Monday, October 5, 2015

All the usual questions

It seems like various stages in life come with a set of questions that you can plan on being asked by just about everyone.

Single: Are you dating anyone?

Engaged: How's the wedding planning?

Newlywed: How's married life?

Married 6 months or more: Are you guys planning on having kids (unspoken: any time soon)?

Pregnant: When are you due? Boy or girl? How are you feeling?

Very pregnant: Are you still pregnant?!

The newborn stage is no different. I feel like I answer the same questions over and over. Not that this is a bad thing. I mean, I ask the same questions over and over to other people, so it all evens out.

But I thought I'd go ahead and answer a bunch of these questions for you in one fell swoop, just in case any of you are dying to know what life is like with Miss Amelia in our lives.

Is she a good baby?

Generally, yes. I've only heard her earnestly cry once in her not quite six weeks of life. Most of the time, if she's unhappy, she just squirms and grunts and lets out a little squawk every few seconds. She really, really loves to eat. So much so that she sometimes overeats and spits up large amounts of milk all over the place. So there's that.

I think she might have some tummy troubles that weren't there with my other kids, and I have no idea how to handle them. It's nothing serious, because she's gaining weight and growing well, but I feel like it just makes her uncomfortable. I've tried gas drops and gripe water; neither had too much of an impact. It seems better now than it did even a couple weeks ago, so hopefully we'll keep moving in that direction.

Oh, and she won't take a binky! It blows my mind. All my other kids have loved the binky. But Amelia is basically offended by it. I think of this every time I try to give it to her:

What's life like with four kids?

Not too bad. Busy, but not too bad. I feel like a lot of the busy-ness is more because of my older kids having different activities and such, rather than because of adding another one to the mix.

I do feel like it's a little unreal at times. It's almost like the concept of having four kids freaks me out even more than the reality of it. Like sometimes I step back and think "I have four kids?!" and just wonder when the heck this happened.

How are the other kids with the baby?

Really good. Maddy is so good with her, and so helpful. Charly, though, is truly obsessed. She wants to be hugging and kissing Amelia all the time. She talks baby talk to her and is just thrilled when Amelia seems to respond to something. The other night I walked in on Charly talking to the baby in her rocker. She was saying "I'll always take care of you, Millie," and it kind of melted my heart.

And Parker...doesn't really care. He's pretty oblivious. He is fascinated with the "baby's food," though, and always wants to "help" feed her. As you can imagine, that never really works out.

Are you getting any sleep?

Ah, the million dollar question. I know a lot of new moms get really bugged by this question, because "NO I'M NOT GETTING ANY SLEEP THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR REMINDING ME," but I honestly don't really mind it. I mean, sleep deprivation is an infamous side effect of having a newborn, so it makes sense that people would ask.

As for my answer...well...I'm getting some. Amelia seems to sleep for the longest stretch of time in the late afternoon, and then she wakes up all well rested at about 6 or 7. At night, we'll usually get 3-4 hours in between feedings. It's not terrible, and it's pretty typical for a newborn, but it does start to weigh on you after a while. Those little chunks of sleep are just not the same as nice, long stretches. It's frustrating, sure, but I keep reminding myself that it'll pass soon enough.

{the snuggles make up for the bags under my eyes, right?}

How are you?

It's funny, but this simple question is the toughest to answer. And every time someone asks me, I find myself taking a little internal inventory. More often than not, what comes out of my mouth is "We're doing well," or "Hanging in there!" But the truth might be a little more complicated.

I'm physically spent. I've had a cold for over three weeks now. I'm eating sporadically at best, and consuming quite a lot of caffeine (oops). Sleep...well, see above. I still get weird aches and pains that I'm attributing to childbirth. I've got weight to lose (obviously) but I'm not too worried about that yet.

Mentally, I'm hanging in there. I'm certainly busier than I've ever been, with work, kids' activities, housework, and breastfeeding on my plate (breastfeeding is time consuming, people!). Sometimes I feel like I'm just barely scraping by with the bare minimum on everything. It feels good to be able to stay on top of the most urgent things, but at the same time, I can't help but wish my time was under control a little more, so I could pay attention to the "important, but not urgent" tasks. Sometimes I feel like I'm doggy paddling through my tasks (especially at work), but hey, it's better than drowning.

Emotionally, I'm kind of all over the place. I love my little newborn but it breaks my heart to see her getting so big, so fast. I'm dealing with some anxiety about keeping track of four kids, which has also developed into anxiety about other, sillier things. I'm having to deal with not having a lot of time to myself, which can have a pretty negative impact on a raging introvert such as myself. So it's a bit of a roller coaster.

But honestly, I'm okay. Some days are better than others, but that's true for us all, right? I've got an amazing teammate in Dallin, that's for sure. I'm lucky to have him. And I'm lucky to have my faith. I'm trying to make it a point to rely on that faith and to focus on the little things that make life good.

Oh, and to all of you who have helped, visited, texted, given gifts, brought meals, thought about us, or thought about thinking about us, thank you. We are blessed to be surrounded by good people who care about us!

And of course and as always, thanks for reading.

Stitch Fix -- October 2015

Another month, another Stitch Fix!

Does everyone know what Stitch Fix is? Just in case you haven't heard, here's how it works:

{about stitch fix}

Stitch Fix is an online styling/shopping service. For a $20 fee, they send you five clothing or accessory pieces that a personal stylist has chosen just for you, based on your style profile, special notes to your stylist, and even your Pinterest boards. When you receive your box, you can choose to buy as many of the items as you want, and then return what you don't want in your return bag (postage is prepaid!). Your $20 styling fee applies to anything you purchase, and if you love everything, you get a 25% discount on your entire box!

So basically, it's a ton of fun. You can choose to receive just one box (no subscription required!), or you can subscribe to receive boxes every 2-3 weeks, monthly, every other month, or quarterly. Basically, when you need a fix, you can get one. That sounds weird, but whatever.

Stitch Fix also offers petite and maternity options now, which I've taken advantage of for the past several months. Check them out, if you want: months 1234, and 5.

{my stitch fix - october 2015}

I'm not gonna lie: I've been struggling with my wardrobe a bit lately. I'm literally a milk-making machine, so I'm quite a bit bigger (ahem) up top (ahem) than much of my clothing allows for. I've also got a lovely little tummy pooch that I'm trying to have patience with...but not too much patience. So I'm kind of in a weird, transitional spot. Let's see if any of my pieces from this month accommodate that. 

Fun2Fun Vimmy Front Pocket Top ($48)

first impressions: I like the pattern, and I like the Fall-ish colors. And it's a button down, which gets two thumbs up from this nursing mama. Crossing my fingers for this one.

on me:

thoughts: Well, dang. I really do love the shirt, but the fit just isn't quite right. A little too small up top, and a tiny bit too short. It's also not one that I would find occasion to wear very often; it's not stretchy or breathable, so it would be strictly "date night" and I just can't justify it. RETURN.

 Market & Spruce Sawyer Space Dye Dolman Sleeve Knit Top  ($58)

first impressions: I know "space dye" is kind of a thing right now, but I'm just not sure I love it. I do love a good maroon, though!

on me:

thoughts: Man, oh man, if only I liked this print! I might even like it if the color was a little more muted, but as it is, the "space dye-ness" of it is a little too in-your-face. But it's a shame, because it's super comfy and fits well! RETURN. 

Loveappella Lany Envelope Back Knit Top ($48)

first impressions: Peek-a-boo stripes? 3/4 sleeve? Long, soft, flowy shirt? I think I'm in love.

on me:

thoughts: SO TORN. The "envelope" back is extreme and (in my humble opinion) kind of weird. I don't think it would make me self conscious enough to not wear the shirt, but I don't love it. I DO love everything else about it though. I'm sure I would wear it often. UNDECIDED. 

41Hawthorn Abrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan ($48)

first impressions: Nice, but pretty basic. I do have a navy cardigan already, but mine has buttons and this one is open, so this one has a little more "dress-up" potential.

on me:

thoughts: This thing is soft! And flattering! Ugh, it's really nice. I'm tempted, but I'm so not sure because of the other cardigan I have! UNDECIDED. 

Pixley Kathy Striped Fit and Flare Dress ($68)

first impressions: This is going to be too short. Way too short.

on me:

Nope. Not happening.

thoughts: Not only was the dress too short, but it was also way too small up top. This could totally be cute on someone...but not on me. RETURN.


This is probably my third box in a row that has been very, very "close." For the past few boxes, the style has been on point, but the fit just doesn't make the grade. Unfortunately, this one was probably the least successful of the three, since there isn't really a clear "keep."

And also unfortunately, it makes me wonder a little bit if my Stitch Fix days are numbered. I have loved getting these boxes so much, but I don't want to keep getting them if they're not sending things I'm crazy about! Perhaps I'm just too picky for Stitch Fix. 

I'll give it another month, for sure, but I think Stitch Fix is effectively on probation. 

{If you'd like to try Stitch Fix, consider signing up through the links in this post, or right here. These links give me a little credit with Stitch Fix, so we'll be best friends. Not that we aren't already. Crap, this just got awkward.}

Friday, September 11, 2015

Amelia's Birth Story, Part 2: The Short Wait

{Part 1 here}

So there I was, almost entirely positive that I was finally in labor. These contractions were different. They were down low in my hips. They were achy and painful rather than just tight. And I'd had more than one of them! I was pretty sure that this was happening, and I was thrilled.

Dallin responded with a "Great!" and he got up right away. I decided to get in the shower, because (1) I really needed a shower, and (2) I wanted to make sure that the contractions weren't going away, even with a change in position or whatever. And Dallin, who we had already decided would be in charge of logistics when "the time came," started working out the plans for our other kids. He called his sister, who would take Maddy and Parker, sent out some work emails telling people he wouldn't be in that day, and started getting the kids up and ready.

The thing you have to understand is this: I was pretty sure, at this point, that we had time. And not just time -- hours. During my labor with Parker, I had contractions like these for hours at home. I was honestly planning on having time to get ready, helping get Maddy and Charly off to school (probably with a tearful goodbye because let's face it, everything was making me cry those days), and heading off to the hospital once everything was under control. I mean, we weren't exactly taking our time or anything, but we were definitely not rushing at this point. My contractions were still fairly spread out, and mostly manageable: only every third or fourth one was particularly painful. I was sure that we had time.

So I got in the shower. Again, I didn't take my time, but I didn't necessarily hurry. I was in there for about 10 minutes, and I probably had 3 contractions during it. At 6:04, I sent a text to my mom, telling her I was in labor and was getting dressed to go to the hospital.

As I started getting ready, I started feeling like maybe we should expedite things a little bit, and in retrospect, my actions reflected that. I threw on an easy dress instead of hunting for still-fitting pants (hard to find those days). I started blow drying my hair, but stopped after my bangs. I put makeup on (yep, you guys, I'm that shallow), but only powder and mascara. I probably spent about 12 minutes getting ready...which sounds very specific, but as it turns out, every minute counted. The kids were in and out of the room, obviously a little curious as to why I would stop moving or talking every 3-4 minutes. Once the moaning started, they even seemed a little scared (poor traumatized children!), but we kept things moving.

At some point, I told Dallin we were going to need to go sooner than we thought. He called his sister and told her to head over now. (By the way, Dallin was seriously a rock star, you guys. He got the kids up and dressed, made all the arrangements for them, got the bag together, supported me, and stayed calm and collected through everything. I love him. For reals.)

So at this point, it's about 6:18, and I'm feeling these contractions. Again, only every third or fourth one is truly PAINFUL with a capital PAINFUL (yes, the whole thing should be capitalized). I was still, honestly, not freaked out. Yes, I was definitely in labor. Yes, it was definitely time to go to the hospital. Yes, I'd be getting that epidural asap, thank you very much. But I was still thinking I'd labor for a while at the hospital before the baby came. I still felt like we had time.

A few more minutes of that, and Dallin's sister (Danielle) came. He also called our neighbor to come get Charly, who goes to the same preschool as our neighbor's little boy. I came downstairs to help Danielle get everything together for Maddy's school, and to help get her lunch ready. While pulling things out of the pantry, I had a bad contraction. I groaned through it, and Danielle assured me she could take care of the lunch.

Not even a minute later, another contraction hit. But this one was different. This one scared the crap out of me. Because when it hit, I wanted to push.

I was standing in my kitchen, with my daughter and my sister-in-law, and I had a super sudden, strong urge to birth a baby. Right there.

Hashtag not okay.

"AAAAGH Dallin we have to GOOOO!" was basically what came out of my mouth.

He came running down the stairs, handed me the keys, and told me to wait until the contraction was over and then go get in the car. He'd get the bag and would be right there.

So the contraction ended and I hurried out to the car. I made to the driveway when another contraction came. I leaned on the car for support and couldn't help yelling. (Sorry, neighbors!) But holy crap, it hurt. What the heck?! When did this happen?! It ended, and I got in the car.

Another one hit, and my body pushed. I grabbed onto the handle inside the car...

(Side note: I just tried to look up if that handle has an actual name, and apparently in many circles it is called the "Oh sh**" handle, which was definitely appropriate for this current moment, and definitely appropriate for the moment during the car ride a bit later.... when I actually said those words. Yep, I did. Side note over.)

...and braced myself. I saw our neighbor running into our house to pick up Charly; she gave me a thumbs up on the way in and I have no idea what I did back. Probably grimaced, but possibly flipped her off? (I kid, I didn't flip her off...right, Megan?)

After approximately an eternity, Dallin came running out of the house with the suitcase. He threw it in the trunk, jumped in, and sped off.

We had just turned off the street when I felt a weird "pop" and a solid gush of fluid.

"Dallin, my water just broke!"

Now, my water breaking is no joke. When my water broke with Maddy, I was fully dilated and about to start pushing. My water didn't break with Parker until he was freaking BORN. So, suffice it to say, my water breaking was a big, big deal.

Dallin sped on. Another contraction. A TON of pressure.

"Dallin, she's coming! She's coming!" I was yelling. I'm not going to lie: I was freaking out. How the heck was this happening to me? I was going to have a baby in the car?! No! I don't have babies in cars! I get epidurals in hospitals and then sit around bored for hours waiting to be fully dilated so my doctor can tell me when to push! That's how I give birth! Not in a Yaris!

"Should I pull over?" he asked.
"NO! GO!"

And he went. Man, he went. He flew down the main street out of our neighborhood, passing someone (note: there was no passing lane), and not stopping before turning onto the main road. I had another contraction. More pressure. This baby wanted OUT.

Dallin called the hospital to let them know we were coming. If he's telling the story, he'll tell you that the receptionist that answered sounded like a young "dude" who was super bored with his job ("Banner Gateway, where can I direct your call?") and when he finally got on the line with maternity, he yelled "My wife is in labor. We're coming in hot!" which would have been hilarious if I hadn't been trying to, you know, not give birth.

Also after-the-fact hilarious was that at some point during that drive, he told me that I was making his dream come true (referring to the "justified" speeding, because he was booking it). In the moment, I thought up some witty response about this dream about to become a nightmare, but didn't have a chance to actually say it out loud because another contraction hit.

It took everything in me to stay calm (and it didn't really work). It also took everything in me to NOT PUSH. I was literally grasping the "Oh sh**" handle, and saying "Don't push, Katie. Don't push, Katie. DON'T PUSH!" I could feel every contraction coming on. I could feel the baby putting insane pressure on my pelvis. This was totally, unbelievably, happening.

Getting to the hospital was something of a blur. I know we had to make a left turn to get into the parking lot, and Dallin had to honk and maneuver his way around a bit to pass people and run a red arrow to get in there. He zoomed up to the entrance and there was a triage nurse waiting with a wheelchair.

"Can you get out of the car?"

I could. They got me on there and literally ran me inside, asking questions along the way:

"Have your membranes ruptured?"

"How many weeks are you?"
Over 41!

"What were you dilated to at your last appointment?"
Yesterday I was 4 cm, 90% effaced!

I was yelling. Another contraction. I had to push. I heard her call on her walkie:

"I need an L and D room!"
She obviously didn't quite get the response she wanted, because then she said "No, just what room is clean?!"

We made it to the room. We'd somehow picked up some more nurses along the way, and the first nurse was relaying all the info I'd given her to them.

Someone asked, "Can you get on the bed?"

In retrospect, I'm kind of like, come on, I'd made it that far; of course I was getting on the bed and not giving birth in a wheelchair right next to the bed. Please.

So with a good amount of help, I got on the bed. Pretty sure I was still yelling.

Dress up, undies off. Another contraction. A bad one.

"I have to push!"
"Yep, you're baby's coming!"

At this point, in the span of about 20 seconds, I remember having three distinct thoughts:

(1) I am so relieved to be in a hospital, on a bed, with medical professionals present. This is going to be okay.

(2) I don't have a birth roar. Do I need a birth roar? Isn't that like, a requirement for women giving birth without meds? I guess we'll just see what comes out.

(3) RING OF FIRE?! Crap, that's about to happen.

And it did happen. Right about then.

"Slow down!" they yelled. "Just breathe through it."

I don't know how I did, but I did. I stopped yelling and I breathed (so much for the birth roar). This was happening. I could do it. Even if I couldn't do it, I was doing it.

"Head's out! Take a look!"

And there she was. One more little push, and there was the rest of her.

She was so big! And so clean, and so pink. She had a ton of hair and she cried right away.

I looked at Dallin. He was crying. I think I was in too much shock to cry, but I was saying "Oh my gosh!" over and over.

They handed me my beautiful baby girl, saying we needed to be skin-to-skin right away since the warmer in the room wasn't, well, warm.

We had to piece together what time to put as the time she was born, because no one had been watching the clock. Based on when Dallin had called, our best guess was 6:36 AM. 

I was still in my dress. My hair was still wet from my shower. Yet there I was, holding my sweet baby, just about an hour after my very first contraction. 

It was odd, doing everything backwards. We still had to be admitted, so we had to answer all the usual questions...just while already holding the new baby. I had to change into a hospital gown. My doctor got there and took care of all the gross stuff. I had to have an IV put in because I'd had moderate postpartum hemorrhaging with Parker, so they got me started on pitocin. They actually gave me a couple shots in my leg, and I remember thinking "If I'd had that epidural, I wouldn't have felt those." Not that those little pokes were painful after, you know,'s just a funny thought. 

I've had many people ask "what it was like" to give birth unmedicated. Honestly, it's mostly a huge blur, which makes it seem like it wasn't that bad. I'm sure it probably would have seemed a lot worse if I'd been laboring for hours. As it was, the absolute worst part was the fear that I would give birth in the car, and the effort (physical and mental) that it took to NOT push. It was terrifying and just downright hard. While I know now that everything was completely fine and that the baby was perfectly healthy and would have been even if she HAD been born in the car... that doesn't change the fact that it was incredibly scary in the moment. What if something had been wrong? We'd have been mostly helpless until we got to the hospital. But once we got there, once I felt safe pushing, it was (dare I say it?) not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It was just so fast! And it was nice to be able to move my legs and walk on my own so soon after she was born. Natural recovery beats epidural recovery, for sure.

Once we were all checked in, and Amelia had been weighed and measured (8 lbs 15 oz, 21.25 inches long -- my biggest baby yet!), the rest of the hospital stay was pretty standard. Visitors, vitals checks, tracking the feedings and the diaper changes. Everything went very smoothly, and we were able to leave the next day. 

Well, I guess that's about it! This was definitely not the birth I had planned...but apparently that's just how Amelia rolls. I've got a feeling she's going to keep us on our toes. 

And while her arrival gave me one of the craziest experiences of my life, I wouldn't trade it for the world. 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Stitch Fix -- September 2015

Okay, this is my first non-maternity Stitch Fix! Exciting, right? And maybe just a tiny bit scary because who knows what the heck size I should be wearing or whatever. But hey, let's see how this plays out.

You know about Stitch Fix, right? Just in case, here's how it works:

{about stitch fix}

Stitch Fix is an online styling/shopping service. For a $20 fee, they send you five clothing or accessory pieces that a personal stylist has chosen just for you, based on your style profile, special notes to your stylist, and even your Pinterest boards. When you receive your box, you can choose to buy as many of the items as you want, and then return what you don't want in your return bag (postage is prepaid!). Your $20 styling fee applies to anything you purchase, and if you love everything, you get a 25% discount on your entire box!

So basically, it's a ton of fun. You can choose to receive just one box (no subscription required!), or you can subscribe to receive boxes every 2-3 weeks, monthly, every other month, or quarterly. Basically, when you need a fix, you can get one. That sounds weird, but whatever.

Stitch Fix also offers petite and maternity options now, which I've taken advantage of for the past several months. Check them out, if you want: months 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

{my stitch fix - september 2015}

I was really anxious/excited to see how non-maternity Stitch Fix works out for me. See for yourself:

Skies Are Blue Colina Mix Material Knit Top ($58)

first impressions: Cute! Different; probably not something I'd be drawn to in a store, but cute! I hope it's not too short.

on me:

thoughts: Cute, but probably nothing to write home about. I do wish it was a couple inches longer! I love stripes, and I love the little extra detail on the shoulders, but this is probably a RETURN.

 Sweet Grey Surrey Knot Back Tee  ($58)

first impressions: Ooh, I like! The knot on the back is super unique without being too "in your face." 

on me:

thoughts: Yep, I really like this one! It's like a basic tee kicked up a notch. Plus it's soft and well made, and I like that it can be dressed up or down. KEEP!

Market & Spruce Sam Hi-Low Short Sleeve Tee ($44)

first impressions: Hm, not super exciting, although I do really like the color!

on me:

thoughts: Yeah, I do really like the color. It's kind of marled, which is cool. But it's kind of got a boxy fit. It doesn't really do anything for me. I'm gonna say RETURN. 

Market & Spruce Talia Printed Pencil Skirt ($48)

first impressions: Nice colors and print! Much better than the crazy prints I've come to expect from Stitch Fix!

on me:

(sorry, I know the pics are pretty bad! you get the idea, right?)

thoughts: I do LOVE the colors and the print (it's kind of a robin's egg blue with navy, and it's basically a damask print). It's also very soft with a good amount of stretch, but I can tell it's well made. It's a great skirt that I'd probably wear often...but is it worth the price? UNDECIDED. 

Liverpool Anita Skinny Pant ($78)

first impressions: Don't know if I need dark gray pants that cost $78, but whatever.

on me:

thoughts: Wow, you guys. I'm not gonna lie -- these pants are amazing. Super soft and stretchy. They are amazingly comfortable and basically feel like leggings while looking like dress pants. I kinda love them. And yet, I'm not sure I need them, which makes me very hesitant to buy them. Oh snap. UNDECIDED. 


This Stitch Fix box actually impressed me a lot. It's very much my style and all the clothes were super comfortable and cute! Just a couple minor fit issues with those two shirts. I definitely want to keep the gray shirt, but I'm honestly not sure what to do about the skirt and pants! Decisions, decisions. Either way, it was fun to get another Stitch Fix box, and also fun to not have to think about "Will I get to wear this after the baby comes?" 

It's the little things, you know?

Happy Labor Day weekend, friends!

{Oh, and if you're considering trying out Stitch Fix, consider signing up through the links in this post, or right here. These links give me a little credit with Stitch Fix, which is pretty dang cool. But hey, if you just like reading about it, that's pretty dang cool too.}

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Amelia's Birth Story, Part 1: The Long Wait

I'm going to start off with an apology, because I'm about to be "that lady." You know the one: she thinks everyone really cares about her birth story and gives you every.single.detail that you never wanted to know about her cervix.

But honestly, I really love birth stories. Childbirth is one of those things that is just so fascinating to me. It's terrifying and inspiring, painful and joyful, disgusting and beautiful, all at the same time. Every story is so unique. And every woman cherishes her story so much, and I feel like that really comes through when you read or listen to them. So I love it. Which means that I'm going to be "that lady." Just so we're clear.

That being said, this isn't going to be the four-part epic tale that was Parker's birth story, but I think we'll have two parts, easily.

So buckle up, folks.

Hm...where do I begin?

The fact is, I was expecting to have this baby the first week of August.

My latest baby to date (Maddy) came on her due date; the others were 8 and 3 days early. Labor always started on its own; I was never induced.

At my 36 week appointment in mid-July, I was 3 cm dilated, 70% effaced. Good start, right?

The next week, my doctor put me closer to 4 cm and 90%. She also said that my belly was measuring a little small, which surprised the heck outta me, but whatever. So they had me go in for an ultrasound the next day, just to make sure everything was going well. And it was! Baby girl was measuring on the small side, but within the normal range. I think the estimate at that point was just over 6 lbs.

And the weeks went on. On July 31, I had some contractions that I thought might be the real deal. I only remember the date specifically because that was Charly's birthday, and I was worried about having to cancel her party the next day. I had contractions that weren't necessarily painful, but made my belly super tight. They were very consistent at about 3 1/2 minutes apart, and they lasted for a couple hours.

Now might be a good time to explain why I didn't go to the hospital when I had contractions like this. These were the circumstances I was in when I went to the hospital with Charly -- consistent contractions that weren't really painful, and that weren't getting worse. And well, Charly's birth wasn't my favorite, so I didn't really want to recreate that experience. I was really waiting for a repeat of my labor with Parker -- consistent contractions that I could tell were progressing, and that were painful enough to make me really want that epidural. Without that, I wasn't going in.

So my due date was the 11th, and I was really hoping she'd come around the 6th. That weekend, I made like the pioneer children and walked and walked and walked and walked. That Saturday, the 8th, I actually walked a total of 8 miles. I'd have those Braxton Hicks contractions, and I'd get a random painful one thrown in every now and then, but never anything serious.

And well, that was basically my life for the next couple weeks. I took it easy for a few days while school was starting. Maddy started Kindergarten on the 12th and I really just didn't want baby stuff to get in the way of that too much. But we made it through all that, and I went back to walking whenever possible the weekend after. I actually thought she was coming for SURE on the 13th, but it was just another false alarm.

I also had another ultrasound that week (weight estimate: 7 lbs 4 oz, I think), and had to go to the hospital for a nonstress test that Saturday (my birthday, the 15th). Everything still looked good. Baby girl was very healthy, but apparently also very stubborn.

At this point, to be perfectly honest, I was actually in pretty good spirits. Obviously, I was ready for the baby to come; the bags had been packed, and the plans for the other kids had been in place, for weeks at this point. Everyone I saw was asking how I was doing and telling me how sorry they felt for me. Everywhere I went, I would think "What would I do if my water broke here?" The girls were asking when the baby was coming almost constantly. But I was honestly okay. I wasn't too physically uncomfortable, and I really just wanted the baby to cook for as long as she needed to.

But then I hit 41 weeks, and my doctor started talking induction.

Now, I don't necessarily have anything against induction in and of itself, but I really, really wanted to avoid a c-section, and I know (or at least, have heard) that being induced raises the risk of needing a c-section. I also knew that because I was already dilated so much (still 4 cm), they'd probably want to break my water, which I didn't want to do because of what happened with Parker (even though I knew that was a total fluke). The whole thing just made me nervous.

But not as nervous as thinking about what might happen if we didn't induce. I know that things can get pretty ugly, pretty fast, if the placenta stops working at any point (talk about a guaranteed c-section!), which is more likely to happen as the placenta gets older. So I obviously didn't want to risk that.

Ultimately, my doctor eased my fears a bit by telling me that because this was my fourth baby, and because I was already dilated and effaced, I was a good candidate for induction and the chances were good that it would work like it was supposed to. I agreed to schedule the induction for 9 am on the next day, August 20th. But that still gave me one day to try to make it happen on its own.

And so I cleaned my house like a madwoman. I must have gone up and down our stairs a hundred times that day, and I'm not sure that's an exaggeration. I folded laundry downstairs, and I made a separate trip upstairs for every single piece of clothing. No joke. There was no holding still that day. Every time I might have stood still, I bounced instead. And that night, I walked (or, more accurately, almost ran) around the mall one last time. I had the same contractions, but they stopped as soon as I got back in the car.

That night was the first night that I really got discouraged. I had been working my body so hard for the past few weeks, trying to get this baby to come, and nothing had worked, and now I was facing an induction. I had no idea what to expect, and I was scared. And I kind of felt like I had failed, which sounds silly now, but that's how I felt. Dallin and I talked about it for a while that night, trying to decide if we should cancel the morning's appointment. Ultimately, though, we decided we needed to do it. We'd get our kids to all their various caretakers the next morning, and we'd go to the hospital at 9 to have our baby. I went to bed feeling mostly at peace about the whole thing.

I actually slept surprisingly well that night, but I did wake up early -- at about 5:15. Lying in bed, I pulled out my phone and checked my email, and then read a couple things about what I could expect from the induction.

At about 5:30, I rolled over in bed...and a contraction hit.

I remember thinking "That felt real." It felt exactly how I remembered my contractions feeling from my active labor with Parker. But I didn't want to get my hopes up again.

And then about 8 minutes later, I had another one. And then another one 8 minutes after that. And then, around 5:50, I had one that, well, really hurt. That's when I woke Dallin up.

"I think I'm in labor."

Spoiler alert: I was right.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The pregnancy I didn't want. See also: Joy.

This is a tough one, folks. I don't like admitting what I'm about to admit, mostly because I know that there are so many people struggling with problems so different from mine, and those problems make my problems look more like "problems," if you know what I mean.

But I hope you know that I'm just trying to keep it real here. I just need an outlet to get my feelings out, and to be as genuine as possible, and to maybe help someone else who might be feeling the same, you know? I'm not trying to offend or hurt anyone. I promise.

So with that out of the's the thing: I didn't want this pregnancy. all.

As in, I started crying uncontrollably when the word "pregnant" popped up on that dang stick on that dang Monday morning. And I went to the store immediately and bought three more pregnancy tests. And when one of them didn't really look super positive, I convinced myself that THAT was the real one. So I went and bought two more and took those (spoiler alert: positive!). And in between all the Sonic drinks and the peeing and the paranoid-that-I-would-see-someone-I-know shopping was a whole lot of crying.

I remember Dallin getting home that night and starting to talk about his day, as usual. And then he really looked at me, and he asked me how I was, and I said "I'm pregnant," and he was like "What?!" and so I said it again. And then I just broke down and he just held me.

I remember when we first got married, I thought the idea of a surprise pregnancy was oh so romantic. Like "Yeah, we weren't trying, but we just couldn't keep our hands off each other, so I guess these things happen!" #winkwinknudgenudge . And I remember being just the teeniest, tiniest bit disappointed when we started "trying." I mean, where's the fun in that?

And then, three "on purpose" babies later, you're like "Okay, maybe we got a little carried away," and you love your babies with all your heart... but you're really just ready to take a break for a while.

But of course, trying "not to" is a whole different beast. You think it's simple, right? Just take the pill. Get the IUD. Hold everything and grab a condom. Track your cycle and your temperature and become super well acquainted with things you never wanted to even think about (cervical mucus, anyone?). Something's gotta work. Just do it right. Just be careful.

And the next thing you know you're carrying a 44 oz drink around at your third CVS run for the day, praying that just maybe those other tests didn't know what they were talking about.

And you feel a lot of shame.

I felt so bad for feeling so bad about this. How could I not want this blessing that so many people were, at that very moment, praying for? How could I be crying in sadness at a result that would have most women crying in happiness and gratitude? How could I be so cruel?

I didn't like myself for a long time. And I held off telling other people about the pregnancy because, quite frankly, I couldn't say anything without crying. I just couldn't deny my sadness. And every time I threw up or hit that wall of fatigue that seemed to pop up so often, I would think "And I didn't even ask for this!" Every time I got frustrated or downright fed up with my kids, I would think "There is NO WAY I can add another one to this mix. I can't do it."

It was rough.

I wish I had some great story about the moment my attitude changed. But honestly, I think it just happened slowly over time. It started with a conscious decision, maybe around the start of my second trimester. I recognized that I had allowed myself to "grieve." I had given myself time to be sad about this, and that time needed to be over. I needed to get over the sadness and start to have a little faith -- faith that this baby was meant for out family, that I have people -- super awesome GREAT people -- in my corner to help me, and that I could become a better person and mother because of this experience.

And no, I don't remember when exactly that happened...but I do remember when I realized it had happened.

I was driving to pick up two of the kids from my sister, who watches them while I work. For some reason, I had Charly with me, and we were talking about her upcoming birthday party. She had been insisting on a "Signing Time" themed party, but that day, she had temporarily changed her mind, and wanted a Sadness theme -- as in the character of Sadness, from "Inside Out."

My mind wandered and I thought about that movie. Have you seen it? (Side note: If not, GO SEE IT. It's seriously probably in my top 10 favorite movies now. Love it.) Well, as I thought about it, I thought about the surprisingly profound messages in it -- messages about emotions, and how they aren't always black or white (or yellow or blue as the case may be), but are often complex and complicated. Emotions play off of each other, affect each other, and rely on each other. The movie demonstrates this beautifully as the main character learns this specific lesson:

that sometimes, it is Sadness that allows us to feel Joy. 

This phrase struck a chord in my head and in my heart. As I thought about the sadness that I had felt so many times over the past few months, I realized that it was gone, but that it hadn't been for nothing. I realized that maybe I hadn't wanted this pregnancy, but I wanted this baby. So much. I was excited to meet her and take her home and have her be mine forever. And remembering the sadness made the joy that much more meaningful.

And I thought about joy, and how I wanted my baby to feel it like Joy feels it in the movie, like I felt it in that moment -- unadulterated and absolute. I wanted her to know that she's wanted and loved, and that she always has been and always will be. It felt important to be deliberate about it.

Neither of my older girls has a middle name. I never had one and never felt like I was missing out. And with this baby girl, we had all but settled on a name, but it never felt 100% right. Not until that moment, driving in my car, when I knew that this baby needed a middle name. And even though it's possibly a little weird that that name was inspired by a Pixar character, it felt so right. And now that she's here, it still feels right.

Which brings us to an introduction. Allow me to present:
Amelia Joy Harris

One of the greatest joys of my life; and a product of one of the saddest times I can remember. 

I hope this all makes sense. I hope no one hates me for writing this, and for these feelings I've had. I hope you know how much I love my kids, and how willing I would be to go through anything for any of them. 

And I hope that maybe, if you're going through something that's bringing you sadness, it'll end up bringing you this much joy, too.  

Thursday, August 6, 2015

How I really feel about being pregnant

You probably think you already know how I feel about being pregnant, huh?

You've probably read this post. And this one. And maybe this one.

Or maybe you've had the misfortune of actually seeing me and my cankles lately, and you've actually heard me complain about how tired I am, and how much my hips hurt, and how my fingers are swelling for the first time in any of my pregnancies, and speaking of swelling have you seen these cankles?

And after you read/heard all the complaint junk, you thought to yourself, "Man, that poor girl is just miserable! She's over there complaining about sleep and back pain and drinking water and anxiety and hormones and peeing and waddling. She hates being pregnant. Guess I can't blame her though...those cankles..."

And well, you might not believe me when I say this, but you're actually totally wrong.

Pregnancy is full of challenges. This pregnancy has certainly had enough. And I know I've done my fair share of complaining, and possibly beyond my fair share. Am I stealing someone else's share of pregnancy complaints? Yikes. Sorry about that.

But really, the truth is... I love being pregnant. Cross my heart and hope to die, I do. I love it. I've missed it in between all my other pregnancies, and I'll miss it again after this baby is born.

The thing is, being pregnant has its perks. Sure, some of them are pretty shallow. You get to park in those amazing parking spots (that every store on Earth should have, by the way). You get to shop for new clothes because darn, none of your old stuff fits! You get to flaunt a cute bump (can we all just agree that baby bumps are pretty darn cute?). You can justify eating almost anything, at almost any time. And you get so much attention, am I right? (See? Shallow.)

And then, there's the not so shallow things. There's seeing a little human that oh, you happened to CREATE, for the first time as a little gray blob on an ultrasound screen. And crying when you hear that heartbeat thumping impossibly fast. And there's feeling that first little flutter and wondering if it just might be a kick. And then feeling a slightly bigger flutter and realizing that holy heck, it is a kick! And then having those kicks keep you company day and night for months and months.

There's also so much joyful anticipation. Waiting for your belly to finally look like a belly. Waiting to find out if it's a boy or a girl. Waiting for that cute, tiny outfit you ordered online to finally arrive at your door so you can hold it up and marvel at how tiny it is. Waiting to see when she'll really come, when her birthday will be for the rest of her life, how long it'll take her to get here, and whose nose she'll have. It's the kind of waiting that makes you think you can't possibly wait. The best kind.

But honestly, my favorite thing about pregnancy is that it makes you automatically special, somehow, and it takes one look at you to know it. You are constantly working to physically sustain a LIFE. You are eating differently, stressing over medications, changing your physical activity. Every choice that you make directly impacts another person.

And it's not just any other person: it's another person that you wholeheartedly love, but technically have never met. It's a person who you want to give the world to, but all you can really do is gently press back on her feet when she presses them against the inside of your belly, or give her Phish Food when she tells you that she wants it, or spend hours thinking about what you could name her because she has to have just the perfect name, and when you finally pick one it just feels so right that, of course, it makes you cry.

And you know you'll never have time like this, with just the two of you, ever again. Her little kicks will no longer be yours to share. She'll learn to rely on other things for food and entertainment and comfort. She'll learn to love a world outside her mama. And you want her to, of course. But maybe not today, you know?

Anyway, I really just felt the need to let you all know that this is how I really feel. I might come across as negative, and I might actually BE negative sometimes, and I'm sorry for that. But in my heart of hearts, this is how I really feel about being pregnant: Happy. Content. Special.

And blessed. Very, very blessed.

Wish me luck over the next couple days, friends. It's about to get real.