Aven’s Birth Story

6 Dec

In honor of Aven’s 17 week birthday, I thought I’d post her birth story.

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Aven was due on July 19. Everybody kept saying they thought she’d come early. But deep inside, I knew that she wouldn’t come before her due date. I had a hunch that she’d be late. At work, everybody guessed the date they thought she’d come. My guess was July 30. I hoped that she’d come sooner, but I had no idea she’d be even later than that.

After my due date came and went, in the 41st week, I started visiting my midwife every day. We employed a whole bunch of natural methods to get things going. On Monday, July 29, I was only dilated to 1 and my cervix was posterior. At 1, they couldn’t even sweep my membranes. So they sent me home with some herbs to drink and told me to pump. I did as instructed, but the next day I was still only at a 1. When they performed a non-stress test, she wasn’t reacting the way she wanted, so they sent us out for lunch since it had been a couple hours since I had eaten. While we were out I dilated to a 2 and my cervix moved forward a little. That was encouraging, so they put in a foley balloon, which has the potential to dilate me to a 4. They sent us home and told me to try castor oil. So, I mixed up some orange juice, milk, and castor oil for a yummy evening snack. Let me tell you, I’m not sure if I could ever make myself do that again. But, that did seem to kick things into gear. While I was spending all my time in the bathroom I began having some pretty intense contractions. I went to bed to try to sleep, excited that things might finally be happening. I was using the Hypnobabies CDs and dealing pretty well, I thought. Alec was right there, massaging my back and helping me. I called my doula and she came out. When my contractions were about 2 minutes apart I called the midwife and told her I wanted to go into the birth center. It took us a while to get out to the car, and after a torturous hour long drive, we arrived. The midwife checked me and I was still only dilated to a 2, but the baby’s head was very low. She told me to go home and sleep. After I asked how I could possibly sleep with such strong contractions so close to each other, she offered some morphine, which I gladly accepted after Alec and I decided it would be worth it.

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Living in a hotel, waiting to go into “real” labor.

At this point, I couldn’t fathom another hour-long drive and then another drive when she started to come for real. So, we got a hotel room nearby. We were lucky to get one at all, as there was an outdoor expo and nearly everything in the valley was booked, from Ogden to South Salt Lake. And we didn’t want to be that far from the birth center. But, we got lucky and we found one down the street. After we arrived, I laid down and slept until late morning. The next day, when we went back to the birth center, things were about the same. We were advised that things could start up at any moment and to just take it easy that day. Alec’s parent’s arrived in town that day. They had been planning to visit that week, but at that time they planned it we all thought Aven would be about two weeks old. So we just hung out with them and I had contractions sporadically throughout the day and we met my parents for dinner. That night, I decided I wanted a bath. As I was about to step in, my water broke. I called the midwife and she told me not to get in the bath and try to get some sleep. Unfortunately, that night, I did not really get any sleep. My contractions were strong, but they weren’t consistent. I never found a real pattern that night, or into the next day. After we checked out of the hotel, we went to a park to kill some time before our appointment with the midwife. I was so uncomfortable and discouraged. But Alec was incredible support throughout all of the contractions and discouragement and crying. He kept my hopes up and was optimistic and I’m so grateful to him for that.

After we got to the birth center we were told that I had dilated to a 3. But, Aven just barely didn’t meet the non-stress test baseline that they wanted. And, since my water had been broken for more than 12 hours, they wanted us to go the University of Utah hospital and they performed the same test. If they thought she was OK, we could go back to the birth center. But, if they were concerned, we’d need to transfer there. So, we got into the car anyway and went to Paradise Bakery for food. We knew they wouldn’t let me eat once we got there. A few times I had to get up and bend over the bench during contractions. I’m sure the other patrons thought it was interesting. Not quite what they expected when they went to dinner. I was pretty emotional and upset that our planned labor and delivery was not turning out how I wanted it to. I was mourning the birth that I had planned and wanted so badly. I knew that there was no way the hospital was going to release us, as I was a day short of 42 weeks.

The midwife sent all my medical records to the emergency OB unit at the University of Utah. We were in the triage room for at least an hour. While I was there I was having very strong contractions that were getting closer and closer together. These were very difficult but I remembered my breathing and Alec coached me through each contraction. I got very upset that we were there for so long because the room was not comfortable at all. So I sent Alec out to ask them what was taking them so long. Shortly thereafter they came to get me and the midwives at the U accepted me into their care. I was lucky enough to get a really great midwife. She discussed every option with me and made me repeat back the advantages and disadvantages of both. We decided to start pitocin to induce labor because even after all those contractions in the triage room, I was still only dilated to a 3. This was very late at night and the anesthesiologist came into ask me if I wanted an epidural. At this time I was bouncing on a ball and having some pretty good contractions. When he asked me I told him no and then promptly threw up. I got into the tub to help with the pain and things really got worse. I was so tired and deflated that I couldn’t remember any of what I was supposed to do to get through contractions. Alec and I said a little prayer about getting an epidural. Before we were even done I sent him out to find the anesthesiologist. I was worried that if I didn’t get it done right away I wouldn’t be able to sit still long enough to let him do it. So I got out of the tub and I was so cold I was freezing and shivering. They sat me on the bed and put the bedside table in front of me and Alec held my arms down and everyone else surrounded me while the anesthesiologist did his thing. I was swinging my legs because I just wanted to be able to move. I kept thinking if I could just get up and run away the pain would stop. I kept picturing myself doing it. The epidural seemed to take ages and when he was done I was disappointed that it didn’t provide instantaneous relief. But it did kick in within a few minutes and I felt so much better.

Before I had gotten into the tub my mom came. It was hard to communicate to our parents exactly what was going on with so much emotion and pain happening at the same time. She only knew I was going to the hospital. So, she came up and she was with us for a few minutes but she left after a while because it was so hard for her to see me in so much pain. So as soon as I got the epidural she left. She got Alec a sandwich and we both slept for a few hours. The only side effect I had from the epidural was a headache, and they gave me an ibuprofen for that. When the nurse came back to check me around 1:00 am I was dilated to a 7. Which was only a few hours after they had started the pitocin. She told me to let her know when it felt like I needed to have a bowel movement, which means you’re ready to push. Well, around an hour later, after I had been debating if I was really feeling that or not, I called the nurse. They checked me again and I was a 10 and ready to push. She was already so low that they could see her head. I pushed for about 45 minutes or so and didn’t feel a thing. I was disappointed that I had to lie in bed on my back but I couldn’t exactly walk when I couldn’t feel my legs. Pushing was pretty easy and Aven was born at 4:31 am on Friday, August 2. She was 6 lbs 11 oz and 19 in long. The moment she was born they put her on my chest and she immediately pooped on me. Twice. I’m so grateful she waited until she was outside to do that; otherwise we both may have had some problems.

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Aven’s first picture, taken by her daddy.

Nothing can describe the joy I felt when they placed her on my chest. All I could say was how much I loved her and how happy I was to finally have her in my arms. After a few minutes she was grunting and the pediatricians came to the room to make sure she could breathe OK. She starting losing her pinkness so they took her to the nursery. Alec went with her but as soon as she got there she starting crying and got everything out of her lungs and she was fine. When she got back to the room she nursed right away. She must have eaten well because when we left the hospital she had already regained her birth weight. This, I am told, is not usually expected until two weeks later. We both recovered very quickly.

Although things didn’t go the way we planned, I think it worked out as well as it could have given the circumstances. We were very well taken care of at the U and I am very grateful for that. Those first few moments I held her after she was born will always be on my mind. It was like meeting someone I loved dearly that I hadn’t seen for a very long time. It can simply be described as exquisite joy.

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My precious little baby.

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Here comes the stork

8 Mar

Well my friends, my biological tik-tokked and here I am, nearly 21 weeks pregnant with a precious baby girl. She’s due in mid July. I really should have posted an announcement sooner but I’m full of excuses. I have a whole brain full of blog updates, but they’ll just have to wait for another day. Because today I’d like to present our announcement.

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Photo Credit: Nicole McMillan Photography

The baby carriage is mine. It came from the home of my great great grandma (my middle name sake), Alice Elma Carr. My great grandma probably played with it as a kid, so it has special meaning to me. It actually is for dolls, but you could definitely put an infant in it. My mom had it restored for me and gave it to me last year. Isn’t it awesome?

Ch-ch-changes

22 Jun

Lately I’ve had a few people ask me if I still blog. Usually the answer is just a cringe. I had no intention of letting my posts become so irregular. But alas, such is life. There’s just something about blogging that hasn’t compelled me to quit it all together. It keeps drawing me back in. So here’s a little taste of what has happened since my last post.

First, Alec decided to change careers. While taking the prerequisites to apply to physical therapy programs he decided college wasn’t for him. Let’s just say that at first I was shocked since he has been in school for three full years. But after I let it sink in I realized that I changed my major about one bazillion times so I really couldn’t point fingers. I was going to be a pharmacist, a radiology tech, an accountant, and a speech therapist at certain points in my college career. You could say it took me a while to make up my mind. In the end, I just ended up selecting something to get done. I was tired of being a super senior. So we went with his gut and he started a local tech program for machining. Compared to traditional university programs, you can finish this one in a blink of an eye. Yes, he’s already done and already employed. He is very happy with his new career path and I’m happy that he’s happy. Plus, his grandpa was a machinist, so it runs in his family. His grandpa passed away soon after we were married, but I knew him enough to know how proud he is of Alec. Probably almost as proud of him as I am.

Second, we sold our house. Your reaction is probably similar to most people that I tell and it is probably a bit shocking. When we bought our home we thought we’d be in the area forever. Boy, were we wrong. Our careers and jobs changed so much almost immediately after we moved in. After a while we grew tired of living in the city, dealing with an ineffective and irritating HOA, and being limited in our remodeling options. We really enjoyed owning a home but know there is something much better for us out there than a town home. We have dreams of the country, landscaped yards, a large garage/shop, outdoor living spaces, and customized floor plans. But the only way that was going to happen in the near future was to sell our home. Renting was not an option for us, neither of us can stomach the idea of being landlords and having tenants ruin everything we worked for. So, we sold and are now attempting to recover from the shock. While we wait we are dreaming of our next house and making plans.

Since I had previously posted pictures here of my projects I’d like to also share pictures of what our home looked like when we sold it. These are the professional pictures we had taken for our MLS listing.

Third, I dyed my hair brown. About a month ago I went to the mall to get my bangs trimmed. Big mistake. The woman butchered them. It was horrendous. For a week I pinned them back and decided to go my trustworthy stylist. While I was debating whether to make any changes to my style I suddenly decided to change the color dramatically. It was a whim, but I’m glad I did it. It is shockingly different but I figure hair is just hair. If I hate it the hair can either be colored again or it will grow back fresh. I’ve been coloring my hair blonde since high school. As a kid I had very light blonde hair. But, at 28, it is much closer to brown than blonde. It isn’t naturally this dark, but my roots are closer to this color than to blonde. I’m not promising I won’t go back to blonde, it almost feels like part of my identity, but for now I’m happy with this change.

What consumes our thoughts?

24 Oct

This weekend I set out to find picture frames for various places in our house. But I very quickly became overwhelmed because some of the frames were for places that weren’t defined yet, like the shelving by the mantle. I know I want to frame our wedding invitation for display there, but I can’t pick anything until I know what the space in question actually looks like. So then I started looking at our gallery wall that only had three pictures in it and decided it was high time I got to work on that. This also quickly became overwhelming because, if you remember, all the pictures were intended to be black and white family pics (not of us). There were so many I wanted to display and then I had Alec’s family pictures to consider too. So I picked and printed six and told Alec the rest are up to him.

Then I realized that our memory book was woefully out of date! So, after three photo orders from Walmart I finally got that current too. After I finished I decided to peruse the memory book. It is obvious what consumes most of our thoughts (or, at least, mine), because almost all of the pics were of our house in various stages.

I’m happy that we are so actively trying to improve our living situation, but this is me committing to trying to spice things up a bit too.

Projects galore

20 Oct

The list of projects that we are currently working on is long. And by working on, I mostly mean we think about them, spend time on Pinterest doing research, discuss them, and save money. It seems that DIYing and remodeling comes in bursts for us. In one period of time we’ll do 15 projects and then the next we’ll do none. This is mostly due to the fact that we are both extremely busy. Alec goes to school full-time (to become a machinist-in case you were wondering) about 30 miles from our house. That’s right, he’s made a career change. And boy, is it a good one for him. I think he’s found his calling. He also works part-time. I work full-time and do freelance work on the side.

OK, enough with the excuses. What projects are we working on/stewing on/planning for? Well, I’ll tell you:

Fireplace

Months and months ago we lucked into a fireplace mantle that was just beautiful. It is heavy, quality, and has a medium stain. We don’t particularly love medium stains, we tend to gravitate more toward really dark or white. It was also a corner fireplace. And the planned home for this fireplace is not a corner. So this has taken some wood working skills by Alec to get it transformed into a non-corner fireplace. Unfortunately, we don’t have all the tools we need for these type of projects (yet), so whenever Alec got some time to work on it, he had to haul the whole thing to my parents, which is about an hour from us. We found a dirty, beat up electric fireplace that is almost big enough for the mantle. We bought it off KSL for $10 and Alec cleaned it up, changed and a fuse, and it is good as new! We figure an electric fireplace is going to be a lot more cost-effective for the situation we’re in than running a gas line. We’re practically done with this project but have come to realize we need to find some sort of shelving solution that will look built-in to go on either side. However, we’ve been enjoying the fireplace since the weather turned cold almost immediately after we got to this point. That white strip above the fireplace is a cement board. We’re going to put tile there as soon as possible.

Any ideas on cheap (I mean SUPER cheap) shelving for either side? We’ve been tossing around using thrifted drawer cabinets and those stairs that lean against the wall and decrease in size as you get to the top. Whatever the solution is, it can’t be much wider than two feet and has to help us conceal our cord problem. Also, it would be great if we got a new TV in the deal too. No? Ya well, I thought I’d try it. Maybe Santa will bring one.

This picture shows it in perspective with the room and indicates the need for shelving.

This picture shows what it looks like while on. It is so cozy to snuggle up to right now. I am loving it!

Bathroom

Our upstairs bathroom is tiny. Seriously. Picture this: I go to the store to buy a vinyl remnant (give me a break OK, I’d use cork if it was worth the investment for the house we’re in!) and get a 6×7″ piece. It is HUGE. Our bathroom is probably about 40 square feet. So I don’t have a lot to work with here.  But we’re replacing the flooring, we get a new sink, vanity, mirror, and light fixture. The inspiration is coming from a shower curtain we got at Sears. Previously, the towels used hang on an over-the-door hook on the back of the door, but it is so heavy the door keeps swinging shut. I find this really annoying when I’m getting ready in the morning. I know, I should have posted some more in-progress pictures but I was just too anxious to get this done to think about it. While it was in demo we had to share the other nasty bathroom with the cat we just adopted, who was seriously stinky the first few weeks we had her. It was awful!

New light. The only shot I could get of it was out of context with the rest of the bathroom. When I stepped out the door to take a wider angle shot the light just turned into a blur.

IKEA Godmorgon vanity and sink. We love the thick look of the sink and the fact that it is one piece, as opposed to a ceramic sink dropped in ugly laminate counter top. The faucet is also from IKEA. This was quite an ordeal and we went to Lowe’s at least 8 times that day. The plumbing pipes that came with it didn’t fit any standard size that we needed for extensions. Trust us, we tried every single size available. Alec eventually ended up shaving it down with a knife. How’s that for DIY?

Any suggestions on accessories would be appreciated. I plan to paint the tissue box, soap dispenser, etc. I wanted to put art above the shelf but I’m getting the vibe from my advisors that they think it would be too busy.

And finally, my favorite touch, the mirror. I bought it for on clearance for $8 at Lowe’s on Labor Day and spray painted it yellow. It was quite the learning experience. All the little grooves in the mirror create a lot of surface area, which meant I got carried away with the spray paint, which meant the first few coats I put on were way too thick. Then, I got over eager to hang it. This resulted in way too many imperfections in the paint. I did a lot of sanding and repainting while we lived without a mirror for over a week. It still has a few imperfections but I am satisfied now and I’ve learned my  lesson. I also put a clear coat of spray lacquer on after I finished with the yellow.(excuse my lovely image in the mirror, this was the best shot I could get).

 

Bedside Tables

Like the bathroom, we also need more storage in our bathroom. So the situation we have for bedside tables just isn’t cutting it. But I’ve seen a whole bunch of amazing IKEA Rast hacks recently and some of them are amazing! The Rast only costs about $30, so win/win. I feel bad that I’ve walked past this little guy so many times without even looking twice. In fact, I thought it was downright ugly! But see what they’ve done here and here? Wow, I am picking my jaw up from the floor.

Unveiling the kitchen part 1

2 Jul

Please forgive me for my lack of photography skills. But we have basically been working on the kitchen since we moved in. It has been in a state of almost done for a while. But we finally put the final touches on the baseboards and are ready to show the world the almost finished product. In the next year we’d like to replace the sink and counter.

You might remember that this is what the kitchen looked like when we moved in (I wish I had been thinking of who I’d share these pictures with when I took them–alas, getting the picture taken was a big enough accomplishment at the time).

Things started to get better with new appliances and not-vomit-inducing paint. We actually repurposed the chandelier from above the kitchen table and put it in an upstairs hallway. We got tired of hitting our heads when we stood up.

Notice how we removed the grimy kick board from underneath the cabinets.

Then we took the doors off the cabinets and sanded them.

Then the easy part: the actual painting. The paint color we picked is a win in my book.

Then my mom helped me install this wallpaper on  the feature wall (sorry for the glare–I really must start working on my photography skills). That was my beautiful Christmas present. Isn’t my mom the best?

And finally, we consider it partly done after the baseboards and kick boards are installed, filled, and touched up. We also ditched the existing lights and opted for track lighting.

I don’t want to cry when I look underneath the cabinets now. And if you thinking crying in response to grody under-cabinets is an understatement, let me assure it that it is not!

There’s a sliding glass door behind those track blinds.

I’m in love with the tracking lighting we installed. It works so much better than that old chandelier and florescent light.

I tear up at the sight of my baseboards these days.

Another gallery wall

26 Jun

You know what the Internet needs? Another gallery wall. That’s right, we put one up in our living room. Mostly, it is just frames right now. I really wanted a place to congregate some of our old family photos–like only black and white family photos. So I started searching the clearance rack at Michael’s and the ginormous frame sections at Deserest Industries and Salvation Army. Then we spray painted them all a metallic charcoal. Check it.

This is my first pathetic attempt. I had no idea how many frames, what size the wall needed, etc. But everyone has to start somewhere, I suppose.

Then we spray painted them. Tip: wood and plastic frames take the paint much better than metal. Oops.

After much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth (aka standing here staring at the frames) we finalized a layout and traced it on some craft paper (that was traced to the shape of the wall).

Next we taped the paper to the wall and we Alec got to work.

Now the frames are up and lookin’ good.

I kind of neglected to think that I was going to have to get a mat cut for each frame, which is more expensive than all the frames, prints, and paint themselves cost. So the picture part is coming along a lot more slowly. In fact, finding pictures for this project has turned into another project (much more massive in nature). I am now getting all the old family photos and digitizing them–which in turn means organizing the prints. It is giving me a headache just thinking about it. There are so many pictures from both sides of our family that it is hard to pick which ones to display. Organizing scanned pictures, and otherwise, is extremely daunting to me. Anyone have any advice about how best to do it? What works for you?