Sunday, July 31, 2016

My Newest Baby Girl

I had a baby.  She is swinging peacefully asleep at the moment, enjoying the freedom of her first big blowout.  This is my first moment to sit and write about this beautiful little girl and I am so excited to be doing it.  I am so glad she is here.

This pregnancy was harder than the others.  I don't have much to complain about.  A lot of people have it way harder than me.  But, in comparison of 1-4, this was pretty rough.  My body hurt the majority of the time.  I gained plenty of weight, but the kicker was the water balloons that replaced my ankles for a good two months.  They would get so bad that by the end of the day I wouldn't be able to point and flex my feet even a little.  I am so happy to have my ankles back.

This pregnancy didn't stop me from planning a very busy summer. I flew up to film my mom's dance recital at about 33 weeks. The belly and I went to girls camp at about 35 weeks.  We took a trip to Phoenix with my side of the family at about 37 weeks.  I even got to have my karaoke ladies night at Anya's house the night before Scarlet got back in town.  We had way too much fun.

 And then about a week and a half before my due date, my sister Courtney flew into town, picked up my kids and flew them all to Washington.

**Side Story** I took my kids to the ticket counter with Courtney to get them all checked in.  I am not sure what we did to the ticket lady, but she was not happy with us.  She kept trying to charge us fees for things I am never charged for and she wasn't interested in talking to me at all, the mother of all of the children about to fly away.  I knew before I asked that my hopes of getting an escort ticket to help the get to the gate were going to be very unsuccessful and I was correct.  So I walked my kids up to security, watched and made sure they all made it through, and then I had to turn around and go home empty handed.  I cried like the very hormonal pregnant woman that I was.  I can't even imagine what people were thinking as this large, sobbing woman walked through the airport.  I was pretty bummed until I got home.  Then I got over it and enjoyed myself **

I spent the next week alone in my home.  It was so very strange and so very wonderful.  I cleaned my house from top to bottom.  I went to bed aching almost every night because I had been bending down to clean baseboards or reaching up to scrub ceilings.  My kitchen drawers look ah-mazing.  I cleaned my windows and there are still no fingerprints on them.  And, even spending several hours everyday cleaning, I still found plenty of time to eat, watch a lot of TV, and read my book.  I love being a mom, but wow it was a very enjoyable week.

Jon took a lot of time off that week and we lived like we were young and childless again.  We went out to dinner many many times and enjoyed some wonderful catch up time after a very busy work year.

Scarlet flew back in town on Thursday the 28th.  I made the long walk to the end of the terminal to watch her get off the plane that she had just flown all by herself.  Her uncle Bryan had driven her to the airport and waited with her at the gate.  He bought her a slice of pizza and a Sprite and made her feel like a very special niece.


And then it was just Scarlet and I for a few days.  She had her play dress rehearsal that evening and the rest of the time was ours.  We went to the mall and walked and walked.  She helped me finish some house projects.  We bought delicious food.  It was a glorious few days.

Saturday, July 30th dawned and we got to hang out with Jon.  He went on a long run that morning and then took us to lunch.  We then swung by a birthday party for one of his employees.  It was right around here (about 3 p.m.) that I started feeling contractions.  They were more than 10 minutes apart and pretty mild so I just hung out and quietly kept track of them on my phone app.  We left the party at about 4 p.m. and I finally told Scarlet and Jon that baby time had begun.  Jude came so fast that Jon went into instant panic mode.  He drove us home so we could get Scarlet to her friend Sofia's house and he kept throwing things in a bag for us.  He once again criticized my lack of finished packing.  I reminded him that 1) you can't pack the things you use every day in your hospital bag in advance. and 2) we were not going to the hospital yet.

Scarlet made it to Sofia's and Jon and I headed back to the house.  He busied himself around some more while I tried to keep the contractions coming.   When I was moving and walking I could get them to about 6 minutes apart but if I sat down at all they went back to 10 minutes apart.  So I bounced on a yoga ball for awhile and then talked Jon into taking a walk around the neighborhood with me.  It was ridiculously hot outside but contractions definitely picked up.

I had not prepaid for an epidural (something you are required to do with cash pay babies) and I wasn't planning on getting one so I didn't want to get to the hospital too early.  Plus I find most of the check in stuff cumbersome.  I don't want to fill out paperwork, get stuck with needles and get 'monitored and checked' over and over again.  I just want to get in there and have a baby.

At about 8:10 p.m., I could feel a lot more pressure in my contractions and I could tell they were the real ones.  They were still kind of far apart, but I decided to err towards caution and head in anyway.  We got to the hospital at about 8:45 p.m.  I delivered at Southern Hills Hospital again.

By then I was in full concentration mode.  I had my meditation track on and I was doing some major deep breathing through some very strong contractions.  It is much easier when you are focusing so annoying questions and paperwork are not something I enjoy. I left as much of it as I could to Jon.  He's so funny in those situations.  He starts second guessing himself and before I know it, he is asking me what diseases or conditions I have that he needs to mark on the form.  Ten years of marriage, sneaking up on 11.  I am pretty sure he should at least have my major medial knowledge down.  I only lightly snapped at him once though, which I am pretty sure is good for a woman in the middle of childbirth.

Jon and I both warned the nurse that nurses had delivered my last two babies because they tend to come fast.  I love nurses, they are wonderful people, but they just never believe me.  I must have an untrustworthy face.  She checked me and I was only at a 6.  At first, I was bugged by this because I didn't want to get to the hospital too early.  But the contractions were big ones and I knew that this was the real deal.  She called the doctor on call, who decided not to head in until I was at a 7.  I knew from this moment that a nurse was delivering my baby again.

They then proceeded to fit a port into my arm, which always takes several tries and is just about as miserable as a contraction.  They drew some blood to find out my blood type.  (I'm O+, I told them about 10 times, don't worry they checked anyway).  And all this time I am having some real old contractions that take all of my concentration to not scream through.  With Jude, my water had already broken when I arrived at the hospital.  My water still had not broken at this point and the pressure of that was extremely painful.  I was really tempted to grab a big object and just break it myself.  Don't worry, I did not do this.

When I really can get yourself to breathe through contractions instead of clenching, I can just feel them pushing things down.  I can feel the change and the stretching.  It still hurts like crazy but I can feel each one progressing into something.  About 45 minutes later at around 9:40 p.m., I had to start pushing.  There was just nothing I could do about it.  Nurses started moving faster, doctors were called with more urgency, baby equipment was rushed into the room.  And then 10 minutes later my water broke like a water gun.  The nurse literally dodged the gush of water Matrix style.  Oh there was a lot of pain.  I started losing my concentration and struggled to keep going.  I just wanted to keep pushing so it would stop.

And then, there was a head.  And then, there was a whole baby girl at the bottom of my bed at 10:10 p.m..  Three babies, no labor beds.  Well, I warned them.

And then, the biggest shock of them all.  My husband checked, and then checked again to confirm, and told me I had just delivered a baby girl.  I don't know why I was so sure I was having a boy. I probably just wanted to prepare myself, but I had had the feeling more than once that I needed to be ready to have a boy again.  And I was ready.  I had to remind myself multiple times that I had just delivered a girl.  It really was a girl. I had a second daughter.

They placed her in my arms and she was gooey and brand new and perfect.

Then the lousy part started.  The doctor came after a long chunk of time to finally deliver my placenta.  That happened quickly but then the stitching started.  The problem with no epidural is you don't get to be numb for any of the post stuff.  I still prefer the delivery part drug free but wow if I could have gotten a post baby epidural, I would have.  My bleeding wasn't stopping as quickly as they would like and she kept finding new places to stitch so I had to endure a good 30 minutes of lydocane shots, stitches that I could almost not but still kind of feel and a nurse pushing down extremely hard on my abdomen to get out clots.  It was horrible.

The only redeeming part was I could look over and see my husband holding my very awake baby girl in the corner.  She just stared up at him with wide open grey eyes, peaceful as can be the whole time.  In the end they gave me two different kind of drugs to slow down the bleeding, but that went fine and didn't cause any extra stress.  It was so nice when everyone finally backed away from my nether regions and left me alone.

I got to nurse my sweet baby for the first time and bundle her up and watch her sleep.  She was 8 lbs. 4 oz. and 21 inches long.  She has a head full of light brown hair and grey eyes and a pointy chin that perfectly matches her siblings.

Jon and I spent a major part of the day deciding on her name.  We had a short list for either gender but Ridley was our favorite.  We had not even really discussed a middle name yet so we went through a list of every name we could think of.  We chose D in honor of my mom.  It makes her name sound a little big like a nursery rhyme but it's worth it.  And thus she became

Ridley D Nielsen

The rest of the time at the hospital included tests, measurements, bad food and a little bit of sleep here and there.  The highlight of the day, other than hanging out with the sweetest of babies, was when Scarlet joined us at the hospital.  She got there at about 4 p.m. and still didn't know that she now had a little sister.  I had Jon film her reaction, hoping it would be a major one.  But she held her excitement in a little more than I thought she would and was very peaceful about the whole thing.  But oh my goodness does she love this little baby.  I don't have to ask her to do anything.  If anything, I spend most of my time convincing her that occasionally I need to take care of the baby.  But if it isn't nursing or diaper changing, Scarlet is pretty sure she can handle it.  She is convinced that she is the big sister to the most beautiful baby girl in the world.

We were stuck in the hospital until 11 PM that night so Ridley could get one more test before they signed her out.  It was late, we were beat and really wanted to get home, but they eventually did let us leave with our two daughters in tow.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Arizona Style

Our school took the week before Halloween off for their term break.  Jon couldn't get away from work so the kids and I hit the road to Phoenix!  We crashed at Brad and Jules house and livened up their house a bit :)  "Livened up their house" is a nice way of saying we were loud and messy and only occasionally destructive.  Thank goodness they love us.

Jules did a ton of research of fun Halloween activities going on this week and we had an awesome place to visit every day.  Pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hay rides, we did it all and it was all a ton of fun.  We even had a fun morning at the park.

How great is Kylie's Halloween teacher vest?

Owen is the cutest ever.

Scarlet and Rhode both loved being in charge of their baby cousin Owen... he occasionally loved it back :)

Fun story.  We carted down a couch for Kylie and Stephen for their brand new apartment but we didn't see Kylie right away so the couch sat happily in the bed of the truck for a day or two.  Finally, we were headed to Kylie right after a quick trip to pumpkin patch/corn maze.  This corn maze was legit.  It was huge and very easy to get lost.  Jules and Owen took the short path but my kids wanted to do the big one. We were almost through when the wind started picking up and the corn stalks started swaying.  I looked up and for sure a monsoon was just minutes from hitting us.  The corn maze was our last part of the adventure so we booked it out of the maze just as the clouds let loose.  We were soaked on the way to the car.  I just kept thinking the couch is getting wet!

We said goodbye to Jules with a quick text message and drove as fast as we could to get out of the rain as soon as possible.  We only had to drive for about 10 minutes to get out of the storm, monsoons are nice like that, but the couch was pretty wet.

We made it to Kylie's apartment and loaded the kids inside with a show.  Then the two of us stared at the large, wet couch trying to decide if we could truly lug it up the stairs to her apartment.  I think we could have done it, but right then the missionaries stopped by.  And not just one set, three sets of missionaries.  They offered to carry our couch up for them.  Who could deny them an opportunity to serve?!  So the couch was safely brought upstairs, the cushions were laid on the patio to dry and the adventure was overall very successful.

Brad and Jules hosted a very fun and very well attended Halloween party.  They have a great group of people in their area.  So we got everyone dressed up, enjoyed some great food and then went trick or treating around their neighborhood.  Here's our costumes for the year.  The kids weren't up for a theme this year so everyone chose their own getup.

Scarlet as Sofia the First

Rhode as Abraham Lincoln

Asher as the Red Power Ranger

I went as Liv from iZombie

And then there was the cutest chipmunk of all time, our Jude

Kylie and Stephen went back a few decades and came as Zach and Kelly from Saved by the Bell

But the true winners were the Brad Earl family, the Three Amigos

The trip was so perfect we are hoping to reenact it next year!

Monday, October 5, 2015

My Girlcation

This was a great vacation year for me.  Just a month after getting back from Peru, I got to jet set again but this time I was all by myself.  I love vacationing with my husband but when traveling to places where you want to spend the majority of your time wandering and eating, it's best to leave the adventurer at home!

My trip started with a flight to Seattle to celebrate my Aunt Julie's wedding.  It was a fantastic party, Julie looked knockout beautiful, and I got to see my sister's new house as well.  Such a great side trip.

I cut my hair again right before my trip.  This was the cut I was going for the first time.  It was a lot of fun having really short hair.  Oh, and Julie had a photo booth.

From Seattle, I hopped on a flight straight for NYC!  My mom goes every year to a dance costume show and I haven't been back since my internship days so it was a ton of fun to go back.

I got in a day before my mom and the rest of the crew so I crashed at a friend's apartment for two nights.  Marie Davies Howick is one of my favorite people.  We met at BYU and went from journalism acquaintances to two crazy chicks hopping a plane to Ghana and spending six weeks straight in each other's company.  We haven't had a good chat in years and it was fantastic to get some catch up time.

The next day Marie headed to work like the responsible adult she is and I literally spent the day wandering New York by myself.  I felt 19 again.  I even got off on my old subway stop from my Letterman day and walked all the way down to the Donut Plant on 23rd.

I got a chance to check out the Letterman studios on my way by.  Other than the obvious host name change, everything looked just about the same.  I made a note on when they were doing standby tickets and kept on walking.

My day included fantastic donuts, delicious ramen, and a few other snacks in between.  I also scored those standby tickets and got to sit in the audience for the filming of the Stephen Colbair show.  During his pre-show Q & A, Colbair chose me to ask a question.  I told him I used to be an intern for Letterman and asked what it was like to be an intern for him.  He said it was great to be an intern for him but then told me a story about hanging out while his girlfriend interviewed to be an intern for Letterman.  He ended up getting an interview and they offered the position to him instead of his girlfriend.  Senator McCain and Misty Copeland were the guests.  Such a great day.

I got to spend more time with the Howicks that night.  I could have spent the whole week just chatting with them and it would have been worth the trip.  I really hope we can get our families together sometime soon, plans are in the works!

And then the rest of our crew arrived.  My mom, Lori Baker and Valaree Roylance.  I was the youngest in the group by about two decades but with a combo of short hair and being surrounded by ridiculously young looking women, I am pretty sure we all looked about the same generation.

We hit up Broadway with Matilda, An American in Paris, & Finding Neverland.  We caught a filming of the Meredith Vieira Show.  We had an amazing 5  course prefixe lunch at Bouley.  We caught chocolate tour and an Italian tour, both were delicious.  We ate a lot and ate well.  So many good moments.

Grandpa Bert and Grandma Charla spent the week with my kids during my absence so I could have this amazing adventure.  I am one lucky lady!