Feathered Aspen



On Thursday at 8:13 pm, Joshua and I receive the following texts from Kyle:

“Labor now”


“Come fast.”

“Delivery at Ellie’s house.”

“Can’t make it”

As we read the texts, Joshua says, “is he joking?! What does that mean?” Pulling on my jeans, I shake my head, “you don’t joke about that sort of thing.”  I look for my shoes, but before I find them, we hear Kyle honking the van and he’s pulling up alongside the curb in front of our house.  He jumps out, and we run.  Stacy is leaning over the middle row of seats with her head in her hands, groaning.

We’re in a flurry.  Joshua runs to stow our two older children with my dad who just happens to be in town.  Our youngest is ten weeks old, and she’s sleeping in our bed just 30 feet away in the front bedroom.  Kyle and I try to figure out what to do.  Stacy tells us she’s having the baby now, and I ask her if we need to take off her pants.  She shakes her head, groans, and has another contraction.

I decide we need to get her into the back of the van where there’s more room.  Kyle will drive to Mountain Midwifery, and she’ll very likely have the baby on the way there, but I’ll be in the back with her, and I can help.  We help Stacy out of the van, and she collapses on the grass, hit with another contraction.  We start emptying out the back of the van, but Stacy tells us she’s having the baby now, here.  She can feel the baby’s head.

I tell Kyle to call the midwife, and we pull off Stacy’s pants.  She’s on her hands and knees and over the line, the midwife asks if her perineum is bulging.  I tell Kyle it’s not.  There’s swelling and discharge, but no bulging.  We start moving towards the back of the van again, but in the next contraction, I see the bulge.

The midwife tells us to get towels, blankets.  Joshua runs inside and grabs whatever he can find.  I kneel behind Stacy, and she’s pushing.  Kyle is relaying it all to the midwife, and between what I can hear from the phone and what Kyle repeats, we follow her directions.  Stacy is whimpering, and we’re all trying to reassure her that it’s ok and she’s doing great and everything’s ok.  I think we’re trying to reassure ourselves as well.

In moments, the head is crowning.  The midwife asks if there’s someone there to catch the baby, and Kyle tells me to do it.  I put my hand on the baby’s head.  The bag of waters is yellowish and still intact, but in the next push, it bursts, slipping over the baby’s head as Stacy pushes it out.  The face is slightly purple, the eyes tightly squeezed shut, but I see movement.  Her nose twitches and her mouth quirks.  Now, time is suspended.  The baby’s head is out, and in those long seconds, I’m aware of Stacy’s cries, the grass beneath my bare feet, the light of the iPhone, and Joshua and Kyle fumbling with Stacy’s shirt and bra, following the midwife’s orders to get her ready to go skin to skin with the baby.

A hand emerges, and a second later, Stacy pushes out baby Lucia.  She’s slippery and moving, and I catch her.  I look at her neck to make sure that the umbilical cord isn’t wrapped, and it’s not.  The midwife tells me to pass her through Stacy’s legs to her chest.  Stacy holds her and leans back on her heels.  She hasn’t cried.

The midwife tells us to rub her back, and Stacy and I slide our hands up and down her white blue back, waiting for cries.  I try rubbing her feet.  At some point, I look up, and a wide eyed stranger is looking at us.  “What’s happening?!” she asks.

The midwife tells us to look for muscle tone.  We see her open and close her mouth a couple of times, and she gives a couple of small grunts, but those minutes before she cries are long, and I am afraid.  The midwife tells us to call 911, and Joshua does.

Finally, she lets out a good cry, and we heave a collective sigh of relief.

Sandy, Stacy’s mom, shows up as we’re wrapping Stacy and Lucia in blankets, trying to ward off the chill.  I tell her to grab the duvet from our bed where our youngest is still sleeping peacefully.  It’s not quite 8:30 pm, and the day has been warm.  Somewhere in the fray, pictures are taken, video.  I look up again and see the same wide eyed stranger and now a concerned couple, kneeling nearby and asking if we need help.  Joshua is telling the dispatcher that a baby has been born, that we are in the front yard of our home in Edgewater, that the mother’s name is Stacy, that she is 31.

The police arrive first and flash bright lights into our eyes, and Stacy pulls the blanket over Lucia’s face to shield her from the light.

From the ambulance spill EMTs, and nice man with a smile in his voice introduces himself.  “My name is Eric.  What’s your name ma’am?”  Stacy responds in a calm, level voice.  She only has eyes for Lucia.

They pull a stretcher out from the ambulance, and Stacy gets onto it with the baby still at her chest.  The story is coming out in fits and starts.  What time was the baby born?  We’re not sure.  Maybe ten minutes ago?  We tell them there was meconium and lots of it.  We tell them it took her a while to cry, but after a bit, she did.  Stacy, Lucia, and Kyle are loaded into the ambulance, headed to Lutheran hospital, and I tell them that I’ll follow.

After the ambulance pulls away, the police stay for a few minutes longer.  One of them asks, “but why was she naked?”  I laugh and say, “did you want her to have the baby with her pants on?”  They shake their heads, but still seem a bit perplexed.

Inside the house, I grab my shoes and wash the meconium off my hands and forearms at the sink.  Strangely, my shirt and jeans are clean.  Joshua gathers a small diaper bag together, and I go to get the car seat, stopping to check in with my dad and the girls on my way out.

“I just caught a baby,” I say, still completely in shock.


“With my bare hands,” I say, laughing a little bit.  “In the front yard.  No.  Not even in the front yard.  We didn’t make it through the front gate.  Stacy had her baby on the boulevard.  Oscar was watching.”

The girls are all blue eyes and frightened faces, and I try to reassure them.  “Stacy’s ok.  She had her baby.  Baby Lucia.  She’s beautiful, she’s perfect, and everyone’s ok.  Baby Lucia’s ok.”

After a few minutes, I load Luna into the truck and I drive to the hospital.  At the door to labor and delivery, I press the intercom.  “Who is it?” they ask.  I respond, “Um.  I caught my friend’s baby?  Her name is Stacy?”  Without another word, they beep me in.

I’m let into the room where people are laughing and the OB on duty is taking off her gloves.  “She did it all,” she says, shrugging.  “Even her placenta.  I went to help deliver it, and then she just pushed it out.  I didn’t even get my gloves dirty.”

We spend the next hour retelling the story.  The nurses are confused.  “But why did you go to her house?” they ask.  “Is she a midwife? A doula?”  Stacy shakes her head.  “No, but she’s watched every season of Call the Midwife, and she listens to every episode of The Birth Hour.  Plus, she’s the only one who read up on precipitous labor.”

It doesn’t feel real, and yet the fear, the relief, the cries and the blood and the bright lights are very, very real.  We’re laughing and shaking our heads, and we can’t believe it.  Stacy takes a shower, and when she does, she walks over normally, as though she hasn’t just birthed a baby, but she has.

Kyle cradles Lucia against his chest and tells me how scared he was when she didn’t cry at first and how he never wants to feel that way again.

On the scale, Lucia weighs 7 pounds 7 ounces, and on her birth records, the nurse writes my name over Delivering Physician and Joshua and Kyle’s names over Delivering Nurse.

It’s almost 10:30 pm, so I say goodbye.  Luna has slept peacefully in her wrap the whole time, but I want to get her home and I want to leave Kyle and Stacy and the newest little member of their family to themselves.  Before I go, I thank Stacy for granting me one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

When I get back to the house, Luna goes straight to sleep, and Joshua shows me the video, time stamped at 8:22 pm.  It’s lacking setting and scene, but the birth is there, in full surreal glory.  We hug, and I say, “I think we should plant a garden there.  A birth garden.  We can put a little sign up that says, ‘Life started here.’”

He nods his head.  “Definitely,” he says.

Stacy and Lucia are lying in the stretcher, and we’re answering questions fielded from the police and EMTs.

Kyle and I cover Stacy and Lucia in blankets as the EMTs get ready to load them into the ambulance.

Stacy and Lucia in the hospital bed after the ambulance ride.

Kyle goes skin to skin with Lucia while Stacy takes a shower at the hospital.


Although Kyle, Stacy, and then Lucia were only on the boulevard in front of our house for less than 20 minutes on the night of March 16th, there’s much more to this story.  Most of it is not really mine to tell, but because Stacy is my best friend and we spend quite a lot of time together, I can piece together much of the backstory, and with Stacy’s blessing (and the hope that she’ll write her own account!), I’ll write the rest of the story here.

I’ve had the honor of attending both Stacy’s first and second labors.  Although the first was induced, and the induction took over two days, once her water finally broke and she began active labor, the whole thing only lasted four hours.  The second labor was two hours start to finish, and when she got pregnant a third time, there was some real concern that this labor would be even shorter.

Over the course of her pregnancy, we talked a lot about different scenarios.  Initially, she enrolled with Westside Women’s care at Lutheran Hospital, thinking that the location was better than Mountain Midwifery (a 10 minute drive as opposed to a 20 minute drive), but the tour of Labor and Delivery was off putting for someone who wanted as few interventions as possible, and so Stacy transferred to Mountain Midwifery before her third trimester.

The plan was that her parents would be in Denver from 37 weeks on.  Kyle would start working from home at 39 weeks, and she would never go anywhere alone or without a plan for being quickly picked up and whisked to the hospital.  Close to her due date, we all made sure our phones were charged and the ringer was on.  Stacy asked me to attend her labor, and we tried to figure out how it might work.  What would we do if both of the husbands were at work?  What would she do if she was on a walk around the lake?  I privately thought it very likely that I might not be able to make it to the birth, between her history of short labors and my three children, especially my youngest, but when I told Stacy, she said, “bring Luna!  I secretly want to be able to tell Lucia that she was there anyway!”

As the due date approached, Stacy bought a shower curtain and packed a hospital bag, stowing both of them in the back of her van.  We talked about what she would do if she had her baby on the freeway, and she said that the midwife told them that if it was less than 10 minutes away, they should just keep going to Mountain Midwifery.

The due date came and went, and the night before her 41 week appointment, Stacy and Kyle made the trip to Mountain Midwifery, thinking Stacy’s water had broken.  After a few hours with no contractions or other signs of labor, they returned home.

At the 41 week appointment, the midwife checked and told Stacy that she was 5 cm dilated and 80 percent effaced, but the baby was sunny side up.  (When she told me via text, I joked that she had a birth canal like a laundry chute…  Maybe not so funny?).  She bought a bottle of Cotton Root and made an appointment with an acupuncturist for later in the day and then stayed on that side of town, walking laps around Whole Foods and having a late lunch of tacos with her mom.

After the acupuncture appointment, Stacy went back to the midwife, but unfortunately, she was still at 5 cm and she wasn’t having contractions, so the midwife sent her home.  That was at 6:30 pm.

At 7:55 pm, Stacy texted me.

“I don’t know what to do.  Aubrey sent me home but I’m here and it hurtzz”

“:):) can you describe the pain?” I texted back.

“3 min apart, 10 sec long. Can’t parent”

“I shouldn’t think so” I texted “Who’s making you parent?!?!” then “Oh man.  I’m so sorry dear.  I guess you need to use all those laboring strategies that you haven’t really needed before.  Want me to come over and help you make a lady cave?” I wrote, thinking that maybe this meant that the “wild card” third labor for Stacy might mean a longer one, rather than a rapid one like we had been thinking.

“I think I want to go in” Stacy texted back “I can’t do worse than this in the car”

I responded “I totally get that.  You should call and talk through it with Aubrey”

“Will do” she texted.  Time stamped 7:59 pm.

Tonight, I was asking Stacy more about her timeline.  She said that after she texted me, she walked to the bathroom just fine.  She called her parents.  Once they were on their way, she relaxed, and all of a sudden, the pain got much, much worse.  She could barely bend over to pull her pants on.  Kyle came out from putting the kids down to sleep, and they headed for the van.  She says she looked up at the blooming plum tree in her front yard, deep in the pain cave, and thought, “it’d be nice to have my baby looking at this plum tree.”  But then she saw her neighbors and decided she’d rather try and make it to the van.  Once she got there, Kyle said, “it’s ok honey.  We’ll be there in 21 minutes.” But Stacy shook her head.  “No.  I’m having the baby now.”

Kyle tells me that he remembers from the birthing class at Mountain Midwifery that a woman is never lying if she says she’s having a baby right now, so he asked Stacy what she wanted him to do.  “Drive to Ellie’s house.”

And that, my friends, is how my best friend ended up having a baby on the boulevard in front of our house.  Wild, amiright?  For someone who is completing pre-requisite courses to attend nursing school so that I might one day become a midwife, Thursday night felt like a sign.  I mean, who gets to catch a baby years before they even enter nursing school or become a midwife?  Maybe firefighters, but not stay at home moms of three with no credentials to speak of, save having watched every season of Call the Midwife and listened to every episode of The Birth Hour.

You’ll be happy to hear that the Pietaris are doing well.  Stacy has the core of an iron woman and does not walk like someone who has been hollowed out (that was me after I gave birth).  Lucia is nursing and cute as a freaking button with long arms and toes that prefer to rest upon her shins.  Kyle has already gone on a couple of double jogger runs and announced to the Strava-sphere that his awesome wife had a #grassbirth on his friends’ front lawn.  Grandma and Grandpa are helping out with the older two kiddos, and we’ve toasted with champagne and ate a bunch of cheesecake, per tradition.  The local newspaper published a short article about the unconventional birth, and we keep shaking our heads, still unable to believe it really happened.  Life is good, and already we’ve had two meals with the six kids all together.  The village has grown, and now all we have to do is raise them (that’s all) and plant a birth garden and tell this story – again and again – until we’re old and gray.  And you know what?  I don’t think it will ever get old.


Luna’s Arrival

img_9731 img_9817 img_9760 img_9738 img_9816 img_9765 img_9818 img_9769 img_9759 img_9748 img_9740 img_9820 img_9775 img_9778 img_9811 img_9822 img_9815Full disclosure:  I wrote the following post in Word and it’s not only 9 pages long, but also completely unedited.  I’m going to post it anyway, because #threekids.

Our third baby girl was due on January 2nd, but I told everyone that it was the 1st, just because I liked the idea of a new baby on the new year.  At my 39 week midwife appointment, the woman at the front desk corrected me after I told her that my due date was January 2nd.  “It says here it’s the 3rd.”  Ha.  Not that two days makes much of a difference, but by the end, those days seem to move in slow motion.

Our friends took bets on the date of her arrival, kindly offering up dates at the end of December, in hopes of a 2016 tax break and a break from the ever larger discomforts of late pregnancy.  Only Joshua guessed January 4th, sticking with the precedent her sisters had set before her, arriving after their 40 week due dates, but not waiting around too long.  Lily arrived at 40 weeks and 2 days, and Lu arrived at 40 weeks and 3 days.  Going into that last week, I felt sure that I could be patient through the 41st week, but that I might lose my zen if I had to wait longer than that.

On December 30th, I had a strange sensation emanating from my lower back.  It was a tingling numbness that radiated through my hips and down my thighs.  I’ve never experienced anything like it, but it reminded me of labor stories that I’ve heard (including Ina May Gaskin’s), where the mother describes labor as “trippy” or psychedelic.  I almost felt like I was drunk, and friends, I was hoping that this was it, because yes, please.  I’d rather describe contractions as trippy than painful.  Alas, they subsided, and I made it to my 40 week appointment.

At the appointment, the midwife offered to check me and sweep my membranes, and I thought, sure!  Why not?  I’m ready to have this baby.  She told me I was 1 to 2 cm dilated and 50 percent effaced, and though she warned me that the sweep would hurt, it wasn’t bad at all.  I was pretty pleased walking out of the office, because I’ve never been dilated before labor, and if nothing else, 1 to 2 cm meant that I was already 10 to 20 percent of the way there.

That evening, I began to have what felt like early labor contractions.  6 to 10 minutes apart and lasting 30 seconds or more, these contractions didn’t hurt but were pretty strong.  They began at 4 pm and continued as I made dinner and a cake that I quickly began to think of as a birthday cake.  I told Joshua to finish packing his hospital bag, and we all had these ridiculous smiles on our faces.  And then around 8 pm, they stopped.

I was pretty disappointed.  I’ve never had false labor before, and with the girls, I knew with clarity each time that labor had begun.  The next morning, we all made our way to the art museum, and the contractions started up again.  This time, I felt accompanying pressure and even crampiness and so again, I told Joshua that I thought this might be it.

After another four hours, they stopped, and I started to realize that false labor can drive a person crazy.  Each time, I started shifting plans in my head, anticipating meeting our new baby girl, and getting ready to undertake labor and delivery.  I told Joshua that I no longer felt like I could trust contractions that felt like early labor, and that felt defeating too.  With Lily and Lu, I was able to trust them and we had time to prepare and sink into the labor process.  I told Joshua that I suspected this might mean a much shorter labor, and these feelings had some truth to them.

By Thursday evening, I was full on ignoring contractions.  Sure, they were more frequent, but I wasn’t timing them.  Sure, they felt crampy, but I wouldn’t have said they hurt or they felt any different from the ones I had experienced the day before, so I mentioned them casually to Joshua and then followed up with “I’m not in labor, though.”

That night, I woke up a couple of times with those same crampy contractions, but again felt nothing stronger or more telling than what I had been experiencing for the last three days.  On Friday morning, I began crying.  Though a snow storm had given Joshua one more day off on Thursday, today he had to go back to work, and after three days of false labor, all pretenses of being patient for a full 41 weeks was out the window.  I sent a self-pitying text to my friend Stacy, and then I resolved to make the best of our day.

Gathering our things for a trip to the pool, I felt a few contractions, but again, nothing out of the ordinary.  The girls were super excited to swim, and I piled them into the truck and drove to the rec center.  It was on the drive there that I began to wonder if I had made a good choice.  It occurred to me that I had had three or four contraction in the last 30 minutes where I had wanted to just stop and breathe, and here I was, having another one in the car.

I texted Joshua when we got to the rec center, just to let him know, but I ultimately decided that I’d continue on as planned because the girls were so excited to visit the day care at the rec center (which they love) and then swim.  Plus, I have long labors, right?  Plus, missing my workout on the 3rd had ticked me off almost as much as false labor, so I wanted to get my work out in.

So I dropped off the girls, changed into my suit, snapped a picture of pool to put on my Instastory, along with a self-pitying caption about still being pregnant, and jumped in the water.  I looked at the time, because I typically swim for 40 minutes.  It was 10:20.

I swam the full 40 minutes like I usually do, complete with flip turns and no pauses, and during that time, I really felt no contractions.  At 11, I got out of the lap pool and went to sit in the hot tub for a few minutes before I went to pick up the girls.

By 11:30, the girls and I were back in the pool.  Lily is totally blissed out when she’s in the water, so Lu and I followed her around the “deep end” while Lily happily propelled herself on a couple of noodles.  After lifting Lu onto the side of the pool and catching her for the dozenth time, I had to pause.  Lu splashed the water, saying “up on ledge!  I want to jump!”  I said give me a minute, and I breathed through a contraction.  Six or seven minutes later, I had to do it again.

By the time the lifeguards whistled for 10 minutes of adult swim at noon, I was mentally coming around to the idea of labor.  The contractions were the kind where I had to stop and breathe, and they were coming with some regularity.  Even so, when the girls protested that they hadn’t been able to swim for very long, I promised them that they could get back in the water for “just a little bit” after the 10 minutes were over.

When we got back in, I realized I had made a mistake.  I started thinking about what it would take to get the girls out of the water, into the locker room, showered, changed, and driven home, and I began to feel scared.  The contractions were just intense enough that I really didn’t want to be parenting through them, and yet, here I was at a rec center in a pool with two children under the age of five.

So after about five minutes, I looked at Lily, and I said, “sweetie, I know we didn’t get to swim for very long, but we have to go now.  I think you’re going to meet your littlest sister today.”

Lily’s eyes widened.  “Are you in labor?” she asked.  I nodded my head and as the next contraction came on, I breathed out through my lips and closed my eyes.  “Are you having contractions?” she asked.  I nodded again.

Lily was amazing.  She explained everything to Lu as we got out of the pool and wrapped ourselves in our towels.  “Momma’s having contractions!  She’s gonna have a baby!”  An older lady came over to tell me all about her family full of sisters, and when I began breathing funny, she just kept talking.  After a minute, I realized she had asked me a question, and I had no idea what it was.  And I really just wanted to be gone, so I told her I was very sorry but I hadn’t been listening because I was in labor and I needed to go.  As we were walking away, she shuffled behind us, “how can I help?”

In the locker room, I grabbed our stuff and then went to the private shower.  Once inside, I called Joshua.  Just shy of a panic, I told him that he needed to meet me at home.  I can’t recall the full conversation, but I do remember telling him that I was overwhelmed because I still needed to get everyone showered and changed.

But shower we did.  I paused for two contractions, breathing through my lips audibly and bending over and swaying.  Lily chatted loudly with Lu about momma’s contractions and labor, alerting god knows how many octogenarians in the locker room to my current state.

Finally done showering, we moved back to the locker where somehow I managed to clothe both my children and stuff them into their winter gear, pausing for contractions and breathing loudly and nearly dropping to me knees.  One woman stopped with her bra halfway on, looking at me.  “You’re in labor, aren’t you?” she said.  I nodded.  “Can I help?” she asked, but by this time, we were ready to go, so I told her no.  I just really needed to get the girls to the car as fast as possible.

Thankfully, we got to the truck.  Lu walked the whole way with her little hand in mine, and Lily was great.  I piled them in, buckled in Lu, and then hopped in myself, relieved to have made it to the truck.  Another contraction hit, and sitting through it was too much, so I got back out and leaned over the seat, swaying.  I looked at my phone and saw that it was 12:35 pm.  I called Joshua and began driving.

Thankfully, Joshua was already home, and though he offered to meet me at Crown Hill, I told him no.  I just wanted to get home and hand off parenting duties to anyone other than me.

I had a couple of contractions on the way home, and I breathed loudly, telling the girls in between that everything was ok and this is what mommies do when they have babies.  To their credit, the girls seemed totally calm and cool with my weird behavior.

When we turned onto our street, I was so relieved to see Joshua standing on the snowy curb with the carseat and hospital bags in hand.  As I pulled up, he asked me if I wanted to talk to the midwife, whom he had on the phone, but I absolutely did not want to speak to anyone because I was having another contraction.  “Um, she’s nonverbal,” he reported.

When the contraction passed, I said as politely but as efficiently as possible, “if you want me to talk to her, it has to be now.”  He handed over the phone and the midwife said asked me something.  I don’t remember what, but my reponse was, “I don’t know if I’m that far along or if I’m just not handling them very well because I’m in public and have two children with me.”  She responded by telling me to come in, and although part of me thought I should maybe go in the house and try to get my zen on, the other part of me thought it might be nicer to do that at the birth center.  So when Joshua told me we just head over to Stacy’s to drop off the girls and then go straight to the birth center, I agreed.

In the passenger seat, I turned so that I was facing the back of the truck.  Joshua quickly dropped off the girls, and they waved goodbye as I breathed through another contraction.  Once we were driving again, the feeling of relief was so strong that I didn’t even care that I was laboring in the truck.  With my other two labors, I had dreaded laboring en route so much that it had been my number one concern in changing my care to Mountain Midwifery.  Typically, the drive is about 25 minutes from door to door, which feels like a lot to me, but with traffic, it could be more.  But after laboring in a public pool, in the locker room, in front of my children and a bunch of old ladies, and then in the truck as I was driving, laboring in the passenger seat with nothing to worry about but myself was pure relief.

On the way to the birth center, I collapsed between contractions, lying on my side and nearly sleeping.  During contractions, I’d get on all fours, holding onto the top of the seat and breathing noisily through my lips.  I was handling them much better, but I was also thinking through the rest of my labor, including how I planned to refuse to let them check me upon admittance so they couldn’t turn me away if I was just 4 cm.  And how if I had to labor for more than a couple more hours that I could always use nitrous oxide to get me through.

When we arrived, Joshua helped me out of the car, and I leaned into him for another contraction.  We walked into the center, and as soon as I saw the nurse, I started sobbing.  Another wash of relief came over me because we had arrived.  I finally felt like I could relax after the chaos of the first two hours of labor.

The nurse and midwife assessed my strong response to arriving and also the next contraction and exclaimed that I was indeed in active labor.  Draped over the end of the bed in the beautiful “caravan room,” I sunk in and let them undress me.  The midwife told me that she was going to check me, but they sounded so positive that I was in active labor, that I never resisted.  She let me go through the next contraction and then checked me.  “7 cm,” she announced, and again I began crying because I was just so, so relieved.  I told them I was afraid I was only at 4 cm, but hearing 7 cm told me that I was nearly to transition and it wouldn’t be long.  With Lu, I was also at 7 cm upon admittance, and it had been just over an hour later that I delivered.

There was some laughing about the fact I had swum over a mile and been laboring in a public pool just a couple of hours ago, with the nurse and midwife exclaiming that I must have been at 4 cm while flip turning in the pool.

I crouched in child’s pose on the bed for a few contractions, resting in between.  Joshua started diffusing oils and put on our birth mix music.  I remember Modest Mouse coming on first and quickly saying, “no Modest Mouse.”  Haha.  I felt so sensitive to outside stimulus.  I like having Joshua rub my back between contractions, but during I wanted nothing touching me and no talking.  Even between contractions, I really wanted no conversation, and I remember giving commands like, “no touching,” and “no talking.”  I wanted to be nice, but I was also just really feeling an economy of language, so I was pretty blunt.

After a few contractions on the bed, I moved to the toilet and labored there for a few contractions.  From there, I moved into the oversize tub.  Sinking in was bliss, and I labored there, eventually finding the handles along the wall to hold onto for dear life as the strongest contractions came over me.  At some point, Joshua joined me in the water, reminding me to keep my jaw loose.  I did try to keep my face relaxed, but I remember resigning myself to clenching my arms and hands as hard as I could with each contraction, because I just couldn’t force that part of me to relax.  That was transition.  A couple of times, I said that I couldn’t do this, but really, what I was saying was I’m pretty sure this is transition, and I’d love it if someone could confirm if this was transition and that I’d be pushing and meeting my baby very soon.

Not surprisingly, there were no mind readers in the room, but thankfully, the nurse and the midwife came in just as I began to push.  “Am I pushing?” I asked, meaning can you please tell me it’s time to push?!  To which the midwife responded, “sure! If you want to!”  Which wasn’t entirely what I was looking for, but I began pushing anyway.  I overheard the midwife saying that the baby had moved way down, and as she checked me, she exclaimed, “oh! She’s wriggling!”  Which was definitely different.  I could feel her moving down and twisting the whole time, something I don’t recall with Lu.

I pushed for 10 minutes.  And though I had been silent up until now, there’s just something about pushing that releases the animal.  I thought I had remembered just being thankful to push and knowing I was near the end with Lu, but this time, pushing felt scary.  I was convinced my tailbone was going to break.  Finally, the midwife told me her head was out and she needed one more push.  I gave it everything, and in a blur, they lifted me from my position on all fours to on my back, handing me our baby girl along the way.  The shock of adrenaline and shaking were so much that all I really felt was this panic, but gradually, I was able to zero in on my wriggling, screaming, pink little girl.

Allowing me to calm down for a few minutes, the nurse and the midwife eventually helped me stand up and carry the baby to the bed, where they had me lay down and deliver the placenta.  Again, I remember feeling anxious to push out anything else, but the nurse said, “this one doesn’t have any bones,” and it wasn’t something I could really stop from happening anyway.

The placenta was delivered quickly, and then I was able to lay back on the bed with our sweet baby girl in my arms.  She cried for nearly 30 minutes, but she was pink and perfect, with an Apgar of 9 and a sweet, chubby face.  The cries just confirmed what we could see: a very healthy little girl.

As we lay there, we admired our little girl who was still nameless.  Though we had a short list of names, we hadn’t felt ready to commit until we met her.  While we debated, the nurse came in intermittently to push on my uterus (a terrible feeling) and check my bleeding, which wasn’t bad but was heavier than she liked.  The midwife also checked me for tearing and luckily, I was fine!  Hooray!  I’ll tell you that one third degree tear is enough for me, thank you very much.

After a shot of Pitocin to slow the bleeding, the nurse drew a bath and I got up to use the bathroom.  They weighed and measured our little girl and she clocked in at 7 pounds and 8.5 ounces, 20 and ½ inches.  Joshua held the baby and tried out names.  “Are you a Ramona?  Winnie?  Freyja Luna?” Funnily enough, we forgot to consider our other top contender, Lorraine, but eventually, Joshua said, “yup, I’m pretty sure she’s Freyja Luna,” and I agreed. The name had been our front runner for the last three or four weeks.  We had come to Luna first, loving the imagery and also liking how the “moon hunt” is a game that we had started playing during this pregnancy with the girls, looking up at the sky each night and seeing who could find the moon first.  And even though Luna isn’t a flower like Lily and Lupine, we felt it fit because of the “L” and the strongly associated visual.  We had played around with other combinations, like Ursa Luna, but one day Joshua was telling me about his lesson on the origins of the English language.  At one point, he mentioned how the days of the week come from Norse gods and “Wednesday is Odin’s day, Thursday is Thor’s day, and Friday is Freyja’s day.”  I interjected that I had forgotten about the name Freyja but that it was a name that had come across both of our “possible names” list, and it sounded great when paired with Luna.  Joshua enthusiastically agreed, and we immediately pulled up Freyja on the internet, refreshing our memories on the myths and imagery associated with the goddess.  We told the girls that Freyja is a goddess in a cloak of feathers (which is cool because I have a tattoo of feathers down my back) pulled in a chariot (a word they’re familiar with because of our stroller which is called the chariot) by two cats (um.  Yes.  Both girls adore cats just like their mama…  Lily even had a cat-themed birthday when she turned two.).

As we settled on Freyja Luna just a couple of hours after her birth, it didn’t even dawn on us that there was another layer of synchronicity, even though we did look up the poem again about the days of the week and the traits associated with those babies (something we’ve done with each baby).  Not only is Friday’s child “loving and giving,” but all the more fitting that Freyja was born on her “day” of the week, Friday.

So I know that’s a lot of name talk for a labor story, but if you know me, you know I’m a bit name-obsessed and many of you have already asked about the meaning behind her name.  I know just as many people were expecting a first name that “matched” our first two girl’s names, and though that was on our radar, (and for me, names like Lorraine/Loie and Winnifred Winona/Winnie really fit the bill without being too predictable) we decided it was more important to follow our hearts and give her a name that fit her and spoke to us.

Anyway, back to the birth center and the birth story.  I soaked in the bath for a bit and then got out.  Freyja Luna (who I’ll now call just Luna on the blog for her privacy) and I started nursing, and right away, we were impressed by her vigor and enthusiasm.  The nurse came in, and out of curiosity, I asked her to share times from her log.  We arrived at the birth center at 1:40, I began pushing at 2:42, and Luna was born at 2:53.  Which meant that working our way from the start, labor went like this:

7:30 I’m crying about not having had a baby yet and Joshua leaves for work.

9:30 I notice that I’m having “crampy contractions” but nothing too different from what I was experiencing in false labors on Wednesday and Thursday evening.

10:00 I text Joshua when I arrive at the rec center to let him know I’ve had a few contractions.  Idrop off the girls at the daycare.

10:20 I jump in the water and swim 40 laps.

11:00 I sit in the hot tub for five minutes or so and then go and get the girls.

11:30 The girls and I get in the water, and I start to notice that I’m having some stronger, more regular contractions.

12:00 The whistle is blown for “adult swim” and I decide that this is probably labor.

12:10 I make the questionable decision to get back in the water, but then pretty quickly tell the girls it’s go time.

12:15 I call Joshua from the locker room.  We shower and change.

12:35 We get to the truck in the parking lot and I call Joshua again.

12:50 We meet up with Joshua at home and I check in with the midwife.

1:00 We drop off the girls

1:40 We arrive at the birth center.

2:42 I start pushing.

2:53 Miss Luna arrives.

7:00 We leave the birth center for home.

Isn’t that nuts?  It felt crazy to go into labor in the daylight, deliver in daylight, and return home before bedtime the very same day.  It was a bit of a shock, but overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better labor.  Though Lu’s labor went well, I joked that this time around I not only knew what to expect, but I also knew how much it hurts…  In anticipating Lu’s labor, I knew more of what to expect, but because of the epidural at hour 30 with Lily’s labor, I didn’t really know how much it would hurt.  I don’t say that to scare anyone, and it’s been interesting to compare my very long labors with one that qualifies as “rapid labor.”  A few people have asked me if this labor was easier or less painful…  It’s an interesting question.  I think that ultimately, labor and delivery is labor and delivery and in that sense, they’re very much the same.  In that way, Lu and Luna’s labor are so similar.  I spent about an hour in the hospital with both of them, transition was probably about the same duration, and so was pushing.  With minor differences, the sensations were pretty similar too.  The lead up to that, though, is very different.  With Lu, I knew what was coming.  I was able to slowly sink into labor, do yoga, do my oils, and choose when I was ready to go into the hospital.  Those hours of labor were tiring and work, but I also felt very in control and very safe the entire time (I even went to Jazz in the Park during early labor!).  With Luna, the false labors took away that confidence and my ability to sink into labor and arrange everything just so.  It was stressful entering active labor in a public space and being in charge of two young children at the same time.  That being said, it was a blessing to fast forward through a process that I had some fear over, and it was also amazing to me that I was able to cope even when all I had was my breath and the commitment to rest and relax between contractions.

It’s funny.  Knowing that this is my last pregnancy and labor, I said shortly after delivering Luna, “as powerful and life changing and surreal and special (and all the superlative adjectives to describe labor and delivery) these experiences are, I’m also really, really thankful in this moment that I never have to do it again.”  Haha!  It’s true.  I’m so thankful for these three births, these three wonderful, wonderful little souls that I had the honor and privilege of bringing into the world, and at the same time, I’m so at peace that this is my final first-person experience of birth.  Or at least that’s how I felt moments after Luna arrived.  As I’m writing now, I’m feeling a bit more romantic/sentimental about the whole process, ha!  I am at peace with our family of five and three daughters, but there’s something gripping about the experience of birth… Hence my one day goal of becoming a midwife?  Yes, hence 😉

And there you have it.  My third labor story, my third daughter, complete with ruminations and tangents and all the gory details.  As with Lu’s story, I think I’ll add a summary of things that helped me and I also might go a bit into my experience with postpartum thus far, but this is the story of how Luna came into the world.  It kind of drove me crazy when people constantly reminded me that “third labors are the wild card,” but in our own way, we fulfilled this old wives tale too.  It was a humbling experience to let go of control, but it was also empowering to find that even when things didn’t go according to plan, that we were still able to cope and that in the end, we were blessed with a lovely, healthy little girl.

Things that helped before and during labor:

I felt torn that I wasn’t able to do more prenatal yoga and I didn’t read as much as I had intended to in preparation, but the same things that helped me with Lu’s labor helped me again in Luna’s.

  • Laboring on all fours or in child’s pose.
  • Concentrating on my breath during contractions.
  • Trying to keep my face relaxed during contractions.
  • Relaxing as completely as possible between contractions.
  • Using essential oils and music to help relax.
  • Using water to relax during transition.
  • “Horse lips” during pushing to prevent tearing.
  • Watching birth videos in preparation (I just searched for “gentle birth” on youtube).
  • I’ve listened to almost every episode of The Birth Hour. I’m sure there were a ton of tips in there that I picked up, but mostly, I just love listening to birth stories.
  • I did “let the monkey out” and use meditation techniques this time, but it’s amazing to me how I didn’t really have to think about it. With Lu’s birth, these were such novel coping strategies and they actually carried over into other parts of my life in powerful ways.  This time around, they felt natural.

My experience with postpartum this third time around is both familiar and just as visceral.  I do think that it came as a shock the first time and even second, and it’s a part of the birth experience that’s not talked about much.  It’s reassuring on this third time to recognize patterns that are normal, and as a result, there’s less fear associated with it.  Some things that I’ve come to expect and recognize with postpartum:

  • Postpartum uterine cramping is no joke. I’ve read they get worse with each subsequent pregnancy, and though I can’t verify that with certainty, I can definitely say that this time around was pretty intense.  I’d even compare them with contractions you feel at 4-5 cm.  I’ve definitely wanted to use ibuprofen for the first 24-48 hours after delivery to take the edge off.
  • After Lily’s birth, I had a pretty horrific postpartum, complete with tearing, stitches, swelling, and infection. I could barely walk, and learning how to nurse and becoming a parent for the first time was just…  The hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I definitely had some postpartum depression, recovering physically from such a long, hard labor was just part of it.  The other part was the end of one chapter and the beginning of another:  I was saying goodbye to parts of my life that would never be the same now that I had a child and also forming a new identity in motherhood.  The jury is still out with adding a third baby to the mix, but I always say that going from “none to one” was the hardest transition.
  • Physically speaking, I’ve found that having unmedicated labors has made all the difference in postpartum. I’ve had no tearing with either delivery, and I’ve been able to walk and move around comfortably immediately after delivering this way.
  • The tears come in when the milk comes in. All three times, I’ve gotten pretty weepy about 48 hours postpartum.  I feel a little embarrassed to admit the full extent of my mood swing, partly because I don’t think this is something that we feel comfortable talking about in our culture period, but I’d even classify this “weepiness” as a full blown I-feel-like-the-whole-world-has-changed-I-feel-out-of-control-and-I’m-not-sure-it’s-going-to-be-ok feeling.  Small problems feel like big ones, and though I hate to admit it, these have also included not-so-nice exchanges with my wonderful spouse.
  • Learning to nurse the first time is hard, but you have to keep learning. Each baby has different preferences and quirks, and though nursing subsequent babies is easier, there’s always that moment where you’re not 100 percent certain how to handle a new problem, and it can be humbling and intimidating.
  • The first couple of weeks postpartum are pretty sedentary, and that’s always hard for me, but I’m also trying to see it as the temporary blessing it is and a chance to snuggle and bond with this little squish nearly 24/7. This time does not last forever, and there will be a day when I will think of long, lazy hours snuggling a newborn with longing.

And that’s where I am right now.  Feeling all the feelings.  The largess and wonder of new life, and the fear and growing pains that accompany it.  Getting all the precious new snuggles and the back ache that is the inevitable result of sitting in a bed for 48 hours.  Crying and also staring with so much wonder and love at these wide blue eyes, this fuzzy head of hair (!), and her shoulder, her little fisted hand as she nurses.  Soaking up the joy and enthusiasm with which the older sisters have greeted the newest member of the family, while also trying to curb the more aggressive gestures of love and excitement.  Life is good and it is full.  Amen.

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An Election Reflection

I began writing a post on Election Day, and since then, I’ve attempted to begin again, but I’m finding it to be a challenge.  Should I write about my emotional response?  Should I catalog the events?  It’s hard to explain the shift that is happening, and this has never been a terribly political space.

I think perhaps I will save those details for conversation, and I must admit that this is partially an act of cowardice.  Conversations are fluid, and when I encounter new ideas, I can modify my own.  I can adjust as my perspective shifts and the facts emerge.  Part of me hesitates to write down the emotional response or the series of events, because I know that they are an imperfect snapshot – maybe a glimpse of my political ignorance, my white privilege.  It would be easy to find fault with my response.

So instead, I will say this:  the election was a wake up call.  It revealed to me my own complacency and made me question the motives and character of my fellow Americans.  It was strange to wake up one morning, taking for granted a whole series of suppositions:  that we lived in a country that honored everyone’s right to marry, that recognized a woman’s need to govern her own body, that struggled but ultimately chose to value diversity.  I’m embarrassed to even admit that these were my suppositions, because since the election, people who have been along the front lines of these civil rights issues could have told to me about the sincere obstacles they were facing, had I only been asking and listening.  I chose to believe that people were mostly good, and given the opportunity, they would make choices that benefited everyone and not just themselves.

I still believe in everyone’s capacity for goodness, but I have since been forced to acknowledge also our capacity for ignorance, selfishness, fear, and hate.  I believe a man was able to mobilize a group of people – many of them ignored and hurting – by appealing to these lesser and more malevolent capacities.

So here are some of the things that have helped me make sense of this election:

  1. Michael Moore’s eerie prediction that Trump Will Win.
  2. Krista Tippet’s interview of Ruby Sales, Where Does it Hurt?
  3. A funny and disturbing illumination of the Electoral College.

And here are some of the places I look to for information and ways to participate:

  1. Southern Poverty Law Center 
  2. Sierra Club
  3. Bernie Sanders
  4. Asking my friends to inform me about rallies, protests, or volunteer events (because I’m just not a Facebooker).

For my next post, I’ll be returning to reports on family life and the girls, but I also felt that I needed to acknowledge this event in our lives.  I hope that it inspires us to love harder and speak up for the things in which we believe.

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The Pregnant Landlords

Well, our second trimester came and went without much glory…  I may be deluding myself, but I seem to remember feeling a bit more energetic and enthusiastic with the first two pregnancies.  While my nausea did abate and I had more energy than the first trimester, I can barely count on one hand the number of times I thought about forgoing a midday nap.  And I’m still not staying up much past 9, so I feel a bit like a sleepy landmonster.

About a month ago, I started having this sharp pain right around the middle of my spine and I was feeling huge…  Luckily, the pain hasn’t reappeared (except during a long car ride or at the end of a really long day) since week 26, and though I’m waddling by the end of the day, when I look down at my belly, it feels about right for 29 weeks.  I think that’s just how it goes with each successive pregnancy – you get bigger faster, but eventually it’s all about the same.

With the anterior placenta, it took a long time to feel regular, strong movements from out little girl.  At even 17 and 18 weeks, I wasn’t sure I was feeling her every day (whereas with Lu, I felt certain I was feeling her as early as 14 weeks).  But in the past couple of weeks, the movements have been strong enough to shift my whole belly and be visible to others.  Now when I lay down or sit for a bit, I’m almost guaranteed to feel her move.  And that, my friends, is the most magical part of pregnancy.  So strange and so exciting.

This morning I noticed my linea nigra for the first time, and I’ve been seeing the mask creep onto my face the past couple of weeks.  Despite all my best efforts to eat healthy and work out regularly, I feel like I have this winter coat of extra weight everywhere on my body.  I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me, but with my third pregnancy, I also know that this is what my body does to get ready for baby and it’s not excessive and it doesn’t last forever.

The working out is going well.  We were all hit with a bout of the flu last week, so that slowed me down, but otherwise, I run as much as three consecutive miles (woohoo!), and I try to cover 4-6 miles each day running/walking.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I swim laps at the Rec Center for 40 minutes.  It really is so wonderful to be weightless and engage in a form of exercise where the bulk of my belly doesn’t slow me down much.  I can still do flip turns and I just swim at this easy pace, four strokes and a breath, the whole time, covering 35-40 laps.  I can’t say it’s terribly rigorous, but I do feel like it’s a workout.  The only thing I wish I were doing more of was strength.  I’ve had the intention of doing arms and lunges and squats, but…  Yeah.  That’s hardly happened.  Also, yoga.  But I’m thinking that might be part of my birth prep in the last 6-8 weeks.

Looking forward, it’s hard to believe that there are just 11 weeks left until our due date.  Between visitors and holidays, the majority of our weekends are already planned out, and though our to-do list isn’t enormous, I am starting to feel the urge to really get ready, emotionally as much as organizationally.

I know that organizationally, everything will get done, and if it doesn’t, that’ll be ok too.  I still remember that saying from my prenatal yoga teacher when I was expecting Lu:  “babies are born with a sandwich in their hands.”  And it’s true.  There’s not much stuff that you truly need when it comes to babies.  Something warm to dress them in, diapers, a baby carrier and a car seat…  Love.  That’s about it.  Mentally and emotionally, though.  That stuff is important.  I think taking care of your head and heart and doing a little prep there before baby comes is so important, and we haven’t had much time for that recently.

…two week intermission…

Haha!  Where was I? Oh yes.  Mental and emotional readiness.  And I think I was about to tell you that mentally and emotionally, these past few months have been a whirlwind.  Well.  Two weeks have past and not much as changed pregnancy-wise, but as we gain distance from July, August, September, and the first week of October, I am feeling a bit more mentally and emotionally grounded.  Not quite ready, but better.

July, August, and September were just nuts.  After we got back from Bryce Canyon, Joshua jumped into renovations on the basement in our second house.  We decided not to rent the upstairs during the renovations and turn the renovations into a larger single family rental, rather than the up/down rentals we had initially considered.  And even though forgoing a kitchen in the downstairs meant saving on time and money, it still took forever.  Joshua worked, and worked, and worked…  And then he worked some more.  At first, he took off two days a week to spend time with us, but by the second week of July, we knew our plans for a finish date of August 1st were way too ambitious.  So then he started taking just one day off.  And then teacher training started, and he worked M-F at school and spent most of the weekend in the basement, working.  By mid August, Joshua had worked a month straight without taking a single day off, and it was becoming clear that even a September 1st rental date was out of the question.

So he kept going.  We brought out Papa and then Grumpy.  We had a work day and bribed our friends to come over.  For a couple of weeks in October, the girls and I were over there doing as much as we could do, too.  Joshua was at the house after work during the week and all weekend.

By the time I listed the rental, it was September 23rd, and although it wasn’t completely finished, we felt assured that we could pull off the last touches by October 1st…

And then came two very, very stressful weeks.  A year and a half ago when we had listed just our two bedroom, one bath, there had been FLOODS of e-mails and voicemails with interested and motivated potential renters.  And it wasn’t cheap.  But here comes our mistake.  Rather than doing our research, we assumed that we would be able to rent a four bedroom, two bath, single family home in an up-and-coming area for quite a bit more.  It has double the square footage, a large deck, three large family spaces, and a fenced in yard.  Initially, we thought that we would be able to rent the place for 50% more than we had last year, which would make the last three months of hell…  Worth it.  We could pay for a vacation!

48 hours in, we had no responses, and with a heavy heart, I dropped the price $200.  Another 48 hours in, there was only one hopeful lead, and then that fizzled out.  With October 1 approaching fast and the thought of floating the mortgage and losing rent for another month over our heads, we dropped the price another $200.

It was the magic number.  Calls came in and we had at least 8 showings.  The impossible (renting the space by October 1) started to seem possible.  And then an application came in asking if we accepted housing vouchers.

God knows why after all of this we decided to look into housing vouchers, especially when we had two other applications with no such requests, but we decided to look into it.  We had gotten a good feeling from the person applying, and something in us just said, try it.

So with whirlwind efficiency, we filled out an RFTA (Request for Tenancy Approval) which is about 20 pages of questions about us as landlords and about the property.  Our very motivated potential tenant submitted the document to the DHA (Denver Housing Authority) the very next day, and we waited to schedule an inspection.

Although it typically takes two weeks after submitting the RFTA to get an inspection, they expedited the process (yes!  Bureaucracy that can move fast!), and we were able to get an inspection on October 4th.  The inspector walked through the home, opening each of the windows and peeking inside appliances.  When she was through, she announced that she would be back at the end of the day to see that we had installed a thumb lock on the back door, a railing on the steps downstairs, and hung our fire detectors.

And she did.  And then together, the inspector, the tenant, and Joshua signed the lease.

So it was a little bit crazy, and we were nervous the whole time that everything would fall through, but it didn’t.  It worked out.  And you know what?  I feel pretty good about the decision we made to take a risk.  It seems like every report I hear or read on Denver housing and real estate says that gentrification is a huge problem, and the rising costs of housing are pushing out families that have lived here for generations.  So it feels good to be part of the solution, rather than the problem.  We’re providing housing to good tenants who deserve to be able to live and work in the town where they grew up.  And as independent providers of Section 8 housing, we’re offering a nice, newly remodeled single family home in a mixed-income neighborhood, rather than an apartment in a building designated for public housing.  I’ve taught many students who have lived in “projects” like those, and I think most of them would agree that these were not nice or safe places to live.  It was a learning process for us, but I’m glad we had the experience.  If you’re curious and would like to learn more, here’s a link.

What else, you ask?  Well, we took a quick 7 hour drive up to the Black Hills to see our friends, the Devanes, for a weekend in between submitting the RFTA and scheduling an inspection.  So that was both wonderful and a little terrifying to still have everything in limbo.  Once we got back and managed to finally rent the house, we breathed a sigh of relief.  Or rather, I did.  Joshua returned to work and felt overwhelmed by a growing list of things to do at school, so he worked late a few nights that week to catch up.

And then that weekend – the first weekend in nearly three months that we anticipated spending time as a family together, just the four of us, we got nailed with the flu.

On Friday night, Lu puked.  By Saturday morning, I was puking.  Joshua took the girls (Lu had a quick recovery) to go have fun at the pumpkin patch, but Lily was having a resurgence of what was definitely not food poisoning and had hit her on Wednesday.  On Saturday night, Joshua began puking.  This particular bug was a lovely little two-fer.  24 hours of nausea, followed by 24 to 48 hours of feeling somewhat better, and then a little 6 resurgence.  I puked again on Monday night.  Yum.

So yeah.  I think that’s where I left you guys.  We had just emerged from the flu, and from three months of overtime, single parenting, missing Joshua, and just generally feeling like we were totally in over our heads.  And then realizing that after all of that, we are in the exact same financial position we were in last year, month to month.  Because while the basement will certainly add to the value of the property and pay off when we sell, the increase in rent just manages to balance out the increase in our mortgage we took on in the spring when we refinanced to take out money to renovate the basement…  So yeah.  No sweet little vacation bonus there (she weeps).  It sucks, and we’re sad, but I’m also feeling like, well!  It’s done!  We don’t have to do it again!  And it sucks!  But moving on!  We’ve got lives to live, dammit!  We survived on this budget last year, and we’ll do it again this year.

You see what I mean?  Not the greatest mental and emotional preparation for welcoming a new little munchkin into the family in 9 weeks. But that being said, I’m already feeling better.  Two weeks ago, I was just on the other side of everything and feeling like I was getting my bearings.  And now if you asked me how things were going, I’d say we’re doing fine.  Which reminds me of something people say about women and their ability to completely forget/gloss over massive amounts of misery and pain…  Should we talk about labor?!

Haha.  But really.  The other night, I was having some insomnia, and I was all like, oh shit.  I have to give birth in like, two months, and man.  That’s gonna hurt.  And then of course I have this internal struggle like, “no!  Don’t say it’s going to hurt!  It’s going to be fine!  If you think it’s gonna hurt, then it’s gonna hurt!”  And then I’m all like, “but it hurts!  I can’t lie!”

Ok.  I’m going to end this post here with some photos of the rental.  And then I’ll be back for updates on Lily and Lu.


Our old bedroom

Our old bedroom

The girls' old bedroom

The girls’ old bedroom

I do have new pictures of this space sans all of our stuff.  In the new photos you would see the big ass new house they built in the lot next store.  Seriously huge.  It's a side-by-side duplex three stories high that sold for half a million for each unit.

I do have new pictures of this space sans all of our stuff. In the new photos you would see the big ass new house they built in the lot next store. Seriously huge. It’s a side-by-side duplex three stories high that sold for half a million for each unit.

I'm sad to say our previous renters didn't appreciate pink nearly as much as I do and the "pink room" is now grey...

I’m sad to say our previous renters didn’t appreciate pink nearly as much as I do and the “pink room” is now grey…

img_2874 img_2877

There's the cypress mantle Sarah brought us from NOLA

There’s the cypress mantle Sarah brought us from NOLA




More kitchen love

More kitchen love

Joshua designed and bought everything from Ikea and then installed it with the help of his dad.

Joshua designed and bought everything from Ikea and then installed it with the help of his dad.

I miss that farmhouse sink!

I miss that farmhouse sink!

Gorgeous kitchen and huge island.

Gorgeous kitchen and huge island.

Upstairs bathroom

Upstairs bathroom

Front living room (back when we were living there!)

Front living room (back when we were living there!)

Back bedroom on first floor.

Back bedroom on first floor.

Stairs to the basement (now with a railing ;)

Stairs to the basement (now with a railing 😉

New bathroom in basement with shower installation by Grumpy

New bathroom in basement with shower installation by Grumpy

Large family space in basement.

Large family space in basement.

Large bedroom in basement with egress window and structural supports.  All by Joshua (with help from his dad).

Large bedroom in basement with egress window and structural supports. All by Joshua (with help from his dad).

Back deck/back yard.

Back deck/back yard.

Huge back deck.  Perhaps too huge?

Huge back deck. Perhaps too huge?

And that’s a wrap.  Maybe someday Joshua will put up a post about everything he did, but I doubt it.  I think he’s too bruised from the whole experience.  He really did an amazing job.  I can’t believe everything that went into structurally reinforcing the space, electricity, framing, plumbing, drywall, floors, the deck…  And I’m sure a bunch of things I don’t remember or never really understood in the first place.  I never cease to be amazed by his DIY skillz.

And finally, a huge thanks to those of you who helped us:  Papa Tim, thank you so much for the kitchen and the help with all the windows.  I know that Joshua appreciated getting to spend quality time with you and that your expert help was a huge life-saver.  Grumpy Dave, thank you so much for helping with the back part of the house and the bathroom downstairs.  Both the company and your reliable skills are so appreciated.  Mark, Joshua’s former co-worker, put in quite a few hours tuck-pointing and doing other odds jobs, and David spent hours in the sun digging out the egress window.  Our friends, Weston, Mark, Will, and Melanie came over for a long work day and helped clean and finish the deck, and my mom spent hours cleaning the house from top to bottom.  Dan, my mom’s boyfriend, nearly broke his back working on the deck and clearing out mountains of debris from the back yard.  Thank you, thank you so much.  We couldn’t have done it all without you, and having company made it all a bit more bearable.  Compensation in the form of plane tickets, low hourly wages and pizza doesn’t seem nearly enough.  We love and appreciate you guys.

***And now, at the end of this post, I’m realizing what a weird combination of themes we have here…  Pregnancy and renovation.  Although, as my friend Chelsea said, it wouldn’t be an Andert pregnancy if there weren’t renovation involved 😉


Summer in Utah Act 3: Bryce 100 DNF

(Viewer discretion is advised. As Lily would say, “Daddy-O said a bad word.”  Actually, I said many of them…  Perhaps view this video not in the company of little ones.)

Last year I completed my first hundred mile race.  It was a fun and challenging experience.  I did really well.  I tanked for a bit.  I walked a lot, but I still managed to finish under 30 hours.

We (I) chose Utah for our summer vacation so that I could run the Bryce 100 and give another 100 miler a go.  I went into the race with high hopes.  The previous three races I’d run this winter and spring had gone really well, and I’d set PRs at all of them.  So, I went into the Bryce 100 hoping for another great day.

I also went into Bryce thinking that I’d make a Mark Watney style mock-umentary of my experience.  After my 100 mile last year I had just two pictures of me on the course.  I felt that such an experience should have better documentation.  So, I set out with my camera hoping to catch something entertaining on film.

It is with great trepidation, humility and embarrassment that I post this video.  My high hopes for the race were dashed when I succumbed to the heat and ended up dropping out of the race.  I’m pretty disappointed that I didn’t finish, but I’ve learned a few lessons about myself from the experience.  I also had fun making the video.

I’d say more, but hey just watch (without small children).

And thank you K for that sensual sunscreen application.