National Blog Posting Month...

My dear friend Anne alerted me to the fact that November is National Blog Posting Month. It is definitely going to be a challenge for this Mom. The Boy is usually in bed for the night by about 7:00, which leaves me the whole evening to do "me" things like knitting, spinning, quilting, blogging, editing photographs...

But in reality, I'm usually either physically exhausted or mentally drained and I end up on the couch watching the Real Housewives of where ever. NaBloPoMo might just give me the push I need to get a little momentum in the evening. I'm going to give it my best shot!

Are you in?


Me and Jack

We have literally thousands of photos of the Little Man. Thousands of photos over the last six months. Yet, I have less than a dozen of him and I together. I know how much I treasure the photos I have of me as a baby with my Mom or Dad. John and I have to do a better job of getting in front of the camera with the Little Man, even if it means being photographed looking like a crazy lady with no make-up, terrible bed-head and varying amounts of slobber covering my clothes.

So, until we get better at stepping in front of the camera, I present you with a few of the photos I've managed to co-star in thus far.

The first two are from day one and day two. My biggest regret about Jack's birth is that we didn't get more photos. I think there were a few iPhone photos taken right away. But we really don't have any of the three of us, or even any of me and Jack or John and Jack. Guess we'll know better for the next one, huh?

The next three are from Fourth of July weekend, so Jack would be just over three months.

This one is from my iPhone. Not sure on the date, but I think he's about five months in this one.

I have a few more iPhone shots, but I'll save those for another time. For now, I'll leave you with a question: How do you Mommies (or Daddies) get in front of the camera? Does someone else take the photos? Do you use a timer? Magic? Please share your secrets!

p.s. I submitted the photo of me smooching Jack to the Paper Mama photo challenge. The theme is Me and Mama. There are so many beautiful entries. It's going to be a tough one to judge!

The Paper Mama


Practicing for Halloween

We haven't put the Buddy Man in his real costume, yet. But Grammy bought glow-in-the-dark bones pajamas for Jack and his cousin, Dylann. The goal was to get a photo of the two of them in their p.j.s together. Yeah. That was the goal.

This was the outcome...

 Screaming immediately upon being placed in the leaf pile...

Followed by falling over in a panic...

And being rescued by Grammy.

After the screaming subsided, we went inside (far from the leaf pile) and tried again. Do you know how tough it is to photograph a busy two-year old. let alone trying to get a shot of her with her six-month old cousin. I guess I'm lucky we even got these shots!


Simplicity Photography Class - the second assignment

Our first assignment was all about photographing an object, keeping in mind the rule of thirds, negative space, and creative cropping. The second assignment takes those principles and applies them to a human subject. My model? The Buddy Man, of course; although, he was having a bit of a diva moment during our first photo shoot attempt. He was quite the sour puss. He warmed up a bit later in the day, and I almost caught a smile or two.

Here's my portrait using the rule of thirds:

Technical assignment #2 - SOOC portrait Rule of Thirds

Here's a portrait using negative space:

Technical assignment #2 - SOOC portrait negative space (one)

And here's a portrait using close, creative cropping:

Technical assignment #2 - SOOC portrait close crop

Keep in mind that all of these shots are straight off of the camera, no post processing. That's one of the requirements of the homework assignments so far. I'm hoping we'll get to play around with the images a bit at some point. Maybe for extra credit? I'm such a brown noser.


Simplicity Photography Class -- First Homework Assignment

Faith's photography class started yesterday, and so far I'm having a lot of fun. The first thing I've realized is that up until now, I never put much thought into "composing" a photograph. I get out the fancy camera, point it at Jack and snap until I get something I like. Sometimes I'll move him to better light or clear away a pile of junk behind him; but I rarely "stage" him. And sometimes that's okay. But I had an aha moment when I was doing the first homework assignment... The wheels in my head, they are a'turnin!

So, the first homework assignment involves using the rule of thirds, negative space and paying attention to cropping. All three of these images are straight off the camera -- no editing.

Tech Assignment #1 - SOOC close crop

IMG_7286Tech Assignment #1 - SOOC negative space

Tech Assignment #1 - SOOC rule of thirds

Next up: a mini-session with an actual person using the same criteria. Jack, get ready for your close-up, buddy!



I took the Buddy Man outside the other day to get some photos in the nice early evening light. He had this look on his face the whole time as if to say, "Seriously, Mom. Why are you doing this to me? Can we just eat bananas, take a bath and get ready for bed? And also, what is all this weird, pokey, green stuff. It feels funny."

This is my entry in to the Paper Mama photo challenge, "Confusion." If there were a "pouty-lipped bulldog face" challenge, I think he'd be a shoo in.

 I love his little serious face. He really does not know what to make of grass. Guess I need to get him down on the ground more often, huh?

The Paper Mama

Our Birth Story (part three)

warning: I don't think I get too graphic, but this is the story of Jack's birth. You were warned.

Click here to read part one of our birth story. 
Click here to read part two of our birth story.

At about 8:00 a.m., after being in labor for more than 30 hours, it was time...

Even with the epidural, I could still feel every contraction. It wasn't really painful – more of just a feeling of pressure. John held my left leg and I think Sara was holding my right leg. The nurse explained how to push with the epidural, and we tried a couple of practice pushes. I put all my strength and energy into each push, thinking that each push would be “the one” that would bring our baby to us.

Well, not so much. More than three hours later and the baby was still not out, despite my awesome pushing skills.

Dr. Carr had gone off duty at 8:00 a.m., and so Dr. Widstrom came in to talk to us about our options. The baby was still doing really well, but I was getting pretty exhausted and the baby didn't seem to be coming out on his own. His head was right there for everyone to see. And with each push, his head would come down a little, and then scoot right back in. He told us about vacuum assisted delivery – the suction cup. We decided that this would be our best bet. The baby was so close – maybe he just needed a little coaxing. Dr. Widstrom explained that sometimes the vacuum could pop off of the baby's head. They would only give it three “pops,” and that's it. After that, we were looking at a c-section. At the mention of the C word, I was even more determined to get this baby out.

Once we decided to try the vacuum, the room filled with people – residents, a med student, nurses, etc. I remember Sara saying that when the room filled up, that meant the baby was close; neither John nor I made that connection at the time. I think we both thought it would be another three hours...

Dr. Widstrom hooked up the suction cup, and instructed me to push. I pushed with all my might and then some. The next contraction came and I pushed even harder. Then I heard a loud “pop” and everyone in the room gasped. The vacuum had popped off. Dr. Widstrom quickly said, “That one doesn't count! My hand accidentally hit the release... Doesn't count!” Everyone exhaled. On the second attempt with the vacuum, the baby's head came out. Another push, and the rest of him slid out. The nurse wiped him up a bit and then put him on my chest. Baby Jack was finally here!

I can't describe the feelings that came next. I did my fair share of partying in college, but I had never experienced a high like this! I'm sure I cried, but mostly I remember laughing and smiling. It was pure joy. I felt so excited to be meeting this little person who had lived inside me for so long. And I felt like I had known him all my life. He looked into my eyes and I melted. He knew exactly who I was -- his Momma.

John fell in love instantly, too. He was so overcome with emotion that he couldn't talk, tears of joy, exhaustion and love running down his cheeks. He rushed out to the waiting room and invited everyone in to meet Jack.

Jack weighed 9 pounds, 8 ounces and had a 15 inch head at birth. No wonder he wouldn't come out! I vaguely remember making a comment about having the world's largest vagina, and immediately wondering, “did I say that out loud?!?” I did have a second degree tear, shaped like a capital L. It took them forever to stitch me up – they didn't keep track of the stitches, but I estimate about a million or so! Luckily, the epidural was still working so the stitching was no problem.

The worst part of the whole ordeal came after Jack's birth. He was born at 11:45 a.m. I slept off and on for the next few hours. By about 4:30 p.m., I was in so much pain I could barely talk. The afternoon nurse had never come to get me up to use the bathroom, and by that time I was so swollen downstairs that I couldn't pee. I don't think I've ever experienced that level of pain. It was off the charts. After another shot of Dilaudid, I was catheterized and immediately filled up a 2 liter bag with urine. Sweet relief!

After that, everything else was a breeze. Jack immediately took to breast feeding like a champ. Daddy took to poopy diaper changing like a champ! And even though our labor and delivery story ended up being drastically different from the birth plan in my mind, I would not have changed a thing. I know that we did what we needed to do to get Jack safely into our arms. I don't have any regrets. In fact, I'm amazed at how perfectly the whole thing went. We are very lucky. And we have this amazing little family to prove it!


Our Birth Story (part two)

warning: I don't think I get too graphic, but this is the story of Jack's birth. You were warned.

Click here to read part one of our birth story.

We got checked in at the hospital, and quickly learned that L&D was busy that day! We didn't see our doctor until 11:00 a.m., and at that point we all agreed to let labor progress on its own for the next few hours. Dr. Carr told us she'd be back in 2-3 hours to check my cervix. My contractions were still very manageable, and I was excited and optimistic. John and Sara and I were having fun, doing laps in the hallways and hanging out in the room, working through contractions as they came. By 1:30 p.m., things were getting more intense – I was starting to have trouble talking through contractions, and I had to stop if we were walking and do hula hips. I found that leaning up against someone (think slow dancing in middle school) or against the wall and sticking my butt out felt really good. I also started doing some birth singing – low “oh's” and moans – and picturing my cervix opening. It was incredible to me how well the things I'd learned in yoga were working to help keep things manageable. I guess maybe I had hoped they would work, and it was awesome to see that they actually did!

Our nurses were amazing throughout the whole process. They were so receptive and accommodating to our wishes. We talked about our plans to have a “normal” birth, and all of our nurses were completely supportive of it. Instead of being continually monitored, the nurses would let me sit on the birthing ball and hold the monitor on my belly for 15 minutes. They would just sit with me and help me work through contractions. It was awesome and so encouraging.

At 1:30, Dr. Carr came to check our progress. I was only dilated to 4 cm, but the baby was moving down and the cervix was thinning out. We made a plan to dilate to 5-6 cm by 6 p.m. It sounds funny now, but I really feel like the baby needed to have these little deadlines or goals to reach. For the next four hours, we continued to walk, do hula hips, and sit on the birthing ball as the contractions became longer and closer together. I focused on each one as it came. John held my hand and rubbed my back. We listened to the yoga music. Things were still relatively manageable.

Dr. Carr came back at 5pm and checked – I was at 5 cm. We'd reached our goal, so we decided to strip the membranes again, and then to continue to labor without intervention. By now, the contractions were becoming very intense. At some point, I got into the tub and thought I had gone to heaven. The warm water felt so good, and it really helped ease the pain of the contractions. I was in the tub three times during labor, and each time felt better than the time before!

By 9pm, I was dilated to 6 cm and I was feeling very tired and nauseous. I was beginning to have trouble staying in the moment. By that I mean that I was anticipating each upcoming contraction before it even started. I would be at the start of one contraction and be worried about how much the next one was going to hurt. John and Sara did a great job of helping me stay focused on each one as it came. After each contraction I would think to myself, “I never have to do that one again!” But about this time, I really started to feel physically exhausted. I hadn't eaten much, and I hadn't really slept much in the last few days. My body was drained. I felt nervous that if I didn't get some sleep that I would be too exhausted to push the baby out, and it seemed like there was still a lot of work to do. I asked what the options were for sleep, and decided to try a half dose of dilaudid. Twenty minutes later I asked for the second half, and was finally able to get some sleep. (Sara wrote in her notes: “sleeping at 9:30 – snoring, so resting well.”)

I think I slept for about 30 minutes before Dr. Carr came back in to check on us. The dilaudid wasn't really doing anything for the pain – it just made me feel disconnected and loopy – and at that point, I asked about an epidural. Prior to labor, I was planning on giving it my best effort to get through without one. But I also knew that it would be okay if I changed my mind. At this point in the labor, I really felt like I needed some sleep so I could be rested and ready to push when the time came. John and I agreed that it was a good option, so the nurses began the process of pumping me up with fluids. My water broke on its own at 10:30, and the contractions intensified greatly. I received an epidural at 11:30. The anesthesiologist was so good – I didn't even feel the lidocaine going in. The dreaded pitocin was also started at this point at a low dose to ensure that I would continue to progress even with the epidural.

The rest of the night was a bit of a blur to me. I was able to sleep a little bit between contractions, but the baby's heart rate took a few dips and I had to change positions to get it back up. An internal catheter was inserted to measure my contractions because the external monitor hadn't picked up a single one since we'd been there. It was kind of fun to watch each contraction happen on the screen. Somehow, I found the little paper readout soothing -- like proof that I really was working hard to get this baby out.

I'm not sure if it was the exhaustion of labor or what, but every time I would fall asleep, I would forget to breathe. Then my oxygen levels would dive and an alarm would sound. Whoever was in the room with me (mom, John, Sara) would remind me to breathe and the alarm would turn off. It was quite the cycle. The epidural made me really itchy and pukey (is that a word?) so I also got some Benedryl and Zofran. I guess I was way past the “natural” childbirth I had pictured for the last nine months. To be honest, even in the moments of making these decisions that weren't part of my "ideal" birth plan, I knew they were the right choices. I was doing what I needed to do to get the baby out.

So, things weren't going according to my original plans, but the baby was doing well, and I was doing well, and that's where my focus was. I managed to get a little sleep, and soon enough it was time to push...