Counting Down 'til Daddy

Month: October, 2011

Birth Stories Part 4: Anne

Addison’s Birth

My due date was January 22, but I was so sure I was going to have her early.  I was wrong.  We had our appointment scheduled for 9am with our midwife, Hannah, so we got up bright and early and started getting ready to go.  I had been so uncomfortable for the past few weeks.  Sleeping was uncomfortable, sitting was uncomfortable, and standing was uncomfortable.  I felt huge and was losing patience waiting for our “big day.”  My mom and sister had been in town for the past few days and my mom was in the living room working at 8am when I walked out of the bedroom ready to leave.  As I walked out, I felt the gush and froze for a moment wondering whether my water broke or if I had just peed my pants.  Hannah had given me a swab to test and I ran upstairs grabbed the stick and rushed to the bathroom.  When I pulled down my pants I knew already that I had not wet my pants and that Addison was on her way!

I went back to my room and called Hannah to see what we should do.  Since I had not had any painful contractions yet, she suggested I still go to Roanoke for our appointment so she could monitor the baby’s heart rate and contractions.  While I stood in my closet on the phone, I heard Luke walking around looking for me.  He finally found me and by listening to what I was saying to Hannah, learned what had happened.  Once I hung up, we got in the car and started driving.  The whole ride there I was gushing water.  I was sitting on a towel that was saturated in a matter of about ten minutes.  I called Hannah again to see if we should keep going and decided it was best.  I was not thinking when we left and only brought one pair of pants with me.  They were completely soaked and I was completely uncomfortable the whole ride there!

When we got to Hannah’s office, I wrapped the towel around me and walked in.  Her office space is shared with a number of offices, an AllState office is right across from hers and the guy in the office always had his door open.  I felt pretty foolish walking up to her door in front of him with soaking wet sweat pants and  towel around my waist.  He told us she hadn’t made it in yet so we headed for the waiting room, which was locked.  I was so uncomfortable that we walked out to go to the Goodwill for new, dry pants.  Luke got my pants, then drove to the CVS for new underwear.  When we got back Hannah was there.  She hooked me up to a machine and tracked the contractions and heart rate, which all looked good.  After about forty minutes she sent us home and said she would check in after her appointments.

Once I got home, I ate a big meal of meatloaf and macaroni and cheese.  That was my last meal before Addison was born, about 11:30am.  By noon, the contractions started feeling pretty intense.  I still had payroll to do though.  I tried to do them on my own, but kept getting distracted every few minutes by another contraction.  Mom was pretty concerned so she started helping me finish up and gave Elizabeth the job of tracking the time of the contractions.  They were already about four minutes apart!  We called Hannah sometime around two and she showed up around four to check on us.  I was only a few centimeters dilated.  They left to get some dinner and told me they would be back later to check in again.

I couldn’t believe how intense my contractions were.  I thought I would ease into it, but there was no easing.  I needed to focus from early on.  By about six in the evening, I was pretty tired and in a lot of pain.  I did not feel any cramping during the contractions, just intense back pain.  It was like the back pain I would get during my periods, just worse.

Katrina came back to check on me around 7pm.  I was lying on the bed trying to get a little rest.  Luke was lying with me, but he was sleeping and it completely irritated me.  After every contraction, I would drift off into a half doze until the next contraction came.  After each one, I would turn around and look at Luke and give him the evil eye for being so relaxed and comfortable while I was in such discomfort.  I am sure it was so boring for him, and I would probably have done the same, but since it was me, I expected him to be at my EVERY beck and call!

After a few hours of lying on the bed, Katrina suggested we start walking to progress things.  I started walking up and down the steps but had to stop so often to kneel down and wait for the contraction to pass.  Katrina and Luke tried applying pressure to my lower back to relieve some of the pressure.  It did not seem to help at all.  I started alternating between the steps and walking around the living room.  I could only walk one lap around the living room before kneeling down on the pillow again to brace for the next one.  I thought I must be getting so close, but Hannah and Katrina didn’t seem to think so since Katrina had not made the call to bring her back yet.  I kept waiting for her to walk through the door because it would mean that Addison was close to arriving.

Hannah finally showed up, I have no idea what time it what, but when she checked me, I was only five centimeters dilated.  It was really discouraging to only be halfway there.  The only upside to being at five centimeters is that I could get in the birthing pool.  I was grateful to have a change of pace and a more relaxing environment.  The pool felt great, nice and warm, but did nothing to ease my contractions.  I got in the pool a little before midnight and stayed there for two hours.  Mom and Liz, who had been hanging out in the living room the whole time, went upstairs to give me more privacy.  I am not really sure when I started becoming vocal during contractions, but I know I was getting pretty loud in the pool.  Katrina was really helpful in directing my breathing and the noises to get the most benefit out of them.  It was really hard to remember to make the right sound though.  I was making a very high pitched “heeeeeh” and Katrina would remind me to make more of a lower abdominal “hhuurrrr.”  I kept thinking of my mom and sister upstairs listening to me in such discomfort.  I was afraid I was going to scare Elizabeth into never having kids!  I read that women become kind of zombie like/sleepy to help cope with the contractions and I was exactly that.  After every contraction, I would lay back against the pool wall and feel like I could completely pass out.  I think the hardest part was not knowing how long that would go on.

I remember at about 12:30am, Hannah told me that we would not go any longer than the morning and if things had not progressed, we would go to the hospital and I would get an epidural.  She said the point was not to be tortured.  I remember watching the clock after she said that, wondering if I would be able to make it eight more hours.  After twelve hours of labor, I could completely understand and empathize with any woman who chooses to have an epidural.  Had I been in a hospital, I might have agreed to one.

I don’t know if I remember the transition phase or not.  I just remember feeling like it was really hard not to push during the contractions.  They were so close together and I had to really try to control my breathing so I did not push through them.  I also started to notice some blood in the pool around this time.  It was about 1:40am and Hannah suggested I go to the bathroom and then we all go the bedroom so she could check on my progress.

Those next few minutes in the bathroom were extremely intense.  There was no possible way I could make myself go.  I have no idea how long I was in there, but it was long enough for a handful of contractions, each of which made me all but scream because of the intense need to push.  There was no way I could stop myself by that point and I was afraid because I was alone.  Of course, I wasn’t really alone since everyone else was standing outside the door listening.  After a number of minutes they suggested I leave the bathroom and make my way to the bedroom.  When Hannah checked me, I was ten centimeters and ready to push.  She was amazed and very happy by the fact that I dilated from five to ten centimeters in two hours.  Now it was time for me to be active.

Luke stood in front of me and held me up for the first part of the pushing.  We stood by the bed and I squatted and leaned into him with every contraction pushing as hard as I could and screaming each time.  I had the very intense sensation that I was going to defecate on the floor, not have a baby.  Although the pushing was really hard, it did not last very long.

It was only a matter of minutes before Hannah had me lay on the bed, with Luke behind me to support me.  I continued pushing.  It was so hard and really hurt!  I kept trying to lift my pelvis and Hannah kept telling me to push my butt into the mattress.  That made it hurt more, but I did it.  Finally she saw Addison’s head.  During my brief break from pushing I reached down and touched the top of her head.  I was surprised by how soft it felt.  I was really encouraged by being able to feel her, but I was also really scared about that last bit of pushing to get her head through.  I was terrified that I would tear.  Luckily, I had no tearing at all!  I felt what they describe as the “ring of fire” as her head crowned.  It was exactly that, a really intense burning sensation.  I could tell as soon as her head was through and I was so excited because I had seen how fast everything else slides out in all the videos I had watched.  It just took one more big push and Hannah lifted Addison up and placed her on my stomach. I had pushed for only fifteen minutes and I am completely thankful because I do not think I had the energy to go very long.

As soon as Addison was on my belly, all the pain I had felt disappeared.  I couldn’t believe she was finally here and that she was real.  I had watched my belly grow over the past eight months, but it was hard to believe that there was really a baby inside me.  This confirmed all doubts!  Addison had the most perfect little round head.  She cried when she first came out, but as she was laid on me, she just stared at me.  Luke and I were both mesmerized.  It was such a powerful moment that Luke started crying as soon as he saw her.  He would finally have the chance to hold his daughter that I had been carrying for all this time.  He could finally help!  As soon as the baby started crying I heard a knock on the bedroom door.  Mom and Elizabeth had made their way downstairs and had been waiting in the kitchen through my pushing.  The both came in and could not believe she was finally here.

As we explored our new daughter I still had the task of the afterbirth.  I was amazed at how hard it was for me to push it out as I felt completely wiped out.  Thank goodness that part does not hurt at all.  I was not really sure I would want to see it, but in the end, I was too curious not to look.  It was a strange looking blob.  It is amazing that it was what kept Addison alive and fed the whole time she was in me.  Luke cut the umbilical cord and then we continued to stare at her with Mom and Elizabeth also watching and taking pictures.

Liz started making the phone calls to let family know that she had arrived.  Pete and Katy were at a hotel and told us they were going to come by in the morning.  Five minutes later, they called back and said they were on the way.  About forty five minutes after Addison was born, I went to take a shower and Hannah bathed Addison.  She had already completed her exam and Addison had aced the APGAR.   She was born at 2:04am on January 23, and weighed 7lbs4oz.  She was 20 inches long.  She had a full head of dark hair and dark grey/blue eyes.

It was almost five in the morning before we finally lay down to go to sleep.  Addison slept on the co-sleeper between me and Luke.  I was so completely exhausted, but I still had to lie in bed and stare at her for the longest time before finally going to sleep.

Having kids is great…but there’s still a lot to complain about.

I remember watching an episode of Oprah several years ago that featured a bunch of women talking about how hard it is to be a mom, in particular the stay-at-home variety. They were venting about the resentment they felt toward their children and husbands, how exhausted they  were, and how they often felt unfulfilled as stay-at-home moms. Basically that being a mom was not what they expected, mostly because no one told them about all of the parts that suck. More than one mom said there are days when she really felt like she didn’t like her kids.

It wasn’t that long ago, but that sounds like another world. One where moms talked about nothing more than how much they love their kids and are so glad they stay home and can’t imagine life any other way. Now I’m sure there were groups of moms who hung out and bitched about their kids and the spouses and laundry and dishes and dinner and how tired they were. However, the idea that a lot of women were ‘suffering in silence’ was a big enough topic that Oprah spent an entire episode on it, so I have to assume there were a lot of women out there who felt like they couldn’t complain about any of it…and who shed more than a few tears thinking about waking up the next day and doing it all over again.

Obviously it’s not all bad, and that should go without saying. But I’m glad that I live in a time where my friends and I aren’t afraid to talk about the downside to spending day in and day out with our kids. A time when I can update my Facebook status with whatever annoying thing my kids are doing today and in one shot get it off my chest and find out I’m not the only one feeling that way. Not to mention blogging about it.

Yup, this sums it up some days. And I have hair that looks like that more than I care to admit.

Some things are universal and every mom-to-be, mom of one, mom of eighteen knows: we love our kids. The love you feel when they are born is indescribable and unlike anything else.

There are some other things that you won’t know until you have a baby. And more things you can’t know until you have a toddler or a pre-teen or a teenager and so one and so forth. What would you tell someone who wanted you to be 110% honest about what life is like with kids? Here’s my list for now (and I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will: these are my opinion and I am not speaking for every mother out there. If you are reading this and think you have your shit together and shower everyday and never feel the need to complain, good for you. I don’t believe you, but whatever.):

  • There will be days that you don’t want to get out of bed. You will want to pull the covers over the head and wish you could disappear and someone else will magically show up to take care of your children.
  • You might think that your child will just blend seamlessly into your life with barely a ripple of disruption. If that works out for you, great. I suspect you are being more selfish than anything else and putting your needs above your child’s, but maybe I’m wrong. Only you will know for sure. For most of us, the freedom to do the things you want to do is gone. With kids you can’t go anywhere or do anything without ten additional steps or issues. Will you/can you bring the kid(s)? If not, who will baby-sit? Now you have a baby-sitter but you need to make sure everything is set-up so that they have an easy day with your kid. And you often have to pay them, so make sure it’s in the budget. If you do bring the kid, when is a good time to go? Before the nap, after the nap, during the nap? Will he/she need to eat while your gone? Make sure you have enough diapers and a change of clothes. Be aware they might melt down – will you muscle through whatever activity you have planned or just go home?
  • Nap time is the best time, but beware: it’s not always as relaxing for you as you would like. When you have a new baby everyone will tell you to “sleep when the baby sleeps,” and “the housework can wait.” Good luck with that. Sleeping when the baby sleeps seems like a good idea, but unless you are a person who can fall asleep instantly, you will lie there trying to fall asleep but will be distracted by thoughts of the baby waking up early and ruining you nap. You will hear him/her even when they aren’t making any noise. You will think about the laundry that needs to be done or the dishes piling up in the sink (all that housework that can wait). More times that not you will say screw the nap and get up to do something else. Then you will be annoyed that you even wasted time trying to sleep because you could have gotten so much more done.
  • Unless you have a baby that starts sleeping through the night right away (I hear they exist, but not in my house) you will be TIRED. ALL THE DAMN TIME. There are not enough hours in the day to get enough sleep to actually feel well-rested. You will probably feel this way until your last child is three years old (that’s me being optimistic. There is a good chance this feeling lasts much longer.)
  • Showering takes on a whole new meaning. Before you had kids you could shower whenever you wanted – morning, evening, middle of the night. It was your world. Now you have a lot more to consider. You can (a) wake up before the kid(s) and shower. This assumes you can accurately predict what time they will wake up, and that you are not so tired that literally every second of sleep is mandatory. (b) Wait until they fall asleep for the first time that day and take a shower then. This is a great option if your child takes a long nap because then you might actually be able to do something else too. Like eat or drink a hot cup of coffee. If your kid is like mine, you will barely have enough time to shower and get dressed. (c) Shower at night. This works for a lot of people. Personally I don’t have good hair for this option and I like the assistance I get with waking up when I shower in the morning. (d) Shower only when absolutely necessary. Usually after going more than one day without one.
  • Kids can be really annoying. Yours and everyone else’s. There is no other word for it. They cry, whine, require a ton of attention. Your patience will be tested in ways you can’t imagine.
  • Cherish the time you have only one child. No matter what you think, it really isn’t that hard. Unfortunately this one is a lot like losing all of your freedom – you can’t really understand it until it happens. Having two is more than twice as hard.
  • You will want people to understand what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mom, but unless they do it, they won’t know. Just like we don’t know how hard it is to go to work outside of the home and take care of kids. Your friends who don’t have kids won’t get it, you friends with jobs won’t get it, your husband won’t get it. Accepting that they don’t get it must be a nice feeling, but I don’t know.
  • Finally, coffee is your new best friend. You might have thought you had a great relationship with caffeine before kids, but it really can get to a whole new level. Drinking an entire cup while it is still hot will feel like an amazing accomplishment.

 

So, is there anything you would share with someone who is entering parenthood? The good, the bad and the ugly. I’m mostly interested in the bad and the ugly. Again, the good goes without saying.

What’s wrong with this picture? Oh yeah, the bottle is still full.

Jay and I went away for a night this weekend. Other than the time alone with my husband and time away from the kids and a nice dinner and sleeping in…finding this wine was the best part:

I don’t know how it tastes because I drank most of our bottle of wine at dinner on Saturday night, but I’m sure it’s good enough. If it’s gross, oh well. It was only $9.00.

Birth Stories Part 3: Erin

Not all births work out as expected. We can plan and hope and dream about how things will happen, and sometimes they happen that way. Sometimes they don’t. Read Erin’s story to learn what it was like for her to face some obstacles and difficult decisions en route to meeting her son.

Erin and Maxwell

Erin’s Story:

Let me start by saying this is a long story, and is full of detail and photos, of course.  Parts of it were hard to write and it took me days to get to without losing my shit.  When I was pregnant I enjoyed reading other women’s birth stories and always wondered how mine would pan out.  Well, this is how it all happened:

This is the story of how Maxwell Curtis Campbell made his way into the world.

Monday March 28th, 5 days after my due date, I went into actual real labor.  Around 5:30 I went to the bathroom and had what is known as the bloody show, which signals that labor is coming.  No more than an hour after that the contractions I had been feeling became more regular and more intense.  Nothing too painful, but definitely different than anything I had felt before.  I had downloaded a contraction counting app on my iPod and used that to time them.  Rob had gone to a meeting and was on call in case things went quickly.  He got home around 9 and the contractions were still regular, not too painful but getting there.  Around 10:00 we called labor and delivery to see when exactly to go in.  I fit the old 511 rule of thumb, contractions every 5 minutes lasting a minute for an hour, but wasn’t sure if I should go in.  The nurse said to come in and get checked.  We packed our things into the car, because after all this could be it.  We said goodbye to the dogs, I cried.  The ride there was pretty quick and we were both feeling anxious and excited.  When we got there they checked my cervix and did a speculum pelvic exam because I thought maybe my bag a water was possibly leaking.  I was still only 1cm dilated, the same as last week’s appointment, and my water had not broken.  They performed a non stress test and the baby looked good.  They sent me home to labor some more.

To read the rest, head on over to her blog:

Introducing Maxwell Curtis to the World

Thank you Erin for sharing your story.

Who wants another baby? My husband apparently. Help, I’m in trouble.

Yesterday Jay had to go visit a Soldier whose wife had just had a baby. Apparently getting to hold their little one was a very moving experience. He came home committed to having another baby. Now. I attribute this to the fact that he missed Houston’s birth and he wants to have that experience. I’ve told him that Houston was kind of hard to be around for the first few months but he is undeterred.

I’ve been pretty strong on the third baby thing: I want one, but not too soon. The thing is, Houston has been sleeping well lately and is at a really fun age. I enjoy pregnancy and am starting to feel that little bit of envy when I see a pregnant woman. This spells trouble. I’m kind of forgetting how much it sucks to not sleep at night. Kind of. Sleep is still my favorite thing and I wake up every morning already looking forward to going to bed that night. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to get enough sleep to really feel refreshed.

But then I had one too many pumpkin beers last night and starting thinking another baby won’t be bad. Started to think, what’s wrong with just letting nature take its course. I could actually get pregnant, that’s what’s wrong. But it’s not actually really wrong, or a bad thing, so…

Let’s just say we’re dreaming slightly different dreams these days.

Doesn't he look so happy? I'm pretty sure that in his dream that little bundle of joy is another boy.

My dream is not actually about snuggling with the dog, but I don't have another picture of myself sleeping. My dream about sleep would never include the dog next to my head. My sleep dream is a solitary one.

P.S. Any and all inquiries about hiring me as a graphic designer can be left in the comments section.

I wonder if Picasso drew pictures with his poop when he was a toddler

I thought that we had avoided the whole playing with poop phase of toddlerhood, but boy was I wrong. Yesterday I was treated to Madeline’s idea of a “pretty picture,” drawn with her poop on the top of her white nightstand while she was supposed to be taking a nap. She was covered in poop from her fingertips to her elbows.

For better or worse I did not take a picture.

I actually entered her room during the “clean-up” portion of her art session, which consisted of her further smearing the poop with a couple of baby wipes.

Me: What are you doing?

Madeline: I’m cleaning up. I’m cleaning up. Cleaning up.

Me: Stop. DON’T MOVE. DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!

Madeline: I drew a pretty picture but I messed up.

Me: Oh, yeah. You messed up. Walk to the bathroom. DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING! DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING! 

I proceed to hose her down in the tub, washing everything, including her hair since that got poop in it when I took her shirt off. Jay was at the grocery store and when he came home he informed me that he used to do stuff like that. I knew she didn’t get it from me.

Even after the thorough cleaning I felt like everything she touched smelled like poop.

Jay observed that it was like the time he came home from work and the dog had crapped all over her crate. Dog diarrhea everywhere. Reason #37 dogs and kids are not all that different.

Birth Stories Part 2: Josh’s account of Henry’s birth (and some thoughts on the next few days)

One minute you’re pregnant, the next minute you’re something entirely different (or, how the cat’s life changed forever).

The sleeplessness began Tuesday night. Often, when I’m woken up in the night, I don’t fire on all three cylinders. I remember looking over at Latisha next to me on the bed on her hands and knees in considerable discomfort and saying, “what are you doing?” Then I fell back asleep.

Wednesday I went home at 2pm and started counting the minutes between contractions. Next time, I’m getting a stopwatch. After an hour of contractions about 3-5 minutes apart, we decided we should go to the hospital. I remember thinking about waiting cause they didn’t seem that bad, and the whole thing was a little surreal. I went out to the car to put the car seat in (that’s a story for another day, thanks to the concept of “compact sedans”) and Latisha went to call her sister Larissa so she could meet us at the hospital. I came in to find Latisha fallen over on the couch crying with her phone lying open next to her. I tried to help her breathe and then explained to Larissa, who had been on the phone when the contraction hit, that we were leaving. I thought,

“Whoa, she’s really in labor.”

The drive to the hospital I was on the phone. I had about 6 phone calls to make (I had the list memorized) and about 7 minutes of drive time to make them. Two contractions in the car. One as we got out at the hospital valet parking. Three in the admissions office. One on the way to the elevator.

I quickly sent a text message to Larissa: “COME NOW.”

They checked Latisha around 4ish, and she was at 8 centimeters. I thought, “whoa.”

It started to get a little scary when a really bad contraction hit and Latisha was crying out for the promised epidural. Her eyes searched the ceiling for some reprieve from the pain and I felt powerless. Larissa was, I think, cowering in the corner. I think that’s when my mom said she would just wait in the waiting room. From then until the “angel of numbness” (anesthesiologist) came I was able to help Latisha through the contractions. I’ve never looked so intensely into someone’s eyes. Especially not while my hand or arm or whatever was available was being squeezed that hard.

About 7:15PM it was time to push (nice and calmly thanks to our angel friend). Every push, as the baby’s head crowned a little more, I said “whoa.” It really does happen quickly, I thought, hey, they have a little smidge of his head out, it’s gonna take a while to get the rest, and then all of a sudden his whole head was out. At this point I couldn’t even say anything, my jaw hit the floor and the midwife turned his head around and I saw my son’s face for the first time. Calm and serene, his eyes were still closed and he hadn’t taken his first breath. The midwife guided my hands to his little head and he took his first breath as we “caught” the rest of his body.

Right from the womb to Latisha’s arms, and the picture below was taken moments after. Henry Lincoln Collier, about 45 seconds old.

3:50AM July something or other. Cold coffee from this morning. Or would that be yesterday morning? The “later” of “I’ll sleep later” floats away into distant fantasy visions, joining a savings account that grows instead of shrinks and dreams of growing up to be a fireman. Finally,

 

Now it’s July 3rd and Henry is doing well. He lost a little too much weight the first couple of days, but now it is coming back. I wish he wouldn’t stay awake for several fussy hours in the middle of the night, but I guess he takes after his night owl father. Wow, it’s weird to think that that’s me. Thanks to technology we are able to send videos to my own Daddy who’s in Africa helping a whole ton of kids who don’t have daddies – but I wish he was here. I’m becoming sure that the rest of my time off from work will fly by. I started writing this email on Friday and it’s finally getting out. Welcome to fatherhood, I guess. Thanks to everyone who is helping us out with meals and who gave us so many clothes that we have surplus to share. How amazing it is to be a part of such a huge family. We believe that we are experiencing the blessing that God intended His family to give.

 

Thank you Josh and Latisha for sharing the e-mail that you sent to friends and family sharing your experience when Henry was born.

A little reminiscing…

I used to be pretty fearless, at least in terms of doing things that might be deemed “dangerous.” I’ve been sky-diving, went bungee jumping (dangerous) in Mexico (double dangerous), and used to go white water rafting every fall with college friends. I’d like to blame my more fearful self on having children and not needing to take unnecessary risks that might leave them without a mother, but it actually started before then. I think there is something about getting older that makes you appreciate risks more. The best example of how I became wussier with old age comes from our yearly rafting trips.

We started going my sophomore year of college. My roommate was from West Virginia and had the idea that we all drive down and stay with her mom for the weekend and spend the day rafting on the Gauley River. Gauley season consists of a few weeks in September and October when the rapids are world-class due to releasing water from the Summersville Lake.  The first year we rafted the Lower Gauley, which is easier and has fewer Class V rapids. We never fell out of the raft, or “swam,” unless it was on purpose to pee. Boy did we think we were the best rafters ever. The next year we upgraded to the Upper Gauley and once again stayed in the raft. From that point on we thought we were pros when it came to rafting the Gauley River. Our biggest concern was making sure we all had on matching helmets so that our picture looked good.

Color coordination is where it's at.

Kid in the middle of the raft with a red helmet totally ruins it.

It’s easy to think you’re good at something when you don’t really understand how little control you have over the situation. Then you get cocky and become two whole minutes worth of the highlight video everyone watches at the end of the day. (The video isn’t actually tragic, nor is it actually us but that’s besides the point.)

We thought we were responsible for our wetsuits staying dry, but really it was the guide. He made sure we took the easier route through the rapid and that we never swam. When we did finally fall in we realized that it wasn’t that bad. It was actually kind of fun – if you fall in the river in the right place. So of course we wanted to up the ante. We started talking about using a smaller raft – one that was pretty much guaranteed to flip several times. (Un)fortunately we had too many people to do that. I was totally on board at this point and remember my friend’s mom cautioning us, “You all will want to do more and more each year until someone has a bad swim and never wants to go again.” I can still hear her saying it, but wasn’t really concerned at the time.

It was the next day that we started taking more risks. We informed our guide that we weren’t afraid to swim and he ran with it. Early in our trip he starts telling us about how we’re going to paddle straight toward a large rock in the middle of the river, hit it with the side of the raft and then climb out of the raft and up on to the rock. I looked at him and said (for the first and not last time that weekend), “Are you serious?” He was. One of us got up on the rock and it wasn’t me. I fell in and got sucked down under water a few times before the river spit me out. I came out on the side that leads right toward an undercut rock, which is a death trap if you find yourself underneath it. I’m trying to swim away from it, but the current kind of takes you toward it before leading away from it, so it feels like swimming is doing nothing. Meanwhile a different guide is standing in his raft with a whistle motioning for me to swim away from the rock. The whistle just makes it all seem scarier and more urgent.

I think it was the next day that we ended up in a really large raft because we had a couple of random people with us. The larger raft flips less, but is also more difficult to control. Even for our very competent and experienced guide (Dave – you and your crazy ideas about crashing a raft into and climbing onto a rock in the middle of a river will be forever burned in my brain). The day started off great when the random guy in our raft knocked me out at the top of a rapid. I had to swim the whole thing before getting back into the raft. Luckily it was a weak rapid and not scary.

We manage a few more rapids without losing anyone and then we get to Pillow Rock. Pillow Rock is the rapid where they take the pictures, so common sense would tell you that the goal is to hit that rapid with everyone facing downriver. Not that day and not in that giant raft. We could tell we were approaching it wrong and a little out of control. We knew this because we were facing the wrong direction and went down that rapid backwards.

Guide in the bottom of the raft reminds me of the time a different guide took us into a rapid and was SCREAMING instructions at us, "ALL BACK, LEFT BACK, RIGHT BACK!" Just before we hit the rapid we hear, "OH FUCK!" Not reassuring coming from the guide.

This is what it should look like.

I think the random guy might have fallen out, or at least lost a shoe on the way down…payback for knocking me out.  We continued down the river without incident until we decided to “surf.” This is where water pours over a rock and you can guide the raft in and kind of lodge it there and water dumps over the one side soaking everyone. This was a lot of fun and no one fell out. Then we tried to paddle out of the wave. We were stuck. We tried everything and then Dave directed us all to get on one side of the raft. I was suspicious because it seemed like doing that would flip the raft.  So I asked him, “Are we going to flip this raft on purpose?” Of course we were. And there’s the next, “Are you serious?” Normally when the raft flips it isn’t too bad because you don’t usually see it coming. It just happens and you’re in the water. Knowing that you are going to flip the raft is a little different. Just as we start to flip I try to get out of the way so that I don’t end up under the raft. Unsuccessful. I come up under the raft a couple of times before I get away from it. I lived. Obviously. And it wasn’t that bad.

None of this was really that scary, until the next year when we came back for more. At that point the little seed of fear was planted. I saw things as riskier and worried more about what could happen. I was a nightmare of a raft-mate. The annoying person who is nervous and scared and doesn’t want to swim. I didn’t want to do anything risky, especially paddle the raft into that damn rock again, but of course we did. And I fell in. And had to swim away from the death trap undercut rock again.

I would go again, but the kids thing does make me think about it twice. They act like they can’t live without me, so I need to be careful. But it is a good time!

If anyone is interested in whitewater rafting, or any other outdoor adventure, check out ACE Adventure Resort in West Virginia. They’re the best.

For those of you who read this and were actually on these trips, I apologize if things are not in chronological order. It’s been awhile, and my memory is not what it used to be. 

Key lime pie anyone?

We just found out that we are moving to Key West, Florida next summer. From the northwest corner of the U.S. to the southernmost point in the country. Mommy wanted sunshine and what mommy wants, mommy gets. However, it does not come without a price: hurricanes, ridiculous cancer causing UV rays, and no Target, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc. that I have become accustomed to.

But I’m not here to complain. With the Army life comes the PCS (Permanent Change of Station) move and my job is to make the best of it. How hard can that be when the sun will be shining, the ocean water warm and inviting, and the palm trees swaying in the breeze.

Now this is a beach. Give me a chair and a bucket of sunscreen and I'm good.

Cannon Beach, Oregon. Beautiful, but not exactly white sand and palm trees.

To be fair, the sun does come out here in Washington. However this picture was taken in July and we are in long sleeves. Jay needs to wear a full wetsuit with a hood to surf in the middle of summer.

Now for the details I need to think about. First of all there is housing. We need to find a renter for our house in Washington, but that’s a ball of stress for a different post. We also will need to find a place to live in Key West. Since Key West is basically a vacation destination for most people, the most economical option will be for us to live on the Navy base there. They just built a new housing development that I am intent on being assigned. How am I going to make that happen, you ask? No idea. But I will not rest until I have played every card in the deck.

This needs to be where I live next. According to my two year old daughter, the line between want and need is a thin one. I'm taking a page out of her book when I say I need this house.

The photo below is also government housing that we could be assigned. No thanks. Not when there is something like the houses above.  A lot of this just depends on timing and when we get orders so that we can be put on the housing list and when people move out of the houses I want…there’s a whole lot out of my control and that’s something I am not a huge fan of. When where you live is dependent on your husband’s job and you are essentially along for the ride, you want to be able to take some things into your own hands. Attempting to control where we live in Key West is my project for the next several months.

No, thank you.

The next issue is my wardrobe. As I stood in my closet yesterday picking out a sweater to wear to the pumpkin patch, I thought to myself, “this just won’t do when the average high in January is 75 degrees.” While shopping for a new wardrobe is not exactly a chore, it’s also not free.

I see a lot less of these:

and a lot more of these in my future. Also not really a bad thing, but I do love my Uggs.

Speaking of the pumpkin patch, I don’t think those abound in Key West. I did a little google search and there is a place to buy pumpkins, but not the fall festival that we’ve gotten used to here. I’m pretty sure we won’t be cutting down our own Christmas tree while we live there, unless we plan on stringing lights on a palm tree.  So, while we won’t be strolling pumpkin patches or snowboarding in our next home, there are some new hobbies we can pursue:

Something that you can do here in Washington, but without the same view and with a lot more skin covered.

Also something that can be done in Washington, if you don't mind being cold. I prefer water sports in warm weather.

And now for the big one: sunscreen. I might as well buy stock in Coppertone right now because that stuff is getting sprayed on my kids until it forms an impenetrable armor on their skin. If someone can recommend a great all natural sunscreen that doesn’t cost twice as much as the other kinds (considering I’ll probably be using a bottle a day between the three of us), I’d appreciate the heads up.  My children and I are about one shade away from being invisible we are so pale. We went to San Diego in May and I was a maniac. Madeline got a little sunburn on her nose and I felt so guilty about it. The sun is at full strength so infrequently around here and we are so far north that after the middle of the day your risk of a burn is minimal. Did I mention Key West is as far south as you can get?

So far those are my thoughts on this move. I hesitate to even post this because I am talking about the Army. The past few months I have heard that we could possibly be moving to North Carolina, Hawaii, Korea, the Philipines, etc. When it comes to the military definitely means maybe, maybe means no, no means no…you get the idea. Your husband is definitely deploying in June. No wait, maybe it will be September. Nope, it’s going to be June and he’ll be back in February.  Just kidding, he’ll be back in April. Oh, you want your husband to be able to come home when you give birth to your son? Absolutely. Without a doubt. No soldier will miss that important event. Oh wait, we’re not doing that anymore. No, we’re not sending him home.

As of right now we are going to Florida. I have been told this is a sure thing, but until I see orders I will be a little wary. But I will start to mentally prepare, because that’s what I do. And I will try to get that house.

A birth story I read on another blog last night and just have to share

Last night I was reading some birth stories from around the web and came across this one. I recommend reading it and especially recommend watching at least the video titled, “Inga’s birth part 2 (surprise unassisted birth).” This mother is the epitome of strength and calm during the birth, even as she has to use neonatal resuscitation and give her baby mouth-to-mouth.  Click the link below to read/see this story.

If you don’t want to watch the whole video, the action picks up around the seven minute mark.

Inga’s birth story, part 1 

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