swine flu. I also mistakenly told my friend that rats were worse than her two anklebiters with swine flu. What I meant to say was "dude! I just have decomposed varmints! You have a little one with a 104 degree fever! And are housebound indefinitely!" In the never ending game of whose life is worse, she wins. I am so buying her a drink when I see her IN VEGAS IN TWO MONTHS! Yes, I'm excited.

2. My dog jumped in the shower with my kid this morning. After he got out the front door and ran down the neighborhood.

3. My kid dumped a whole cup of my coffee on the chair that matches the dog eaten couch. Luckily, they are not coming to shoot the cover for House Beautiful anytime soon. Or ever.

I'm starting to wonder what the afternoon has in store.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The not -so-pep Rally

I'm a homebody. I love putzing around in my pajamas, rereading old decorating magazines. Planning my next purchase. But I'm also a busy mother of two extremely active anklebiters, which means my house isn't always company ready.

My neighborhood is a mixed bag of ages. We've got some young families, but a few folks have grown kids that are long out of the house. These neighbors like to spring me with surprise attacks/visits. My doorbell will suddenly ring, and I'm in my Costco pajamas, coffee cup in hand- and I will glance over and see the breakfast dishes still in the sink, laundry in mid-folding on the dog chewed couch, recycling that hasn't been taken out. And the daily dose of Barbies, crayons, stuffed animals and other toddler crap that explodes in my house on a regular basis.

My Mom always taught me that if you could get the following things done each day, your house may not be company ready, but you won't be swallowed by mess. Not to get all flylady on you or anything, but they are:
1. Run the dishwasher before you go to bed and empty it first thing in the morning.
2. Make your bed. Your room can be a disaster but if the bed is made? It looks neat.
3. Wipe down the bathrooms.
4. Wash, dry, fold and put away one load of laundry each day.

Most days, this gets done. But, honestly? I've come up with a word that best describes my housekeeping style.
It's called "The Rally."

At five o'clock, I scurry around, yelling like a Polish washwoman, trying to undo a day's worth of mess in 60 minutes. My kids dread five o'clock. It's the witching hour when their mother morphs into a lunatic armed with Lysol wipes and empty threats. One hour later, the house looks presentable. Dinner gets started, my husband arrives home, and life is good.

Except for the day he came home early.

His eyes literally bugged out of his head, and if I remember correctly? He thought we got robbed.
The Rally. Right, wrong or indifferent, it works.

If you come home after six.