Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Beginning of the End ... of Clutter

I had a come-to-Jesus sort of thing happen this week...  I was all hyped up on coffee drank too late in the day trying to wind down from a fabulous visit with my parents flipping channels when I saw "Hoarders" on the channel guide and remembered one of my new blogging friends talking about it on Facebook.  I decided to check it out.  An hour later - after 1:00 AM - I tore myself away and looked around at my house... with disgust. 

Now before you go and picture my place being as bad as anything you might see on the show, stop.  Am I a neat freak?  No.  (That's my hubby's job!)  But I am sentimental with a touch of pack rat.  My mind always thinks "what if I need that someday" or "I'll want to look back on that someday" when it comes to throwing things out.  Plus, (and probably fundamentally more importantly) I'm a recycling fanatic who thinks our society is driven far too much by our obsessive need to consume.  Which means I like to be smart about what I put in the landfill or toss away just because it is inconvenient to store it until the next time I need to use it.  I am also a realist who works a full-time job, has an eight-year-old who doesn't know how to pick up after herself (we're working on that!) and doesn't think it is a bad thing to have a house that reflects that we actually - you know - LIVE in it.

So basically there's clutter...

That is all going to change because of ONE episode I saw of Hoarders!  Yesterday I barely touched my computer, neglected Facebook (probably should do that more often anyway!) and started to de-clutter.  I am an NPR supporter and my local radio station gives free magazine subscriptions when you become a supporting member.  I've been getting Newsweek for a couple of years now... on top of Sunset and Good Housekeeping and Real Estate magazines and HP's Connections... you get the idea.  I had all these great visions about how well-read on current affairs I would be with Newsweek but the reality is that I barely have time to read books outside of book club or the magazines I get because they relate to my jobs let alone a weekly magazine!  But, did I throw them out?  No, they accumulate in a pile in a corner of my living room.  Once in a while the pile gets really huge and I go through them and if the cover is really old  news I throw them out.  Yesterday I threw them ALL out including the ones I rarely ever read for work!  Okay, I saved about four because there were articles I actually wanted to read.  It was liberating!  (And by throw them out I mean I put them in the recycle bin for pickup, of course.)

I look around and everywhere I find something that really could be tossed... like how long has it been since I did any scrapbooking so why am I saving all the movie ticket stubs in that one drawer?  Let it be known we watch a TON of movies and leave it at that.  In twenty years who will care what the exact date was that we took our eight-year old to see Percy Jackson (the first one) or that it was the first movie ever for our newborn?  Yep, no one!  And after three years of school for my daughter have I once ever wanted to go back and look at the daily school work and mounds of paper that I sentimentally have saved?  Nope!  So recycle bin here we come!  And that basket of spent batteries I can't bring myself to just throw in the garbage headed for the landfill so there can be more mercury in our soil and water supplies?  Either I will find a place that will recycle them or I'll just toss them.  Well... I'll hint to the hubby that they need to be tossed and let nature take it's course is more accurate. 

I don't know how long this might last before I run out of steam but when I do I'll just watch another episode and start all over again!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Next Generation of Addiction

It is long past time to write about something BESIDES pregnancy and childbirth!  (Holy shit, my apologies to some for my one-track mind lately!)  Gawd forbid I become one of THOSE people who only talk about their children.  You know, the kind I swore I would NEVER - I mean EVER - be! 

You will recall - or perhaps not if you're a new reader to this blog - that I have a serious addiction to my phone.  (You can catch up on things here and here if you wish.)  It's no secret to my friends and family that I'm one of the probably millions of Verizon users who have been patiently waiting for the claims of "the iPhone is coming soon" to be true while the dates come and go and it is still not available.  Remember, I am NOT a patient woman so the fact that I actually carried around an archaic Blackberry that didn't even have a camera on it far past my "new every two" upgrade window without bitching about it on my blog or on my Facebook page is a personal miracle.  I am also a very selfish person so I had the best phone in the family and my darling husband got, well, my leftovers usually.

This selfish, addicted smartphone whore finally had enough!  (And I mean ENOUGH!)

On top of this, my darling hubby who picked a shitty phone to upgrade to because "whatever" really wasn't okay when he let me pick his new one based solely on battery life specs online (and had to go back to the old phone that wouldn't hold a charge longer than about 12 hours) had finally had enough, too.

The stars were aligned on that fated day in early January when I got curious after playing with my friend's new phone she'd gotten for Christmas.  We are in a recession.  And the mass consumerism season that falls between Thanksgiving and "the winter holiday" must have been pretty dismal.  For I got a killer deal on a pair of new HTC Droid phones for us both.  We're talking a pinch-me-because-I-must-be-dreaming kind of a deal where you feel like a thief and just a little smug at the same time.


I thought I was addicted before... but the Blackberry was small potatoes compared to this baby.  It fully integrates with everything in my Google account.  It links my contacts to their Facebook profiles!  And their Twitter accounts!  It has a camera - that INSTANTLY uploads photos to Facebook without having to go to the browser even!  (My purse is lighter by at least a pound now that I don't have to carry a digital camera separate from my phone!)  It is like freebasing on pure {enter your drug of choice}.  Okay, *sigh* it feels like what I think that might feel like since I was always too scared to try anything harder than the occasional pot in college, but you get the gist, right?  It is supposed to be just like the iPhone only ALREADY ON VERIZON and with a cheaper data plan AND works as a phone when you actually need it.  Of course we all know that's just what people without an iPhone say to make themselves feel better that they have the cheaper imitation but I'm sticking with the "I don't know firsthand what I'm missing so I can delude myself" defense.

Best of all, the hubby got the phone he deserves and is also addicted which means he will never complain again about my addiction to my smartphone.  Of course it took him a while to get over the fact that it would cost him the price of a monthly data plan to reap the benefits of the smartphone (he's such a penny pincher about some things but not others...).  Going from a basic phone to a very advanced smartphone in one giant step does have it's learning curve.  His is still a love/hate relationship while he gets used to the quirks of a smartphone.  Like the first day he used the browser to research a brand of cheese in the aisle at the grocery store without having to call me to google it for him - that was a love moment.  But there's a ton of hate moments, too, when the touch screen keyboard types words he did NOT mean or the phone won't read his mind and re-display at every whim and he threatens to throw "the piece of shit" across the room.  I quietly remind him that he's right - he should definitely go back to his old phone - which was really my old phone before the Blackberry - because that was a much better unit for sure... and roll my eyes!

I still can't believe I thought the Blackberry was the epitomy of a great phone.  Or that I waited so long to upgrade to a better smartphone!  If you're on Verizon and unwilling to wait indefinitely for the iPhone, the Droid is truly a piece of heaven.  And I only kind of miss my qwerty keyboard which I could have had if I'd sprung for the Motorola model anyway...  guess I'm a cheapskate at heart, too - who knew!?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Joy of Writing

Ever have something that just plain makes you happy but you put it off because there are things you HAVE to do that somehow are always prioritized as more important?  Like cooking and washing bottles and laundry and all the things that come as part of the life happening around you?  And days pass by and one day you wake up and lament that those days have turned into weeks and weeks into months since you've taken time to do what you love to do for the mere joy of doing it?  That's me and my writing.  

With a newborn and a second grader there's literally a never-ending pile of laundry on top of every-three-hour feedings and homework and teaching big sister how to pick up after herself because Mom can't do it all anymore.  (Why I didn't see THAT issue BEFORE there was another child taking up most of my time I'll never know!)  When there are a few minutes of down time between parental responsibilities, there's usually a movie to be watched while snuggling on the couch with my hubby or a book that must be read before the book club deadline with another waiting in the wings waiting to be read just because I want to.  I did SO good in November and even parts of December when I had a goal and a deadline and a well-advertised and supported commitment to writing (and life's balance had not been upset by the addition of a new baby).  But January and February saw my poor novel put on the back burner and not touched for many long weeks.

That all changed this morning. 

I brewed a pot of coffee after the morning routine with baby, and instead of showering sat down at my laptop and reaquainted myself with my poor neglected characters who have patiently been waiting for me to return and finish their story.  I left several of them hanging after they took matters into their own hands and introduced brand new elements to the story I hadn't seen coming and didn't know how to resolve with the loose plot in my head.  I have promised not to let it come between us and they seem to have bought it and started whispering sweet nothings into my subconscious once again.

Is it silly to have a picture in my minds eye of myself as a novelist banging away at a keyboard with a kitschy coffee mug hoping I might be pounding away at the next big novel?  Something reminiscent of a photo from a jacket cover of my favorite novelist, Stephen King?  If it is, that's me - silly - because that's exactly what I'm doing.  Here I sit, sipping blueberry cobbler flavored coffee from the mug with the skeleton of a fish on it collected from some random camping trip while my soul sings with joy that I'm finally actually DOING what I've been saying I wanted to do "someday" since that day back in 9th grade in my english class talking to that sophisticated boy who's name I don't recall who loved Agatha Christie and inspired me to believe I could write something people might actually read...  And even if it doesn't happen to be the next big novel, it is MY first novel which makes it worthwhile regardless!

I quietly hit a new milestone this morning... 61,000 total words / 166 pages in MS Word. 

And now I need a shower....

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pavilion of Women

What an enigmatic little book. Typically I like to finish a book chosen for the book club and have a few days to stew it over in my mind before the discussion. I didn't get the chance with this one because it was so difficult to drag myself to the end and actually finish it - and not just because I have a newborn at home. I went to the discussion with little sense of whether I actually loved it or hated it and only through the discussion did I figure it out, sort of. It is a very slow and subtle story where halfway through I still didn't feel like anything had actually happened. Then, the end is so thrown together that even the big things that happened seemed to be glossed over. Seeing the different reactions from the women in the book club, I believe different ages will take different things away from this book. Because I am still relatively young, I did not understand many of the driving forces of the main character although many of my friends who have grown children and been married longer than I said they identified with her actions. My favorite part of the book was the journey of enlightenment and self-awareness the main character goes through at the end, although it was based on such a subtle premise that it was difficult to take it seriously as part of the story. I give it two stars because even though it was difficult to read and finish I was not unhappy that I had read it when I was through. And it yielded a very lively discussion for the book club group - one in which we rarely went off topic from the book itself which can't be said too often. If you want excitement and action, perhaps a novel on Chinese culture is not the best place to start. But if you want a book with many layers built on subtle actions where you must read deeply and perhaps more than once, this would be a good choice. It is rich in detail and insight into the daily lifestyle of wealthy and privileged Chinese families which was at times fascinating as well as disturbing.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Two weeks later... skinny jeans!

It was May, 2009...  I had just finished a 23-day round of HCG, lost 30 pounds and was ready to start another 40-day round.  I had become addicted to running.  Me, a runner - something I've never been in my entire life.  And then I got pregnant and it all had to be put on hold - including the running.  So, I walked instead.  And I did it consistently the entire time I was pregnant wishing I was able to run but taking what I could get.  And you know what?  It paid off big time!  My daughter was born exactly 15 days ago and yesterday I WORE MY SKINNY JEANS to the movies.  I'm not talking my skinny jeans from before I did HCG.  No, I'm talking about the jeans I had to buy after I lost 30 pounds because none of my jeans fit me anymore jeans. 

I thought for a minute it was a fluke - maybe they were just stretchy jeans and I hadn't actually paid attention when I bought them.  So, I stepped on the scale this morning... something I was kind of avoiding since I had just had a baby (that and mirrors!).  HOLY SHIT - I weigh less than I did after HCG!  (by a pound... but still!)  I haven't even been out for a walk since she was born and yet the weight has disappeared effortlessly.  This must be what they say about if you are active during pregnancy you have a much faster recovery.  With my first pregnancy eight years ago it took me eight weeks - eight! - and some major exercise just to get back into the jeans I was wearing when I got knocked up.  I was a different person then.  I ate like crap and didn't exercise and hadn't been smart enough to be frightened by a family history of high cholesterol, coronary artery disease and diabetes.

I'm glad I grew up and started taking life seriously!

I love knowing I can run again in a month after my 6-week checkup.  I love knowing I can wear anything I want in my closet without having to be limited to the small selection of maternity clothes I've been enduring for months.  But most of all, I love knowing that I took control of my health and changed my lifestyle for the better not even letting a silly thing like pregnancy detour me from my new life.  And I'll be around and healthy to enjoy the lives of my daughters because of it!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How could I forget?

Pregnancy sure does a number on you!  I had an ephiphany this morning proving just how intensely it can mess with even the basics of a mother's working mind. 

I had a really rough night with baby sister last night... I mean really rough.  She decided not to sleep in between her feedings and instead fussed for three hours while I tried to distract her with an intense action movie.  (Oh wait, that was me I was trying to distract so I didn't fall asleep with her in my arms.)  I dragged myself back out of bed after about 4 hours of sleep and wandered around the house in a stupor for several hours trying to will myself not to sleep the day away since I have a ton of things I wanted to do.  (And let's be honest, if I continue to sleep until noon how will I ever go back to work in a month?)  Several hours later, Daddy woke from his six-hour slumber (god night shift sucks!) and staggered into the kitchen for his daily cup of coffee. 

OH. MY. GOD!  I can drink coffee again!  Like, really drink coffee.  Like my pot-a-day habit might come in handy right now.  Why didn't I think of that sooner? 

Not only is lots of caffeine not great for baby in the womb, drinking it made me sick in the beginning of my pregnancy so I broke the habit quickly and effortlessly - while vowing to return to my beloved beverage THE MINUTE I WAS ABLE.  And it has been more than a week before I even thought of it?  WOW

Half a pot later, I feel like a new woman ready to head out on my first outing with two kids in tow - since we need more diapers, more wipes and more formula... ALREADY!  Who needs sleep when you've got the beverage of the gods, slightly sweetened with a touch of sugar?  Probably a good thing since HOLY SHIT that's a lot of laundry for such a little baby...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Big Show - week 38

My magical number is 38.  I officially gave birth to daughter number two exactly 38 weeks after she was conceived and the exact same gestational age as daughter number one.  It is not lost on me how lucky this makes me in the realm of pregnant women.  I had a phone call today from the research study I'm participating in checking up on me  in the "final weeks" of my pregnancy.  It totally hit me that if things had not gone how they did I theoretically could STILL be pregnant with almost an entire week looming ahead of me before my due date.  UGH!  But, I'm skipping ahead...

The final week of pregnancy was the worst in terms of up's and down's for me.  You see, I am a control freak.  Yes, me, the most impatient woman on the planet, is also a control freak.  (You probably already know this, right?)  Well, knowing that the first time around I had my baby at 38 weeks, I was pretty convinced I was going to have a repeat with this pregnancy if not by sheer will alone.  I had a doctor appointment on Tuesday - my second check - and I was really anticipating him telling me that things had progressed way further and that delivery was impending.  Like any minute.  After all, I'd had that really big scare when I thought I was going to have her on MY birthday and all those contractions were sure to have done something, right?  Well, I was about 1/2 a centimeter further dilated and about 5% more effaced.  What?  That's IT?  Are ya kidding me?  I had a panicked flash of the possibility of going past my anticipated 38 week mark and asked if I could schedule a date to be induced at 39 weeks.  Luckily, because this wasn't my first baby, that was totally do-able.  So, the ultimate drop-dead, I'll never have to wait a day longer, induction date was set - for Feb 9th.  It wasn't ideal, but at least it was something I could control and count on... After the doctor I headed out for a girl's night with some old friends which was a blast but even after the internal check I had zero contractions going on and I kept obsessing about it.  See, this is not how things were supposed to be going!

Wednesday was totally uneventful other than the discomfort and overall miserable existence that all women at 37 1/2 weeks of pregnancy feel.  And if I'm being honest - judging from friends sharing this journey with me - I know it could have been much worse in comparison.  But, I was uncomfortable and I didn't want to endure another day.  Not one single day.

Thursday was the day I had pinned all my hopes on - the day of my prenatal massage with a doula who was advertised as being able to induce labor at will.  I should have known it would be too good to be true but I was a fool and placed it as my Plan A - hanging all my hopes on getting a fabulous massage and then having a baby that night or the next day.  I walked into the spa and my girl came out to greet me and - just my luck - she was 32 weeks pregnant herself and thus could not use the aromatherapy needed for what I wanted without putting both of us into labor.  So, yes, I got a great massage - on my side instead of on my stomach with a special massage table which I had also anticipated - and was sent home with some aromatherapy and two pressure points identified so I could try to induce labor - do it yourself style.  Really?!  I know me and the hubby are big DIY'ers but this took the cake.  I had this little vial of not-so-pleasant smelling oil that I carried to the movie with me since it worked out that big sister was hanging with her BFF so me and the hubby took full advantage of what could be our last night out for a while.  I kept taking whiffs of the concoction and then did the accupressure - or what I hoped was the accupressure - when I got home.  I went to bed with smelly oil rubbed on my big belly and the beginnings of bruises on my shins and my feet from my accupressure attempt.  Knowing that plan A might just be a bust, I implemented Plan B early - herbs to induce contractions - and took my first dose before bed.  Did I wake up in the night in full blow labor ready to head to the hospital?  No.  And let me tell you, I was so pissed when I woke up and actually had to go into work on Friday.  See, this was not in the plan.  Thursday night I was supposed to go into labor and there would never be any way I would be at work on Friday.  Instead, I took three more doses of my herbs and worked all day on Friday with MAYBE a random contraction here or there but nothing significant to report.  I was pissed.  I hate it when I cannot control a situation - any situation, this one included!  We went for Mexican food and I ate spicy - at this point I was desperate!

Saturday morning I woke up with still nothing happening.  I got big sister off to tumbling and was hanging out on Facebook and trying not to scream in frustration about the fact that I was now officially 38 weeks pregnant with no delivery in sight.  Plans A and B were a bust and I was trying to figure out a way to lift my girth into hubby's jacked up truck - that I haven't ridden in for many months because it was impossible to get into with my condition - so we could go four-wheeling hoping that would work as a pathetic Plan C.  At about 10:30 AM, sitting at my kitchen table I had a contraction.  Nothing major, just a contraction that felt like any other I'd been having for weeks.  Nothing painful, no intake of breath, nothing.  I was pissed, yet again.  But then, about ten minutes later, I had another one.  I told myself not to get my hopes up but I did anyway.  I sat there, playing on Facebook when I should have been writing my novel, and waited for another one knowing full well that it might not come.  But you know what?  Another one came... and for the next hour I had contraction after contraction about every 10 minutes.  I calmly told hubby about an hour into it that I thought I might be in labor - since of course I didn't want to jinx it by getting all excited about it.  An hour later, they were more like seven minutes apart and I started to let myself get a little excited and thought "maybe I better figure out where big sister is going if this is really it" and called my brother to launch the plans in case it was really the big show.  Of course my bags and big sister's bags were all packed - had been for days. 

At 12:30, they got closer together - like four minutes now - and I told hubby it was time to go.  He was a little disconcerted because apparently he thought there should have been more fanfare than me sitting on the couch making little notes on a post-it note pad every few minutes and knitting to keep my mind distracted from what was happening and hoping like hell it was the real deal.  He started panicking and grabbing bags and freaking out and I calmly coordinated everything that needed to happen to get us all swiftly out the door and on the way to the hospital after dropping big sister off to spend the rest of the day and night with her cousins.  I remember on the drive thinking "what if this isn't it?" and started thinking how horrid it would be if this was in fact a false alarm.  Yes, I was having contractions every four minutes but I wasn't in any pain and shouldn't I be in pain at this point?  I voiced my concern and how mad I would be if this wasn't it to hubby who of course said all the right things and calmed me - whether they were true or not, it still worked.

We arrived at the hospital and we must both have been thinking that there was a chance they would send us home because we both decided not to take anything in with us except my purse.  Since I was pre-registered there wasn't much to do to check in and minutes later I was in a room getting hooked up to monitors as an observation patient.  Now remember, I've been in labor now for two full hours and then some with the drive.  So when the nurse finally checked me - after I politely let her know that I had already been dilated to a 4 1/2 on Tuesday - I was dismayed to hear that I had pretty much done nothing as far as dilating any further.  Still a 4+ and about 80% effaced.  My hopes of staying were dying a slow painful death but I tried to stay positive while fielding calls from my sister who was in charge of when and who to notify in the event we were staying. Who knows how long we'd been there when finally I asked whether we were staying.  The nurse said it looked like we were but she had to verify it with the doctor.

At this point, it all seemed so surreal still.  I'm not in any real pain - yes, a contraction is something you can feel and it is a bit uncomfortable but still nothing I would term as painful.  I got my IV started - the nurse did a piss-poor job and I had blood all over the sheets and couldn't use my hand afterwards until I complained and got a half-assed re-do on the tape job.  And my parents had arrived to wait things out with us after getting word that we were officially staying.  I'm a private person and I had made it well known that no one would be allowed to witness the actual birth or anything remotely related to it (not to mention the still very strict visitor restrictions in place at the hospital) so my siblings and others in the family continued to go about their business of a typical Saturday (and watched Facebook for hubby's postings to keep them updated I'm sure!) But, Mom was bound and determined that she and my Dad would be there, so they were and had to leave the room about every 20 minutes when the nurses came in and had to do things.

Next up - the epidural...  I'll be honest.  I had been toying with the thoughts of seeing how long it would take before I had actual pain before asking for drugs.  (I blame a blog I read where the woman decided to have a natural child birth the second time around and touted it as an awesome experience.)  At this point, I was already dilated to a 5+ which is more than halfway there and still nothing actually painful.  But then, I had a doosey of a contraction that went off the charts according to my Mom who could actually see the monitor.  (Don't get me started on how annoying this control freak thought it was that she COULDN'T SEE THE MONITOR from my position on the bed!)  That one I felt and it hurt.  So, when the nurse came in with some kind of bag of fluid to hang on my IV pole I promptly asked how long before I could get my epidural.  She informed me that all I needed was to have this entire bag of IV fluids in me before they could do it.  At that moment, I had another painful contraction and I made her be very, very specific on how long that would take.  To which she responded, "not long".  I asked for further clarification - I need quality answers to appease my control freak nature after all.  "Does that mean 10 minutes or 30 minutes?"  She assured me it would only be about 10 minutes and left the room before I could mutter under my breath things I really hoped she couldn't hear because they were mean and implied I'd kick her ass if she was lying.  (What was I thinking - I'm a super wuss and I needed my drugs!)

Ten minutes later, my favorite guy walked in with a cart full of horrors - or so hubby told me later - to give me my epidural.  I vaguely remember him being good looking but that could have just been the endorphins kicking in that promised I wouldn't have to feel any more pain in a few minutes because of THAT GUY that just walked in the door.  My parents shuffled out as he walked in and blissful numbness followed about a half hour later - about the time that hubby related to my parents the details of how long the needle was that I'd just had inserted into my spinal column.  Probably could have lived the rest of my life not knowing those details but oh well.

After that, things calmed down and I just kind of laid there on the bed with heavy legs and numb toes.  At one point I had a bit of clausterphobia because I couldn't feel or move my feet - another control freak issue I'm guessing - but Mom (who did I mention is a nurse who takes care of antepartum moms and babies at a different hospital?) assured me that was normal.  She was a better nurse than my own labor and delivery nurse was.  Luckily, that was quickly remedied with a shift change at 3:00 when I got an awesome nurse who catered to my need for specific answers and knowledge without having to be prompted and who I was very happy with.  Good ridance to the piss-poor IV insterter with the vague answers!

I found out my doctor was not on call and thus one of his partners was going to be taking care of my delivery.  On the one hand, I now had to immediately feel comfortable with a total stranger who would be seeing me in a light only my husband really ever did and be okay with it.  But, I had heard nothing but great things about this doctor from several close friends who were patients and I wasn't disappointed.  He breezed in, introduced himself and then checked me to see how things were progressing.  Only about a 6 still but he assured me it would only be a couple of hours and inserted an internal heart monitor to monitor the baby which broke my water.  Cool - at least I was past the potential of ruining furniture with that happening!

Next up - a catheter to drain my bladder since I now cannot walk to the restroom on my own legs.  And, no biggie since I'm numb from the waist down.  Except I wasn't completely numb it turns out when she started to prep and I could feel it and it was painful.  I could tell it caught my nurse off guard when I said "OUCH" and she had to clarify that I could feel that.  Um, yeah, I felt that!  So, I got to see the semi-attractive anethesiologist for another dose of epidural with instructions from my nurse to keep pinching my lower belly and call her when I could no longer feel it.  I should have seen this as the omen it was...  I finally was numb enough for the catheter which went in without a hitch.  Second time's the charm I guess.

This is the point in the process where there's really not much to do but wait.  And it was about then that hubby and dad decided they were hungry and were just going to 'run to the cafeteria' - on the other side of the very large hospital - and grab a bite to eat.  Never mind that I had been reduced to HFCS-flavored ice chips having failed to eat a proper meal myself before arriving at the hospital, I did not want him to miss the birth and control freak came blasting to the surface insisting he not go.  Luckily, the doctor appeared and after a check assured him they had plenty of time.  Things had started to go much slower and while he thought we'd "be there" by now, we weren't.  So, the guys left and Mom and I hung out.  Yes, they made it back in time which kind of pissed me off because then I couldn't be justified in not wanting him to leave and left me only feeling jealous that they'd actually gotten to eat a meal.  The rest of the waiting game was spent entertaining family visitors who had come from a couple of hours drive away to visit me assuming I still had a couple of weeks left before delivery and had to go home.  After they left, having dispensed gifts from that branch of the family tree, things got a little exciting.

All of a sudden, I could feel a contraction - and it hurt like hell.  WTF? I have an epidural so I don't have to feel those, right?!?  I panicked and remembered I had a little magic button that I could push to get extra dose of epidural which I promptly scrambled to find and push - with the hand that only halfway worked because of the half-assed tape job on my IV.  Next contraction hit and I COULD STILL FEEL IT and IT STILL HURT!  I pressed the call light for the nurse who came rushing in and checked me and said I was complete.  Wait, what does that mean?  Oh God, you're kidding, time to push?  I'm so not ready for that!!  And why can I feel my contractions now?  I don't remember being able to feel it last time!  My parents had been ushered out when the nurse arrived and it was just me and hubby and all sorts of bustling around.  My nurse called the anesthesiologist to bring me another dose of extra kick for my epidural and then there was a moment of just me and hubby and the stuffed animal big sister sent in her stead and made me promise to have with me when her little sister was born because she couldn't be there and then I was crying because big sister wasn't there and I was scared and hadn't really prepared for this part.  Hubby helped me pull myself together and then the bustling was underway again with the doctor arriving and the nurse preping the sterile table and lights coming out of the ceiling like something out of Star Trek while the comfortable bed I'd been lying in magically transformed into some contraption with stirrups that now looked more like a mideval torture device.  And now I have to push because it hurts and I can't help it and can I push?  I remember the doctor telling me to wait and me looking up like "are you kidding me?" and seeing him and the nurse scrambling to get him into scrubs with his hands up in the familiar pose from TV indicating he was sterile and ready to go so I cut him some slack but it REALLY HURT not to push!  Then a new guy walked in and he was the new anesthesiologist and the nurse said I don't think we need you and I said, YES WE DO because I don't want to feel when she is born like I can feel this now!  So, he stepped up to the bed on my left side and reached across my body to insert a large syringe of liquid into my epidural port at my right shoulder while hubby held my right hand and the doctor said "OK, on the next one push."

And the contraction hit and I pushed and I could feel everything and I screamed - at the top of my lungs.  The only coherent words I remember were "I DON'T WANT TO FEEL THIS!!" and then just screaming and crying and then I needed a breath and I heard the doctor say "the head is out - one more good push" and I was still in the throws of the contraction - and the pain - and my lungs were full again and I was pushing and screaming and then it was over and the baby was out and the anesthesiologist pulled his arm away...

Yes, one contraction.  Two pushes.  And then a baby.  And about 5 minutes later - just in time for the doctor to stitch me up - I was numb from the additional dose of epidural.  And couldn't walk for several hours.

Little sister was born at 6:41pm on January 30th weighing 6 pounds 14 onces and measuring 21 inches long.  She is amazing and tiny (or ginormous compared to my friend's baby who is still in the NICU) and beautiful.  And I don't even blame her for all the pain because it slowly faded and I am recovering even better than I remember from the first time around.  What an amazing thing - to bring another living creature into the world who now will grow and become an individual who will probably make me crazy as her mother and will amaze me every day like her big sister does. 

We've been home for a week now and adjusting to sleepless nights and feeding every 3-4 hours and diapers and all the other things that come with a newborn.  Big sister got to meet her about 15 hours after she was born at the hospital because she waited just long enough to be born for them to lift the visitor restrictions allowing siblings under 14 to visist just as we were transfered to a room from labor and delivery.  I guess that alone made the wait worth it, in retrospect anyway.  Little sister and I are both Aquarius and thus both stubborn...  what a ride it will be!