Thursday, March 28, 2013

Viv's Pictures

I had a dilemma of sorts around the time Vivian was born.  I wanted some infant/newborn pictures of her, but living in rural Florida has it's challenges, including finding a photographer within 50 miles that takes pictures in the style that I wanted.  And I feel most comfortable using references of people I know instead of just going off somebody's website.

Anyway, I decided to take pictures when we visited Utah instead, and I don't regret it one bit.  Allison Cox truly takes beautiful pictures, and I knew I would love them.  Yes, Viv's outgrown her infant look, but this momma did what she could :)

Here are a few of my favorites.  I know I'm biased, but I think this kid sure is cute.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Vivian Pearl

Where to begin?! I know everyone says it, but babies really do change your life.  Even though she's been here just two weeks, it's amazing how this little munchkin changed my priorities and focus.  Whereas before my time and energy was spent improving my own situation and most of my efforts were more or less selfish pursuits, now I get to take care of a little person and all my concerns focus on her.  It's incredibly exhausting, more than I could have imagined, but I also can't believe how wonderful it is to be a mommy.

Anyway - her birth story :)

So many of you know that Viv was due Jan. 9.  But this little rascal decided to stay put and didn't want to come out.  Which was miserable.  Partly because a week before my due date I was already dilated and effaced and her head had dropped real low and my doctor seemed completely confident she would come that week.  My doctor even stripped my membranes to jump start labor, but nothing.  Not to mention once a pregnant lady hits 37 weeks everyone seems to think the baby could come any day! Even though statistically most babies don't come till around 40 weeks.  But Viv didn't want to come, I guess my womb is just too cozy.  (Gross, I just used the word womb).  And Grandma Pearl's birthday was Jan. 12, and it would've been so neat if she came on the same day as her namesake - but she didn't. Tally one more disappointment. By 5 days overdue I convinced myself I would just have to be induced so I would stop hoping and wondering when she would come.

Hence the induction.  A week after my due date I saw the doctor, who said, "I can't believe this baby hasn't come yet," and we scheduled my induction the following morning.  It was quite strange going from weeks of speculation about when she would come to suddenly knowing and planning on going to the hospital less than 24 hours later.  I wasn't too excited about being induced because I wanted to have her naturally, and I figured Pitocin wasn't going to make that any easier, but to be honest I was just excited to finally get our baby.  Jeff and I made sure everything was packed ready to go that night, then woke up and headed to the hospital.

I was hooked up and receiving Pitocin by 8:30 that morning.  The continued to up my dose little by little until I was at the max you could receive before a doctor ok'd anymore.  Then I went past that, and still nothing.  I was having contractions, they just weren't labor contractions and didn't hurt.  So that lasted till about 12:30, and around 1pm my doctor decided to break my water manually.  Way scarier than it sounds, I didn't even feel anything when she broke my water, but boy did that kick start my contractions!!  Didn't take more than 20 minutes for me to be in full on labor.  But once again, Viv wanted to stay put, and I didn't dilate more than a cm or so for the next 7 hours...bummer.  The doc checked me again and I was only a 6 - maybe.  Granted I came into the hospital that morning at 4cm.  By 7:30 the pain was starting to be too much to handle.  And it's not even so much the worst pain I had ever felt, but knowing it's coming every few minutes for 7 hours just wore me down.

Cue IV meds.  I asked for some Stadol around 7:30pm and it saved me.  It helped me relax and handle the contractions better, and I even was able to sleep in between them.  (Which looking back is crazy, cause there's only like 2-3 minutes in between contractions.  But I remember being in a half awake - half dreaming state).  The Stadol lasted for about an hour, and after it was wearing off I asked for some more around 9pm.  However, this second dose, which was even higher than the first dose, didn't work as well as the first.  I think my contractions were just getting that much worse.

Around 10pm they checked my cervix again - and this time there was more bad news.  Not only had I not progressed and was still at 6cm, but there was a spot on my cervix that was starting to swell.  The doctor then told me if my cervix continued to swell, I wouldn't be able to deliver vaginally and would have to have a c-section.  So it was recommended that I get an epidural so my body could relax and my cervix could open up and let the babe come.

Ok - let's be clear here.  I was never "against" epidurals.  I think they're wonderful and was always willing to get one if I needed it.  And especially if all that pain I was feeling wasn't even doing anything?! Ya, please someone poke my back and let's get this baby out.  I was all for the epidural at that point in time.

While I was waiting for the anesthesiologist to get to the hospital, my contractions turned into something out of this world.  I was starting to have the craziest urge to push with each contraction.  I wasn't sure if it was a bowel movement or what, but it sure felt like it.  I told my nurse, and she said I couldn't push because I wasn't anywhere near dilated.  So I tried to stop by body from pushing - but that was near impossible.  If I wanted to handle the contraction at all - I needed to breathe through it, but if I tried to relax my body enough to breathe, my body took over and...pushed.  There's no way else for me to explain it.  So I tried to squeeze and not let the pushing happen, and that was the worst part of the night.  I again told my nurse, in desperation, really, I just wanted to push - and she said to let my body just do what it needed to, but not for me to actively push.

Since I was wanting to push so badly, my nurse checked me again, got all excited, and then grabbed the doctor, who then checked me and pronounced I was at an 8.  I couldn't believe it!  In half an hour I had jumped to an 8 and only had two more cm to go.  The doctor then made me make a decision.  She said I might stay at an 8 all night, and in that case it would be smart to still get the epidural.  But then again, I might continue dialating.  Well - I said let's wait another hour and see what happens.  If I haven't dilated any more, then I'll still get the epidural.  But I felt if I was already at an 8 and with the change in my contractions, I was almost there.  I remember starting to feel bad for the anesthesiologist, but I quickly realized I shouldn't.  It's his job to come in when he's on call - and if the situation changes, oh well.  That's the job you signed up for!!

So just before 10pm I had agreed to an epidural, and people, by 10:45 I was at 10cm and the doctor told me to push.  It was such a relief to start pushing - except for the fact that pushing was above and beyond the most intense experience of my life.  I know that sounds dramatic, but it really was unbelievable.  Hahaha, I remember asking the doctor how long pushing takes, and she said for some up to a couple hours (usually those with an epidural) but she said she had seen some as short as 20 minutes.

That was the best motivation knowing I could be holding my baby in as little as 20 minutes, haha.  About 15-20 minutes into it I asked the doctor where the baby was, cause to me the pain felt like she should be making her way out.  The doctor told me I wasn't quite there yet - when the baby gets close she'll put on her gown.  Boy was I excited when she put on that gown! I pushed for 40 minutes and on the last push I screamed - apparently everyone in the hospital heard it, including my in-laws who were waiting in the lobby, hahaha.  But they also heard a little baby cry soon after the scream :)

After I pushed her head out (cue the scream), I remember the doctor telling me I needed to push again to get her shoulders out - not sure how I managed because I was so exhausted.  And then she came out and I was holding my baby.  I thought I would cry when I held her, but it was more like I was in shock - I couldn't believe she was real, that I was holding our baby, and that I had managed somehow to deliver her. It was pretty special because everyone in the room just went quiet.  You could tell that everyone involved, the nurses, techs, doctors, all reverenced childbirth and the amazing moment when baby meets mommy.  (I might have not cried about it then, but even just typing about it now gets me weepy).

Another beautiful moment was when Jeff cut the cord.  Let me explain - since before I got pregnant it was understood that Jeff wasn't too excited to be in the thick of it all.  We fought about him having to be there, hahaha.  And once we started going to those baby classes and learning that dads can help hold a leg during the pushing, cut the cord, etc, etc, Jeff made it very clear he was NOT interested in that kind of stuff.  And I was totally ok with that because all I needed was him there - simply as a support.   (He even told me later during the pushing he situated himself so he could see me and see the baby once she came out, but that the nurse was blocking most of the action down there, hahaha).  So when the doctor asked Jeff if he would like to cut the cord, I was surprised when Jeff cut me off and said he would.  It was like all of a sudden it became about Vivian, not about him or me or gross cords, and that moment was the beginning of many tender dad moments Jeff has already had.  Babies are so special because not only do you have your own heart open up, but you get to watch your husband, who you already love so much, take on the role of father.  Pretty neat stuff :)

I'm really grateful I was able to be able to deliver her naturally.  I was talking to my mom about it when she came to visit, and we still can't really figure out why some people have such a desire to do it without an epidural.  It's not like I'm against medication or some kind of hippy granola girl.  Mom joked that it's because we have to be in control - but I think there's a lot of truth behind that.  I like to be informed and in control - and maybe for some people experiencing pain is the opposite of control - but I wanted to "know" the entire experience, pain included.  And I don't like the idea of possibly not having any sensation in the lower half of my body.  I don't know - I'm still trying to figure out why I had such a desire for doing it without an epidural.

Well folks, that's how it all went down.  What I wasn't prepared for, however, was post delivery.  Holy cow my body was trashed.  I did tear a little bit - I guess natural births sometimes have more tears because you're so ready to get that baby out that everything down there doesn't have as much time to stretch out.  The hardest part about coming home and taking care of a newborn is that you have to do it while your body is recovering.  That has been the hardest part.  And getting the hang of breastfeeding - ouch.

But I think those topics are for another day.  Please forgive any typo's and grammar errors.  I tried to bust this out as quick as I could - cause baby Viv is getting hungry again ;)  Isn't she a beaut?  Love her so much.  Thanks for making it through that lengthy, quickly written post.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

70 degree Christmas

When I blog it either feels like I have nothing to say or everything to say.  Today is the latter, and the jumble of the last couple months, including baby countdown and holidays spent away from home, have me overwhelmed.  But there is a moment from these holidays that keeps coming back to me - so I think I'll start there.

A few days before Christmas, Jeff, myself, and a bunch of his family drove to see the lights at a State Park named after Stephen Foster.  To be honest I didn't know who Stephen Foster was, but after a quick wikipedia search and visit to one of the museums at the park, I learned that he was a major pioneer in the music industry.  He's been dubbed as the "Father of American Music."

Anyway, the lights and all were cool, and they even had a "snow" machine (even though it was rather pitiful - it wasn't even ice, it was some kind of weird foam stuff) but the best part of the night was the music.  Being a park in memory of Stephen Foster, there was live music going on throughout the night.  While we were in one of the museums, a man walked in and set up 2 strange looking instruments.  We found out later that they were "dulcimers," one an "appalachian dulcimer," the other a "hammered dulcimer."

As soon as he started playing I felt my heart swell.  It had been a long time since I had heard any kind of live music besides hymns at church, and I realized how much I missed going to concerts at the HFAC, or having ballet class with talented accompanists, or simply listening to the MDT majors sing in the halls of the RB.  The South is awesome, but let's just say people here prefer football on the weekends over musical theatre.  But this man kept playing and Jeff and I listened long after the rest of the family left to keep looking at lights.  I could have stayed all night.  Listening to that artist had me wanting to get up and make something of my own.  The urge to dance and express came flooding into my little heart as I listened to him play.  It's a feeling so familiar and I was overwhelmed to feel it again.

To be honest - I missed Utah.  I'm a sucker for snow. Christmas away from home is always hard, and I think that compounded with a growing belly and stretch marks, not living in my own place, and still sweating during the day, made the holidays...different.  Still good, just different.  I think listening to that man play his dulcimer reminded me of home more than gingerbread houses, clam chowder, or even new Christmas Eve pj's.  Feeling like my old self again by visiting that feeling of inspiration was the best Christmas cheer I could have asked for.      

--I guess I can't finish without a few picture updates :)

Jeff and I at Stephen Foster State Park.  I like this picture because
I'm standing at such an angle it's hard to tell I have a HUGE belly, haha.
The crib before I took it all apart to paint.  It was quite the project and I'm glad it's done.  Don't let those crafty blogging women fool you into thinking it'll be super fun and super easy.  And lucky for me most of you who read this will never get to look at the finished project very closely ;) 

The crib all finished.  Won't lie, I kinda love it.

The fabric for the crib skirt.  I had this whole color
scheme worked out - then I saw this fabric and decided to
 try my hand at sewing one myself.  Surprisingly (probably cause
painting the crib was such a pain) I had fun sewing
 and it really wasn't all that hard.  Just went slow :) 
I thought I'd add a closer shot of the bed skirt
cause it's the best part of the crib.

Took this picture 2 weeks ago, don't think the dress fits anymore.  6 days till due date people.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Ramblings

Happy Halloween!  Last Friday was the ward trunk or treat and I must say, even though no other adults really dressed up, I couldn't wait for our costumes :) And we're carving a pumpkin tonight and I can't wait.  But I really want to start by thanking Heather for her past couple blog posts.  I'm so glad for such amazing friends in my life who help me stay happy.  Reading her post was the culmination of some realizations I've had this week.  So heads up, this post is full of ramblings.

Yesterday I went visiting teaching, and I'm ashamed to admit this, but it was probably the first time I was truly excited to go.  Before it felt like such an obligation - I always enjoyed it once I got myself to go, but I think Provo wards are just...different.  Here, and I would assume anywhere besides Provo where the ward turns over in 6 months, it just feels a little more real.  And I was excited to have a reason to leave the house ;)

Anyway, we went and I couldn't wait to meet more sisters in this ward (I even made cookies to share.  Seriously, I was excited).  As we went around visiting and talking with sisters, I kept realizing just how blessed I am.  With the free time I've had lately and feeling a little cooped up, I've realized I have a tendency to fall into a self-pity mode.  Pathetic, I know.  But there's no better remedy than visiting someone who puts my little worries into perspective.

For example, I sometimes (ok, maybe more than sometimes) think woe is me for having to live with in-laws, but while we were talking with sisters, I realized, and it was even vocalized by my companion, how lucky my children are to have Gail and Ernest as grandparents.  I felt like kicking myself for ever feeling bad about "having to live with the in-laws."  Yes, it's difficult sometimes, but only because I'm a tad bit independent and suffer from slight social anxiety.  But goodness gracious, how lucky I am that I have such loving in-laws who are more than accommodating and so happy to have us here, not to mention the financial relief they've given Jeff and I by living here before we head upside down into debt for med school next year.  Then, of course, I thought of my own parents and how excited and lucky I am to have my mom come visit me in a week (Wha-whooo!) and that my mom is in a position to be able to fly across the country to visit (thanks dad).

And aren't birthdays just the best?! I got a card and gift from my Grandma Dalton and the sweetest phone call yesterday from my Grandma and Grandpa Mower.  Before I even hung up the phone I was in tears.  It's truly amazing how much love and appreciation one can feel for family when they move across the country :)

The weather even had a birthday present for me!  I'm totally jealous of the snow storm that hit Utah last week, and until this week it has still been sweaty hot in Florida.  But these past couple days, I think because of Hurricane Sandy, it has been exceptionally cold, and I love it.  There's nothing better than placing chilly hands on my face to warm them up.  I even had hot chocolate for breakfast yesterday! I put socks on for the first time Monday, and as I dressed in fall clothes (well, my idea of fall clothes) with a sweater, scarf, and my favorite boots, everything all of a sudden felt normal again.  Totally weird, but I love being chilly.

I think part of why I miss the cold is because I'm realizing that Jeff and I's first little chapter together has come and gone.  I so cherish those Christmas mornings waking up in our tiny apartment, feeling like we were the only two in Provo, and just enjoying the still of winter.  We would sit on our little couch with only our Christmas tree lit, open gifts, and then enjoy the quiet of the valley as we drove to my parents so early on Christmas morning.  And maybe that's why I was so emotional when I talked to my grandparents who are reaching the end of their own chapters.  Sometimes it's hard to move on to other adventures when the one before was so wonderful.

Another reason I'm so emotional might have to do with being 30 weeks pregnant ;)  Can't wait to hold that little pot of gold.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Temple Trials

A funny thing happened this weekend.  Well, it wasn't so funny when it happened, but isn't that usually how things go?

When Jeff and I got married, we decided we would try to attend the temple often.  For us, even in these first few years, "often" hasn't always meant the same thing.  I feel I/we could have done a better job of getting ourselves to the temple more frequently, especially because we were so close to so many.  However, while I wished we had gone more - I think that's a sentiment many Latter-day Saints feel - and looking back I think we did ok.  Kind of ironic that now with plenty of time to visit the temple, and the nearest temple is almost 3 hours away.

I guess it's time to get to that funny story.

So Jeff and I had decided a couple weeks ago we would visit the Orlando Temple on Saturday.  We had it all planned out and were even going to spend the rest of the day looking around at houses and apartments since we'll be moving down there next summer.  We would even be able to sleep in a little and still make the trip worth it.

Well - we woke up a little later than we had planned, but we weren't too worried about it.  I mean, we had all morning to get to Orlando.  We had hoped to leave around 9am, but it was about 9:45-10 o'clock before we were ready to walk out the door.  Jeff was finishing up some cereal and I went back to our bedroom to grab my purse so we could leave.  I decided I would hurry and make the bed before leaving, but as I started to grab the sheets, I noticed Russell on the bed, and next to Russell was a GIANT pool of kitty pee.

Yup - our litter trained cat, for whatever reason, decided to relieve himself on top of our comforter instead of his potty.

Like I said, wasn't funny then, but kinda funny now.

So despite having washed our comforter only a week earlier, Jeff and I had to strip everything off the bed, head to the laundromat, and use those enormous commercial washers that eat up quarters to clean our bedding.  As we were headed to the laundromat in our Sunday best, Jeff asked when the temple closed, and remembering I wasn't in Utah, got online and realized the temple closed at 3:30.


It was already after 10, and by the time we finished getting everything washed and dried, it would be closer to noon before we left.  We'd maybe make it to the temple in time for the last session...and then it would be almost too late to do much else before having to drive another 3 hours home.  Ugh.  Rescheduling our temple excursion to next weekend was looking more and more reasonable.

In frustration I asked Jeff, "Why did this happen THIS morning?  Of all mornings?"  And Jeff responded without hesitation, "Well, cause we planned to go to the temple."  He then shared about how on his mission the worst days would be when they would have a baptism planned.  He said one morning - the morning of a baptism - he and his companion woke up and the ENTIRE city didn't have water.  (That's Paraguay for ya).  Jeff said he and his companion had to bribe the fire station to fill up the font with nasty green fire truck water.  He said they had this huge fire truck hose snaked through the church into the font filling it up.

My cat pee didn't seem quite as bad after that story.  And unfortunately for Satan/karma/the universe/bad luck, or whatever else you want to call it, when I realize something is trying to hold me up, I simply become all the more driven to get it done.  We were able to get our bedding clean, make it to the temple, and even had plenty of time to look around Lake Nona in Orlando at apartments and housing.  And it was definitely worth it.  The peace and encouragement the temple leaves me with makes everything worth it.

But lesson learned, Mr. Russell doesn't get to jump up on the bed anymore.  Sorry kitty.

(For more info on temples, missions, and the LDS faith, check out  Picture of Orlando Temple from here)

Monday, October 8, 2012

2 months

Exactly two months ago I said goodbye to Utah and got on a plane to Florida.

Things I miss:

  • The Fall Season.  People - it's still almost 90 degrees most days.  The evenings are cooling off, but I still get sweaty wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  And I never realized how I used the seasons to measure time; I mean, it's already a week into October, but it's still really hot outside...weird.  Not to mention all the trees and vegetation are still green and show no signs of changing anytime soon.
  • Mountains.  Not just because they're beautiful, but because it's hard to get disoriented when those giant peaks help me find East.  And because they offer instant outdoor fun like hiking and biking.  
  • The absence of frogs.  And lizards.  And lovebugs.  And mosquitoes.
  • Dance.  Even though I wasn't on a company or anything when I moved, I miss teaching and being able to take a class here and there whenever I felt like it.  Just not the same in Union County (believe me, I've looked).   
  • Family.  They just get me, you know?

Things I love:

  • Southern people.  I love hearing "yes, ma'am," or "no, ma'am," and all the other funny Southern idioms.  People here are just more respectful.  I also love the sass that comes with the South too.  Definitely learning how to interact with people in a more genuine way.  
  • Southern food. If you are a vegetarian, don't move to Florida - at least not North Florida (and let's just say I'm glad I'm pregnant and if I gain a few extra pounds I can blame it on that).
  • Russell.  I knew I loved cats, but I'd forgotten just how much I really do love cats, hahaha.  AND Russell is learning to use the toilet.  The litter kwitter is not a scam after all :) 
  • Family.  I'm so grateful I have the chance to spend so much time with Jeff's close and extended family (even though his extended family feels more like brothers and sisters).  It's so fun to get to know them and start to build real relationships.  

Yup.  Definitely a new chapter for me and Jeff.  Life has a crazy way of flipping itself on its head. Even though I have been here two months, between being pregnant, moving in with the in-laws, not going to school or working, and adjusting to small town Florida, there's still a long way for me to go before I feel like I'm at home.  But life is good, Jeff has a job, I have a kitty, and we'll soon have a baby, what more could I ask for :)

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the last couple months.
On the shuttle bus to the Gator game a couple weeks ago.
Found this enlightening message on said bus.
Awkward pregnant picture (are there any other kind?)
Notice the lady laughing at me in the background.
Mission accomplished.  

Until I have a baby you're gonna have to get used to kitty pictures :)
Russell is often found sleeping like this

About how I feel when taking pregnant pictures.
I think I was 23 weeks in this one.

Monday, September 10, 2012


In my experience it seems like most people hate cats, particularly boys.  Knowing there was a huge chance the person I wanted to marry wasn't going to be a cat person, I had decided it wasn't going to be a big deal.  So when I found out Jeff was a cat person too, I hardly couldn't believe it.  There was plenty other things we didn't see eye to eye on, but it was like someone had thrown us a bone (or some catnip) and let us both love kitties together :)

Unfortunately, the place we lived for the past three years didn't allow pets, and we both totally understood why.  Personally, if I were a landlord I wouldn't allow people to have pets either.  But we no longer live in Provo, and Jeff's mom mentioned if we wanted to get a kitty she wouldn't mind at all - almost like she was encouraging us to get one.

So Saturday morning we woke up and drove to Gainesville to the Alachua County Animal Services to get ourselves a kitty.  Most pounds are depressing places and I was anxious I might cry the whole time, but when we walked in we were both super impressed with how the cats were kept.  Most had lots of playing space with toys and other kitties to play with.  We were encouraged to take the cats out and play with them, too.  While we played with all the kitties, a certain orange tabby kept coming up to us wanting our attention.  It didn't take too long before we knew he was the one.  (Another plug for adopting an animal from a shelter - our kitty was already neutered and had been given all his shots.  Plus our little kitty had a respiratory infection and they got him healthy before they knew he was going to be adopted.)  We left the pound with Russell in a little box and headed to the pet store to buy food, litter, and of course, toys.  We ended up buying the "litter kwitter" so hopefully Russell is using the toilet in a few weeks.  I'll have to let you know if it was a scam or not ;)

Jeff picked out the name because Russell's eyes look like fall leaves that would 'rustle' in the wind.  And easier explanation is he's orange, like rust, haha.  But he is a sweetheart, loves to be pet and snuggled and will often rub his little nose under your chin.  He also follows us around and tries to walk between your legs.  Needless to say I'm in love and am so glad Russell is part of our little family now.  Hopefully he doens't get jealous when the baby comes! (and don't worry, I'm not touching the kitty litter and am well aware of the risk it poses for pregnant ladies)

I'll have to post later about some of Jeff's old cats.  There are some pretty good stories about Growler, Jeff's three legged cat :) Hopefully Russell can keep all his legs.